GCHQoogle: so much for "Don't be evil"

Using the Paris attacks as an excuse, governments around the world are clamping down on free speech, and the tools that make that speech possible in the digital age.

Cameron, who clearly read somewhere that it doesn’t matter what you say, so long as you sound decisive, has declared war on cryptography.

I talk a bit about this in a rant I recorded earlier:

A secure internet secures us all, and despite having never so much as got a parking ticket, I feel deeply uncomfortable in the UK – which is officially the most spied on country in the “free” world. Where every car journey is tracked, where people are recorded (both audio and video) in virtually every public space, where every text message, email, phone conversation and website is recorded and analysed.

Where, if Cameron has his way, it will soon be a crime to use tools to resist this ever watchful eye.

Not knowing if you’re being watched, and not knowing what conclusion some faceless spook or bureaucrat will make from the activity of your day to day life is stressful and socially damaging. People will always say “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, but really it’s all about context.

Granted, there are crazies out there, but the gunmen in the Paris attack were known, and they communicated openly with each other. Why weren’t they picked up? Well, the French already stated, that it is simple not possible to investigate every possible lead – so throwing the net wider and making the haystack bigger, while sounding good in an election campaign, can only make it less likely that you’ll spot the next attack.

Destroying freedom in order to protect it is not winning, Mr Cameron. We lived for decades under the threat of Christian terrorists, and the threat of US/USSR nuclear annihilation, without shredding the constitution.

Putting the whole country under surveillance in a modern reboot of East Germany is not going to protect us. Destroying the UK’s IT sector is not going protect us either.

Christian Payne and Cory Doctorow say this much much better that I did.

Perhaps trying to get to the reasons why so many poor people are angry and turning to religious fanaticism and violence might be a better idea?

But of course you won’t. You need to appear Tough. You need to Lead. To support your backers.

The Cheltenham eye of Sauron is being turned inwards, not to protect UK citizens from terrorists, but to protect the interests of your super rich friends from the dispossessed and increasingly angry poor, as you strip away their freedoms, education, healthcare, houses and livelihoods.

My blood is boiling again, so I think it’s time to sign off and go drink some herbal tea.

I’ll leave you with a video by Russell Brand. No matter what your personal views are on this guy, his video on the Charlie Hebdo massacre hits the nail absolutely on the head.


Unless you have been living under a rock the last few days you will be aware of Google’s new social networking product – Google Buzz.

Unfortunately it would seem that some assumptions made by the designers and the automatic opt-in nature of the service has lead to some serious issues.

For me it underlines some of the problems with entrusting your personal data to the cloud. That is not to say of course that it is a user’s fault that their data gets shared in such a way – everything in the day to day usage of these tools gives the user a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The trouble is, that this expectation is largely an illusion. When using cloud services, you are entrusting them and you hope that they will exercise the same care when dealing with your data as you would – but unfortunately this is rarely the case.

Whether through carelessness or malicious action information has a tendency to leak. Assumptions made by the design team can be proved poor. So in short, never put anything on the internet that you wouldn’t be happy to see on a billboard.

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It is now 2010, and for those living in the UK it is also an election year.

Both Labour and Tory seem to be indistinguishable at this point, making the choice at the ballet paper a choice of which way you want to be screwed. It seems clear that both Tory and Labour seem to want to lock us into an authoritarian statist and high tax agenda for another 5 years at least.

David Cameron is so sure of his position that instead of engaging on issues or attacking Gordon Brown on his  policy failures (of which there are many) that he resorts to childish name-calling rather than entering into a real debate.

The Tories started making some good noises early in the campaign about individual liberty and transparency, and they have pledged to scrap the ID card. However, they intend to continue Labour’s authoritarian policies and (among many other things) plan to scrap the human rights act and further centralise powers into the executive.

Labour’s record on the other hand is well known – did ok in the first term, but chronic overspending on insane projects has left us with a shattered economy which tax payers are going to be working hard to repair for years to come (and there’s the small matter of that pesky illegal war).

With (politically inclined) voters crying out for an alternative, and while we still have a system of party politics, my question is simple – where on earth are the Liberal Democrats and what do they stand for?

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