back to article UK.gov tries to close site giving home addresses of badger cull figures

The British government has unleashed a legal threat against a website hosted in the US that is currently displaying the names, home addresses and personal telephone numbers of MPs, farmers and others who are said to be in support of the controversial UK badger cull. The Register spoke with a man going only by the name "Jay", who …

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because, experts claim, the animals spread tuberculosis among cattle.

You need a "some" in front of "experts claim".

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Re: because, experts claim, the animals spread tuberculosis among cattle.

And probably also in front of "cattle."

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Re: because, experts claim, the animals spread tuberculosis among cattle.

No you don't. The data is not in dispute amongst anybody who knows the first thing about TB or large animal population data models. What is in dispute is whether a badger cull will help, the problem that badgers are territorial and will migrate to neighboring areas that have been cleared.

The objective of this cull is to widen the scope to make use of natural boundaries such as rivers and motorways in order to mitigate the migration factor.

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Facepalm

Well if it's a .co.uk

Tell Nominet to nuke it.

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Angel

Re: Well if it's a .co.uk

Read the article. It's mirrored on a .com.

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Anonymous Coward

hmm

"Your campaign is based on misinformation, scaremongering and bullying with no scientific basis."

Y'know based on several papers, the exact same thing could be said about people who are for the badger cull.

Wheelhouse added that he was ready to take on the British government in a US court, if necessary, and seems to have concluded that Defra's demand did not stand up to scrutiny. He said:

Of course they are, now if it were the other way round and it was the UK hosting such a site against the US, the servers would already be seized, the person behind the site deported and a huge public slander campaign about how the site owner molests chickens would already be floating about. Good to see our two way relationship in fine standing as always.

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Re: hmm

> Wheelhouse added that he was ready to take on the British government in a US court, if necessary,

Cue SAS sliding down ropes and getting hung up just above the windows of some office in the USA where the FBI assist is serving extradition orders.

Not.

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Anonymous Coward

Simple privacy violation

I don't care what the excuse is, this breaches people's privacy. What's next: listing who actually voted in favour of Tony Blair? List of paediatricians (to refer to a famous incident)?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple privacy violation

The privacy argument itself is likely to be moot as the details are already somewhere on a public record.

However processing personal details and not listing a valid address for a data processing controller is a valid reason to get a court-supported nastigramm from the data protection commissioner. Similarly, going that route will result in a court order to disclose any details of the "customer" which is enforceable in the USA (under current US/UK agreements).

In any case, who gives a sh*t about badgers. It is raccoons which we should be scared of. I have seen 3 pieces of roadkill this year of something that does is _NOT_ a badger this year already (in Cambridgeshire to be most exact). None of them was in a place where I can stop and prod it to see exactly what it is but they did look like a raccoon. So it looks like the only real competition to "20th Century Fox" has arrived in Britain.

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Interesting

"Jay" thinks that it is in th epublic interest to post a list of farmers details (who may or may not be thinking about culling) but feels that it is not in the interest of the public to know his details.

As it happens, I am not in favour of the cull; I believe that vaccination should have been considered and that various civil servants / government departments / ministers have simply tried to ignore the problem.

I wouldn't support the anti-culling movemnet; most of them are basing their views on sentimentality rather than the practical issues; and I would bet most of them are townies who think that the countryside is just a big playground.

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Why cull ?

We've had cattle for hundreds of years in Britain & Badgers are native fauna. They seemed to have got along together now just fine for a long time. So why do we now need to start shooting them ? What's changed in the last few years to make this so necessary ?

Personally I'd be looking to see what changes in farming practices have coincided with this apparent rise in the TB "threat".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why cull ?

The story is:

1. Up to the 60-es - TB abound, nobody cares

2. 60-es to 90-es/noughties - No TB because of (ab)use of antibiotics by the bucketload.

3. 90-es/naughties (ab)use of agricultural antibiotics leading to antibiotic resistant TB strains which effectively puts us back to 1. However it is easier to find the badgers guilty than admit that TB is back and is spreading from cattle to cattle. By the way, badgers have a role, however it is probably not as significant as everybody claims.

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Anonymous Coward

Logically the better option is to cull the cattle, or move them offshore somewhere so that theyre far away from nasty wild animals that might lower their market value or income potential.

Once again, its back to the same problem that always gets humans into the shit, we think everything should make way for us, at any cost.

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Re: Why cull ?

Changes in farming practices:

The 1973 Badger Act.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

If badger numbers were getting out of control in the old days the farmer would core an apple, fill it with aspirin and roll it down a badger set. Poor old Broc would eat, go to sleep and not wake up. Happens less these days, for obvious reasons.

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FAIL

Re: Why cull ?

Citations needed.

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Boffin

Re: Why cull ?

Erm, no. People did care about milk as a transmitter of TB infection. Up to the 60s, Tuberculin Tested (TT) milk was widely available. Around then the lazier approach of pasteurising milk to kill the TB bacilli was adopted. Nowadays few people in the UK or USA know what, or how nice*, uncooked milk tastes. Surprisingly, UHT milk is closer to raw milk in taste than pasteurised milk.

*I mean nice for milk drinkers. Frankly, I don't understand why any adult wants to drink milk, or why the food industry is so eager to put milk products into things that don't need them, like dark chocolate or Chinese ready meals.

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Unhappy

Re: Why cull ?

Sorry "Anonymous Coward" but that is total tosh.

The TB Bacteria is extremely hardy and very resistant to a broad range of antibiotics. This resistance has nothing to do with developing resistance through mutation as we see in other bacterial infections. It is down to the physical structure of the bacteria - a very thick waxy coat - that prevent antibiotics from breaching the cell wall. In effect these bacteria are armor plated.

The reason for the very successful control of Bovine TB in the 60's to 90's is due to proactive post war control, and allowing farmers to game keep and manage the land. It is significant that this did not result in badgers becoming endangered.

BTW research undertaken in the last ten years and quoted to me by FERA scientists has shown that the cattle to cattle argument is very much a red herring as attempts to replicate this vector were completely unsuccessful.

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Facepalm

Prediction.

In a couple of years, when this has had very little impact, the 'if it moves shoot it' brigade will try and claim that this is because they have not been allowed to kill enough badgers.

Their gun obsessed tiny minds will never be able to comprehend the real reason; greed. Bovine TB is principally spread by the way cattle are continually shuffled between farms to maximize revenue, and whole herds are no longer tested, just a few of individuals are tested (to lower standards than previously).. again done to maximize revenue by reducing costs and 'red tape'.

As for Jay keeping himself secret, as anybody who has seen the shooting crowd in action will testify, it's a wise precaution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prediction.

"As for Jay keeping himself secret, as anybody who has seen the shooting crowd in action will testify, it's a wise precaution."

I've seen the actions of so called Animal Rights Activists, they should be renamed 'Animal Activists' because their behaviour is nothing short of terrorism against individuals.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prediction.

While *SOME* of both of the "shooting crowd" and"animal rights activists" are prepared to harass and intimidate, it is unfair to tar the moremoderate majority of activists on either side with that same brush.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prediction.

Or simply animal killers?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prediction.

Who are "the shooting crowd" when they're at home? Any one of the 2 million UK residents who participate in shooting sports?

How are they any worse "in action" than animals rights thugs (sorry, "activists"):

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1473704/Pensioners-body-dug-up-in-animal-rights-attack-on-family.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/3631614/Hunt-saboteurs-revealed-in-their-true-colours.html

Ah, wait, it's unfair to tar the majority for the actions of a few. Isn't it? Works both ways.

On the topic of TB, there's little decent evidence little way - which does NOT mean the evidence goes against a cull. It means we don't know one way or another (there's a difference between not knowing if something will work and knowing it won't).

In general the studies which set out to prove a link and failed were so poorly constructed it is impossible to draw conclusions either way. They don't show that a cull won't work, merely that those in charge didn't know how to construct a real-world experiment that works outside of lab conditions where you won't get perfect data sets.

TB aside entirely, I fail to understand why the badger is afforded protection far and above that of the rabbit, fox or deer, when it is not in any way, shape or form endangered. That doesn't mean hunting for sport, but why it is not subject to the same laws as other wildlife which can be taken for the protection of crops and livestock beats me.

Within a mile drive of home we have 3 dead badgers on the side of the road. A cynic might say that if you look closely you'll find a 6mm hole in their heads where they've been shot and dumped to look like roadkill. However, I know that at least one committed suicide throwing itself under the wheels of my car, and two more have tried to unsuccessfully off themselves in that fashion. It's not unreasonable to suggest the other two met a similar traffic-related fate. I do like to see a badger around but they are beyond pest densities. The mess they make of the fields tearing up grassland currently reduces our grazing capacity by 20-25% which in turn allows us to graze fewer sheep (and we are not high density or intensity by any means). Scale that up to people who rely on the income for their livelihood and the problem becomes apparent.

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Boffin

Re: Prediction.

Bovine TB exists in a number of distinct forms, called spoligotypes. These are inherited, and don't spontaneously change over time, so a population of cows or badgers that is infected with spoligotype 1 will not generate another spoligotype unless a different strain of bTB comes in.

If the transmission was primarily cow to cow, you would expect the geographical pattern of spoligotypes to be an ever-changing mosaic, which did not stay static for any length of time.

If the transmission was initially cow to badger, then subsequently badger to badger/cow then since badgers do not migrate very far or very quickly, you would expect that firstly the geographical pattern of spoligotypes would be fairly stable over time, and secondly that the spoligotype infecting cows would be the same as that seen in the local badgers.

The latter scenario is what is exclusively observed in Britain.

The reason for this is simple: cows have co-evolved with bTB for many thousands of years, and are actually quite good at resisting it. Infected cows show definite antibodies against bTB long before the infection is advanced enough to make the cow infectious. As long as there is a testing regime in place, an infected cow gets picked up and culled long before it is infectious to other cows.

Badgers, on the other hand, haven't co-evolved with bTB. They are pretty hopeless at resisting it and after infection turn into ambulatory bTB factories from then onwards until they die a few months later. There is no doubt that badgers are the primary wildlife reservoir for bTB in Britain at the moment.

There is also no doubt that the proposed cull and vaccination work will not have much effect. Badgers are very poor subjects for vaccination against bTB; even animals that are good subjects like humans and cows tend not to retain vaccine-induced protection for more than a couple of years max. Recent DEFRA experiments on captive badgers clearly demonstrate that vaccination of badgers is a non-starter, and vaccinating cows won't do the job either, as the wildlife reservoir of disease would be left untouched to slowly spread over the country.

The only culling technique that will remove bTB from badger populations is a repeat of the old "Clear Ring" strategy where all badger setts were fumigated within a mile or so of an outbreak of bTB. Implementing this now would result in locally extincting badgers across much of the UK, which is why the Government is resisting this, but this will eventually come. It is the only way forwards.

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Devil

Re: Prediction.

>The mess they make of the fields tearing up grassland currently reduces our grazing capacity by 20-25% which in turn allows us to graze fewer sheep (and we are not high density or intensity by any means). Scale that up to people who rely on the income for their livelihood and the problem becomes apparent.

And now we have an answer that I understand and can believe.

Brock is a natutal rotavator... therefore:

"Get orf my land!"

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WTF?

Just whi does DEFRA think it is ... the USA?

Only the USA trots all over the place downing web sites in ex parte applications.

Why does DEFRA think that it is has equal powers?

The list distributors should have sent it to Wikileaks or a Bittorrent site and then see what they can do.

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Trollface

This is what...

This is what wikileaks is for surely? Bunch of information about people that could put them at risk if it gets into the hands of extremists? The US are well in favour of that sort of thing clearly.

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Paris Hilton

Killing badgers has nothing to do with science.

I understand that there is a bovine TB vaccination, as well as resorting to culling infected catlle. Culling the animal primarily affected makes much more scientific sense than culling some secondary animal.

However, science isn't the issue...

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Re: Killing badgers has nothing to do with science.

are you suggesting that science just doesn't like badgers?

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Anonymous Coward

A small DoS attack would sort that one out

I hosted a site with nearlyfreespeech.net before and they kicked me off after someone launched a small DDoS attack against the site.

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Anonymous Coward

DEFRA needs better spin

They're just taking the wrong approach. Hire an "unnamed senior American security expert" to produce a secret report that confirms Badgers are actually Islamist terrorists, trained in Afghanistan and with links to organised crime, street photography and human trafficking, and are actually determined to undermine our way of life (sniff) by infecting brave British Cows with a weaponised super strain of TB developed by bearded anti-semites in Iran. Once the public have suitably absorbed this, they'll be ready for Phase II, in which animal rights types are labelled as Islamo terror Badger sympathisers in the Daily Fail and given a bit of 4am extraordinary rendering to somewhere a) we sell instruments of torture to (good for the economy) and b) populated mainly by confirmed meat eaters with especially lush beards.

If we hand the 'Merkins a cut of the instruments of torture contract (+ 50 year oil rights for Wales), they'll probably be more than happy to park The Rendered in Gitmo for eternity. Chuck in Julian Assange (after storming the embassy) and they'll be happy to go a bit unconstitutionally Patriot Act on the gobby shite running the web hosting, who probably runs a Badger terror camp in Utah anyway.

Simples: Badgers get shot by Tories, Animal rights protests disappear, some fat blokes in suits make lots of money, Honest Dave Cameron gets to fight a war over the Galapagos to boost his election chances, and a wave of patriotic fervour sees the price of British Beef soar.

Does that help?

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Pint

Re: DEFRA needs better spin

Love it.

Pity you post as AC though

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DEFRA needs better spin

If I didn't post as AC, I'd have to shoot you.

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Unhappy

Re: DEFRA needs better spin

Everything but the price of beer....

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Facepalm

This is the mindset that...

...if marooned on a desert island, they'd make leaves legal tender to kickstart a market economy. Then, to control inflation due to the easy availability of cash, they'd devalue the currency by burning down all the trees.

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Mushroom

Equivalence

I see that the website NFSN wants to publish the private addresses of DeFRA employees and civil servants. However, it does not want to publish the names and addresses of those behind the site, nor those behind the campaign. Note that the injunction they publish is redacted through out. Sort of "We can out you but you can't out us". Says it all really.

So, they have, or seem to have, broken computer misuse laws over this side of the pond, and does this not now come under our all encompassing anti terror legislation (am I allowed to say that?) then why don't we seek to have them extradited to the UK to face charges over here? After all, US of A seems to think it has a right to do just that to upstanding British people.

As for the badgers, to be honest, I could care less but I would have to exert myself.

Mines the one with "Using badger pelts for fun and profit" in the pocket.

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Truth

They'd get a bit more (grudging) respect if they just came out and said "We're shooting the badgers rather than innoculating the cattle because it saves some important people money".

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Why is Jay against this?

Doesn't he care about the animals that aren't badgers?

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Anonymous Coward

It's him!

I think "Jay" sounds like Julian Assange - everybody is entitled to everyone else's secrets but not mine....

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Anonymous Coward

I thought..

That in Wales they are catching and innoculating the badgers. I'm not sure that they can innoculate the cattle since we eat them

It's a pity though, badgers are definately a symbol of the British countryside

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Boffin

Re: I thought..

Vaccinating already-infected badgers is useless; at best does nothing, at worst wakes up a latent infection. Vaccinating uninfected badgers has been tried by DEFRA with truly dismal results.

Even when it does work, the vaccination's protection wears off after a year or two. The vaccine is a live, attenuated form of bTB, so is about as effective as can be made already.

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mushroom,mushroom

to be replaced by 'Shotgun,Shotgun'

badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger etc..

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Megaphone

Simple solution.

On one side, we have a group of people that just want to shoot things, and now that defenceless foxes are off the menu, badgers provide a good source with a debatable reason.

On the other, a group that want to inoculate them.

So... Why don't we equip the gun-happy chumly-warners with inoculation darts they can shoot at badgers?

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Anonymous Coward

Please...

Nearly Free Speech; come on, the president is protected by armed guards and all the rest of it. No average disgrunteled member of the public is going to be able to harass that particular family. That argument holds as much water as ... well, I won't go there but it could be ugly.

What I'd like to see is a few things happening ... I'd like to see someone from the UK put up a site on NFS with the contact details of animal activists and see if NFS gave them the same level of protection.

I'd also like to see the same thing happening with US people in one of these kinds of affairs.

I mean, their TACOS (yep) include some very tasy morsels...

"You may not upload, publish, or otherwise use the Services to make available any Content that:

* you otherwise do not have the legal right to distribute."

I could be wrong on this, but under the data protection act, the activist doesn't have the legal right to distribute these personal details. I wonder whether we could see one of the first non-government fines from the ICO here.

"CONDUCT - engage in any activity that would cause NearlyFreeSpeech.NET to be in violation of the terms of service it obtains from other parties; or"

The problem is that this doesn't list NFS's TOS with others so how are you going to know whether these have been breached?

"INTERNATIONAL USE

It is your sole responsibility to ensure your compliance with any and all applicable local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable Content."

See Content above.

I don't think that the activist has much time before these details get taken down and NFS could end up with a burned reputation for sticking two fingers up at DEFRA a bit prematurely.

That is all just my own personal opinion, of course.

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Holmes

Badgers not causing climate change

Methane from badger farts is not causing climate change.

No one cut down England's last forests to raise badgers.

Mad badger disease is not spreading fear and panic.

Badger burgers are not causing widespread obesity.

But imported cows are doing all those things.

Eat more vegetables, it's healthier.

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FAIL

Stupid idea that wont work

I was under the impression that most mammals can carry tb, so to eliminate all the resovoirs you would have to kill every hedgehog,rabbit, fox etc as well as badgers. Basically steralize the countryside.

Of course, this is all caused by farmers pumping massive amounts of antibiotics into cattle for various reasons. Tb soon demonstrates evolution in action and becomes resistant when faced with this challenge.

My prediction is this stupid cull will do pretty much nothing to curb cattle tb infection levels as its the modern farming methods causing it rather than poor brock, who co-existed with cattle for centuries without much fuss.

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It is not about whether or not the activists have a point

Keep in mind that the way animal rights activists intimidate, bully and harass people has resulted in the widely acclaimed story of Laurie Pycroft: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/feb/25/news.animalrights

And the fact they are now able to hide behind a site hosted in another country (whatever the legal status and quibbles bout it) means in no way that these tactics are suddenly less reprehensible.

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Anonymous Coward

It's nice of the UK to censor things they don't like.

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Devil

Simple answer

Ship all bTB infected badgers to NFS's office until they cough up the names and addresses of the moronovists. If you have ever seen the mess a badger trapped in a house can make, or seen someone bitten by one (I used to live in Devon, so seen both) you'd know they'd probably fold after the third badger delivery.

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Thumb Up

Re: Simple answer

Awesome idea, Sir!

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Coat

If only we could

"you would have to kill every hedgehog, rabbit"

That way we'd only be left with wild goats, wild pigs, wild deer, stoats, possums and a few other small mammals to eliminate from the wild, after which our native bird life might start to recover.

Mine's the one with two small bats and no other mammals in the pocket.

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