Guido is on the Beach

In the Hamptons, USA. Might be back next week.

Gossip will resume on my return.

Plagiarist of the Year Awards

Bloggers are often accused of being mere cut ‘n pasters, undoubtedly many of us are, but when we do, we usually give a link, credit or hat tip to our source. But the Dead-Tree-Press of the mainstream media seem less willing to do the same. Guido’s amazing ability to come up with stories and angles that Marina Hyde at the Guardian also thinks up has become legendary. Indeed the Guardian Diarists even think up the same jokes as Guido nowadays. Always just a day or two after Guido…

Guido is an avid reader of Recess Monkey, and noticed a story that he ran on Thursday about an over-heard young researcher using the chat-up line “If you come out with me, I’ll introduce you to the prime minister.” It brought a smile. So this morning when he read the Sunday Times’ Atticus column he was amazed to read the same story. Is the Monkey moonlighting for the Sunday Times?

Or is it another cut ‘n paste job? Guido thinks it time the Blogosphere came together to honour the MSM with its own awards. A nomination panel should be assembled, composed of bloggers who have had stories lifted without attribution. A suitable trophy should be found for the Press Plagiarist of the Year Award.

Contact Guido (box on the right) if you want to be on the nominations commitee and with great examples of cut ‘n pasting. Special prizes for cut ‘n paste jobs which copy errors as well. Only unattributed specimens are eligible, we want to encourage them to give credit where credit is due.

Tory Split

One idea being talked about increasingly in Tory circles now that the Tories are an almost exclusively an electorally English party is that the party could be broken up into a federation.

Tartan Tories in particular think their only hope of winning elections is to fight as a Scottish party, English Tories already win their national elections and Wales, well, who cares its never votes Tory anyway. Crazy for a party that until recently called itself the Conservative and Unionist party?

Doesn’t some ex-Tory tycoon bankroll the New Party in Scotland? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Labour Broke e-Laws During Election Campaign

This post has been in gestation for a month and has been held up for various reasons, including Zack Exley threatening to sue Guido. It has been edited down to what can definitely be stood up in court – Zack has seen it and whined extensively about it. Despite being invited to make corrections, he has failed to point out any specific errors. There is a lot more to this, (Zack, the comments section is open).

There is evidence of law-breaking by the American left-winger George Bush dubbed the “garbage man” and Labour hired to create its sophisticated email campaign. Zack previously worked at the anti-Bush, Soros backed MoveOn.Org campaign. He also worked on Kerry’s campaign. All the Labour Party campaign emails designed by Zack made bold references to the Privacy Statement on Labour’s website which states

You may be asked for personal information if you complete one of the forms on this site. Please see below the information we ask for and what this information is used for. In each case we will only use the information about you for the purpose for which you provide it. The Labour Party does not sell or disclose this information to outside organisations or individuals, nor transfer it outside the United Kingdom

It is a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act to obtain information by misrepresentation. Guido has evidence that data collected by the Labour Party was in fact, contrary to their privacy claims, disclosed to an outside private corporation. The corporation is Email Reaction, a firm usually hired by banks and similar mass marketers. The Labour Party’s email campaign utilised Email Reaction to embed unique Spyware links in the emails to identify who opened an email. Link tracking systems can analyse signals sent back from embedded software code in the emails to report who clicked on a link in an email and when. The Spyware is sophisticated enough so that individual histories for each individual can be compiled showing their full history (emails sent, clicks, opens, donations made). The Labour party collected postcode details when it collected email addresses for its database which could be used to tie in with the data available from the massive Mosaic consumer database.

David Naylor, partner, Technology Transactions Group at global technology and finance law firm, Morrison & Foerster points out that

the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications 2002 introduces new laws across Europe controlling the use of cookies and other tracking technology used on websites as well as location-based data.

These laws were brought into force in the UK on 11 December 2003, under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Companies and other data controllers that ignore these laws may be subject to regulatory investigation and fines, civil liability and, in some circumstances, criminal liability. In certain circumstances, criminal sanctions may be imposed for breaches of data protection laws not only against a company that acts as a data controller, but also against its directors. You should note that the regulations apply to all cookies and tracking devices, whether or not they are used to store personally identifiable data.

During the campaign Guido had been digging into this for a few weeks when he exchanged emails with Zack Exley and challenged him on this issue. Despite initial denials, when presented with proof he later admitted that the links were in the emails, but denied they were utilised and claimed they were an over-sight by the outside software supplier Email Reaction. He tried to put Guido off the scent, eventually threatening that he would “cut you off for life” if Guido disclosed this information. (Guido will cope.)

Subsequent campaign email sent out by the Labour party did not contain the unique identifiers. The press office and the legal department will not respond to any information requests. Failure to disclose the Spyware and failure to offer opt out facilities are criminal offences under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. Melanie Onn, the Constitutional and Legal Officer for the Legal and Financial Compliance Taskforce for the Labour Party stonewalled on giving answers to all questions and requests prior to May 5. Applications and requests under the Data Protection Act were ignored – in breach of the law. But breaching the Data Protection Act by not supplying blogging applicants such as Guido and Tim Ireland with the information they are obliged to supply, in the time they are supposed to do, is the least of Melanie Onn’s worries. Guido understands that privacy advocates are contemplating legal action in what would be a test case, who better to test the laws against than the governing party that introduced them?

Guido is Overseas

Away for the christening of baby Ms Fawkes. Blogging from the Blackberry (if you can read this…)

Galloway : Oath Oaf

A reader, Gary, writes to make an interesting observation about the member for Baghdad Central & Bethnal Green.

Galloway has I think left London to fly to Washington for his sparring match with the US Senate sub-committee which has accused him over the oil scandal.

Problem for him is, that he has not sworn the oath in the House of Commons. He will not be back in London until after the Queen’s Speech, which is the deadline when all MPs have to have affirmed or taken the oath.

Unless the Speaker lets him off, if he sets foot on the floor of the House when he gets back, he will be fined £500, and his Bethnal Green and Bow seat would be automatically vacated.

Maude : Sieghart’s Fantasies

Writing in The Times last week, Mary Ann Sieghart claimed Maude was caught plotting with Stephen Dorrell and Andrew Tyrie to get Andrew Lansley to run as the modernisers’ candidate. Maude told the Indy it was “pure fantasy” – Guido did wonder why they would choose Lansley, a latter day Major type figure. She also said Willets ought to be leader.

So she was wrong on both counts.

Yes m’Lord

How times change, the second chamber was ‘an ancient indefensible relic…waiting to be blown away by New Labour’ according to Lord Adonis in 1997.

As for Tony Lord Banks…

Integrity, Integrity, Integrity

Guido has cast his eye over Lord Drayson before. Remember him? The businessmen, who has been appointed as a Defence Minister, gave a £50,000 donation to the Labour party. Then had a business breakfast with the Prime Minister, gave

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Guido Thanks Guardian Readers

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Fear of Boris

The Tory leadership race came up on Question Time, Dimbleby intervened “Before I ask Boris Johnson on this, I just want to take a question from the audience.” The audience member asked whether Boris should be leader and the

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Howard Slaps Down John Bercow & Ian Taylor

Howard told the meeting of the parliamentary party yesterday that ultra-moderniser Bercow and Ken Clarke acolyte and Europhile Ian Taylor were examples of how MPs should not behave if the party is to have a civilised discussion about its future.

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