Hacked Ministers’ Phone Numbers and Passwords for Sale Online as Conference Sponsor Promotes ‘Keeping Data Safe’

This weekend it emerged in the Mail on Sunday that the Prime Minister’s phone number, as well as the numbers, passwords and personal email addresses of much of the cabinet, are available on the internet to anybody for £6.49. They’re made accessible by a website allowing users to search through hacked data leaks with ease. A potential threat to national security…

With the mobile phone numbers of half the cabinet in the public domain, Guido is amused to see the Tories taking the issue more seriously at their conference, with new environmentally friendly paper lanyards being sponsored by a “world beating… quantum-safe cyber security” company – Arqit. They claim to be “keeping safe the data of our governments”. We’re in good hands…

Guido can also reveal that the vast majority of MPs have similar information traces on the site. The passwords available to view are almost universally insecure, often simply comprising lower-case plain text or respective constituency names. This all comes despite parliamentary authorities splurging taxpayer funds on cyber-security, with the head of the parliamentary digital service earning £175,000 a year. The information wouldn’t even be difficult to hide from public view, entries can be removed within three clicks…

mdi-timer 3 October 2022 @ 11:00 3 Oct 2022 @ 11:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Commons’ Daft Punk Attitude

Rejected Commons petitions can often provide insight into the public’s true priorities; from Introduce an organisation that kills seagulls.” to Make the Argentina vs England 1986 World Cup quarter final be re-reviewed by VAR.” It seems the Commons are now getting in on the joke: in response to a recent petition calling for Daft Punk to be brought back, the reason for rejecting the petition was given as:

“Any decision to re-form Daft Punk, and any potential collaborations, is a matter for them, not the UK Government or Parliament.

You may Get Lucky and find they choose to reform One More Time.”

Guido appreciates the Commons’ Technologic petition committee’s work is becoming Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, and should be appreciated Around the World…

mdi-timer 15 March 2021 @ 11:46 15 Mar 2021 @ 11:46 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Merkel Says Trump Ban is “Problematic”, Decentralised Social Networks See Surge of New Members

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is right to call Big Tech’s banning of Trump “problematic”, though Guido is not sure that it can be described accurately as a breach of the “fundamental right to free speech”. The Big Tech platforms are just withdrawing their services, which may seem like an academic distinction in terms of the outcome, it is however important to distinguish between a state enforcing a ban in law and a private enterprise choosing to not provide a service. Germany has strict laws which regulate free speech in ways that we don’t want to import.

Facebook and Twitter saw their share prices fall yesterday as investors worried that regulations were going to hit the firms in the wake of politicians around the globe realising that if it could happen to Trump, it could happen to them. France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire said yesterday that “Digital regulation should not be done by the digital oligarchy itself . . . Regulation of the digital arena is a matter for the sovereign people, governments and the judiciary.” By which he really means politicians like him.

The de-platforming of Trump and the alternative Parler social network, after Amazon pulled the plug on it, reveals where real power lies. The solution is a return to the first principles of the internet. Resilience is surrendered by relying on the main social networks, which are advertiser funded and reliant on giving brands a safe space. Fortunately the architecture of the internet was designed to allow information to flow even if the network was damaged. New social networks that are self-hosted, distributed and decentralised will be developed, they exist already and could soon gain critical mass. Many have just experienced a surge in new users after the Trump ban.

Some of the decentralised services have millions of members, Mastadon‘s codebase allows you to build your own Twitter-like social network, you can either keep it private or open it out to the wider world. We will inevitably now see decentralised and politically polarised networks develop, possibly in the shadows, unregulated. Information wants to be free and the internet enables it. The Big Tech platforms have probably made the big mistake that Mark Zuckerberg has been determined to avoid from the beginning, it could see them go the way of AOL

mdi-timer 12 January 2021 @ 16:35 12 Jan 2021 @ 16:35 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Government’s New Internet Regulator Endangers Free Speech

The Online Harms White Paper was published in April 2019 ahead of a Bill coming before Parliament next year. The aim is to make the UK “the safest place in the world to go online”, yet a report from the Free Speech Union written by Dr Radomir Tylecote, says the proposals will seriously infringe free speech. Some of the harms the White Paper identifies are real, including distributing images of child abuse and online activities by terrorists. These can be dealt with by current legislation with more resources for law enforcement.

Some of the “harms” the White Paper describes are vague and subjective, such as “unacceptable content” and “disinformation”. These are to be determined by a future regulator and will likely lead to sweeping censorship. Online Harms does not even properly define “harm”, so the definition risks being outsourced to the usual activists and lobby groups. A proposed new regulator will even have the power to censor lawful content: the government says new regulation should prohibit material “that may directly or indirectly cause harm” even if “not necessarily illegal”. Inevitably the regulator will be captured by the forces of wokery, so we can look forward to the likes of Guido and JK Rowling being censored for inappropriately discussing gender, Covid, or climate issues…

The FSU report says the proposals are partly inspired by Germany’s 2017 “NetzDG” internet law, but Human Rights Watch has called for Germany to scrap the law, saying it “turns internet companies into censors”. President Lukashenko of Belarus, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party and Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuelan government have cited NetzDG as the model for their online laws. As the FSU report says:

Our government’s plans also bear a worrying similarity to Beijing’s internet censorship policies. Beijing censors “rumours” because they cause “social harms”. Our government’s proposals describe “disinformation” as “harmful”, and will make “content which has been disputed by reputable fact-checking services less visible to users”, forcing companies to promote “authoritative news sources”. This contradicts our government’s claim that “the regulator will not be responsible for policing truth and accuracy online”.

The dark net will thrive under state enforced censorship and conspiracy theorists will enjoy the cachet of being “banned by the state”. Do we really want to go down this route?

Download the FSU report.

mdi-timer 17 September 2020 @ 11:14 17 Sep 2020 @ 11:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Making ID Cards Paperless Digital IDs Makes them Even More Dangerous

David Davis told John Pienaar yesterday what he thought of the government’s plans for digital IDs: “I think it’s bonkers”. He reminded us that the Tories were first re-elected on the basis of opposition to ID cards:

“That’s one of the reasons, by the way, that this Tory government, that was elected in 2010, the first thing it did was cancel the Identity Card scheme. And they weren’t cancelling it because of the piece of plastic. They were cancelling it because of the huge databases that it applied would exist, within government. The sort of database that would have made the Stasi happy.”

Digital IDs are useful in efficiency terms. Centralised databases may make it easier to implement state control over law abiding citizens. Do we want the government to know even more about us? Won’t the temptation for bureaucrats be too much? The government is spinning that it will help with digital signatures and suchlike. China has social credit scores which are used as a tool of authoritarian social control, coupled with facial recognition you can be penalised by automated AI software bots for crossing the road before the light changes green. Imagine a woke government monitoring citizens for anti-social behaviour of which they disapprove. An efficient state can be a danger to an open and free society…

mdi-timer 3 September 2020 @ 10:33 3 Sep 2020 @ 10:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Twitter’s Stony Faced Satire Crackdown

Twitter attempted to draw a new line in the sand as to what is acceptable on the platform yesterday evening, suspending a host of right-leaning satirical accounts. Popular British joke-accounts including ‘Jarvis Dupont’, ‘Supportourlefty’, and ‘Guy Verhoftwat’, were banned from the site altogether, while the fictional bestselling author Titania McGrath has her account currently restricted, unable to tweet. None have been given clear reasons for their bans beyond “platform manipulation and dissemination of spam”…

At the same time US satirical website The Babylon Bee had its Twitter account removed, although after widespread outcry this has since been restored. Notably more left leaning satyrical accounts from The Daily Mash to The Onion did not receive the same treatment. By banning obvious joke accounts, Twitter has shown its first steps of removing extreme political figures to have been the thin end of the wedge…

mdi-timer 18 August 2020 @ 14:37 18 Aug 2020 @ 14:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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