Councils not authoritarian enough for Interception Kommisar

The print version of the the Metro, the free bus paper, headlined a story that “Interception of Communications Commissioner” Sir Paul Kennedy believes that UK councils haven’t yet been making the full use of terrorist powers to investigate people. And he’s disappointed.

“Terror laws should be used even more to snoop on the public, councils have been urged” (Quotes painstakingly copied out by me from the print Metro, 12/08/08)

Apparently, last year, there were a mere 500,000 “spying requests from councils, police and other officials” to phone and internet companies. Half a million. What a pathetic waste of the Stasi powers, hey? There are over 60 million of us, ffs. Must try harder. In fact, local councils only checked the comms of 3,000 people.

So, whom does the unusually honestly-job-titled Commissioner say that councils should be spying on?

criminals who “persistently rip off consumers, cheat the taxpayer, deal in counterfeit goods and prey on the elderly and vulnerable”

See what he did there? Threw in preying on “the elderly and vulnerable”, in case the listener dared to imagine that dealing in counterfeit goods and ripping off consumers wasn’t quite a serious enough crime to warrant the use of anti-terrorist laws. Oh, those poor vulnerable people…. Apparently the police can’t protect them so plucky local councils have to spring to their defence.

It is very very hard to see what even the shadiest blag goods market stall has to do with terrorism. In fact, dare I say it, but it’s even hard to see what robbing the vulnerable has to do with terrorism. Or councils. Either crimes are police issues or they aren’t. If they are, then what use will a council’s intercepting comms do, ffs? Are council investigators so superior to the police that they can get all manner of information about scams straight from lists of phone calls? Maybe I just lack the breadth of vision of the town hall experts but it smells of bullshit.

The online Metro apparently doesn’t think this news item, which fills the print edition’s front page, is lively enough for the morons who they must think read the news on tinterweb. The online version leads with some content-free Sienna Miller story. It doesn’t bother with text on the dull old freedoms issue, but it it has tried to give it a nuMedia buzz by mentioning the topic in a sentence and having a “poll”. For what it’s worth, 81% of respondents to the question Should councils be allowed to use terror laws to spy on members of the public? think that it’s well out of order.

This is exactly the point that Jenni Russell made in the Guardian last week. Acknowledging that there are still plenty of us who would rather gnaw off their own arms at the elbow than welcome a Conservative government, let alone vote for the buggers, she pointed out that the nuLabour government has come to be overwhelmingly identified with totally illiberal policies.

The new dividing line between Labour and the Tories is less about a left-right split than about an authoritarian approach on one side and a more liberal one on the other. And Labour are on the wrong side of it. Many of their social and economic policies may have failed, but where they have succeeded is in developing a targeting, controlling, distrustful state. From the micromanagement of civil servants, teachers, doctors and the police, to ID cards, super databases and the growth of surveillance.

Nokia N73 Progress

Following my rant earlier in the week about the annoying habits my N73 had developed, Pedro Timóteo pointed out a software upgrade was crying out as the best solution. This should have warned me that my entire week was going to be highlighted by generalised acts of stupidity on my behalf, but blithely I carried on as normal. The consequences have been discussed in previous posts.

Anyway, two days ago, in a fit of common sense, I went to the Nokia site and began the upgrade. This was not without problems but I had backed up all my data (phew) and it was fairly painless to reinstall it all. Except Lifeblog. Three, in their infinitesimal wisdom send out the N73 without Lifeblog installed — mainly, one suspects, because they are too tight fisted to provide a mini-SD card with the phone, which Lifeblog needs to be present. This must save them all of £10 per phone.

This makes all manner of problems crop up, as going to the Nokia website you are told you can’t download this application because it comes pre-installed on the N73. What N73 owners do after an upgrade is beyond me. Anyway, the only solution I could find was to download the version for the N71 and install that. You get a few warning messages about the application not working on this phone, but it seems to work.

Generally, in the time since I have run the upgrade, the phone seems to be working better. Not as good as when I first got it, but the delay between pressing send and regaining control has returned. Setting caller specific ring tones still causes the phone to reboot though. Oddly, the upgrade has meant I now get a stronger signal at home. I find that quite strange, to be honest but then again, I am having a stupid week.

I must say a big thanks to Pedro Timóteo for reminding me to get an upgrade. It seems to have improved things a fair bit. Has it changed my opinions of the phone? Not yet.

[tags]3, 3g, bad service, Bad Shops, Cameraphone, Cell Phone, communication, Hardware, hutchinson, mobile phone, N73, Nokia, Nokia N73, Opera, phone, Phone Browser, symbian, Technology, Telephone, three, penny pinching, idiot, lifeblog[/tags]

Nokia N73 – Cameraphone disapoints (long)

About seven months ago I bought a Nokia N73 camera phone as part of a contract with the 3 network. Although initially I was very impressed with this, and the service, I think a lot of this was simply down to the “excitement” of buying some new technology. As a fair amount of time, and a lot of use, has passed I felt it would be reasonable to do a “mid term” review. Some of the issues (good and bad) I have with this device are difficult to pin down to being the responsibility of either Nokia or 3 so I will talk about both here. For the terminally impatient, I can summarise this by saying that given unrestricted choice in the future I would neither buy a Nokia N73, nor would I connect to 3. This said, the things I find important may differ from every one else, so your mileage may vary…

First off, I haven’t had any problems with the Nokia when it came to making telephone calls. In this, most basic of features it worked perfectly 🙂 . Sadly, this is about the only feature where I haven’t found things which annoyed me! If you only want a phone to make (and occasionally receive) calls then the Nokia N73 is brilliant. However, if this is all you want, there are a million other makes and models which would serve your needs at a fraction of the cost.

I was looking for a phone which would allow me to take photos, access the internet, send emails and maintain a basic calendar service. I could have opted for a PDA but connectivity would still have been an issue. In a given month I use the phone more for text messages, emails, note taking and photos (over 2000 to date) than I do for basic calls. As a result, this is not an ideal phone. Continue reading

People who live in glass houses

It’s 10 years since the first blog, according to the Guardian. In that time, as you all know, the blog has become a major force for mass communication. More and people are setting up blogs.

“We’re seeing about 120,000 new weblogs being created worldwide each day,” said Dave Sifry, the chief executive of the blog monitoring site Technorati. “That’s about 1.4 blogs created every second.”

Ironically, the article finishes by quoting some supposed expert who says that most blogs are boring vehicles for narcissistic individuals.

“The real issue is whether it adds any more to our culture. Most of it is just so transient and ephemeral …. Why do I want to know what some guy sitting on the west coast of America thinks about Iraq? Would you pay to listen to this person?”

This self-proclaimed dotcome millionaire is about to publish a book saying that blogging is killing off the internet. Have to paraphrase here:

“Why do I want to know what some guy who a guardian journalist happens to have the phone number of thinks about blogging? Would you pay to read this person’s book?”