Category Archives: UK news

Farewell the ‘porn block’ – a PR exercise but lousy policy | Amy Orben

Without greater access to our online habits, politicians cannot frame laws for the digital age

The UK government’s porn block was a dead man walking for months, if not years. It is long overdue that this attempt to curb children’s access to online pornography is scrapped. Almost two years ago, a close colleague and I sat in a meeting with one of the policymakers who had recently been asked to implement the proposal. The pained look on his face when we queried his progress confirmed our suspicions that it was an impossible task. It was clear to many that the block could – and would – never come to pass.

The plan did not have just one achilles heel – it had many.

Scientists and other stakeholders cannot access information about what the population is actually doing online

Related: UK drops plans for online pornography age verification system

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Prevent database is secure but not secret | Letter

Describing a documented database as ‘secret’ risks causing unjustified distrust in a multi-agency programme that seeks to protect those vulnerable to all forms of radicalisation and keep our communities safe, writes Chief Constable Simon Cole

Your front-page lead (7 October) talks of a “secret” police Prevent database. It is not a very well kept “secret”; a quick online search brings up numerous references to its existence in public documents – and it is where the published annual referral statistics are sourced from. The Prevent pages on the National Police Chiefs’ Council website also refer to the fact Prevent officers keep records.

We do this for exactly the same purpose we document other forms of supportive safeguarding activity such as for child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking. It means we can be – and are – subject to oversight and accountability.

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Maths and tech specialists need Hippocratic oath, says academic

Exclusive: Hannah Fry says ethical pledge needed in tech fields that will shape future

Mathematicians, computer engineers and scientists in related fields should take a Hippocratic oath to protect the public from powerful new technologies under development in laboratories and tech firms, a leading researcher has said.

The ethical pledge would commit scientists to think deeply about the possible applications of their work and compel them to pursue only those that, at the least, do no harm to society.

Despite being invisible, maths has a dramatic impact on our lives

Related: Google whistleblower launches project to keep tech ethical

Related: To fix the problem of deepfakes we must treat the cause, not the symptoms | Matt Beard

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From Watergate to El Paso: should we be relying on unelected bodies to protect us? | John Naughton

Web security firm Cloudflare’s decision to terminate 8chan as a customer is welcome, but risks setting a dangerous precedent

Last Saturday morning, a gunman armed with an assault rifle walked into a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, and shot 22 people dead and injured 24 more. Shortly before he did so, a post by him appeared on the /pol/ [politically incorrect] message board of the far-right website 8chan. Attached to it was a four-page “manifesto”. The 8chan thread was quickly deleted by a site moderator (it was news to me that 8chan had moderators), but archived copies of it rapidly circulated on the internet.

“There is nothing new in this killer’s ramblings,” wrote one analyst who had read it. “He expresses fears of the same ‘replacement’ of white people that motivated the Christchurch shooter and notes that he was deeply motivated by that shooter’s manifesto.”

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Briton who helped stop 2017 WannaCry virus spared jail over malware charges

  • Marcus Hutchins pleaded guilty to two malware charges
  • 25-year-old ‘incredibly thankful’ to be sentenced to time served

The British computer expert who helped shut down the WannaCry cyberattack on the NHS said he is “incredibly thankful” after being spared jail in the US for creating malware.

Marcus Hutchins was hailed as a hero in May 2017 when he found a “kill switch” that slowed the effects of the WannaCry virus affecting more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries.

Related: FTSE 250 firms exposed to possible cyber-attacks, report finds

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