Archive for the ‘Civil Liberties’ Category

Census 2011

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Just got my census form through the post and the prospect of picking up my pen is making me very uncomfortable.

I came across this article in Computer Weekly:

Glen Watson, the census director, refutes claims that data would be subject to the Patriot Act (as it is being processed by the US company Lockheed Martin), on the following grounds:

“Under the contractual and operational arrangements we have put in place, no employees of Lockheed Martin UK or of its US parent or of any other US company will be able to access personal census data. The US Patriot Act could not therefore be used to access such data,” he said.

What he is saying is that they will be processing the data without actually having any access to it! Wow. I’m just imagining what the grant permissions would look like on their database…

So, does anyone know if there are safeguards to prevent our data from leaking over to the US? If the director of census doesn’t understand how a computer works, can I assume the entire operation is flawed?

Can I object to completing the census on conscientious grounds? (ie the conscious part of my brain is saying it’s being run by a bunch of fools)

Radio4 play gentle with Anonymous

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

This morning we were treated to Evan Davis interviewing a “representative” of Anonymous “coldblood”

I was expecting a full on assault – to vilify the 22 year old as an internet thug, a hoodlum, the kind of scumbag that middle England DailMailers would like to see locked up, or at lest publicly flogged with wet kippers.

But no, we were treated to an interesting insight into the mind of the bright, young hacktavist who, to his credit, represented his cause with aplomb (being interviewed by radio4 would have scared the crap out me).

Credit to Evan for being fair.

Hackers are nor crackers. Hackers build stuff (small things like the Internet, open source software etc). Crackers break stuff and steal things. Although the talents and skills are similar, the intentions are very different. Similar to a kitchen knife – a lethal weapon or handy utensil for chopping tasty things.

But. Piss off the hackers and they’ll bite back. Hackers are also driven by a fierce sense of social justice and democracy. If any government thinks they can censor the internet <insert random wikileaks reference> then they clearly don’t understand what they are up against. These hacktivists will run rings around any organisation <insert visa/paypal/amazon/swiss banks  reference> who try to attack the freedoms upon which the internet was created. (One more thing – Switzerland? Moral standpoint? WTF??)

Is this the start of anarchy? Are we seeing a fundamental shift in the balance of power? Are governments getting a tiny bit nervous?

I hope so. The battle lines are being drawn,and I know who I’m backing.

Maybe even Evan’s gentle approach will win the hearts of Tunbridge Wells….

Why I Like Pirates

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

By Tom, age 6.

Once upon a time there was a Dark Lord called Lord Mandleson. His boss was a man called Mr Brown who’s got his own kingdom. Mr Brown had a terribly difficult year looking after his kingdom and so in August 2009 he went on holiday and left the Dark Lord in charge.

The people in the kingdom didn’t choose Lord Mandleson, so they didn’t really like him being in charge. This kingdom must have been really hard to rule, because after just a few days he also went on holiday, to an sunny island called Corfu to stay with his friends the Rothschild family and a man called Mr Geffen. The Rothschild were very, very rich and had a yacht and everything. Mr Geffen is a really important person in the music and movie business – he  even made Shrek!

Very soon after Lord Mandleson returns from his holiday, he announces that pirates on the internet are a really really big problem and that the government needs to make new laws really quickly to stop them from killing all our musicians. We were all scared.

These bad pirates were stealing all sorts of music and movies which made a lot of people very upset, but in particular the big important companies that look after musicians. Some clever people in France said that pirates would soon cost these companies €240 billion and 1.2 million jobs.

So the government made a new law called the Digital Economy Bill, which (amongst other things too complicated for me to understand) was meant to stop these bad pirates by making their internet slower and slower and eventually just stop. They thought that if the pirates couldn’t share music, they’d pop to the shops and buy a CD instead, just like a good person would. My daddy told me a story – when he was about my age, some big important people said the same things about “cassettes” and that they were constantly being told that “home taping is killing music”. I don’t really know what a cassette is, but he said he often used one to copy the radio before deciding which his fav bands were. Daddy has lots and lots of big black discs called records which play music when scratched by a needle. I’m asking Santa for one next Christmas.

So this law was rushed before the important men and women who run the kingdom – who all sit in a big room under a loud clock called Ben. There are 646 of these important people – 187 liked this Bill, 47 didn’t, the rest were probably on holiday. 20 of them talked for many, many hours and had lots of arguments, the other 174 must have been very naughty because they were busy being whipped. Lots of people wrote letters to the important men and women (20,000 – gosh), and a gazillion people on twitter all had a jolly good shout – all asking them to stop what they were doing and talk to some smart wizards who know lots about computers and things. But Mr Brown’s people were in a big rush and had no time for more talking. Maybe they didn’t really understand much about computers. Maybe they were just in a hurry to do the dishes because they kept talking about doing the washing-up.

At first I was really happy because all those musicians had been saved from the nasty pirates. But being small and curious (and a bit precocious), I wondered what the pirates were doing that was so nasty and evil. But all they were doing is sharing music with lots of people so they can also dance and sing along to their fav music. If I played guitar a bit better I’d want everyone in the world to hear it. These pirates don’t sound very nasty to me – I was always told that stealing is bad but sharing is good.

And then I wondered how you catch a pirate. Apparently, you can listen to them talking and catch them giving music away. They do lots of listening in far away places like China and Iran. I think Mr Brown wants to listen in to us as well. The trouble is that pirates are smart and it’s really easy for them to talk to each other without being heard. I have a best friend at school and we often write notes to each other in special secret code so that the teacher won’t understand what we’re talking about – it’s really fun and dead easy to do.

My daddy says that now that we’ve all got computers, he doesn’t bother buying records any more. He sometimes listens to music on the internet which is really clever and he sometimes plays me music that nobody has ever heard before. Some of it I like, but some sounds a bit like a strangled cat. I think he calls this “jazz” music.

The only people who don’t like pirates are the big important people who still make the records. But if people don’t want records any more, they might have to ask the pirates how they share music. Only really old people like my dad still use  records and the people that make them are even older – the Dark Lord Mandleson‘s friend is apparently over 200 years old!

The people in Mr Brown’s kingdom are going to choose a new leader soon. Not sure why, maybe they don’t like him or perhaps he’s too tired and grumpy. One of the people who wants his job is a very rich man with a big forehead who waves his arms around a lot. He’s also got some friends who really, really hates pirates and has promised to banish them from the face of the earth. Eurgh.

But there’s also a man called Mr Nick who thinks that big companies are bullies and that pirates aren’t so bad. Maybe they’ll become best of friends? I hope so, because I quite like pirates and I think I want to be one when I grow up. Either that or play guitar in a rock band and tour places like Corfu so that the whole world can listen to my music.

I’d wish I could choose who was going to run our kingdom, but they don’t think 6 year olds are important or clever enough.

I just hope there are enough clever people in the kingdom to do it for me.

Watching you, watching me

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Authorities of all flavours are capturing our lives every day. Our esteemed government du jour, with its pathetic “OMG! Terrorists everywhere!!” mentality decided to try and outlaw photographing police. The police, naturally, have run around arresting every photographer who happen to train a lens on them – using (abusing) section 44 as the catch-all to subvert civil liberties. Had it not been for the plethora of mobile phone cameras at the G20 protests, the truth would have remained inside their dim helmets. Check out this as an classic example of small minded fools with too much authority.

It’s been well documented that London is the most surveyed city in the world – the ubiquity of CCTV cameras is astonishing and something that the vast majority of Londoners seem to accept.

Recently, I’ve noticed something quite disgusting prowling the streets of London, cutesy little smart cars with CTTV cameras strapped on top – filming us all going about our boring little lives. To what purpose? I’ve no idea and I don’t care. It’s bad enough having CCTV dripping from every lamppost – at least we know where they are, but it’s another to have these insidious things tracking our every move.

So, enough’s enough.

If they want to spy on us, I want to spy on them.

Every time I see one of these wretched contraptions, I’m gonna whip my camera out and shove it right in their face. Call it retribution, justice, whatever – it’s about time the tables were turned.

I encourage you to do the same. Send me photos of these twerps in their cars and I’ll bung them on this blog.

Just to remind you –

  • it is NOT illegal to take photographs of the police
  • police do NOT have the power to delete any images or destroy film