We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

What do you want?
Whose side are you on?
That would be telling. We want information… information… information.
You won’t get it.
By hook or by crook, we will.

– The Prisoner (intro written by George Markstein, as far as we know)


Samizdata quote of the day

I’m surprised – I didn’t think we would see these calls for more unchecked government surveillance until the start of the new week. But hats off to Dan Hodges – by publicly freaking out in his newspaper column and calling for the Investigatory Powers Bill to be passed, he has opened the door for Theresa May, David Cameron and a parade of GCHQ ex-chiefs to hit the TV studios and make the same demands.

Of course, what Dan does not do is explain how new government surveillance powers would a) have prevented the Paris attacks of 13 November, or b) might realistically prevent any future attacks. And if you pushed him, I doubt that he could explain the scope of current surveillance laws in any detail, or describe the ways that the British security services currently do or do not make use of those powers.

Samuel Hooper

Samizdata quote of the day

Journos: UK officials don’t want to “ban encryption” — they want to ban encryption that *works*.

Edward Snowden

Data retention

Police have arrested a UK teen following the leak of ISP-U-Like’s browsing history database. The news follows revelations of a hack of the internal systems of the nation’s most popular ISP that left 60% of the country’s browsing history accessible from a public web site based in Sweden. British ISPs are required to retain records of the last 12 months of users’ browsing history under the so-called “snooper’s charter” introduced in 2016. Previously only police could access the information. Now visitors to ismyneighbourapervert.com can simply type in an email address and view anyone’s browsing history. Since then, there have been calls for a senior officer at Gloucestershire Police to resign after it emerged that he once visited a pro-GamerGate website. And the Daily Mail has defended criticisms of its “20 Celebrity Health Searches That Will Shock You” article, stating that the boil on the home secretary’s groin is “in the public interest”.

Meanwhile, the CEO of ISP-U-Like issued the following statement: “In the unlikely event that your mother-in-law finds out about your membership of gaymidgetsgonewild.com, then as a gesture of goodwill, on a case by case basis, we will waive termination fees.”

The investigation is ongoing.

The UN report is not “well-meaning”

The UN report is not “well-meaning.” It’s an effort to use the hysteria of privileged Western women to slip through global censorship in service of autocrats and oligarchs at home and abroad. The people pushing it are not good people who are going too far. They’re awful, horrible people exploiting useful idiots.

Glenn Reynolds

In a pig’s eye

Yeah, funny and all, but it is depressing that so many people find an allegation quoted second hand from a single un-named source to be proof positive so long as the accused is someone they dislike. The claim that there is photographic evidence sets the seal on my disbelief. If this photo exists what is stopping this little piggy going to market? Why didn’t he squeal before now? Is the possessor of this photograph waiting for someone richer than Ashcroft to offer him more money or some time better than today for it to get some media attention?

I haven’t got the photo, alas. What a pig’s ear I made of my opportunities there. Like David Cameron, I managed to trot along to Oxford in the early 80’s and yet knew nothing of the Bullingdon Club, the Piers Gaveston Society or whatever. I first heard of the former when Cameron became prime minister and of the latter yesterday. My friends wore anoraks and were into science fiction. Or even science, the weirdos.

The consequences of politically motivated credulity regarding allegations that look increasingly likely to have been porky-pies are sometimes more serious than a lot of bad puns.

Met overstepped mark in Westminster paedophile ring inquiry, says prosecutor

The most senior prosecutor in England and Wales has added her voice to criticism of the Metropolitan police’s inquiry into claims of a murderous Westminster paedophile ring, saying detectives “overstepped the mark” when they stated that the allegations were true.

Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service, acknowledged the difficulties of investigating historical allegations but said: “You don’t just take somebody’s word as it is.”

On Monday Scotland Yard acknowledged that a senior detective’s description of an alleged victim’s claims as “credible and true” had “suggested we were pre-empting the outcome of the investigation”.

Pre-empting the verdict of a trial? You don’t say! Why did it take you this long to notice, Ms Saunders?

For those who don’t follow the Dolphin Square soap opera, the claims described by police as “credible and true” came from one source, nicknamed Nick, who claimed that three children were murdered by a VIP sex ring.

Operation Midland has drawn criticism since police forces leapt on unsubstantiated abuse claims against Edward Heath, and the former MP Harvey Proctor condemned as preposterous the allegations of torture and abuse put to him by officers.

Note that Heath was alleged to have been abusing and possibly offing kiddies while a serving prime minister, when his every moment was monitored by bodyguards (most of whom would have been police officers themselves), officials, flunkies and journalists. All in on it, I suppose. I think that Heath was one of the worst PMs we have ever had, but who believes this crap?

The deputy leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that’s who!

Midland is one of a number of inquiries that began after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said in the House of Commons in 2012 that there had been “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”.

You will be assimilated

Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database, reports the New York Post.

A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

So they want to push banks into making more loans to minorities who tend to lack good credit histories. What could possibly go wrong? When companies like Wonga encourage poor people to take out loans they cannot afford, it’s called loan sharking.

As with my previous post, I first learned of this story via the Drudge Report, which seems particularly good at sniffing out and really making public stories of this type in which momentous developments were previously “made public” in a purely technical sense by bland official reports. “You will be assimilated” was the catchphrase of the Borg, a “collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind called the Collective”, formerly thought to be fictional.

Trust us, we are not spying on you any more

Nice Mr. Obama has told the Frogs the NSA is no longer spying on them at the highest level. And of course that’s that, because there is no way a US President would lie about that, right? Indeed if the NSA kept spying on France, they would of course tell nice Mr. Obama, right?

Any country that does not spend a chunk of change specifically targeted at protecting their communications from the USA is simply not serious about defending themselves, and that includes ‘allies’.

Trust us, we’re the Security Services

Oh noez, the Russians and Chinese have both “managed to crack files leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden“… and the evidence for this is… well just trust us, we’re the Security Services, would we lie to you?

Indeed can they provide some evidence the Russians and the Chinese even got access to these files, given that Snowden did not actually take them with him to Russia?

Yeah right. Prove it or it did not happen. After all, if the information has been blown to enemies as claimed, what possible need is there to keep any of this secret?

Beware of unintended consequences

One of the things I love about this law as proposed (and I love this law as proposed), is how this law can’t do what its designed to do. Rather, this law as written ends up putting members of SocJus at risk while theoretically protecting the rights of ordinary citizens to assemble freely on the Internet.

[…] Unless I’m reading the law wrong, all Rice would have to do is claim “substantial emotional distress” to trigger the new federal law enforcement and prosecutorial assets POTEA demands into action in order to protect Anne Rice from online abuse. I assume POTEA applies here, and Harper will be the first person arrested, tried, convicted, and incarcerated under POTEA when it is signed into law.

What about Brad Wardell, who had reporters and editors of SocJus propaganda websites and their respective online armies fall upon him, only for the allegations made against him to be dismissed with prejudice. Does he get to use POTEA against the people irresponsibly reporting untruth as fact, as well as the editors who allowed untruth to be published as fact? He certainly suffered substantial emotional distress at the hands of SocJus’s Ministry of Truth.

Todd Wohling writing ‘Why I love the POTEA Anti-Harassment Law’ ;-)

Are sane people allowed to suspect blackmail?

A friend of mine directed me to this essay by Steve Waldman about the current NSA/GCHQ/etc. controversies.

It begins with an interesting question: at what point is it acceptable for “sane” people to believe “nutty” theories about the world around them, and one “nutty” theory in particular. I will quote just one paragraph to give you the flavor of why you should want to read it:

I want to introduce a word into the discourse surrounding NSA surveillance that has been insufficiently discussed. That word is blackmail. I will out and say this. I think our President’s “evolutions” on questions of civil liberties and surveillance are largely the result of blackmail. I think it is not coincidental that support for the security state is highly correlated with seniority and influence, in both of our increasingly irrelevant political parties. The apparatus we are constructing, have constructed, creates incredible scope for digging up dirt on people and their spouses, their children, their parents. It doesn’t take much to manage the shape of the economy of influence. There are, how shall we say, network effects. You don’t have to blackmail the whole Congress. Powerful people are, almost by definition, people very attuned to economies of influence. They quickly detect the trends and emerging conventions among other powerful people and conform to them. A consensus that emerges at the top is quickly magnified and disseminated. Other voices don’t disappear, there is plenty of shouting in the blogs. But a correlation emerges between a certain set of views and “seriousness”, “respectability”. The mainstream position is defined. Eventually it’s reflected by the polls, so it’s what the American people wanted all along, we are just responding to the demands of the public, whine the politicians.

Samizdata quote of the day

Some might say “I don’t care if they violate my privacy; I’ve got nothing to hide.” Help them understand that they are misunderstanding the fundamental nature of human rights. Nobody needs to justify why they “need” a right: the burden of justification falls on the one seeking to infringe upon the right. But even if they did, you can’t give away the rights of others because they’re not useful to you. More simply, the majority cannot vote away the natural rights of the minority.

But even if they could, help them think for a moment about what they’re saying. Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Edward Snowden