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  • seandodson 5:05 pm on July 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 38 degrees, draft communications data bill, greg mullholland, privacy   

    New blog post: My reservations about the draft Communications Data Bill 

    For a while I’ve been using a website called 38Degrees. It’s a very useful “campaigning” website that helps people organise around political issues. I’ve used it to send petitions or heighten awareness of certain issues on Twitter and the like, but the other day I responded to a call from a man called Keith to go and meet the Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds West, Greg Mulholland, to discuss the draft Communications Data bill which is currently being argued over in Westminster. Basically, the draft bill allows the security services and other public bodies to have access to all our digital communications for a much longer period than they do already. I am not against this per se — if some fanatic is planning to blow up Leeds Station then I very well want the police to have the means to stop them — but the idea being put forward with this new bill is that the security services will have access to our electronic communications *without* having to go to a judge first.

    This seems to me to be regressive step. Our democracy isn’t perfect but it works because different public institutions are independent to one and another and accountable to each other. Allowing the security services to tap into everything and anything without having to present evidence to a judge sets a dangerous precedent. Not least because it could allow spying to be more easily politicised that it is already. Don’t believe me? Then just think about the recent stories about undercover coppers spying on protesters at the Glastonbury Festival. If they can do it in the physical world, what’s to stop them doing in it in the virtual?

    Anyway, so I set off around lunchtime walking though the university, past happy families celebrating graduation and then across Woodhouse Moor and then down the hill toward Burley Park, where Mr Mulholland holds a monthly surgery. Incidentally, what a contrast that walk is. At the top of the hill Leeds seems so leafy and well-to-do, all those grand Georgian and Victorian houses, but as you cross the park and drop down the hill it immediately turns into a much poorer quarter of back-to-back red brick terraces, each one of them seemed to have paint peeling from the walls like dry scabs.

    Keith was waiting at the bottom of the hill with a small group of others. We said hello and then strolled to the surgery. When we go there Mulholland was right enough, although the meeting was awkward. None of us were experts. But we handed him a petition signed (electronically) by over 4000 people in Leeds. He sympathised with our position and pointed out that he had signed a letter in The Guardian stating that the state be not allowed to snoop on its citizens at will, but he didn’t go as far to say that he would vote against the bill once it was presented to parliament. The meeting was interesting, not least because the dozen of us who taken part had never met before and had just come together spontaneously to help form public opinion. In college I often discuss with my students the theory that an unholy trinity of corporate media ownership, advertising and public relations firms has emasculated the public sphere. But there we were, apart from all three. A group of strangers having a serious discussion about the rights and wrongs of government policy who had organised by making good use of new technology. Not bad use of it, as the draft bill seems to suppose.

     
  • seandodson 2:07 pm on January 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: charlie brooker, guido fawkes, , , paul staines, political bloggers, , privacy,   

    Two media stories of note in the old G today

    Thought Charlie Brooker was particularly apropos in his piece about the end of privacy:

    We’ve entered an era in which private conversation is impossible. Ever since Gordon Brown was caught calling Gillian Duffy a bigot, the tape’s been left running. Paranoia is at an all-time high. MPs can no longer talk to their own constituents without suspecting they may be undercover reporters. Celebrities can’t listen to their voicemails without wondering if they have been transcribed and passed to the newsdesk. Football commentators can no longer yap like oafs in their downtime. Everyone has become a reality show contestant nervously awaiting their own Shilpa Shetty moment.

    While elsewhere in the paper Adam Sherwin interviews Paul Staines, the blogger behind Guido Fawkes. I’m not fond of Staines – can’t stand him actually – but the article does place his achievements into context.

    Since Guido’s Order-Order blog went live in 2004, it has exposed MPs’ petty expenses fraud, forced Peter Hain to resign from his cabinet post over undeclared campaign donations and, most spectacularly, brought down Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s political enforcer, in the Smeargate affair.

     
  • seandodson 4:01 pm on October 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , doctorow on ID cards, EFF, , , orwellian, orwellian future, privacy, , ,   

    Cory Doctorow on ID cards 


    Cory Doctorow

    Originally uploaded by
    Aleksi Aaltonen

    Cory Doctorow, the Canadian science fiction author (and privacy advocate), writes about what it means to be forced to carry a mandatory biometric RFID ID card in Britain. Doctorow has been co-opted into the pilot programme for ID cards because of his spousal visa. The scheme is also being forced on foreign students (who along with airline pilots seem to be up in arms) and will eventually be extended to everyone in the UK, if the government get its way.

    This is one of the reasons why he thinks the cards are wrong:

    “My family fled the Soviet Union after the war. They were displaced people (my father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan) who destroyed their papers to protect themselves from the draconian authorities who sought to limit their travel and migration. I used to think it was ironic that my family had gone from Europe to Canada and back to Europe again in a generation, but now I don’t know how long the Doctorows will be staying in Europe — or at least in the UK. The green and pleasant land has suspended habeas corpus, instituted street searches without particularlized suspicion, encourages its citizens to spy and snitch on each other, and now has issued mandatory universal papers that will track we dirty immigrants as we move around our adopted “home,” as part of a xenophobic campaign to arouse fear and resentment against migrants.”

     
  • seandodson 3:37 pm on April 25, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: activism, ambient TV, Cambridge, , , , mongrel, , , privacy, , video sniffing   

    The secret art of video sniffing 

    Video Sniffing might sound like a punk fanzine for a generation weaned on YouTube and in a way, that is exactly what it is. The Guardian’s Film and Music section today published my report on the practice of tuning into the wireless frequencies used by CCTV cameras in order to use the images for short films. The article also talks to Manu Luksch of Ambient TV about her film Faceless, which was made by using your legal right to claim CCTV footage of your own image.

     
    • akarsh 7:10 pm on May 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      can u tell me how can we capture the video from the cctv and direct me since i want to make a short movie too
      thank u

    • seandodson 7:27 pm on May 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      You need a cheap wireless video receiver and a portable screen

  • seandodson 12:10 am on January 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , privacy, ,   

    Who big brother is watching right now 

    privacy1.jpg

    Privacy International has just released its 2007 International Privacy Ranking. The bad news is that black, in the map above, represents “endemic surveillance societies” and that includes the UK which according to the annual report, “again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore.”

    More bad news: “The 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance of privacy safeguards.”

    There is hope for the UK, mind. While it might be the worst ranking country in the EU, for the first time Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England & Wales.

     
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