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2012: Oct-Dec

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Update: Claire Perry and the Daily Mail Blocked...

Government announces that public consultation on parental internet controls came out strongly against the idea of default website blocking by ISPs

Link Here15th December 2012

Ministers have stepped back from forcing telecommunications companies to filter websites for online pornography after parents rejected the idea in a government-sponsored consultation.

A report released by the department for education and the home office instead said that internet service providers will be asked to advise and steer parents towards making an active choice by offering software that blocks out pornography and self-harming sites.

The decision follows a 10-week public consultation process. David Cameron had indicated as recently as last month that he wanted firms to follow the lead of TalkTalk, which was the first big name internet service provider to introduce network-level filtering of websites for its customers.

The report, released with little fanfare, said:

It is... clear that in accepting that responsibility, parents want to be in control, and that it would be easier for them to use the online safety tools available to them if they could learn more about those tools.

They also want information about internet safety risks and what to do about them. There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35% of the parents who responded favoured that approach.

In fact the figures for all those that responded to the consultation showed:

  • 14% in favour of default ISP blocking
  • 85% opposed to default ISP blocking
  • 1% unsure.

The campaign for greater curbs against online porn had been led by the Tory MP Claire Perry, and was followed up by the Daily Mail.

The industry pointed out that Perry's plans were unworkable.

The Government will now go to work with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to help parents with the knowledge and tools required to provide flexible and workable parental control.



Expensive Cookies...

Office of Fair Trading to investigate personalised pricing by online retailers

Link Here15th December 2012

Claims that online shoppers are being charged different prices by companies using software to detect the wealth of its customers are being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading.

The watchdog has responded to concerns that shoppers using Apple Macs or iPads and visiting top end websites might be charged more.

There are also growing numbers of anecdotal reports that suggest sophisticated systems are being used to raise prices on websites when they detect that shoppers are emotionally committed to a purchase. For instance, if someone who is looking at an airline site for flights has already browsed hotel options, it suggests that the search is more than casual.

The software analyses the trail of cookies, files maintained on the browsing computer by website software, reveal precisely where a particular shopper has been searching, giving retailers vital information about their preferences. As well as analysing the cookie trail, the personalised pricing software can work out the type of computer or device being used and its location. Certain devices, eg those made by Apple, are associated with higher spending consumers.

IT expert Tom Cheesewright said:

There is currently no hard evidence other than anecdotal that it is happening, but it is certainly technically possible. There are lots of references to it on internet forums and friends are already clearing cookies so they give nothing away.

Amazon is the only company known to have attempted personalised pricing when it briefly tried it in 2000. It backed down after customers became suspicious.



So what else will snoopers be looking for whilst they are at it?...

Credit reference agencies given the job of snooping into people's spending patterns

Link Here 14th December 2012

UK Credit reference agencies will implement data mining surveillance on people's spending patterns and then cross check with income declared on tax returns.

The agencies will identify high and medium risks of both illegal and legal tax avoidance and report those people to HM Revenue and Customs. Suspects will then be subject to more detailed tax scrutiny.

About two million people are expected to be investigated under the programme.

HMRC is already reporting successful results of a pilot programme involving about 20,000 people which will now be extended nationally. Treasury sources said that hundreds of millions are expected to be raised from the greater use of third-party data, such as that supplied by credit reference agencies.

Many of those who are expected to be identified are likely to be self-employed workers who are suspected of having under-declared their income to the authorities.



Offsite Article: Caution. Job Destroyers at Work...

Link Here4th November 2012
Growing numbers of people are being turned down for jobs and university places because they accepted police cautions for minor offences. Cautions showed up on 153,000 Criminal Records Bureau checks last year.

See article from dailymail.co.uk



The Ugly Face of Political Correctness...

Police visit pub after PC complaint about their 'ugliest woman' event

Link Here3rd November 2012

Police swooped on a pub landlord for organising an ugliest woman competition.

An uknown complainant reported the Glasgow pub for sexism and demanded the competition be cancelled and also that the owners of Islay Inn be prosecuted.

However, when police arrived at the Glasgow venue they gave manager George Hogg the go ahead after discovering it was, in fact, a competition for men dressed as women.

Landlord George Hogg said:

It was a totally over the top reaction by whoever went to the bother of reporting us - political correctness gone mad!



Indonesian Maids Now on Sale...

And whilst you're at it, political sound bites are going at ten a penny

Link Here31st October 2012

An advertisement in Malaysia for cut-price Indonesian maids has gone viral online in Indonesia and sparked 'outrage'.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has phoned his Malaysian counterpart to complain and a few web users have vented their anger over the flyers tacked to trees in Kuala Lumpur which read

Indonesian maids now on sale!! Now your housework and cooking come easy.

You can rest and relax. Deposit only 3,500 ringgit ($1,150)

Arifin Sutrisno, an Indonesian campaigner for migrant workers' rights suggested:

Let's boycott travelling to Malaysia, they have become even more disrespectful.

Labour ministry spokeswoman Dita Indah Sari told AFP:

Saying Indonesian workers are on sale is likening a human being to a commodity. This is unacceptable.

Malaysian Labour Minister S. Subramaniam condemned the flyers:

We are going all out to trace the group responsible for the leaflets.



Offsite Article: Gorging on Political Correctness...

Link Here21st October 2012
Swedish school dinners chef banned from serving outstanding food on the grounds that it is unfair to pupils at other schools

See article from thelocal.se



Offsite Article: Big Brother is watching you more closely than ever...

Link Here4th October 2012
CCTV cameras, the spies in our midst. By John Kampfner

See article from dailymail.co.uk



Tape Over that Camera and Microphone...

Warning that PC rental companies use intrusive surveillance to keep tabs on customers

Link Here3rd October 2012

Rented computers from seven different companies secretly took photographs of their users, US authorities have said.

The companies used software made by US company Designerware which enables the tracking of key strokes and personal data. The software, called PC Rental Agent, captured people engaging in intimate acts , including sex. Webcam pictures of children, partially undressed individuals, and intimate activities at home were found.

A court settlement means the companies are banned from using the software which invaded the users' privacy. However, some software - such as location tracking - could still be used as long as the companies involved made it explicitly clear to the users.

It is believed that PC Rental Agent has been installed in approximately 420,000 computers worldwide.

The Federal Trade Commission ruling concerned a feature in the software, called Detective Mode, which is intended to be activated if the user was late in returning equipment, or failed to pay for use. Detective Mode would assist the rental store in locating the overdue computer in order to pursue its return.

Part of the technique included a pop-up window designed to look like a software registration screen. It would request personal information such as email addresses and telephone numbers. In addition, the FTC said the software had access to much more sensitive information, including: usernames and passwords for email accounts, social media websites, and financial institutions. Among the other data collected were social security numbers; medical records; private emails to doctors; bank and credit card statements.



Miserable in Liverpool...

Bunch of Lib Dems dress up as puritans and go round pissing off the decent drinking folk of Liverpool

Link Here2nd October 2012

Liverpool Council are being urged to investigate whether the boom in weekend stag and hen parties in Liverpool is giving the city a bad name with ordinary tourists.

The Liberal Democrats claim there is a risk that more mild-mannered visitors will take away a negative impression of the city because of the volume and behaviour of groups enjoying celebrating upcoming marriages.

They said they believed Liverpool residents, particularly those with children, may also be unimpressed with rowdy crowds who are often already well-oiled by the early afternoons of Fridays and Saturdays.

A motion moved by Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Oglethorpe states:

Whilst recognising their contribution to the local economy, this council believes that the current volume and behaviour of stag and hen parties may be in danger of deterring ordinary visitors and local residents from frequenting Liverpool city centre.

Oglethorpe added:

I was walking down Hanover Street one day and this group of girls came out of a pub really bladdered, shouting their heads off and swearing. It was quite frightening for young kids. It's not just at 4am, it's late afternoons this is happening. I think it will deter people coming to the city, and it doesn't give a great impression for those who live here either.

He said the motion had a lukewarm reception from members of the Labour group at the neighbourhoods committee last week, but is to get a second hearing at the community safety committee.

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