You better watch out…

The Register – Santa putting children’s information at risk, warn experts: Santa Claus could be breaking privacy laws in his collection and use of data about British children, experts have warned. Yuletide cheer-bringer Claus could be putting the personal data of millions of children at risk. Data protection laws lay down strict conditions for the use of personal data and there is no evidence that Claus has an adequate compliance programme in place. Children across Britain who write letters to Claus with a list of gift requests are not told for how long that data is kept, or if it will be used for other purposes such as marketing by third parties.

Right on! This just happens to be one of the primary concerns that will be raised during the anti-Christmas carol service on the 20th.

Not only is Santa Claus a corporate shill and willing tool of the US military-industrial complex, but he has a disgracefully lax approach to child data. (Just one example of this is the Hoth Battle Set that was specifically requested in 1981, but never arrived.)

Here’s the song we’ll be singing about that next week:

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Oh! You better watch out,
You better not plot,
You better suppress bad thoughts that you’ve got
Santa Claus is coming to town!

He’s making a list,
Misplacing it twice,
And now you can buy that list at a price
Santa Claus is coming to town!

He sees you when you’re sleeping,
But maybe that’s OK
‘Cos since he lost my bank details
I don’t sleep much anyway

Oh! You better watch out,
You better not plot,
You better suppress bad thoughts that you’ve got
Santa Claus is coming to town.

These and other lyrics are currently available on the song sheet that you can get your hands on – via the main carols page – with a paltry £2 donation (all proceeds going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children).








Posted in The War on Stupid | 2 Comments

Half-hearted

The Times – Britain’s breach of honour over Iraq interpreters: More than half the Iraqi interpreters who applied to come to live in Britain have had their applications rejected, drawing accusations that the Government is “wriggling out” of its promise to help former Iraqi employees. The Times has learnt that 125 of the 200 interpreters who took up the offer to resettle in Britain have failed to meet the strict criteria laid down for eligibility… In three cases seen by The Times, former Iraqi employees were told that they were ineligible because of “absenteeism”. The 200 interpreters are among a total of 600 Iraqis who have applied to come to Britain, all people who have worked for the British and who today face intimidation from Iranian-backed Shia groups.

PA – Iraq interpreters ‘can get help’: A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that a total of 400 applications had been received but would not confirm how many had been turned down. She said: “Although we cannot discuss individual cases, we have a very clear policy that staff who terminated employment as a result of intimidation are eligible for assistance. We fully recognise the difficulties of such staff and do not insist on official or formal notification or on staff working out their notice period. Individuals who are recorded as having let us know by telephone or any other manner are still considered eligible. Decisions are taken based on records taken at the time but where individuals who feel they have further evidence to support their case for assistance they should notify us immediately.”

1. Note how mindful the government has been in not calling them cowards. See? They *do* care.

2. Remember that the charge of absenteeism is made against those claiming to have done 12 months service, when the typical service period was 6 months. So we have a clear pattern of whittling down as well as wriggling out.

3. Is it 400 or 600 who have applied? Or are we looking at more whittling here?

4. The Danes evacuated first and sorted the paperwork back at home, where there were fewer death squads determined to complicate matters (see #6 and #9). We left Basra a month before any policy regarding those we left behind was made or announced.

5. And this government had to be goaded into that. Miliband’s announcement was effectively a last-minute face-saving spoiler designed to take the wind out of the campaign to save these people. Classy.

6. The people being targeted daren’t show their faces on *any* street… and the facilities/routes one might use to seek escape are being watched very carefully. Oh, but any special measures that might be required to rescue those we left behind? You can rule them out in roughly two weeks’ time. Not that our government has an intention of taking these measures, it’s just that they will soon have a perfect excuse not to bother.

7. A tactic not unlike the one used by my Conservative MP, Anne Milton. I asked her if she would be signing EDM 2057, but she didn’t answer. I pressed her for an answer a couple of weeks later, and was told that she wouldn’t be signing it because it had effectively expired. [Why won’t you drink the milk? (No answer.) Why won’t you drink the milk? (No answer.) Why won’t you drink the milk? (Because it’s past its use-by date. Ha-ha!)] Now I’ve asked her – twice now – if she’ll be signing the renewed version, EDM 401, and guess what? No answer!

8. Check the latest EDM. To date, it’s been signed by:

– 22% of Liberal Democrat MPs (14 out of 63)
– 3.6% of Labour MPs (13 out of 352)
– 2.5% of Conservative MPs (5 out of 194)

Everybody needs to lift their game, but you would expect a better showing from Her Majesty’s Official Opposition, wouldn’t you? What’s holding them back?

9. A tip for those on the run and in fear of their lives: due to the very real possibility that we may not have kept records of any reported absences, it is important that you keep a firm grip on any relevant paperwork as you dash from bolthole to bolthole, because you certainly can’t leave it in the care of any relatives or friends whose home may be invaded and searched at any time.

10. If you haven’t yet done so, you should at the very least ask your MP if they will be signing EDM 401. If they will… great, you can take things from there. If they won’t… ask them why.

UPDATE – Dan Hardie – Red tape and murder… read and share.








Posted in Anne Milton, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | 3 Comments

O Come All Ye Faithful

I had a *very* interesting day last Tuesday.

I was standing outside Parliament umming and ahhing about doing another carol service this year, as the point (about what may or may not be considered a demonstration… and who decides that) had already been made. Twice.

Then an idea occured as I waited in line to be fondled frisked.

It was a tricky one; religious sensitivities were involved.

A few minutes later, I was sat in The Central Lobby. Waiting. Pondering.

I struck up a conversation with a nice lady who was waiting next to me.

When I found out she was a *priest*… well, that was pretty much it for me.

Call me a nutter if you like, but God wants me to do this and do it right:

You are cordially invited to a public ANTI-Christmas carol service in Parliament Square at 6:30pm on Thursday the 20th of December 2007.

It will be the same as previous events in every significant detail, bar the obvious.

And this year I’ve applied for permission.

If permission is granted, the law is an ass. If it is decided that permission is not required, the law is an ass. They can’t win.

Cheers, God. I owe you one.








Posted in The War on Stupid | 11 Comments

SOCPA petition response

The government has responded to the ‘Repeal SOCPA’ petition.

The response includes a timely reminder for me to get my two cents in on the relevant consultation paper.

(The government has yet to respond to my call for the PM to stand on his head and juggle ice cream, but they’re probably working on a ‘funny’ response, so they deserve a few more months.)








Posted in The War on Stupid, Tony 'King Blair | 1 Comment

Not getting desperate, are we?

Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair was my temporary online presence during the recent outage at Bloggerheads.com, and later evolved into a dedicated space for criticism of Alisher Usmanov, Schillings and Fasthosts.

Blogger.com has just been in touch to say that http://b-heads.blogspot.com/ “has been identified as a potential spam blog”:

It shouldn’t take too long to clear the matter up, as it obviously isn’t a spam blog… but this denial-of-service attack (triggered by a false complaint) is worth mentioning purely because it’s so damn pathetic.

UPDATE – Yes, I know that Fasthosts will be particularly sensitive to criticism this week, and it’s quite possible that they’ve hired one of those pretend-PR companies that specialise mainly in drowning/driving out negative material, but it’s also worth noting that this false complaint was acted upon the day after Bloggerheads: The Alisher Usmanov Affair turned up in Google’s top ten search results for ‘alisher usmanov’ for the first time.

UPDATE (06 Dec) – Matter sorted. Perpetrators mocked.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Fresh copy of the Iraqi employees EDM

Lynne Featherstone has retabled her EDM calling on the British Government to move further and faster in its help for the Iraqi interpreters:

EDM 401: IRAQI EMPLOYEES

My MP (Anne Milton) missed her opportunity to sign the last version. Perhaps she’ll be a little quicker off the mark this time. Let’s see.

[sends email]

You may also want to ask ever-so-politely if your MP will sign their name to this. If they don’t or won’t, do take the time to find out why.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

A long list of land grabs

What are the odds, do you think, of this Blogger profile being the work of someone in the PR industry?








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 4 Comments

Festive fun with Fasthosts

The Register – Fasthosts customers blindsided by emergency password reset: Fasthosts has announced that “a number” of its customers’* FTP spaces were raided as a result of the major hack that triggered a police investigation last month. It has applied a system-wide reset of thousands of passwords as a result… The firm is sending replacement passwords out via Royal Mail, it says. A Fasthosts statement described the move as a “precautionary measure”. All email passwords that were not changed will also be reset on 9/10 December. We’ve been bombarded by emails from angry webmasters who say no warning was given ahead of the reset, shutting down hundreds of websites.

Say NO to Fasthosts – Merry Christmas from Fasthosts: Fasthosts initiated this on Thursday night, and by all reports have not been able to send out new passwords by post yesterday (Friday). This means many people will not receive their new passwords until at least Tuesday/Wednesday next week. This amounts to a full week of lost business for any online shop or order-taking business hosting on Fasthosts servers. The Customer Service telephone number is permanently engaged, and the technical support lines are offering queuing times of over two hours. (“You are at queue position 54a”)

This latest debacle even rates a mention at the BBC website, and if you check out the Reg article, you will see (so far) a whopping 149 comments!

I’m looking at a copy of the email they sent to their customers right now. How did I get my hands on it? Well, they sent a copy to Clive, who certainly shouldn’t be on their customer database, given that Fasthosts themselves deactivated his account.

The words ‘arse’ and ‘elbow’ spring to mind.

Previously on Bloggerheads:
Fasthosts: a timeline of excellent service
Fasthosts and UKreg: why you should look elsewhere
Yet another reason to avoid Fasthosts like the plague
Fasthosts: I think I may be onto something here…

UPDATE (5 Dec) – The Register – Fasthosts customers still frozen out of websites: Fasthosts has promised it will bring in more support staff to deal with the volume of calls it is still receiving following its poorly-handled password reset on Friday… The system-wide reset was triggered by a hack attack in October. Fasthosts asked customers to change passwords at the time, and said last week that those who did would not be affected by the reset. Many Reg readers say they complied in October, but have been locked out now nevertheless… Customers who haven’t changed all their email passwords will face similar problems when they’re also reset on Sunday.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 4 Comments

Vote for Mr Splashy Pants

Why? Because Greenpeace has a whale-naming competition and ‘Muhammad’ isn’t an option.

UPDATE – Hahahahaha! Having just voted, I can now see that ‘Mr Splashy Pants’ in waaaaay out in front with 73% of the vote.








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 1 Comment

Blogger.com finally attempts to address the identity problem

Blogger.com has now taken action to remove the dirty great loophole in their system that allowed comment contributors on many weblogs to pose as other bloggers – including other users of their own damn system:

Blogger in Draft – New feature: OpenID commenting

It seems a bit of a nuclear option at first, especially as they’ve disabled the link/name facility for *all* users of Blogger.com, but only made the new OpenID system available to those who use (or are vaguely aware of) Blogger in Draft.

But users of Blogger.com who are aware of Blogger in Draft can quickly update their settings to allow OpenID-enabled comments, thereby immediately opening the door to any registered user of OpenID, AOL, LiveJournal, WordPress or TypeKey; these users will then be able to leave a comment using their name/nickname and a link to their main site or profile.

(Using a Technorati profile is somewhat problematic, but it’s early days yet.)

Easy-to-follow instructions can be found here.

UPDATE – Top marks to MatGB, who said nearly a year ago that “Blogger should start supporting OpenID…” (Erm… and that I should as well. A good point, but I’m not feeling terribly confident about MT plug-ins lately. Since the server move forced by Usmanov, the back-end of Bloggerheads has been decidely shaky… and I’m one of the luckier ones.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off