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2023: Jan-March

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Offsite Article: What can be abused will be abused...

Link Here18th March 2023
US health authorities purchased private location data on over 55 million Americans to monitor lockdown compliance

See article from



A ticking timebomb...

UK Government considers banning TikTok over fears of Chinese snooping on users or else controlling their newsfeed

Link Here15th March 2023
Tom Tugendhat, the UK security minister, said he is awaiting a report from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) before deciding on whether TikTok should be banned or restricted.

Under pressure from some senior MPs, Rishi Sunak has hinted that Britain could follow the US and the EU by banning the social media app from government phones and devices. The Prime Minister said the UK will look at what our allies are doing, with Washington and the European Commission having banned TikTok on staff phones.

Tugendhat was asked if he would go further and order a fully-fledged ban on the app, like those ordered by India and former US president Donald Trump. He responded:

Looking at the various different apps people have on their phones and the implications for them is a hugely important question and I've asked the National Cyber Security Centre to look into this.

What certainly is clear is for many young people TikTok is now a news source and, just as it's quite right we know who owns the news sources in the UK... it's important we know who owns the news sources that are feeding into our phones.



Offsite Article: Fact Checking government claims about end to end encryption in the Online 'Safety' Bill...

Link Here12th March 2023
Full story: Online Safety Bill...UK Government legislates to censor social media
Yes the government can demand that tech companies compromise the security of encrypted communications for all users

See article from



Not enough!...

Children's campaigners claim that EU proposals for responding to child abuse don't go far enough and call for all internet communications to be open to snooping regardless of the safety of internet users from hackers, fraudsters and thieves

Link Here6th March 2023
Full story: Internet Encryption in the EU...Encryption is legal for the moment but the authorites are seeking to end this
The European Commission proposed new EU rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse (CSA) in May 2022. Complementing existing frameworks to fight online CSA, the EU proposal would introduce a new, harmonised European structure for assessing and mitigating the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online.

The thrust of the proposal is to react in a unified way, either to CSAM detected, or else to systems identified most at risk of being used to disseminate such material.

However as is always the case with campaigners, this is never enough. The campaigners basically want everybody's communications to be open to snooping and surveillance without the slightest consideration for people's safety from hackers, identity thieves, scammers, blackmailers and fraudsters.

The European Commission wrote:

The Commission is proposing new EU legislation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse online. With 85 million pictures and videos depicting child sexual abuse reported worldwide in 2021 alone, and many more going unreported, child sexual abuse is pervasive. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, with the Internet Watch foundation noting a 64% increase in reports of confirmed child sexual abuse in 2021 compared to the previous year. The current system based on voluntary detection and reporting by companies has proven to be insufficient to adequately protect children and, in any case, will no longer be possible once the interim solution currently in place expires. Up to 95% of all reports of child sexual abuse received in 2020 came from one company, despite clear evidence that the problem does not only exist on one platform.

To effectively address the misuse of online services for the purposes of child sexual abuse, clear rules are needed, with robust conditions and safeguards. The proposed rules will oblige providers to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse material on their services. Providers will need to assess and mitigate the risk of misuse of their services and the measures taken must be proportionate to that risk and subject to robust conditions and safeguards.

A new independent EU Centre on Child Sexual Abuse (EU Centre) will facilitate the efforts of service providers by acting as a hub of expertise, providing reliable information on identified material, receiving and analysing reports from providers to identify erroneous reports and prevent them from reaching law enforcement, swiftly forwarding relevant reports for law enforcement action and by providing support to victims.

The new rules will help rescue children from further abuse, prevent material from reappearing online, and bring offenders to justice. Those rules will include:

  • Mandatory risk assessment and risk mitigation measures: Providers of hosting or interpersonal communication services will have to assess the risk that their services are misused to disseminate child sexual abuse material or for the solicitation of children, known as grooming. Providers will also have to propose risk mitigation measures.

  • Targeted detection obligations, based on a detection order: Member States will need to designate national authorities in charge of reviewing the risk assessment. Where such authorities determine that a significant risk remains, they can ask a court or an independent national authority to issue a detection order for known or new child sexual abuse material or grooming. Detection orders are limited in time, targeting a specific type of content on a specific service.

  • Strong safeguards on detection: Companies having received a detection order will only be able to detect content using indicators of child sexual abuse verified and provided by the EU Centre. Detection technologies must only be used for the purpose of detecting child sexual abuse. Providers will have to deploy technologies that are the least privacy-intrusive in accordance with the state of the art in the industry, and that limit the error rate of false positives to the maximum extent possible.

  • Clear reporting obligations: Providers that have detected online child sexual abuse will have to report it to the EU Centre.

  • Effective removal: National authorities can issue removal orders if the child sexual abuse material is not swiftly taken down. Internet access providers will also be required to disable access to images and videos that cannot be taken down, e.g., because they are hosted outside the EU in non-cooperative jurisdictions.

  • Reducing exposure to grooming: The rules require app stores to ensure that children cannot download apps that may expose them to a high risk of solicitation of children.

  • Solid oversight mechanisms and judicial redress: Detection orders will be issued by courts or independent national authorities. To minimise the risk of erroneous detection and reporting, the EU Centre will verify reports of potential online child sexual abuse made by providers before sharing them with law enforcement authorities and Europol. Both providers and users will have the right to challenge any measure affecting them in Court.

The new EU Centre will support:

  • Online service providers, in particular in complying with their new obligations to carry out risk assessments, detect, report, remove and disable access to child sexual abuse online, by providing indicators to detect child sexual abuse and receiving the reports from the providers;

  • National law enforcement and Europol, by reviewing the reports from the providers to ensure that they are not submitted in error, and channelling them quickly to law enforcement. This will help rescue children from situations of abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.

  • Member States, by serving as a knowledge hub for best practices on prevention and assistance to victims, fostering an evidence-based approach.

  • Victims, by helping them to take down the materials depicting their abuse.

Next steps

It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to agree on the proposal. Once adopted, the new Regulation will replace the current interim Regulation . Feedback from members of the public on the proposals is open for a minimum of 8 weeks.*

According to child campaigners:

On 8 February 2023, the European Parliament's Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) published its draft report on the European Commission's proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. The draft report seeks a vastly reduced scope for the Regulation. It prioritises the anonymity of perpetrators of abuse over the rights of victims and survivors of sexual abuse and seeks to reverse progress made in keeping children safe as they navigate or are harmed in digital environments that were not built with their safety in mind.

The letter also criticises the removal of age verification and claims that technology can meet high privacy standards, explaining that the new legislation adds in additional safeguards to already effective measures to prevent the spread of this material online.

And of course the campaigners demand that technology companies allow the surveillance of all messages via backdoors to encryption or perhaps just to ban encryption.

See the letter from the likes of the NSPCC. See article from



Offsite Comment: Green politics are destroying people's freedom...

Link Here26th February 2023
Existential terror now grips Middle England. By Mary Harrington

See article from



Offsite Article: It's true...the climate fanatics are coming for your car...

Link Here 23rd February 2023
It's not a conspiracy theory to believe the green elites don't give a toss about working people. By Brendan O'Neill

See article from



Identified as the good guys...

Pirate Party MEPs claim successes for privacy as new internet identity card laws are debated in the European Parliament

Link Here14th February 2023

The lead Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) has adopted a draft mandate on the European digital identity (e-ID). The legislative proposal will allow EU citizens to prove their identity via mobile app and facilitate everyday situations such as dealing with public authorities or identification at airports.

Pirate Party MEPs made sure that the source code used for providing European Digital Identity Wallets will be open source, that non-users of the voluntary eID scheme must not suffer disadvantages and will be able to use alternative means of identification or authentication. They have not been able to prevent the mandatory acceptance of government browser certificates but there will be exceptions. Pirate MEPs have also been able to prevent more serious invasions of our privacy such as compulsory unique identification number throughout the EU. They keep pushing for more safeguards.

Pirate Party MEP Mikulás Peksa, Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur in the ITRE Committee, comments:

The European digital identity is cornerstone for modernization and digitization of the European economy and public services. Unfortunately, the European Commission had put a lot of problematic things in the proposal that inflated it with utter nonsense. Together with others, we Pirates have succeeded in removing most of these problems, such as a compulsory unique identification number. This is a big win for European citizens. We are sending a smart and safer instrument to the next negotiation. Thanks to the European digital identity citizens will not have to show a plastic card with all their personal details anymore. The European Digital Wallet will allow them to prove for example their legal age without disclosing other personal data, when buying alcohol or renting a car.

Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer, who is negotiating the law in the Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) negotiates, comments:

We need to counter the risk that as the new eID is increasingly required, the anonymity online that protects us from profiling and identity theft is gradually eroded. Pirates therefore push via the Civil Liberties Committee for the addition of a provision ensuring that services are normally provided without electronic identification or authentication wherever reasonably possible. Another LIBE addition will be needed to ensure that the sensitive data of citizens in their 'digital wallet' will be stored exclusively in a decentralized manner on their own device, unless they choose centralized storage. Decentralized data storage protects our data from hacks and identity theft.

After the addition of provisions in the exclusive competence of other Committees (LIBE, JURI) to the ITRE report, the Parliament's mandate could be finalised as early as March. Trilogue negotiations with the Council will follow. Pirate Party MEP Mikulás Peksa will be among the negotiating team.



Inside Whitehall's Ministry of Truth...

How secretive 'anti-misinformation' teams conducted mass domestic political monitoring

Link Here31st January 2023
Secretive Whitehall units have been recording political dissent on social media under the guise of tackling misinformation, a Big Brother Watch investigation has found. Politicians, academics, activists, journalists and even members of the public have been subjected to monitoring by Whitehall officials, and an "information warfare machine" in the British Army.

Key Findings:

  • Anti-fake news units in the Cabinet Office and DCMS spent much of their time monitoring social media for political dissent, under the guise of "counter-disinformation" work.
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Conservative MPs David Davis & Chris Green , journalists including Peter Hitchens and Julia Hartley-Brewer , and academics from the University of Oxford and University College London all had comments critical of the government recorded by the anti-fake news units.
  • Soldiers from the Army's 77th Brigade collated tweets from British citizens about Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic and passed them to the Cabinet Office. Troops also conducted "sentiment analysis" about the government's Covid-19 response.
  • The Rapid Response Unit [Cabinet Office] pressured a Whitehall department to attack newspapers for publishing articles analysing Covid-19 modelling that it feared would " affect compliance" with pandemic restrictions.
  • RRU staff featured Conservative MPs, activists and journalists in "vaccine hesitancy reports" for opposing vaccine passports.
  • The Counter Disinformation Unit [DCMS] has a special relationship with social media companies it uses to recommend content be removed. Third party contractors trawled Twitter for perceived terms of service violations and passed them to CDU officials.
  • Front organisations aimed at minority communities were set up by the Research, Communications and Intelligence Unit [Home Office] to spread government propaganda in the UK.

Ministry of Truth: The Secretive Government Units Spying On Your Speech is the first look at the government units using the façade of tackling fake news to conceal large-scale monitoring of the British public on social media. The report exposes the controversial activity of the shadowy units during the coronavirus pandemic in particular, during which they recorded the social media posts and press activity of politicians, academics and journalists who criticised the government's handling of the crisis.

The units covered in the investigation include the Counter Disinformation Unit, which leads the domestic operational response for countering disinformation across government from the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, and the Rapid Response Unit in the Cabinet Office -- both of which were highly active during the pandemic. It also examines the Foreign Office's Government Information Cell and the Research, Intelligence and Communications Unit in the Home Office. According to the Cabinet Office, staff from the Rapid Response Unit have now been "transferred to the wider team" in government working on "tackling misinformation". In December, Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee complained of an "erosion of oversight" as the Government is "refusing" to expand its remit to include the Counter Disinformation Unit, among other units, creating a blind spot of secret government activity.

Some of the units were supported by Army's 77th Brigade, which conducts information warfare. The investigation contains evidence from a 77th Brigade whistleblower that, in spite of claims to the contrary by senior generals, troops did spy on the British public. He lifts the lid on the "sentiment analysis" the 77th Brigade conducted, looking at how people viewed the government's handling of the pandemic.

Big Brother Watch's " Ministry of Truth" report is based on scores of Freedom of Information requests, and the co-operation of dozens of people in public life who submitted Subject Access Requests to the government to demand copies of their data held by the so-called disinformation units.

All of the public figures had comments criticising the government collected and analysed by one of the units. These ranged from quotes opposing comments on vaccine passports and travel restrictions to jokes about ministers' hypocrisy.

Key examples of public figures caught up in the Whitehall anti-fake news units' surveillance:
  • David Davis MP featured in a Rapid Response Unit "vaccine hesitancy" report for arguing that vaccine passports were discriminatory and created a false sense of security.
  • Chris Green MP and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham's opposition to local lockdowns appeared in an RRU update on the Delta variant.
  • Members of the British public discussing the pandemic online were monitored by the Army's information warfare brigade on topics from government ventilator supplies to expressing fears over Covid-19's link to blood clots.
  • Cabinet Office officials pressured the Department for Health to attack the Daily Mail for daring to question Covid modelling because they were concerned it could undermine compliance with coronavirus restrictions.
  • A post from UCL academic Dr Alexandre de Figueiredo, who researches vaccine confidence, was flagged by a contractor to the CDU because he argued that mass vaccination of children had risks, including to confidence in vaccines.
  • Rapid Response Unit officials rushed to flag Professor Carl Heneghan's Spectator article across Whitehall because he questioned whether the "rule of 6" was an arbitrary number.
  • Journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer appeared in a similar report for tweeting about her interview with a woman who had suffered due to the care home policy during the lockdown.
Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo, said:

This is an alarming case of mission creep, where public money and even military power have been misused to monitor academics, journalists, campaigners and members of parliament who criticised the government, particularly during the pandemic.

The fact that this political monitoring happened under the guise of 'countering misinformation' highlights how, absent serious safeguards, the concept of 'wrong information' is open to abuse and has become a blank cheque the government uses in attempt to control narratives online.

Contrary to their stated aims, these government truth units are secretive and harmful to our democracy. The Counter Disinformation Unit should be suspended immediately and subject to a full investigation.

Legal expert on media and free expression, Gavin Millar KC said:

The secrecy surrounding the activities of these units is very worrying. Citizens cannot be sure that their rights to freedom of speech, privacy and data protection are being respected by the state unless it tells them what it is doing with their communications and information.

It is particularly concerning that political speech unwelcome to the government is being targeted, without any apparent safeguards to ensure compliance with the law.

" There are no obvious security or intelligence issues about most of these activities. So there must now be the fullest possible transparency and oversight by Parliament, as well as scrutiny by the courts.

David Davis MP said:

Big Brother Watch's findings should set alarm bells ringing for anyone who knows the dangers of the overmighty state. Journalists, politicians and members of the public should all be free to air their views without examination by Government agencies.

Privacy and free speech are fundamentally important values. But in the war on 'misinformation', they are being put at risk. It is time for a serious rethink at the heart of Government.

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