Hello @GCHQ

GCHQ says: “In joining social media GCHQ can use its own voice to talk directly about the important work we do in keeping Britain safe”. #ListeningToOurCustomers

We want GCHQ to be more accessible and to help the public understand more about our work. We also want to reach out to the technical community and add our voice to social media conversations about technology, maths, cyber security, and other topics where we have a view. We will be using Twitter to talk about our history, mission outcomes, languages, maths, cyber security, technology and innovation, job opportunities and as a way of signposting events, publications, news, blogs, and opinion pieces.

More realistically, it is becoming essential for recruitment when they are competing with higher-paying tech firms…

Milo & Mensch Go Snowflakey Over Facebook

MILO+MENSCH

Louise Mensch and Milo Yiannopoulos are getting worked up about the revelation that Facebook’s “Trending News” discriminates against right-leaning news sources. This means their outlets Heat Street and Breitbart are being denied traffic by Facebook. Facebook had kinda-sorta pretended that their Trending News function was an algorithm driven objective news curator. Gizmodo revealed that it was actually curated by left-biased human editors. 

Steve Hilton over at CrowdPac gives us a clue why that might be:

cp-fb

CrowdPac shows that Tom Stocky, Facebook’s VP of Search who is responsible for the “trending” feature, is a major donor to Hillary Clinton. In fact based on all his contributions the data shows that he is to the left of Clinton. CrowdPac says the rest of Facebook’s “content team” skews even further to the left based on previous donations to political candidates and causes. So now you know Facebook are probably not politically neutral.

Milo and Mensch are now demanding a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, presumably in a safe space, to discuss this suppressing of conservatives and libertarians after he invited “leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum” to share their views. Zuck also denies Facebook is biased. 

So what if Facebook is left-of-centre? Are lefties entitled to a meeting with Rupert Murdoch to complain that the Wall Street Journal is right-of-centre? Louise tweets that even though Facebook is a private firm, “it is governed by terms of business that state objectivity and EU data law too”. No idea what she means by that, nor does Guido think publishers should be required to be even-handed. Guido isn’t in his equivalent “Seen Elsewhere” links.  If a private firm was required to be “objective” in editorial decisions, Guido would oppose that. A free press is not required to meet up to some illusory measure of “objectivity“. Milo and Mensch should stop whining like snowflakes about how unfair it is. Winners compete, not whine.

Taxpayer Funding More Pro-EU Adverts

Last week Guido noted that Downing Street was running adverts with a value of £135,000-a-week promoting Remain on gov.uk. Co-conspirators also report that if you Google “European referendum”, as many voters looking to make up their minds will do in the coming weeks, the government has bought the top result, sending users to their pro-Remain site. Links like these cost the taxpayer around 62 pence per click…

Top Tory Copper in MILF Porn Shocker

Paul Robinson PORN STASH

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s going on here then? Humberside’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Paul Robinson used to be a Tory councillor before he landed the £45,000-a-year top cop job. At the time, fellow Tory and PCC Matthew Grove justified appointing his mate because he needed “someone who I have total trust and confidence in and who can fit this profile.” Jobs for the boys-in-blue…

As you can see above, Deputy Robinson’s Twitter ‘likes’ are bluer than a siren. The dirty perpetrator appears to have a penchant for MILF-themed porn, publicly ‘liking’ several photos of very x-rated pics. He also appears to be a fan of a dominatrix called Lady Sonia. Cuff him, boys…

Robinson has presumably committed a heterosexual version of Jack Dromey’s infamous error and forgotten his “likes” are there for all to see. Brings a new meaning to ‘roughing up the suspect’…

Uber, But For Brexit

whetstone

Isabel Oakeshott’s write up of working the room with Arron Banks at the White House Correspondents Dinner is filled with nuggets. She reveals the Uber app comms chief Rachel Whetstone is backing Brexit:

“Hovering at entrance to the 30,000-square-foot ballroom, we are surprised to bump into David Cameron’s former policy chief Steve Hilton, now US-based. He greets us exuberantly but his wife Rachel Whetstone looks like she’s swallowed a fly. She warms up when Hoey gets her talking about Brexit, saying she supports Out and wishes she could do more for the cause. Hilton keeps his powder dry but I know he was deeply unimpressed by Obama’s intervention in the debate.”

Whetstone’s grandfather Antony Fisher founded the IEA and the ASI. She is also of course married to Steve Hilton and is one of the PM’s closest friends…

Free Advertising Worth £135,000-a-Week For Remain Campaign

Having handed over £9 million of taxpayers cash for a propaganda leaflet, the Whitehall machine hasn’t stopped there. At the top of every gov.uk website – including the popular DVLA and visa information micro-sites – lies a banner advert for the government’s pro-remain EU referendum site.

eu ref ad

dvla eu referendum ad

How much would this cost in the real world?

Guido knows a fair bit about the online ad trade, adverts like that would cost around £10 per thousand impressions. Last week, gov.uk sites received a total of 13,500,000 pageviewsThat’s the equivalent of a £135,000 per week campaign donation from the taxpayer to the Remain campaign…

How Carter Ruck’s Attempt to Gag Google Failed

elton

In his judgement Lord Justice Jackson effectively ruled that injunctions cannot remain in place once knowledge of the injucted information is widespread:

“The court should not make orders which are ineffective. It is inappropriate – some may used a stronger term – for the court to ban people from saying that which is common knowledge… Knowledge of the relevant matters is now so widespread that confidentiality has probably been lost”

Google search trends show that searches for “David Furnish” in the UK have increased to a trend score of 100 in the last few days, the maximum possible score relative to previous searches for his name:

furnish

Searches for “Daniel Laurence”, the man who claims he had an olive oil paddling pool threesome with Furnish, have also increased to a score of 100:

WWWW

This data shows just those who already knew to search those specific names. Several times as many people will have discovered the identities simply by searching “celebrity injunction”:

INJ

Carter Ruck’s attempts to threaten Google into taking down search results revealing the identities failed completely. As Lord Justice Jackson says, knowledge has become widespread…

TFL Forcing Cabbies to Take Cards

Cabbies

Yesterday Guido had a look at how Action for Cabbies are looking to raise £600,000 to mount a legal challenge to TFL’s plans for mandatory card readers in black cabs. Under the proposals drivers would be forced to install a fixed card reading unit in the passenger compartment of their vehicle, bringing an end to the “Sorry, cash only guv” era. Action for Cabbies don’t seem best pleased by this, and the group’s protest has stood in sharp opposition to the LTDA’s call for a “taxi revolution”, with card readers and WiFi in every hackney carriage. So what’s it all about?

It turns out that the anger of Action for Cabbies isn’t focused on the principle of installing of card readers, they object to TFL’s restrictive proposals for how they should be installed. Most significantly, under the plans cabbies would not be able to pass on card processing fees to passengers as they can currently. This could cost each cab driver a proportion of their income, and is a restriction that virtually no other industry in the UK has to operate under. That is including private hire firms. Guido is for cabs having cards in them, however it doesn’t seem very fair to restrict the choice of cabbies and prevent them passing on costs to the consumer if they want to. Though if they do, it won’t help them compete with Uber…

Cabbies Try to Block Card Machines in Cabs

black cab card machine

The black cabbies’ union has launched a PR offensive to convince Londoners they are willing to modernise, vowing to spark “London’s taxi revolution” with super-fast wifi, credit card payments and ranks outside night tube stops. All sensible, consumer-friendly suggestions from the black cab industry, which needs to innovate to keep up with the competition. 

Unfortunate then that a group of cabbies are also crowdfunding legal action against new TfL rules to install credit card machines in their cars. Despite the fact that there is huge public demand for this service, Action For Cabbies is asking for £300,000 to challenge TfL over the machines in court. Publicly they want to look like modernisers, less publicly they’re challenging the very same modernisations they claim to support. Why could they possibly be so keen to make sure they’re only paid in cash?

Meanwhile leaked emails show the United Cabbies Group is setting up a clandestine attack unit to do in TfL and Uber:

“we can assure you that the team we have chosen have a track record. They work under the radar and do not make a “song and dance” they are very low key but very effective. TfL and Uber won’t see these people coming. Of course they will know that something is happening but they will be on the back foot as to the tactics because they won’t know who we are using and hence what their modus operandi are. We have already paid for a team of investigators to start the background work.”

Not that “under the radar”, it turns out…

Lobbyist Flame War Revenge

Yesterday Guido brought you the PR flame war being waged over Google adverts. Spinmeisters at Cicero had bought ads targeted to appear whenever someone searched the name of one of their rivals:

Well, one such rival has exacted digital revenge. This is what comes up when you google Cicero this morning:

Clearly a slow week in spin world…

Lobbyist Flame War Via Google Ads

Things are getting nasty in the slippery world of PR spinmeisters and lobbyists. The digital Machiavellis over at Cicero have bought these punchy Google adverts targeted to appear when someone searches the name of one of their rivals:

These screenshots were taken this morning:

Searches for rival PR firms told Googlers to take their business elsewhere:

The message is not exactly subtle:

So Bell Pottinger, Brunswick, Blue Rubicon and Edelman – you gonna take that?

Microsoft’s AI Twitter Bot Trolls WIth Sick Breivik Jibe

Microsoft’s pioneering Artificial Intelligence Twitter bot, @TayAndYou, recently came under fire for posting a series of incredibly racist tweets (subsequently deleted by Microsoft’s panicking geeks). It made the mistake of learning from the trolls who tweeted at it. Belatedly it would appear the out-of-control bot’s handlers didn’t quite catch everything, though, with @TayAndYou continuing to interact with users over sensitive areas, including joking about crazed Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik:

tayandyou breivik

And even engaging in a sexually fuelled exchange with a complete stranger:

tayandyou butthole

Still more pleasant than some of the trolls on Twitter…

Mystery of ‘£5 Million’ Taxpayer-Funded Website That Ran For 3 Months

How much would you pay for this website about why we should all “back climate action”? £4,000? £40,000? Well, according to a data dump from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, ministers blew a staggering £4.9 million of taxpayer’s money on the beta site, which only ran for three months. Surely some mistake?

Curiously, a DECC source is at pains to tell Guido that the department’s own numbers are wrong. For some reason they won’t give an actual figure, though they say the real cost will be a fraction of what they declared. It can’t just be a simple typo though, because the data also states that DECC originally wanted to earmark £9.1 million for the site to “promote the government’s climate change narrative”. It would be a bad enough mistake to get the £4.9 million figure wrong, how did they come to the £9.1 million one as well?

UPDATE: DECC now say the actual figures are £9,116 and £4,900. “Extra 0’s added due to admin error.”

Tory Fury at Budget’s EU Stealth VAT

osborne EU

The EU-enforced tampon tax causing a cross-party rebellion isn’t the only example of Brussels stealth tax imposed in this Budget. Following a decision by the Court of Justice of the EU in June last year, the 20% VAT rate was also forced upon “energy saving materials”, previously taxed at just 5%. People who want to insulate their homes are being whacked by an EU tax hike. Worth reading John Redwood on this – it has gone down like a cup of cold sick with Tory backbenchers. 

Other areas covered by the EU’s barmy VAT rules include digital services like Netflix, now charged at the place of purchase. Not only this, British digital businesses selling products in EU member states are subject to local VAT rates, for example Croatian, Danish, and Swedish VAT rates of 25%, or even sky-high Hungarian VAT at 27%.

Osborne announced yesterday “We understand that tax affects behaviour. So let’s tax the things we want to reduce”By his own logic, the EU wants to reduce energy efficiency and online businesses…

Scientists Boycott Osborne-Subsidised Research Centre Fearing Chinese Spies

Academics have boycotted a government funded research centre, hailed by George Osborne as “putting the UK in pole position” in the new material’s research, after concerns were raised over industrial espionage.

Academics drafted into the National Graphene Institute (NGI) are worried by its collaboration with the Taiwanese owned BGT, which has recently announced further partnerships with a Chinese manufacturer and university. Chinese corporations are notoriously poor in their respect for intellectual property rights. Chinese intelligence agents steal trade secrets for their corporations…

Graphene, a newly developed ultra high-tech nano-material, is 200 times stronger than steel and has outperformed super-conductive materials in electrical tests. Scientists are worried that yet another Great British invention funded by British taxpayers will be commercialised by foreign corporations.

Academics might have seen this move coming, however, after Osborne showed off his pet project NGI to Chinese president Xi Jinping during his recent stay. Having pledged to protect UK subsidies for scientific research in the autumn statement, the British taxpayer should be keen to protect their own investment. There is a limit to kow-towing, by all means lay out the welcome mat, just don’t let the Chinese walk all over you…

H/T Sunday Times

Khan’s Attack on Choice: I’ll Cap Uber If I’m Mayor

Londoners’ freedom to choose cheaper Uber rides is under threat – Sadiq says he will cap the number of Uber cars allowed on the capital’s streets:

“I’m afraid the mistake was made a couple of years ago when TfL allowed Uber taxis to come on stream… And let me tell you what I will do. I will make sure we have proper regulation around private hire vehicles. I want a cap on the number of private hire vehicles.”

Zac is hardly pro-innovation when it comes to taxis either though this from Khan is a particularly direct attack on consumer choice. Heavy handed, Corbyn-style market intervention to reduce the availability of Ubers means less supply, a higher likelihood of surge pricing and higher fares for Londoners…

Irish Election Special: Fine Gal

FINEGAL

One candidate for the upcoming Irish general election stands out somewhat. Running as an independent in Dublin Fingal, law lecturer Roslyn Fuller previously released racy pics for a calendar, Wikilicious, in defence of Edward Snowden. Roslyn’s pitch to the voters:

“… condemn me as a harlot if you will, but the fact remains that if we are serious about wanting to fix the problems in our society, including those revealed by whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, we’re all going to have to put our money where our mouth is and get used to getting out of our comfort zones”

Freedom for whistleblowers, and the nipple…

Censored! Viz Kicked off Facebook

viz

Cheeky comic Viz has fallen foul of Facebook censors this morning. The top shelf Beano famous for the outrageous antics of Roger Melly and the Fat Slags announced via Twitter that their page had been banned for polluting Facebook’s “welcoming, respectful environment.” The same environment that saw hundreds of paedophile groups allowed to post sick images and perverse comments, and gave SNP cybernats a platform to share their bullying videos during the election. Guido is sure Viz will take this threat with its usual solemnity

Before You Go Incognito…

It’s gone midnight and before readers, er, go incognito, they might be interested to learn the government is going to make it harder. DCMS today launch a public consultation to require porn websites to ensure all their viewers are over 18.[…] 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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