Eyebrows were raised when millionaire supermodel Lily Cole was awarded £200,000 of taxpayers’ money in 2013 to fund her “altruism-based social network”Impossible.com. The doll-faced entrepreneur spent her share of a £10 million Cabinet Office fund called “Innovation in Giving” to develop an unholy mash-up between freecycle and Cragislist, where users can offer things to other people in exchange for a thank you. The “gift economy” didn’t catch on…
So what does a self-styled tech-vixen do when she still has government cash burning a hole in her pocket and a desolate wasteland of a website that needs to keep going for the sake of keeping up appearances? It seems that Impossible is now focusing on beefing up it’s blog content, with recipes for split plea soup, articles called “The Importance of Connecting with your Heart” and more:
Tech City, Digital Dave’s pet quango, is usually rather adept in its role as a taxpayer funded PR company for digital businesses in East London. Since it was set up in 2010, they have claimed their cluster of digital start ups near Old Street roundabout is one of the UK’s greatest success story and a driver of London’s economy.
With this in mind, the Tech Nation report released today makes for refreshingly honest reading. It reports that 74% of British digital companies are based outside of London. Crucially, ‘tech clusters’ with a higher than average turnover growth since 2010 – the year Tech City started banging the drum for London – include Manchester, Belfast and even Sheffield.
Maybe there is something to that Northern Powerhouse after all… what with the significantly cheaper rent.
UPDATE: George Osborne has just tweeted:
Tech Nation report shows strong growth of #tech biz in Yorkshire & across UK – we're doing more today to help tech growth outside London
Fox News have made the controversial move of embedding an ISIS video of the Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burnt alive on their website. The 22 minute long video, which Fox warns viewers is “extremely graphic”, is so extreme that YouTube refuse to host it and Facebook have said they will take it down if anyone posts it. The social network can’t be happy that Fox have left the Facebook share button next to the video allowing it to be shared to Facebook with a click…
The Electoral Commission are making a lot of noise today about their partnership with Facebook ahead of the general election. On Thursday Facebook will push a notification onto the timelines of its 35 million active British users, telling them that they can register online to vote. Users will then be able to share with their friends that they have registered.
Additionally, the Electoral Commission will cough up for ad space on Facebook, encouraging young people to vote.
Facebook were heavily involved in the last US election and a similar project in which they encouraged US voters to go out and vote was hailed in the media as a great success after a study led by the University of California, San Diego estimated it increased voter turnout by 340,000. If Facebook could bring out that same proportion of extra voters here, by Techno Guido’s calculations they would increase voter turnout by 77,197 – which is almost exactly the size of the of electorate in the constituency of Tewkesbury.
After years of apathy it appears that British companies are finally waking up the the fact that the internet is a scary place and cyber threats are a real a present danger to their business. Cybersecurity specialist Trustwave have gone through the last three annual reports of FTSE 100 companies to look for references to ‘cybersecurity’ as a risk or uncertainty facing the business. In 2012, only 49% of companies referenced online security, in 2013 it was 60% and by 2014 it was 76%.
The data confirms that cybersecurity in now a mainstream corporate issue, not just for tech companies but other businesses as well; health care companies on the FTSE 100 increased their awareness of cyber security from 25% to 75% between 2012 and 2014. The exact reason for the brisk uptake in interest in cyber-crime is up for debate, but it’s fair to say the highly publicised costly embarrassment of Sony Pictures by hackers might have something to do with it.
Please use 8 or more letters or numbers in your password..
The Government Digital Service has made a massive stride towards fixing the hated Government Gateway, the cumbersome registration portal that users need to access online government services. The Cabinet Office has announced today that its new alternative verification service, GOV.UK Verify, helped 11,000 people avoid paying late submission fines on their self-assessment form this year. Last year, if people didn’t have their login info ready from around two weeks before the deadline they were forced to pay a fine. The new Verify system allows anyone with a passport and driver’s licences to bypass the 10 day wait for a username or password in the post.
Unlike some government IT projects in the past, it appears the Cabinet Office have executed GOV.UK Verify with some degree of competence. Two competing private companies were given the contract (they will be joined by three more soon), it was rolled out in beta form with throttled (limited) access in December and incremental changes were made regularly. Like it’s supposed to be done.
The online verification issue has been a major stumbling block to the Cabinet Office’s dream of creating a seamless one stop online shop for accessing any government service. Not like a government IT project to actually help save taxpayers’ money…
Last week Techno Guido reported that former defence secretary Tom King believed the reason for ISIS’s advance across Iraq and Syria was entirely down to either Snapchat or WhatsApp. After much speculation as to which teenage sexting app Lord King was referring to, he has gone on the record to confirm that he believes the speed of ISIS’s advance “was achieved on WhatsApp”. Despite King’s revelation, the House of Lords rejected his rehashed Snoopers Charter amendment. Again.
“our legislation has failed to keep pace with the rapid growth of the new technologies around the internet and the complications in the whole field of social media communication. One should recognise—it is common ground—that the extraordinary speed of ISIL’s southwards advance across Syria and into Iraq was achieved on WhatsApp, which is able to communicate with thousands of people at the same time”
Thousands of terrorists communicating together in one group chat? You’d think the security services would be pleased…
A newly-released paper by cyber-security company FireEye has revealed that opponents of Assad’s regime in Syria have been systematically targeted over Skype in an attempt to gain military intelligence. Men fighting for the Free Syrian Army are being targeted by what appears to be a woman, who adds them on Skype, strikes up a conversation and shares a “personal photo”. However the photo is booby-trapped; when it is opened it installs malware that specifically steals any military, political and financial information from the victim’s computer.
While FireEye can’t confirm exactly who is behind the attacks, the fact that battle plans, supply needs and personal information has been stolen from soldiers, journalists and humanitarians opposed to Assad, clearly indicates who the pilfered information is being channelled to.
Internet giants Google, Amazon, Microsoft have been shaken down for an undisclosed amount of cash by AdBlock Plus, the world’s most popular adblock service. In exchange for a “fee”, AdBlock Plus will stop blocking adverts on their websites. With the ability to decide what adverts its 300 million users do or do not see, Eyeo, the owners of Adblock Plus have found themselves in the unusual position of being able to dictate terms to the likes of Google who depend on advertising for revenue.
Eyeo operates a “whitelist” of acceptable adverts that it doesn’t block. While joining the list is free for small websites, large companies are required to pay a “fee” to keep their advert revenue streams protected. While the amount Google, Amazon and Microsoft coughed up is unknown, one digital media company told the Financial Times that Eyeo had asked for equivalent to 30% of the additional ad revenues that it would make from being unblocked.
Grindr, the phone application that allows gay men to locate other gay men nearby, has been hit with a malicious attack that autodials a premium rate phone number when horny men fire up the app. Users have claimed to have been stung for £1 a second after a virus that appears to have been hidden in the pop-up advertising force dialled a premium rate number from their phone. It’s not unusual for sex themed websites to be targeted by virus packed adverts, but it’s less common in major phone apps which tend to avoid bombarding users with pop-ups. Grindr however doesn’t have an aversion to annoying users with invasive advertising – a policy which, combined with the iPhone allowing autodialling without user authorisation, has left its users out of pocket.
While Grindr say they are addressing the issue, the premium number attack has reportedly been active for over a month. It’s quite probable that Grindr, which has 5 million users, was specifically targeted because of the embarrassment many of those users might feel when chasing up the issue with their phone provider. A severe dose of iClap…
A top Israeli security analyst claims to have found proof that ISIS are receiving donations online via Bitcoin. The Islamic loons are allegedly soliciting donations of the digital cryptocurrency on the Dark Web, that hidden part of the internet favoured by arms dealers and nonces. The claim gives credence to warnings by counter-extremist experts, that the recent crackdown by the security services on websites relating to terrorism would only serve to drive extremist groups into online spaces where they are harder to monitor.
Bitcoin is a virtual currency with no central authority that is difficult to trace and that anyone can use. ISIS supporters have suggested using Bitcoin before as it removes the need to rely on dirty pig doggovernment-backed fiat currency and it would make secretly funding jihadists simple and easy. But the funding website found on the Dark Web with a Bitcoin address that allowed anyone with an internet connection to donate to an ISIS cell, is the first evidence we have of Jihadis taking advantage of Bitcoin digital currency transfers. Crypto-jihad!
In the least shocking news of the day a Government department has lost sensitive data after two discs containing documents relating to three inquiries were “dispatched by post”. Government officials discovered the discs were missing on the 8 January and despite intensive searches involving the police they have yet to recover them.Two of the inquiries relate to fatal police shootings, that of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan, while the third set of data came from the as yet unpublished investigation into the killing of Robert Hamill by a Loyalist mob in Northern Ireland.
The case has eerie similarities to 2007 and when the personal details of 25 million Brits went missing after again, two discs went “missing in the post”.
An independent review has been commissioned to look into the circumstances surrounding the loss and identify lessons that need to be learned. Taxpayers’ money well spent…
Increasingly deranged militant London cabbies are taking to Twitter to shame other taxi drivers who dare to use the Uber app in order to drum up more work. Uber, the phone app that allows users to order a private driver at the click of the button, have offered an olive branch to black cabs, whose business they have been eating into, by allowing them to sign up to Uber and receive ride requests. So much for gratitude…
But heavily unionised loons are not happy that some of their colleagues are audaciously tapping into the free market in order to make more money. They have been taking screenshots of taxis looking for work on Uber and posting them on Twitter along with pleasantries such as “scabs” and “scum” and “Uber c**t”.
In a disturbing development some cabbies are publicly identifying their fellow drivers and posting their details online:
Responding to the above tweet, other cabbies posted Simon’s phone number while others sinisterly hinted at finding Simon to say a “big hello”.
A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have now been forced to admit that the upgrade is busted too. In the busiest donation period of the entire election cycle, party bosses have admitted that all donations of over £500 have to be declared manually to CCHQ with a spreadsheet rather than simply entered in the software – as promised. Which defeats the point of the expensive change over…
To: ALL CONSTITUENCY OFFICES, CHAIRMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE Cc: FIELD STAFF
As you know, the Party is replacing the MERLIN software with a new membership and campaigning system called VoteSource. Over 350 associations have already decided to move to VoteSource, and their MERLIN has not been updated with the new registers of electors that were published on 1 December in England and Wales*. For these users VoteSource must now be used for all election campaigning. Donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on VoteSource, but see below for how to report.
A number of associations have decided to remain on MERLIN. For these seats, donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on MERLIN, but only after you have explicitly been told by the Helpdesk that your MERLIN is being rolled over to the new register. If in doubt about your MERLIN’s status, please email XXXXXX@conservatives.com, or to check donors email their name and address to XXXXXX@conservatives.com
Donation reporting functionality will be added to VoteSource soon. Until then, donations over £500 must be recorded on the attached spreadsheet. We will, as usual, send a spreadsheet at the end of the quarter** showing any donations that reach us through MERLIN, but otherwise this sheet should be your main reporting form. For the password, please call us on 020 7x XXX XXX
Remember that donations for January to March will need to be reported by 10 April, ie in the middle of the peak of campaigning, and so we strongly recommend that you update this sheet as and when you receive donations in order to avoid extra stress in April. Donations that are being made directly to a candidate or the election agent account are subject to the £50 threshold for checks, and are listed on the return of election expenses INSTEAD of reporting to us.
The Helpdesk will announce when donation functionality is available in VoteSource, but until then if you have any donation or reporting queries please do not hesitate to contact us: XXXXXXX@conservatives.com, 020 7XXX XXXX
* In Scotland, registers are not due to be updated until 10 March.
** Donations checked between 1 January and 30 March will be emailed to the association office on 11 April.
There are a lot of rather irate agents out there, facing a load more hassle.
xHamster, the second most popular pornography website in the world with half a billion viewers a month, is infecting a huge number of its goggle eyed clientel with malware. The smut merchants at xHamster have been in the spotlight before for not protecting their viewers from malicious software, but according to one analyst, the past few days have seen computer infections originating from xHamster increase by 1500%.
Attackers are taking advantage of a recently discovered vulnerability in Adobe’s Flash player to infect the computers of online erotica aficionados who click on advertising on the xHamster website with the Bedep trojan, a virus that constantly downloads new viruses the victims computer.
Crunching the numbers on Apple’s record breaking last quarter – the most profitable quarter in corporate history – you reach a startling conclusion: one percent of the world’s population bought an iPhone in the three months to 27 December last year.
Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in that period, which is 1.03% of the world’s 7.2 billion population.
It was confirmed today that the finance Minister of Greece and thus by proxy the person charged with saving the Eurozone will be the economist Yanis Varoufakis, a self described “erratic Marxist” with an interesting recent job history – three years ago he was hired by the videogame company Valve to manage their real and virtual economies. Yanis has said that he used his time at Valve to sharpen up his understanding of how economies work and used Valve’s internal economies as a test-bed for “meaningful experimentation” on his economic theories. Valve keep their sales figures secret.
Just a couple of years ago Mr Varoufakis was writing in great detail on the Valve company blog about the intricacies of trading laser guns, keys and earmuffs in the videogame Team Fortress 2 – something he likened to Adam Smith’s “concept of an economy that sprang from a penchant for pure exchanges”.
In a moment of admirable honesty while scrutinising the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, former defence secretary Tom King admitted that while he’s not a tweeter and he does not know about WhatsApp and Snapchat, he is certain that “the terrorists and jihadists do”:
So certain is Lord King of the terrorists’ prowess with WhatsApp and Snapchat, that he believes the reason for ISIL’s advance across Iraq and Syria was entirely down to the teenage sexting apps:
“It includes the use of things that not all your Lordships—that certainly includes me—are masters of. I am not a tweeter. We have Facebook and Twitter. Somebody tried to explain WhatsApp to me; somebody else tried to explain Snapchat. I do not know about them, but it is absolutely clear that the terrorists and jihadists do. The understanding is that part of the reason for ISIL’s amazing advance across Syria and into Iraq was that their communications were so good and the way they kept together was entirely due to one or other of the last two systems that I mentioned, which they handled with great intelligence.”
Police line-ups are notoriously unreliable, but a new scientific study may have stumbled across a more accurate way of identifying criminals – the BO test. According to the study published in the Public Library of Science, our noses could be more reliable than our eyes when it comes to picking out a bad guy.[…] Read the rest
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.”