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 The advent of widespread broadband means that there is no technological barrier to abolishing the outdated telly tax.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.

Brooks Newmark

What is the point after being splashed all over the Sunday front pages week after week? If you want to see the futility of Newmark wasting his money on Carter-Ruck look at this list of sites hosting the images. Brooks, we know you read Guido, please Google “Streisand effect” and save your money.

Google Backs Brexit Britain With £1 Billion Investment

Google has delivered a vote of confidence in Brexit Britain by confirming it will establish a new headquarters in the UK, creating 3,000 news jobs investing and £1 billion in the UK economy. Chief executive Sundar Pichai tells the BBC:

“The UK has been a tremendous market for us. We see big opportunities here. This is a big commitment from us – we have some of the best talent in the world in the UK and to be able to build great products from here sets us up well for the long term.”

Remain supporting media are already reporting this is “despite Brexit”…

New Apple Mac Book Has Unlimited Data Retention Capability

book

The new Apple Mac book has been released today, and Techno Guido can bring you a first look at its impressive new features. Good news for users of current Apple products as there is no longer a need to worry about battery life, it offers unlimited data retention, as well as an anti-glare screen, all touch-based interactions, comes with Apple Care warranty and works with a normal pen, too. It’s cheaper than past MacBooks, retailing at just $300. Sorry to get your hopes up – it is alas a $300 Apple Mac book, not a MacBook…

Hancock-Up: Superfast Broadband’s 0% Success Rate

hancock-up

Digital minister Matt Hancock has emailed MPs to update them on progress being made with superfast broadband in each of their constituencies. It has been less than a stunning success in North Cornwall, where the £3 million funding has not been well spent:

“Your constituency is located within the Cornwall project. The project has been allocated over £3.0m of government funding for Phase 1 and/or 2 of the Superfast Broadband Programme.

In North Cornwall Constituency the BDUK scheme has made superfast broadband available to 0 more premises.

Average take up of superfast broadband in the BDUK Cornwall project area is 0%.”

Instead of sending the awkward North Cornwall email to North Cornwall MP Scott Mann, Hancock mistakenly sent it to Labour’s John Mann. Guaranteeing it would be publicised in superfast time…  

Owen Jones Meets a Unionised Worker

owenjonestweet

You spend your entire adult life defending unionised workers and what do you get to show for it? Last night poor old Owen Jones was nearly knocked off his bike by a dangerous black cab driver, who then wound down the window and told him: “I f***ing love it when you cyclists die”.

jones-tweet-2

By contrast last night Guido took an Uber home in peace, no grief from any self-entitled unionised loudmouth…

Labour’s Nonsensical Plan to Enshrine Uber Ruling

uber-apps

Labour are seeking to enshrine Friday’s hotly-contested ruling that Uber drivers are workers entitled to various benefits from the owners of the app. Shadow Culture minister Louise Haigh has put down an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill to enshrine the ruling, despite it still being subject to an appeal from Uber. Haigh’s amendment potentially affects other companies which use apps in similar ways, meaning thousands of other people would become ’employees’ of the apps they use. For example, self-employed black cab drivers who use Hailo or Gett would become employees of their apps. This is a completely nonsensical proposal from Labour: someone could be logged into Uber, Hailo, Gett and Deliveroo at the same time and be eligible for a minimum wage from all of them…

Leave.EU-Backed Raheem Had Little Real Support, Despite Social Media Lead

raheem-twibons-ahead
The social media profiles of UKIP’s leadership candidates show Raheem Kassam was far ahead of his rivals before he pulled out this morning. The best indicator of online campaign support was the twibbon, where supporters add a campaign slogan to their social media profiles. Raheem had 1,326 twibbons, dwarfing leadership favourite Nuttall’s 214 – and yet all the signs indicate that Nuttall will win. Despite the online support Kassam admitted this morning that one of the reasons for quitting was he couldn’t raise enough money: “While we raised enough for our deposit, and got over 200 assentors to my nomination, we could not raise enough for this to be more than a digital campaign run from SW1”. What does this tell us about the relative importance of digital campaigning?

This has implications for Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign group set up by multi-millionaire businessman Arron Banks, which backed Raheem. Leave.EU claims their huge social media reach* helped create “an extraordinary mass movement, drawing in swathes of voters neglected by the main political parties.” Banks has hinted that this will be the kernel for a new “people’s movement”. Banks is confusing “likes”, “follows” and casual clicktivism with active support. Leave.EU bought Facebook “likes” essentially by buying traffic.

Digital campaigns which enable commitment; donations, offline meetings, phone banking and membership drives do actually achieve something. Campaigns which generate clicks, petition signings and social flag counts are just virtue signalling. The casual easy click is no more substantive or permanent than what is trending online at any moment. Guido speaks as someone who garnered a million signatures and emails in one campaign, Banks has not got the beginnings of a popular movement, he has captured the virtue signals of a moment…

*As Dominic Cummings rightly points out, Facebook’s algorithms mean that Leave EU’s half-a-million “likes” are just a form of digital dick-waving, they achieve nothing in terms of visibility or extending reach. Leave.EU has less than half as many Twitter followers as @GuidoFawkes

Steve Hilton’s Start-Up Named & Listed Foreign Workers

hilton

Steve Hilton was appalled by Amber Rudd’s foreign worker list idea, blasting it in the Sunday Times as “divisive” and “repugnant“. So he’ll be pleased Downing Street have since said that no numbers will be published and the proposal may be voluntary anyway. Odd, however, that Steve hasn’t raised his moral objections to this issue in the past. As CEO of Crowdpac in the States, he must be familiar with the American HB1 visa system, which requires firms to disclose how many foreigners they employ, imposing new rules and restrictions when certain thresholds of foreign workers are met. For example Hilton’s Crowdpac applied for several of these HB1 visas over the last few years and publicly disclosed the foreigners’ personal details. It ain’t that shocking a proposal if Hilton’s own start-up complied with more strenuous rules Stateside…

Surely Shameless Shami Won’t Sellout on Surveillance

shami2

All eyes on Labour’s new Shadow Attorney General when the House of Lords votes on Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill this week. Last year, when she was a principled defender of civil liberties as director of Liberty, Shami strongly opposed the Snooper’s Charter. She said last November:

“Our every move is already tracked by CCTV cameras, but if the draft Investigatory Powers Bill becomes law, we won’t be safe from the prying eyes of the government and the police.”

In February she added:

“The Government needs to pause, take stock and redraft. The case for unprecedented powers to bulk hack, intercept and collect our private data has not been made.”

Labour are now briefing that Shami will follow the whip and abstain on the vote this week. Is there anything Baroness Chakrabarti won’t say or do in exchange for her gong?

The Question People Are Asking Before Labour Conference

See you in Liverpool!

Militant Cabbies Boast How They Forced Khan to Cave

sadiq

Militant cabbies who vowed to blockade Trafalgar Square have boasted how their threats forced Sadiq Khan to give them everything they wanted. Last week the London mayor conceded almost every single one of the cabbies’ demands, as well as imposing punitive regulations on Uber. What might explain the timing? Well, the militant United Cabbies Group were threatening to bring London to a standstill this week unless Khan caved in. It would have looked pretty bad for the Mayor given he’s off making friends in America at the moment. The capitulation came and now United Cabbies Group have cancelled the blockade as “the Mayor brought forward his announcement because of the pressure of a demo”. London could have a Mayor who stands up to union intimidation, instead he gave in to blackmail so his photo op in the States wasn’t ruined…

LibDems Looking At Japanese Nerd Porn

freaks

Yesterday in Brighton a top LibDem resigned for arguing careers officers should suggest prostitution as a line of work for voters’ daughters. Today they are focusing on the real issues: Japanese cartoon porn. The party has published a policy document calling for laws to be softened on extreme animé porn known as “hentai“, the Japanese word for “perverted“. Hentai is famously the preferred personal viewing option of nerds around the world, featuring mythical tentacled creatures and Japanese schoolgirls. Which LibDem wants to declare an interest…

The policy document also has this great clause on tiger sex:

“in 2010 a man was sent a pornographic video purporting to be of a tiger and a woman engaging in a sex act but which turned out to be a man dressed as a tiger – a fact that was only uncovered in the courtroom”

In unrelated news, an event this afternoon asks: “Will 2080 be the year we get the next LibDem Prime Minister?”

Khan Caves in to Taxi Unions

khan

Sadiq Khan has caved in to the taxi unions and awarded black cab drivers a staggering £65 million taxpayer subsidy, 100 new taxi ranks across London and the installation of 90 highly expensive rapid chargers, which electric private hire vehicles will not be allowed to use. At the same time the Mayor is forcing new red tape on private hire drivers, including “advanced driving” and written English tests which black cab drivers will not have to take. So how did the taxi unions end up getting everything they wanted?

Khan’s “action plan” contains 27 measures, almost identical to the 28 measures in the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association manifesto. The day before the plan was published the Deputy Mayor for Transport took part in a photo op with the head of the LTDA. Sadiq himself met the head of the LTDA on his hundreth day in office. By contrast Uber has not been consulted on any of the new measures – indeed the Deputy Mayor for Transport has ignored two invitations to meet Uber drivers. It’s notable that the LTDA are the only people outside City Hall and TfL in today’s press release – it’s clear that they have been heavily involved in drawing this up while private hire firms have been shunned. Sadiq promised he would be a Mayor who doesn’t give in to vested interests. Instead he’s capitulated to the taxi unions. Rather than level the playing field by reducing regulations on cabbies, he’s slapped red tape on the innovators who make travelling across the capital so much cheaper and easier for passengers…

Telegraph Digital Chief Admits Deliberately Trashing Brand

The video above shows Telegraph digital guru and “SEO consultant” Malcolm Coles speaking at the Brighton Search Engine Optimisation Conference last week. Coles admits – even boasts – that he has deliberately diminished the Telegraph’s brand in the pursuit of clicks from Google searches.[…] 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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