Jennifer Arcuri Interview

Support Positive Twitter Day This Friday

Since 2012 Sunder Katwala and Guido have been promoting the idea of the last Friday in August being one day of positive exchanges on Twitter. The political Twittersphere in particular can be a horrible nasty place, what with the culture wars and political extremists generally being unpleasant. Brexit has made even usually reasonable people bad tempered. None of us are immune from negativity, Guido is a repeat offender. Wouldn’t it be pleasantly calming if, for at least one day, we all tried to be nice and civil in our tweets? We sorely need to try again…

Last year a lot of mental health charities got involved and helped spread the message, this year Twitter are hosting an event at their London HQ. Spread a bit of civility in these polarised times. Twitter can be a place for the exchange of information rather than the abuse of political opponents. It is not just pay day on Friday, it is #PositiveTwitterDay. Let’s try for one day to make Twitter a positive experience for everyone…

To tweet your support just click this link: #PositiveTwitterDay

Boris Unveils New Immigration Policy on Facebook Live

In another sign of the changing times, Boris has become the first Prime Minister to announce a new policy to the nation from his desk via Facebook Live. Scheduled to hit commuters on the way home and in time for the evening news. Boris is introducing an immigration rule-change to make the UK “even more welcoming” to scientists from around the world. Global Brexit starting to take shape under someone who actually believes in it…

UPDATE: Note the bus in the background. Cue conspiracy theories…

UPDATE II: We’ve now learned the details: Boris wants boffins to be able to avail themselves of a new fast-track visa to come to the UK as easily as possible. Boris’s policy is “to ensure the UK is the most attractive country to live in and develop new ideas”, he is set to discuss a range options with leading institutions and universities including:

  • Abolishing the cap on numbers under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas
  • Expanding the pool of UK research institutes and universities able to endorse candidates
  • Creating criteria that confer automatic endorsement, subject to immigration checks
  • Ensuring dependents have full access to the labour market
  • Removing the need to hold an offer of employment before arriving
  • Accelerated path to settlement

The plan is to launch the new visa later this year…

Experian Snubs Brexit Party Despite Working With Labour and Tories

Amid the perennial spectacle of Carole Cadwalladr trying to milk the activities of a small over-hyped data company for all it’s worth, the tinfoil hat brigade have been remarkably unfussed about an organisation that has been amassing one of the largest databases of personal information in the UK for over 30 years. They claim to process a staggering 750 million data records from 600 sources about UK citizens each month, holding data on 51 million individuals in Britain. They’ve also regularly run data-driven marketing campaigns for the Labour Party for over a decade, culminating in a major data scandal last year. The credit rating agency Experian…

They even boast of being able to provide “actionable insight on every UK consumer, household and location” – exactly the sort of ‘micro-targeting’ that normally gets Carole’s antennae spinning like a washing machine. Top tip for “fearless investigative journalists”: micro-targeting by Obama or the Labour Party = good, microtargeting by Leavers or Tories = bad.

Experian claim that their data “segments UK consumers through financial behaviour, demographic classification, digital behaviour and buying habits”, giving their clients the opportunity to tailor marketing campaigns using 500+ variables. Clearly they’re happy for corporates and political parties to “meet your data self” too, for the right price…

When they’re not running their irritating “data self” ads, Experian have also done work for the Tories and the Better Together campaign in the 2014 Scottish referendum, while they still host Labour’s main ‘Contact Creator’ database. So the Brexit Party were surprised to find that when they approached Experian as well, they initially made good progress in their discussions before unexpectedly being told:

“Experian has taken the decision to not provide services to any organisation which is explicitly campaigning for or against Britain’s exit from the European Union. As a consequence we are not able to help you on this occasion.”

Presumably they’ll be immediately cancelling all of their lucrative contracts with the officially Remain-campaigning Labour Party too then…

Cable Enjoys Summer Bash After Plugging Huawei

Vince Cable has long been a staunch advocate of greater Huawei involvement in the UK. From stepping down as Business Secretary in 2015 right up to this year he’s been busy penning op-eds talking them up and defending them in interviews. He even launched a public attack on Theresa May in 2016 over the fact that she demanded more stringent security vetting for Huawei when they were in Government together…

Luckily for Vince all that loyalty hasn’t gone unrewarded, he was happily enjoying Huawei’s hospitality at their Summer Reception in Banqueting House on Whitehall last night. Also on the guestlist were Shadow Business Minister Chi Onwurah and Labour MP Daniel Zeichner, the SNP’s Lisa Cameron and Tory peers Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Michael Bates and David Willetts who gave a speech opposing a blanket ban on Huawei 5G technology. Whether or not they’re allowed to help connect the UK’s 5G network, they’re certainly good at making connections in Parliament…

Is it too cynical of Guido to wonder if old twinkle toes is not thinking about his retirement and that perhaps a few non-executive directorships for the former Business Secretary would be in order. Given Vince’s SpAd at BEIS was Ashley Lumsden, who just so happens to now be head of Government Relations for Huawei, this is more likely than you might think. At least that way he’ll get paid for the service he is now giving Huawei for free…

Clegg: ‘Absolutely No Evidence’ Russia Influenced Brexit

Carole Cadwalladr and David Lammy have been spluttering furiously into their cornflakes all morning after Nick Clegg told the Today Programme that there was “absolutely no evidence” that Russia or Cambridge Analytica influenced Brexit. Clegg said “we have a duty to explain fact from some of the allegations that have been made”. Clearly not a duty that Carole has ever felt bound by herself

“Much though I understand why people want to reduce that eruption in British politics to some kind of plot or conspiracy, some use of new social media through opaque means, I’m afraid the roots to British euroscepticism go very, very deep…”

Never mind the fact that the official report from the Information Commissioner’s Office already crushed all of Carole’s grand conspiracies about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Brexit, raising questions about her pet whistleblower Chris Wylie instead. Clegg hasn’t triggered anyone this badly since tuition fees…

If she wants to start addressing disinformation on social media she could start with her own Observer ‘scoop’ over the weekend in which she deliberately mistranscribes a video of Steve Bannon talking about Boris. Bannon says “we went back and forth over text”, instead Carole transcribes this as “back and forth over the text” which then forms the crux of her story. The same people who’d be the first to say Bannon is a pathological liar are now taking an entirely unsubstantiated boast from him as the gospel truth before distorting it even further themselves…

Government Cocks Up Porn Laws

The Government is continuing to have a hard time getting their ludicrous Porn Laws through, this morning Jeremy Wright came to the Commons to confirm Guido’s report from last month that the Porn Laws will not be coming into force on 15th July. The problem apparently is that DCMS forgot to notify the EU of the change in the law, a cock-up which Wright says he only noticed last Friday, meaning the turgid legislation will be delayed for at least a further six months. Beautifully sums up May’s dire premiership – she can’t even get her grossly authoritarian legislation enacted because she hasn’t managed to leave the EU…

If anything this looks like a convenient excuse for ministers who have belatedly realised just how counterproductive and unenforceable the legislation will be, not to mention how deeply unpopular it will be when the unsuspecting public get caught with their pants down. Guido has spoken to MPs and ministers who were genuinely taken aback when they realised just how much of a mess the Government’s bone-headed policy is. DCMS won’t give a hard deadline following this third delay, by the time a new PM takes over the legislation will be so limp they should just toss it out…

Tory Leadership Cat-astrophe

Pakistan’s ruling party discovered the purrils of social media over the weekend after an unfur-tunate incident – politicians from Imran Khan’s party were left unamew-sed after the party’s official Facebook feed livestreamed a press conference. With a cat filter on:

The party evidently didn’t see the funny side and issued a humourless clarification for their cat-astrophic error. To stop Westminster watchers feline left out, Guido has given the Tory leadership contenders a similar makeover for your purr-usal:

Purr-haps the only surprise is that Rory Stewart hasn’t done it himself already…

ChUKs and TIGs Now Fighting Over Data

The splitting of the ChUKs and the TIGs is not without pain whatever they spin to their media friends. A row is developing about “who owns the data?”

Legally The Independent Group (TIG) Limited controls the data. Gavin Shuker resigned as a director on 21 May, 2019. The company is registered as the data controller with the ICO. So far so clear…

Chris Leslie’s wife, Nicola Murphy, was appointed a director in his place, along with Anna Soubry’s other half, Neil Davidson. So the Leslie – Soubry axis of ChUK would appear to be in control of the political data of hundreds of thousands of people and, more importantly, the ability to tap them up for financing. Not quite.

Shuker quite properly argues the data was collected in the first instance on behalf of The Independent Group. Which is now back in business with the defecting MPs. Too bad say the ChUKs, we’re in control now…

Except the controlling shareholder is still one Gavin Shuker, with the legal power to hire and fire the directors. So the TIGs actually control the ChUK’s company legally and the ICO will probably side with Shuker if it goes to court. The ICO are unlikely to look kindly on two organisations sharing the same data…

See also ChUKs Infighting Kicks Off Blame Game

Boris Launches Official Campaign Website

Continuing their soft launch this week, today Team Boris have launched BackBoris.com, their official campaign website. It is hoping to sign up Conservative Party members, Councillors, as well as recruit an army of social media ambassadors and people who will host events. It’s all kicking off…

Freedom Victory: Porn Laws Could Be Delayed

Theresa May’s porn block was originally set to be introduced last year, first it was delayed to the start of April 2019 and then moved back again to July 15. Now the Daily Star is reporting that it could be delayed yet again after Government figures acknowledged they will be unable to enforce the totalitarian Porn Laws if browsers such as Firefox and Chrome roll out DNS encryption, which both major browsers are reportedly working on. Kleenex shareholders will be breathing sighs of relief…

The freedom lovers at the Adam Smith Institute are naturally very pleased too:

“A delay isn’t quite a drop, but this dreadful policy is clearly losing support in government as MPs wake up to the reality of how unpopular blocking their constituents’ porn is. The next leader has to be someone who understands the state has no business in how voters choose to get busy.”

The last thing that’s going to endear politicians to voters when they’re having time to themselves is the hand of the state reaching in instead…

What Porn Sites Will Look Like From July 15

Theresa May may have failed to get Brexit through but at least she’ll still be leaving behind a momentous legacy – banning plastic straws and blocking porn sites. Guido brings you the pictures you don’t want to see – what adult websites in the UK will look like after the Porn Laws come in on 15th July:

It’s not like there’s been a spate of large-scale personal data breaches over recent years which could cause any issues with linking people’s individual ‘browsing’ habits with specific user IDs. Nor will there be hundreds of scammers waiting in the wings to set up fake websites to steal gullible punters’ credit card details. Tech-savvy teenagers will simply get round it with VPNs, it’s older users who are more likely to end up in a sticky situation. Or not…

H/t Continental Telegraph

Remainers Overwhelmingly Outspent Leavers on Facebook

Guido reported during the campaign, Change UK were massively outstripping the spending of other parties on Facebook throughout the election. By the last week of the campaign, the Lib Dems caught up with Change UK, followed by the Greens, Labour, then the Tories. In that crucial week, of the parties in England that won seats, the Brexit Party spent the least and won the most…

Remainers Set Up Data Harvesting Shell Campaign

After spending years accusing Vote Leave of setting up another group to get around spending limits while studiously avoiding questions about the five new campaigns they set up and into which they funnelled more than £1 million in the month before the referendum, Remainers have been up to their old tricks again with another youth-focused campaign. Predictably, it looks like yet another attempt to gather data and avoid spending limits…

The ‘Vote for Your Future’ campaign was co-founded by Lara Spirit, a director of the astroturf Our Future, Our Choice campaign. OFOC likes to say it’s independent of the People’s Vote campaign, it’s just pure coincidence that the two campaigns share each other’s content, donations, office space, etc… OFOC were busy telling their activists to campaign across universities under the guise of this new organisation…

But just how neutral is this campaign? Vote for Your Future says on its heavily advertised sign-up page that the data it collects will be processed “on behalf of Our Future, Our Choice! (OFOC!) Ltd.” Like Remain’s 2016 shell campaigns, ‘Vote for Your Future’ uses Keira Knightley and a bunch of other big name Remainers in their digital content. It also states in its Privacy Policy that:

“If Vote For Your Future, or substantially all of its assets, were acquired, or in the unlikely event that Vote For Your Future goes out of business or enters bankruptcy, user information would be one of the assets that is transferred or acquired by a third party. You acknowledge that such transfers may occur, and that any acquirer of Vote For Your Future may continue to use your personal information as set forth in this policy.”

The Privacy Policy has clearly been written with the specific purpose of folding the business – and all of its data “assets” – back into OFOC, while shifting the advertising spend onto a different legal entity, helping to sidestep election spending rules. Vote for Your Future can just be quietly wound down after doing its job of collecting huge amounts of personal data of people as young as 16. All held ready for acquisition by Big Remain’s data machine…

UPDATE: An Our Future Our Choice spokesperson has been in touch to tell Guido that “A VFYF spokesperson said: “Vote For Your Future is a politically neutral campaign” that has “maintained scrupulous neutrality, and at no time have we told young people which way to vote.” Definitely not a front group…

‘Tesco Tax’ Will Be Unpopular With Voters

Guido doesn’t want to pay extra taxes “to save the High Street”. In fact it seems quite obvious that millions of people like getting cheaper goods delivered direct to their door. Of course rivals want to handicap their competitors in their own self-interest. Perhaps politicians should side with consumers rather than producers for once?

Converting high streets into residential streets might even help with high-priced housing costs in urban areas. Which will please younger voters!

Remain’s Facebook ‘Dark Money’ Massively Outweighs Leave

New data published by Facebook has revealed that yet again Remain is massively outspending Leave on social media, with almost twice as much money being spent by second referendum groups. Guido has listed relevant Facebook spending above £10,000…

  • People’s Vote: £433,384
  • Britain’s Future £422,746
  • Best For Britain: £317,463
  • UK Government*: £245,353
  • The Conservative Party*: £114,924
  • Liberal Democrats: £82,600
  • The Labour Party*: £75,462
  • We are the 52%: £51,845
  • Right To Vote: £27,296
  • The Brexit Party £19,082
  • Renew: £13,275

In total this puts dedicated big Remain spending at £874,018, compared to just £493,673 for Leave. This hasn’t stopped the media attacking The Brexit Party for spending less than £20,000. Loopy Remainers have even called this ‘Dark Money’…

But it isn’t. Political parties have to declare their funding by law. The ‘dark money’ listed here is that which is spent by pressure groups like People’s Vote and Best for Britain, not political parties. This puts the Leave ‘dark money spend at £474,591, compared to a Remain ‘dark money’ spend of £778,143. More post truth politics from Remain campaigners…

*Groups not specifically advertising about Brexit

ChUK Microtargeting Guardian Readers on Facebook

Change UK – The Independent Group – Remain Alliance have been spending money micro-targeting adverts on Facebook to focus on their core electorate which at the moment is seemingly just readers of The Guardian. Quite a tight voter pool considering Guardian circulation stands at just 141,160. That’s about half as many votes as the unsuccessful and niche ‘An Independence from Europe’ party achieved in 2014…

Porn Laws Coming Into Force in July

The Government has announced that its authoritarian internet porn ban will be coming into force on 15th July. People in Britain will need to hand over their credit card details or buy a government-approved porn pass from a newsagent from £8.99 to access online porn from then. Tech-savvy Generation Z-ers will just get round it with a VPN…

Digital Minister Margot James says: “We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this.” Combined with the Government’s impending assault on the wider internet and its latest genius plans to crack down on… Netflix and Amazon Video, the UK is rapidly becoming the most repressive democracy in the world to be online.

The Adam Smith Institute’s Matthew Lesh says “This scheme, that requires linking of people’s identity to their online adult viewing habits, will seriously threaten our privacy, be a massive gift to scammers, and won’t even work. Young people will just get around it, and end up being exposed to more hardcore material.” The Government’s sledgehammer approach to the internet is what you’d expect from an authoritarian regime like China or Saudi Arabia, not the liberal democracy that invented it…

Child Protection is the Job of Parents Not ‘iPlod’

The proponents of the Online Harms White Paper are trying to frame it as a child protection and anti-terrorism measure. Guido is willing to accept that is the government’s intention and that it is under pressure from the newspaper industry to hit the global platforms. Almost every day News UK and Associated Newspapers titles run a shock horror story about Facebook or Twitter or one of the other social media platforms. Often it is focused on child protection – children committing suicide, children being groomed, children falling for scams, children seeing an advert for a high sugar product. Do not underestimate how much pressure this puts ministers under when there is a “something must be done” clamour.

According to the government the something that must be done is the creation of yet another quango, an online regulator. Dubbed by Toby Young “iPlod“.

Guido has no doubt as to the harms done by child sexual abuse or terrorist propaganda online, it is however already the case that these things are illegal. Introducing a new law will not change the enforcement problems, which go unaddressed in the White Paper. The best form of child protection is preventing your children having access to this material. Why does your 7 year-old child need a smart phone? Why is your daughter on Snapchat, an app originally designed to enable the sending of a quick nude picture that will selfie-destruct after a maximum of 10 seconds. New legal controls are no substitute for parental control.

The online harms that the White Paper has trouble defining include cyber-bullying and trolling, both of which it says are unacceptable. People being rude to one another online does not require a legislative response. The police have better things to do than arrest people for being rude on Twitter.

There is also the collateral damage to press freedom from a new regulator, Toby Young argues in tomorrow’s Spectator cover story that the White Paper if it became law “iPlod” would mean that any companies “that allow users to share or discover user-generated content or interact with each other online” will be “in scope” so that includes newspapers and magazines. This is arguably state regulation of the press by the back door and has no place in a free society. Sajid should be opposing it as vigorously as he opposed Labour’s attempts to set up a state press regulator, not championing it.

Government Wants to Give State Power to Ban Websites

 

Last week Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he was appointing Amal Clooney as the UK’s envoy on media freedom. Today Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has put out a government White Paper on ‘Online Harms’ which includes proposals for a regulator which will have the power to ban the websites of non-compliant companies from being accessed in the UK at all.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”

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