* Posts by Vimes

1127 posts • joined 3 Dec 2012

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Questions over how Ian Livingston's peerage was granted

Vimes
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Well within parameters then.

Assuming for a moment that wasn't sarcasm, how exactly is it not bringing the house into disrepute when the government allows somebody to join it who was closely involved in the illegal mass interception of private communications belonging to tens of thousands of BT customers?

How can a house whose responsibilities include passing laws command any respect when their members are the very same people that have been breaking them?

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Vimes
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Questions over how Ian Livingston's peerage was granted

Work in journalism and illegally intercept messages?

Get taken to court over it and face criminal charges.

Force access to the internet usage of tens of thousands of customers as the MD of the retail arm of a large multinational telecoms company?

Get made a baron and given a house of lords (not to mention the possibility of claiming expenses for the rest of your life)

How could the commission miss something like this when checking the propriety of Ian Livingston before allowing the appointment? Or did they see it and simply ignore it? Or asked Livingston about it and took him blindly at his word (can't go about questioning a chaps word can they?)

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/suitability_of_person_nominated#outgoing-539696

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Snafu! BT funnels all customers' sent email into one poor sod's inbox

Vimes
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Re: BT messes up big time AGAIN.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/suitability_of_person_nominated/

(personally I wouldn't expect any sort of useful reply, but you never know...)

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Vimes
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Re: Perhaps my tinfoil is on too tight...

Perhaps somebody ought to set up a few dummy accounts and send all sorts of goatse-related emails from one dummy account to another. Maybe add a few copies of 'Two Girls One Cup' into the mix too.

It won't stop them from seeing the contents of said emails, but at least they'll go blind when they do...

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Vimes
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Re: BT messes up big time AGAIN.

BT's email is not fit for purpose

Neither is the ICO when it comes to data protection.

It also seems that more than one member of the current BT board of directors was around during the Phorm trials?

Sir Michael Rake confirmed at the 2008 AGM, in front of 800 shareholders, that the decision to intercept web communications was taken at board level within BT.

https://nodpi.org/2010/10/14/two-years-of-corruption-lies-and-deceit/

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Vimes
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Re: #IPBill ... ?

It's not just now that BT's behaviour has been problematic either. Remember ACS:Law and the problems BT had sending out details unencrypted? Then there's their email accounts previously being hacked, Phorm, and god knows what else.

How in hell do they keep on having problems like that but never seem to face the music?

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Netflix's $1.81 billion Q1 disappoints markets

Vimes
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People in the UK pay roughly the same as those in the US, but only get access to about 38% of the programs.

A rip off, pure and simple...

https://www.finder.com/netflix-usa-vs-world-content

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Vimes
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Re: Want my money? Stop the geoblocks @localzuk

Any agreement by its very nature include more than one party, and these are licencing agreements that Netflix have agreed to. Netflix are at the very least partially responsible when they choose to play ball like that and accept terms that are unreasonable.

It's no coincidence that the VPN block started at roughly the same time that Netflix finally got a worldwide audience and they suddenly realised that this sort of region-hopping could affect their own programming too (House of Cards isn't universally available for example).

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Ad slinger Phorm ceases trading

Vimes
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Re: Happy Thursday

Not likely. One's a Labour MP now.

Personally I'm still waiting for somebody to highlight Keir Starmer's history of failure in protecting us from snooping given his current role in representing the Labour party where the IP Bill is concerned.

And the less said about Alison Saunders the better...

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Vimes
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As for the surrounding "campaign", what a magnificent victory for privacy, eh? Yes, we can certainly sleep safer in our beds knowing that there's not massive instrusive profiling of Internet users going on can't we? Pah, waste of time driven by self-serving idiots.

One problem at a time.

First Phorm, next the CJEU court case that could see the IP bill neutered before it can do any real damage. And unless you noticed even the new 'Privacy Shield' that was going to replace the now defunct 'Safe Harbour' scheme has run into issues, with the Article 29 Working Party basically coming out against it.

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Vimes
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the law doesn't clearly say that mere interception by a computer without disclosing it to a human is a crime

RIPA mentions *interception*. Whether it's disclosed or not is completely irrelevant to the discussion. Don't buy into the crap perpetuated by the likes of Google.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/23/section/1

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Vimes
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Re: prosecution... not be in the public interest

https://www.dephormation.org.uk/?page=83

Pay particular attention to the last section titled 'Awkward Questions'...

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Vimes
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Re: prosecution... not be in the public interest

...not to mention both the Labour party (Patricia Hewitt) and the conservatives (Norman Lamont). Then of course you have the CTO of BT moving to work as the CTO of Phorm, the former head of the CPS who has conveniently since been elected as a Labour MP and the former MD of BT who is now in the House of Lords.

I'm sure it's an enjoyable game of professional musical chairs, and one that has proven to be highly profitable for those directly involved in the scheme. It's just a pity about everybody else...

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Vimes
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'Refusenik'? Seriously?

The value of Phorm shares were continually being diluted with new ones being issued to cover existing debts. Yet time after time they managed to raise their funds despite having little more than a shell of a company and a handful of sock puppet supporters on some stock trading forums (<waves in the direction of HamsterWheel>)

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Vimes
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Re: Regrettably?

I still prefer 'Deluded Dave'.

Remember him saying 'blame me' when people had been doing that from the very start?

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Vimes
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"UK prosecutors ruled that prosecution of the firm for violation of data interception laws would not be in the public interest in 2011."

Note the role of Keir Starmer played at the time. And the role he's trying to play now where the IP Bill is concerned.

We are all really up a certain creek without a paddle if we have to rely on people like him...

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Vimes
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Re: Regrettably?

I suspect all the people on the coal face left a long time ago.

Only those such as BT executive Ian Livingston really seemed to managed to avoid ending up being severely tarnished as a result of this, at least where subsequent employment was concerned.

His reward was being a place in the House of Lords by Dave 'It's a Private Matter' Cameron - and not that long either after Cameron decided it would be a really good decision to hire Andy Coulson and make him part of the team.

And as for Kent 'neo-luddite' Ertugrul is concerned, how much money did he manage to extract from the company over the past 10 years? He might mourn the passing of his company but I suspect he won't be one of the ones suffering.

The less said about the involvement of Norman Lamont & Patricia Hewitt in this whole escapade the better.

The only good thing about this is that the company never really got anywhere significant outside of their BT trials, so there probably aren't many people on the 'coal face' to suffer in the first place.

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Vimes
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It looks like some of those involved have already moved on to other things...

https://nodpi.org/forum/index.php/topic,6935.0/topicseen.html

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Banned

Vimes
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in that if the original thread has been posted by a moderated user

That doesn't sound quite right.

It must have started out visible in the beginning otherwise nobody else would have been able to see it at all in the first place surely? This thread would have just consisted of his complaint and any responses from the staff? The thread was started during the time he was being moderated IIRC.

You did however appear to remove the moderation during the time of the conversation. Since something that was visible ended up hidden I can only assume that disabling the moderation for the user has actually ended up with the thread being incorrectly hidden, which to me sounds like a bug.

In any case why have anything that affects an entire thread? If a user is being moderated and their individual message passes moderation then does the overall thread even matter or deserve any attention?

Incidentally whilst we're on the subject of bugs the ads at the top of the page are still broken. This time it's for an HP 'Accelerating Health' (WTF does that even mean?) advert. Pretty much every single large advert has had this issue, so it doesn't look like it's anything to do with any one specific advert & any custom behaviour, rather it seems related to its size.

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Vimes
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More usually people delete their accounts - and the comments are preserved under "anonymous coward" moniker.

Just out of curiosity is there no option to delete their accounts *and* their posts? (I've not got any intention of doing so, but it would be interesting to know)

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Vimes
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then what would the circumstances that a reader would come across an individual account history?

When they delete most but not all their posts and I try and access their profile by clicking on their name in one of the few posts they've left viewable?

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Vimes
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Ability to see that other user has withdrawn some posts does not have clear benefits to anyone.

Other than knowing that there isn't a problem with the site itself you mean?

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Vimes
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I don't see anything to tell me posts have been withdrawn by the author when I view his posts via his profile. All I see are the header and footer and nothing in between. If posts have been withdrawn then why isn't the standard withdrawn message shown for each such message?

Would it not be best to at least show something to tell the user what's gone on and why nothing has been shown on the entire page? Even if he is responsible for this it still manages to give the impression that the site itself is broken.

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Vimes
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I mean no disrespect when I say this, but is a single mistake really enough to put somebody on what you refer to as 'the naughty step', especially for active members on a forum that seems to struggle to attract people outside of any article related thread? It's difficult to escape the impression that somebody on your end has developed a very thin skin.

Incidentally I seem to recall 1980s_coder generally being a helpful poster in the past. I tried checking his posts to find some examples to include here, but barring one single post and the one that got rejected his(?) entire history seems to be empty. The page numbers for each page of comments are there but when you click on a number all you get is an empty page with the number highlighted. Is there a reason for that?

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Cyber-security pro? Forget GCHQ, BT wants to hire 900 of you

Vimes
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Re: Here's a crazy thought @ZSn

I personally also get the impression sometimes that there is a fear of saying anything unpopular within BT.

Just look at Bruce Schneier: widely respected by his peers, but oddly silent on the subject of Phorm and the ethical situation during the time he spent with BT.

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Vimes
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Re: ahh security theatre

Particularly since BT seem to be responsible for their own share of blunders. Take this for example:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/feb/01/ico-bt-acslaw

(link found here)

Funny how the ICO dare to attack BT so rarely...

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Vimes
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Interesting you should mention Russia, given BT's involvement with Phorm and the Russian links that the creator of Phorm has had in the past and been quite content to exploit...

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London to Dover 'smart' road could help make driverless cars mainstream – expert

Vimes
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Re: Here we go again.

Gardner said the plans "further evidence the government’s vision to establish the UK as a centre of excellence for the testing, development and future commercialisation of connected and autonomous vehicle technology".

I've got a mental images of this being 'tested' at 70MPH down the M23. Cue the old jokes about Microsoft-made cars and a new meaning for 'Blue Screen of Death'.

And as for 'centre of excellence' that sounds like something straight out a Dilbert strip.

It's a whole new paradigm...

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Vimes
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Re: Here we go again.

Is the Ben Gardner in the article the same Ben Gardner found here?

Ben is a solicitor in the Pinsent Masons commercial team and is based in Birmingham.

Ben works with clients to ensure that they get maximum advantage from their contractual relationships(1) whilst also working with them to ensure that they identify and manage risk appropriately. Ben is committed to providing clients with carefully considered advice from both a legal and commercial perspective.

[...]

Other Matters - Advising clients on other legal and commercial issues such as advertising, data protection, intellectual property and e-commerce law.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ben-gardner-bb494762

What is there in that summary that would justify calling him an expert in autonomous vehicles technology?

(1): When I hear 'get maximum advantage' this gets translated in my mind to 'monetise' which is a term that makes my skin crawl given what it normally entails.

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Vimes
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They're seriously considering something like this despite so many of those roads not being in a fit state to use in the first place? Seriously? People have taken to drawing cocks around the potholes in some more extreme cases just to try and get the government to do something about them.

There are some far more fundamental issues that they need to fix first. And don't get me started on the reliability of government-mandated IT.

Remember that John Oliver sketch on encryption where he mentioned the test involving hackers gaining control of a car and cutting the engine whilst it was on the freeway of all places?

We seem to be intent on handing the bad guystm opportunities on a silver platter, and I'd imagine that sooner the terrorists will be abandoning the bombs for laptops.

They'd be just as deadly, plus they wouldn't actually die themselves in the process.

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Hey -- what is that oddball box on the left?

Vimes
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Re: Thoughts? / @Vimes / ISP

Not quite. I did actually block that entire ISP a while ago and then forgot about it. At the time literally zero visits from any .de visitor were 'real' (i.e. they often requested specific pages and none of the supporting files, often multiple times and within very short spaces of time which is a bit of a giveaway when checking for bots). Plenty of visits were on the other hand dodgy and I even had one bot regularly try and scrape my site using the same ISP as you (called 'finbot' apparently).

In any case I've disabled the rule I believe was blocking you. It's not something I can easily check myself however so if you still have issues give me a shout.

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Vimes
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Re: Thoughts?

I block certain IP addresses if I tend to only see hacking attempts come from them. Which ISP do you use?

In any case I'll look at the rules in place this evening. Presumably your visit - or attempted visit at any rate - will show up in the access log so I should with any luck be able to figure out why that happened.

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Vimes
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Personally I think the website could be improved just by keeping things as regular as possible. Something like the following screenshot for example (Chrome's developer tools can be useful for changing stuff sometimes) . There could be far more tweaks made, and perhaps the red/grey combination could be changed to something slightly better, but at least the font sizes are kept pretty much the same, and the borders - which seemed almost random sometimes - are minimised.

Personally I'd also suggest getting rid of the photos in the 'most read' section and having a similar bold style title/normal style summary used in the 'news bytes' section.

Thoughts?

https://patrick.seurre.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/register_styles_changed.PNG

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Vimes
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Also just noticed that the new section has introduced a larger gap than normal between the 2nd and 3rd row of the 'normal' headlines.

Does breaking up the layout like this with really make sense?

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Vimes
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...or an attempt to introduce 'sponsored' content (i.e. yet more adverts).

Thankfully this doesn't seem to be the case, but the formatting still seems to manage to suggest it somehow (perhaps the small differences in formatting contribute to that impression).

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Vimes
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In addition they seem to be trying to squeeze not one but two adverts in the header above the main Register logo. It doesn't seem to happen all the time, but presumably now that they've had the larger adverts on occasion for a while now they decided they'd use the same expanded space for more than one advert.

https://patrick.seurre.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/register_ad3.PNG

It's as if somebody on their end is on a crusade to get as many people as possible to use ad blockers.

A question for the staff here: if it's a choice between a user seeing a single small advert or none at all, surely the small alternative is the best out of the two?

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Fsck Cloudflair

Vimes
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@1980s_coder

You deleted your post?

Coward... :)

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Vimes
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On a not entirely unrelated note:

http://www.engadget.com/2016/04/03/tor-and-cloudflare-fight-over-blocking/

(incidentally would it not be possible to detect URLs in comments and automatically add them as hyperlinks rather than force them to be added manually?)

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Microsoft's Brad Smith on encryption: Let the politicians decide

Vimes
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Re: Must not be possible...

We need to couple that with severe legislation that provides harsh penalties for anyone attempting to circumvent measures people take to ensure their privacy.

That assumes that the law will always be enforced.

Just look at the Data Retention Directive: when this was thrown out at the European level the government seemed to simply ignore the matter for quite some time.

There are probably other examples I could list, but the point is this: we can have as many laws as we like, and they can have the harshest penalties imaginable. All that is for nothing however if they aren't actually enforced. And they often aren't. *cough*Phorm*cough*

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Vimes
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He also noted that Microsoft has sued the US government three times on related issues, making a pointed reference to the US government's effort to force Microsoft to hand over data held on their servers in Ireland.

And yet the late great Caspar Bowden was sacked (fired?) by Microsoft when he dared to raise legal issues surrounding FISA (years before Snowden and possibly after Microsoft started helping the NSA via PRISM).

Brad Smith has zero credibility IMO.

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William Hague: Brussels attacks mean we must destroy crypto ASAP

Vimes
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Re: "the time, care and detail spent on each case, including by the minister"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35873443

But it's OK, because that illegal access is done with great care...

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Vimes
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Hague claimed that the stand-out detail from the attacks in Brussels was “the communications discipline of those responsible.”

Umm... No. It wasn't. It really wasn't.

It was the utter incompetence of the Belgian authorities. That and the failure to communicate vital information to the people that needed it even if they happened to work in different agencies.

I remember being in Brussels during the new year celebrations after the Paris attacks last year. Ever been to La Grande Place? It's surrounded by entrances by paths and small roads.

Armed police had established checkpoints around there. Not only did they seem to be engaging in outright racial profiling (they only seemed to be stopping people who were too brown) but they rather oddly only seemed to establish these checkpoints at certain places. We were able to make our way from the restaurant to La Grande Place without being stopped or seeing a single officer. It's only when we left at the other end that we encountered any checkpoint.

They had one job and didn't even seem to manage to do that properly. Thank god terrorists didn't think of setting off something there, because God knows they wouldn't have found it very difficult.

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The FBI lost this round against Apple – but it aims to win the war

Vimes
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Re: End of the War

The problem is that software can never be completely controlled by law.

Neither can the governments that come up with them. That's part of the problem really...

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Vimes
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Just curious, but why is everybody blindly accepting what the FBI are telling us when they say that they unlocked the phone? Surely they're capable of lying?

They could have equally failed to unlock it but used the 'we did it anyway' excuse as a way of avoiding having to admit complete defeat. In other words they were more interested in saving face at that late stage since it seemed increasingly unlikely they would win their case against Apple.

And as a nice final touch, although perhaps not intended, that excuse could have also been used as a way of denigrating the security surrounding Apples products (they would only have been able to unlock the phone if other exploitable weaknesses were found after all).

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Met plod commissioner: Fraud victims should not be refunded by banks

Vimes
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Re: Action Fraud website @Roland6

Another thought: is it really a good choice to make CoL police responsible for this when they're partly funded by the corporations that have their offices in the City of London?

Surely their focus is going to be on protecting the commercial interests of those corporations and not so much the interests of the general public?

Why should we expect them to care about fraud generally, especially if it highlights problems that their corporate friends can't easily fix, such as chip and PIN, or contactless payment for example?

Incidentally perhaps this helps explain the attitude shown in the interview? If they're not doing their job then they shift the blame for the underlying problem onto the victim?

http://www.standard.co.uk/business/funding-cuts-blamed-for-drop-in-city-of-london-police-forces-fraud-investigations-a3115126.html

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Vimes
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Re: Action Fraud website @Roland6

From the new website:

Action Fraud refers all fraud crime cases and information on fraud to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. This is run by the City of London Police - the lead force for fraud in the UK.

City of London Police? This is better? Seriously?

If you recall what happened with Phorm, that was something 'investigated' by CoL police as well. The quotes were added there quite deliberately too: it was a farce that ended up with the case being closed with no action being taken. This was after the officers concerned had been wined and dined by the company but before any formal interview ever took place.

I think the phrase 'lead force for fraud in the UK' was a rather unwise choice in the circumstances ('nobody commits more fraud than us!').

Besides which, how can we be certain that this is little better than the previous attempt to gather statistics - detailed or otherwise - and little more?

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Vimes
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Has he ever tried reporting fraud?

https://nodpi.org/forum/index.php/topic,4446.0.html

Perhaps if the police took a more proactive role rather than merely collecting evidence for the purposes of statistics then more could be done about this without the banks ever having to get involved?

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Ye Bug List

Vimes
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A big Mercedes advert now. Same issue.

Oh, and with auto-playing video this time too. Nice.

Why are you going to so much effort to ensure as many people as possible use ad blockers?

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Vimes
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Given all the varieties of issues that can be introduced by the adverts themselves I doubt they'll ever be able to do that properly.

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