Category Archives: Crime

Tory algorithm smears people with disabilities as benefit fraudsters

Habitual cruelty: this is just the latest instance of the Tories persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

My word – the Tories have been victimising people on the advice of an algorithm again. Haven’t we been here before?

YES, WE HAVE – former Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was pilloried two summers ago for using a computer-generated artificial intelligence program to steal high grades from state school pupils.

Now it seems people with disabilities are being targeted as benefit fraudsters by the DWP, based on an algorithm – and nothing else.

Is it the same algorithm, perhaps? The DWP isn’t telling – but may soon be forced into another potentially self-damaging revelation under threat of court action.

It doesn’t bode well for the AI that Sajid Javid is buying in for the NHS. But then, it’s a system from a company in which Javid himself owns shares (or share options – what’s the difference?).

What’s the betting that the Tory cheapskates have been using the same algorithm for all three?

The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), together with campaign group Foxglove, is taking action against the DWP after concerns were raised by the charity Privacy International, which first found references in a DWP report to its use of “cutting-edge artificial intelligence to crack down on organised criminal gangs committing large-scale benefit fraud”.

“Organised criminal gangs”?

Disabled people… living in “fear of the brown envelope” showing their case was being investigated.

Campaigners say that once flagged, those being examined can face an invasive and humiliating investigation lasting up to a year.

A “huge percentage” of the group has been affected by the system.

“We’re tired of the fear of the brown envelope and tired of being repeatedly forced by DWP officials just to justify who we are,” said Rick Burgess of the GMCDP. “It’s time for the DWP to come clean about how this algorithm works and explain why so many disabled people are flagged for investigation. Disabled people need support – not being ground down by a brutal system that assumes we are fraudulent until proven innocent.”

The Guardian‘s article highlighted a 2019 UN report into the “digital welfare state” that said algorithms were “highly likely” to repeat biases reflected in existing data and make them even worse.

It added: “Inbuilt forms of discrimination can fatally undermine the right to social protection for key groups and individuals.”

The government has until Friday to respond to the legal letter but, again according to the article, “has so far rebuffed attempts to explain how the algorithm behind the system was compiled”.

They’re trying to come up with an excuse that will stand up to examination – and I don’t think they’re going to meet that Friday deadline!

Source: DWP urged to reveal algorithm that ‘targets’ disabled for benefit fraud | Disability | The Guardian

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Dear BBC: isn’t ‘inappropriate touching’ really ‘SEXUAL ASSAULT’?

Stanley Johnson: in fairness, it doesn’t mean he’s groping someone just because you can’t see his hands.

I wasn’t going to comment on this because it’s only tangentially related to politics.

But the BBC (and other media?) seems determined to reinforce the privilege that high-powered members of the Establishment have over the rest of us, simply in the language that it uses.

So Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, isn’t accused of sexual assault against Caroline Nokes, and against New Statesman political correspondent Ailbhe Rea – the offences are instead described as “inappropriate touching”.

I think we all know what’s inappropriate here.

It is inappropriate to hide the seriousness of an offence behind alternative wording, simply because the alleged offender is the prime minister’s father.

If he’s guilty of these crimes – and let’s remember that they are crimes, not “innocent fun” or “a bit of slap-and-tickle” – then his privileged position in society should not protect him.

We should expect better behaviour from our news media.

ADDITIONAL: In particular, we should expect better from members of the media who confirm Johnson’s behaviour – but then try to excuse it:

It’s this kind of justification that perpetuates the abuse.

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Javid’s vaccination coercion will increase NHS staff shortages

Covid Javid: he’s trying to force something into the bodies of frontline NHS staff. Many will see this as a form of attempted rape – which it is – and quit. And NHS staffing will worsen. Wouldn’t it be better simply to change their jobs so unvaccinated people aren’t on the front line?

We could all see this coming. For a party that insists it values choice above all things, the Tories love forcing people to accept what they don’t want.

So Sajid Javid is forcing all NHS frontline workers to have Covid-19 vaccination injections, whether they want them or not.

We have discussed this subject previously on This Site. I made it perfectly clear that I am double-jabbed – and I intend to have the booster injection when it is offered to me, even though I know it will make me feel very ill for several days.

Nevertheless, I was attacked as an anti-vaxxer by several ignorant souls after I stated that this has been my personal choice, and there is no possible argument strong enough to rob other people of their own choice.

Javid cannot force people to have the injection. That would be forcing them to have a foreign object inside their body against their will, which is analogous to rape. I do not use the comparison lightly and anybody who criticises another person for making it fails to understand the seriousness of the issue here.

The alternative to taking the injection, it seems, is expulsion from the National Health Service.

Who does that help?

It won’t help patients because there will be fewer staff available to treat them and waiting lists will become longer.

It will help those who want to privatise the NHS altogether because they’ll have a stronger (albeit as false as ever) argument that it cannot cope and private firms should be brought in to take up the slack.

Is that Javid’s ulterior motive? Probably.

A simpler solution would be to move staff who won’t accept the injection away from frontline duties. That would be the safer option for all concerned in any event and should have happened as soon as a vaccine became available. I wonder why nobody has bothered to implement it until now.

Other staff could have been trained up – or hired in (remember, the NHS currently has a shortage of many thousands of nurses and doctors).

If a solution isn’t found and people are forced to choose between the injection and the loss of their job, then that will be coercion and I would strongly encourage victims of such intimidation to take the Health Secretary to court for attempting the criminal activity named above.

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Spot the hypocrisy in the Labour Party’s latest messaging

Can you really believe Labour will reform anything when Keir Starmer is being worked like a ventriloquist’s dummy by Tony Blair and other New Labour gits?

Try to hold back your mirth as you read the following genuine social media post from the Labour Party. Jackie Walker’s response nails it:

Of course it is – as we’ve all seen this week with the revelation that Labour – Starmer’s Labour, let’s not forget – passed information about thousands of members and ex-members to a “third party” that officials are refusing to name, only for those recipients to lose the information, apparently to a ransomware criminal.

It is corrupt of Labour to have kept information about those of us who have left the party.

It is corrupt of Labour to have passed that information to anybody else without our knowledge and consent.

And now it is corrupt of Labour to refuse to name the “third party” concerned or tell us what restitution it will provide to the thousands of people it has wronged.

On a week when Labour has betrayed its members so badly, it is in no position to lecture anybody about corruption.

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Did Labour widely distribute intimidating letter to domestic abuse victim Apsana Begum?

Apsana Begum: why won’t Keir Starmer support his MP?

Is the Labour Party deliberately abusing a former victim of domestic abuse?

Apsana Begum has spoken of being a victim of domestic abuse, coercive control and financial abuse during her short marriage to a Tower Hamlets councillor, Ehtashamul Haque, between 2013 and 2015.

She was falsely accused of council housing fraud and had to go through a lengthy trial, at the end of which she was cleared of all charges.

Now this:

These are just allegations. This Writer cannot vouch for their veracity or make any claims as to who may be responsible for whatever has happened.

But doesn’t it seem strange that the Labour Party under Keir Starmer seems to have less regard for the well-being of one of its own MPs than under alleged racist (but we all know that was another nonsense allegation, right?) Jeremy Corbyn?

Ms Begum seems remarkably upbeat about it:

But the question remains: what is going on in Tower Hamlets and why hasn’t the Labour leadership clamped down and announced an investigation – possibly, considering the situation, involving the police?

It’s time for people hit by the #LabourDataBreach to unite and demand answers

For the many? HOW many Labour Party members, ex-members, and even non-members have been affected by the massive data breach that happened at the end of October, of which the party only informed us a week later?

The (verbal) backlash against the loss of data affecting thousands of Labour Party members has been huge – but it is action that is needed.

This Writer has already suggested that a lawsuit is required – and some victims are suggesting that we (This Writer is among those affected) may each claim thousands of pounds in compensation.

But the question is: how do we take this forward?

Some have suggested that a Subject Access Request under General Data Protection Regulations should be made to the Labour Party, along the lines described by Philip Proudfoot:

If you want to go that way, then feel free. But I have already been down this route with the Labour Party and, even after calling in the Information Commissioner’s Office – the regulator overseeing data protection in the UK – it took two years to get a reply, and even then it was only partial.

The ICO was toothless because it then told me that if I wanted to take any matter forward, I should do it myself, through the courts, as has also happened to Simon Vessey, here:

So This Writer’s preference is that a large number of those affected should unite and launch legal action within the civil courts.

Already, people are coming up with ideas about how this can be done. I like this:

And of course the Left Legal Fighting Fund exists, if I recall correctly, to help people with cases like this. If everybody affected got together via this new Labour Data Breach website, and then donated towards a single court action via https://www.fightingfund.org, we might all gain access to a simple – and cheap – way of achieving justice.

It’s also – I believe – the only way we’ll force Labour to explain exactly what has happened.

ADDITIONAL: Another friend has contacted a different law firm for advice and will report back on what they are told:

And apparently the law firm mentioned in the tweet below is interested in representing people affected by the data breach – among many others, it seems. I would have thought it would be more cost-effective to hire a single firm, collectively.

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Labour ‘cyber incident’ exposes the party’s own Data Protection breaches

Data theft: the Labour Party has admitted that details of members – and FORMER members, that it handed to a ‘third party’ without telling us, have been stolen. This includes information the party should not have had. Should we take the party to court over it?

The Labour Party has informed This Writer – and many others, it seems – that my data may have been hijacked after it was given to a “third party”.

This is very concerning for several reasons:

Firstly: I am no longer a member of the Labour Party and it should not be holding any information of mine, for any reason at all.

Secondly: I have not given permission for any data held by me to be passed on to any third party, and it is illegal for the Labour Party to have done so.

Next: The Labour Party has not passed on details of the identity of this mysterious third party. Why not? Is it embarrassing? Is it potentially incriminating? I want to know, and I reckon thousands of others will want to know as well.

Finally: Why am I hearing about this on November 4, possibly an entire week after the incident took place – and a day after many other victims were informed? Why were we not all informed at once?

According to Labour’s letter to affected people (which the party is apparently asking us not to share, although that part seems to have been cut from mine), party officers were informed of the incident on October 29.

This implies that the data was hijacked on a still earlier date, meaning that we went uninformed that our illegally-held data had been held by wrong-doers for a longer time than Labour suggests and that we have been vulnerable to cyber crime for all of that period without even knowing about it.

The crime itself seems to be a ransomware incident in which data is rendered inaccessible to a user unless it pays the hijacker some form of remuneration. If such payment is refused, the hijacker may go on to use the stolen data to harm the people to whom it belongs. Labour doesn’t mention this in its email.

Nor are we informed of the nature of the data that was stolen. It may include personal information that could be used for identity theft or blackmail, and/or financial information that could result in plain theft from our bank accounts. We don’t know because Labour hasn’t told us.

The email goes on to say that Labour has reported the incident to authorities including the National Crime Agency (NCA), National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). No doubt those organisations are busy doing very little about it (I have experience of the ICO’s dawdling with regard to Labour Party data breaches; it says it has received so many reports about the party that it is swamped).

And we are told that the Labour Party “takes the security of all personal information for which it is responsible very seriously”, which seems plainly untrue, considering the fact that it should not have had any of my personal information at all.

Members – old and current – are up in arms about this:

We do need to know the identity of the “third party”. For one thing, it might be an organisation we would not want to have any of our information at all.

Skwawkbox has pointed out that

Labour has outsourced projects recently to one company formerly run by Evans and now run by his wife and another run by a ‘friend of a friend’.

I would also be concerned if my information had been handed to the Jewish Labour Movement, the organisation Labour has said it would task with providing training to members on the nature of anti-Semitism and indoctrination against it.

That organisation is highly prejudiced, in the experience and opinion of This Writer, and I would not trust it with my personal details in any event.

One final point: Labour Party members may have no choice on who receives their information because party secretary David Evans and the leadership helmed by Keir Starmer demand that they automatically agree to everything the party does with it, as a condition of membership.

But I am no longer a member.

I think a class action lawsuit on this case may be appropriate, don’t you?

I would certainly be interested in hearing from anybody who feels the same way and is interested in taking the matter forward (although I would not want to be the principal claimant as I am already involved in a highly time-consuming court case, as is well known).

Who’s interested?

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Mother of murdered sisters calls on Cressida Dick to clear the rot from the Met. Fat chance!

Cressida Dick: as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, she seems to spend all her time apologising for the crimes committed by her staff and none clearing out the villains who cause the problems in the first place.

How sad that, even in such a grubby case as this, Cressida Dick thinks her first job as Metropolitan Police commissioner is to protect the brand.

It’s too late for that!

In the case of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, not only did the Met not bother to look for the missing pair, but they actually left finding these ladies’ bodies to their family.

Then Met officers compounded the injury. Charged with one job – to guard the bodies and protect the integrity of the murder scene, PC Deniz Jaffer, 47, and PC Jamie Lewis, 33, took photographs of the bodies.

Jaffer took four photographs and Lewis superimposed his own face onto a picture with the victims in the background.

And as if this act of desecration wasn’t bad enough, they then shared the images to their colleagues via a WhatsApp group.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct, investigating, found Lewis “used degrading and sexist language to describe the victims at the crime scene he was protecting”.

Both officers have admitted misconduct in public office and have been told to expect prison sentences for what they did.

Dick has apologised to the mother of the deceased women, Mina Smallman.

However:

It is too late for apologies.

But it is pointless to ask Cressida Dick to stop the rot.

Her job is to protect the rot and distract attention away from it.

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Backlash against ‘subjective’ Online Harms Bill may harm policing of social media trolls

Who would have thought the Online Harms Bill could reverse the roles of the aggressor and the victim in social media abuse?

A plan to base prosecution of online trolls on subjective judgements by lawyers could derail a perfectly good law.

The Times has reported on changes to the planned Online Harms Act:

Trolls could face two years in prison for sending messages or posting content that causes psychological harm under legislation targeting online hate.

Ministers will overhaul communication laws by creating new offences in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, the flagship legislation to combat abuse and hatred on the internet.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has accepted recommendations from the Law Commission for crimes to be based on “likely psychological harm”.

The proposed law change will shift the focus on to the “harmful effect” of a message rather than if it contains “indecent” or “grossly offensive” content, which is the present basis for assessing its criminality.

A new offence of “threatening communications” will target messages and social media posts that contain threats of serious harm.

The sticking-point is the issue of “likely psychological harm”. Nothing else in the article is new – and This Writer has already supported much of what is planned.

I can’t support a clause that allows conviction based on nothing but wishful thinking.

How would a lawyer gauge “likely psychological harm”? Would they seek reports from medical experts? Would they examine the effect of the messages on their victim? Or would they just take the word of a social media user who may be a good actor with their own axe to grind?

It’s too subjective; it’s wide open to abuse.

The benchmark for criminal prosecution must always be harm that a person has definitely suffered – that can be proved by showing evidence. It can’t be based on hearsay or the wild claims of someone who makes a profession out of being offended.

So, for instance, the teenage girl in Rachel Riley’s libel case against me had genuine anxiety issues that, it could be argued, had been worsened by the dogpiling she suffered as a result of her Twitter encounters with Riley; she was terrified of leaving her home alone for a period of months afterwards.

If this law had been in force at the time – without the subjective element – I am satisfied that it would have been possible to show the harm that had been done.

The fear with the new measure is that it will allow people with a political axe to grind – most probably right-wingers, as usual – to victimise others by claiming psychological injury from social media posts that simply engage in robust debate.

See what I mean?

And note how The Times misrepresented the story; Twitter ‘pile-ons’ (more properly known as dogpiles) were already going to be criminalised before the subjective element was added in.

We all got the point:

Even a former Conservative chairman and Brexit minister has come out against this offence to justice: David Davis.

According to Sky News:

Mr Davis criticised the bill as “a good example of the best of intentions leading to the worst of outcomes” and warned that it was “a censor’s charter” as a result.

He warned that as the law is backed up by fines potentially stretching into billions of pounds for companies that fail to tackle this content, they will err on the side of caution.

“You can be sure that in any area of controversy – political issues, culture wars, or even COVID science – there will be plenty of people complaining and demanding a post be taken down.

“And with Silicon Valley mega corporations as arbiters of the truth, anything that appears online and can be characterised by someone as misinformation could be censored.

“The chilling effect on free speech will be terrible,” he added.

Still, being British, we can laugh at it:

We laugh because it’s funny, and we laugh because it’s probably true. It shows how low the UK government has fallen.

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Two Metropolitan police officers charged with sex offences

Cressida Dick: we are slowly discovering evidence that increasing numbers of her officers have turned to crime during her tenure as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

You have to sympathise with this tweet, I think:

Here’s the reason The Prole Star suggested all of the Met may be “rotten”:

That’s two sex crime accusations against Metropolitan Police officers, just in the last week.

They follow the kidnap, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard by then-serving Met Police officer Wayne Couzens.

And another serving Met officer – David Carrick – appeared in court on a charge of rape on October 4. That case has been adjourned and I see no reports of it since.

So the question is not only valid but urgent: How many bad apples do there have to be before we admit that the whole barrel is rotten?

And, considering that the rot must have been allowed by senior officers…

How long can Cressida Dick – recently rewarded with a two-year extension of her contract – remain Met Police Commissioner while we slowly discover how many of the so-called apples in her team are rotten?