Tag Archives: digital

Millions opt out of NHS data grab, forcing it – temporarily? – to go ‘on hold’

Money-making scam: The idea was to make your confidential health information public knowledge, in order to make money for private health firms (some of which are from the United States).

This is a victory for people power.

You remember your Tory government’s plan to give away your personal – private – health records to marauding health companies so they can profit from them?

The plan that keeps surfacing every few years and keeps getting batted back by a UK public that wants this material to stay confidential?

Well, we’ve just succeeded in stopping it again. For the time being, at least.

The current attempt started in May, when NHS Digital announced that, if you lived in England, it would be putting the private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits onto disc and handing them to “third parties”. Almost nobody noticed.

The plan provided an opportunity for patients to opt out – if they did so by a deadline of June 23, which was ridiculously fast. It seems clear that the intention was to pass your information over before you even knew it was happening.

And then organisations like This Site became involved.

I published my first article about this on June 2.

The result was uproar.

Now we see that, after 107,429 people opted out in May, when nobody knew about it, 1,275,153 did so in June – around 12 times as many people.

Questions were asked in the House of Commons and the opt-out deadline was extended to September – and now the scheme is being withdrawn altogether, albeit temporarily, according to NHS Digital.

May we conclude that even more millions of people opted out during July and the first weeks of August?

But NHS Digital is not abandoning the scheme altogether – just pausing it, with no new launch date. Here’s The Observer:

It will soon start a “listening exercise” and consultation process before launching a public information campaign.

Who will be told about it?

In a major concession to critics, patients will now be allowed to opt out at any stage, with their data deleted even if it has already been uploaded.

Am I the only one with doubts about that? If it has already been provided to private firms, there’s nothing to stop them from taking that information off the database and keeping it in a form of their own. If they know it may be altered, they probably will.

NHS Digital is also pledging to increase the security and privacy of the data, even while researchers are working with it.

I do not believe this.

There is a fundamental dishonesty that goes to the heart of this scheme, and it is the lie that private firms care about your health more than their profits.

Private firms were allowed to run NHS services for profit soon after the David Cameron coalition government came into office, in a change supported by many Tory MPs who had shares in those firms.

The plan to give your confidential information to those private firms was first tried very soon after that, in 2013. To me, this was evidence that the Tory plan all along had been to make money for profit-grubbers and not to improve healthcare.

The public has batted it away time and time again since then, but time and time again the Tories have brought it back.

Their latest claim is that

“Patient data is vital to healthcare planning and research. It is being used to develop treatments for cancer, diabetes, long Covid and heart disease, and to plan how NHS services recover from Covid.”

That’s why they want to take away our right to privacy and confidentiality and I don’t believe a word of it. How can it be used to develop these treatments when we haven’t handed it over? And how have these treatments been developed in the past?

The simple fact is that it is our information – not theirs. And if we don’t want it to be shared, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Source: NHS data grab on hold as millions opt out | NHS | The Guardian

GP practice opts ALL patients out of NHS data giveaway. Ask yours to do the same

Here’s an interesting message, publicised by a civil servant at the Department of Health:

You’ll be aware that the Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

Instead, people found out through sites like this one – and kicked up such an outcry that the government announced it was delaying the data upload from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.

Announcing the delay, Health Minister Jo Churchill said ministers would use the extra time to “talk to doctors, patients and charities to strengthen the plan… and ensure data is accessed securely”.

I have no idea whether any of this has actually happened.

The message to Mr Thomas makes it clear that the government hasn’t been talking to patients, despite the assurance that it would.

It also suggests very strongly that whatever the government has been doing, it has made a liar of Ms Churchill.

So the action taken by his GP practice to opt all patients out seems entirely appropriate and I would urge anybody in England who has not received any communication about the plan from the government to contact your own GP practice and ask for it to do the same.

It’s what I’d be doing if I lived in England.

Friendly advice: This is important. Do it now – and don’t rely on anyone else to do it for you.

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Victory for grassroots campaign as Tories ‘delay’ giving away your private NHS patient data

This is a victory for social media campaigners like This Site.

The Tories had been planning to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers without telling you.

They had created a scam scheme in which they would hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million NHS England patients to profit-making organisations – unless the patients opted out.

But they never actually bothered to tell anybody what they were doing.

I mean: if you’re in England, did you see the national advertising campaign on TV, the social media and in the newspapers? Did you catch the news spots with NHS and government representatives debating it with some of the many organisations who oppose it?

I didn’t think so.

Yet Health Minister Jo Churchill, announcing the “delay” in Parliament, had the bare-faced cheek to say the government was “absolutely determined to take people with us”.

The impression I get is that hardly anybody knew a single thing about it until Vox Political – along with a few other social media organisations – publicised it on June 2.

By then, less than three weeks were left before the original June 23 deadline for opting out.

So it was risible when Churchill told Parliament “patients own their own data”.

If that’s an admission that the Tories don’t own patient data, then why have they been trying to sell it ever since they formed their government in 2010? Isn’t that, you know, theft?

The good news is that This Site’s article – and those of the other social media sites that took an interest – caught the public interest and the government had to step back.

The Tories wouldn’t have announced this delay if they had not received significant resistance to their plan.

And the really good news is that the delay means more people can opt out of the scheme.

You can do this by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so.

Be sure to enjoy the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. And then ignore it.

Source: New NHS patient data store delayed by two months – BBC News

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If you’re in England, the government is planning to hand your private health records to people you don’t know – again

Readers in England: are you happy that the Tory government is about to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers?

Tory-run NHS Digital will hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million patients to “third parties” to “support the planning and commissioning of health and care services, the development of health and care policy, public health monitoring and interventions (including COVID-19) and enable many different areas of research.”

The announcement is carefully worded to avoid suggesting that your details are going to people who plan to make money out of them, but the simple fact is that, before privatisation was introduced in 2012, nobody but the NHS would have needed your records for the reasons given.

You can opt out of the scheme before June 23 by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so – and to ignore the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. They would, wouldn’t they?

If you think the Tories can be trusted on this, bear in mind that NHS Digital said the data could not be used “solely for commercial purposes”, which means that it will be used partly for commercial purposes.

Digital rights campaign group Foxglove has written to health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting that this plan is illegal.

And campaigners have also raised concerns that the scheme has not been sufficiently publicised. Did you know about it before reading this?

Healthcare IT News quoted Phil Booth of privacy organisation MedConfidential as follows:

“For the Government to rush out a data grab like this, with only a few weeks’ notice for patients and for GPs, is not only corrosive of trust – it’s deeply irresponsible. GPs are the busiest they’ve ever been and dumping this on them without time to prepare and the resources to handle patients’ opt-outs is the very worst sort of digital disruption.”

Absolutely.

NHS Digital is desperate to convince us that the data could only be used by “organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it”.

But recent experiences of health secretary Matt Hancock’s dealings with the private sector suggest that the database will go to anybody who has bunged the Tory Party a few quid over the last 10 or 20 years.

And, let’s face it, the Tories have a very poor record of trying to sell off your NHS records for a quick buck.

It’s one of the stories that has kept repeating over the last (nearly) 10 years, and This Site has reported on its progress:

The Tories tried to put GP records in a central database in 2013 under the Care.data programme, but it was abandoned in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.

My report of the time shows that the Tories are still using the same weak excuse for exploiting your private data, that failed to convince anyone eight years ago:

[Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Same excuses, same failure to publicise the plan… so we have all the same reasons to withdraw our permission. Don’t we?

I reported on it again in 2014.

And in 2016, after a review into care.data recommended that the scheme be scrapped, the Tories tried to sell your information anyway, but just without telling you.

Again, This Site reported on it:

The government’s review proposes to allow medical records from your family doctor, (possibly including NHS Numbers, diagnoses, referrals, prescriptions along with postcodes and dates of birth) to be uploaded to a giant national database – but this time without telling us or asking for our consent.

One of the schemes to replace care.data is called the “Single GP dataset”. The government’s review into care.data proposes to send all patient records from family GPs to the central database without the express consent of patients. Once in the system, it can be “sold” to any customers of the ‘Health and Social Care Information centre”, including private companies.

The government buried this announcement on the day of the report into the Iraq War. It is hoping no one will notice this new land grab on our medical records.

But people did notice.

And now I’m reporting on it again, so you will notice it again. I hope you will put a stop to it again, too.

And then I’ll look forward to reporting on another Tory bid to sell this information.

Judging by experience, we’ll be back here again in 2025.

Source: Privacy fears over NHS plans to share GP medical records with third parties | Healthcare IT News

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Betrayal: Online campaign against left-wing political sites was started by LABOUR employees

Betrayer: it seems an online campaign against left-wing news sites was launched by people close to current Labour leader Keir Starmer. Is he trying to be more Tory even than the Tories?

An organisation claiming to campaign against fake news – but actually targeting left-wing political websites – was set up by Labour Party employees, research has revealed.

It seems the ownership of the Campaign for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and Stop Funding Fake News (SFFN) were well-hidden but detective work by John McEvoy at The Canary (one of the organisation’s victims) has teased out the facts.

And it seems the facts show that the CCDH was launched by none other than Labour leader Keir Starmer’s chief of staff, one Morgan McSweeney.

CCDH is a not-for-profit NGO which was initially registered on Companies House as Brixton Endeavours Limited. At the time of incorporation, 19 October 2018, the organisation’s only director was Morgan McSweeney – Labour leader Keir Starmer’s chief of staff. McSweeney was also the campaign manager for Liz Kendall’s leadership bid.

Brixton Endeavours Limited was officially renamed the Center for Countering Digital Hate on 30 August 2019, and McSweeney did not resign his directorship until 6 April 2020. The resignation was listed on Companies House on 4 May 2020, the day CCDH and SFFN’s relationship was formally acknowledged.

Although CCDH was first named on Companies House in August 2019, it has been in unofficial operation since December 2017.

SFFN was originally set up separately from CCDH, but it seems the founding chief executive of both was the same man – Imran Ahmed, who has also worked closely with Labour figures previously involved in the campaign to remove Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.

According to his Twitter profile, Ahmed is the “founding CEO of CCDH & SFFN” – suggesting he has been involved in SFFN since it was first launched in early 2019.

Ahmed has worked as special advisor to Hilary Benn, reported to have encouraged a vote of “no confidence” against Corbyn in 2016, and as head of communications for Angela Eagle, who launched a leadership challenge the same year. Both Benn and Eagle “consistently voted” for the Iraq War.

He now also sits on the steering committee of the UK government’s Commission for Countering Extremism, where he advises on “conspiracist “news” sites”.

SFFN and CCDH’s websites were also registered on the same server, on 28 January 2019 and 24 April 2019, respectively.

CCDH also shares its address with “Blue Labour” campaign group Labour Together, formerly directed by McSweeney, and now co-directed by Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy.

So we see that CCDH and SFFN are closely connected to Labour Together, to right-wing MPs Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle, and to the Labour leader Keir Starmer.

And what has it done?

Firstly it should be made clear that not everything done by these organisations has been bad. They have successfully campaigned for the removal of some genuinely poisonous individuals from the social media and raised the alarm over online misinformation about Covid-19.

But its most vicious campaigning has concentrated on the Left, it seems:

While posing as a neutral body concerned with “the rapid rise in Fake News”, operated by people who are supposedly “pro-truth, pro-balance and pro-responsible news”, SFFN in fact appears to be a highly politicised pressure group, and part of the wider onslaught against the British left.

A statistical analysis of SFFN’s lobbying efforts supports this assessment. Between its founding and the 2019 general election, SFFN targeted The Canary – which the campaign acknowledged was its largest target – more than any other website, with 176 individual posts on Twitter. The operation has been scaled down since the election, with 42 individual posts targeting The Canary in a greater amount of time.

Canary editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza is currently suffering her second Twitter ban within a week in what seems clearly a co-ordinated campaign of harassment against her.

Apparently CCDH and SFFN have only one patron:

CCDH lists Countdown figure Rachel Riley as its only patron, adding that it receives additional funds from “philanthropic trusts and members of the public”.

It is not known whether Riley has also funded SFFN since 2019, at which time she celebrated The Canary being “on its last legs” due to SFFN lobbying. Riley did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Hmm. I won’t comment too heavily onthis as This Writer is currently being sued for libel (on very tenuous grounds) by Riley. Suffice it to say that she has been fighting her own crusade against Jeremy Corbyn and left-wing politics for several years now.

There is strong evidence to show that CCDH and SFFN are fronts for an anti-left-wing propaganda campaign run by people within the very organisation that should be supporting lefty news endeavours.

Perhaps it is time these people were put on the spot and, rather than accepting their accusations without question, we put their own credentials to the test.

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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Removal of Katie Hopkins from Twitter shows my enemy’s enemy is NOT my friend

Some may say Rachel Riley has done the public a huge service by campaigning for – and achieving – the removal of Katie Hopkins from Twitter.

This Writer finds Ms Hopkins, her politics and her behaviour unspeakable. Consequently I have refused to comment on them, often responding to comments about her by others with: “I don’t know who that is.”

The last week Ms Riley, along with a representative from the Campaign to Counter Digital Hate (CCDH), visited Twitter bosses, demanded Ms Hopkins’ removal from Twitter, and got it. She’s locked out of her own account for the time being.

And that’s good. I approve of what has happened.

But I still don’t approve of the person who did it.

And I wonder if the CCDH has taken a hard look at Ms Riley’s own account.

What about the hatred directed at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and anybody remotely associated with him? What about the time she compared the Durham Miners’ Band with the Ku Klux Klan for no good reason? Or the time she wrongly accused a Labour election candidate of anti-Semitism?

What about the abuse and harassment of a teenage girl, and the accusation of libel against people like myself who stood up to defend that girl?

And what about the fact that Ms Riley gets away with all of this because she is an overpaid TV celebrity who can use her wealth to bully into submission anybody against whom she has a disagreement?

If you don’t think legitimate anti-hate campaigns should be consorting with the likes of Ms Riley, contact them and make the point. CCDH is on Twitter: @CCDHate and the representative who met Twitter bosses with her was @imi_ahmed

You could also – or alternatively – call for people of genuinely good conscience to support my CrowdJustice campaign to make Ms Riley rethink he abhorrent behaviour.

Please consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email five of your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking your friends to pledge.

On Twitter, you could tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

On other social media platforms, please mention the campaign there, quoting the appeal address.

You don’t fight hate by supporting haters. Please support justice instead.

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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Rachel Riley spoke out in support of an anti-trolling charity – and the response was damning

A few hours ago (as I write this) I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my CrowdJustice site, which raises cash to fight the libel case against me launched by Rachel Riley, was gaining funds – at speed.

I had done nothing to prompt this sudden influx of funds, so I wondered why it had happened – aloud, online.

Here’s the reason:

High profile celebrities – including ex-England striker Gary Linekar and Countdown presenter Rachel Riley – have pledged not to publicise the social media abuse they receive from vile online trolls.

Instead, the group of television stars, politicians and campaigners will be muting, blocking and reporting “abhorrent” and derogatory comments – with the worst handed to the police – in a bid to starve so-called trolls of the wider audience they reportedly crave.

The likes of Lineker and Riley have signed-up to instead reporting the worst cases of online abuse and vile messages to the police, while sending lesser examples to social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to put pressure on them to act.

New charity, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), the group behind the Don’t Feed the Trolls report, is advocating an even simpler solution for those being badgered online.

It recommends muting notifications and taking a break from social media in the first instance, before escalating anything thought to be unlawful.

Muting, blocking, and avoiding are parts of advice I have been giving whenever I’ve spotted trolls on my own timeline – who are often supporters of Ms Riley.

I’d say it was cheeky of her to be lining up with this new charity to advocate my tactics, when she is also taking me to court over a trolling incident that she instigated.

But I don’t have to.

While viewers of the mainstream media may be convinced by what I’m told has been a deluge of TV reports and appearances all day, social media users are much more aware of Ms Riley’s own online behaviour, and wasted no time in reminding her of it:

“Riley conveniently fails to mention all the anti-Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Labour abuse that she puts out on an industrial scale on Twitter and elsewhere,” tweeted ‘Is it just me?’

Anita K added: “Is that the same Rachel Riley who online bullied a 16 year old girl with mental health problems, and goes around smearing and doxxing others?”

https://twitter.com/CathyKirby65/status/1173709873219084289

And Eddy39 stated: “Rachel Riley compared the Durham miners gala with a KKK rally and now she’s out front and centre complaining about trolls. Oh the irony.”

This was a response to Ms Riley’s appearance on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme:

(I wonder how many hundreds of abusers have blighted my own Twitter timeline, thanks to Ms Riley’s unwanted attention?)

Grace4JC stated: “RR is the biggest troll around. The sheer arrogance and nerve of a Gnasher operative accusing others of being trolls is unbelievable. She ruins people’s lives.”

The term “Gnasher operative” refers to the infamous “GnasherJew” troll network, with whom Ms Riley proudly associates.

As PeoplePowerGal adds: “The hypocrisy is almost painful! There must be loads of evidence out there of her abusing others & she’s known to work in tandem with renowned Gnasher troll who are horrifically abusive & racist. Someone should write a big evidenced exposè on her involvement with them!”

And this is why people were contributing to my CrowdJustice site – in disgust at what they considered to be Ms Riley’s astonishing hypocrisy.

If you are unaware – or need reminding – of the behaviour Ms Riley encourages, here’s an example from today (although I have no idea if “Corbyn Out – he’s a chlorinated racist chicken” is a member of the GnasherJew troll collective):

Hopefully, somebody has thought to notify CCDHate (as it models itself on Twitter) that its poster-girl is exactly the kind of troll it is trying to silence.

Otherwise, it seems people may start to associate it with the phonetic pronunciation of its chosen title: “See seedy hate”.

For Ms Riley, the tactic has backfired badly.

While it might have seemed a clever idea to hide the true nature of her own social media activities by backing an anti-troll campaign, all she has done is remind people of why they dislike her so much – and, of course, boost the funds available to me to oppose her.

To Ms Riley herself, if she’s reading: thanks for the extra cash – and I’ll see you in court.

Source: Gary Lineker and Rachel Riley in new social media pledge to silence trolls – ITV News

If you want to support my defence against Ms Riley, here are some instructions you may find helpful:

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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It is time for a publicly-owned digital information and entertainment organisation

Man with a plan: Jeremy Corbyn proposed a public provider to challenge private corporations.

I wouldn’t mind being a part of a publicly-owned digital information and entertainment provider.

It ought to be the BBC but that organisation has been inundated with stooges for the Conservative Party and private business.

As for a publicly-owned Facebook… there are already other platforms, run by socially-minded people. Perhaps it would be better to nationalise one of these – as it would be established already?

Jeremy Corbyn has proposed establishing a British corporation that would commission online TV, offer easy access to archive material held by public sector institutions and operate a social networking arm that could play a role in direct democracy.

“The public realm doesn’t have to sit back and watch as a few mega tech corporations hoover up digital rights, assets and ultimately our money,” the Labour leader said.

He said the British media was failing and that multinational corporations dominated the internet.

Delivering the Alternative MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh television festival on Thursday, Corbyn said: “A BDC could use all of our best minds, the latest technology and our existing public assets not only to deliver information and entertainment to rival Netflix and Amazon but also to harness data for the public good.”

Source: Corbyn proposes ‘public Facebook’ as part of media overhaul | Politics | The Guardian

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Jobseeking goes digital – a lesson in how propaganda gets into the press

Computer illiterate: The government is forcing people to claim benefits and search for jobs online - and then claiming that they are "flocking" to it of their own free will.

Computer illiterate: The government is forcing people to claim benefits and search for jobs online – and then claiming that they are “flocking” to it of their own free will.

We seem to be going through another period of closely scrutinising the practices of the press, in the wake of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre’s reprehensible treatment of Ralph Miliband (and others) in the pages of the Rothermere Rag.

Let us take a moment to remember that most articles that are published in newspapers are not actually generated by their editors (even in right-wing, attempted-mind-control efforts like the Mail and the Murdoch pulps); many originate as press releases from outside sources, including the government.

This brings us to that great bastion of honesty and truthfulness – and how to hide it – the Department for Work and Pensions’ press office.

This organisation’s latest effort is entitled Jobseekers embrace digital revolution and has about as much to do with making jobseeking easier in 21st century Britain as I have with cock-fighting in 19th-century America.

“The way people claim benefits is being revolutionised with the proportion of claims made online more than doubling in a year – saving taxpayers money and paving the way for the introduction of Universal Credit,” the release begins. This may be true, but is it being presented in a truthful manner?

Isn’t it more accurate to say that the DWP has demanded that more benefit claims must be made online, making it more difficult for jobseekers who do not have their own computers, who are not computer-literate, or who do not live in areas with high-quality internet access to make any kind of claim at all?

And “paving the way for the introduction of Universal Credit” seems a misrepresentation as well. Wasn’t UC supposed to have been introduced in April this year, but has been delayed because of problems with the software that is supposed to get several computer systems communicating together?

To act as spokesman for the announcement, Employment Minister Mark Hoban is wheeled out. He’s the one who has admitted that he doesn’t understand how any of the benefit system works, so how is he supposed to have any kind of grip on what’s happening online?

“Employment Minister Mark Hoban has hailed the dramatic rise in online claims as the digital revolution in action. In August 2011 only around 1 in 10 people claimed online; that increased to 3 in 10 in August 2012 – and a year later this has rocketed to 8 in 10.”

In fact, it is true that much of this would have happened as part of the continuing revolution the Net is bringing to people’s lives. For many, online claiming will now be much easier than sending off for a paper claim form, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. The problem is the way this is being pushed as the future when it is a future that still excludes a small but significant proportion of the population. Online claiming discriminates against some people – why is the DWP so relaxed about that? Because it wants to prevent people from claiming?

Now for an outright lie: “Jobseekers are also increasingly finding jobs online – the government’s new jobsite, Universal Jobmatch, which automatically matches people’s skills to a job which suits them, is now receiving more than 5 million searches every day.”

So much about that paragraph is wrong. People aren’t finding that many jobs online because Universal Jobmatch is riddled with errors and – let’s be honest – crime! The scandals have been racking up ever since it was introduced late last year – fake job ads that are actually phishing scams, intended to get jobseekers to part with their bank account details; ‘opportunities’ that actually seduce young women into working in the sex industry; job ads that demand money from applicants before they may be considered for positions that (most likely) don’t exist.

So why is UJM receiving more than five million searches every day? Answer: because Job Centre employees keep telling people that using it is mandatory – even though it isn’t; this is a lie – and they must not only spend huge amounts of time using it but must apply for something like three jobs a week in order to avoid having their benefits sanctioned.

Then there’s the rarity of updates. One user complained to yr obdt srvt that no new jobs have been added to the system for the last three weeks – but he is still expected to apply for three jobs a week. How is that supposed to work?

Under those conditions, it’s not quite such an achievement, is it? It’s more like blackmail, intimidation with threats.

And, let’s not forget – searching for jobs is not the same as getting jobs.

“Mark Hoban, Employment Minister said: ‘The modern world is digital. Many employers only advertise vacancies online, and most want their new recruits to have IT skills. So it is vital that we support jobseekers to develop the skills they need.'”

Hang on – what? How does forcing people to apply for jobs, using a discredited system, count as support to develop skills? It doesn’t. Also, while it may be true that many employers now only advertise online, it is also true that many of those vacancies – if not most of them – do not appear on UJM and it is therefore more of a liability than an asset.

“‘These figures show that our efforts are paying off, with jobseekers flocking to use Universal Jobmatch and 80% embracing the opportunity to manage their benefits online. People are showing us that they are ready for the digital shift that Universal Credit will bring.'”

No, they’re not. He – or at least whoever told him to say those words – is deliberately confusing a system that forces people to carry out certain tasks with one to which they come willingly. The latter would suggest that they are ready for the “digital shift” he describes; the former – what we are seeing – shows us that people are being forced to use a flawed system against their better judgement in order to allow a lying government to justify its next crime against the poor and unwaged.

“The focus on online services is part of a cultural change in how people will interact with the welfare state and is an essential part of Universal Credit. The new benefit is claimed and interacted with online.”

That’s right. And woe betide any poor soul who doesn’t have the ability to do this.

“As well as being more convenient for claimants, this digital push better prepares them for the world of work, where digital skills are increasingly required.”

No it doesn’t, for reasons already stated.

This kind of propaganda is bread and butter for the press. The current squeeze on newspaper profits means that more and more papers are employing fewer and fewer reporters – and those who get jobs aren’t likely to have been properly trained (we’re more expensive, you see). Therefore, reporters’ time is at a premium and press releases are a quick and easy way to fill papers. Most don’t get a spelling check, let alone a fact check.

And that is how a lot of inaccurate information gets downloaded straight into the brains of an accepting readership.