Bad Stuff End User security

Mcafee offers – how to choose anti virus software

How to choose anti virus software

how to choose anti virus softwareAs regular readers will know I don’t use Microsoft software anymore. I’ve suffered from so many problems in the past that with the advent of Chromebook and the cloud I exist happily with my head up there in the fluffy stuff.

This is not the case for all members of my family and my wife in particular still has a Windows 8 laptop (yuk). In fact I only bought it to run our CCTV monitoring software but it does very occasionally get used for other things when her iPad doesn’t cut the mustard.

Because family PCs have suffered badly from viruses over the years I made sure that when I bought the cheapo Windows 8 laptop it was covered by McAfee anti virus software. It was a deal that covered the whole family for £25 if I recall. Fair enough. Install and forget.

how to choose anti virus softwareLast week the license ran out. McAfee bless em wanted £59.99 for me to renew. I looked online and saw a number of deals including a lowball £25.50 but decided to nip into PC World so see what they had.

All they could do was £60 including a white labelled online backup service free for the first year. A bargain at £30 pa thereafter for 2TB. However I’d been stung in the past with that. Or at least one of the kids had when he installed it on his laptop only to have the thirty quid taken from his youthful bank account the following year. Phone calls to PC World revealed that they didn’t actually control the service and no way Jose could he have his cash back.

I gave him his money, deinstalled the (unused) client and asked PCW to cancel next year’s subscription. Shysters I thought. So I wasn’t going anywhere near a product that could only give me a (inadequate) discount based on taking the backup service.

how to choose anti virus softwareThe salesman/advisor simply suggested Norton at £40 (£39.99). No problemo.

I got home and commenced installation operations. To begin with I had to wait half an hour whilst the laptoip updated the Microsoft software. Then I had problems with the Norton site – their servers were overloaded – hope it wasn’t a virus.

Eventually I managed to download the executable and began to install the Norton Symantec anti virus software. This took ages because it needed to deinstall McAfee which took several reboots and a number of Microsoft updates.

Gor Blimey. The next day I found that “windows 8 has its own anti virus but I also need it to cover a kid’s Window 7 machine and a MacBook Air. Hey.

I realise that Microsoft is following Google into the cloud but it doesn’t remove my present pain. These security software vendors are also seen to be dubious wheeler dealers with all the various deals to confuse customers. Can they survive the fact that in the cloud all the security services seem to come free of charge?

Read all about how to choose anti virus software on Wikipedia.

Business End User Engineer fun stuff

Happy Birthday to us

Happy Birthday to tref, Happy Birthday to tref, Happy Birthday to trefor dot net, Happy Birthday to tref.

I was writing a proposal last night and in it put a vague “ has been going 7 or 8 years”. This didn’t feel particularly right. I should know how long the blog has been going.

I looked it up. The next day, ie today was the date of first posting. Nothing particularly inspirational but at least a start. I’m not even going to link to it.

When I started I very much kept quiet about it. I didn’t know how interesting that might be. It’s a subjective thing anyway, interesting. After a while my co powers that be at Timico found it and asked if I could do more of the same. They occasionally whinged about me going off message.  For example when I did guess the royal baby competition but hey, those competitions got tons of entries, mostly from people in the industry. Obviously there are lots of royalists in the internet game (or more likely people up for a laugh).

7 years isn’t a particularly important milestone. It’s where we are at though and we have had a few major things happen in that time:

Pigeon v Broadband race got blanket TV and radio coverage and resulted in public statements from both BT and the Government.

Move Over IPv4 Bring on IPv6 Party to end all parties at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden attracted 400 people from the UK internet technology scene  and a Government Minister.

Most Comments on a blog post World Record attempt received over 5,500 comments in 24 hours and raised £6,000 for the RNLI

There will I’m sure be more to come. In the seven years we have had nearly 2,500 posts with 750k unique visitors.  We didn’t start monitoring for a couple of years so the actual number will be higher. Those visitors have left over 11,000 comments. There have been many more spam comments but Akismet has done a good job looking after us there.

The number of comments has dropped over the last year or two. This is either down to the blog redesign or a change in the type of post. On the other hand the number of social media shares has grown significantly and comments are often left on LinkedIn or Facebook instead of the blog.

One recent post by Rob Pickering during the ipcortex WebRTC week got 15 Facebook shares, 26 on LinkedIn, 90 tweets and even 8 Google+ shares which is pretty darn amazing (G+ that is – there’s never much engagement there). Socail media shares are the way ahead present. They are a far better indication of the reach of a post than comments (in my inexpert mind).

The featured theme weeks and guest editor weeks are proving to be very successful. Firstly they make for a better variation in content. Our pre-election political week attracted 10 posts from 10 different industry experts (including an MP) each offering advice to David Cameron on what he should and shouldn’t be doing with internet regulations.

Rob Pickering’s guest week is also a good example. 8 posts on WebRTC received around 300 shares. Concentrating on one specific subject for a week allows us to cover that subject reasonably well and it’s a great opportunity for someone wanting to establish web credentials to do so by becoming guest editor for the week. A guest editorship (?) also enhances the content in a way that I couldn’t do as a solo writer. is now a business and has been widening its base. Firstly we brought out This is a broadband comparison site that initially did business in the consumer broadband space. That market is heavily dependant on how much money you can spend marketing so we have evolved that site to include B2B ISPs.

These B2B ISPs don’t get the volume of traffic and level interest of a BT or Virgin spending heavily on above the line advertising. They do however represent a significant market value that is there to be tapped somehow. A referral to a consumer ISP can generate as much as £140 in commission. B2B players tend not to have the systems in place to manage these affiliate relationships but they do pay their channels significant bonuses for bringing on customers. together with some follow on sites represent an interesting prospect for the future.

The other developmental areas are in Events and Marketing Services. events include workshops, Executive Dinners and of course the now famous Xmas Bash are effectively networking opportunities for vendors to meet service providers in environments that are non-salesey. They are really industry get-togethers. Expect hte number and nature of these to grow and evolve.

Marketing Services are also a natural place for to evolve. Content generation, PR and assistance with events and general marketing are essentially what I have been doing over the last few years. We now have a great team of specialists in this space. In my experience it is difficult to find marketing resources that understand tech.

Now you need look no further – If you need help with this type of activity get in touch – hooking up with @tref on Twitter would be a start.

All in all the first seven years have been very exciting and makes me even more excited about the future. In the meantime now would be an appropriate time to sing Happy Birthday to trefor dot net  – the full words are in the sub header of this post.

C ya…

End User social networking surveillance & privacy webrtc

Real Time Campaigning: How will WebRTC and other tech impact elections in 10 years’ time?

What might a WebRTC enabled democracy & election process look like in 10 years’ time? (Or, technically, 12)

There’s a lot of pre-election stuff that’s the same every year. The campaigning, the squabbles, the gaffes and the villains: they’re all regular plot lines in Britain’s most depressing pantomime. As we go to the polling stations tomorrow, however, we can reflect on 2015 as the year that something did change – the first year that the parties appear keen, rather than reluctant, to embrace technology. We’re seeing as many memes and mashups as we are manifestos; not surprising really as this is, afterall, what many of the traditional media outlets have dubbed “the social media election”.

It’s true that there’s been far more activity on the social media battlefield than ever before (even if they’ve not quite got it right) and it seems that parties are even beginning to use big data – although they’ve a long way to go to replicate the success that Obama had with data in his 2012 campaign. But what role could or should technology play in the elections of the future? What might, say, the 2027 election look like? How might WebRTC play a part in that? Here’s what I imagine might happen…

Every campaign sits on a foundation of micro targeting

TargetIf there’s a question worth asking, in 2027 there’ll be some data that supports the answer. Parties will dedicate greater spend to using big data as the foundation of each campaign – whether that’s in the capture and curation of data relevant to them or analysing it.
This will allow focus of specific campaign messages on certain groups, or even at an individual level. They’ll focus on swing voters, and those within swing constituencies, targeting them with whichever marketing method suits that opportunity, at that time. Meaningful, one-to-one engagement with individual voters will be commonplace, made easier with social media. In addition, these engagements will be more memorable because they’ll use video and other real time comms via WebRTC.
Shaping campaigns in this way has obvious benefits for the parties, but could this type of targeting backfire? Will voters get creeped out and perceive the relevant party in a negative way? Will the long heralded privacy backlash make it too difficult to capture the right data in the first place? Do we rely too much on the integrity of the people to whom we give our data?

Predicting outcomes and campaign agility

With so much data available, much of it collected from social media engagements, will it be easier to predict results?

In the 2012 election in the US, analyst Nate Silver created a model that accurately predicted the winner in every state. Was his success simply due to the fact that Nate was ahead of the curve with the system he was using, and no one had time to react? In 2027, prediction models will have become even more sophisticated and we will see a greater emphasis on doing this in real time. That will then have an effect on parties’ activities and focus throughout the campaign. Each party will need to be agile and have the means to react quickly to changing predictions. Technology like WebRTC could provide another way to communicate with party members, on the ground campaigners or even swing voters in a really quick and effective way.

Real democracy in real time

Electronic systems could allow the public to vote on issues before or as decisions are taken in Parliament. The government paid lip service to using technology to help represent the public’ views with e-petitions, but will they ever be brave enough to open up decision making to registered voters on a regular, or even real time basis? Technology like WebRTC, with its low barrier to delivering enriched comms universally, could potentially be used to allow voters to watch a live debate and then vote at the end. This vote could then shape Members’ opinions or, even, make the decision outright. Would Parliament ever be that bold, and would MP’s accept their role being changed from being a voting representative of a constituency to its steward?

Some governments have already trialled this kind of approach, albeit to shape decision making in advance of its debate. DemocracyOS is an example of this: an open source solution that seeks to provide voters with the means to inform, debate and vote on bills before they are passed. According to them, it’s already been used by the Government of Mexico, the Congress of Buenos Aires, and by some congressmen in the US amongst others. Adopting this kind of approach would be an interesting way to reduce the effectiveness of large companies’ lobbying, and ensuring that airtime in front of MPs isn’t just a question of money and power.

I easily can imagine that forward-thinking councils in the UK, or even individual MPs could use this kind of democratic technology to debate local issues, gaining traction by social media sharing. It would be a welcome alternative to local, “public” consultations that are conducted so discreetly that the public are not properly represented.

Even if government, councils and elected representatives don’t themselves adopt that approach, there are other organisations that seek to make government more democratic from the outside. US startup Placeavote has an interesting model, where site members vote on bills on any range of topics and Placeavote’s candidates will represent the majority of voters. It has failed to gain much traction so far but could prove disruptive given the chance, and I imagine that by 2027 we could have seen someone try a similar approach in the UK.

Reducing expenses, humanising politics and customer service 101

keevio webrtc interfaceIn 2027, MPs will find it much easier to balance their Parliamentary duties with those in their constituency. Technology like WebRTC will mean there’s little excuse to not participate in a debate or vote because they will be able to do so remotely, and there would no longer be the possibility for bills to be passed due to poor scheduling and low turnour. Furthermore, MPs won’t need a second home in London and can spend more time in their constituency.
Internet connectivity will be ubiquitous, as will devices to access it. This means that they can use tech like WebRTC to engage with their constituents in a different way with memorable, multimedia enriched conversations with the same universal reach of the phone systems of the past. For example, elected MPs and their representatives could use this to make their “MP surgeries” more accessible for their constituents by negating the need to travel. They could even adopt a real time “ask me anything” approach during pre-election campaigns.
By 2027, local MPs will have learned lessons from the way that businesses use technology to improve their customer service. Communicating with your MP will be more efficient and timely and, as a result, people will engage with them more than ever before.

The voting process itself

DecisionAn obvious area where technology could improve elections is in the voting process itself. For example, how backwards and archaic is it that we should turn up to a physical location with just a polling card and no verification of identity, yet we already need an online government gateway ID to get a passport? And how secure is it really to leave counts of paper ballots to volunteers? Technology like WebRTC could reduce the technical barrier of providing biomechanical verification in the process.

In addition, increasing the number of people who are registered to vote, and those who actually do place a vote is an ongoing challenge. Technology could make the process of registering and voting more convenient in the hope of increasing participation. To this end, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has already proposed that all electors should have the choice to vote online in the UK by 2020. Electronic voting has already been trialled in some countries and so some level of e-voting in the UK by 2027 is not unimaginable – although the experience in Estonia hasn’t actually increased turnout in itself so its effect on this could be in question. Furthermore, whilst paper counting by humans may have its drawbacks, it is very open, auditable and therefore resilient against high level, systematic abuse. Will we ever have the same level of assurance with an electronic vote?

Whatever happens, it’s pretty safe to say that the stage has been set for much wider use of technology during the election process. The challenges will be cultural and institutional – and we’ll be interested to see which parties will be first to adopt real time technologies to make a real difference to the voting public.

Previous posts from the ipcortex WebRTC week:

Hacking together a WebRTC Pi in the sky – keevio eye

Wormholes, WebRTC and the implications of algorithmical analysis Defragmenting today’s communications

WebRTC – where are the real world applications?

Welcome to ipcortex WebRTC week on

Check out all our WebRTC posts here

Bad Stuff End User security spam

Can you confirm your company name is self?


Was sat on the terrace around the pool yesterday when the phone rang. It was a Birmingham number – 01213540949. I’m not sure I know anyone in brum and toyed with the idea of not answering. I was after all going to be paying for the international leg.

I clicked on the green bouton (for the pool twas in Marseille) and took the call.

‘Hello sir, can you please confirm your company name is “self”?’ I did a double take. Self??

Oh god. I asked who had sold them my mobile number. It is a new one. Then I realised it must have been EE. The b*&^%$£ds. The girl on the other end of the phone said she worked for some kind of yellow pages organisation. 118 something.

She repeated the question. ‘can you please confirm your company name is “self”?’ You can imagine the rest of the dialogue. There may be a company somewhere called self. Lots of people work for them as you often see the name in company receptions’ visitors books.

Unfortunately this is more likely to be incompetence on the part of EE rather than them selling my number. How can personal mobile phone details be given to a directory organisation for inclusion as a business number. The bigger the company the less competent their customer care becomes. This is likely to especially be the case with Ee who are probably still desperately trying to merge Orange and T-Mobile before being merged themselves into BT.

The girl promised not to put my name in the business directory. I’m not sure what advice to offer if you see an incoming call from 01213540949. It’s going to be spam but if you ignore it you might end up in a 118 directory somewhere as a company called self. Or shelf. Or shellfish. Or anything really.

01213540949 – you know it doesn’t make sense.

Lotsa posts on nuisance calls on this blog – check em out here.

End User social networking spam surveillance & privacy

fling flung over twitter

Fling – adult social network – I’m not supplying a link

Somewhat surprised that Twitter let this ad through. I’ve been pushed a promoted tweet by “fling” three times in the last few days. There’s nothing in the ad to tell you what fling is. Just looks like an odd way to push photos.

It’s only when you click to go to their website and are faced with a wall of nude photos that you realise what it is – an adult social network. For adult read porn. I find this quite distasteful of Twitter. I also find myself in the unusual situation of saying “Facebook would not have allowed that ad” although this is not based on any knowledge of fact.

You can see from the featured image in this post that the ad says “Send your snaps to 50 people around the world at random”. This must surely be something that the Advertising Standards Agency would want to take a look at. It’s something that kids might inadvertently click on. After all it suggests something like Instagram.

Fling must have some money to spend if they’ve pushed the ad to me three times. Unless I’m considered to be of a “certain demographic” which could be a bit worrying. Makes you wonder what data mining is being done by Twitter.

An individual is pretty helpless in this situation. We need the social networks as they have become part and parcel of our everyday lives but seem to have little control over what those networks might do with our data1. It feels to me that governments should start taking a much tougher stance with these guys.

Lots of posts on the subject of surveillance and privacy elsewhere on this blog. Check them out in the surveillance and privacy category here.

1 eg class action against Facebook for privacy breach & Facebook admits to tracking non-users

Apps ecommerce End User mobile apps

QR Codes only – no prices on display

Impressive display in Music shop has no prices – just QR codes.

Joe and I were heading out to Carrefour in the Pigalle, as you do, to get some basics in for le weekend. Yanow, beurre, jus d’orange and so on. On the way we came across what seemed to be the biggest music shop we had ever seen. The interesting thing about the shop, apart from it being rammed with fantastic gear which, Joe being a musician was of instant interest, was that there were no prices on display. Only QR codes!

Only problem was that without mobile data connectivity we were unable to browse the prices. I use the EE £2 a day flat rate roaming for calls and texts back home but not their rip off mobile data service. Even the guy in the EE shop thought it was a rip off.

It didn’t really matter as we were saving our cents for croissants and vin rouge but the concept of not having any prices on display was novel in this day and age. Each item had more than one QR code so I suspect some of them were prices and some were info on the product.

This again is very progressive. You don’t spend cash on expensive musical instruments and kit without first doing your research. I remember once going into Currys to buy a TV. I know very little about TVs and deliberately keep it that way. So when it made sense to buy a flat one we could stick on the wall instead of using the dinosaur that took up half the room I figured it would be useful to ask an expert.

The expert to hand was fully trained in the art of reading and just read out the three line feature set that came with the pricing label on the display. Doh. A QR code would have been very handy on that occasion although in reality, like many other gadgets today, there is very little to choose between products.

It reminds me of the time we were setting up We rang USwitch or some simlar site to talk to one of their experts. See what the pitch was. The guy was totally useless. All he could offer was the fact that Virgin had the fastest broadband.

QR Codes linked ot product information are clearly the way forward. Some shops might want to push the products that give them most margin but that isn’t the customer friendly thing to do.


Ciao amigos.

End User Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S6 promo on Twitter

Samsung Galaxy S6 promo – twitter spam

This one caught my eye. A Samsung Galaxy S6 promo tweet. They are everywhere.

I replied and got a reply back:

They obviously didn’t read my reply. I stopped getting excited about new gadgets some time ago. It is no longer about the possession of the latest and greatest (never really was for me) but about value for money and the right functionality.

My Oneplus One cost £269 and does everything the Samsung Galaxy S4 did for me and more. I didn’t feel it necessary to go the the S5 and now sit on the sidelines laughing at the hype associated with the S6. It’s getting to be the same as the cobblers that gets put out by Apple.

It’s going to come to the point where mobile phone advertising is going to be as challenging as selling cars. They all look the same and have very little to differentiate between them. It’s then all down to what image a brand can create for itself. Cars flying through the streets of the metropolis, stunning girls sitting at the wheel, hair flowing in the gentle breeze.

It will be the same with phones, if it isn’t already. Were it not for the fact that it feels stupid to look as if you re speaking into thin air the phone would already be an outdated concept. I don’t see why we can’t simply speak into the cup of our hands. It would afford a degree of privacy in the same way that speaking into a handset notionally does now.

I could even envisage a speaker phone being simply an outstretched open palm. Easy peasy. The intelligence would be hidden away with a ring or a watch performing the physical interface function. You could even let a friend listen to a message or music by holding your hand near their ear.

Check out other mobile reviews and posts here.

End User travel Weekend

Easter shutdown at

Easter break

Easter is a coming and the Davies’ are off to Paris for a few days. I’m not taking a laptop. Just a notebook and pencil (yup) so no blog posts. Just eating and drinking and, well that’s it really. Probably a few sights if we happen to be passing.

I’ll be taking in my two favourite spots in Paris. Harry’s New York Bar is one I came across whilst at University. I hitch-hiked to Greece, via Paris and saw it advertised in the International Herald Tribune. It’s a brilliant American sports bar. Bit out of place you might think in Paris but it just seems to fit. The cocktails are fantastic and if you can stay the pace they have some great jazz. It features in the book “MASH Goes to Paris” fwiw.

The second spot is Au Bon Coin. This is a restaurant I found during the Paris International SIP Conference days. Going back a bit now but I still have fond memories of nights out there. V cheap as well. It was a haunt of some of the early pioneers of SIP.

It’ll be a 7.20 am train First Class to Kings Cross and then Eurostar over to Gare Du Nord. We have an apartment in Montmartre for the weekend. airbnb.

If I feel like it I’ll post some pics but otherwise the whole world is stopping anyway and I will substantially be offline.

Have a great Easter break wherever you are and whatever your beliefs. See you in a new tax year.

End User surveillance & privacy

Privacy International

25th Anniversary Privacy International

Article 12 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home, or correspondence.’ This is the message driven home on the front page of human rights charity Privacy International who this year celebrate their 25th anniversary.

Gus HoseinExecutive Director Gus Hosein recently made an excellent contribution to our week of advice to the next government regarding internet related legislation. I thought because it’s their 25th birthday I’d tell you a bit more about them. In particular we have to remember that they are a charity and need everyone’s help in continuing their good work.

I first came across Gus and PI in the rush to defend against the Snoopers Charter. I spoke at an event he helped organise at The London School of Economics called called “The Race for Safety”. I was on a panel with Shami Chrakrabarti of Liberty and David Davis MP. Both seriously knowledgeable people.

Their achievements are best noted in the following bullet points:

  • they are working on state surveillance; privacy in developing, emerging and weak democracies; and on data exploitation by companies and governments
  • fought against RIPA, against the UK ID Card and helped set up NO2ID, against communications data retention in Europe, travel and financial surveillance by the Bush Administration, biometric passports
  • are now exposing the trade in surveillance technologies to undemocratic regimes, creating a global movement of advocates including in weak and emerging democracies, and applying the rule of law to intelligence agencies’ practices

The PI organisational statement is:

“Privacy International is committed to fighting for the right to privacy across the world.

We investigate the secret world of government surveillance and expose the companies enabling it. We litigate to ensure that surveillance is consistent with the rule of law. We advocate for strong national, regional, and international laws that protect privacy. We conduct research to catalyse policy change. We raise awareness about technologies and laws that place privacy at risk, to ensure that the public is informed and engaged.

To ensure that this right is universally respected, we strengthen the capacity of our partners in developing countries and work with international organisations to protect the most vulnerable.

Privacy International envisions a world in which the right to privacy is protected, respected, and fulfilled. Privacy is essential to the protection of autonomy and human dignity, serving as the foundation upon which other human rights are built. In order for individuals to fully participate in the modern world, developments in law and technologies must strengthen and not undermine the ability to freely enjoy this right.

Privacy International, a registered UK charity (No. 1147471), was founded in 1990 and was the first organisation to campaign at an international level on privacy issues.”

Please help Privacy International by donating what you can. Their fundraising page is here.

PS It will be interesting to see if any of the subjects raised in the political week on this blog get covered in the election campaigns of any party.

End User security

Eurostar fails Hotmail fraud detection test

Eurostar email fails Hotmail fraud detection test

I have a hotmail account. I don’t use it much. It gets newsletters from the golf club and the occasional Eurostar communique. It was to check the timing of a forthcoming trip to gay Paree that I came across the Hotmail fraud detection test.

I like the idea of a fraud detection test. I’m sure all the large platforms have it. What I found funny was that a blue chip such as Eurostar might have failed it. You’d think it would have been noticed by their IT department, or at least someone would have brought it to their attention.

I looked at another email from Eurostar – thought a sample of one wasn’t quite enough. The second email didn’t have the fraud message but offered another nuance. It said “Email looking a bit odd? See it online“.

hotmail fraud detection test Odd I thought. Email looked fine. Also Hotmail is a cloud service – it’s already online.  So I clicked on the link to see it online. Came up with this message.

hotmail fraud detection testAt this point I gave up. I was getting myself into an infinite loop.

From my sample of two I’d say that the Hotmail fraud detection test is failed by emails confirming financial transactions associated with journey bookings and the infinite loop gets it’s knickers in a twist on adverts. Clearly these emails originate from different departments with different approaches to confusing customers:).

Personally I’ve never had a problem with Eurostar. The booking system is convenient, seats comfortable and you get a 4G connection whilst in the tunnel under the channel. I may however have to get myself a French SIM whilst in Paree as my EE 4G data roaming charges are a total ripoff. They totally fail the Trefor Davies fraud detection test.

Arriverderchi Royaume-Uni, bonjour Paris. Croissants, cafe, biere, steak frites, vin rouge Hotmail fraud detection test:)

End User ofcom Regs

Ofcom annual plan at a glance

Quick shufty at the Ofcom annual plan for 2015/16 with some comments

The Ofcom Annual Plan 2015/16 is available at a glance here. Ofcom has a very wide ranging brief and one does wonder how they get anything done1 but I thought I’d pick out some bits for your attention.

Promote effective competition and informed choice:

  • Undertake a Strategic Review of Digital Communications (as previously announced on 12 March)
  • Ensure effective competition in the provision of communications services for businesses, particularly SMEs
  • Improve the process of switching providers for consumers

Hopefully the strategic review will conclude that Fibre to the Premises is the only sensible long term goal. Unfortunately they will also say that they don’t know how to achieve this and they can’t see it happening on their watch.

Also I’m not sure how they will help SMEs. In particular very small businesses get ignored because they are too expensive to service/sell to and they don’t want to pay top dollar in taking the services.

Protect Consumers from harm

  • Introduce clearer pricing for numbers starting 08, 09 and 118, and make ‘080’ and ‘116’ calls free from mobiles
  • Monitor and ensure improved quality of service and customer service performance
  • Protect consumers from harm in a range of priority areas including nuisance calls

Funnily enough the latter two points are dear to my heart. Check out the customer support graphs.  Also the still warm post on scam calls here. As far as customer service monitoring goes I think that’s a commercial issue not a regulatory one. It should make commercial sense for Communications Providers to offer good customer service as this should provide them with a competitive advantage.

Promote Opportunities to Participate

  • Review the factors that potentially affect the sustainability of the universal postal service (uhuh)
  • Promote better coverage of fixed and mobile services for residential and business consumers

It’s all very well saying they want better coverage but unless the government mandates it, which they won’t because they won’t want to pay for it, it isn’t cost effective for the networks.

Protect consumers from harm

  • Work with UK and international bodies to promote improvements in caller line identification
  • Support industry and Government initiatives to improve levels of trust in internet services
  • Work to ensure that critical services are supported on next generation voice networks
  • Ensure consumers have access to redress for service failures and poor quality of service

Quite interesting ones here. The international cooperation bit must surely be a very long term aspiration. I can’t see it succeeding. It’s too difficult. As regards improving trust in internet services this is somewhat at odds which what the government aspires to in removing your on-line rights to privacy. The critical services reference relates to 999 and Emergency Services access. It’s a complex bag of worms that really needs a total rethink but you will never find a government willing to do it. They don’t want to be held responsible for the “burning granny”.

I’m quite supportive of the last point. I see a lot of people complaining about long term absences of service whilst being tied in to contracts. It should be easier for people to say to a service provider “bye I’m off – you haven’t been doing a good enough job”. I can of course also see the service provider side of things especially with the difficulty of maintaining services running on this country’s ageing copper infrastructure but on this occasion I’m siding with the consumer.

There you have it. My quick shufty at the Ofcom Annual Plan for 2015/16. There is more to it but I wasn’t interested in the rest of it. Ciao amigos.

1 Now now I’m sure they must have got something done and that someone will list these achievements as a comment. There is a very interesting annual communications market report for one.  They aren’t just there to take hospital passes aka the Digital Economy Act.

End User Regs

Technology Politics Round-up

Just wanted to say thanks to all for their contribution to the technology politics week on (ok one post slipped into this week but it was worth waiting for:)). The week was a great success – we had around 200 social media shares with just short of 3,000 visits. The readership is typically  from the networking and voip industries so your post will have had a  visibility by a technically aware and relevant audience.

A wide range of quite diverse subjects were covered:

James Firth on more use of startups for innovation advice rather than large businesses
Gus Hosein on reform of data protection and government surveillance laws
Paul Bernal suggests government should hire advisers versant in modern internet technology
Andrew Cormack asks for guidelines on safe use of cloud tech
Monica Horten on Why Magna Carta matters where privacy policy is concerned
Julian Huppert MP asks for a framework of principles around online rights
Peter Farmer on Ofcom, number portability reform and structural changes to the way BT works
Domnhall Dods on the Reform of the Electronics Communications Code and
James Blessing on investment in education, fibre infrastructure, IPv6 and Open Data

Had I written all the content myself I couldn’t possibly had come up with such a variety of interesting and important matters. Makes you realise how complex our online world has become and how difficult it is for a government to steer a right course.

The shame is that now that we are in full electioneering swing none of these subjects is likely to feature in in the hustings, except possibly privacy. Economic policy, Europe and the NHS are likely as usual to be the main bullet points thrust in our faces.

All important stuff of course but we as an industry should perhaps think hard about how we can influence the next government in the tech related matters described above and not find ourselves again in the position of having to fight rearguard actions against laws conceived with the right intentions but with very little informed direction.

Thanks again to all who took part. A beer/coffee (you choose) is on offer the next time we meet.

To see the full lineup of political week posts click on a link below:

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation
Gus Hosein on Data Protection Reform and Surveillance
The Julian Huppert crowd funding campaign here
Paul Bernal suggests government should hire advisers who know what they are doing
Domhnall Dods on Electronic Communications Code reform
James Blessing Says “No matter who you vote for…
Peter Farmer on Ofcom really isn’t an all powerful deity
Dr Monica Horten on Why the Magna Carta applies to technology policy
Dr Julian Huppert MP proposes online rights framework to protect our privacy
Dave Levy talks digital policy from the perspective of a Labour Party Member and Open Rights Group subscriber.

See all our regulatory posts here.

End User Legal Regs

The Politics of Digital

dave levyIn this broad ranging article, Labour Party member Dave Levy talks digital policy and includes repeal of the Digital Economy Act as one of his reforms for the next parliament.

The issues raised by the digitisation and virtualisation of society by the internet can be seen as broken into two classes of issue, citizenship in the digital age and the digital economy.

It’s not going to be easy to predict Labour’s policies until the manifesto has been published but as a Labour Party Member and a subscriber to the Open Rights Group I am hopeful that on citizenship Labour’s promises will be better than expected by the LibDem led civil liberty lobby. Labour has also thought hard about its digital policy and published the Digital Government Review.


On citizenship the pressure group @LabourDigital has called for Labour to support the EDRI charter of Digital Rights and a number of Labour’s MEP candidates signed up for the charter’s voting exchange.  The charter has 10 points addressing the issues of democratic participation, privacy, equality before the law, and asserting citizens’ rights in intellectual property law. I proposed its adoption on  here, if you can go there and vote it up, that’d be great.

When considering Labour historic record, it must be recognised that it was a Labour Government that passed the Human Rights Act and the Freedom of Information acts,  key statutory rights for the defenders of civil rights and liberties. Labour has come under attack by a number of civil libertarians, not all of it fair in my opinion since their preferred champions, usually Liberal Democrats have an unenviable record to justify over the term of this parliament, the introduction of secret courts, the restriction of legal aid & judicial review and the passage of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) Act.

Privacy & Security

Yvette Cooper in her speech to Demos last year, on Privacy & Security, expressed a balance that  many libertarian critics of the last labour Administration would not expect. She emphasised

The digital age generates every second new and amazing opportunities that we should seize. But we cannot duck our responsibilities to face up to the difficult challenges it poses too – to make sure that the digital age serves the public and our democracy, and not the other way round.

Some other aspects of the citizenship debate are hung up on copyright reform where the voices arguing that the content industry’s definition of legitimate copyright and enforcement is a threat to civil liberties and democratic participation are scarce and weak. Intellectual property laws should protect the interests of the creator and of those who are inspired by the creation together with an overarching public interest. They must support the creation of derived works as well as so-called original creativity. The UK’s laws are amongst the strictest in the world and do not meet these goals. The proposals, made law in the Digital Economy Act legalising strong enforcement, private surveillance and industrialising the court process act as a constraint on freedom of speech, the right to fair trial, and continue the moves towards the privatisation1 of investigation and prosecution of crime. The European Union rejected this approach and we should remember David Martin, a Scottish Labour MEP’s role in killing this law at the European level since it wouldn’t enhance the legal rights of the citizens of Europe. The reason that the DE Act has not been back to parliament for confirmation is that now that the copyright holders have to pay for it, they don’t want it2.

Copyright & Innovation

The PLP Leadership have been captured on Copyright by the Musicians Union. For the record, there is no public interest argument for the current copyright laws. At the heart is an unjust duration, and an egregiously prohibitive exceptions policy. Harriet Harman spoke of the resurrection of the Digital Economy Act at Labour’s last conference and Labour’s culture team have been captured. They can’t get it through their heads that now that the Music Companies have to pay for the tribunals and IT to pursue fans, they don’t want to. They also need to get it through their heads that this isn’t about Google vs. European culture; if it’s between any two corporations it’s between the US Datenkraken and the big three content companies, (Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers) non of which are headquartered in either the UK or the EU. However, again, the parliamentary opposition to ACTA in the EU and the Digital Economy Act in the UK was led by Labour MPs. Labour’s National Policy Forum has said nothing about copyright; I expect the manifesto commitment to be poor.

There is also a cretinous populism in Parliament, which Labour shares about more e-voting despite all the evidence and expert testimony that it’s dangerous since it opens a huge risk for tampering and other older forms of corruption.


On Privacy the record of the Labour Party is better,  with the European Parliament’s formidable defence of the rights to Privacy being led by Labour’s Claude Moraes and the majority of those MPs who voted against the emergency scheduled “Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act” being Labour MPs. The commitments to the sunset clause and civil oversight board would not have happened without Labour’s awkward squad and possibly without David Blunkett publically recognising that the Labour Government’s RIPA has insufficient judicial input leaving politically supervised police to authorise search warrants. If clever, this could be a differentiator between Labour and the Tories since Cameron seems to be happy with a politically authorised warrant, one would hope that might be picked up.

The digital economy

On the broader economic issues and on government projects, Chi Onawurah MP, the only engineer in the House of Commons and Labour spokesperson on Digital Government has commissioned a review and is developing a series of policies for Government. The review focus very much on the Government as a consumer. The key differentiators between Labour and the others will be on the issues of ownership and inclusion.  On technology as a macro-economic growth engine, Labour has the strongest policy and understanding, addressing explicitly digital skills, local authority partnerships, commitments to open data and proposing small steps towards public money buying access and usability, the need for an ethical government data management policy and the centrality3 of open standards & licenses (again). The proposals for an Investment Bank and the reduction of tuition fees are also knowledge economy issues.

My four critical proposals are for reforms that

  1. Ensures that public money buys public domain2
  2. Supporting a strong right to privacy against both the Government and private companies
  3. Law must be transparent, and so the law’s code must be open and subject to public scrutiny in a court of law.
  4. Incrementally implement a fair copyright law, limits and exceptions need to offer certainty and be reasonable. The Hargreaves Review and consequent laws are a first step. We need to consider implementing a more robust fair use regime and we need to reduce copyright duration on a worldwide basis.

In addition I’d argue that the Digital Economy Act should be repealed. It’s unworkable, the music companies no-longer want it now they have to pay for it. It makes the UK one of the most restrictive legal regimes in the world, more so even than the USA.

While the remainder of this piece talks about issues broader than the digital economy and digital society, they remain important as reasons for selecting who to vote for.


The election is likely to be tight, there are committed libertarians standing for re-election as Labour Candidates who have got all the big digital liberty issues right. If they are all returned then the Parliament will be a better place for the politics of digital citizenship. Labour’s awkward squad will vote against the whip, we don’t know about the courage of the LibDems. For those for whom these issues are critical, you’ll need to find out what your candidates think, the dynamics within the parliamentary parties may become as important as the manifesto commitments.

Also by making an individual constituency decisions, we can help ensure that more expertise will arrive in the next parliament since it’s woefully short in the current one.

Other things are also important

There is no doubt that for many people issues such as macro-economic policy i.e fiscal and monetary policy, the funding and governance of the National Health Service, Housing, Education and Energy will more important and for them the choice is obvious; there are only two realistic candidates to become Prime Minister but for those concerned with the state of the politics of digital, a Labour led House of Commons with a strong pro-citizen group may well be the best result. The coalition result on surveillance, privacy, secret courts, legal aid and secret courts shows the potential future. The Coalition’s Minister for Justice argues for the withdrawal from the EU and its court and the European Court of Human Rights.  If the politics of digital is your first priority, then you should find out what your MP or PPC thinks and recognise that you are voting for an MP, not a government.  To these broader issues, I’d add that Ed Miliband’s promise of a constitutional convention maybe the best bet we have of getting a genuine proportionate voting system in place as well as abolishing the House of Lords.

First published on

Dave Levy has worked in IT for over 30 years, employed in Government, Financial Services and by IT Systems Vendors. He continues to work as a consultant, primarily in the City of London. While working for Sun Microsystems in the late 2000’s he represented them on NESSI, the European Union’s internet industry R&D incubator. Dave is a member of the Labour Party and a member of the Open Rights Group’s Supporter’s Council. He writes here in a personal capacity, these opinions do not necessarily represent those of his employer, or anyone else. He blogs on Technology, Politics and Technology Politics here. (

Other tech reg posts include:

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation
Gus Hosein on Data Protection Reform and Surveillance
The Julian Huppert crowd funding campaign here
Paul Bernal suggests government should hire advisers who know what they are doing
Domhnall Dods on Electronic Communications Code reform
James Blessing Says “No matter who you vote for…
Peter Farmer on Ofcom really isn’t an all powerful deity
Dr Monica Horten on Why the Magna Carta applies to technology policy
Dr Julian Huppert MP proposes online rights framework to protect our privacy

See all our regulatory posts here.

1 For the logical endpoint, of the privatisation of law enforcement, see Jennifer Government.
2 It’s more complicated than this, but for reasons of space I’ll leave it there.
3 This is clearly easier said than done, since the Tories promised this in 2010.
4 This is a slogan but the UK should adopt the US principle that the public sector’s knowledge assets are available to the public.

End User social networking

@RealSirTomJones gigging in Market Rasen this summer cc @Sir_Tom_Jones @MarketRasenRace

Twitter in Lincolnshire was buzzing this morning with the announcement that singing knight Sir Tom Jones is doing a concert at Market Rasen Racecourse. Exciting eh?

What caught my attention was not the gig announcement. Unfortunately I’m having my hair done that evening so I can’t go. No it was the fact that it was the @RealSirTomJones who was going to be singing.

Not one of his alter egos @TheRealTomJ, @SirTomJones1, @SirTomOfReading, @Sir_Tom_Jones, @RealSirT0mJ0nes, @sir_tomjones1, @SIRtomsjones, @sir_tomjones, @SirThomasJones or @TheRealTomJ. Soo confusing. Good job the real one has the tick to show his account has been validated by Twitter.

It’s difficult to imagine that Tom Jones of “Delilah” and “Green Green Grass of Home” fame which let’s face it pre-date the internet let alone social networking has a personable Twitter account. A quick glance shows that indeed it’s run by a PR person. Tweets are mostly just gig announcements. Had Twitter been around in Sir Tom’s heyday his stream would probably have made for a very interesting read.

Now @RealSirTomJones has 504k followers. Understandable for a mega pop god. Probably every single woman who threw a pair of knickers on stage at one of his 60s gigs is a follower. I wondered how many followers the other Tom Jones’ had and struck gold when I looked up @Sir_Tom_Jones as a representative sample. @Sir_Tom_Jones has 5 followers and has only done one tweet which is the circumstances is totally brilliant.

I leave you to check out the other accounts. It would be funny if one of them had more followers than the real mcoy. If you do end up following @RealSirTomJones do let me know. Just for a laugh:)

Deets here if you want to go to the gig. Actually I might go if I am around but August is far too much like forward planning.

broadband End User

Average broadband prices expressed as pints of beer

Average broadband prices roughly equal 5 pints of beer a month ( 3 pints if you live in London).

We have introduced an average broadband price element to This allows punters to see what the average monthly cost of a broadband line is over the period of a contract.

The average pricing takes into consideration any up front incentives and also any set up costs (router delivery charges etc). Where a reduced cost line rental is available the lower price is assumed. This is normally for an annual upfront payment.

The “normal” broadband (ie ADSL) average price works out at £14.35 a month. This is slightly skewed by TalkTalk who don’t bundle any telephone calls into their deal whilst the others chuck in at least weekend calls. Seeing as a lot of people only use their mobile phones these days we don’t see that as a huge issue.

Monthly charges will increase once the initial incentives are out of contract but in theory there isn’t anything to stop consumer switching supplier every time this happens.

The average “fibre” pricing is £24.42, also taking into consideration offers and incentives (the TalkTalk telephony observation remains)

For periods of time when ISPs aren’t offering cashback or rewards their average prices are significantly higher and presumably means lower new customer signup/higher churn. You have to believe that ISPs are also assuming low churn after the initial contract period as I can’t see much margin in their deals otherwise.

The cost difference between normal broadband and fibre is around £10 which presumably represents the difference in bandwidth usage costs. Broadband is certainly very cheap now. The average price of a pint of beer in the UK is £2.90. That means that regular broadband is the equivalent of around 5 pints a month. Fibre is more like 8 1/2 pints. That’s very affordable.

Londoners get an even better deal which will bemuse our rural friends as beer is usually a lot more expensive in the capital. Their tourist rip off prices are nearer a fiver a pint so we are talking less than three pints for a broadband line. Amazingly affordable I’d say:)

More details on the average prices here.

Check out our other broadband posts here. Loads of em:)

End User internet online safety Regs security surveillance & privacy

Julian Huppert MP proposes that the next government implements an online rights framework of principles

Online rights framework will help safeguard privacy

The internet is increasingly key to our daily lives and a crucial part of public policy making with ramifications across all areas. However, too often what we get from politicians is poorly thought through kneejerkery. I’ve seen this myself, on far too many occasions.

Just to pick up a few examples, when we were re-writing the Defamation Bill, there was a proposal being pushed that ISPs should be required to filter out any defamatory content on their network – quite a tall order.

David Cameron has been particularly bad – you may remember his suggestion at the time of the riots that he should be able to turn off social media to avoid panic. It took a lot of work to stop that and make it something that was ‘not even considered’. More recently, he’s been insisting that we should ban any messaging system that cannot be decrypted by GCHQ, completely failing to understand the essential link between encryption and cyber-security.

But this problem strikes the opposition too. There have been some really alarming comments about filtering out legal material online that completely miss the point of what is technically possible or desirable. And of course there are people in each party who do actually get it, although not all of us get to have the necessary influence over our front benches to achieve sensible outcomes.

My party has taken these issues seriously, and there are several things we hope to achieve in this area. One of these is stable sensible regulation – something that almost shouldn’t need to be said. Brilliant new ideas can easily be killed off if regulation is tweaked unexpectedly and long term investment will drop off if there is a risk of irrational rule changes. We as politicians should set a framework of principles, which should then be relatively stable. We should call on technical experts for help and have  discussions with the community and businesses. We can then setting the detailed online rights rules in a rational way. That has to be the best way forward.

I’ve been particularly working to develop a Digital Bill of Rights, setting a basic framework for what people should expect online when it comes to issues like privacy, net neutrality and more. This has become especially important since the Snowden revelations. All of us want security, and all of us want privacy.  How do we try to achieve both of those goals? When should the police or security services be allowed to collect information on us, and for what purposes?

Typically, these issues have been dealt with largely secretively and reluctantly, and with a focus on specific data types. For example, strong controls were introduced on DNA data in the Protection of Freedoms Act, but the Police just sidestepped them when storing biometric information, without even attempting to learn the principles from DNA data.

So those are my two key points – stable and sensible regulation, and a clear principle framework for our online rights. If I’m re-elected I’ll fight for those but it would be great to have more colleagues to help with that.

If you want to help me achieve this vision, please consider helping me out – has the details.

Julian Huppert is Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge. He has a scientific background and is one of a very small minority of our MPs who can grasp issues relating to internet technology.

Although one or two more might creep in that pretty much concludes the week’s posts on advice to the next government. Other political week posts on are linked to below:

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation
Gus Hosein on Data Protection Reform and Surveillance
The Julian Huppert crowd funding campaign here
Paul Bernal suggests government should hire advisers who know what they are doing
Domhnall Dods on Electronic Communications Code reform
James Blessing Says “No matter who you vote for…
Peter Farmer on Ofcom really isn’t an all powerful deity
Dr Monica Horten on Why the Magna Carta applies to technology policy

See all our regulatory posts here.

End User Legal Regs surveillance & privacy

Why Magna Carta matters to technology policy – listen up Dave

Monica Horten

Dr Monica Horten continues the internet privacy rights debate

This year is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the Great Charter that established the right to a fair trial and  put an end to arbitrary justice in private hands. What, you may ask, does this have to do with technology policy for the 21st century? It’s a strange twist of fate that this year, in Britain, we face calls for private companies to take on the role of  (secret) police-man, judge and censor all wrapped up in one.

Post-election, the government of whatever colour – blue, red, yellow, purple or green – will have to face up to policy issues concerning the technology that runs our lives and the companies that control the underlying infrastructure. Broadly, the issues fall into two categories:

Control of content on networks (BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Vodafone etc) and platforms (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc)

Surveillance using the underlying data created by transmissions using  these networks and platforms

In both cases, the issue is whether technology companies can be asked to take action in respect of individuals and their private communications  at the demand or insistence of third parties. Those third parties might be governments but might also be other private or public interest groups with a range of  aims relating to, for example,   terrorism,   children,   defamation or copyright.   The kind of action they might be asked to take is to  block or filter content; or collect, store and supply data.

The suggestion by intelligence chief Robert Hannigan, in his Financial Times article, for a public debate is absolutely welcome, and it will be down to the next government to show the strength of character  to facilitate such a discussion.

My plea to politicians and government officials  is that they should not simply accept these kinds of demands at face-value. They should try to understand the importance of the balancing act that they are obligated to carry out when addressing individual communications. These obligations fall under the human rights framework and they  take us back to Magna Carta and the stand against arbitrary justice.  Whatever the policy aim, it is paramount that the government must balance such demands against rights to free speech and privacy, and  ensure that justice is conducted with due process.

There is scholarly and legal opinion that mass retention of communications data  puts privacy rights at risk. In particular, the risk concerns abuse of powers of access to the data. From local councils seeking to get at dog owners, as apparently happened a few years ago, right through to very nasty possibilities of  the misuse of data to spy on and pressure innocent individuals, such possibilities must be guarded against.

Similarly, it is widely recognised among experts that the blocking and filtering technology implemented by the broadband providers is capable of interfering with free speech rights,  and there is a growing body of case law to that effect. This is especially the case where the filtering is carried out with no legal basis, using secret black-lists created by third-parties, and outsourced to companies operating in other countries under foreign legal jurisdiction. Arguably, such filtering represents  an intolerable interference with a precious right to freedom of speech and uncensored publishing that we have enjoyed for over 300 years since the lapse of the Licencing Act in 1695.

In the country that gave birth to Magna Carta and to the most essential principles of democracy, it is incumbent on policy-makers to remember that any decision  regarding interference with personal communications and online content  must be necessary and proportionate, meet a legitimate policy aim and be provided for by law. Private corporations are the kings of today. Like King John, they should not be above the law. They should also not be asked to enforce the law.  Arbitrary demands that technology companies take action without the proper legal basis, arguably puts democratic speech on a slippery slope going backwards.

Dr Monica Horten is a Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science. She is an independent expert on  the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on Cross-border Flow of Internet Traffic and Internet Freedom. She is the author of two books:  A Copyright Masquerade: how corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet politics and the Telecoms Package and writes the Iptegrity blog   (Twitter: @Iptegrity). She has a new book on Internet policy forthcoming from Polity Press in early 2016.  She also has a forthcoming paper on free speech rights, private actors and the duties of the State.

First published on political week posts on

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation
Gus Hosein on Data Protection Reform and Surveillance
The Julian Huppert crowd funding campaign here
Paul Bernal suggests government should hire advisers who know what they are doing
Domnhall Dods on Electronic Communications Code reform
James Blessing Says “No matter who you vote for…
Peter Farmer on Ofcom really isn’t an all powerful deity

See all our regulatory posts here.

End User Legal Regs

Internet Policy advice for whoever wins next election

Paul Bernal government internet policy

Paul Bernal offers winners of general election advice re government internet policy – how about hiring advisers who know what they are talking about

Perhaps the most defining feature of government internet policy – and this means pretty much all governments around the world, and particularly the last two governments here in the UK – is its incompetence. It has also been largely pretty illiberal, but for the current government at least that should be no surprise because illiberalism has characterised almost all its policies.

That illiberalism, however, does not seem to be as pronounced as its incompetence. Very little that governments want to do – or at least say they want to do – do they actually achieve. Their measures against copyright infringements fail to stop copyright infringements. Their surveillance plans fail to catch terrorists. Their ‘porn’ filters fail to prevent people having access to porn.

What’s more, their efforts have side effects – and indeed often appear to be worse than ineffective: they’re actually counter-productive. Measures against copyright infringement encourage piracy and the development of new methods of illegal file-sharing. ‘Porn’ filters block sex education sites. Mass surveillance distracts from and sucks resources from more direct, targeted forms of intelligence work – in France, for example, conventional surveillance of the Charlie Hebdo shooters was dropped for lack of resources six months before the shootings, while money was being spent on ineffective mass surveillance.

There are two immediate questions to ask about that incompetence: why does it happen, and how can it be avoided?

Answering the first is complex – but a significant part of it is the ignorance of the politicians. They don’t understand the internet, the people who spend time on the internet and how they spend their time. They design their policies based on false assumptions and bad advice – advice from people who themselves either don’t understand the internet or have a vested interest in a particular kind of solution. Copyright legislation based on the advice of the copyright lobby. ‘Porn’ filters based on the beliefs (and that is the appropriate word) of people who essentially don’t like porn, and think that’s enough to build a system on. Surveillance systems based on the advice of what might be loosely called the spooks.

That, then, leads to the answer to the second – and to the policy that I would suggest to whatever government comes into power in May. The government needs better advice – and very different advisers. A panel of advisers should be put together, drawing not on the usual suspects – the PR people of the ‘copyright lobby’, the heads of the intelligence services, the pressure groups of the ‘family’ lobby – but on people with real knowledge and understanding of both the internet and the community that spend time there. There is a huge amount of expertise out there, if only the government were willing to consult them.

 These experts should come from the internet industry itself – and by that I mean people working not just for the government’s current favourite internet giants, whether that be Google or Facebook, but the small, cutting edge operators who make up the membership of ISPA. They should come from the hacker community – people who write the code itself. They should come from academia – from the computer science departments of some of our excellent universities, from law departments such as the one I work for myself, from social sciences and so on. They should come from civil society – the expertise of groups like Privacy International and the Open Rights Group should be an invaluable resource.

The panel of advisers should be consulted at the earliest stage, not consulted about a policy after the policy has, effectively, already been decided upon. All too often over the last few years particularly, the wrong decisions have been made for the wrong reasons behind closed doors, before the people who really understand the issues, the technology and the potential impact of the policies have a chance to explain just why they’re misguided and won’t work.

Of course accessing this kind of expertise would require a step of humility that seems beyond most politicians. They would need to be honest enough to say ‘we don’t know’ and to ask for help. If they are brave enough to do so, they could actually get something done, which surely must be a goal for most politicians.


Paul Bernal is a lecturer in IT, IP and Media Law at the UEA Law School, the author of Internet Privacy Rights (published by CUP in 2014), tweets as @paulbernalUK, and spends a lot of time blogging about the internet, law, privacy and politics. His blog can be found here. He would be a good adviser for next government internet policy.

Other political week posts on

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation

Gus Hosein on Data Protection Reform and Surveillance

The Julian Huppert crowd funding campaign here

See all our regulatory posts here.

End User piracy

Virgin Media iTunes vouchers

Virgin Media iTunes vouchers on offer to new customers

Virgin Media making some interesting ground at the moment. It was not so long ago they were in the news for being subjected to more blocking orders re websites promoting copyright infringement. We saw a lot of whingeing on Twitter about this and the traffic to our “how to bypass the Virgin Media filters” post shot up again as it periodically does.

Today the news is about how Sky have been ordered to hand over customer data of people suspected of torrenting movies. Can’t be long before the ask the same of Virgin.

At the same time Virgin have just released an offer of a £50 iTunes voucher for new customers. This is sending out the right signals to end users. Don’t download. Buy.

I’m a Spotify man meself and not an Apple fanboi but that’s a different story.

Business End User Legal Regs surveillance & privacy

Reform or go quietly – data protection and government surveillance

Gus Hosein data protection reformData protection reform – Government should stop promoting industry and government interests at the expense of protecting citizens says Gus Hosein of Privacy International

You can tell it is almost election time. All the discussions with anyone in the policy sphere quickly moves on to the ‘next parliament’, and questions arise about who will be the next Minister, and probably more important, Committee Chair. And there is more talk of manifestos than positions on key pieces of legislation and policies that should be discussed today. Instead, everyone would rather wait for some indeterminate amount of time into the future where we know not when these issues will again find their day on the policy agenda.
In the meantime, the government departments and agencies continue their work to dismantle privacy.

It’s a sad state of affairs. After all, the coalition agreement of the current government declared, in heady and idealistic days of May 2010, very strong ambitions around privacy protections — deleting databases and discontinuing surveillance programmes, including communications data retention. Yet in the past five years we have seen repeated policy attempts and intense politics around expanded surveillance powers. And in the past five years, we’ve seen government resistance to stronger privacy protections in the form of data protection reform.

Despite all the news about lack of consumer confidence, data breaches, hacking, court decisions protecting privacy, and yes, over-reach by intelligence agencies, the UK Government can’t stop being the bad-boy of the western world on surveillance. And it continues to drag the rest of the world down, as it insists on expanding surveillance and retreating on privacy.

So what hope is there for the future? To be honest, despite past performances by all, I’m quite optimistic.

1. Data protection reform
At the moment, the Government is actively obstructing data protection reform. Neither the Ministry of Justice nor BIS want to see strong protections of privacy. The EU has spent the past five years trying to build a new legal regime to replace the outdated Data Protection Directive, and thereby the 1998 Data Protection Act here. But in recent years the UK Government has been active in promoting industry and government interests, at the expense of protecting consumers and citizens. This just can’t continue. Eventually the UK Government has to recognise that stronger data protection rules are essential to consumer confidence, civil liberties, and the marketplace. And if it doesn’t care about protecting UK consumers and citizens, then it would be best to get out of the way. And the emerging instruments will again set the example globally.

2. Reform surveillance law
It’s not just that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was given royal assent nearly 15 years ago, before the spread of wifi, mobile internet, social networking. It’s not just that Parliament had to approve under duress, and under a Home Office manufactured ’emergency’, legislation that is due to sunset in 2016 requiring continued data retention despite a very clear European Court of Justice ruling declaring it unlawful. It’s not just that the Home Office is rushing through a consultation on when the Government should be able to hack computers. It’s not just that getting companies in other jurisdictions to cooperate with requests from UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies should require a higher standard of authorisation than just a ministerial warrant or a self-authorised request by police agencies. Rather, it is that the case for surveillance law reform has become so clear that we now have the opportunity to make UK law the standard for the rest of the world.

The UK can stop being the bad-boy of the western world. And it can be within the next Parliament.


Gus Hosein has worked in the field of technology and human rights for over fifteen years. He has advised international organisations and institutions including UNESCO, UNHCR, OSCE, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Terrorism and Human Rights. He has held fellowships at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the American Civil Liberties Union. As Privacy International’s Executive Director he coordinates work advancing the protection of privacy across the world, with a particular emphasis on developing countries.

This is a week of political posts on in which guests discuss technology regulatory issues that they feel should be addresses by the next government. Other posts this week include:

James Firth on why government should stop looking to big corporates for tech innovation

See all our regulatory posts here.

Business End User Legal Regs

Next week is political week on

Technology regulatory issues next week on

Yo all. Just a quick announcement that next week is political week on I have invited a number of high profile bloggers, academics, activists, MPs and regulatory experts to share their views on what internet and communications related laws they think the next government should be enacting or not enacting (works both ways).

We start first thing on Monday so keep yer eyes open. At first glance we have a very diverse set of posts. I’ve been careful not to prescribe any particular subject.

This is all part of the coverage of technology regulatory issues in the run up to the general election. Whilst any noise we might make is not going to have a material effect on the result of the election it does not harm to remind ourselves of the issues being faced by both the internet industry and our customers.

I’ve written a lot of posts on regulatory related subjects over the years. They can be found here. Next week I’m hanging back and leaving it to the guests. I’ve confined myself to adding bios where the guest has been particularly modest, and correcting a huge number of speling mistaykes and gramaticul errors. Only joking.

Y’all come back next week now.

4g End User

EE4g shock to the data usage system

4g data usage significantly higher than 3g

I’ve been using 4G since O2 launched their service. You may recall I was a trialist. Then I did the test trip around London comparing EE, Vodafone and O2 4g. For the last few months I have only been using 3g. I handed my SGS4 down and bought a Oneplus One.

The Oneplus phone is such fantastic value that having to exist without 4g was a small price to pay. O2 4g hadn’t reached Lincoln anyway so all I was giving up was faster service on the occasional trip to London. For those trips I use my EE4g MiFi in anycase.

The problem with the Oneplus is that the LTE frequencies it supports are only available on EE (and possibly 3). So when it came to switching my mobile contract EE was a no brainer really. There seems hardly any price difference between the various  networks, if you can manage to plough through all the offers.

Now before deciding on a plan I checked my past usage. The most I had consumed in a month in recent history was around 300MB. A 1Gig data bundle with all you can eat calls and texts seemed to do the job at £16.

What I didn’t budget for was the fact that the usage experience is so much better using 4g when compared with 3g that I would be using it a lot more. Google Hangouts with my daughter in Paris are far better quality than relying on the hotel WiFi, for example.

So now with 16 days of the contract month to go I’ve only got 285MB left out of my Gig 4g data usage bundle. I’m gonna have to see how it goes and take a view on a possible upgrade. For the next week I will be in the Isle of Man where the seriously rip off roaming charges will prevent me from using mobile data in anycase.

Loads of 4g posts here btw.

Apps End User mobile apps social networking

Working away from home & Natter

Natter Natter Natter Oy Oy Oy

The nature of the modern world is that people frequently have to travel as part of their job. In the internet plumbing game this is even more the case. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an industry that has more conferences and meetings. In the UK alone there are 4 x 2 day LINX meetings, 3 x UKNOF meetings (that seem to extend to two days one way or another), a couple fo LONAP events, two ITSPA workshops and numerous miscellaneous other events.

Being involved with LONAP I also have other international events such as Euro-IX and RIPE meetings to attend.

The point is that wherever one goes one’s office goes with you. It wouldn’t have been so many years ago that this would not have been a simple activity. Taking this to the extreme I remember early on in my business career having to send a proposal to our New York office for onward transmission. The whole thing was faxed. I had a word processor but not email. The internet was in its infancy and applications a rarity.

I made many last minute changes to the somewhat substantial document but each change had to be made entirely within the page. I had to be able to refax a single page without having to change any of the other pages as this would have meant resending the whole document. We won the business btw 🙂

That sort of activity would have been unthinkable in our modern fast moving world. I’ve just had to fill in a new supplier form for an organisation I am doing business with. It needed a signature. I don’t do paper! I very rarely have to print anything out so this form is a bit of a nuisance.

No problemo. I scribbled my signature on a scrap of paper, took a picture, uploaded it to google drive, cropped and trimmed, inserted into the doc and downloaded as a pdf for sending. Hey presto a signed doc. Whether they accept it or not is another issue. These things are sent to try.

Today I am working from a hotel room in Liverpool – the featured image is the view from my room. Iconic. I’m not using the hotel WiFi as I have my EE MiFi which is more reliable. At least more reliable than the free WiFi. The premium service might be ok but hey…

I’m here because my dad is in hospital for an operation. Tref’s taxi service etc. As it happens both sisters had the same idea so we are having an unscheduled family get together. It’s worked out as I then didn’t have to get up at 6.30 to take dad to the hospital.

natterAnyway it’s actually just a normal working day out of my hotel room. As I was lying in bed this morning catching up on stuff on my intergalactic hand held communicator I was shoved an ad for Natter by Twitter.

Natter is “yet another social media platform”. I guess. You are only allowed three words. I signed up and had a play. My first attempt was “one two three”. Then I realised this was quite boring so I decided to see what I could get away with. I went for “supacalifragalisticexpialidocious  Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism #Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”.

Natter came back with messages:

Just Three Words, please! (You can also include one @username and a #hashtag) and

is too long (maximum is 75 characters)

I looked up the last two words btw but the first I already knew.

I can’t see Natter becoming the hit that is Twitter. Note the 3,544 followers cf the 34 Million of @Twitter. This means it’s guaranteed to be successful but hey… Other than signing on to make sure I get a decent username (tref) which I do for new things that I come across, I am unlikely to adopt it. I haven’t got any followers and follow noone. I also note that Natter was launched in Bath in 2011. It must have just got some cash to advertise but in four years I’d have thought it would have already come to my notice if it was going to take off.

I do quite like the idea of keeping it short. After all Snapchat has taken off with exactly this philosophy though others have also gone before and failed. There was a 7 second video service whose name totally escapes me but seems to have disappeared from view.

I suspect 3 words ain’t enough though. Now the Haiku is a different game. With the Haiku you have 17 syllables to play with and the result could be quite classy. Constraining people to writing only in Japanese poetic form might limit the audience but we aren’t in this game to pander to the masses are we? Eh?

I’ve rambled on enough. This self indulgent blogging is all very well but there is a business to run. From my hotel room.


PS I’m on Natter

Apps ecommerce End User mobile apps

Phone picks up NFC signal from wallet

NFC signal WTF?

Just noticed btw that my phone has been picking up an NFC signal from my wallet! Took me a while to figure out what was going on. The phone kept pinging an unfamiliar sound when I put it down near the wallet.

It’s a slight worry because whilst I’m sure my phone wears a white hat who knows what other devices there are around that might just be sitting there listening for NFC enabled devices. I only have an oyster card and my bank debit card with NFC enabled but the latter is very specifically the one you don’t want anyone gaining access to.

Now I’ve not researched this so don’t know what security arrangements are built in to the NFC chips but it does raise an eyebrow.

I’ve looked at NFC as a transport mechanism for a few different business opportunities, largely as a means of engaging advertisers with punters. Up until now it hasn’t flown. Originally one of the reasons was that NFC wasn’t supported by Apple. Now Apple do support NFC but it is only as a means of accessing Apple’s own payment gateway.  It’s not any use for transmitting other files.

The Apple use case includes having to have your thumb on on the home button to authenticate that it is you using the NFC for payment. Sounds like Apple getting deeper and deeper into personal info on you if you ask me. Next up will be DNA recognition!!! The fanbois will say I’m getting paranoid and that I should just accept all this “yes master stuff”. Well no thanks. We can fight this nyahahahahahahaaaaaa.

Y’all have a great day now. Would you like ketchup with that. I see your DNA suggests that you are a ketchup kind of guy.

PS if you don’t know what NFC is read about it here. Other mobile app stuff on this site here.

5g End User

5g – ever given it any thought?

The 5g network – all of a sudden I’m quite looking forward to it

I write a regular column for the Institute of Telecoms Professionals Journal, a worthy tome that should be read by engineers everywhere. Usually they chuck a subject over and I hastily scribble something down just before the deadline. Normally the subject matter is something that I’ve come across or been involved with in my working life. This time it’s 5g which is something I’ve never had the occasion to look at. It’s always been something way into the future.

Either you are deeply embedded in what’s going with the 5g standard or an article on 5g demands a little research. I went to Wikipedia and I’m going to start by plagiarising a paragraph which in turn whipped it’s content from the NGMN Alliance.

“NGMN Alliance or Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defined 5G network requirements as:

  • Data rates of several tens of Mb/s should be supported for tens of thousands of users.
  • 1 Gb/s to be offered, simultaneously to tens of workers on the same office floor.
  • Up to Several 100,000’s simultaneous connections to be supported for massive sensor deployments.
  • Spectral efficiency should be significantly enhanced compared to 4g.
  • Coverage should be improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced.”

When I were a lad studying Electronic Engineering at Bangor University we learnt about Smith Charts. I never got on with Smith Charts. That and the fact that our Communications lecturer had written a book that he used as the basis for his course content meaning that I didn’t have to take any notes and therefore never remembered any of it suggested that I wasn’t destined for a career in RF engineering.

It didn’t matter. There was a whole technological world outside RF that profitably filled my days. In the heady period of early post graduation employment, RF stood largely for an analogue brick that you lugged around in a briefcase or glued to a car battery and whilst important and revolutionary I regarded as a black art of limited interest.

Winding the clock forward, gulp, 35 years RF engineering has suddenly taken on a different importance. RF now sits very much as an integral part of our modern technology ecosystem. My own use case for RF is probably identical to everyone else’s. Bluetooth in the car to hook my phone up with the car kit. WiFi gets used wherever there is a hot spot in preference to cellular connectivity. This is largely for economic reasons although WiFi performance where I spend most of my time – home and office – does come into it. This isn’t true everywhere.

Then I use 4g. Sometimes I use my mobile phone to talk or send a text but most of the time my use of 4g is for the data channel when I’m out and about. 4g has been a huge step up from 3G but still has its limitations. In building performance is not as good as it might be and coverage can be somewhat binary, at least at this still relatively early stage of network maturity.

Except for my home and office my preference is to use 4g wherever possible for my internet connectivity. If there is 4g coverage it is far more reliable and performs better than alternative WiFi networks that may be available to me in hotels, pubs and so on. When there is good 4g coverage it is great.

The problem we as users of mobile connectivity have is that we are going to want more and more of it. We aren’t particularly going to want it to work faster on our mobile phones although technology drivers such as 8K video streaming might suggest that our laptops would prefer faster access. We are however going to want it to work reliably and consistently and on more devices. Our personal technology roadmaps see us having many devices that require connectivity.

Forget the fridge. It’s our central heating systems, our CCTV, our electricity meters, cars. Also my wallet and keys. I’m forever putting them down somewhere and then forgetting where. It’s the Internet of Things, innit?

So the problem that the 5g network needs to address is, yes a certain demand for faster and faster connectivity but also better and more ubiquitous connectivity. Lots more endpoints are going to be connected to the 5g network.

I’m sure that other arguments will apply to the 5g network business case. Fixed line connectivity should be well into the Gigabits per second by the time we get an ubiquitous 5g network so the competitive speed benchmark will change. I am happy with my 4g service  when I can get it but I think I’m just persuading myself that I’m actually quite looking forward to my first 5g connected phone:)

Ciao bebe.

PS I’ve written loads on 4g over the years. Check it out here.

Apps End User

Sky News on Snapchat

Obvious one really. Nobody wants to watch repeats of the news so Snapchat seems to me to be the perfect vehicle for it. This is why Sky News and Sky Sports have announced a new Snapchat app.

The one thing I have had against Snapchat, apart from the unwanted spam from Team Snapchat that I can’t seem to switch off, is the fact that it’s an ephemeral service. It doesn’t store what is sent. This is likely why people use it but I like to fill up data centres with stuff that never gets looked at again and just contributes to the growth of big data.

News is different. How often do you find yourself saying to yourself “o gawd not this again”. Usually when your on a car journey and have to listen to multiple bulletins about politicians having a go at each other about how they are all such slimebags1.

There is only one thing better than having the news on Snapchat and that is having no news at all. The world would be a happier place if all we could watch were repeats of Dad’s Army, Tom and Jerry, Top Gear and Futurama (only the first two were mine). The Tom and Jerry has to be a Fred Quimby though. I digress.

This Sky announcement is another step towards the ever shortening of our attention spans. In fact why do they even bother with Snapchat when Twitter is clearly the ultimate medium for this kind of stuff. Not only is a tweet very quick and easy to ready but half the time it’s disappeared below your screen so quickly that you haven’t even had a chance to read it. Perfect when it comes to bad news tweets, or election tweets from politicians having a go at each other yet again.

I specifically note the political thing because I live in the bellweather seat of Lincoln and we have them all mooching around kissing babies, inspecting new bits of equipment that will lead to new jobs and generally seeking media exposure of any kind. Today it’s Geo Osborne. Next week it’s Glen Millerband Dave Ed Miliband.

Dunno why I’m getting overtly political just now. I am not affiliated with any party btw and am happy to engage with politicians of all hues. I only recently found out (after 26 years of marriage!) that my wife is interested in politics. This might explain why son 1 did a degree in history and politics and why son 2 is lining up to do the same.

Son 2 in particular can’t understand my apathy and unwillingness to engage in political discussion over the dinner table when all my TV (1) and Radio (many) appearances have by and large been to discuss political stuff.

I’ve rambled on far more than intended and certainly not in keeping with the short attention span instant gratification we demand in our lives nowadays.


1 OK I believe the word currently in favour is “dodgy” but it’s all the same and all said under the protection of parliamentary privilege 🙂

Apps End User fun stuff

Randomly dictated

voice recognition

Giving the kids a lift to school this morning. T I thought i’d fill in some time was waiting for the kids to get ready by randomly dictating a post.
New line
I i also did this yesterday from the cafe in the office because i didn’t have a key with me and i was there before everybody else. 3 lot of errors in that situation because i had to keep my voice down and i’m not sure of the quality of the wifi in a cafe. I’m finding that at home when i don’t have to whisper or atleast speaking subdued tones and with good wifi at i’m able to speak quite quickly and the dictation turns out quite well. In fact it looks as if ur speaking more quickly turns out a better quality of dictated post. At least with the interpretation of the words are concerned if not the quality of what is being dictated.
New line
You could actually get quite used to do this if it wasn’t for the fact that speaking out loud in the office is going to be a disruptive to the other people in the office a good way, and efficient way of writing text. Nowadays my handwriting skills are very poor because most of the time i’m using keyboard i can see in future if my typing skills might suffer because i will just be using my spoken word.
New line
In one sense this will be coming full circle time with only the spoken word existed there was nothing there in terms of the written word available or having been invented yet and in fact the language that use these days probably reflects the language used by cavemen from the stone age in it uh know what i mean. I’m sure that the cavemen would be insulted to think that i was saying that their language wisdom downs but she hasn’t arrived on the scene at that time.
New line
Which 8:35 there are signs of life signs of children getting ready getting the shoes on. I’m already ready i’ve had my coat on for 15 minutes. I had to go out and check the diesel levels in the jeep. Where ok i can get them to school so i don’t know that getting back from school. 🙂

Stardate wednesday bingley to school mr spoc


There ya go – back to typing now. It’s not bad, and I know I’ve written about it before but I thought it was worth an update. The most interesting aspect of it was the fact that it quite liked me speaking quickly.

Business End User media

Will Premier League TV deal drive up cost to punters

Premiership TV rights see 70% cost increase

In the news is the fact that BT and Sky have paid 70% more for the next chunk of Premiership TV rights than they did the last time around. In one sense this doesn’t affect me whatever. Although being a sportsman I do take a passing interest in all sorts of sports, the Premier League strikes me as a vehicle that attracts bad sportsmanship and a poor example to kids. Such is the money at stake.

We have a very competitive broadband market in the UK. ISP’s have been trying to layer services to squeeze more cash out of us and TV certainly brings more margin. BT recognises this which is why it’s dipped its toe in the TV market and why it has been going head to head against Sky for sporting rights.

For Sky this is almost a life or death matter. Sports have been Sky’s Unique Selling Point for donkeys years. Without this USP their offering is significantly diluted.

So in a market where it’s been a race to the bottom for some years now this sizeable increase in the cost of providing TV sports services is likely to squeeze margins further or result in price increases that wont go down well with punters. Over at we saw high levels of complaints when ISPs had to increase their analogue line rental costs, even though these increased were in the region of pence not pounds. Virgin saw even more negativity when their TV pricing shot up again.

Where I’m getting to is that whilst normally a competitive market drives down costs, in this case it’s driving up costs because the key bit of content, football, is sole sourced and has no incentive to roll over and play ball with lower prices (sorry).

There is no indication as yet as to how this might affect end user prices for Sports TV packages but Sky and BT need to show a decent return to shareholders and they can’t always absorb this kind of cost increase. I guess we will find out soon enough, for what it’s worth.

That’s it for now. Ciao amigos.

Business End User piracy Regs security

Unknown Roku streaming stick on network, Virgin Media, DEAct & Spotify

Roku streaming stick

Interesting one this. A Roku streaming stick has to be plugged into your TV. It’s a bit like a Chromecast but different. One assumes that Joel knows that he hasn’t got a Roku streaming stick plugged into his TV. It must therefore be plugged into somebody’s else’s TV hanging off Joel’s network.

This does bring up the issue of wifi network security and the fact that other people may be making use of others’ broadband bandwidth. Who hasn’t had a look at their wifi settings when in a strange place to see if there are any open networks there. There often are, at least in public places.

This issue to me is further highlighted by the fact that we are coming up to the next general election. At this time 5 years ago the Digital Economy Act was rushed through just before the election. One of the many points landed on the deaf ears of government by protesting voices at the time was the very fact that it was difficult to prove who was actually doing the downloading/copyright infringement.  The rogue Roku of our introductory Tweet reinforces this. The DEAct has still not properly been enacted.

The issues that rights holders where highlighting in pushing for the Digital Economy Act have of course not gone away. I was talking yesterday to a 21 year old recent graduate about where he got his music from. He said it was all downloaded free of charge from online sources. This was despite the fact that his broadband provider Virgin Media has a block on access to specific sites associated with this activity. He said that that none of the people that he knew ie 18-25 demographic, paid for their music.

The blocking orders imposed by the courts on ISPs are not working. I did ask him about proxies and he was very familiar with the technology.  He was very familiar with proxies and had used them. However many were also blocked by ISPs but because sites such as Pirate Bay morph very quickly into similar sites and the kids know how to follow them they never have a problem accessing music.

I asked him what he thought about the fact that if nobody paid for them there would come a time where there would no longer be any record labels. His answer was that bands seem nowadays to make more out of their live shows than they do the out of selling music.

Whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of the situation, it is what it is. I have a Spotify Premium account. It’s a great service.  For the 21 year old concerned £10 a month is actually quite a lot of money. Rob, the developer, is a little older at 24. Rob has Spotify Premium. Rob also pays £6 a month for Netflix and doesn’t see why at £10 the music service is more expensive. He has a point maybe.

Now I’m not here to defend anyone’s business model, have a go any ones business model or anything else to do with business models other than to say that business models do change. Clearly the music industry is in the middle of a period of change that they’ve been struggling to come to grips with. Whether this is to do with legacy deals, royalties payable or cost base who knows.

We do hear of bands withdrawing their music from Spotify because the live streaming service doesn’t pay enough for the privilege of carrying their stuff. One wonders what proportion of Spotify’s royalties actually go to the band as opposed to the record label. I took a look at SpotifyArtists but it was either too complicated for my small brain to get around or it just wasn’t obvious.

We ain’t going to solve an industry’s problems in this blog post but I can only say that the efforts and the money spent on fighting online copyright infringement don’t seem to be working, at least based on my own local evidence.

PS I’d never heard of the Roku Streaming Stick before I came across this tweet. I’d get one and do a review except I already have a Chromecast in the port the Roku would use and the kids use it a fair bit.

4g End User Engineer Mobile

Mobile data bandwidth in channel tunnel

Channel tunnel mobile data rate impressed

Over in gay Paree for a few days to settle my daughter into the next six months of her year abroad adventure. yesterday was a freezing 11 hours traipsing around prospective flatshares.

Couple of things I noticed both here and on the way over. In the Channel Tunnel I was getting LTE on my Oneplus One phone. I’m with O2 and the Oneplus doesn’t support O2 LTE spectra in the UK. The Chunnel however was a different ball game. Despite having data roaming switched off I found I was getting 16Megs down under the water. Whiled away a bit of the journey.  The rest of it was spent listening to sounds on the phone.

The next thing I noticed is that people were using their phones on the Metro in Paris. If you haven’t been the Paris Metro is just like the London Underground. It’s underground. Why can’t we have mobile connectivity on the tube. It was the same in Barcelona. People talking on their phones on the Metro.

That’s all for now. Just one thing before I go. If you are thinking of coming for a leisure break to Paris in February I’d say there were better places to go. It’s absolutely freezing here. Of course I’m here to do a job but the same advice applies