Facebook Reports BBC to Police

Facebook has reported a number of BBC journalists to the police after they “provided” them with evidence of child abuse image that appeared on the social network. It is obviously illegal to distribute child abuse images, so when Facebook asked the BBC to “provide examples of the material” they had apparently found, the Beeb’s lawyers should have sounded alarm bells. Instead, the BBC “did so”, and Facebook then reported them to the National Crime Agency. As a Facebook spokesman says:

“It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation.”

And in their write up of the story the BBC admits to have confessed all. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to invite them in and show them in person?

How Telegraph Exploits Revenge Porn Market For Clicks

Ever wondered why newspaper websites publish so many articles about ‘revenge porn’? The answer, of course, is search engine optimisation. MediaGuido can reveal exactly how the Telegraph exploits the revenge porn market and its victims for traffic. This email was sent to journalists ordering them to “target” “popular search terms” like “revenge porn sites” and “Girlfriend revenge”.

Subject: Revenge Porn SEO Research
To: news_newsdesk 

Hello everyone.

I’ve done some keyword research into revenge porn following the recent leaks/scandals etc.

Popular search terms

Revenge Porn Sites – this phrase would be good to target, obviously don’t include site names.
Revenge Porn Site
Revenge Porn Videos
Revenge Porn pics
Girlfriend revenge

Let me know if you need anything else on this “interesting” topic.

The aim is that people trying to find revenge porn online end up clicking on links to the Telegraph, delivering them traffic and ultimately profits. Classy stuff… 

Amazon Broke the Internet Yesterday

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the plumbing that makes a lot of the internet work, not just for Amazon but for a lot of other big companies – our daily Guidogram email didn’t go out last night because it relied on AWS. It was by one of those cosmic ironies also the day Amazon’s marketing people had decided to call “AWSome Day”. The above video is of a hapless Amazon booster discovering he can’t make his presentation about the brilliance of the AWS cloud because it was down. Even the geek’s website isitdownrightnow.com, used for checking if internet services are down, relied on AWS:

Rivals have not wasted any time, in Guido’s inbox this morning was an offer from Google Cloud Services:

AWS going down for a few hours reminded people that there is no such thing as “the cloud”. There are just other people’s computers…

Pro-Trump Twitter Bots Pumping Out Guardian Links

This is a weird one: a co-conspirator has noticed that large numbers of pro-Trump Twitter bots are endlessly pumping out links to the Guardian‘s website. Accounts with names like @TroopsTrump, @ViewTrump, @TrumpNoticie and @DonaldsNewws have been programmed by unknown persons to automatically tweet out Guardian stories, often about Brexit. The accounts have real human followers, meaning the automated tweets will be driving traffic towards the Guardian’s website, as well as inflating their social media sharing stats. Guido is stumped as to why someone controlling pro-Trump accounts would want to do this. Putin knows Seumas has left the Guardian, right?

Robot Warehouses: Automated Click to Dispatch

All those complaining about Amazon and SportsDirect exploiting minimum wage workers can stop worrying. Those humans are soon going to be out of work and the robots won’t join the union.

The robots are coming…

Save the (Tax Free) Link

Ju­lia Reda, the Ger­man Pi­rate Party MEP, is the most vo­cal op­po­nent to the EU’s pro­posed neigh­bour­ing right: “neigh­bour­ing rights al­ways have a broader scope than copy­right, be­cause they don’t have a thresh­old of orig­i­nal­ity. Whereas sin­gle words or very short sen­tences can­not be pro­tected by copy­right, they would fall within the scope of the neigh­bour­ing right.” She adds that “the pro­posed new right would make links to news ar­ti­cles sub­ject to a fee, even if only the head­line is re­peated in the link. That’s a se­ri­ous threat to free­dom of in­for­ma­tion on­line.”

On September 14, 2016, the EU Commission tabled a directive proposing the worst copyright rules in the world. These include unprecedented new link tax powers for publishing giants. The EU is proposing to tax web links, Google, Twitter and Facebook would have to pay a fee to display the headline and preview snippets to online links. This is absolutely crazy.

The only organisations that want this tax are failing publishers who can’t cope in the digital age. The EU is once again showing its protectionist colours, effectively proposing a new digital tariff…

80% of State Bureaucrats Will be Replaced by Robots

Britain’s bloated public sector could save £4 billion-a-year over the next 15 years by replacing 250,000 human civil servants with more efficient robots, according to a study by the wonks at Reform. Chat bots and other web AI could all but wipe out administrative roles, while drones and robots will take over policing and medicine. This would streamline the sector to its essential human core: the 20% of strategy-setting top minds. Reform said the changes would mean:

“The NHS, for example, can focus on the highest risk patients, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions. UK police and other emergency services are already using data to predict areas of greatest risk from burglary and fire.”

Robots – in the form of AI driven software agents – also have the advantage of not going on strike and making fewer mistakes than humans in critical processes. Today’s study is the latest in a slew of similar reports: Oxford University predicted 850,000 jobs could go to robots. The data-driven, automated public sector would wipe out the government’s budget deficit…

Porn Bill Lobbying Gets Dirty

Lords are en masse debating the Digital Economy Bill this week – its passage means the British Board of Film Classification will be the regulator of age verification for online porn. The government’s current position is that the policy would apply to commercial porn sites and payment services that generate revenue. Yet the BBFC are mounting a power grab – they want anything on the internet that can be connected to porn to come under their remit. Guess who hosted a glitzy dinner in parliament in January giving them ample opportunity to lobby MPs over bottles of wine? Yep, the BBFC. The government’s own regulator using parliament to lobby the government…

GCHQ Director Resigns Only Two Years Into Job

GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan has quit after just two years in the job, citing personal reasons:

“Dear Foreign Secretary.

I have had the great privilege of leading the men and women of GCHQ since 2014. I am proud of what we have achieved in those years. not least setting up the National Cyber Security Centre and building greater public understanding of our intelligence work. I am equally proud of the relentless 24 hour operational effort against terrorism, crime and many other national security threats. While this work must remain secret, you will know how many lives have been saved in this country and overseas by the work of GCHQ.

Underpinning this is our world-class technology and, above all, our brilliant people. As you know, I have also initiated the greatest internal change within GCHQ for thirty years, and l feel that we are now well on the way to being fit for the next generation of security challenges to the UK in the digital age.

After a good deal of thought I have decided that this is the right time to move on and to allow someone else to lead GCHQ through its next phase. I am, like you, a great enthusiast for our history and I think it is right that a new Director should be firmly embedded by our centenary in 2019. I am very committed to GCHQ’s future and will of course be happy to stay in post until you have been able to appoint a successor.

I have been lucky enough to have some extraordinary roles in public service over the last twenty years, from Northern Ireland to No.10, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign Office. But they have all demanded a great deal of my ever patient and understanding family. and new is the right time for a change in direction.

I want to thank you and the many Ministers I have served over the years. and to thank the Prime Minister and her three predecessors. for the opportunities I have been given. I have worked with outstanding people, whether politicians or Crown Servants, and none more so than in GCHQ. I am very confident that they will continue to achieve even greater things in the future.”

Curious…

Guido is Secure

Co-conspirators may have noticed that a little lock now appears in their browser when they come to read Guido. This is because we have switched to HTTPS, the industry standard for providing encryption, authentication, and integrity for content on the web.

We have done this because the news you read can provide intimate details about your interests, your work, and your personal life that you may want to keep private from prying eyes. Without HTTPS, an eavesdropper—whether it’s a snooper on public wifi, or GCHQ collecting information about websites you visit—can trivially see exactly what news articles you read when you go to sites. Eavesdropping on people reading the news is a real threat, as demonstrated by the NSA and GCHQ spying on visitors to WikiLeaks.org.

HTTPS prevents this type of spying, and while an eavesdropper might be able to determine that you visited the website that the Russian Foreign Ministry instructs diplomats to read to find out what is going on in Westmnster, they wouldn’t be able to see which specific stories you read.

According to Der Spiegel GCHQ takes advantage of the lack of encryption to inject malware into a website, which can lead to the complete compromise of a user’s computer and all of their data. A version of this technique, codenamed “Quantum Insert,” was used by GCHQ to attack network sysadmins who read Slashdot, the popular news website in the IT community. (Slashdot has since deployed HTTPS site-wide). Guido wants to protect you from government spies…

Snapchat Headquarters in Britain, Rolls Royce Rolls Back on Brexit Scares

Snapchat today makes London its main hub outside the US and announces it will book all its non-US sales in Brexit Britain. Remainers had predicted the UK tech sector would be hit particularly hard by leaving the EU, but Claire Valoti, general manager of Snap Group in the UK, said:

“We believe in the UK creative industries. The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we’ve already begun to hire talent.”  

Meanwhile, car-maker Rolls Royce U-turned on its pre-Brexit plans to leave the UK, instead confirming its commitment to its West Sussex HQ. A letter from CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös leaked to the Guardian last year said Brexit would affect the firm’s “employment base”, but now he says:

“Success for Rolls-Royce is success for Great Britain and we reaffirm our commitment to maintaining the home of Rolls-Royce in the UK.

Brexit Britain: A booming tech and design hub…

Sexy MP Poll Rigged Against Female Tory MPs

Worldly readers will be aware of SexyMP.co.uk, the most popular banned website in the Commons which ranks parliamentarians on their looks according to a popular vote. The cheeky and good-natured site appears to have been sabotaged, Guido can reveal. In the last few days the vote has been rigged to push female Tory MPs to the bottom of the rankings. While the most photogenic Tories had previously held several places in the top ten, the first Tory MP to appear in the female rankings today is down in a lowly 58th place. Almost all of the bottom 50 places are held by Tories, while all of the top 57 places are held by Labour , SNP and Plaid MPs. An accurate aesthetic reflection? A theory is circulating among concerned users:

“This is not normal. The site wasn’t in this state a few months ago. Historical Rankings shows no significant favouritism for one party over any other. My best guess is that someone wrote a script to play SexyMP and have it automatically select the non-Conservative option when a Conservative came up. I estimate ~200,000 votes in total performed by this script.”

Those Russians have gone too far this time…

Happy New Year!

We want to thank you, the reader, for making our year. For providing the gossip, the tips, the jokes, the leaked documents, the tearfully funny comments and innovative insults that make Guido Fawkes the website it is today. Our free wheeling editorial culture hopefully still does not take itself too seriously, even when breaking serious news.

Every day tens of thousands of you come to catch-up on Westminster gossip. It always amazes us to learn who reads our website – whether it is a reader in Buckingham Palace or, equally unexpectedly, an old school friend met for the first time in decades. Gossip appeals to everyone, even if they don’t admit it!

We have a strong team going into 2017, journalists with scoops under their belts and a hunger for more. We might even find out what Brexit means.

All the best for 2017!

75% Think BBC Licence Fee Too High

A study conducted ahead of the parliamentary debate about the BBC’s Royal Charter reveals that 75% of the British public think the licence fee is too expensive. A survey of 1,023 respondents carried out by Strategy Analytics* found 10% said they didn’t pay the telly tax.

Of the one in ten households that admitted to not paying the telly tax 17% were entitled to a free one as they were over 75 years old. This means that 8.3% of all households, some 1.6 million, are not paying for it. Isn’t it time to switch to a pay-as-you-go system? Netflix and Amazon have joined Sky in proving this is easily possible. If the BBC is as well loved as their propaganda claims they will thrive. If it is not they will shrink, rightly so….

David Mercer from Strategy Analytics’ digital consumer practice says, with some understatement, that the BBC “struggles to identify with younger and lower income groups”. Of those that were willing to pay the telly tax, £101.57 was the average figure – 30% lower than the actual price (£145.50). The advent of widespread broadband means that there is no technological barrier to abolishing the outdated telly tax. There is popular support for such a move…

*The interesting thing about this research is that it was not commissioned by the BBC or a rival. BBC commissioned “independent” research always finds that the BBC is wonderful.

France ‘YouTube Tax’ Boost For Britain’s Digital Economy

The French parliament has passed a ‘YouTube’ tax: a levy of 2% on advertising receipts of websites hosting videos, rising to 10% when those videos include adult material. News is exempted so the tax is going to hit the French digital economy rather than the media, the proposal seeks to raise revenue from the left’s pantomime baddies Google, Amazon and Facebook, as well as obvious targets like YouTube, Netflix and Vimeo. Remember when Project Fear told us Britain’s digital economy would pack up after Brexit and move to techno-chic European cities like Paris? Not when the French can always be relied on to push in-Seine policies like this…

Russian Embassy Hosting Digital Hacking Event

embassy-invite

With all the controversy about Wikileaks and the hacking of Hillary and the DNC this invitation is certainly appropriate. Russia’s London Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, is really spoiling trolling us with his pre-Christmas cocktail party’s topic for discussion, “Hacking the Algorithm”. Maybe guests should leave their smartphones at home…

Porno Perry and the Bonkers Age Verification Bill

perry

The government’s Digital Economy Bill seeking to block access to porn sites with no age verification is shoddy for a long list of reasons. First, how do they decide what to block? Twitter for example contains a huge amount of immediately accessible porn, will the whole social network be blocked? The BBFC, who usually provide classifications for films, will have to employ an army of porn-watchers to determine what is and isn’t blockable. On a practical level, it is impossible to police all 800 million or so porn sites in the world.

Then there are the age restrictions themselves. The government plan is to force viewers to hand over credit card or passport details. Given the stories about hacking we have seen over the last few years, who would share their personal information with some porn baron? Why is the government allowing the potential for people’s names to be forever linked in online databases to their entire porn viewing history? What happens when Britons’ personal porn data is hacked, as it inevitably will be at some point?

DCMS want to issue fines of up to £250,000 to porn sites which refuse to implement age verification. Yet only 7% of porn on the internet is hosted in the UK – 93% of sites hosting porn would remain untouchable. And what’s to stop the current British porn sites moving their servers offshore? Claire Perry has tabled an amendment – backed by lobbyists at Christian Action – to ban foreign sites as well.  The government has the ability to do that, but savvy users can simply use a VPN to log on in seconds. Not for the first time, Porno Perry does not understand the internet

Most importantly, all this forgets one very simple rule: No piece of legislation will ever be invented that can prevent teenage boys from finding and looking at pictures of naked women. Now, about those donkeys

Facebook Likes Post-Brexit UK, Plans Thousands More Jobs

Facebook zuckerberg

Facebook will confirm its commitment to add 500 skilled jobs to its London workforce today as part of a plan to expand its British headquarters from 4,000 to 7,000 employees within the next four years. This joins Google’s £1 billion investment in Britain, and Apple’s huge new HQ at Battersea as evidence that the tech sector is still thriving. Unemployment is falling and retail is surging, despite Brexit! Strangely, Google, Apple and Facebook are not worried about being outside the EU’s Digital Single Market, the over-regulated, over-subsidised irrelevance to the future…

Google Cites UK’s “Open and Connected Economy”, Ignores “Digital Single Market”

During the referendum Remain campaigners made much of the importance of the “Digital Single Market”. Chi Onwurah, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister, claimed that it was essential for tech businesses that Britain stayed in the EU’s “Digital Single Market”. She claimed there was “nearly unanimous concern across small tech businesses”. In Guido’s experience most small tech entrepreneurs thought the EU was totally irrelevant to their business needs.

Yesterday we learnt that the world’s biggest digital firm doesn’t care about being in the “Digital Single Market” either. Google’s announcement of a £1 billion extra investment and 3,000 more jobs is a doubling of its bet on Britain to be the dominant digital nation in Europe, CEO Sundar Pichai cited Britain’s “open and connected economy”. It also signals that the “Digital Single Market” is not really attractive to them, it is really just a common regulatory zone. If we know the EU it will be an over-regulated, subsidy ridden, dirigiste failure.

*Kamal Ahmed’s BBC report of this is almost a #DespiteBrexit parody.

Brooks Newmark Still Trying To Hide Shame

brooks-newmark-carter-ruck

This morning Guido got a notice from Google at the behest of Carter Ruck telling us they were going to take the links to Newmark’s selfies out of the Google search index. This is counter-productive because it just gives Guido an excuse to put the images up again and back into the Google search index.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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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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