Tag Archives: app

Starmer’s strategy for his party becomes clear – and it is everything Labour should NOT be

You may be wondering about the image above.

Well, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation during lockdown (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!) and it seems to me that Keir Starmer is trying to turn the Labour Party into a 21st-century version of the Borg Collective, an alien race from that famous science fiction TV show.

In the show, the Borg travel the universe assimilating other races into their collective, either killing or subduing the leaders and absorbing the population by using cybernetic implants to impose their will.

Among their catchphrases was the line: “You will adapt to service us.”

That is exactly what Keir Starmer and his Parliamentary colleagues seem to be saying to Constituency Labour Parties across the UK with their new initiative to get rank-and-file members using the “Dialogue” phone banking app.

This incentive scheme demands that members call up voters in their constituencies to get as much information about which way people will vote as possible (and get them to vote Labour).

Constituency parties making the most calls will receive rewards – if you can call them that – which mostly involve congratulatory messages from party leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner or some other shadow cabinet member.

The presentation makes it seem that CLP members should consider such contact a great honour and privilege from celebrities, in comparison with whom the rank-and-file members should consider themselves to be nothing more than functionaries whose only reason for existence is to serve.

Do you see why I am comparing Starmer’s new version of Labour with the Borg now?

The shift in emphasis has not gone unnoticed:

And the contrast with the previous Labour leader could not have been more apparent:

The other aspect of the Borg comparison is the elimination or co-option of leaders who might otherwise oppose the ruling cadre.

Isn’t that what we’ve been seeing since Starmer was elected, in April?

Prominent figures who might otherwise undermine the entitled few have been smeared, accused, suspended and expelled; their names blackened with slanders they find themselves ill-equipped to fight because the party manipulates it own rules to undermine the accused.

In short, while Starmer can’t actually have them killed, these people have been eliminated as any realistic opposition.

So there you have it.

Worse than any comparison with fantasy monsters, though, is the obvious correlation with real-world creatures that no Labour member should want to be seen imitating, even in death.

I refer, of course, to Tories.

In setting himself up as a member of a ruling class within the Labour Party, and demanding that CLP members be reduced to carrying out simple functions for their masters in Parliament (or who have been chosen from a highly-select group of party elites to stand for election), Starmer is re-modelling Labour to resemble the Conservative Party.

Shouldn’t that be the cardinal sin, as far as Labour is concerned?

He certainly isn’t impressing anybody with his choices.

Today he announced that he had co-opted former prime minister – and New Labour stalwart – Gordon Brown to support his plot to restore Labour’s popularity in Scotland (and the other UK nations) by devolving more power outside Westminster.

And when he broadcast a big speech about it, Starmer sank, almost without trace. Fewer than 2,500 people bothered to watch – and many of them were probably members of the press.

Maybe today wasn’t the day for this.

Or maybe the target audience had had enough of Starmer’s arrogance and entitlement.

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As police get access to #trackandtrace data, the public swaps stories about #ToryLiars

A load of bull: how many people believe the childish chatter the Tories give us every day in place of facts?

Public patience with the lies of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is running out.

The latest revelation of their duplicity – that supposedly confidential information provided by people who use the Tories’ silly ‘contact tracing’ app is being passed to the police – has triggered a wave of social media posts under the hashtag #ToryLiars.

Here’s the story that triggered it:

It states that there is a legal requirement for contacts of people who’ve had a positive Covid-19 test to self-isolate for 14 days, but fewer than 11 per cent are actually doing so.

Police are being given their identity details in order to chase up enforcement.

Reasons given for breaking self-isolation include believing there was no point isolating from strangers if you cannot properly distance from those in your household; not developing symptoms; or visiting shops or a pharmacy.

Obviously the second excuse is made by idiots; we’ve already been told symptoms may develop over a period of up to 14 days, so failure to see them before the full period is over is no excuse for ending self-isolation.

But the point about not isolating from strangers if you can’t isolate from other members of your household who don’t have to self-isolate under Tory government rules is a good one. I have said before that, if symptoms develop, then the housemates may have spent many days merrily spreading the virus.

And my own knowledge of friends and family who were told to “shield” from the virus by isolating themselves while healthy is enough for me to understand why people have been forced to give up self-isolation to buy food and/or seek medication.

It isn’t a failure of intelligence because it was easy to see these problems coming and while I do believe our government ministers are stupid, I don’t believe they were not warned. I think they chose to ignore those warnings and left people to struggle – and spread the virus.

You see, a partial lockdown is as useless as no lockdown at all, when you’re trying to contain a disease.

So the Tories have created a situation where their own failure to create proper conditions for self-isolation has created a need for police enforcement that should not be there.

The public know this and resent it. Hence the charge that the Tories have lied about the app’s confidentiality.

I know some have pointed out that no information on the app itself is being shared – just registration details – but of course people hand those details over in order to use the app so it is a very flimsy excuse.

The claim that this is a lie has led to further comments on other recent Tory lies. And there have been a lot of them:

Undoubtedly the list is lengthening as I type this.

Look up the #ToryLiars hashtag on Twitter and learn something.

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Why can’t the ‘NHS’ Covid-19 contact tracing app register NHS test results?

I think we all know the answer to that: it isn’t an NHS app after all.

After This Site was criticised – quite harshly by some – for connecting the ‘NHS’ Covid-19 contact tracing app with Serco and suggesting that it is a data harvesting tool for private contractor Serco, and had to publish a story yesterday (September 25) providing the information on the government’s press release…

It seems I may have been right in the first place after all.

Concerns have been raised after a user discovered he could not enter details of a test he undertook that was processed at an NHS/Public Health England laboratory. It seems the app can only take details of Serco tests:

We in the general public aren’t stupid. We asked questions and we drew conclusions:

The BBC got the story wrong; the headline mentions nothing about the failure to accommodate NHS/PHE results…

… but it did tell us about a few other cock-ups:

  • People who test negative can’t share the result with the app if the test wasn’t booked through the app.
  • People who enter their symptoms but not a test result find the app puts them onto a self-isolation countdown anyway.
  • They cannot stop the countdown, even if they enter a negative test result later.

And it does mention the main issue – but buried low in the story, possibly in the hope that the mass of the general public (70 per cent of the UK public gets its news from the BBC, apparently) will not notice and will carry on along its brainwashed way.

The Department for Health and Social Care has said the app will be updated (although it hasn’t said that these problems will be resolved).

This Site ran a Twitter survey when the app was launched, asking if it would be withdrawn by the weekend. There was a low take-up but the result was decisive:

It isn’t being withdrawn but it seems clear that it should be.

The DHSC is still claiming – somewhat desperately – that “by downloading the app you are helping protect yourself and others”. But it seems clear that the app’s real purpose is entirely different:

This is what we’re finding. And as long as the government keeps lying to us about what it is doing, it is also sapping away public trust in anything Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and the other crooks are doing.

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‘NHS’ contact tracer app DOESN’T come from Serco or harvest data. Johnson’s lies confused us

For once, it seems This Site is having to do a u-turn!

Information has come into my possession – some of it from very rude people on Twitter! – that the new contact-tracing app for smartphones hasn’t been developed by Serco after all.

It has yet to be proved that the incompetent outsourcing giant has nothing at all to do with it – the Department for Health and Social Care has not released the names of every organisation that worked on it.

But the headline, according to Wired, is that

The app has been developed by the NHS and NHSX, the innovation arm of the health service, under the direction of the DHSC. Software firms Zuhlke Engineering and Pivotal have been involved in the development though NHSX has not published a full list of companies who have worked on the app.

This raises an awkward question:

What has Serco been doing that required £12 billion?

As far as privacy is concerned, I misread Jim Killock’s tweets. He was saying that, while the smartphone app keeps your information private in an acceptable way, people who don’t have a smartphone and cannot – or will not – use it are in danger of having their data harvested because of the traditional ways in which it is recorded.

He’s saying you hand your details in to people at the location where your case is handled, with no safeguards or guarantees on it at all.

And he’s saying we have no idea whether privacy issues at Serco have been fixed – or how bad they are.

This Site is happy to apologise for the confusion.

The fact that there was confusion over this simply highlights the incompetence of the Conservative government in hiring untrustworthy private contractors to do a job requiring confidentiality in the first place.

It has created an atmosphere of distrust in which the default position is an expectation of betrayal; I wasn’t the only one who made the mistake.

And the mistake over Serco’s involvement in the smartphone app can be directly traced to our performing monkey prime minister Boris Johnson and his insistence on mislabelling the Serco test and trace fiasco as belonging to the NHS.

Now that there is an NHS app, will he start referring to the Serco shambles by its proper name?

I think not.

So the confusion will continue and it seems people will be put off the UK’s contact tracing schemes as a whole because of it.

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Value for money? Serco contact tracer app cost £12,000 per person and harvests your data

CORRECTION: It seems the NHS contact tracer app wasn’t developed by Serco and won’t harvest your data. See this article for further details. I’m leaving the piece below on the site as an example of the mistakes that can happen when a prime minister lies – Boris Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the Serco test and trace business belonged to the NHS, so when an NHS contact tracer came along, we all automatically accepted that it was run by Serco, and subject to the same privacy issues as the Serco system.

The BBC is reporting that a million people have downloaded the Covid-19 contact tracing app developed by the private money-grubbers at Serco.

At the same time, we have learned that Rishi Sunak has handed over another £2 billion to Serco for its test-and-trace… work… bringing the total up to £12 billion.

So, that’s a cost of £12,000 per user (so far).

Here’s what it’s supposed to do:

NHS Covid-19 instructs users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were nearby someone who has the virus.
It also has a check-in scanner to alert owners if a venue they have visited is found to be an outbreak hotspot.

First, let’s get something straight. It’s being called the NHS contact tracing app. Is it really being run by the National Health Service?

Bad news, Mike…

So it’s a money pit for corporate beasts.

Is the price right? Well..

And does it do what it’s supposed to do – and nothing else?

Oh dear.

But there is a bright side:

That’s the bright side. You’ve got to really want to see it.

So! If you haven’t done it already, are you looking forward to downloading the app?

Source: NHS Covid-19 app: One million downloads of contact tracer for England and Wales – BBC News

Humiliation for Hancock as Apple denies talking with Tories over contact tracing app

Matt Hancock: he has a lot of bare-faced cheek.

How did Matt Hancock think he would get away with this one?

It seems he has tried to hide the failure of the Tory government’s attempt to create a Covid-19 contact tracing app for mobile phones by saying the government was merging its app with one already created by Apple and Google.

Apple has said it is unaware of any such agreement and the government has not held any discussions with the firm.

In other words: Hancock was lying.

That’s the only logical conclusion. Right?

Apple says it did not know the UK was working on a “hybrid” version of the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app using tech it developed with Google.

The firm took the unusual step of saying it was also unaware of an issue regarding distance-measuring, which was flagged by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Thursday’s daily briefing.

“We’ve agreed to join forces with Google and Apple, to bring the best bits of both systems together,” Mr Hancock said.

However, Apple said: “We don’t know what they mean by this hybrid model. They haven’t spoken to us about it.”

Apple said it was “difficult to understand” the claims.

Downing Street said the government had “worked closely with Apple and Google”.

In tests carried out in the UK, there were occasions when software tools developed by Apple and Google could not differentiate between a phone in a user’s pocket 1m (3.3ft) away and a phone in a user’s hand 3m (9.8ft) away.

During the briefing, Mr Hancock said: “Measuring distance is clearly mission critical to any contact-tracing app.”

However, speaking to the Times, Apple said: “It is difficult to understand what these claims are as they haven’t spoken to us.”

It gets worse. The government doubled down on its claim, with disastrous consequences:

On Friday, the Department of Health said the NHS’s digital innovation unit had indeed discussed its ambitions with Apple.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government continued to work closely with both Apple and Google on the app, and had done so since development began.

“We’ve agreed with them to take forward our work on estimating distance through the app that we’ve developed and work to incorporate that into their app,” he said.

Apple and Google have not created an app.

It’s not irredeemable for the Tories.

Apple is a commercial firm and will undoubtedly be happy to enter a commercial agreement with the UK government to create the track-and-trace system the Tories want.

The big question is whether this new system will have the facility to download people’s private information and make it available to other commercial operators, in the way the Tories’ – failed – app did.

Source: Apple ‘not told’ about UK’s latest app plans – BBC News

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UK’s coronavirus ‘test and trace’ system is as much a shambles as previous measures

Test and trace: testing can’t be done everywhere in the UK yet, and the information from those tests, along with that for contact tracing, is not secure.

There’s an old adage: “start as you mean to go on”. It seems with Covid-19 that the Tory government has taken it to heart – it started badly, and has got worse.

Plans to trace people who have been in contact with others who have caught the disease have been in disarray since February, when initial attempts to trace Covid-19 contacts were called off.

The Johnson administration tried resorting to technology, with a contact-tracing app for mobile phones that it has been testing on the Isle of Wight.

But the system, developed in co-operation with private contractors, has caused such controversy that many have refused to have anything to do with it.

It has wide-ranging security flaws that allow the data collected by the app to be used for purposes other than those for which it was collected.

The researchers detail seven different problems they found with the app.

They include:

  • weaknesses in the registration process that could allow attackers to steal encryption keys, which would allow them to prevent users being notified if a contact tested positive for Covid-19 and/or generate spoof transmissions to create logs of bogus contact events
  • storing unencrypted data on handsets that could potentially be used by law enforcement agencies to determine when two or more people met
  • generating a new random ID code for users once a day rather than once every 15 minutes as is the case in a rival model developed by Google and Apple. The longer gap theoretically makes it possible to determine if a user is having an affair with a work colleague or meeting someone after work, it is suggested

Apparently the information is currently downloaded to a centralised database, where it could be leaked or otherwise abused.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said on Monday a new law to protect people “is not needed because the Data Protection Act will do the job” and NHSX – the health service’s digital innovation unit – has said using the centralised model will both make it easier to improve the app over time and trigger alerts based on people’s self-diagnosed symptoms rather than just medical test results.

They don’t seem to have our interests at heart, really, do they?

Management of the app is planned to be outsourced to a private firm in the middle of June, according to contract details released by NHSX, and computer engineers working in other European countries and the Far East will have access to the app as part of a troubleshooting role agreed between the NHS and the Swiss firm.

A new, manual test-and-trace regime was introduced across the UK on May 28 but it, too, has problems.

For a start, it has been revealed that personal information collected by both the manual system and the app will be kept for 20 years.

We can ask for it to be deleted, but we are not being given the right to demand it.

And the website explaining what will happen to our data seems to have been either rushed out so that it is riddled with mistakes, or deliberately written to contain terminology that has no legal meaning in the UK.

So, for example, it states that our “personal identifiable information” (a US legal concept) is “governed by the GDPR” (a UK / European law). The phrase is therefore meaningless.

And This Writer has heard that the manual system is not running in some parts of the UK, where the NHS was not ready to roll it out.

So if anybody caught it in London and then travelled to a part of the country that isn’t running test-and-trace (let’s suggest purely for the sake of example, Durham) then the information would be lost and it is possible that infected people would be missed.

These problems are not going to go away.

We have a flawed system that does not cover the whole nation and that seems designed to create problems going forward for years to come. It is typical of the Tories cack-handed attitude to the whole Covid-19 crisis.

Source: Coronavirus: Test and trace system will start on Thursday – BBC News

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Conservative contact tracer app may be a front for covert surveillance

Is this yet another conspiracy theory? Maybe not – it seems to have the ring of truth about it.

The Tories are using the Isle of Wight to test a new contact tracing app – ostensibly to help the treatment of coronavirus, but possibly as a means of quietly watching everything users do.

Conservative governments have form with regard to covert surveillance. David Cameron’s Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 granted the government huge powers to watch your communications – albeit with safeguards demanded by MPs who were concerned about the erosion of civil liberties.

Now, concerns have been raised that the Tory app will infringe people’s civil liberties by gathering data on their movements and uploading their contact lists.

It seems Tories like Matt Hancock want everybody in the UK to download and use the app, providing the government with an enormous amount of data on their personal lives.

The demand is meeting resistance:

In the Commons, Marcus Fysh warned “widespread surveillance” was “not acceptable” in Britain, and it was essential the system was voluntary.

“We’re not a people who take well to surveillance and it’s a little ironic that the country that has probably been surveilling its population more than any other appears to have been the source of this virus,” he said, referring to China.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said… “We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects,” she said.

Tory officials insist the app is designed with privacy and security “front of mind” with the data stored on an individual’s phone until the point they contact the NHS to report symptoms and request a test.

But Tory officials also supported Hancock when he lied to us all that he had reached his target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. He should have been forced to resign over that but he hasn’t even apologised.

On Twitter, matters seem straightforward:

Source: Trial of coronavirus contact-tracing app begins on Isle of Wight – ITV News

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Newly-elected Tory MP runs food bank app that charges charities £180 when they use it 

Miriam Cates: Profiting from poverty.

This is the great new nation that 14 million people voted for.

What a travesty.

Newly-elected Tory MP Miriam Cates makes her money running an app that ostensibly helps food banks.

Each local food bank must register individually – at a cost of £180 each.

I think we can conclude that this Tory won’t be doing anything to end the poverty crisis that her fellow MPs have created!

Source: Foodbank app run by newly elected Tory MP charges charities to use it | The Independent

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Death throes: Semi-empty auditorium at Tory conference suggests the Party is over

Empty seats: Apparently the auditorium is smaller than some local theatres yet fewer than half the places were filled on the first day of the conference. Conservatism is a dying movement.

Remember the general election campaign last year, when every appearance by Theresa May was carefully stage-managed to make it seem she was surrounded by admirers – right up to the moment someone took a wide-angle photograph showing only about 20 people turned up?

As you can see from the image above, matters have only worsened in the year-and-several-months since then and the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham has practically nobody attending.

One reason for this may be the fact that the Tories’ conference app was found to be giving away attendees’ personal details to anybody who asked (as described yesterday).

A few others are listed in the tweet below including, most perceptively: “No ideas. No inspiration. No clue.”

This Site will discuss elsewhere the Grenfell and Windrush blunders listed in the hashtags. For now, the following images tell their own tale:

https://twitter.com/MattTurner4L/status/1046397806196469760

Nadeem Ahmed was right – Momentum carried out a protest against the conference, which led to the following complaint from Tory MP Nadine ‘Mad Nad’ Dorries:

If anything could highlight the failings of the current crop of Conservatives, it’s that remark. The Tories can’t be the party of free speech if they’re trying to shut it down.

Bevan Boy makes the matter clear:

So Ms Dorries has confirmed the Tories as the party of repression, as she wanted to stop voters exercising their right to free speech.

And what does the fiasco of the malfunctioning conference app tell us?

Well, we are told it was created by a private contractor who was hired by the Conservatives…

I think we all know the answer to that: No.

But I am reminded of a phrase that has almost become a cliche over the last few years: “Repeating the same mistake and expecting different results is the very definition of madness.”

We all know that outsourcing to private companies can be a huge mistake. Look at Carillion. Look at the East Coast Main Line. Look at NHS England.

So it seems to me that the app disaster is a microcosm of the reasons the Conservative Party is disappearing up its own inadequacy.

They keep repeating the same mistake – and they’re getting the result we all expected.

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