* Posts by David Pollard

1309 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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Icelandic Pirate Party asked to form government

David Pollard
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Indeed we live in interesting times

Pirates take the reins in an advanced capitalist democracy while China's brand of communism further outlaws the development and use of open source software.

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Online criminals iced as cops bury malware-spewing Avalanche

David Pollard
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Window of oppoertunity?

... computer users should use this window to install anti-virus software and make sure they're protected."

Surely if you haven't got them in place then it's important to install AV measures as soon as possible whether or not there is a convenient window. The point is not so much that now is a convenient time as there is less activity at present but that the gangs will have re-formed and will be back in action very soon.

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

David Pollard
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Oblig XKCD

https://xkcd.com/1338/

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Google turns on free public NTP servers that SMEAR TIME

David Pollard
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Joke

One second?

So we're getting a rebate of one miserable second. What about our eleven days?

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

David Pollard
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Re: Points from a briefing

a move towards grid level battery storage

When I did the sums a year or two ago this was far from being cost effective. I wonder now how the EROEI of batteries compares with building nuclear power stations so that we aren't short of energy.

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Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues

David Pollard
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A curious coincidence

PMI spent $3bn developing the vaping technology.

That's exactly the sum that, just a short while ago, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan promised to fund "a medical initiative to cure, prevent or manage all known diseases by the end of the century."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/09/21/chanzuckerberg_to_rid_world_of_disease/

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Bletchley Park Trust vows to shore up insecure website

David Pollard
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Re: ??

... seems fitting that their own website has a weakness that can be exploited ...

But shouldn't they put a honeytrap in there or something similar?

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Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware infects network, demands $73k

David Pollard
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Joke

Free Charlie Now

Maybe the perpetrators could be persuaded to target Boston MTA so that it's free to ride for a few hours. A chap called Charlie has apparently been stuck there for decades because he didn't realise that a fare increase had been imposed.

See: Charlie on the MTA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7Jw_v3F_Q0

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Tor torpedoed! Tesco Bank app won't run with privacy tool installed

David Pollard
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Re: Missing the point again

... Tor hides the identity of the endpoint ...

So does a throwaway laptop, or an RPi with a newly written SD card and reset MAC.

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Three certainties in life: Death, taxes and the speed of light – wait no, maybe not that last one

David Pollard
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Re: scrap inflation?

"Meanwhile the universe appears to be expanding at an ever increasing rate "

Maybe the accelerating expansion was all a mistake, down to there being insufficient observational data at the time. Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University's Department of Physics has used the larger dataset that is now available. He suggests that "the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161021123238.htm

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Deliver-oops! Takeaway pusher's customers burger-ed by hijackers

David Pollard
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Take the cash - use the card

A couple of years ago a chum who was visiting had paid for our meal at a local pub/restaurant with his credit card. A few days later the details were used to pay for a rather large takeaway order order from at a nearby pizza parlour. I puzzled for a while as to why anyone might do this and then realised that it's a means of getting cash.

The way I imagine this scam is done is that a couple of people work together in the catering trade, where there is a fairly fast turnover of casual staff. One collects card details, which aren't used for a few days. The other, at a different establishment, waits until a customer pays cash for a large order, trousers the money and pays using the stolen credit card details.

Unless one or other is caught/observed in the act of collecting or using the credit card details it would be rather difficult to bring a prosecution, even if it was possible to find out who the perpetrators were.

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Allow us to sum this up: UK ISP Plusnet minus net for nine-plus hours

David Pollard
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Week of wobbly e-mail

For a few days now their e-mail in this part of the world has been plagued with delays and occasional 'Service Unavailable' please try later notices.

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New state of matter discovered by superconductivity gurus

David Pollard
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using liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, which is expensive.

Liquid nitrogen is not terribly expensive. It used to cost about the same as beer. And there's a lot of nitrogen about, just needing a rather good refrigerator to cool it, as it comprises 80% of the atmosphere. The supply of helium is in contrast rather limited and it needs a special multi-stage refrigerator to liquify it.

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Going shopping for a BSOD? We've found 'em in store at M&S

David Pollard
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Re: The second photo is not a Linux error screen.

falling standards?

It's not been the same since the moderatrix left.

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Smart meter benefits even crappier than originally thought

David Pollard
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Re: Increase in the Standing charge likely.

IANAL but I'd imagine that reprisals for changing the WiFi password would be breach of contract on the part of the supplier, in that they have both failed to make it clear that such a change would incur a penalty; and also failed to provide instructions on what to do if a password change should becomes necessary. In addition, as I understand it, unreasonable terms and conditions are disregarded should a case come to court.

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Gone in 70 seconds: Holding Enter key can smash through defense

David Pollard
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Is this what they call ...

... forced entery?

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Brit smart streetlight bods Telensa named 'global market leader'

David Pollard
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Sleep impairment

There seems to have been little mention of human sensitivity to blue light and the way it affects circadian rhythm. See, e.g.:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-is-blue-light-before-bedtime-bad-for-sleep/

Is this because the new lighting doesn't cause any significant effects or because these have been ignored?

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NASA discovers mysterious super-fast electrons whizzing above Earth

David Pollard
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Magnetohydrodynamics

It's sad to see Hannes Alfvén lumped in with new age mystics. He does seem to have come in for a great deal of undeserved flak; for opposing Catholic dogma posing as science, for coming into science from a background of engineering, and for having the temerity to suggest viable alternatives to orthodox explanations. Although the Alfvén-Klein hypothesis didn't work out, he did at least have the courage to point out flaws in big bang creation.

Roger Penrose's latest book, Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe provides interesting perspectives on contemporary cosmology; it is similarly critical. (It might make a nice Christmas present.) And David Tskilauri's paper showing that the jxB force can account for anomalous galactic rotation without the need for elusive dark matter is worth a read.

https://arxiv.org/abs/0806.1513

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David Pollard
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Variation with the solar cycle

It will be interesting to know how this phenomenon changes as the Sun's magnetic field oscillates. Presumably the dynamical field reversal is associated with changes in the distribution of charge throughout the solar system and beyond.

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Secretions on your phone reveal your secrets

David Pollard
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Re: And this part of the reason why...

After reading the list of contaminants I think I might start to wipe it before using it.

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Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

David Pollard
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Re: Tincture of iodine

The withdrawal from sale could be because of its possible use in making nitrogen tri-iodide. It used to be that one could buy iodine crystals too.

The clamp-down in response to trrrsm has spoiled a lot of schoolboy fun. Mind you, one of my chums was fortunate that the prompt criticality he accidentally triggered left him with nothing worse than yellow hands for a couple of days.

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David Pollard
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Re: Streisland ????

What does Duncan Campbell know that we don't that has prompted El Reg to encourage commentards to brush up their skills relevant to decentralised national defence?

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'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

David Pollard
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Wading through treacle

Wikipedia, your friend and mine, tells us that "a healthy well-fed labourer over the course of an 8-hour work shift can sustain an average output of about 75 watts." If the walkway is generating "between 4W and 8W" per person then the input power will need to be something like 20 or 30W; probably about as much as is expended in a gentle stroll.

I imagine that people would soon learn to walk along the edges of the pavement where the going is likely to be somewhat easier. Even without such avoidance the projected cost per unit energy is presumably horrendous, and, crucially, the EROEI negative.

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Quantum traffic jam of atoms could unlock origin of dark energy, physicists claim

David Pollard
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... hasn’t been experimentally proven yet

The mystery of why the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate might well be solved in a rather different way. The idea of accelerating expansion was based on observations of supernovae that had been available in 1990. A recent paper by J. T. Nielsen, A. Guffanti & S. Sarkar using the larger dataset that is now available suggests that expansion may in fact be constant.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161021123238.htm

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep35596

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Portable drive, 5TB capacity. Hmm, there's something fishy here

David Pollard
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... in my waste bin now ...

Let me commend to you groups such as Freecycle and Freegle. It may take a bit of effort to give away stuff that is still useful rather than to simply dump it but it does help make the world a nicer place.

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UK Ministry of Defence splurges £280,000 on online 'good ideas' form

David Pollard
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Re: Money well spent IMO

If they had developed the idea as open source they could have given away the software lo local councils, the NHS and other public bodies.

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UK privacy watchdog sends poison pen letter to Zuckerberg et al

David Pollard
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Next the NHS?

Hopefully she can to take a similarly strong line with respect to NHS data gathering, use and sale.

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Join the Q: British intel agencies seek tech-savvy apprentices

David Pollard
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... but there's good surfing at Bude.

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IoT worm can hack Philips Hue lightbulbs, spread across cities

David Pollard
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This sheds a new light ...

... on the notion of painting the town red.

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Leaked paper suggests EM Drive tested by NASA actually works

David Pollard
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Battery plus Faraday cage?

It's puzzling that the experiment only uses only a couple of hundred watts. Why then didn't they mount the device on the torsion balance together with a battery powered RF generator and a programmed test controller inside a non-gas-tight box in order to provide electrical, magnetic and thermal shielding?

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Brexflation: Lenovo, HPE and Walkers crisps all set for double-digit hike

David Pollard
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Re: Cause and effect?

... UK goods are now more attractive to overseas buyers [o]nly to the extent that they don't depend on imports.

When the pound devalues with respect to all other currencies, the cost of the imported component of goods which are re-exported remains constant in terms of external currencies. With a 'weaker' pound the sterling cost of the added value in such re-exports becomes less expensive in terms of external currencies. So trade dependent on imports does become more competitive, albeit by a smaller amount than goods or services which are wholly sourced within the UK.

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Twitter trolls are destroying democracy, warn eggheads

David Pollard
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Re: "What happened to the American Dream? It came true!"

This is pretty much what Arthur Koestler suggested in his 1967 work The Ghost in the Machine. Wars and indeed most aggressive acts stem not so much from an inherently angry and aggressive nature but from a deep rooted desired to be liked and recognised by fellow humans.

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El Paso city bungs $3.2m to email crooks pretending to be bosses

David Pollard
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I've got this plan for a bridge in London ...

Even though it will only carry pedestrians and isn't really needed to ease congestion, it will have gardens and so forth and will be a real treasure for residents. The £30 million that the government has already provided ran out some while ago so another payment of a few million is needed for more research to be done on this project.

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Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit

David Pollard
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Re: Are there any current polls on Brexit sentiment?

There's a Sky poll which asks if Ms May should be able to trigger Article 50. 49% say she should, 45% say she shouldn't.

http://news.sky.com/story/majority-says-pm-should-be-able-to-trigger-brexit-poll-10643413

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David Pollard
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Re: Handy....

Which laws would you like to get rid of that are so bad for us?

Repeal of the European Communities Act, 1972, which gave precedence to EU law over UK law, would be a good start.

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

David Pollard
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Re: We live in a parliamentary democracy

Only Parliament can override an Act of Parliament.

The major problem with membership of the EU, as the notorious Factortame case demonstrated, is that UK statutes do not apply where they conflict with EU law. This is the main reason why, irrespective of Article 50, we need to repeal the European Communities Act, 1972, which presently gives precedence to the EU.

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David Pollard
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Re: Thursday's explosive anti-Brexit judgment

The "once in a generation decision" leaflet that was sent to every household in the country to explain the referendum had been quite clear. It read:

"The referendum ... is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union." ...

"This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide."

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515068/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk.pdf

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Appointments on hold as (computer) virus wreaks havoc with NHS trust systems

David Pollard
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Coincidence or delivered in person?

Earlier this year, in late January, Lincolnshire County Council's computer network was shut down after being hit by ransomware. Is this attack on LIncolnshire NHS in any way connected?

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Royal Horticultural Society's PC is rooted for all to see

David Pollard
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RHS problem ...

... may well have been a branching failure in a logic tree.

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Coming to an SSL library near you? AI learns how to craft crude crypto all by itself

David Pollard
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Pint

Humans don't understand how it works

MIT may have just the thing:

"At the Association for Computational Linguistics' Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) will present a new way to train neural networks so that they provide not only predictions and classifications but rationales for their decisions."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161028162222.htm

One data set for the research came from reviews of different beers. Nice work if you can get it.

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Freeze on refrigerants heats up search for replacements

David Pollard
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Pint

Margaret Thatcher

Though I was far from being one of her supporters, she deserves to be remembered for the good work she did in getting the Montreal Protocol internationally agreed and for persuading her chum Ronald Reagan of its relevance.

Perhaps we need more politicians who have some understanding of science.

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NHS patients must be taught to share their data, says EU lobby group

David Pollard
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How about sharing *their* data?

A great deal of research goes unpublished; the so-called 'negative data'. When drug trials don't show a benefit for the promoter they get quietly hidden. Then data for published work is often either not available, incomplete or in a form that is hard to use. And a large proportion of the research papers themselves are published behind very expensive paywalls.

The non-profit organisation PLoS has changed and is changing the publication landscape, and academic campaigns for open access to research papers and open data also play a part. But there is a long way to go.

Big Pharma can have details of my medical history when they publish all their research data, including that which shows their products in a poor light, and when they stop charging people to read the papers

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Phew: ISS re-supply mission launches without destroying Wallops launch-pad

David Pollard
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Boffin

Re: Weight a minute

Yea, should have been reckoned in London Buses, Indian Elephants, nanoWaleses or something. It's difficult to keep up with science these days. Ah, there we go, the appropriate unit is a Jub.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

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Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

David Pollard
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Pint

Remember Ted Heath?

His greatest, and possibly only, success is rarely recognised. The major social experiment he conducted in 1974, when he introduced the three day week, was.ahead of its time. Sadly it didn't catch on.

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Blighty's National Pupil Database has been used to control immigration

David Pollard
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Flame

Open note to Gracie Mae Bradley

Madam,

You are quoted thus: Against Borders for Children co-founder Gracie Mae Bradley added: "There is still time to resist this divisive and risky scheme".

The time for action was back at the turn of the last century, when realisations of Blair-Blunkett-Straw control-freakery were being dreamed up and then implemented. The 'Every Child Matters' scheme set out to provide multiple government agencies with access to all data held about children. One particularly ghastly part of the programme, RYOGENS, had been promoted with claims that it could predict criminality,

A good account was provided by Ross Anderson and colleagues at the Foundation for Information Policy Research, back in 2005/6.

http://www.fipr.org/childrens_databases.pdf

It won't do much good for schools not to record details of nationality. Firstly in most cases this information is likely to be easily gleaned elsewhere. Secondly, it's racial prejudice that is the problem, not a particular child's nationality. Hiding details of nationality may hide the prejudice, but if fails to deal with it.

What is required is to have the software that is used to run the child databases open to public inspection and likewise to have the uses - who accessed that data, when and why - reliably logged, appropriately inspected and open to magisterial enquiry. Neutral and trustworthy judges, high-level civil servants and similar public figures are probably rather thin on the ground, those with an understanding of technology even more so, but their scrutiny is what's needed. Clearly it's not appropriate to make confidential information publicly available, but, equally clearly, appropriate methods are needed to ensure that when government bodies hold such information it is handled in a manner which is democratically accountable.

The opportunity to oppose computerised collation of data, if ever there was one, passed by long ago. What we must try to do now is to ensure that the technology is used wisely.

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David Pollard
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When DNA profiling was introduced, the original statute allowed its use only for checking crime stains against potential suspects. So called 'DNA trawling' and familial matches were not allowed; and the data was to be discarded as soon as comparisons had been made. However, shortly after its introduction an apparently innocuous act was passed which modified the regulations to allow records to be kept "for statistical purposes". Beyond the promoters, few MPs would have noticed.

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UK cops failed to act on Canadian intel on child abuse

David Pollard
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UK police sat on intelligence ... for 15 months

Only 15 months?

In response to disclosures about child abuse by Jimmy Savile and various other ghastly goings on, Theresa May announced in July 2014 that there was to be a full enquiry into historic child sex abuse. This, she declared, was to address "serious failings by public bodies and important institutions." Now, 27 months later, and despite the expenditure of large amounts of public money, there still hasn't been any progress.

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'My REPLACEMENT Samsung Galaxy Note 7 blew up on plane'

David Pollard
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Re: For safety, I placed my mobile telephone into a handbag...

A handbag?

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Robots blamed for wiping 10 per cent off the value of sterling

David Pollard
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Who was buying?

Someone made a packet.

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Citizens don't trust UK.GOV with their data

David Pollard
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Covata wrote ...

Maybe it's mentioned elsewhere, but one of the necessary requirements not included in the list is that the programs handling the data should be open source or open to full inspection by any interested party.

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