OK, so Iain Dale, the publisher of the ‘unbiased’ junk-mail magazine Total Politics is busy assuring us that what Andy Coulson certainly didn’t do (summary) isn’t quite so bad, because guessing someone’s password isn’t really hacking, according to his close mate Phil Hendren (‘Dizzy’; the same bullying ratbag who says publishing my ex-directory* home phone number in two parts in two consecutive comments isn’t anywhere near as bad as publishing my ex-directory home phone number all in one go):
Dizzy’s take is interesting HERE. And he takes to task those who refer to hacking and tapping without really knowing what they are talking about… “Calling someone’s mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing security, not being presented with them and passing them”
But when Grant Shapps (another senior Conservative in charge of communication) was caught in a pathetic astroturfing/sock-puppeting attempt, and used as his excuse that someone must have accessed his account using his “all too guessable” password (‘1234’), Iain Dale declared that guessing a 4-digit code WAS hacking:
This all seemd [sic] a bit odd to me so I went to the horse’s mouth and have got a categoric [sic] denial that Grant did anything of the sort. It appears that he had a very easily guessable password on his Youtube account (it was 1234 !!!) and someone hacked into it.
Further, I’ve checked with someone who actually knows the law (thank you, Jack of Kent) and I can confirm that the law specifically recognises that intercepting a voicemail is the same as intercepting an actual call being made:
(8) For the purposes of this section the cases in which any contents of a communication are to be taken to be made available to a person while being transmitted shall include any case in which any of the contents of the communication, while being transmitted, are diverted or recorded so as to be available to a person subsequently.
There it is in black in white, and unchanged by anything Iain Dale and his mates might say about what does or does not classify as ‘hacking’… which they are wrong (or lying) about, by the way:
hacking: (computing) Unauthorized attempts to bypass the security mechanisms of an information system or network.
Of course, the word has other meanings, as does the word ‘hack’, which Iain should be painfully aware of having been called one so many times… and with good reason.
Guessing a poorly-configured password is still hacking in much the same way as walking through a door or gate that is poorly secured is still breaking and entering.
This is just another case of Iain Dale and Phil Hendren attempting to bamboozle their readers with bullshit and despite his ready-made protests (“I quote Dizzy not to condone the practice”), by minimising the alleged offence(s) in this way, Dale does in effect seek to make excuses for what is actually hacking/interception.
He has since levelled a false accusation at a Guardian editor because they dared to point this out:
“I absolutely did NOT defend phone hacking. How dare you suggest I did. How typical of The Guardian to mislead and smear.” – Iain Dale
But defending the act of phone hacking is exactly what Iain Dale did. He tried to make excuses for those alleged to have engaged in this type of hacking by claiming that it wasn’t really hacking.
Why he would bother doing this when he claims to be utterly convinced of Andy Coulson’s innocence is unknown at this time**.
[NOTE – Dale is already backpedalling by claiming he didn’t actually say it wasn’t hacking himself, and that he was only quoting somebody else’s view. Well, from here it looked like he was heartily endorsing that view and using it to support his argument.]
(*Iain Dale denies being the source of this ex-directory number, which I mistakenly trusted him with in his role as a publisher. I have my doubts, especially when Hendren’s story about how he got it keeps changing and Iain Dale has flat-out lied in previous denials.)
(**Iain Dale also ends his post with the declaration that “Coulson is innocent until proven guilty.” But he didn’t feel that way about Tom Watson when he was so convinced of that man’s guilt he was knowingly using false information against him, he has no comment to make about his friend Nadine Dorries making false accusations about police investigations that never took place (most probably because he’s a primary instigator of the same smear), and he doesn’t seem to think the same way about one of Coulson’s accusers when he says that man was “sacked by the paper for persistent drug and alcohol problems” and wonders out loud; “You don’t think he might have a grudge, do you?”)
UPDATE (05 Sep) – I’m happy to note that I’ve made the distinction between ‘hacking’ and ‘password cracking’ myself, but this was when Rod Liddle was making excuses that were so vague, it risked giving the wrong impression about the security of a whole site, not just a single account. In the instances cited here, Iain Dale takes one position on ‘hacking’ of specific accounts by guessing a 4-digit password and then takes the opposite position on ‘hacking’ of specific accounts by guessing a 4-digit password. That he and his mate Hendren would pretend the two events are comparable and make such a big deal of it after spending all of yesterday ignoring the challenge to their semantic bullshit is only further evidence of their intent to deceive. Further, we have yet another example of Iain Dale only ever engaging when he thinks he has the upper hand (a classic tabloid tactic); when he is making excuses for not engaging, he will claim that he has been given professional advice to ignore me at all times. Like Dorries, he is lying through his teeth, and busies himself smearing me privately, or using his friends to smear me on his behalf, while he ‘ignores’ me and plays the victim. Dale’s real problem is that he cannot engage with me openly without admitting to some really quite awful behaviour that’s not in keeping with his brand. (I’d say ‘public image’ but more and more people are seeing through this charlatan, especially now the Tories are in power and he’s busy making excuses for them every other day.)