Category Archives: Internet

Rachel Riley libel appeal to be live-streamed online – here are the details

The Court of Appeal is to live-stream video of the special hearing on whether I should have permission to appeal against the judgment in Rachel Riley’s libel case against me.

The hearing will take place on January 31 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. I won’t know when or in which court until the day before it happens.

The decision to live-stream the appeal is a courageous one for the court, because it means the proceedings will be available for everyone with an interest in the case to view – both live and afterwards.

That means if the court makes a decision that people think is at odds with the evidence, not only will many people kick up a fuss, but their reasons for doing so will be available for everybody to see.

Sadly that is not an advantage for either side; public opinion could run against me as easily as it could against Ms Riley.

I applaud the decision because it means everybody who has been funding my defence will be able to see what their cash has been buying.

When my appeal against the strike-out of my defences was live-streamed in 2021, the live-stream was seen by more than 3,000 people – an enormous figure when compared with the 100 or so who watched the proceedings immediately before and after.

I hope more people will watch the events of the crucial hearing on January 31.

You can do this by accessing the judiciary’s website here: https://www.judiciary.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/going-to-court/court-of-appeal-home/the-court-of-appeal-civil-division-live-streaming-of-court-hearings/.

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I would certainly urge everybody reading this to watch the live-stream – or view the video as soon as you can afterwards.

The hearing will only last an hour and a half, and many of the discussion may be technical – but you should be able to understand my arguments and why I think it is important to make them.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Is porn allegation MP the best to oversee online safety bill? Really?

Damian Green: he described the claims against him as ‘untrue and deeply hurtful’, when they were made.

Let’s get this straight: the chairman of the committee overseeing the Online Safety Bill has recused himself because of serious sexual assault claims – to be replaced by an MP who lost his cabinet post for having porn on his Parliamentary computers.

Is Damian Green (for it is he) really the best person to see this legislation onto the Statute Book?

He has replaced Julian Knight, who is being investigated by police.

Green lost his Cabinet job in 2017 after breaching the Ministerial Code by making “inaccurate and misleading statements” suggesting he was unaware of indecent material on his parliamentary computer.

In his resignation letter Green said that while he “did not download or view pornography on my parliamentary computers” he “should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers” about it in 2008 and then raised it in a subsequent phone call in 2013.

Wouldn’t it be better if the Culture, Media and Sport committee was chaired by somebody who didn’t have any allegations of dodgy sexual behaviour in their past – either online or in real life?

Source: MP sacked over porn allegations to oversee online safety bill

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Here’s the reason nobody is stopping online scammers

This is revealing from Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis – who came out with a naughty word in a Parliamentary committee while discussing online scammers.

It seems the government won’t legislate to stop online scammers because it’s too complicated – but the firms running the big internet platforms can’t be bothered unless it’s worth their while; the cost of being sued for failing to do it is less than the profit from the advertising revenue they get from the crooks.

See for yourself:

And why not employ people to stop the scammers, rather than rely on a tech solution? The tech companies are the biggest and most profitable, so they can afford to do it.

They just need an incentive. If they won’t take the carrot, maybe it’s time for the stick.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Online Safety Bill is watered-down – but should it really legislate for ‘hurt feelings’?

Social media demon: it seems the new Online Safety Bill won’t protect anybody from abusive other users. So what good will it do?

Parts of a planned law to protect people using the Internet from seeing illegal material have been watered down – to protect free speech, it seems.

The government has removed a section of the Online Safety Bill that refers to “legal but harmful material”.

This means the largest, high-risk online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, that would have been tasked with preventing adults from being exposed to content like self-harm, eating disorder and misogynistic posts will no longer have to.

Children will still be protected from such material, if the Bill is passed into law as planned before Parliament dissolves for the summer recess next year.

The change has been prompted by critics like Tory Kemi Badenoch who said the section on legal but harmful material was “legislating for hurt feelings” by demanding a crackdown on free speech.

In July, nine senior Conservatives, including former ministers Lord Frost, David Davis and Steve Baker, who has since returned to the government, wrote a letter to then Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, saying provision could be used to clamp down on free speech by a future Labour government.

Mr Davis has gone on to urge the government to axe other measures that could “undermine end-to-end encryption” that he said we all rely on to keep safe online.

He said measures permitting the government to direct firms to use technology to examine private messages were a threat to privacy and freedom of expression.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the revised Bill still offers “a triple shield of protection – so it’s certainly not weaker in any sense”.

This requires platforms to:

  • remove illegal content
  • remove material that violates their terms and conditions
  • give users controls to help them avoid seeing certain types of content to be specified by the bill

This could include content promoting eating disorders or inciting hate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender reassignment- although there will be exemptions to allow legitimate debate.

But Labour’s Lucy Powell said removing obligations over “legal but harmful” material gives a “free pass to abusers and takes the public for a ride”.

This Writer tends to agree – to a certain extent.

It seems the changes mean users would be able to control what they see, rather than tech companies being given active duties to tackle “bad actors and dangerous content”.

So – it seems to me – abusers will still have carte blanche to use social media platforms to attack anybody they like, with the onus on the abused to put measures in place to stop themselves seeing such material.

Won’t that mean other users – on platforms like Twitter, for example – will still be able to see the abusive material and form their own conclusions about the people for whom it is intended?

The problem is partially that the UK’s legal system simply doesn’t understand how online abuse works. I tried to explain it to a High Court judge in July but her recent judgment shows that my words flew over her head.

Either she did not understand how abusive techniques are employed on social media platforms, or she didn’t care. That’s how it seemed to me.

We need legislation to prevent online abuse and harassment by criminalising the abusers – or we risk huge harm, both psychological and physical – being inflicted on our children, in spite of what this Bill pretends to be.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Why is it okay for Labour to pledge cheap broadband now, when making it FREE under Corbyn was ‘communism’?

Keir Starmer online: his broadband usage is subsidised by his publicly-funded expenses claim, one expects.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is tying itself in knots again:

A Labour government would enforce a cheap broadband tariff for low-income families as well as taking action on mid-contract price hikes, the shadow culture secretary will announce.

Labour will say broadband is an essential utility and that figures from the regulator Ofcom show almost a third of households (8 million) are having problems paying their broadband, phone and streaming bills. That is double the number a year ago.

In a policy launched on Thursday, Labour will say there must be an industry-wide social tariff for low-income families, negotiated by industry players such as Openreach, which runs the UK’s broadband network, with Ofcom and consumer groups.

The party will say that a failure to agree a tariff would mean a Labour government setting one and legislating to enforce it.

Universal credit claimants can already qualify for some heavily discounted broadband deals from some providers but the schemes are not well publicised or understood. There is no requirement for telecoms providers to offer social tariffs for broadband products.

Labour analysis suggests customers who are eligible for a social tariff could save an average of £250.32 a year.

The party has said it will also reverse changes that now allow wholesale broadband prices to rise with the rate of inflation, rather than costs, meaning that providers have had a £1.7bn windfall.

So Jeremy Corbyn was right – again – but Starmer’s cronies, being right-wing profit-grubbers, want to make sure someone can still make a fast buck out of the rest of us.

So they say the poorest of us may have cheap broadband (because that way the providers will at least get something from people who have next to nothing) – and the rest can pay the full whack.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves got short shrift when she tried to big up the policy:

Damo is right.

If broadband is a modern necessity, then it should be provided by the state, in the same way that necessities like water, power, and public transport should be run by the state.

That’s what the Labour Party should stand for but Starmer’s crew doesn’t. That’s why they are such a poor alternative even to the Tories under Liz Truss.

Source: Labour pledges cheap broadband tariff for low-income families | Broadband | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Why is Rishi Sunak trying to make the cost of living crisis WORSE?

Online shopper: well, no. He was actually taking part in an online question and answer session. But it’s reasonable to expect Rishi Sunak to do SOME shopping on the Internet, isn’t it?

There’s a lack of joined-up thinking here.

Rishi Sunak has been trying to float the idea of a tax on online retailers, to fund a cut in business rates for High Street businesses.

But those very firms have contacted that Chancellor to point out that such a tax would hit them as well – they have websites too.

In a letter to Sunak, dated May 27, the companies and industry groups involved stated: “We believe an OST would… hurt – not help – the high street, and stifle retail innovation and investment.

“The burden of business rates on retail is too high and needs reforming, but an additional tax on a sector that is already overtaxed is not the answer.

“Retailers would have little choice but to pass on an OST to consumers in the form of higher prices thereby fuelling inflation,” they state. The burden “is likely to fall heaviest” on groups including “people on lower incomes”.

Perhaps This Writer is missing the point, but wouldn’t it be logical to use the tax system in order to achieve the required effect?

So perhaps a reduction in business rates paid by firms that have physical shops, in tandem with the introduction of a levy on online retailers would hit the right spot?

The problem here is that Sunak is not intelligent enough to find a nuanced way forward.

Asking him to find answers to these problems is like asking a surgeon to operate while wearing boxing gloves.

Source: Rishi Sunak’s online sales tax will hurt the high street, retailers warn

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Law on records of government comms is badly out-of-date, WhatsApp court ruling shows

Social media junkie: Boris Johnson is probably deleting WhatsApp messages in this shot.

The Tory government has been crowing after High Court judges said there is nothing in the law to stop ministers from using services like WhatsApp and personal email accounts to make decisions and authorise action.

But this doesn’t mean ministers are justified in carrying out their business away from the official records.

It means the law on what should be counted as a public or official record is badly out of date and must be amended at once.

In fact, let’s face it, there should have been a constant policy of updating as soon as the Internet emerged as the communications revolution it has become.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used WhatsApp to make decisions on the procurement of ventilators and on Covid-19 testing in care homes. We only know this because his ex-aide, now enemy, Dominic Cummings took screenshots of the now-deleted messages.

The procurement decisions are important because we know the Tory government paid huge amounts to fellow Tories who were not able to fulfil the contracts, while ignoring experienced firms that could have honoured any deals easily, and lives are certain to have been lost as a result.

And we know that government failures on Covid-19 in care homes certainly led to more than 20,000 deaths there.

Lord Brownlow discussed his funding of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat refurbishment with Johnson on WhatsApp, and it has been suggested that he only put up the money because Johnson had made a vague undertaking to consider his “Great Exhibition” idea.

Then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock diverted £40 million to Alex Bourne for vials to be used in Covid-19 tests, despite his having no previous experience of providing medical supplies, after the former landlord of a pub close to Hancock’s constituency home sent him a WhatsApp message.

Lord Bethell claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals.

None of the information in the messages mentioned above is covered by the 1958 Public Records Act, so judges at the High Court said it was not illegal to have used WhatsApp, or to have used auto-delete software to remove evidence of the decision-making carried out there:

In their ruling, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Johnson said the 1958 act “says nothing about such matters as whether a person can use a personal device to communicate with others about government business”.

They added: “Nor… does it require the production of a record of something in the first place.”

The widespread use of instant messaging services such as WhatsApp meant it was often a forum for workplace conversations “that would previously have been undertaken face-to-face” and not recorded, the judges said.

And the act’s wording meant there would “in practice be a large measure of discretion [within government] involved as to precisely what ‘arrangements’ there should be”, according to the ruling.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the ruling “vindicates our long-standing position that we have acted in a proper and appropriate manner” – but it doesn’t do anything of the sort. It merely states that a 64-year-old, out-of-date law did not foresee changes in the way we communicate.

Gemma Abbott, legal director of the Good Law Project, one of the groups that took the case to the High Court, had it right when she said, “The use of private email accounts by ministers creates information black holes, thwarting Freedom of Information requests and critically undermining public inquiries.”

For that reason, the law needs to be updated to bring new methods of communication under its authority.

But, having got away with a killing (or, indeed, tens of thousands of them), can you see your corrupt Tory government lifting a finger?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Have you experienced – and reported – #onlineabuse? If so, the #VictimsCommissioner wants your views

Online abuse: have you been a victim? If so, take part in the survey before the Online Harms Bill is passed into law.

The Victims Commissioner for England and Wales has launched a survey of online abuse, in advance of the Tory government’s new Online Safety legislation.

The Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, acts independently of the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to champion the rights of victims (as a group; she is not able to represent individuals) and make sure they are treated fairly and correctly by the criminal justice system.

She has issued the following appeal for information:

“You may be aware that the government is currently introducing a bill before parliament on online harms; the Online Safety Bill.

“The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales would like to hear about your experience of online abuse and, if relevant, your experience of reporting this abuse.

“We would also like to hear from you if you did not report the abuse, and the reasons for this decision.

“We will analyse the information you provide and publish a report on it, which we hope will add victims’ voices to the debate.

“We would like to hear from anyone who has experienced the following types of abuse, in particular: intimate image abuse, online harassment and stalking, coercive behaviour, cyberbullying and trolling and any form of online hate.

“You will be anonymous (not able to be identified) in our reporting, whether or not you choose to give us your contact details at the end of this set of questions.

“We are keen to hear from everyone who wants to complete this survey, including parents or carers of children who have been a victim.

“If you support someone who has been a victim who would like to respond but can’t do so because of language, age, lack of internet access or other barrier, you are welcome to fill in the survey with them (or in the case of children, for them). Alternatively, you can contact us at [email protected] if you would like to request the survey in a different format. At the end of the survey we ask a question about these barriers. Your answers will help us improve future surveys.

“We will be publishing the findings. The survey is anonymous, but at the end we ask if you would be willing to give an email address to be contacted for future research by the Victims’ Commissioner e.g. an interview.

“If you have any questions, please get in touch: [email protected]

This Writer will be getting in touch as I’ve had a huge amount of abuse and the response when I’ve reported it has been rubbish. How about you?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Twitter’s algorithms promote right-wingers over the left – especially in the UK

If you’re a Twitter user who has ever wondered why the fascists seem to get more space on that platform, now you know the answer: Twitter’s computerised rules demand it.

Here‘s the story:

Twitter has admitted it amplifies more tweets from rightwing politicians and news outlets than content from leftwing sources.

The social media platform examined tweets from elected officials in seven countries – the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and Japan. It also studied whether political content from news organisations was amplified on Twitter.

The research found that in six out of seven countries, apart from Germany, tweets from rightwing politicians received more amplification from the algorithm than those from the left; right-leaning news organisations were more amplified than those on the left; and generally politicians’ tweets were more amplified by an algorithmic timeline than by the chronological timeline.

Under the research, a value of 0% meant tweets reached the same number of users on the algorithm-tailored timeline as on its chronological counterpart, whereas a value of 100% meant tweets achieved double the reach.

On this basis, the UK suffered the second-strongest discrepancy between right and left (behind Canada) – although some might think that Labour (112%) is currently even more right-wing than the Conservatives (176%) meaning the results are skewed by the lack of information about left-wing organisations here.

The findings indicate problems for Twitter because they suggest that right-wing tweets get preferential treatment as a function of the way the algorithm is constructed.

The good news is that Twitter has indicated it may need to change its algorithm to give left-wing tweets a wider – and more equal – audience.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails. What does Johnson NOT want to find?

Matt Hancock: I thought I might not get another chance to use this image of him looking gormless. How wrong I was!

Despite admitting that Matt Hancock used his private email address to carry out government business, Boris Johnson’s gang won’t check his private emails to find out what he did in them.

Why not?

It seems the government has no record of much of Hancock’s decision-making during the pandemic, and this is because he carried out his business by private email.

Government guidelines expressly demand that ministers who use their personal emails for Parliamentary business should “take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible” but it seems clear that Hancock hasn’t bothered.

Otherwise, why would The Sunday Times state that no record exists to show how Hancock negotiated PPE contracts, created the test-and-trace programme and oversaw the care homes strategy?

The nation needs to know about these matters because we need to know how much money he wasted on the first two, and how many lives he wasted on the third.

It seems clear that the only reason the government won’t go through Hancock’s emails is fear of embarrassment; he was incompetent at best, and a search could reveal the kind of mistakes that are actionable in court.

The claim to have been through 1.4 million documents already, so checking Hancock’s mail won’t be necessary, is clearly a smokescreen. Why do all that work when you can get all the information you need just by looking at one person’s emails?

The Good Law Project is already calling for Hancock’s inbox and outbox to be examined.

If the information won’t be provided willingly, perhaps this organisation should seek a court order?

Source: Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook