Virtual Worlds and the EU

Virtual Worlds and the EU

I am about to return to Brussels for the final session of the EU's citizen's assembly on virtual worlds. I decided to make a document from my notes on the EU citizens panel on Virtual Worlds. As I have said, my notes were contemporaneous and do not tell a story. This article hopefully documents the lessons I have learned and would like others to read, and of course agree. Hopefully, it's more directed! For more, see overleaf ...

Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

Are Transparency International wearing rose coloured specs?

I find it hard to believe that Transparency International, the world's premier anti-corruption campaigning organisation have marked the UK as having improved on 2020 in their most recent Corruption Perception Index and have the UK as within the top 15 countries. So I ask why might this be? This article looks at the issue of lags, TI's focus on the public sector, press bias via ownership, and some private sector scandals. I finish by asking, if they mark the UK so well despite the evidence, how much worse are the others?, ...

Dangerous Times

Dangerous Times

Anthony Barnet writes at Open Democracy, an article called, “The Media Monarchy”, in which he looks at the Law, the Media, contempt and the bullying of the Supreme Court. He finishes by pointing out that our Constitution is the result of centuries of fighting against originally despotic monarchs amd that the new unaccountable, unchallengeable power potentially oppressing citizens is the media and while he doesn’t make much of it, the UK, has the weakest foreign ownership controls on the media. …

Without news rooms and journalists, we won’t get the news!

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.

the wall at the end

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. …

We need a Press that serves the public, not just Oligarchs

We are down to short strokes on the nation’s political leadership’s response to the Levenson Enquiry and #hackgate. Cameron, at the behest of the right wing press broke of talks with Labour and the Libdems last week and Nick Cohen throws a thromby in the Guardian yesterday and the Sun, in a reverse Godwin’s Law manoeuvre bring Churchill’s indomitable commitment on Press Freedom to play, shown in this tweet, and on the front page of the Sun, …

Yankee Law, freedom and the internet!

The White House, in a reply to a petition on its e-petitions site calling for them to oppose the current legislative attempts to censor the internet in the name of anti-piracy says, among other things,

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity…..”

It adds,

We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.”

It’s a shame they didn’t come to this conclusion earlier and continued to permit the US Trade Representative and the US’s Embassies the world over to lobby and bully for Hollywood’s laws and to seek extradition clearly non-criminal behaviour.

I demand that the US Government withdraw their extradition request for Richard O’Dwyer; its not in-line with the policy above. O’Dwyer is not a criminal; links are legal in the UK. (So actually, it is my view that foreign nationals should not lobby the US Government, just as I do not expect foreign nationals, or tax non-domiciles to finance politics in the UK . I have,however, signed one anti-SOPA petition; it was clearly labelled as a global initiative, so I would ask my US friends and comrades to take up O’Dwyer’s case. )

It is a disgrace that the White House can grandstand for its own fundamental rights and laws and its own business innovation while funding an oppressive lobbying regime and the legal pursuit of hobbyists.

It is a disgrace that British politicians and Judges, spinelessly permit this abuse to occur.

It is a disgrace that American legislators are prepared to attack the freedom of speech for the rest of the world in order to protect the super-profits of billionaires. …

Goodbye and good riddance to the News of the Screws

Goodbye, News of the Screws. It came as a bit of a shock to hear that Murdoch has closed the News of the World, but typical of our times that I first heard of it on Twitter. The twitterati and today’s print press are all predicting the launch of the Sun on Sunday, and now that News International doesn’t own the “Screws”, it hopes it’s free to be able to buy the outstanding public shareholding of BSkyB.

Plus ca change, plus la meme chose!

It seems that firing 200 people is a small price to pay to get hold of BSkyB.

The Government, at the time of writing, are stating that they are constrained by law from taking into account if News Corporation are ‘fit and proper’ to own the UK’s largest private broadcaster. But just because the News of the World has gone, doesn’t mean that the investigation into these crimes should or will stop. News International management and management systems permitted these acts to occur and couldn’t allegedly discover them when originally asked by the police and courts. Is this a fit and proper organisation to own BSkyB? The least the Government should do on the BSkyB takeover is delay the decision and ask Ofcom to investigate if News International is a fit and proper organisation to own BSkyB.

Furthermore, the wrong doers need to be brought to court, and if guilty punished. Part of the wrong doing is, like after the Watergate burglary, the cover up. There are allegations that police officers were paid corruptly by News International, and questions as to the direction of the Met’s early investigations.

The tsunami of public outrage is caused by the allegation that agents of News International illegally hacked a murder victim’s phone, deleted messages and hacked the phones of war heroes, their families and the families of victims of the 7/7 Al-Queda attacks in London. If they’d stuck to royalty, politicians and celebrities, then Boris Johnson’s comments that this was a storm in a teacup stirred up by the left wing media &  the Labour Party, an issue he dismissed as “Codswallop” might have held, but this is not the case. In fact, News International’s paying off of the first twelve celebrities, authorised by their European chairman, James Murdoch, might have been, and now seems  more clearly to be a cynical attempt to close off  judicial enquiry.

So we need to ask, “What did James Murdoch know about the hacking of Milly Dowler’s, the 7/7 victim’s and the War Heroes’ and their families phones?”, when he paid off Sienna Miller and some of the other famous victims.  Was it a genuine attempt to apologise to the wronged or a cover-up?

The investigating police force in this sordid affair is London’s Metropolitan Police, which has not exactly uncovered themselves in glory. The Metropolitan Police is led by an appointed Commissioner and supervised by the Metropolitan Police Authority, whose members are appointed by Boris Johnson, the tory Mayor of London. Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for Mayor next year, has 10 questions to ask Johnson about if he has acted on his view that what has become this great scandal is still “#Codswallop”. The de-facto chief executive, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Kit Malthouse, is appointed by Johnson; he was elected to the London Assembly as a Conservative. The Tory leadership of the MPA will argue that they have no right to interfere in operational issues, but Johnson appointed both the Deputy Mayor and the Commissioner. He needs to answer Ken’s questions.

The worrying thing about Livingstone’s fears is that the Met are the only police force in the UK with such a political/democratic oversight. Given the example of the last two years, and what we are about to find out, we, as citizens, need to ask if we want any more ‘democratic’ control of the Police. The Coalition Agreement’s  Crime & Policing section proposes more of this sort of thing, with police oversight undertaken by ‘directly elected’ individuals. This must at the least be re-considered.

The actions of News International have placed the questions of personal privacy,  journalistic standards, corruption and police supervision at the centre of today’s politics.

It’s not over yet, and shouldn’t be. …

The right to be wrong in public

Reading the New Statesman, over the last few days, and they state that in the UK, journalists can defend themselves against the allegation of inaccuracy. Judges will test them on how hard they worked to verify the quality/accuracy of the information, was there an urgent need to publish, did the journalist/publisher present it as fact or with caveats and was the other side of the story presented. (For more see, “Truth, Lies & Fools“.)


Originally published on my sun/oracle blog, republished here in June 2016. …