Tag: tories

British Conservatives evoke paedophiles to justify insane snooping law

Today, Theresa May evoked the fear of paedophiles to justify shafting the privacy of everyone in Britain – and I won the office sweepstake.

As I told the rest of the TechEye office at the time of the original announcement, it will only be a matter of time before the Tories need to convince the world that monitoring was needed to protect British children from kiddy-fiddlers.  

Terrorists would just not be enough of a threat for Brits to allow someone to watch them download porn in real time. While terrorists work to scare US citizens into handing over their cherished freedoms, the UK has dealt with terrorists for a long time and knows that the only way to defeat them is to ignore them. But nothing puts the fear of god into Middle England as someone on the the sex offender’s register moving into the neighbourhood.  Remember. The internet is a neighbourhood, and we’re all part of it. This makes them the perfect reason to bring in wholesale monitoring of the internet in the UK.

Four hundred years ago, May would have said we need to surrender all of our human rights to protect us from Catholics or witches, but we are not allowed to say that sort of thing any more. 

What is more surprising is that it is the Tory government backing the monitoring law – although there has been strong backbench opposition. These are the same people who claimed that Labour was selling Britain’s freedom down the river by planning similar laws a few years ago. Labour backed down, but at the moment the Tories are earnest about their hypocrisies.

Well, not all Conservatives. It is getting messy for David Cameron and Theresa May in that they might face a good old fashioned back-bench revolt over it. The Liberal Democrats could join in too, and Cameron’s majority is not that big. It would at least be some much needed political point scoring for the damaged Lib Dems.

The idea of the Act on surface appears to be to create a large ISP-fed database which GCHQ can sort through to spot anything dodgy. If it sees you looking at how to build a bomb then it can pop around to the local court and get a warrant to have a look in your computer. Of course, the government already has means to obtain warrants.

As legal expert Niri Shan, head of the highly rated media and entertainment law group at Taylor Wessing, points out the whole concept is against Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“I believe what they are proposing would amount to a flagrant infringement of the citizen’s right of privacy and I don’t believe there is a public interest justification for it,” he said.

He added that if the government introduces such a law it would be open to challenge on a European level under Human Rights legislation.

If the security services want to get hold of this sort of information they need to get a warrant and in doing so justify why it is needed, he said.

So, there is no chance that this law is going to be enacted in Europe. The big question is why would any western government want these sorts of controls?  

One critic argued that the big picture could be about data retention. A privacy advocate told us: “What this is, is data retention, which we don’t have yet. If they get to see how long people are in contact with each other, then surely that would mean that the data is being retained – right now our data retention is very low, so I’m guessing this is a sneaky way of getting further in line wih EU data retention, without saying ‘we’re going to retain your data and you can’t do anything about it'”.

Other critics still could suggest the whole proposals are a false flag – that they stand very little chance of going through the Lords without major reform. That makes the story yet more puzzling. What on earth are the Tories playing at?

There might be some clues from down under. We are talking about, of course, when the Australian government attempted to stick a filter on the internet.

What happened was that the filter was considered a state secret. It was supposed to prevent attack and illegal porn. But, after a while, the list was leaked and it emerged that a few other things had found their way onto the filter list. Some of it was harmless stuff which was on the list by accident, but other things looked to be there for political reasons. These were mostly foreign sites that the government did not want people reading about. The pain threshold of the list was quite low. Australians have attempted to ban pornography and films which depict women with small breasts.  

The Australian government was happy with the filter and knew that it would never be downgraded if a new government came in. After all, the new government would have the same vested interests in keeping such websites under lock and key.

This is how it could turn out in Britain. The Tories bring it in and are able to adapt it to keep so-called troublemakers in check. When Labour gets into Number 10, they will not dismantle it because they will win the same advantages.

Gradually, the filters and the keywords that the spooks are looking for will change from terrorists to parking tickets and everyone will have to obey the rules. And while your family might forget about that embarrassing drunken incident involving the whipped cream and the outside drainpipe, the State will never forget.

In short, you end up in the world of Big Brother ironically watching Big Brother because it is the safest program to watch. All we can say is thank the gods Cameron and May don’t have the power over their people they think they do, as evoking paedophiles will, hopefully, cut no ice with Europe. 

Coalition to bring in nightmare version of Big Brother law

After opposing a Labour Party Big Brother style law, which would allow government spooks to monitor email, the ruling Coalition of Lib Dems and Tories in the UK are trying to bring one in which is even worse.

Under the new laws, Cameron’s government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK.

Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time, so that they know exactly what you are saying and doing.

Of course, they claim that it is all about tackling crime and terrorism. Indeed, the only ghost they have not invoked in defence of this daft scheme is “we need to protect children from paedophiles”.

Apparenlty, they think that 24/7 monitoring of every citizen is something that they should be able to slip past the great unwashed, who will hail it as a great idea.

The plan is in trouble already. Tory MP David Davis called it “an unnecessary extension of the ability of the state to snoop on ordinary people”.

He told the BBC that everything will have to be recorded for two years and the government will be able to get at it with no “by your leave from anybody”.

The new law is set to be announced in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech in May. It does not allow allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant.

All it would do is allow the spooks to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long. They would also know your favourite porn sites.

The Home Office said action was needed to “maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes”. Apparently, we all need to be spied on now that we have all got computers.

Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, said the law would see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran.  

As you might expect, the ISPs are not happy about it. An industry official has warned it would be “expensive, intrusive and a nightmare to run legally”.

How long ago it has been since the days when the shadow home secretary at the time, Chris Grayling, said the Labour government had “built a culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime”. Even then, Labour pulled the idea because it thought it would upset too many people.

Still, it might have gone ahead with it had it known Chris Huhne, then the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, who at the time said “a careful balance” would have to be struck “between investigative powers and the right to privacy”, would back the scheme. 

Pirate Bay to be banned in the UK

P2P site  Pirate Bay could well be blocked in the UK soon.

A London judge has ruled that the site breaches copyright laws on a large scale, and that both the platform and its users illegally share copyrighted material, such as movies and music.

According to the International Business Times,  the ruling, by High Court Justice Arnold, clears the way for the British Phonographic Industry to request all ISPs in the UK block the site.

High Court Justice Arnold said that the operators of The Pirate Bay authorise users’ infringing acts of copying and communication to the public. He added that they go far beyond merely enabling or assisting.

Geoff Taylor, BPI’s CEO, said the ruling helps clarify the law on web site blocking and it will now proceed with its application to have the site blocked.

The case against Pirate Bay was laid open after the High Court ruled that a UK file-sharing site called Newzbin2 was infringing copyright on a grand scale. This allowed Big Content to attack ISPs in court and force them to block access to other file-sharing sites, such as The Pirate Bay.

But it is starting to look like Big Content might simply score another hollow victory for which they are rightly renowed.

By the end of February, the site will no longer serve torrent files and will shift to magnet links, which let users download the original torrent file directly from their peers. Besides, anyone who wants to get access to Pirate Bay can do so from any proxy. Bans in Italy for example have done nothing to slow torrent traffic.

It seems that the Pirate Bay is now headless with the outfit’s co-founders sent to jail and ordered to pay a $6.3 million fine. Against an operation like that, Big Content is largely powerless. 

Big Content takes out big lawsuits down under

Big Content is having a go at exporting its P2P extortion racket to Australia.

After suing over 3.6 million people in Germany, and  200,000 in the United States it seems that Big Content’s copyright trolls have their eyes set on Australia.

According to a report from one of the country’s leading ISPs, thousands of Australians will soon be accused of a crime by the Hollywood studios and told to pay up cash or go to court.

The model is similar to what has been seen in other parts of the world. A law firm partners up with a film, music or game studio which does not care what people think of it.

Using a dubious bit of IP address harvesting software, the studio obtains what it claims are the real identities from ISPs. Then it is just a matter of threatening to sue for an outrageous amount of money but offer to settle for less.

Torrentfreak spoke to John Linton, chief of ISP Exetel who said his outfit had been approached by US film distributor Lightning Entertainment. It had a list of 150 IP addresses from where their movie “Kill The Irishman” is said to have been shared. The same outfit is targeting 9,000 Australian-based infringements.

Lightning is using a front company to extort cash from alleged infringers called ‘Movie Rights Group’.

The Movie Rights Group’s people are not talking about who they are and their domain name is anonymised, but its vice president of sales and marketing is a man called Gordon Walker.  He said the internet is the ultimate unkillable beast. But the Movie Rights Group is “a commercial solution” to what had previously been seen as a legislative problem,

He used the idea  that you need cops on the information superhighway and since the government wouldn’t do it, it was up to Big Content.

Of course, if you are pulled over by a traffic cop you sort of expect that he has evidence that you have been speeding and not just pulling over the people that are moving slow enough to catch. 

Ye Booke of Riots

 

And it came to pass that there arose in the land of Eton, one who was destined to rule all of England and his name was Cameron. Cameron realised that while he, and allies, had the latest technology, an ATM network to their dorm rooms, that streamethed 24-hour fox-hunting porn while the boys of the same age in the neighbouring Kingdom of Slough hath not those things. Moreover when the boys of Slough went forth, they were of a rougher manner and would throw stones and otherwise beat up the Etonians in the ancient manner called unto them “stick a toff”. And Cameron did say unto his fellows. “If we give technology unto these unwashed hairy types we shall be beaten up. We should not give these barbarians council houses if they attack us.” But the people heard him and listened unto him not, for he was a Tory and would not be King for many many years. And after some time the people of Blighty did say “let us make Cameron our King, because he cannot possibly be worse than Gordon Brown for is it not written, ‘always a frown with Gordon Brown?’” And Cameron did take the throne and immediately did warn of a great crisis which required that everyone immediately give all their money to the rich who would save them. “The poor needeth not the trainers of sports personalities, they needed not the Facebook of the rich, nor can they afford the mortgage to buy anything from Apple,” he did spake. And the people did nod and listen and agree, at least those who mattered. But the young and the unwashed did spake unto themselves and say. “Why should the rich have gadgets while we hath not? Are we not worthy to be in the Walled Garden of Jobs? Why should we not carry forth the Tablets of Android? And they did carry forth their Blackberries and did riot to take what they thought they would never have. Grave was the rioting and even the mighty warehouse of So-Neh was burnt, yea unto the ground. And Cameron did spake and say “See what happens when thou giveth technology to the unwashed? They use it not to take pictures while they hunteth the fox, like normal people. They use it to attack the keepers of shops.” And he did ask the makers of the Blackberry to report what the unwashed were saying about him and discovered that they thought he mattered not. And they spoke of their contempt for Cameron even unto the Social Notworking Sites of Facebook. And Cameron unto the Daily Mail did spake and say we must prevent these unwashed people from talking on Facebook. I wish to flick a switch and turneth a region into a communication desert. So that even an elderly person may not call for an ambulance. He called upon all his chums from school, even Spotty Nigel who fagged him behind the EtonWick fire station, to write of their support on Facebook. And lo, more than a million members signed up. “Will not the great unwashed see that this Facebook page hath so many members, that they shall cease to riot and return to their lives of poverty, which the LORD hath ordained for them?” Cameron spake and said. But the world did look upon this Facebook page and found that many of Cameron’s chums were not nice people. They had called for the hanging of coons, shooting of riff-raff and forced slavery. “We had not these problems when we had an empire,” wrote Cameron’s friends. “We can’t do it if the people who are supposed to be out there shooting natives are chatting to people online about the weather. If they were going off and getting shot in France, like their grandparents, we would worry about them not.” And even Cameron had to admit that this had gone too far. But he did order that for who so ever of the riff-raff did cast the stone, that they, and their family shall not have a council house. There they should be thrown into the streets where there would be no internet connection. Had he not wanted to do that from the time he was roughed up in Eton but had not found a good reason. And the Daily Mail did thinketh this was a great idea, next to gassing poor people. And then a small child did appear amongst the people and point out that if the riff-raff had no place to live, they had no reason to do anything other than riot. “Forsooth, is it not better to keep the masses calm with football, and iPods, bread, iMacs and phones of the smart.” But the Daily Mail barked and said: “Sod off, our readers own their own homes, this means they deserve their gadgets while the riff raff have earned them not.”

Ye Booke of Riots

Big Content shoots itself in the foot again

Big Content,  which has been chasing after pirates with an axe for as long as it realised the internet existed, might have been killing off its chase to make money.

Recent studies have shown that the best online customers for legitimate material are also pirates, but these studies have been played down by Big Content. After all, why would people who download stuff for free bother to buy anything?

The latest study comes from the French enforcement agency who are supposed to knock pirates off the web. HADOPI was set up by the French government in return for the Nation’s pint-sized President Nicolas Sarkozy to get to take his wife to showbiz parties, where he could rub the top of his head against the bottoms of celebrities.

The agency is supposed to take spectral evidence of piracy supplied to them by Big Content and cut off pirates’ internet connections. However, the outfit is also looking at its own operations, and the antics of the pirates. It appears it has not been singing from Big Content’s hymn book with what it found.

Big Content wants your average pirate painted as an evil anarchist who takes time out from raping kittens to stealing copy from poor starving artists, such as Lady Gaga and Bono.

However, the HADOPI report shows that the pirates are the biggest buyers of legitimate content on the web. If Big Content cuts them off from their internet connections then they will lose the biggest buyers of their products.

HADOPI is a little embarrassed by the report and played around with the formatting to make the result difficult to see. However, Joe Karaganis, from SSRC, reformatted the results to make it clear.

He found that seven percent of those surveyed spend over 100 euros per month on cultural goods on the internet. Among these, 64 percent admit to ‘illicit use’ or filesharing. Of those, 17 percent spend 31-99 euros per month. Among these, 57 percent admit to illicit use.

Among those who spend nothing, only about 36 percent are pirates.

Karaganis suggests HADOPI’s method of threatening people to stop their file sharing won’t do very much to help the bottom lines of the entertainment industry:

He said that if piracy is a sampling and discovery tool for high spenders, then suppressing piracy could depress legal sales.

It also means that, once again, Big Content is failing to see the bigger picture. It is the technically literate who will be the first to buy their products. Rather than see that piracy is a symptom of the industry not having its act together, or peddling goods such as Justin Bieber, it should have seen it as people using the technology it needed to develop for itself.

Currently it is actively encouraging governments to ban its best customers from their stores.

With business decisions like that, one has to question how long Big Content will last. 

UK Coalition gives Big Content committee the power to censor web

The British Government has formed a secret committee whose members are mostly a cabal of Big Content companies, which will have the power to censor the Internet.

According to Boing Boing,  the decision to form the committee follows a confidential meeting of UK copyright lobbyists held with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

The decision was leaked, and it reveals a plan to establish “expert bodies” that would decide which websites British people were allowed to see, to be approved by a judge using a “streamlined” procedure. It means that if Big Content says so, a site will be swiftly shut down.

The only saving grace of the concept is that the process will be overseen by a judge. However, the fact that public interest groups like the Open Rights Group who asked to attend the meeting were told to go forth and multiply does not bode well.  

The system, will be funded by the taxpayer and is expected to cost millions. If it succeeds in its goals, it could save Big Content a fortune by not having to take file sharing sites to court.

It seems that while the Coalition is calling for austerity measures to save the economy, splashing out huge sums of money to keep Big Content in extra swimming pools remains a priority. 

Cameron's Coalition is in bed with Google

We’ve revealed the US Federal Government’s extensive ties with the snooping mega corporation Google. Could it just be that Eric Schmidt and his cohorts have their hands deep in the pockets of the UK government too? Why yes, it could!

PC Pro got a fantastic scoop on the Information Commissioner’s Office and its crap investigations into Google’s wi-fi snooping fiasco. We’ve all been thinking it for a long time, but our tinfoil hats are welded around the plates in our heads – PC Pro got the proof. The “watchdog” was not watching out for anything other than Google and itself.

The ICO’s group manager for business and industry Dave Evans, says PC Pro, sent an email to a Google employee – name redacted – with the subject line: “Guess what this might be about.” He asked the employee for a “quick chat about the wi-fi business” – all formalities spared and straight down to business.

“We are having an internal meeting next week about our next steps and obviously in light of Rob Halfon MP’s continued misrepresentation of the issue, the quicker we get something done the better.”

It has been suggested that the ICO sent over a bungling pair of Chuckle Brothers who had no idea about data protection and were untrained in the required legal areas to investigate at Google’s fancy Victoria HQ.  Could this be some kind of coincidence?

Anyway – Google had a slap on the wrist. And anyway, it was a “mistake,” it was a rogue employee.

Never mind that Google, the company which is “not evil,” has ties deep in the UK government. Look to the East London Tech City where Google is advising Cameron directly, along with others which have been in the papers for all the wrong reasons such as Barclays and Vodafone. Anti-competitive Intel also advises.

In fact, Google has many friends in the Coalition while Microsoft has, er, none. The departure of government Chief Information Officer Jerry Fishenden left a Microsoft with no teeth and Google with plenty. Fishenden, a very reliable ex-government source tells us, was Microsoft’s very last bastion of hope for those all important contracts. 

Google and Microsoft are constantly fighting over who gets to sit on who’s cloud. In the United States the General Services Administration (GSA) plumped for Google over Microsoft on a huge cloud computing deal. That wouldn’t have anything to do with lobbying, would it? 

Our reliable source pointed TechEye toward the Tories’ “Reversing the rise of the Surveillance State” paper. It was done at Microsoft and supposedly a signal that the Conservatives weren’t dependent on Google – but we are assured this was a smokescreen. 

And who is David Cameron’s director of strategy Steve Hilton married to? Why, it’s former Tory aide to Michael Howard, Rachel Whetstone – now head of public policy and communications at… Google!

Not to be one sided – guess where Labour’s former “special adviser” to Downing Street, Sarah Hunter works now? She’s UK head of public policy at, yes, Google.

Facebook refuses to remove Raoul Moat page

Facebook has issued a statement today saying that it will not remove a sympathetic page on its site dedicated to Raoul Moat, which describes him as a “legend”, even though the UK government is reportedly seeking its removal.

The issue came into the spotlight when Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry asked David Cameron: “Will the Prime Minister consider having another conference call with Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, whose site is currently hosting the group ‘RIP Raoul Moat’,where a whole host of anti-police statements are posted? Can the Prime Minister have a conversation with Mark Zuckerberg about removing this group? 

Cameron avoided answering the question of contacting Facebook, but said that Heaton-Harris “makes a very good point.” He added: “As far as I can see, it is absolutely clear that Raoul Moat was a callous murderer – full stop, end of story – and I cannot understand any wave, however small, of public sympathy for this man. There should be sympathy for his victims, and for the havoc he wreaked in that community; there should be no sympathy for him.”

These views are echoed by thousands of Facebook users, who have created several groups protesting against the sympathetic Facebook groups and asking for them to be removed. Even the pro-Moat groups are littered with angry diatribes by upset Facebook members.

None of this is making Facebook remove the offensive pages, however, primarily citing free speech as reasons for keeping them online. The statement issued today said:

“Raoul Moat has dominated public debate over the last week and it is clear that there are lots of different and opposing opinions, both about Moat himself and about the investigation which surrounds him. These debates are being held in newspapers, online across the Internet, between people in the pub, on the phone and at work.

“Facebook is a place where people can express their views and discuss things in an open way as they can and do in many other places, and as such we sometimes find people discussing topics others may find distasteful, however that is not a reason in itself to stop a debate from happening. We have 26 million people on Facebook in the UK, each of which has their own opinion, and they are entitled to express their views on Facebook as long as their comments do not violate our terms. We believe that enabling people to have these different opinions and debate about a topic can help bring together lots of different views for a healthy discussion.

“Further, and in contrast to the pub or the phone, Facebook offers tools for people to report material easily, so that we can quickly review and remove from the service anything that is against our terms.”

TechEye asked a Facebook spokesperson about the controversial pages. We asked if the UK government had contacted it and asked it to remove the page, and if the Tories were on the verge of introducing internet censorship over the affair, but the spokesperson refused to comment.

On investigation we discovered that the offending page had been removed. The spokesperson told us that “Facebook did not remove the ‘RIP Raoul Moat you Legend’ Page. Facebook will remove content that violates our terms when reported to us.” We were informed that “any content on Facebook can be removed by the user who created it,” suggesting that the creator of the page was the one who removed it.

We found that a replacement page is already in place entitled “R.I.P Raoul Moat You Legend – Page 2”, with the creator leaving a message saying “looks like the police and cameron got their way.. bye bye tories”. At the time of writing it only has six members. Another group, entitled “R.I.P Raoul Moat!” has nearly 10,000 members, continuing to incite outrage from many Facebook users. From today’s statement by Facebook, however, it seems highly unlikely that it will remove these groups.

Government endorses genetically modified crops

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, has controversially backed the use of genetically modified crops in the UK.

The move has come as a surprise to many as the Tories have not traditionally supported the use of GM crops, and even the previous Labour administration was hesitant to use the technology due to fears of a negative reaction towards ‘Frankenstein Foods’ by the public.

Now the Environment Secretary believes that under the right circumstances, and without the use of taxpayer’s money, work should begin on developing practicable methods of genetic modification. “The principle of GM technology is ok if used well. The technology can be beneficial. GM can bring benefits in food to the marketplace. The sale should not be promoted by the taxpayer,” said Spelman.

 “Lord Henley [the new environment Minster] has approved a trial of a potato blight-resistant variety. That’s the kind of modification that can reduce the amount of agro-chemicals which need to be applied.”  

Spelman has a history of backing the use of GM having spent 15 years being involved in the agricultural industry and working as a director of biotechnology lobbying firm Spelman, Cormack and Associates, a role which her husband continues lead in, which has led to criticisms from anti-GM organizations.

In her first speech as DEFRA Secretary Spelman also took time out to wage holy war on badgers, ordering a population cull due to a supposed link to bovine tuberculosis, though fears of a militant, anti-coalition badger uprising is widely believed to be the real reason behind the decision.