* Posts by Jane Fae

116 posts • joined 13 Apr 2010


Sneaky bin chipping still in the bag for UK.gov

Jane Fae

Not really

hmmm...so you foresee councils of the future buying in two types of bins...at extra cost...and wheeling a new bin round to a resident every time they opt in - or out - of the scheme?

I can see it would work. Can't see councils buying the costs, though.


Beeb, British Museum face smut issues over saucy pot

Jane Fae

er, actually...

i spoke directly to the Crown Prosecution Service about the scope of the Act and possible defences.

The problem with this particular law is that it is untried (literally) and so is in the lap of a jury.

The "produced for sexual purposes" clauses has yet to be tested in respect of this OR the extreme porn law.

The issue? Well, if it relates to the purpose of the original maker of the filom/image/whatever, then there is one defence available. On t'other hand, if it relates to the intentions of the downloader - because remember, in UK law, downloading = making of an image - then we are in very different territory.

I agree that the primary purpose of the cup was for drinking...but you'd have to be a lawyer of the highest water to stop at that point.

M'lud: here is a cup. Insofar as it is a cup, it is clearly for drinking. However, on the side of the cup is a drawing. What is the purpose of the drawing? Can we in any way say that the drawing is "for drinking"? No. The drawing is separate to the cup. It is an add-on that neither adds nor detracts from the function of the cup.

The cup is made for the purpose of drinking: the drawing was made for the purpose of titillating the drinker. Given the nature of the drawing, it must be highly likely that the effect created by any drinker sat contemplating this object would have been sexual - arousal even. The maker of the drawing must have understood that.

The drawing was created for purposes of sexual arousal. QED.

On t'other hand, whilst that is an argument about the rationale for creating the drawing, there is also the issue of why any given individual would possess the image.

M'lud - again. The individual before you has no interest in history whatsoever. He plays football, runs the local scout group, and had an extensive collection of child porn. He also has a series of pics on his pc which are taken from historical artefacts. Every one of these pics depicts some antique scene of sodomy or otherwise unnatural vice.

I put it to you that the purpose for which this individual posesses this image is quite separate from the purpose for which the British museum possesses it - and is clearly for purposes of sexual arousal.

So... i think the argument is makeable...though whether a court would accept it is another matter.

as for detail, i spend half my life reading through legislative detail. Do you?

Mucky private chat could be illegal soon

Jane Fae

NOT how the law works

AC said:

"The key issue here is that District Judge, Jonathan Bennett, in ruling that this tweet fell foul of section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, seems to have interpreted that law as meaning that whether or not a text or message is construed as threatening will depend not on the intent of the sender – but on how that message is viewed by its recipient."

Which is the way most such laws work. Well almost. It's whether the recipient might reasonably construe the text to be threatening - it's the word reasonable that often causes a lot of debate since it's very difficult to measure what is "reasonable" and what is not.

My reply:

er, no. That is certainly NOT how most laws work. Historically, there has been either an explicit requirement to show intent or an implicit requirement for same. Offences where intent is absent have, hitherto, been rare in the criminal sphere - although under New Labour, they have burgeoned.

Why? Presumably because it is harder to convict.

The issue i have with this is that CRIMINAL behaviour is something we put in a special category, with special courts and its own set of punishments. For someone to be found criminal, we have historically required not merely that the Law show that they did somehting bad, nasty, annoying or whatever - but that they did so INTENDING the consequence.

I would not be unhappy for a new legal category to evolve...somewhere between a tort and a crime, that acknowledges that someone, by their carelessness or lack of thought caused badness to happen: i do not like the idea of this category gradually replacing the historic view of what is "criminal""

Welsh police come down hard on Octopussy porn

Jane Fae

Not really...

...the "main" point. extreme porn has proven a rich vein for stories over the last few years, for a variety of different reasons.

First, because of the legal principle it embodies. Next up, because of how it has been used (in practice, it has mostly turned into a "dangerous dogs act")...with very little attention so far paid to human-human porn. The latter seems to turn up as add-on charge or consolation prize when the police can't do someone for anything else.

Or alternatively, on occasion, it is simply ridiculous - as here. Was in the supermarket yesterday and passed a fridge full of frozen squid. Now, i'm partial to a little squid myself...mostly flash fried with butter and garlic.

But this law suggests that if any of our readers took one frozen ickle squid home, and forked it (into their mouth) they would be perfectly ok to do so... but fucking it could see you sent to prison. What a difference two letters can make. :)

i am very alive to the child abuse issue and don't under-estimate its seriousness. but two points: we're not pretending its not there...just its part of another (much more serious) story

Second - and this is another story too - however hard one tries to disentangle laws on ep from child protection it is very difficult, because whatever others think, government is determined to view the two issues as linked or even two sides of the same coin.

Brighton goes Green

Jane Fae

How strange

I don't support Tories. i don't support the Greens. I can just about see why my run through the Tory manifesto could be construed as support for them. But this? Its a straightforward report of an election result. It needs reporting because its a first. End of.

BTW. Titles and such like are courtesy stuff. You are free to call me what you wish – although most of my friends now tend to use “she” in polite conversation. Its an identity thing.

Election 2010: The sillier options

Jane Fae

Oh, dear...

This has nothing to do with Grauniad loyalties and everything to do with our crap electoral system.

In first-past-the-post, if you have 25% of the vote nationally and it is spread equally into EVERY constituency in the country - you probably get zero seats. The same national proportion of vote, skewed into just half the seats of the country (so your 25% scores you 50% in every seat you do well in) gets you half the seats.

The Lib Dem vote is widely dispersed. Labour's vote is geographically concentrated (as well as being skewed into smaller constituencies).

As i have written several times recently: to obtain seat parity with Labour, the Lib Dems need to be doing 10% to 12% better than Labour in vote terms.


DVLA off-road system seriously off-message

Jane Fae

Uninformed? Surely not!

Its always unwise to accuse others of being uninformed...if you haven't dfone your research properly and aren't 100% sure of your facts.

The whole point of this piece...and of the interviews and research i have been doing over the last 12 months plus is to highlight that the Law IS NOT the way you think it is. To take just one statement:

"the law puts the onus on YOU, the registered keeper to comply with those requirements, including ensuring that the information is received by DVLA, i.e. phone them up and check they've got it if you don't receive a confirmation letter."

Nope. If you read the piece, that is exactly what the law does NOT require of you. Yes: you are required to comply with legal requirements. But no: if the DVLA lose something, the responsibility does not magically revert to you because you failed to check they hadn't lost anything.

The law, as ruled on by two judges, appears to be that if you place your forms in the post, you have done what you need to do and do not have to chase up to ensure that they have arrived.

Further, the DVLA request that you phone to check if you haven't received an acknowledgment is not anywhere enshrined in statute, and therefore is not law.

So...if this article is uninformed...or readers are uninformed on this particular central point...then so, apparently, are judges.

However, when it comes to law, i know whose views i would regard as being more informed.


Jane Fae

Please, please, pretty please...

contact me directly, sam!


Jane Fae

ANy more for any more...

This is an issue i hope to return to. So if anyone has any stories that impact directly on DVLA systems and processes - and the lawfulness thereof, please drop me a line.

through here - or direct to jane@ozimek.co.uk

Political targeting: An unhealthy business

Jane Fae

Misunderstanding over the use of the electoral register?

The clue to the list just happens to be in the title. Its the ELECTORAL Register.

It is compiled to allow individuals to vote and, when last i looked, parties were allowed access to it in order to do a range ofthings that they need to do at election time. Not just the obvious, such as canvas or send out communications - but also to check for fraud, get in nomination papers, etc.

Controversy arose over the fact that marketers were making use of this list for marketing purposes - and hence the (now) two-tier system, which created one copy of the register for bona fide electoral purposes and a truncated version for marketing.

Whilst I'd have a go at political parties for many abuses of data, i think having a go at them for using the electoral register for electoral purposes is a tad rich!

Omegle invites you to show world+Facebook your bewbs

Jane Fae

omegle latest?

True: omegle has been goin longer than chat roulette - in text form. However, it has recently added the video link. Apologies if that is not 100% clear in the piec.

As for differences: we did much the same experiemtn with chat roulette, and only found one solitary wanker ...well, they would tend to be solitary, by definition.

But, on the bais of our very small sample, it looks like yiou are around five times as likely to encounter wankers on omegle as on chat roulette.

i would say i am torn both ways on this. The conversation (which we copied) between our researcher and the somewhat older guy was definitely suggestive, definitely leading. Since aforementioned researcher was having to pause from time to time to stop it being too obvious that she found the whole experience thoroughly hilarious, we don't exactly think she was in any danger.

The guy was obvious, and we can't imagine any teenager with half a brain cell to rub together falling for his line - a bit like some old guy hanging out round the kiddies' playground, wearing a large placard with the words "paedo/letch" in large black caps on it.

Like: he shouldn't be...but so what. If parents keep an eye out, then they're about as dangerous as a 50-ton truck, hurtling toward you at two miles an hour.

But then, that's the issue all round. The presumption in some quarters seems to be that children are terminally stupid and that parents are incapable of doing the parenting thing. Hmmm. Were one or bothof those propositions true, i, too, might be a bit more worried for our children.

Lib Dems demand niceness, ignore technology

Jane Fae

Key point?

Er...its NOT a key point of difference...and the manifesto did not go "pretty big" on those topics.

There is a commitment to scrapping ID cards - which the Tories also make: surveillance gets, by my reckoning, just the one reference - on page 93! That just happens to be the same page on which they promise to regulate CCTV - except it is already regulated...so some sense of HOW they would regulate it would help.

I do think the problem is that you are responding to a chimera. You understand Liberal values and you know what you think Liberals in government would stand for...but i wasn't asked to write about Lib Dems, Liberals or Liberalism. I was asked to look at the manifesto - and it really is a bit of a wishy-washy document when it comes to ICT.

Jane Fae

Not fair?

I think that the very fact that "fairness" was put forward as the unifying theme is reason enough to question the presence of such.

Sorry: but "fair" is one of those weasel words that is used by politicians to cover every eventuality and one for which i have very little time or respect. What is "fair" to a Daily Mail reader is likely to seem remarkably unfair to a reader of Socialist Worker - and vice-versa.

As for the nit-picking/tinkering. Part of what i did was summarise...but part was inject an overall impression. The overall impression was one of confusion.

There was next to no policy on the big digital issues - and what there was was almost all brushed into a single list towards the back.

Traditionally, the Lib Dems have come from a background that respects liberties - and there is still some of that in the manifesto. But equally, there is a lot of nit-picking regulation. The two things that relate most to the internet are the idea of regulating air-brushing in ads (i presume they also mean photo-shopping) and the requirement for panic buttons on social networking sites.

Both are low level, petty, controlling measures.

Therefore, in terms of big picture/thematic stuff...Labour is "steady as she goes": we got it right and we're offering more of the same.

Tories are wishing to roll back the state (whether they eventually deliver on that or not) and remove a lot of intrusive petty control from our lives and our data.

And the Lib Dems want some sort of nebulous "fairness", supported by a raft of measures, some good, some bad - but all pointing in different directions.

Jane Fae

Sorry to disappoint...

Craig 16...but my brief was to look at the three manifestoes - not the parties - from the point of view of ongoing issues that el Reg has been following.

Oddly enough, given that we have disagreed with major slices of Labour policy in government for some while, we weren't too impressed with a manifesto that said we got it right and are offering more of the same.

That left the other two. When it came down to the content of the manifesto (not the party ideology) the Tory one is written in a way that suggests a more than passing familiarity with ICT and some - not all - of current online issues. The Lib Dem one gave the serious impression that next to nothing of significance had happened in the area of IT over the last ten years.

Sure: there was a checklist of things to do to preserve liberties at the end...but i had the advantage (????) of having read all three and thus being able to get some sense of the underlying tone behind each.

I do think you miss the point. These pieces are NOT about urging readers to vote for particular parties, so much as a summary of the manifestoes from a Register perspective.

Now, had i been doing these pieces for the Times Educational, and focussing on education, i might have come up with a wholly different result. Or if I was looking at the Health service - though even there, a major omission was the fact that the Lib Dems did not mentions the NHS spine project.

SO...by all means cancel your subscription. But i still reckon you miss the point.

Tories put ID cards, Contactpoint on manifesto hit list

Jane Fae

That's OK


Point taken. And as you say, el Reg is under no obligation to be unbiased.

To be honest though, if there is bias, it set in a long time ago. Take the promise to scrap various databases: Labour think contactpoint, the id cards, etc. are a good thing. The Tories don't. Now...look back at the collected scribblings of el Reg writers over the past few years: do you see ANY great tendency towards siding with Labour on those issues?

Then too, there is the attitude towards small businesses and ir35, which is likely to put a lot of el Reg readers on the side of the Tories. The commitment to overhaul the libel law. And so on.

Personally, I think there is something rather more subtle going on here. As I read through the Tory manifesto this morning (and there was a lot of it!) I found a lot that could as easily have been presented by ourselves over the last couple of years. One might as well suggest that the Tories have come round to El Reg's way of thinking!

I've not been especially selective in my write-up - beyond picking on topics likely to be of interest to a mainly IT audience. So maybe the real prob is that so many people just don't believe they could possibly agree with the Tories, that finding themselves now on side with them is causing a certain amount of cognitive dissonance.

As i wrote before, i will be very interested to see what the Lib Dems have to say tomorrow. And there's a lot more to the Tory manifesto than databases and decentralisation. If anyone is really worried, they should read it for themself and decide.

Jane Fae

Who am I?

Honestly, BigRed: the clue to my identity lies in the last name. I have been writing for el Reg for some while now as John Ozimek but, as some readers may already have twigged, i started the process of gender re-assignment late last year and am well on my way. el Reg was one of the last places where i still happened to be using my old name.

(If you want the day to day intimate details...there is a blog out there)

As to bias in this piece...I hope not. My job for this and yesterday's Labour manifesto (and tomorrow's Lib Dem one) was to boil down pages and pages of self-serving political verbosity into about 800 words, thereby allowing you, the reader, to get some idea of what each party claims they intend to do.

The Tories are decentralist (not a plus if you are a centraliser yourself): want to cancel Heathrow's third runway; and intend to scrap a load of databases. Since Labour would say the exact opposite, reporting those facts is hardly skewing the debate. However, my sense is that when it comes to overall position and tone, the current Tory manifesto is closer to the heart of many readers than the Labour one.

Doesn't mean you should vote for them: doesn't mean you should believe them. But just because you find the Tories claims vaguely likeable doesn't make a piece biased.

Interestingly, some of the policies espoused by UKIP and the BNP might turn out to be fairly close to the heart of some readers - but i doubt that that alone would make them vote for them.


P.S Tomorrow tis the Lib Dem manifesto...and after that, who knows...


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