An internet safe for kids, plebs and Tories
The phone companies’ Tory inspired “safe content” filters are coming online. While the road to and strong arming of the ISPs into voluntary agreement was well covered over the summer, although not be me, it seemed the Surveillance stories were more important, the New Statesman in an article published last week by Martin Robbins, entitled “Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan” shows the bleeding obvious that it’s not possible to build “safe” filters for other people. The article has provoked some noise on twitter since these privately implemented filters are a non-accountable overreach, there is no appeal, no democratic oversight and they are implemented using crude ineffective technology which reinforces such overreach. Taken in conjunction with the Gagging Bill, also known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through Parliament, this should be seen as an attack on our democratic systems in that it will deprive citizens of the information and evidence that they need to vote.
On my way to the Housing Fringe, I bumped into a Times journalist, who asked if I was attending their meeting, which was branded around one of their columns which I had not heard of, and was starring Peter Kellner, ex-political columnist and now star poller. I rather rudely said I hadn’t read the Times since it went behind a paywall neglecting to mention that I hadn’t been a fan before and I was challenged about how to pay for investigative journalism.
While I could have carried on with my rudeness asking when the Times last broke an important story such as ‘Phone Hacking’ for instance, I quoted the fact that 80% of the cost of newspapers is about paper, logistics and ink. This was denied.
Earlier this week, the Guardian in conjunction with its partner publishers, New York Times and ProPublica ran an article, Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security. As we’ll see, the title is a bit misleading, but the agencies certainly gave it their best shot. This story builds on the initial Snowden leaks that the NSA has been using computer technology to spy on everyone using the internet in the USA. The story rapidly came to the UK where it became clear that Britain’s GCHQ was tapping the UK/USA telecom links, sharing intelligence with the USA and providing the NSA with a slightly more legal way of spying on US citizens. There is little doubt that the US & UK’s intelligence agencies have outsourced their own domestic spying which is legally restricted to each other.
I have been playing with feedly as replacement for google reader. I am rather taken with it. It’s a browser plugin and an app. on many mobiles.
As with other replacements, I have reorganised my feed tags/categories to create better groups. I have dropped a bunch of feeds that I wasn’t reading or were broken. Its “Today” feature allows me to keep up with the news. It’s availability on the phone helps with this, because I don’t have to open a laptop, I can read my news without getting a seat on the train. Feedly encourages me to treat news as a ‘river’ and so my reader is not cluttered with loads of stuff that I might want some day which I am learning to like. It lacks the social features that google reader had at it’s best but they’d walked away from them. I have made some suggestions at their user voice site. I am impressed. I hope they adopt some of the ideas that I have suggested or supported. A twitter client would be good, but I can live without it.
My wiki project page is here….
Boris Johnson, London’s occasional Mayor held one of his mandatory People’s Question Time sessions in Catford, towards the south of the London Borough of Lewisham. The event took place within spitting distance of the Lewisham’s hospital that is losing its Intensive Care Unit, jeopardising the A&E and Maternity Units.
Paul tells the story with a storify page, with the accurate if not particularly catchy title
“People’s Question Time in Catford, March 2013”.
What a week for economic and political news! Unemployment down, National Income (GDP) Down, IMF & Goldman Sachs say Austerity isn’t working, Clegg and Boris agree and argue for increased capital expenditure (Houses and Transport projects). Is it the turning point in this government’s fortunes? It’s clear Plan A isn’t working and Larry Elliott in the Guardian says it better than I can.
Dave Cameron’s response to this is to say that the Tory party will offer an in/out referendum on Europe in the next Parliament, if he wins a majority. Not sure you’re on the right page. It’s still the economy, stupid!
HMV, the UK’s leading bricks & mortar creative industries retailer has gone into administration. Lets hope that its winding up is not as brutal as at Jessops which also failed last week. The FT reports in an article, published yesterday, entitled, HMV calls in the Administrators that the rug was pulled when their suppliers of the music, films and computer/console games refused to extend credit terms to allow them to refinance their debt.
In the Independent, Owen James eviscerates Osborne’s benefit trap for Labour exposing it as a piece of class war and “vile”. He points out that the economy is still in a worse state than in 2008, the level of debt is over double the level in the 2008, the deficit for this financial year is £100bn higher than planned and that the Government’s own tame forecaster, the Office of Budgetary Responsibility is now predicting a decade of lost growth; they have massively reduced their growth forecast but are still seen as too optimistic by many independent commentators. The economics and juvenile politics is also exposed in a David Blanchflower article, “The Bullingdon Chancellor: why George Osborne is a very uncivil, as well as useless, Chancellor”
The cut in benefits is rightly described as vile. The Tories want to tell a “Strivers vs. Skivers” story, despite the fact that many benefit claimants work, have recently done so, or want to work, James states,
“That a gang of multimillionaire class warriors is intentionally attempting to turn poor people against each other for political advantage is as shameful as the often grubby world of politics gets.”
Much of what’s left of the benefit system is now subsidising landlords and exploitative businesses, and other proposals in the “Autumn Statement” protect business profits. Let’s not forget that in the 2012 Budget, they reduced the highest rate of tax from 50% to 45%, a benefit to those “earning” over £150,000.
James argues that the Parliamentary Labour Party needs to take them on and examines the proponents and opposition to this. I agree … what they propose is wrong and they made a mistake in framing the public vs. private wages argument, they have done so again.
This is a brilliantly written, well researched article; wish I had written it.
Last week, the Ecuadorian Government granted Julian Assange, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, diplomatic asylum. Mark Weisbrot wrote in the Guardian as to why someone had to stand up for human rights, and HMG, in the person of William Hague, states in a remarkably balanced statement why the UK government feels bound to complete the extradition to Sweden.
It’s been a busy month in the never-ending copyright and information wars. This article looks at the Surf the Channel verdict, and the mysterious disappearance of Vickerman’s statement from the web. It looks at the progress of the legal assault on Kim Dotcom in New Zealand, and establishment of the principle that linking is legal in the USA.
So it seems that the next big Parliamentary drama is going to be House of Lords reform.
Wired reports that, three days ago, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal has declared that code is not property and cannot therefore be stolen; there is no intent to deprive the owner of the object’s use. They also ruled that the perpetrator, there is no doubt that the code was removed from Goldman Sachs network, could not be prosecuted under the US Economic Espionage Act since the code in question was not used in commerce. I don’t actually know what the code did, but we can be sure that it was used in commerce, or it was a regulatory compliance program. If it didn’t have one of these two purposes, Goldman Sachs wouldn’t be doing it, and wouldn’t have wanted to keep it secret.
Does this mean that only traded software can be the object of the espionage act? If so I am not sure this is where we want to be.
Part of Goldman Sachs’ problem is that they wanted to keep the code secret and there are many reasons to want to do so. However patent and copyright protection require the intellectual property owner to publish their ideas, or the expression of their ideas. Another part of the problem is that people wanted to see Aleynikov go to prison and breach of employee confidentiality wasn’t sufficient to get him there.
As techdirt.com reports in their article,
Still, the overall ruling here is good, though it could have been more complete.
I wonder if there will be further appeals, but it’s an important stake in the ground. Copyright infringement is not theft.
This was also covered at engadget.com.
I am standing for election to the Open Rights Group (ORG) Board. I hope to offer experience, knowledge and commitment.
I work in the information technology business and came to ORG via the Open Source and Software Freedom campaigns. I submitted personal evidence to the Government consultation on peer to peer file sharing in 2009, started following the ORG shortly after.