MPs Told: ‘Don’t Tell People Your Passwords’

The Information Commissioner’s office has written to MPs to remind them not to share their usernames and passwords with others. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote to all MPs this week:

“My office observed reports from social media in early December 2017 in which a number of Members openly revealed their practice of sharing their login details and passwords. I was concerned by these reports and have decided to write to all Members to highlight the importance of following good practice in respect of password management and information security.”

During the Damian Green scandal press reports noted the practice of MPs sharing their passwords with staff. Sharing passwords could give MPs plausible deniability over their online actions…

The letter from the ICO came to MPs in the notoriously impregnable form of a Microsoft Word document. The properties tab in Word revealed the username of the document’s author and members of ICO staff who had edited it. Some way to go to achieve max info sec…

Standard – Deliveroo Love In

Guido cannot think what Deliveroo have to do in return for the endless puff pieces and positive coverage the Evening Standard gives them. In the last few months the Standard has written a glowing profile of Deliveroo’s founder and top and tailed multiple Deliveroo press releases on how they help feed the hungry and offer free food to their rivals’ customers. Well if you can’t use the editorship to help out your close friend and former adviser, now Deliveroo’s head of global comms, what’s the point? 

49 Russian Twitter Trolls Sent Just 942 Tweets During Referendum

Over in Washington, Twitter’s Nick Pickles has told grandstanding Damian Collins and his Culture, Media and Sport select committee that the company detected just 49 accounts linked to a Russian “troll factory”, which sent out a mere 942 tweets during the EU referendum. This is 0.005% of the total number of accounts that tweeted about the referendum. Earlier Collins lost it with Facebook’s representative for denying there was any Russian intervention, snapping: “But you haven’t looked! You haven’t looked!”, and even implying Facebook was lucky not to be “closed down” and its executives “face prosecution. Almost as if Collins is an arch-Remainer using his position to push the Russia / Brexit conspiracy theory, even when the tech companies themselves say it’s a load of nonsense…

Matt Hancock: ‘I’m Sorry I’m Not the Prime Minister’

Silicon Roundabout’s Matt Hancock spoke at the 10 Downing Street charities reception on Monday night. Guido’s co-conspirator recounts his opener:

“Hello and welcome to Number Ten.

“Firstly, I’d like to apologise that I’m not the Prime Minister… [laughter]

“But it’s an honour to address so many people who do so much, working tirelessly every day, to make life better for the citizens of this country.”

If only there was an app where we could all share these gems…

Matt Hancock Calls App Britain

They may have the Silicon chip but we have the Silicon chap: Matt Hancock. The Culture Secretary is calling app Britain – he has created a new social network where fans can keep up with his every move. It’s basically Facebook, but just Matt Hancock’s feed. Anyway, the internet is loving it:

It’s trending on Twitter, but who uses that anymore?

Tory Website Down After Letting Certificate Lapse

First job for the new party chairman… getting the website back online after CCHQ let the HTTPS certificate lapse…

H/T Rob Colvile

“No Significant Russian Activity” During Referendum

Another report this morning, this time in the FT, rubbishing the claims by fanatical Remainers of Russian intervention in the referendum. Researchers at Oxford University found that just 105 Russia-linked accounts tweeted in the run up to the vote. These numbers are negligible, by comparison there were 2,752 Russia-linked accounts operating during the US election. The report concludes that there was no “significant Russian activity” during the referendum.

This is the latest evidence-based story countering the meme being pushed by Remainers that somehow Russia caused Brexit. Over the last few weeks:

  • Twitter said only one Russian account spent any money promoting tweets during the referendum, and they only bought six adverts.
  • It emerged that most Russian Twitter activity about Brexit actually took place after the referendum.
  • And a number of the Russia-linked Twitter accounts were actually pro-Remain.
  • Google told the Electoral Commission it had found no evidence of any paid Russian activity during the referendum.
  • Facebook said Russia spent a total of 73p on adverts during the referendum, and they reached 200 people.
  • An account accused by one pro-Remain outlet of being a Russian troll turned out to be a run by a security guard in Glasgow.

Ben Bradshaw, Tom Brake and co are oddly quiet about the FT story this morning, and indeed they have been silent about the stories above. Yet still ultra Remainers continue to peddle the patronising idea that Russian bots tricked 17 million people into voting Leave. Good to see the FT calling out this nonsense, not that it’ll stop Remain MPs smearing honest Leave voters as Russia’s useful idiots…

Labour Outsources Flashy New Website to Bernie’s US Consultants

Labour’s flashy new website was outsourced to an American digital firm that worked on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The source code for the new site shows Labour commissioned Washington DC based Wide Eye Creative, a trendy web design and branding shop that worked for, among others, the Sanders campaign and airbnb. They designed Sanders’ campaign logo – further confirmation that Jezza fancies himself as the British Bernie. For all the Corbynistas’ boasting about how good their digital operation was, they’ve had to call in expensive American consultants to do the actual work. Not sure John McDonnell will be pleased with this sort of outsourcing either. Was there no British digital firm Labour could have hired?

Not only are Labour sending money offshore, they’re also saving themselves a VAT bill by hiring an overseas firm rather than a British one. Political campaigns can’t claim the VAT back on expenses, so by hiring an American company Labour will have saved 20% on their bill. A handy dodge…

UPDATE: A Labour spokesman said:

“Labour’s established lead in online campaigning has been cemented by our successful new website. We use world-class tools to power our campaigns, as well as developing proprietary systems in-house. In common with the Guido Fawkes site, we use WordPress, the software powering 28% of the internet. Unlike Guido Fawkes, our site is hosted in the UK.”

UPDATE: Labour gets back in touch to say the party self-charges 20% on its VAT return for the work done by Wide Eye Creative.

Trump Account Deleted By Employee on Last Day at Twitter

He was offline for 11 minutes…

AOL Instant Messager R.I.P.

Before there was Twitter or WhatsApp there was AOL IM. Now it is being shuttered. When people wail about the dominance of Google and Facebook remember AOL, “You got mail” and they merged with Time Warner in a deal that capped the internet’s first boom. It was going to dominate the world once. Now it is a sad old legacy brand and we are waving goodbye to the yellow man…

Corbyn Can’t Say If He’s Used Uber

Increasingly farcical Marr interview in which Corbyn refuses to answer any questions…

#SaveUber London Petition Launched

BREAKING: Uber Licence Revoked

Extraordinary decision. 3.5 million Londoners and 40,000 drivers use Uber, Sadiq is now going to have to explain to them why they are out of a job and out of pocket. Khan pays back the taxi unions who put him in City Hall…

The Tories say:

“This is a hugely damaging decision by Sadiq Khan that will effectively put 40,000 people out of work at the click of a finger. The Mayor consistently tells us London is open but in shutting down the operations of an innovative market leader like Uber he has caused immense reputational damage to our city as a global business hub.”

How is Khan going to explain this?

UPDATE: Guido understands TfL informed Uber of their decision 1 minute before they tweeted it. Remarkable behaviour.

UPDATE II: Uber will challenge the decision in the courts. Their statement:

“3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision. By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts… This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.”

UPDATE III: Khan points out it was TfL’s decision but he backs it:

“All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security. I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.”

Online Extremism Report Too Extreme

The Policy Exchange report on online extremism released this morning is getting a huge amount of pick-up. It concludes:

“The government should consider stronger action to try and limit the demand side of the extremism equation. One potential vehicle for this would be the creation of new legislative offences against the aggravated possession and persistent consumption of extremist material.”

A call for more regulation and a new quango with a helping of censorship on top. Ostensibly, the report focuses on online content that incites terror. The polling, however, canvassed public support for the removal of many different kinds of content. What exactly would the removal of “extreme politics” content involve? Likewise, pornography? Where is the line drawn and by whom?

Ironically, the report confirms that the public think extremist preachers in places of worship are actually a bigger problem than online extremist content:

Nothing proposed by Policy Exchange will stop determined terrorists communicating. Even if terrorist propaganda is driven off mainstream platforms it will still be found on elsewhere on the internet. That is the inherent nature of the internet, unless you want to go down the Chinese commanded and controlled internet path.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission is suggesting ‘banning internet trolls from voting’ for making negative comments online. That’s right, the voting regulator is seriously proposing disenfranchising citizens as a punitive measure designed to police their behaviour. This is near totalitarian hysteria…

SMR Mini-Nuclear Plants Could Produce Cheap Energy

This morning Policy Exchange hosted an event about small modular reactors (SMRs) – the technology is derived from nuclear-powered submarine systems. A consortium led by Rolls Royce is pushing the idea of using new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of older plant designs. The mini-plants would be made in factories to be re-assembled on site much more quickly and cheaply than large-scale projects like HinkleyRolls-Royce reckons the global export market could be worth as much as £400 billion for the made-in-Britain technology.

The report claims that the mini-plants would produce power at £60/MWh, which is far more competitive than the £92/MWh strike price guaranteed to Hinkley by George Osborne. It is clear that as old power stations are decommissioned Britain is going to need to replace them – wind is too intermittent to make up for the loss of capacity – nuclear is going to have to be part of the energy supply mix. Hinkley type technology is just too expensive.

Download the report Small Modular Reactors.

McStrike Breaker

This is what £10 per hour burger flippers will result in…

MP Demands Ban on Anonymous Twitter Accounts

Last night’s Westminster Hall debate on abuse and intimidation during the election saw MPs tell horror stories from the campaign. The majority aired legitimate concerns about having to deal with angry nutters. Others however sought to exploit the debate to push for draconian changes to the law. The new Labour MP for East Lothian Martin Whitfield asked if “now is the time to ban anonymous social media accounts”. Last week SNP MEP Alyn Smith called for “a ban on the kind of anonymous accounts which seem to enable people to be so unpleasant”.

This idea is obviously preposterous as it would bring an end to the much-lowed anonymous crowd-sourced account EyeSpyMP, or Photoshop wizard General Boles. More importantly, the removal of anonymity exposes politically engaged social media users operating under hostile regimes to serious dangers. The @Raqqa_SL account saw a team of 17 anonymous Syrian activists expose life under ISIS. Do Whitfield and Smith think their identities should have been revealed? Almost as if these idiots haven’t thought their dense idea through. 

MPs discussed a potential review of their legal protections, particularly with regard to online hate. Online conduct laws are already extensive, and the police have said for some years that the majority of their calls are already to do with online incidents. The substantial body of electoral law in the UK arguably affords more protection to candidates from false claims, abuse and intimidation than is enjoyed by ordinary citizens. Serious offenders end up in prison. The necessary protections already exist, especially so for MPs…

Anonymous accounts operated by insiders are key sources for journalists and are used by whistleblowers. Anonymity and free speech have long been intimately linked in the tradition of liberty: from Cato’s Letters in Britain to The Federalist Papers in the US, pseudonymous communication has underpinned free expression. Today, anonymous social media accounts are used by political activists to undermine repressive regimes throughout the world. Freedom from abuse, not abuse of freedom…

The Lady Vanishes: May Removed From Tory Website Splash

The PM used to take pride of place on the website splash:

There she was during the election:

And on election day:

Today, she is nowhere to be seen:

The lady vanishes… (© Labour’s Toby Perkins)

Osborne Defends BlackRock’s £500 Million Investment on Standard Front Page

George Osborne has defended his employer BlackRock’s half-a-billion pound investment on the front page of the Evening Standard. In the most glaring conflict of interest since his editorship began, today’s Standard blasts Rebecca Long-Bailey as “out of touch” for criticising Uber, and favourably quotes her own colleagues who support the taxi app. BlackRock, which invested in Uber in 2014, has a stake now worth some £500 million. BlackRock pays Osborne a salary of £600,000 for 48 days work per year.

BlackRock keeps Osborne on retainer and it is in BlackRock’s direct financial interests to see Uber defended, Osborne will no doubt argue that he defends Uber on the Evening Standard front page for liberal reasons. Guido did warn him that as editor he would have to navigate a minefield of conflicted interests when he took the job. This was inevitable…

UPDATE: The first edition of the Standard had no mention of Uber on the front page. Second edition splashed it. Did someone pick up the phone to the editor? 

Freedom-Hating Socialism is Back: Using Uber “Not Morally Acceptable”

This morning Guido was driven in an Uber by a student who liked the work because he could log on whenever he had spare time and whenever he liked.[…] Read the rest


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Quote of the Day

Matt Zarb-Cousin cracks a good ideological joke…

“Conservatives don’t like a ‘robot tax’ because it means they’d have a tax on their own leader – the Maybot.”


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