Farangland News

2012: Jan-March

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YouView WeSnoop...

A very worrying aspect to internet TV

Link Here24th July 2012

A new internet television service which allows viewers to catch up on shows from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 will change all that. Chaired by Lord Sugar, YouView allows broadcasters and their commercial partners to know exactly which programmes you are watching, and when.

An internet connection from the box to the outside world tracks individual choices and reports the data back to the company. YouView will use the material to build up a profile of each user. And to help some of the company's employees previously worked for Phorm, a US technology firm accused of developing advertising spyware.

Prospective viewers, however, may not be aware that the technology will record each channel being viewed. Each time you change channels or start/stop recording a programme, YouView reports back to headquarters via the internet connection, telling the company what it is you are watching and what you are doing with the box.

YouView, which publishes its data-usage policy in a click-through link at the bottom of its website, has been reluctant to answer detailed questions about privacy. The company unconvincingly told The Independent that the data from each box would be anonymised and only relates to the device and is mainly technical in nature. Information will apparently be passed to third-party companies, allowing the introduction of advertising targeted at certain postcodes.

Other likely applications are features such as What's hot in your area showing what neighbours are watching, eg 40% are watching Downton Abbey, 31% Strictly Come Dancing and 3% shows on gambling or pornography.


28th March   

Only Rich People will be able to Take their Spouses to the UK...

Brits earning less that 25,700 don't qualify for the human right to a family life
Link Here

Theresa May, the British Home Secretary, is planning a rights abusing immigration clampdown on tens of thousands of people who use family visas to settle in Britain, according to a leaked cabinet letter.

The letter from May to Nick Clegg, which has been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, proposes a tough new minimum income of 25,700 a year for anyone seeking to bring a spouse, partner or dependant to the UK from outside the European Union from June - almost double the current threshold of 13,700.

The minimum income would rise dramatically - up to 62,600 - if children are also brought in.

May also wants a longer probationary period of five years before spouses and partners can apply to live permanently in Britain, and a higher level of English to be required.

The proposals could cut the number of immigrants allowed in by 15,000 a year - a significant step towards the Government's aim of reducing net migration to 100,000 people each year.

However, they are expected to fought hard by Clegg and other Liberal Democrat ministers, escalating still further the tensions between the two Coalition partners that have risen dramatically since last week's controversial Budget.

In 2010, some 48,900 visas were issued under this category. The majority of those who come to settle in Britain using this method are women from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.


22nd March   

Update: No Tax No Gas...

Petrol station CCTV set to check cars for tax and insurance before allowing petrol to be sold
Link Here

Cameras at petrol stations will automatically stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from being filled with fuel, under new UK government plans. Downing Street officials hope the hi-tech system will crack down on the 1.4million motorists who drive without insurance.

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle's number plate. Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically check with the DVLA's database.

Downing Street officials are due to meet representatives from the major fuel companies in the next few weeks to discuss the idea.

Some petrol retailers said the proposals were a step too far - claiming they put cashiers at risk. Brian Madderson, from RMI Petrol said: This proposal will increase the potential for conflict. Our cashiers are not law enforcers.


10th March

 Offsite Article: Big Pricks...

Link Here
Police thugs lay into stag party with tasers and pepper spray

See article from dailymail.co.uk


8th March

 Offsite Article: Collusion...

Link Here
Firefox add-on to allow internet surfers to watch who is spying on them

See article from dailymail.co.uk


25th February   

Flatly Ludicrous...

Swedish town has to take down crossing signs deemed too sexy
Link Here

Signs featuring a woman with perky breasts and a short skirt are set to be removed from the streets of Uppsala in eastern Sweden following claims of a mix up.

The design for the sexier signs were seemingly rejected by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) for running afoul of the agency's anti-sexy policies.

But the design somehow got used anyway. Somehow, a rejected variant of the accepted prototype from several years ago was produced and erected on the streets of Uppsala, Tina Hallin of the Uppsala municipality told The Local.

The signs featuring the rejected design have now been taken down around Uppsala, even though there have been no official complaints from the residents.


20th February   

Update: Stasi Dave...

Government revives mega-snooping plan on British internet and phone communications
Link Here
Details of every phone call and text message, email traffic and websites visited online are to be stored in a series of vast databases under new Government plans. Landline and mobile phone companies and broadband providers will be ordered to store the data for a year and make it available to the security services under the scheme.

The databases would not record the contents of calls, texts or emails but the numbers or email addresses of who they are sent and received by. For the first time, the security services will have widespread access to information about who has been communicating with each other on social networking sites such as Facebook. Direct messages between subscribers to websites such as Twitter would also be stored, as well as communications between players in online video games.

Rather than the Government holding the information centrally, companies including BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Vodafone and O2 would have to keep the records themselves. Under the scheme the security services would be granted real time access to phone and internet records of people they want to put under surveillance, as well as the ability to reconstruct their movements through the information stored in the databases. The system would track who, when and where of each message, allowing extremely close surveillance. Mobile phone records of calls and texts show within yards where a call was made or a message was sent, while emails and internet browsing histories can be matched to a computer's IP address , which can be used to locate where it was sent.

Labour shelved the project - known as the Intercept Modernisation Programme - in November 2009 after a consultation showed it had little public support.

At the same time the Conservatives criticised Labour's reckless record on privacy. A called Reversing the Rise of the Surveillance State by Dominic Grieve, then shadow home secretary and now Attorney General, published in 2009, said a Tory government would collect fewer personal details which would be held by specific authorities on a need-to-know basis only .

But the security services have now won a battle to have the scheme revived. They are known to have lobbied Theresa May, the Home Secretary, strongly for the scheme.

Sources said ministers are planning to allocate legislative time to the new spy programme, called the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) , in the Queen's Speech in May.


20th February   

Update: Miserable Cameron...

Suffocating any avenue of life that is fun and pleasurable, in this case drinking
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Police chiefs launched a scathing attack on David Cameron's miserable plans to tackle so called binge drinking, branding them dangerous and unhelpful .

The Police Federation also warned that forces did not have enough resources to implement the Prime Minister's crackdown.

Cameron on had pledged to tackle the growing scandal of alcohol-fuelled disorders during a visit to a hospital in Newcastle. He confirmed the Government was considering plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol and give police more powers to tackle violence and disorder.

The crackdown includes plans for drunk tanks , cells where those deemed incapable of walking home would be sent by police to sleep it off, and booze buses , which pick up revellers and take them to cells. Other proposals include deploying more police to accident and emergency wards to prevent drunken violence.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: The Prime Minister's suggestion of putting more police on patrol in hospitals to help deal with problems of drunken and anti-social behaviour would be laudable if the police service wasn't struggling to meet the current workload. We simply do not, and will not, have the police officers or the resources.

McKeever said plans to tackle alcohol purely from a health perspective without considering the implications on other public services were unhelpful and likely to fail .


15th February   

Licence to Throw a Frisbee...

Everything's banned on LA beaches
Link Here

In an ordinance approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in late December, the throwing of Frisbees and footballs on county beaches will be allowed as long as the activity takes place either in the off-season, or with a permit or the permission of the particular beach's lifeguard.

Oh, and all nudity on the beach is now a violation punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, as are swimming or surfing during hazardous conditions or in prohibited areas, and shooting a gun.

...Read the full article


10th February   

Er Maybe Because they Want to Enjoy a Bit of Fun in Life...

Danish TV asks why Danish men choose to live in Pattaya
Link Here

Danish TV personality, Bubber, who hosts the TV-program Denmark according to Bubber , has just aired another episode, where he visits the Danish community in Pattaya, Thailand.

It is like a big brothel there. Everywhere you go, they offer you to buy girls for the night or the week, and you can bring the girls back to your hotel and have sex with them, Bubber said to TV2, the Danish channel that aired the show last night.

During his stay in Pattaya, Bubber investigated how come Danish men choose to live in the middle of a huge sex-capital, and the interviews, conducted by Bubber, have sparked a debate about the Danish men living a live as pimps or not.

Bubber also gets to experience the sex industry himself as he enjoys a strip show, and the popular TV personality even buys a girl for the night, which turns out a bit awkward.


7th February   

Miserable Equality...

Easily offended shadow equalities minister 'disturbed' by bunny girl image on beer pump
Link Here

A beer called Top Totty, by the Stafford-based brewer Slater's, has been banned from a parliamentary bar because its pump plate featured a bikini clad bunny girl.

The easily offended shadow equalities minister, Kate Green, was left disturbed after seeing the ale's advertising in Parliament's Strangers' Bar. Green told the Commons:

I was disturbed last night to learn that the guest beer in the Strangers' Bar is called Top Totty and there is a picture of a nearly naked woman on the tap.

She called for a debate on dignity at work in parliament and asked Young to back her demands for Top Totty to be withdrawn immediately.

Sir George Young, told MPs: Action will be taken. And within 90 minutes, House authorities ordered the beer to be withdrawn.

Top Totty's Stafford-based brewer, Slater's, describes the ale as a stunning blonde beer, full-bodied with a voluptuous hop aroma .


2nd February   

We Know Where You've Been...

So why do iPhone and iPod keep an unencrypted file detailing your location over the last year? And why do they back it up on your computer?
Link Here

Security researchers have discovered that Apple's iPhone keeps a record of where you go -- and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner's computer when the two are synchronised.

The file contains the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp, meaning that anyone who stole the phone or the computer could discover details about the owner's movements using a simple program.

For some phones, there could be almost a year's worth of data stored, as the recording of data seems to have started with Apple's iOS 4 update to the phone's operating system, released in June 2010.

Apple has made it possible for almost anybody -- a jealous spouse, a private detective -- with access to your phone or computer to get detailed information about where you've been, said Pete Warden, one of the researchers.

Although mobile networks already record phones' locations, it is only available to the police and other recognised organisations following a court order under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act.

Warden and Allan have set up a web page which answers questions about the file, and created a simple downloadable application to let Apple users check for themselves what location data the phone is retaining.

The Guardian has confirmed that 3G-enabled devices including the iPad also retain the data and copy it to the owner's computer.


31st January   

Fair Play Destroyed in America...

US reveals awesome surveillance capabilities used to refuse entry to tourists over trivial jokey tweets
Link Here

Two British tourists were refused entry into the USA after joking on Twitter that they were going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe . Leigh Van Bryan was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.

The Department of Homeland Security flagged him as a potential threat when he posted an excited tweet to his pals about his forthcoming trip to Hollywood which read:

Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?

Leigh was also quizzed about another tweet which quoted hit US comedy Family Guy which read:

3 weeks today, we're totally in LA pissed people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin Marilyn Monroe up!

After making their way through passport control at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). the pair were detained by armed guards. Despite telling officials the term destroy was British slang for party , they were held on suspicion of planning to commit crimes. They were held in cells for 12 hours and then put on a plane back home. The couple must now apply for a US visa should they ever want to travel to America again.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was recently criticised over false accounts it set up on Twitter. These are then used to scan networks for sensitive words and then for tracking the people who use them. Online privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre requested information on the surveillance, but this was not forthcoming. However words deemed as being sensitive by the DHS include: Illegal immigrant, Outbreak, Drill, Strain, Virus, Recovery, Deaths, Collapse, Human to animal, and Trojan.


22nd January   

Update: Late Night Pub Levy...

Yet more suffocating legislation to stop British people enjoying themselves and making money
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

A public online consultation has been launched asking for views on the implementation of two new powers designed to spoil people's fun and depress the late night economy.

The measures, contained in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and due to be introduced in the autumn, will empower local killjoys by:

  • allowing local authorities to charge a levy for late-night licences to contribute to the cost of extra policing
  • extending Early Morning Restriction Orders -- a power that will allow licensing authorities to restrict the sale of alcohol in all or part of their areas -- to any time between midnight and 6am

The consultation asks whether some types of premises should be exempted from the new measures, or eligible for a reduction in the levy, if they are judged not to be major contributors to the type alcohol-related crime and disorder that can blight neighbourhoods. Such premises could be hotels, cinemas or community venues.

Minister for Fun Prevention Lord Henley said:

Alcohol-related crime and disorder is a problem for many of our communities. These new measures give power back to local areas so they can respond to their individual needs.

But we also recognise that some types of premises that open late to serve alcohol do not contribute to late night drinking problems and should not be unduly penalised. That is why we are seeking views on whether they should be exempt or see a reduction in fees.

We are keen to hear from anyone who is affected by these new powers to help inform our plans to ensure the premises we have proposed are the right ones.

The public, licensing authorities, the licensed trade and police are all encouraged to contribute their views.

The consultation runs until 10 April 2012.


15th January   

Knock Knock, Who's There? Aberdeen Council...

Council sets up entry system to control and snoop on visitors to residential homes
Link Here

After Newham in London, Aberdeen Council has introduced a video system that gives council staff first sight of every visitor to residential properties.

Previously the video entry system connected the person at the door with the property they were trying to enter, and the person inside was able to see a video image of the person outside and, if they wished, remotely open the door.

Aberdeen Council has now written to residents informing them that they are going to change the system so it is a council operator who controls access, and gets to see who is visiting you. The letter reads:

When a non-resident calls your flat from the entrance, the call would be diverted to a centralised control room, where we will also monitor the current CCTV cameras in your building 24 hours a day. A member of staff from the control room would contact you directly and ask if you agreed to the non-resident being allowed access to the building.

Why should a council official be able to see the visitors to your flat before you do? It's no business who you have into your own property and the last thing residents need is a council official scrutinising everyone they invite round for a cup of tea.

Following the intervention of Big Brother Watc h, the council has confirmed that residents who do not wish their visitors to be seen by a council official in the control room will be able to opt-out of the system.


14th January   

The Smartest Thing is Not to Have One...

Revealing what smart meters get to know about electricity users
Link Here

Researchers have found that so called smart electricity meters can be used to determine what TV programmes people are watching.

German researchers have been looking over meters from the company Discovergy. They found that the fluctuating brightness levels of a film or TV show when displayed on a plasma-screen or LCD TV created fluctuating power-consumption levels. This creates a power/consumption signature for a film that might be determined from the readings obtained by Discovergy's technology.

The researchers also found that Discovergy apparently allowed information gathered by its smart meters to travel over an insecure link to its servers. The information -- which could be intercepted -- apparently could be interpreted to reveal not only whether or not users happened to be at home and consuming electricity at the time.

This was revealed during a presentation by researchers Dario Carluccio and Stephan Brinkhaus at the 28th Chaos Computing Congress (28c3) hacker conference in Berlin late last month.

During the talk, entitled, Smart Hacking for Privacy , the researchers explained that they came across numerous security and privacy-related issues after signing up with the smart electricity meter service supplied by Discovergy.

Because Discovergy's website's SSL certificate was misconfigured, the meters failed to send data over a secure, encrypted link - contrary to claims Discovergy made at the time before the presentation. This meant that confidential electricity consumption data was sent in clear text.

In addition, the researchers discovered that a complete historical record of users' meter usage was easily obtained from Discovergy's servers via an interface designed to provide access to usage for only the last three months. The meters supplied by the firm log power usage in two-second intervals. This fine-grained data was enough not only to determine what appliances a user was using over a period of time -- thanks to the power signature of particular devices -- but even which film they were watching.

The researchers concluded that the two-second frequency of power readings was unnecessary for Discovergy's stated goals. One has to ask why the sample rate was fast enough to determine customers viewing habits and what devices they are using and why a complete history of such information is being kept.


9th January   

Updated: Can We Insure Against Rip Off Travel Insurance?...

Travel insurance companies wriggle out of paying up due to minor changes in health
Link Here

Travel insurers have been blasted by consumer watchdogs after record numbers of complaints by Britons who felt cheated by medical get-out clauses.

An investigation by Which? has accused insurers of changing terms after the policies are sold, often leaving British travellers without any cover.

A survey of 1,876 members found that nearly a third who told their travel insurance provider about a medical condition after they took out the policy had to pay a higher premium or had their cover removed.

Which? Travel says insurers include ongoing medical warranties in policies that they say allow them to change the terms after the policy is bought.

The report found cases of people who had their medical cover removed even though their doctor said they were fit to travel, and were left travelling with no insurance. Some then lost all medical cover because of a new minor illness.

But the magazine says the Financial Ombudsman Service ruled eight years ago that it was generally not fair and reasonable for insurers to exclude from cover medical conditions that arose between the start of the policy and the start of the trip. It said this would be reasonable only if the change was so fundamental that the risk that was being insured became completely different.

Which? Travel said: The FOS is now receiving more complaints about the issue than ever before -- about 40-50 complaints every month -- up from about 20 a month three years ago. There is also concern within the insurance industry about the clauses.

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