Meetup: Free speech online

The British government announced in the previous Queen’s speech that they wish to introduce a new Digital Charter – a collection of legislation, initiatives and guidance intended to protect citizens from potential harms online, whilst also allowing for personal freedom. Although the actual charter has yet to be published, several aspects have been announced already, such as

  • the criminalisation of watching extremist content,
  • an online hate crime hub to report cases to the police,
  • the regulation of social media companies.

However, there are several issues with the approach our government is taking. For instance, how does the government define:

  • Protected speech?
  • Hate speech /  crime?
  • Harmful content?
  • Extremist content?

It is also “passing the buck” onto social media companies to regulate the law, whilst also refusing to clarify these categories.

Join us the evening of Monday 26th March, 6:30pm-8:30pm at the Sloman lounge, Department of Computer Science, University of Birmingham. We are pleased to host Dr. Dima Saber (Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University) and Dr. Bharath Ganesh (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), who will be sharing their expertise in journalism and social media.

RSVP here.


Dr. Dima Saber is a Senior Research Fellow at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (Birmingham City University). Her research is focussed on media depictions of conflict in the Arab region, and she is responsible for leading and delivering projects in citizen journalism, particularly exploring the relation between digital media literacy and social impact in post-revolution and in conflict settings such as Egypt, Palestine and Syria. Her latest publications include work on crowd-sourced Syrian archives as memories of the Syrian war (in Archives and Records, 2017), on Hezbollah and IS videogames productions (in Media, Culture and Society, 2016), and on Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the July 2006 war (in The Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, 2016). She is currently writing a monograph titled ‘Archives of War: Narrating 60 Years of Conflict in the MENA’ which looks at the relation between media archives of conflict and processes of history making in contexts such as Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Syria.

Dr. Bharath Ganesh is a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. His current research explores the spread and impact of data science techniques in local governments across Europe, right-wing and counter-jihad extremism in Europe and the United States, and uses big data to study new media audiences and networks. He is developing new projects to study hate speech and extremism online and regulatory responses to this problem. Broadly, Bharath’s research focuses on the relation between technology, media, and society. Previously, Bharath was a Senior Researcher at Tell MAMA, a national project dedicated to mapping and monitoring anti-Muslim hate in the United Kingdom. He has given evidence in the Houses of Parliament on governance, extremism, gender, and hate crime and authored a number of reports in this area.

Cybersecurity for ‘real people’: useful resources

Portrait of Home Secretary Amber Rudd with the words, Cybersecurity for 'real people'

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Monday evening at BOM for our cybersecurity for ‘real people’ workshop. It was clear from the sizeable turnout and lively discussion that plenty of real people in Birmingham do care about online security, contrary to what the Home Secretary Amber Rudd might like to believe. Special thanks also go to Mari (@bouncinglime on Twitter), who stepped in at short notice and shared with us her experience of using Tor.

Continue reading Cybersecurity for ‘real people’: useful resources

Art against the Snooper’s Charter workshop a success

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us last Wednesday at Birmingham Open Media for our creative workshop to raise.

We had a fun evening making memes and other visual materials designed to raise public awareness of the government’s plans to push ahead with its controversial new surveillance bill, officially known as the Investigatory Powers Bill but better understood as a Snooper’s Charter.

The idea behind the evening was

You can read a write-up of the event and see the artwork we created over on Birmingham Open Media’s website.

Art against the Snooper’s Charter 

We hoped creating memes and other visuals would help more people understand what’s at the stake if the Snooper’s Charter becomes law. Speaking in parliament the day before our meetup, My local MP Steve McCabe (@steve_mccabe) summed things up quite nicely, saying that if the bill is passed in its current form “we will be the envy of states such as North Korea, China and Iran“.

Envy of North Korea

I’m pleased to report we have had a good reaction so far to our artwork on Twitter, with people re-tweeting and liking our creations and sharing their own.

Give memes a chance

If you’d like to have a go at creating your own protest meme, check out ImgFlip’s easy-to-use Meme Generator web tool.

Want to create something a little more complex? Why not try using the free and open source GIMP image editor to mock up a thought-provoking image like this playful riff on 1984?

Spread the word

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If you like any of the visuals we’ve created or decide to create your own, please think about sharing them with your friends and family. Visuals hit home to people in a way that complex arguments and wordy blogs can’t possibly hope to.

If you’re sharing on social media , remember to mention the Investigatory Powers Bill/Snooper’s Charter in your posts and, if possible include the hashtags #IPBill and #SnoopersCharter. If you’re using Twitter, copying in @OpenRightsBrum will also allow us to more easily re-tweet your posts.

Don’t forget to email your MP (and sign the 38 Degrees petition)

While it’s really important we broaden the reach of our campaign through memes, we still need to keep up the pressure on MPs through traditional campaigning methods.

If you’ve not already done so, please use Open Rights Group’s easy-to-use web tool to email your MP today. The more MPs hear concerns from their consituents over the coming months, the better chance we have of stopping the Snooper’s Charter.

Once you’ve done this, please also take a couple of minutes to sign and share the new 38 Degrees petition, Stop Government Plans to Snoop on Your Internet History.

Can you spare a few quid to fight the Snooper’s Charter?

Lastly, the Don’t Spy On Us coalition (which Open Rights Group is a member) is currently a crowdfunding a hard-hitting advertising campaign to raise awareness of the Snooper’s Charter. Please spare what you can to help stop the bill.

Don’t Spy On Us launches fundraiser for Investigatory Powers Bill ad campaign

Open Rights Group Birmingham launch now has its own Meetup Page!

Meetup page for Open Rights Group Birmingham

With every passing day Open Rights Group Birmingham is rapidly becoming a tangible thing. The latest proof of this can be found on Meetup, where our group now has its own page.

Thinking of coming to our launch event after work on Wednesday? Then please sign up via Meetup. Doing so will help us get a better idea of numbers and encourage others to sign up.

Know someone who might be interested in digital rights? Send them the Meetup page and help more people discover Open Rights Group Birmingham.

You can sign up by clicking on the RSVP link below.

RSVP
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