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Parliamentary candidates challenged to digital debate in Manchester

19.00, 7th Nov at the Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, UK – Free Entry

Manchester Central candidates will be challenged to explain how they will defend citizen’s privacy and free speech online.

Recent arrests for “offensive tweets” and proposals to put the whole UK population under Internet surveillance and data collection have thrown digital issues into the forefront of political debate.

Candidates will be asked how they will protect Manchester’s voters from dangerous Internet policies, and also ensure that the local digital economy is supported.

Newly formed Manchester Open Rights Group has teamed up with NUJ New Media, No2ID Manchester and Free Software Foundation Europe to run the event which is being widely promoted.

Presentations will also be followed by a Q and A and debate giving the public a chance to quiz candidates on issues effecting one of Manchester’s largest and fastest growing industries.

As well as the digital economy, we invite comments and questions on the use of the Internet for social change and views on the proposed increase in powers of surveillance.

Free Tickets are available from http://www.thedancehouse.co.uk

There is a booking cost if you book online – But you can get a free reservation by ringing the Dancehouse Box Office on 0161 2379753

Speakers

  • Tom Dylan – Green Party
  • Marc Ramsbottom- Liberal Democrats
  • Loz Kaye – Pirate Party
  • Lucy Powell (invited) – Labour
  • Matthew Sephton (invited) – Conservatives

With support from

  • Peter Bradwell – Open Rights Group
  • Martin Bryant – Managing Editor, The Next Web
  • John Robb – Louder than War

Supporting organisations

  • National Union of Journalists
  • New Media Industrial Council
  • Free Software Foundation Europe
  • Manchester Open Rights Group
  • Manchester No2ID.

Press contacts: Mick Chesterman 0044 7913 882193, Tom Chiverton 0044 7967 672404


Letter supporting Manchester hackerspace funding application

Sent to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA)in support of a funding application made by MadLab Manchester Hackerspace.

Dear AGMA,

I am writing in support MadLab in their request for AGMA funding. I have been running Free Software Foundation Europe events at MadLab since January2011, and have made use of their facilities on both a monthly basis for regular community meetings, and also on weekends for special local and national events.

Software Freedom Day 2011 (SFD), for example, was a major event at MadLab. SFD involved 437 teams around the world, from Sweden to Nigeria, for the purpose of introducing the public to powerful and freely available computer software. At MadLab approximately 50 people visited during the day (despite heavy rain) to view demonstrations, booths, and presentations. A mapping party gathered downstairs and organised an afternoon of amateur cartography, contributing to a global map, under public ownership, which is used extensively in GPS and governmental systems. [Pictures]

The Gnome 3 launch event, which I also co-organised at MadLab, drew people from as far as London and Scotland to come on a Saturday afternoon last April to see new  accessible computer desktop technology demonstrated by experts,and discussed by attendees. The event drew corporate sponsorship from Codethink, and generated hours of discussion. [Pictures]

I attend several other community group meetings at Madlab which are run by other societies. In particular, I attend groups which meet to develop technical skills relating to computer science, such as the Python programming language monthly meetings.

MadLab has exhibited creative work in the past, and I enjoyed taking a partyof friends to see the artwork and literature on display at ’38° of Separation,Korea’. This was purely for my own interest, and introduced me to a culture which I had previously known very little about. [Pictures]

MadLab is non-profit making, is open to all for free and over 75% of attendees are Manchester residents.  MadLab encourages the uptake of ICT skills in surprising and effective ways, which has led to job creation and skills enhancement in the region.

The fact that MadLab existed in the city of Manchester was one of my primary reasons for moving to live in the North West when I emigrated from Berlin early last year. MadLab’s existence here is a very visible sign of a growing community of digital innovators in the region. MadLab’s free services to community groups, especially ones of an educational and technical nature,undeniably fosters innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity in the area.

I support their appeal for funding.

Sincerely etc.