Eternal vigilance

I have been pointed at China’s Social Credit Scoring plans via two routes. The first is this extract published at Wired from Rachel Botsman’s book, “Who can we trust”. This details the Chinese Governments plan to build a social credit scoring scheme, but the sources and incentives are horrendously comprehensive, including their leading match making agency. (It’s taken me some time to read this article, an I have bookmarked and annotated it in my diigo feed.) Worrying things about the Chinese scheme is that voluntary participation becomes mandatory; while rewards and incentives are at the forefront of everyone’s mind today, control and punishment is planned, in the Chinese case in the short term they are talking about foreign and domestic travel restrictions but as I note, the countries leading dating agency is one of the surveillance agencies. There is also talk of social investment loans (helicopter money) which become available on the basis of social scores.

The second route was an article on Medium by someone who got banned from AirBnB. He pointed at an article on Buzzfeed, “A Chinese-Style Digital Dystopia Isn’t As Far Away As We Think” where a series of regulatory decisions in the USA seem to be paving the way to something similar, a powerful illustration that the argument that surveillance is OK if it’s private sector is horrendously false.

One worrying aspect of the proposed Chinese system is that your reputation is as good as that of your friends and we have idiots trying to replicate it with peeple, and reading up on that has started me worrying about Linkedin and its competitors and we all know we should get off facebook.

The wired article came before machine learning and massive scale AI became a hot topic, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens to social credit scores when they let rip with the application of machine learning. The automated derivation of reputation scores also raises issues of safeguarding, libel and context. Safeguarding and libel laws require the machines to tell the truth, in fact safeguarding may require machines to hide the truth. Context requires a level of nuance that we are unsure if machines will ever have, but even if they get there, justice and judges must remain human and the code must be open; China’s & Facebook’s is not!. The GDPR gives data subjects rights, perhaps its time to revisit the seven principles.

Of course in the UK, we have our very own examples of machines and data sharing getting it wrong. Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary has suspended the intra-government and some of the other immigration data sharing as a result of the backlash on the Windrush scandal. (I wonder if this I an excuse to look again at the DPA Immigration Exemption clauses.) Much of what is happening in China and the USA is also happening in the UK, it’s just that the surveillance agents are the US owned datenkraken and the British State have legalised the hacking of their data streams.

What’s happening in China is terrible, but our governments are following suit! The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. …

Power in Iran & the UK

A couple of years ago, I found this picture, illustrating the relationships between organs of government in Iran. I we struck by the similarities between it and the UK.

On revisiting it over the last few weeks, I am less enamoured of the similarities. Originally I saw the Queen & Iran’s Supreme Leader as equivalent and the UK’s Premier & the Iranian President as equally the equivalent positions. The Guardian Council is the House of Lords and we should note that the Assembly of Experts is elected.

If you study the diagram and look at the powers appointment of the Supreme Leader, we can see that the British Premier is more powerful as all those appointments are made in the UK on the so-called recommendation of the Prime Minister.

At least the Iranian President is directly elected and the Supreme Leader indirectly so.

ooOOOoo

I think I might create dot graphs of the two governments. …

Privacy & compliance, reprised

I have had a look at the changes in Law, and thus the potential changes in data protection strategy since I first wrote about the conflicts between privacy, compliance and law enforcement.

The US courts have been siding with citizens and their privacy rights, the ECJ has been doing the same. Parliament has been going in the opposite direction, although the Supreme Court has declared the Data Retention laws to be contrary to Human Rights Law and should we actually leave the EU we will find obtaining an “Adequacy” agreement harder than we’d hope as the EU Parliament, Commission and the EU Data Protection Supervisory board focus on the rights of privacy from Governments. This will be a significant problem if the ECJ strikes down the model clauses and binding corporate rules.

I briefly touch on the fact that the European Laws are meant to be implementing the globally agreed seven principles of Data Protection, of Notice, Purpose, Consent, Security, Disclosure, Access and Accountability and that in a rights based jurisdiction, these rights must be protected from the Government as well as from Corporates.

 

The language has developed since 1980 but these principles were agree by the OECD in 1980.

I conclude the article by saying,

Today, under EU law, the lawful purpose would seem to be more flexible, cross border transfers are more restricted, and may become more so, and the EU is more concerned about nation state compliance; it’s what you’d expect from a political entity consisting of states and the children of people surviving fascist or Stalinist rule.

This political heritage should be remembered by those that see these laws merely as a business burden, …

No safe space

No safe space

I made a storify after the election, and its terrorist disruption about the, mainly Tory response in blaming the internet. I don’t make the point that the Northern Ireland “troubles” were pre-internet but I do talk about the Tories, and May’s instinctive response is to censor and silence dissidents. I also point to Amnesty International’s critical report on the UK’s surveillance laws. I transferred this to the blog, as at the original date of publication, once Storify announced they were abandoning their service.

 …

PASOKisation in Britain

PASOKisation in Britain

The once mighty PASOK has been reduced to the smallest Party in the new Greek Parliament. In 2009, it won 44% of the popular vote and formed the Government; earlier this year, it won a under 5%. Its decision to join the New Democrat led coalition in 2010 had led to a split, with much of the left of PASOK leaving to support its eventual replacement, Syrizia. PASOK has been killed by its own austerity policies and walking away from the hopes and causes of their political base.  …

I need 27 suppliers? Watching film in the UK

I need 27 suppliers? Watching film in the UK

A UK movies fan has to subscribe to 27 services to get a full catalog of current(ish) releases. On the 27th Sept, Torrentfeak comments on an MPAA funded report on film distribution in the USA.  It highlights the oddity that the most used service (Netflix) has the weakest catalogue. Later in the year, the researcher, KPMG LLP published a report on the UK market, and locally hosted here … which Torrentfreak commented on here…. The headline was that a film fan wanting the best catalogue would need to subscribe to 27 services, which seems a bit excessive.  …

Don’t (British) girls want to code?

Don’t (British) girls want to code?

Among the debates about the UK’s futures is how to ensure that there are enough high wage jobs and skilled labour to perform them for our future. The need for effectively skilled people today & tomorrow requires a clear education and skills supply policy. Furthermore there is a lack of clarity as to where these jobs might come from, with some arguing that we need to ‘rebalance’ the economy, usually away from the financial services industry, others that we need stronger copyright laws in order to allow our ‘creative’ industries to grow. Carlotta Perez and her acolytes, with others suggest that the IT revolution is not over and that it and its multiplier effects are the source of future work and wealth. …

Voter Suppression?

Voter Suppression?

The Guardian reports that the electoral commission have announced that they propose to extending proof of identity checks at the polling station from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. This has been a while coming. I reviewed Mike Buckley’s Banana Republic UK, in which he argued that, proof of Identity should be presented when voting and/or applying for a postal vote, identity checks should be undertaken when applying for inclusion on the electoral roll & postal votes should be restricted to those who have a need. His arguments also strongly suggest that judicial scrutiny of contested or suspicious results should be easier to start. …

The politics of intervention in Syria revisited

The politics of intervention in Syria revisited

The Guardian run a retrospective story on Parliament’s decision not to use British military force in Syria after the chemical weapons attacks there. One of the threads in the story is that the old division of powers between the executive and legislature has been irreparably changed. In my mind the precedents and the development of Law needs to be put in the context of the decisions taken about Suez, the Falklands and Iraq, the latter two military interventions both having Parliamentary debates before military action. It should also be born in mind that the US used to have a similar  disposition but changed their laws after Nixon’s escalation of the Vietnam War. …

Web Blocking in the UK

Web Blocking in the UK

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. …