Victory! TFL Scraps Silly Uber Crackdown

Uber Wait

Victory for progress as TFL climbs down and drops the most punitive regulations imposed on taxi firm Uber. Gone is the dangerous stipulation that customers would have to wait five minutes for a ride. As is the proposal that locations of Uber cars should not be visible in the app to customers. Making private hire vehicles pay the congestion charge and raising minicab license costs is being considered instead. Boris has embraced technological progress, too:

“There were some ideas consulted upon that did not find widespread support and I think are not sensible. They’re trying to turn back the clock on technical progress, we cant disinvent the internet or apps, they’re making things much easier in our city”.

Increasing regulations on Uber was never the solution, relaxing rules for cabbies is the only sensible way to level the playing field…

Tory Boob: I Was Hacked!

Rushton

Yesterday Guido revealed how Tory councillor Nick Rushton had boobed by following an assortment of Twitter accounts dedicated to well-endowed ladies. Today naughty Nick has called in the police claiming he was hacked, telling his local paper:

“My Twitter account was hacked by someone with malicious intent. Whoever has done this changed my password, as I was unable to log onto it for a considerable period of time.”

Guido can help the police with their enquiries.

The screenshot of Rushton’s ‘Following’ page was taken over the weekend, after which Rushton’s account continued to tweet a series of selfies showing the man himself.

Either Nick’s long-lost identical twin changed his password or the hacking story doesn’t quite add up…

Ask Jez: Why Could Labour Be Fined Up To £500,000?

Lab Comms

Jeremy Corbyn has revolutionised PMQs by outsourcing his questions to members of the public. Voters are able to send in their question by supplying their email address and filling out an online form with their suggestions. Guido would like to remind everyone to use this form responsibly…

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Labour have complied with the regulations laid out by the Information Commissioners Office’s on online communications, with the ICO stipulating that there must be an opt-out option for receiving future e-mail communications from the party. This option is noticeably absent on Labour’s forms. Fines for such breaches can run up to £500,000…

Hello From the Dark Side

Adele Vader calls…

Exitism: Labour Departures

balls-spads

Dan Hodges flouncing out of the Labour Party (again) is no surprise, though he joins a steady stream of people resigning from the people’s party. If not formally resigning they are just quietly (or not so quietly) not renewing their memberships. Exitism by high-calibre moderates is on the rise as the once entryist crypto-commies and toytown trots are welcomed into the party by Corbyn…

Former candidates, bag-carrying opposition PAds and other greasy pole climbing careerists are re-evaluating their prospects. Talk to them and they candidly say that they fully expect another decade of Tory rule. Do they want to spend their best years arguing with lobotomised lefties in CLPs or making some money in the private sector? Labour’s departure lounge is busy…

One-time leadership contender Ed Balls himself looks like he has had enough and his praetorian guard of former advisers have already made the move to the private sector. His former policy chief Karim Palant has joined Facebook as UK public policy manager. Alex Belardinelli, long-time Balls SpAd in government and opposition, is now spinning for Uber, the multi-billion dollar ride-sharing corporation, as their UK head of communications. Do let Guido know of any more examples of exitism…

Star Wars Politics

STARWARS-SIE

Everyone seems to have a take on the politics of Star Wars, was it a Cold War allegory, with the Empire as the Soviet Union? Now that death star has been destroyed the Empire is being re-cast by some as the European Union – after all Princess Padmé Amidala (played by Natalie Portman) in Revenge of the Sith is engaged in a trade treaty dispute at the Galactic Parliament. Her people of Naboo, a small constitutional monarchy, could perhaps be the British, which makes Nick Clegg a political Jar Jar Binks.

James Delingpole makes some sound points about the Star Wars fight for freedom, Tyler Durden too over at Zero Hedge makes a case for Star Wars being an example of libertarian myth-making. The New Statesman’s Stephen Bush seems to accept that the heroes are counter-revolutionary freedom fighters against an oppressive galactic state. He even calls the Jedis “Tories”…

One thing is for sure, these are not the Jedis you are looking for:

corbynista-jedis

YouGov have asked the British public which Star Wars character political leaders identify with:

Clearly they think politicians are baddies…

Taxi Union Weaponises Leytonstone Terror

The anti-progress Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are really angry about the Leytonstone stabbing… because it seems the knifeman may have once been an Uber driver:

Who knew cabbies had such advanced Photoshop skills?

H/T @jimwaterson

UPDATE: The LTDA probably shouldn’t be so pious:

Parliamentarians Warned of Cyber Phishing Surge

parliament-cyber-phishing
Joe Connolly, the security geek in parliament’s digital service, has just sent an email to all MPs and staff warning that

A large number of fraudulent emails have been sent to Parliamentary email addresses today.  … These ‘phishing’ emails look authentic, as if they relate to invoices, payments or transfers. They are designed to persuade you to click on a link in the email or to open a Word attachment which will then deploy extremely malicious software onto your machine.  Please be aware that criminals are targeting parliamentary email addresses and look out for any emails of this kind. Some users have also received fraudulent phone calls (from callers claiming to work for companies like Microsoft) in which they have been asked to disclose personal information or to grant the caller remote access to their computer.

Shouldn’t be a problem, Parliamentary staff are well used to dealing with sophisticated liars…

Snoopers’ Charter Explained: All Your Data

SNOOPERS

Big Brother Watch have released a series of fact sheets explaining the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, better known as the Snooper’s Charter. The principal areas of note are as follows:

Internet Connection Records: • Telecommunication Services will be asked to keep a log of all of our online activity for 12 months.

• Every website you visit and the time, location and information about your device will be stored.

• ICRs will be used on production of a warrant by the police, intelligence agencies and other organisations including HMRC and the NHS.

• There are no specific requirements regarding how securely the information must be held.

Equipment Interference: • Your computer, phone or tablet could be made vulnerable by malicious software.

• You will never know if you have been the target of a hack.

• Even if you are not hacked a business or organisation you have innocent dealings with may be the target of a hack.

Communications Data

• Whenever you make a call, send a text, send an email or go online you create communications data.

• Your communications data can reveal every aspect of your online life.

• The Government wants Telecommunication Services to keep all your communications data for 12 months.

• The police, the tax man, the NHS and local councils can all request access to your communications data.

Interception: • Interception is the process of spying on texts, emails and internet activity or the listening in on telephone calls.

• Targeted intercept is specific, bulk intercept is broad.

• Without an indication of who bulk interception will be used against, anyone who uses the internet or a telephone could be vulnerable to their data being looked at or listened to.

• Any evidence gathered through intercept cannot be used in a court of law. It can only be used as part of a secret investigation.

Bulk Personal Datsets: • Bulk personal datasets are files of information on all UK citizens.

• Very little detail is provided about what datasets can be requested and used.

• BPDs contain information and details about people not suspected of terrorism or crime.

• The Home Secretary will sign warrants for use, Judicial Commissioners will only have the opportunity to review the decision.

Authorisation:• The Home Secretary already signs an average of 6 warrants a day on top of her other Ministerial duties.

• The “double lock” is more of a “rubber stamp” as the decision to authorise a warrant will be made by a Secretary of State and the Judicial Commissioner will only “review” the decision.

• We will be the only country in the “Five Eyes” alliance which will not have true independent authorisation. • Judicial authorisation rather than review will prevent any political abuse of the warrantry process.

Warrants: • A warrant is needed before any of the powers can be used.

• The detail of a warrant, including the operational purpose can be changed after a warrant has been approved sometimes without any further approval.

• Each request must be seen to be“necessary and proportionate”, but these terms are broad and open to interpretation.

Big brother is hacking…

Drone Home

Amazon have unveiled their latest plans for hybrid drones for rapid parcel delivery in a new advert narrated by Jeremy Clarkson. The drones are expected to be capable of flying 15 miles at speeds of over 55mph. Guido has no doubt they will be coming to an Amazon Original TV series near you soon…

Socialist With An iPad

socialism-with-ipad-john-mcdonnell

John McDonnell has had his Harold Wilson moment today, or at least he wants you to think he has. The Shadow Chancellor is unveiling his latest plans for a technological revolution in socialism, moving on from Wilson’s “white heat of technology” to the slightly less inspiring “socialism, but socialism with an iPad“:

“How we work is changing. Shifts in technology are opening up new possibilities. The spread of information technology, in particular, with the long-term decline in the cost of computing power has created opportunities that simply did not exist before. Airbnb, for example, simply could not have existed before the internet. It does not own or rent rooms itself. It provides a space through which others can do so.”

Yes, John, Airnbnb, an online rent lodging service, could not have existed before the internet. Finally a McDonnell statement we can all agree on…

Tinder CEO Fights Off Supermodels

TINDER-CEO-WITH-MODEL

Tinder’s parent company, The Match Group, is desperately trying to distance itself from Tinder co-founder Sean Rad after giving a disastrous interview to London’s Evening Standard. Apparently a supermodel was “begging” him for sex:

He’s desperate to impress on me how gallant he is, citing the fact that a “supermodel, someone really, really famous” has been “begging” him for sex “and I’ve been like, no”. She’s “taunted” him, he says, and “called me a prude”.

“She’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen but it doesn’t mean that I want to rip her clothes off and have sex with her. Attraction is nuanced. I’ve been attracted to women who are …” he pauses “… well, who my friends might think are ugly. I don’t care if someone is a model. Really. It sounds clichéd and almost totally unbelievable for a guy to say this, but it’s true. I need an intellectual challenge.”

He continues: “Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What’s the word?” His face creases the effort of trying to remember. “I want to say ‘sodomy’?”

Rosette shrieks: “That’s it! We’re going to be fired” and Rad looks confused. “What? Why?”

I tell him it means something else and he thumbs his phone for a definition. “What? No, not that. That’s definitely not me. Oh, my God.”

Match Group, which had its IPO today, has attempted to distance itself from Rad, keen to state that “Mr Rad is not a director or executive officer of the Company”. Although he is the CEO of Tinder. It seems Match Group have just swiped left…

Bonfire of the Lads Mags: Zoo and FHM Shuttered

A sad day for connoisseurs of gentlemen’s magazines this morning as both FHM and Zoo announce within a few minutes of each other that they will be suspending publication. Nuts and Loaded are long gone and follows on from the announcement from Playboy that they are dropping pictures of naked women. FHM say:

“Unfortunately it’s true and it has been announced today the intention to suspend publication of FHM. It’s been an absolute joy producing the magazine over the years. Thank you for all your support, we will keep you updated with developments over the coming weeks.”

While Zoo confirm:

“It is with regret we have to inform you of the intention to suspend publication of ZOO. We’ve loved every minute of the near 12 years and 600-plus issues we’ve shared with you and would like to thank each and every one of you who’ve been there with us along the way.”

Heavy job losses are expected.

Their parent company Bauer say in a statement: “Over time young men’s media habits have continually moved towards mobile”. This infographic explains exactly what is happening:

PORN-MOBILE

The decline of lad’s mags correlates with the rise of big screen mobiles resulting in a more pleasurable online handheld experience…

Labour Row Over Momentum Data Grab

momentum

Guido hears a row is breaking out over Labour members’ personal data, in the latest skirmish between the party’s HQ and Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team. Jon Lansman, the boss of the Momentum Corbyn cheer-leading organisation, is having a barney with Labour’s legal team over his group’s apparent grab of members’ email addresses, telephone numbers and postcodes. As Guido noted last month, Momentum claims to be able to contact all the people who signed up to support him during the leadership contest. They say they are a stand alone company which is separate to the Labour Party, so any transfer of personal data from Corbyn’s leadership team would appear to be a breach of the Data Protection Act:

“individuals should generally be able to choose whether or not their personal data is disclosed to another organisation

Labour MPs are furious and plan to write to the Information Commissioner to ask him to investigate if Momentum have broken the law. They point out that the maximum fine for serious breaches affecting thousands of people is a cool half a million quid…

Return of the Andy Burnham Flip Flop

Guido was wrong to worry that the demise of Andy Burnham’s leadership bid would mean an end to our stories about his textbook u-turns. Fear not.

This is what Andy had to say about Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill just last week:

“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… 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. As someone who was in the Home Office on 7/7, I know that that challenge has got harder in recent years. We will examine carefully the detail of the draft Bill and seek to improve the safeguards to build trust. 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.”

Fast forward five days, and it turns out Burnham has decided he doesn’t support the government after all:

“I have now had the opportunity to study your proposals in detail and have taken advice from the Shadow Justice Secretary. This has given rise to concerns that the safeguards you are proposing are not as strong as it appeared when they were presented to the Commons… On closer inspection of the wording of the Bill, it would seem that it does not deliver the strong safeguard that you appeared to be accepting…”

If Burnham hadn’t read the Bill last week, why did he say May had “broadly got that difficult balance right”? Does he still think it is “neither a snooper’s charter, nor a plan for mass surveillance”? Still, even a stopped clock…

Boris Bikes: Tel Aviv Edition

The Mayor of London has been in Tel Aviv today, undertaking a very serious trade mission to champion tech innovation.

Listen closely for his long-suffering aide heard shouting “Okay Boris. We need to go!”.

UPDATE: More footage has emerged of the Mayor sampling a virtual reality simulator which puts children into the body of animals to teach empathy.

Boris branded it as “a way of trying to overcome childish solipsism”. A feat Guido suspects he is still yet to master…

RAF Airbus Has Just Crossed Sinai

rrr2311

This morning on the Today Programme Patrick McLoughlin denied that RAF transport would be used to evacuate baggage from Sharm El Sheik. This is despite UK citizens being flown out on “sealed planes” with no baggage in the hold.  By coincidence an RAF Airbus has just exited Egyptian airspace* after crossing the Sinai at 40,000 feet beyond the range of shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles…

*Guido waited until RRR2311 exited Egyptian airspace before reporting.

UPDATE: We’re told it is a fuel tanker.

Theresa May Will Be Able to Identify Journalists’ Sources

Home Secretaries will be given powers to identify journalists’ sources without authorisation from a judge. Theresa May has confirmed she will be able to sign an “urgent warrant” to view journalists’ sources without consulting a judge, which will then be subject to “review” in the courts:

“There will be an urgent process, so it will be possible for a Secretary of State to sign an urgent warrant for it to come immediately into effect, and then there will be a period of time within which the judge will have to review that and then make a decision as to whether it should continue or not.”

Given the widespread abuse of RIPA by the police, and coppers then covering it up, this is a concerning attack on the most fundamental basics of press freedom. They’ll be entering newsrooms to smash up hard drives next… 

UPDATE:  A Home Office source gets in touch to stress that the urgent warrants will only be used in extreme circumstances, for example when there is an immediate threat to life, with a warrant then having to be authorised by the Judicial Commissioner within five days, at which point they would rule on whether the data can be kept or destroyed. They insist this provision means sources will always be protected…

How Much of Your Browsing History Will Spooks Be Able to See?

Readers shouldn’t buy the spin of a Theresa May climbdown on the Snoopers’ Charter over the weekend. The Investigatory Powers Bill still leaves significant scope for snooping. The list of what spooks will still be able to do is chilling…

  • GCHQ will be able to see which websites you’ve visited, without a warrant. If they want to see which individual webpages you have viewed they will need permission from a judge. That means they will know if you’ve logged on to Order-Order.com, but will need a warrant to see what pages on the site you visited.
  • Tech firms will have also have to keep records of your social media activity for 12 months, documenting when you sent emails and when you connected to social media sites.
  • Spies can still search the internet and social media activity of everyone in the UK if they obtain a warrant. This means that whilst spies can see you went on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc, and which device you used to do it, a warrant will be required to read your private messages.

Forget the talk of ‘curbs’, ‘restrictions’ and ‘climbdowns’, spooks are being given massive access to your browsing history…

Undercover Spy Blimp’s Cover Blown

Readers will be pleased to hear that the runaway US Military spy blimp has turned up in Pennsylvania of all places. US State Police initally tried to shoot it down with shotguns – as you do. That failed however, but eventually its tail-piece fell off and the blimp came to a rest around a quarter of mile later.[…] 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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