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. The plan is that Jack Dromey et al will have to sign in to an identify provider such as their bank or mobile operator before they open up the “private browsing” section. Sites that do not abide by the new law will face civil action or even be blocked, Chinese-style, which seems unworkable at best and draconian censorship at worst. No technology has been or ever will be invented that can stop teenage boys looking at pictures of naked girls…

Amazon’s Lawyers Prepare for Zombie Apocalypse

AMAZON+APOCOLYPSE

Amazon has released a beta of Lumberyard, a free game engine and software development tool that runs on Amazon’s AWS cloud computing platform. AWS is a multi-billion revenue generator for Amazon and most tech start-ups use it.

aws

Clause 57 of the terms and conditions deals with a common video-game scenario. It has a few acceptable use exceptions that don’t read like the usual legalese:

However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

It seems that in the event of a properly certified zombie apocalypse the platform will be available to actually shoot ’em up… 

Happy ‘I Heart Unions’ Day

Hundreds of unionised Luddites in black cabs bring Millbank, Whitehall and Parliament Square to a stand still this afternoon. Doing Uber’s marketing for them…

Labour’s Consistent Flip-Flopping on Surveillance

flipflop

Labour have put out a statement boldly claiming they have “consistently” raised doubts about Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers bill. According to Sir Keir Starmer:

“Labour has consistently argued that the extension of surveillance powers can only be justified if accompanied by much improved transparency and ever-more robust oversight and scrutiny.”

Have they really “consistently argued” this?

This is what Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said about the bill in November. He gushingly gave Labour’s full support.

We support the Government in their attempt to update the law in this important and sensitive area. We share the Government’s goal of creating a world-class framework…

From what the Home Secretary has said today, it is clear to me that she and the Government have listened carefully to the concerns that were expressed about the draft Bill that was presented in the last Parliament. She has brought forward much stronger safeguards, particularly in the crucial area of judicial authorisation. It would help the future conduct of this important public debate if the House sent out the unified message today that this is neither a snooper’s charter, nor a plan for mass surveillance…

In conclusion, the issues the proposed legislation seeks to tackle go way beyond party politics. Any Government will face a difficult task in balancing the security of the nation with the privacy and liberties of individual citizens… Having listened carefully to what the Home Secretary has said today, I believe that she has responded to legitimate concerns and broadly got that difficult balance right.”

So Labour hasn’t “consistently argued” that the bill was only justified if accompanied by other amendments. They previously gave it their full, unequivocal support.

Days later, of course, Burnham flip-flopped and decided he didn’t support the government after all. As if he would ever be “consistent” about anything.

Uber Tries To Kill Hailo

App War

Uber have offered black cab drivers the chance to use the ride sharing app for no fee for the first twelve months. It’s a move unlikely to placate all the irate cabbies, 5,000 of which plan to protest in the capital on Wednesday over the deregulation of the industry. But could this “olive branch” actually be part of an attempt to kill off the black cab apps Hailo and Gett?

The most telling part of the press release states:

While both black cab and licensed Uber drivers go through exactly the same background checks, taxi drivers have additional hoops they have to jump through. The Knowledge, for instance, is rightly legendary. But it means memorising 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks – a skill that can take up to four years to master.

In the age of GPS and live traffic apps, is such an onerous test still needed? Could a modern version of The Knowledge that took advantage of new technology and only took a year to complete be just as effective? And when a black cab typically costs more than £40,000 to buy and thousands a year to run, shouldn’t taxi drivers be given a broader choice of cars, including green and hybrid vehicles?

Somehow Guido doesn’t think that Uber suggesting abolishing the knowledge is about altruistically helping out the cabbies and leveling the competitive playing field. It looks like bringing Black cabs onto the app is more an attempt to standardise the qualifications required for Uber drivers and cabbies, and destroy Hailo and Gett in the process. We wait to see how many cabbies will be tempted…

Labour’s Digital Revolution Will Not Be Shared

digital-tom

Tom Watson is one of the more savvy digital operators and he is promising to revolutionise Labour’s digital campaigning in this video released on YouTube. Unfortunately it has – after being up over a week – only managed to chalk up 748 views. This is despite Labour’s YouTube channel having 16,279 loyal subscribers. Why?

Well it doesn’t help that the video is unlisted and  hidden from search traffic, with sharing on social media actively discouraged. Doh! Clearly the revolution will not be shared… 

Uncharacteristically Guido will offer some digital campaigning advice for free. Spend more money on targeting online advertising during campaigns. It works. Don’t rely on tweeting to your most dedicated supporters in the Twitter echo chamber. Also, this chap is right:

Hope that helps…

French Cabbies Protest Uber With Smoke Bombs and #JeSuisTaxi Hashtag

Uber Je Suis

Paris taxi drivers have brought the French capital to a halt in another protest against Uber. Some 300 taxi drivers blocked major roads, lit fires and threw smoke bombs during the ugly scenes. Even worse, the Luddites are protesting under the banner “#JeSuisTaxi”:

Such bad taste is reminiscent of London cabbies’ exploitation of the Leytonstone jihadi incident last month. Stay classy.

BT Forgets to Hang Up

Could have been a lot worse…[…] 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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