On the technology frontiers

As the digital revolution sweeps on we will face more and more dilemmas about personal freedom versus personal empowerment.

In its early days the internet was largely unregulated, allowing a profusion of new communications, spawning an army of citizen journalists with their own take on events and permitted advice on any topic including  the assistance of crime.

As the internet grew so governments understandably intervened to stop extreme abuses. The internet should not be a school for terrorists, an on line academy for bomb makers or a means of  money laundering large sums from the proceeds of crime.

Some also asked that the internet be subject to the same laws of libel and slander as the regular media. Many asked for protection from false allegations and from messages of hatred. This has opened up a debate about the duties of internet providers, the extent to which censorship is needed and justified, and the role of the internet in causing harm as well as its manifold ways of doing good.

There are contributors to this site who are deeply suspicious of how the state behaves and how it might come to use new digital controls for its own ends. Would the evolution of a cashless economy mean not merely full visibility of all transactions by the state but state controls and  limitations on those same transactions? At what point does a better convenience for users become an unwarranted intrusion into privacy?  Should we all expect in the emerging world that all our actions, words, purchases are fully available for public scrutiny, or do there remain legitimate reasons for people to be able to keep to themselves what they lawfully do?

Authoritarian societies can deploy digital communications, cashless money, transaction reporting to control their people. They could decline to sell a train ticket to a protest location. They could decline credit to people who join the political opposition. They could intercept on line conversations between friends wishing to share annoyance at government activities.

The challenge for the free West to keep its freedoms is to get the right balance between tackling serious crime conducted in whole or part through digital activities, whilst allowing the usual privacies of people’s spending habits, criticisms of government and the rest that constitute a free society.

There is the additional challenge that as the giant corporations of the current digital era emerge with all their power, the western system should allow strong competition and challenge to them. There is a  danger in codifying how they behave and laying down in law too much of how their business has to be conducted. These  can become barriers to innovation by smaller companies, and can impose  expensive barriers to entry to the business.

As we leave the EU the UK should revisit its laws and regulations governing  the digital world to strike a good balance between keeping us safe and allowing plenty of competition.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    From the printing press, through wireless, TV and now the internet, the State has always sought means to control the message of aforementioned mediums.

    Pirate radio broadcasted outside UK territorial waters were hounded by the UK government, culminating in legislation prohibiting advertisers using them. This was designed to stop unregulated transmissions. These people, some to become household names, were not advocating extreme views, they were just playing music and having fun. Eventually common sense prevailed and the airwaves were opened up.

    They could decline credit to people who join the political opposition.

    This is already happening. There are numerous websites and noted individuals who have had their Paypal, Twitter and other accounts suspended. They do not advocate violence or extreme views, they just tell people the embarrassing and unvarnished truth !

    “In a Time of Universal Deceit — Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act”

    George Orwell.

    In China the Uighurs are kept under appalling State supervision. One could write pages and pages on it. Their purchases and movements are constantly monitored. If there is something suspicious they are immediately detained. The former DDR was much the same under the Stasi. I see that we too are slowly following those paths.

    The UK has the most draconian liable laws in the world. Super-injunctions the lot. We cannot even say things here less we get the, “Awaiting moderation” treatment 😉 I appreciate that our kind host is liable for what is said and I am grateful for the opportunity he gives out of his own funds, but many here feel that there is a less than level playing field when it comes to some.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      What the mobile ‘phone generally means above all, is that the ordinary person is accessible by their employer 24/365.

      Many lines of work make that contactability a contractual term.

      And some people whinge about “servitude” to the European Union, which would no doubt protect people from such onerous conditions, if only its limited reach were extended to employment law other than health and safety.

    • jerry
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      @Mark B; [re Pirate radio in the 1960s] “These people, some to become household names, were not advocating extreme views, they were just playing music and having fun. Eventually common sense prevailed and the airwaves were opened up.”

      Except they did not always pay the royalties they should have to the artists, nor were they ‘having fun’, the DJs might have been but for those who employed them it was a business, but even more seriously there was no control over what frequency and TX power the broadcasts were made on, meaning legitimate broadcasts could and were getting swamped.

      Not a good analogy to use, the internet to pirate radio, perhaps you also think many a internet Hacker is simply “having fun” too?!

      Regarding your last paragraph, how true, and I bet many on the left felt as if they were playing uphill during the GE, funny though even within the strict libel laws here in the UK the one level field the left found was on the internet.

      • NickC
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        Jerry, I’m pretty sure the pop groups whose music was played on the “pirate” radio stations were very pleased indeed. It was free publicity for their records.

        • jerry
          Posted January 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; I’ve heard many an argument against Copyright law but that has got to be the daftest; to bring your logic up to date, it’s a bit like saying J. K. Rowling should be happy should someone upload her Harry Potter stories onto the internet for all to read for free, because it will encourage them to buy the (currently in print) books!…

    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    The most perceptive and incisive article you’ve composed to date imvho. You’ve detailed precisely why many on here view the political state with such suspicion. Indeed, those concerns about State invasion into our lives is now a reality. It has ceased to be a suspicion.

    • NickC
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Dominic, Indeed. And most technical standards are originated by the industry to which they are applied. An example being the Whitworth thread, proposed by Joseph Whitworth in 1841, and common from around 1860 in the UK. The government was not involved. The same applies to internet protocols TCP/IP etc, and the internet itself.

  3. Everhopeful
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I reckon that we were carefully channelled/herded onto the Internet for the express purpose of taking our freedoms away.
    Beguiled by new technology ( well not all that new..didn’t US navy have e mail and intranet in the 50s?) people gave up real social contact and settled for virtual.
    Our “freedom loving” govts aided and abetted our enslavement with anti smoking and anti drink laws which kept us at home. Plus the relentless closure of pubs through stealth taxes.
    Terrorist attacks also helped
    “Put your trust in us. We will keep you safe. But first give up your freedom.”
    And now we are a captive market for endless cr*p ( vis lovely 24/7 thrumming hot tubs…oh the sleepless joy! ).
    Also, as shown just the other day…online banking can not be trusted. Making us cashless …parting us from our dosh!

  4. GilesB
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Freedom of speech is absolute and indivisible.

    The concept of ‘hate speech’ is unnecessary when we already have laws against inciting violence. There is no right to not be offended.

    We need to maintain protection from monopolies such as Google, because network technologies naturally lead to monopolies.

    A hundred years ago in the US , Theodore Vail of AT&T saw the same problem concerning AT&T’s monopoly. He set AT&T experts to address the issue. The result was AT&T lobbying to set up the FCC. AT&T remained a monopoly, but strictly regulated to provide outstanding customer service, fair conditions for investors and employees, and continuous innovation. The most respected, indeed loved, company in the USA. Google should be asked to apply itself similarly to the problem.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      It is called ‘Salami Slicing’ a slice here, another there and then there was none left.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink


      What on earth are you talking about ?

      In 1907, AT&T president Theodore Vail made it known that he was pursuing a goal of “One Policy, One System, Universal Service.” AT&T began purchasing competitors, which attracted the attention of antitrust regulators. To avoid antitrust action, in a deal with the government, Vail agreed to the Kingsbury Commitment of 1913. One of the three terms of the agreement forbade AT&T from acquiring any more independent phone companies

      The breakup of the Bell System was mandated on January 8, 1982, by an agreed consent decree providing that AT&T Corporation would, as had been initially proposed by AT&T, relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the United States and Canada. AT&T is NOT a monopoly there are literally dozens of telecoms providers in the USA . There are also many providers of long lines in competition with AT&T, CenturyLink , Sprint Corp the former Bell Atlantic became Verizon , which is now bigger than AT& T and as well as long lines also owns search company Yahoo and AOL and many others

      Here is a list of the largest by capitalisation US based telecoms companies

      1) Verizon
      2) AT&T
      3) T Mobile
      4) Sprint Corp

      Also Google is NOT a monopoly , Bing, Duck Duck Go and may others also provide search services, email services and all the other products that Google has. Its just the current market leader

      No we dont need regulated monopolies , the Tories tried that with ICL and killed the UK computer industry stone dead

      • Al
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Google may not be a complete monopoly on search engines, but its integration of its search engine with android, chrome etc. gives it more than 50% of the market – enough to be investigated.

        On the other hand if you want privacy for tablets and phones, with all three main options requiring cloud accounts, registration with the provider, and tracking your use and location, that doesn’t exist anymore. Offline and non-cloud based technologies, e.g. true Linux flavours like Ubuntu, which do preserve privacy are very hard to find, and usually require creating custom builds.

      • bill brown
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:52 pm | Permalink


        Well written, thank you

      • forthurst
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

        It was Wilson’s government that created ICL by merging three incompatible companies and calling the result our ‘national champion’.
        Another ‘national champion’ created by accretion in the electrical engineering and electronics industry was GEC which should have been developing computer chips but refused to engage in r&d unless the taxpayer paid. All doomed to fail, ultimately. Then of course there was the national champion in aircraft manufacture…

      • GilesB
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Exactly. AT&T remained a monopoly for seventy years. I didn’t say that it is one today.

        Google has nearly 90% of the search market …

    • NickC
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      Technology companies like Facebook and Google must decide whether they are publishers or merely carriers. If they are publishers they can edit or refuse content, but become liable for what they do allow, like newspapers. If they choose to be carriers (like the phone networks), they cannot have the power to censor. At the moment they try to have it both ways – censoring content, but denying liability.

      • forthurst
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        The main sources of information on the internet are controlled by foreign intelligence agencies: if its free and easy to find then its probably not reliable.

        • Mitchel
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Not just foreign.The Integrity Initiative(don’t laugh!) hack last year exposed what the British deep state has been up to.

  5. Newmania
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    An extreme Nationalist government that sees itself as some sort of tribal counter revolutionary movement ( ugh) is not one form which we need essays about freedoms and duties of any kind.
    Before worrying about the internet ( a global issue form which we have voluntarily absented ourselves) stop politicising the civil service attacking the judiciary, the BBC expanding the State by means of borrowing and removing the many freedoms we used to enjoy as part of Europe.

    • jerry
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      @Newmania; “An extreme Nationalist government that sees itself as some sort of tribal counter revolutionary movement”

      The meddling EC/EU very nicely summed up if I may say so!..

      “Before worrying about the internet ( a global issue form which we have voluntarily absented ourselves)”

      Pardon, when did the UK leave the UN?!…

      If anything, post Brexit, the UK will have a greater voice at the UN, not less, as we will no longer have to tow those EU observers line on so many issues, including cybercrime etc.

      Also @Newmania, it was both your heroes, Blair & the EU, who overly politicised the civil service, the judiciary & the BBC – those people you appear to despise simply want a return to how things should be.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      What an absurd post. Of course the Conservatives are not ‘extreme nationalists’. Not wanting to be in the EU doesn’t make you a racist a fascist or a nationalist. There were rational arguments on both sides. It’s amazing there is still a minority of furious righteous EU fanatics who are still coming out with this sort of nonsense. Please grow up.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink


      I think a period of quite reflexion is required from you

      You predicted that the City would move wholesale to Europe with 100,000’s of job loses .

      It never happened less than a 1000 jobs were moved , meanwhile in the EU more than 4,000 financial service jobs have been lost in 2019 alone

      You told us that airbus would relocate and our aeronautical engineers would all be thrown on the scrap heap

      It never happened The UK’s booming aerospace sector employs 111,000 people directly, boasts a turnover of £35.9bn (45% growth since 2010) and exports 95% of all output. The order book backlog of 14,089 aircraft is worth an estimated £211.5bn to UK industry

      You told us that Nissan would leave & the closure of the Honda plant in Swindon meant that car makers preferred being in the EU.

      In reality Nissan invested more money in UK, Ford closed plants in the EU and VW is moving manufacturing to Turkey . More than 10 NEW factories manufacturing cars, engines , specialist vehicles and car parts are due to open in 2020 in the UK

      You told us that the vast majority of voters were now firmly remain, the Tories won a Brexit landslide

      As you are wrong about everything I will stop talking and start listening if I were you

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        We’ll said

  6. Aaron
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I think any new state power of data collection or privacy impact should be tested first by all MPs and those that sit in the House of Lords. For transparency, as much as accountability for the people who seek to subject citizens to state overreach and intrusion.
    If the new data collection power is tested on these two groups first, say, for a year before general rollout to the population, and the data isn’t hacked, compromised, sold off or used by citizen journalists or malicious actors for abuse, then the state will have proved it is safe for all citizens.
    And if the data (say all electronic cash transactions) were compromised, it would be the MPs and Lords who experience the inconvenience and need to rely on the police, the existing agencies and laws to remediate the problems it causes.

    This then has the added bonus that sets the bar for subsequent data compromises, so when all of my cash transactions are compromised, I can expect a full police investigation, huge fines and prison for the malicious actor, rather than the pathetic response from the government from the last huge data breach involving Experian.

    Transparency, accountability, and setting expectations for remediation when things go wrong. I think this is a solid idea that should apply to all new laws unless it’s completely impractical.

    • SM
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Aaron – quite brilliant!

    • Al
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      While a nice idea, I suspect these people have enough money and time to mitigate the effects upon them, or hire someone to take care of it for them (or even expense it) so they can say that they managed. When rolled out to the lower income sectors, people there will feel the full effects but the people in charge will say they coped so why can’t everyone?

    • mark leigh
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Love it.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is a difficult balance to draw well and to police. I am certainly someone who is deeply suspicious of how the state behaves and how it will use new digital controls for its own ends.

    The main aim of government is very often the virtual enslavement of their cash cow citizens (through taxation, licensing, regulation and other burdens. Already we see the tax system forcing people to complete with more and more complex tax and other reporting rules on line with endless fines for any non or late compliance. Yet another large burden and distraction from productive activity damaging productivity and our ability to complete.

    The internet enables the state to increase these burdens significantly with little cost to the state but a huge burden on individuals and companies. We have the new data protection tax/fee and even further requirements on landlords and agents just coming in as examples. All take time and money and reduce efficiently and productivity. They generate more parasitic jobs in admin and regulation, push up inflation, kill productive jobs and reduce living standards.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Yes more climate alarmist drivel on the radio 4’s Today Programme today. It is endless propaganda from the BBC almost every single day and totally one sided. Sensible physicists and climate realists are never invited. Totally one sided propaganda from the Met office, Roger Harrabin, Matt McGrath, the absurd Committee on Climate Change and Lord Stern all true believers in this largely fraudulent new religion.

    The real danger is the huge damage done by this absurd war on CO2 when the money could be spent so very much more effectively elsewhere. When is Boris going to ditch the Paris Accord and Ed Miliband’s moronic Climate Change Act?

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      The solutions also look remarkably like communism to me. The little people riding bicycles an eating rice while the celebs take to first class and eat steak.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Or lecturing others on climate change and their personal C02 output just before hopping onto Elton John’s private jet. Or flying over (from LA) first class to support an Extinction Rebellion road blockage for an hour or so.

        • Anonymous
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          … and eating steak (yup – Emma Thompson)… or perhaps stake in the case of our most recent celebrity (though Count Dracula has not yet expressed an opinion on climate change.)

      • Everhopeful
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        It is communism.
        That’s the aim…world wide control through communism.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Excellent (longish) interview by The Sun of David Starkey on the Boris victory. Almost exactly as I see it.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I am looking forward to the day when we stop burning carbon to get energy. Why you are so keen on it baffles me. So what if renewables are currently more expensive. Surely air quality is more important. Or are you happy with 90% of children in cities needing asthma puffers?

      As an aside, I am puzzled by the direction of travel (as it were) of electric vehicle development. Charging stations are appearing. An infrastructure is slowly developing. We have nowhere near enough electric generating capacity. If we all bought electric cars tomorrow it would not be viable. Surely hydrogen is more viable. This is an area where government needs to be involved and take a lead.

      • Edward2
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        We are not burning much carbon.
        The UK only burns a small amount of coal for energy.
        Gridwatch gives a good view of where our energy comes from.

        • acorn
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Another subject you know nothing about Ed. At the moment of writing there is 3 GW of Coal Generation and 12 GW of natural gas generation. Natural Gas is 75% Carbon 25% Hydrogen. Coal has circa 6% Hydrogen.

          • Edward2
            Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

            Get your facts right before you spout off acorn
            Gridwatch shows less than 5% of current energy demand provided by coal today.
            Mike said “I am looking forward to the day when we stop burning carbon”

          • Edward2
            Posted January 4, 2020 at 12:59 am | Permalink

            The word Carbon has different meanings.
            Engineers think of diamonds,graphite, graffine and carbon fibre.
            Others think of coal,coke and charcoal especially when people say “burning carbon”
            Environmentalists regularly say carbon when they really mean carbon doixide.
            It seems acorn reckons it means any non renewable fuel.
            Yet at Drax power station the burning of wood is considered a renewable fuel.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted January 4, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

            Yes, that’s by weight acorn isn’t it? There is just one carbon atom for every four of hydrogen for methane.

            Energy content favours the hydrogen rather better than the weight ratio doesn’t it?

            My point is, that moving to gas from coal is a very beneficial step on the road towards a low-carbon economy.

      • Fred H
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        we couldn’t ALL buy electric cars tomorrow. The rare earth metals required are not available to manufacture at that rate. And once the order books go up at that sort of requirement, we will be held to ransom. Plus diesel/petrol cars will need to be recycled at a fantastic rate to get space in homes and on roads to make space. By then the National Grid will be closing down areas over periods of the day to avoid total power failures….
        In the meantime let the eco-warriors enjoy their moment in the sun.

        • GilesB
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 9:19 am | Permalink

          Exactly. AT&T remained a monopoly for seventy years. I didn’t say that it is one today.

          Google has nearly 90% of the search market …

      • Roy Grainger
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        And how exactly are you going to manufacture hydrogen ? Electrolysis (using electricity) is the only viable method.

        Let’s hope Cummings succeeds in getting a few more policy makers with science degrees involved in decisions and implementation.

      • dixie
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 6:08 am | Permalink

        If, according to you, we do not have enough electrical generating capacity to charge batteries where would the Hydrogen come from?

      • NickC
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Mike Wilson, Don’t be silly – cheap reliable energy extends lifespans. And cheap energy comes from natural fuels such as coal, gas and oil, not feeble intermittent expensive unreliable Wind or Solar.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      He has certainly decided not to do that, but rather to play along with green received wisdom. Politically this is probably sensible. At the moment an open refutation of climate hysteria would bring on a chorus of protest. But if in 4-5 years, we still haven’t seen the kind of global warming and clear increase in extreme weather events which the climate models have forecast, public opinion will turn. That would be the point to start questioning the end-of-the-world belief system.

      In the meantime I hope Dominic Cummings’s iconoclastic reorganisations at the heart of govt will enable serious consideration of such sensible policies as a major push into the new generation of small nuclear reactors, and perhaps even revisiting of the silly decision to place a moratorium on shale gas fracking. All this can be presented as part of the green agenda and so have political cover, whilst at the same time being sensible and economically beneficial.

      • Leaver
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Not sure about that. It seems to me that environmentalism has been growing steadily and consistently during my lifetime.

        What mystifies me is that some people still continue to deny manmade climate change, when anyone can just look up the year on year global temperatures for themselves? It’s very weird.

        I seems to me, the big question is what do we do about it. I’m not of the go vegan, don’t fly brigade. Also, government subsidies have done a great job in making renewables competitive. Maybe market forces and public will are enough. I think some form of carbon market probably needs to be established, as its ridiculous that some countries can simply pollute the planet with impunity – but it may be a fiendishly complex agreement.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 1:04 am | Permalink

          The big question is how much of the 1.3 degree rise in global average temperature since 1900 is caused by mankind?
          With all the inputs it is unlikely to be 100%.
          There doesn’t seem to be a definite agreed figure.

        • dixie
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

          The big issue is trust – where do those measurements you believe in come from, how accurate are they, are they real or concocted, has there been any independent audit at all …

          BTW There is already a carbon market trading in carbon “credits”, it is very lucrative for some and they and their pet politicians are fighting very hard to keep it going.

        • NickC
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          Leaver, That’s because you are assuming a cause to a fact. It is irrational to claim they are the same. It is a fact that the (artificial, average) global temperature varies. The cause, however, is disputed. Ascribing global temperature variations solely to CO2 is demonstrably incorrect.

  9. Timaction
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Indeed we should. This should include the “so called” Equalities laws (Harman and May) that has given us a two tier society in preference to minorities and making English people, particular white men, second class in their own Country. The Conservative Woman had a brave article yesterday that forensically destroys the pc nonsense that has encapsulated the Westminster bubble that everyone else knows is nonsense! The same laws and standards should apply to all regardless of race, religion or sex. We need to return to a meritocracy.

    • Shirley
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Positive discrimination is still discrimination, (I thought equality was the target?) and hate speech laws where someone can be offended on behalf of someone who was NOT offended has to be the most idiotic law ever! As said earlier by Giles B, no one has the right to not be offended, especially so when they are ‘offended’ by truthful comments.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        I believe that the ultimate idea is equality. As in we prolls
        will all be “more equal”with each other . The elites will NOT be equal.
        The farmer drives the cows and the members of the herd are awfully /terrifyingly equal.
        Groups are identified …some are elevated over others to start with. But as new groups emerge the old groups cede tranches of their “equality” to the new group.
        There are fusses as we have seen recently but not much can be done because of draconian “hate laws”.
        So we all shuffle along, giving up more and more of our hard-won rights “to die as cattle” …we believed them when they said that their “freedom” was more important than our culture (which kept us safe).

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and “the truth” is often what offends people most. Things such as you are very fat, dim or ugly or your religious/economic or political beliefs are patently idiotic and untrue or you cannot change your gender (you lose your job for that too it seems). Of you cannot predict the climate for 100 years using computer modeling (even with very, very expensive computers) when you cannot even do it for next month reliably!

        Clearly positive discrimination for one group has to be negative discrimination for another. They always say they only use it for “equal candidates”. But when on earth do you ever get exactly equal candidates?

        The serious problem with positive discrimination is that, in many cases, it is soon very clear that the person is not really up to the job, and clearly would never have got the job had they not benefited from positive discrimination. This then reflect very unfairly on the few who were genuinely deserving of their positions and disincentives others who were up to the job but had the wrong colour, sexuality or Y chromosome to get it.

        It is a very big problem in physics, computer studies and engineering when so few woman choose these areas. Google engineer James Damore even lost his job for respectfully stating the rather clear truth in a private memo he had been asked to do. The truth is a rather dangerous think to say.

  10. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Government is all about control, hence the fascination with public transport and cashless society.
    They hate the motor car as it is the epitome of freedom.
    If the government gets rid of cash I bet the tax take reduces as more and more bartering takes place.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Power only comes from wielding it over those you wish to Control. We now have had successive Governments that have feared it People.

  11. Kevin
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    “As we leave the EU the UK should revisit its laws and regulations”

    You have brought up a very important topic here, which echoes points I wished to raise during the election campaign. I believe, however, that your last sentence remains the most pertinent. Just last summer, you remarked that “It is a strange phenomenon that many people will stand for election to the UK Parliament with a wish to become lawmakers, only to decide once they arrive that [they] want many of our laws to be settled in Brussels so they can claim they have no ability to amend or repeal them. The UK Parliament over our years in the EU has been craven in meekly accepting every EU law and regulation, and in avoiding proper debate about it.”

    Now, nearly six months later, we have the “stonking” majority about to exhibit the same tendency in the form of Articles 4 and 127 of our so-called “independence” document, the Withdrawal Agreement. Of course, we are reassured that full independence is just around the corner, even though, by next Christmas, the Conservative Party will have spent four and a half years avoiding it. What is more, that goal would appear to have been made impossible by the enduring provisions of the soon-to-be ratified withdrawal treaty, even before a “trade deal” has been negotiated, with all the latter’s attendant temptations to persist with “craven meekness”.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Frightened of the responsibility to lead and guide, so they look for methods to control and suppress

  12. George Brooks
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Your last paragraph, Sir John, ties in with Dominic Cumming’s blog to recruit a bunch of eccentrics and weirdos to give their ideas and thoughts on huge problems such as those you have outlined. We need people who can and do think way outside the box if we are to achieve any worthwhile solutions.

    I don’t see this as a rouse to circumvent the Civil Service and those in it, who are by their education and environment, fairly dull and un-imaginative as their views are the counter balance. We need both lines of approach if were to be successful in the future

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      I remember listening to several BBC interviews with ex-cabinet secretaries – they were almost all almost identikit people. All the usual wrong headed big government knows best drivel. Non seemed to understand logic, numbers, real economics, competition, engineering or any science. Wrong headed, group think, tow the line art graduates just like the BBC.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:14 pm | Permalink


  13. BJC
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Technology has been used very effectively to remove the varied choices we used to have at our disposal. Information is extraordinarily valuable as it provides the route to monopoly and the excessive power it brings. In order to harvest data at minimal cost and inconvenience to the data collectors, we are required to “volunteer” our information through ever more single-service options. If we don’t wish to disclose personal information, or don’t understand the technology, the service is simply no longer available to us. In my area you can’t pay for parking without a mobile phone/card, in others online banking is the only option and just try speaking to a human being from, say, a utility company, without being required to divulge personal information so they “know who they’re talking to”……..and that’s when they’ve phoned you! Is it really any wonder there’s a massive rise in frauds?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Paying for parking with a mobile phone often takes longer than you would be parking for! A huge waste of people’s time and a deterrent from visiting such places.

      • Ignoramus
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        What benefit does paying for parking bring? It doesn’t save time, it costs a lot to install and maintain, it often breaks down and, obviously it needs human supervision.

        The only benefit is to the manufacturers.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Utter rubbish. Paying by mobile, which in my experience involves typing no more than 8 digits on a keypad, is far more convenient.

        Running late for a train? No problem. You don’t have to find and queue at the one working ticket machine (because someone has vandalised all the others in order to steal the coins inside) with everyone else and worry about whether you have the right amount change in the right sorts of coins. Just park, get on the train, and then pay for parking using your phone once you are already on your way. No more issues with losing the ticket or the machine not printing the receipt you need for expenses purposes as you can get one e-mailed to you.

        • Al
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          “Paying by mobile, which in my experience involves typing no more than 8 digits on a keypad, is far more convenient.”

          Assuming you have a phone that supports it, have given your details to Google or Microsoft, can read the sign for SMS pay, that the system isn’t down, etc. We have quite a few older people in the area who don’t fit in these groups and found themselves unable to park in the town centre.

        • David L
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

          My experience of paying for parking with my phone has been unsuccessful since the company has decided my vehicle is different from the one I actually drive and refuses to change my particulars. There is no actual human being to speak to, so I don’t bother to park in such places any more. And others tell me similar, so Peter, you must be a lucky man!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          I agree if you do it regularly and are already registered on the systems – but for the first time it take ages.

        • libertarian
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          I agree with Peter Parsons

          If you download the parking app, it takes a matter of seconds and you dont have to stand in the rain searching for coins. With most apps now you only pay for the duration you park and if you are staying longer than intended you can top up from anywhere without having to return to your car. My only gripe is I have to have 4 different phone apps, if only the parking industry would share marines like Link ATMs do it would be perfect.

          I also get a monthly parking report with all vat receipts in one place. No idea why anyone would want to use coins to park

      • bigneil(newercomp)
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        It also has your phone on show, making it easier for any bike riding phone thieves to snatch.

        • dixie
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 6:20 am | Permalink

          Nah, phones are so big now the thief would have to stop to use both hands.

  14. MBJ
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    My local NHS communication remotely has been taken over by a company ( I don’t want to name it as you may not publish it, and it can be researched for validity ). For the last few weeks there has been a problem of getting access to NHS informatics and services ,for example ‘prescriptions and other electronic services. The system requires logging on and off , rebooting, switching the computer on and off and after about 3 or 4 tries we manage to get connected . I come into work half an hour earlier each day , but If I were to come in at contracted times I would lose the appointments of 2-3 patients . This is private service John. I phoned our local IT and their advice is to do what I am already doing switching on and off . We could not manage without IT know but so many problems slow us down and waiting times and appointments are difficult to get.
    The connection is remote and central .

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Indeed very similar situations to this all over the place. Also forms on line can only be completed if you have every single bit of information you need. Often you cannot see what you need or the full form until you complete each page one by one to see the next page! You usually cannot put (information to follow not to hand) on the form.

  15. agricola
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    We were always given the information that governments, organisation , and commercial entities wished us to have. Think manifestos, advertising, newspapers and the BBC. Digital means have widened the scope of information without making it more accurate.

    I think the internet providers have a duty to remove the extremes, not easy because one nations norm is another nations extreme. In the final analysis it is down to individuals making judgements, as it always has been. we have just experienced a classic example in the recent general election. Various individuals and political parties laid out their menus and the electorate browsed them and made a judgement. There is a good side and a bad side to almost every innovation, human beings were created to make long term judgements rather than the gut reaction of animals. Educate and hope for the best.

  16. Alison
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    A quick side comment – the UK negotiating team should be extremely wary of the EU and any requirements/wishes relating to data. I am certain the EU’s intention is to dominate various services markets. Issues relating to data underpin this.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Don’t even have to go that far up – Wishing to report a fly-tipping a few years ago I phoned my local council as I could see it happening at that very time. I started to tell the young lady what was happening but she stopped me and said ” First I have to record your ( MY ) full name, DOB, address, years I had lived there, Home and mobile numbers, Broadband supplier” – and more. I wasn’t the criminal – -just made to feel like one. I turned my mobile off and drove away in disgust.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

        They do as much as they can to avoid and deter any reporting of crimes or anything that they might have to act upon. Unless that is they can find someone easy to fine for it!

  17. Caterpillar
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Alongside the deep problems of big data for the state not the many, and corporate surveillance capatilism, I think people’s mutual surveillance, judging and shaming has already destroyed free speech and freedom (though extremism and inconsiderate behaviour respond to these). If someone chooses the ‘wrong’ words it might be recorded and shared, the person will be judged, career ended and society will lose breadth. If a student freely chooses to remove the veil at college then she may be photographed and her family informed. If a teacher disrobes on holiday then a photograph can have untold consequences. If a politician struggles with a bacon sandwich then (s)he will fall in popularity. In the cases of revenge porn, we rightly judge the poster, but still society brings shame to the victim – we should all be able to shrug our shoulders – meh – boredom (nearly) everyone has sex. But innovation of phone, dash, drone, web, hidden and insecurity cameras continues and the demand is created. It is a bit judgemental of me, but we need to stop judging, otherwise free speech disappears behind close doors and escalates to extremism, freedom dies for some whilst others ignore the majority and respond with unsociable/inconsiderate behaviour.

    (On free speech MPs could help by backing a proportional system so more views are heard and debated in HoC – without exaggerated wokism and futile tribalism – model good debate).

  18. jerry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Oh dear, more confirmation that politicos [1] and their bureaucrat helpers/masters here in the West simply do not, and probably can never, understand the internet, if free access is to be given then it can not also be regulated (and by whom I ask?!). Ban something from being published in one country it will get published from another, these days most likely via an untraceable VPN, and what if one State wants to undermine social or economic cohesion in another.

    We have two choices, do as China does with their “Great Firewall of China” (never mind N.Korea and their closed Intranet), or we simply have to accept that the internet is and will always be the modern “Wild West” and advise users accordingly.

    [1] I would like to believe that our host was playing Devils Advocate…

    • Dave Ward
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      “Via an untraceable VPN”

      And when it dawns on the government that too many serfs are taking that route, they will simply ban VPN’s…

      • Know-Dice
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        So, ban remote homeworker?

        They would probably make you register your VPN and pay a fee as well as disclose your password. Not that government has a good record of keeping that type of thing secret…

        But remember a VPN is like Schrödinger’s cat, in that it’s just data till you decode it…

      • Dennis
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Ever heard of- ‘You’re using a VPN so you cannot continue’. The BBC stops you using their services when abroad if you use a VPN.

        • Know-Dice
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s probably that the BBC recognise the IP address of the end-point belonging to a commercial VPN provider rather than you using a VPN per se.

        • jerry
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

          @Dennis; What, even if the VPN making the request is UK based. How does the BBC servers know the request originates from outside the UK, unless the headers tell it, in which case it’s not a very good VPN!

          Are you sure it wasn’t the VPN saying you could not continue, after all any VOD service is going to take a lot of bandwidth.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

          Indeed there are ways round this by paying for a dedicated UK VPN but why on earth do the BBC not just charge you something and let you use it?

        • John Brown
          Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

          “The BBC stops you using their services when abroad if you use a VPN.”

          When did this happen?
          I was abroad last July and experienced no problem using my VPN.

          • John Brown
            Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            And people all over Europe get the BBC for free using Freesat and a large enough dish.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Too true Jerry, the genie is out of the bottle…

      Even Peter Wright’s physical publication couldn’t be controlled by the Government of the day, so how do they expect to control something that they don’t even understand…

    • libertarian
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink


      Great post I totally agree .

      Youve only got to look at the damage done by the stupid GDPR and Cookie regulations , and they wonder why we have low productivity

      Heres a prediction, Facebook, Twitter and Google will NOT be market leaders in 10 years time

  19. Gareth Warren
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Protecting people from terrorism, fraud and other crimes that take advantage of the internet are clear requirements of government, but both conservative and labour want to go much further.

    I remember David Cameron pledging support for antifa, an organisation that opposes free speech and uses violence as its method of influence. Labour have people who clearly support terrorist organisations such as Hamas.

    I look across the pond to a world where free speech is a right protected by law, while they have many problems none are caused by people freely expressing their opinions. Here is a good example why we should adopt the same protections as the US has.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      “Protecting people from terrorism, fraud and other crimes that take advantage of the internet are clear requirements of government,”

      Those that participate in those activities have no general use of the open internet most of us use. There is a parallel route for communication for them. An open and controlled internet is a requirement of those that are frightened of the People and want to subdue and control their spirit.

      • Gareth Warren
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        I agree, most evil use of the internet uses the dark web or less public areas, terrorists that use the public internet still deserve government attention though.

        One day I dream of hearing a government spokesman actually admit there are some things they cannot control, not holding my breath though.

  20. glen cullen
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Maybe the digital revolution needs the start at parliament

    Electronic voting rather than turnstiles and hologram projected clock rather than gold leaf painted mechanical Big Ben etc

    Parliament needs to send the message that we are in the 21st century

    • rose
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


      • glen cullen
        Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        Because it would save approx an hour per vote of time and MPs don’t even have to be in the house to vote
        Because our forefathers built Westminster Palace using the latest design, technology and methods…we should do the same

        • rose
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

          When we vote in elections we go in person to do it and it is done with pencil and paper. Very little can go wrong. I suppose you would rather text from the pub. I think it important to do this in person, in sobriety, and making a little effort.

          It is the same with our MPs. With them there is the added advantage that they are going through the lobbies together and it can be seen what is happening. They can also talk to each other, to people they don’t necessarily talk to at other times. This is not old fashioned technology but civilization.

    • Al
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Electronic voting was proven to be easily hacked (the case studies on US voting machines are online). Centralising the Electoral Roll on the other hand, would be a very good idea and do more to stop electoral fraud and multiple (often student) votes.

      With the banking industry blocking the development of crypto solutions in this country, I’d suggest practical solutions to make technical development and new technology easier would be desirable, rather than spending scarce funds replacing things that already work.

  21. calnorth
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Hong Kong is the wake up call for citizen surveillance…and recording! ID cards, credit cards scanning etc and cameras various. China leads the way in a miserable future tech life IMO. See the film Brazil as a taster.

  22. rose
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Things never work out as one expects or fears, and something else invariably comes along as an unforseen problem, but at the moment I most fear selective censorship as we already have inklings of it from Frau Merkel and the Californians. Conservatives will be censored and socialists will not.

    I could have done with a bit of censorship on the BBC this morning when Mishal Husain was letting an Iranian Professor slander us without once interrupting him.

  23. Prigger
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Raab should be dismissed immediately if he has the slightest influence upon the security of our Embassies abroad and counter measures, if the Embassies are under direct bombardment. He does play the fool with lives, our lives.

  24. Ian @Barkham
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    This in somewhat is a ‘hornet nest’ of a question, for the most part the internet Politicians and so-called Authorities(thinking police here) just don’t understand the concept of the connected World.

    Those pretend political elites, our rulers, our authorities often cite the need to protect us – really! How? Something about terrorisms etc. That’s nonsense, people up to no good don’t use the internet as you know it, it is actually hidden away in another sphere. So all constrains legislated for only monitor the general population. Each of these sectors is seeking to control the masses in their own image and own way.

    We hear from our Police and those in Authority asking that they should have a backdoor around all forms of encryption without thinking it through. If encryption has a backdoor, others will find it. Meaning the enemies of a Country. What we don’t have is enough encryption, all email and messaging platforms should be encrypted by Law or not permitted. In reality all our internet connections should be supplied via a VPN or at very least Tim Burners-Lee ‘HUB’. As it stands those that seek an advantage over the UK trawl the internet daily picking up a snippet here another there and finish up with the picture of everyone in the UK. That includes UK MP’s, their mandarins and so on.

    To illustrate that further, those that have never used Social Media will be surprised to learn they have a ‘FaceBook’ account. For the simple reason someone somewhere had a mention of them in their phone book or email addresses list. The situation then gets murky as FB fully complies with GDPR – that is the big joke. They have partners that thy tell you about in passing, today it was 23 listed, then they have those with access to their API. These are all entities that because a website has a ‘FB’ link manage to gain access to an individuals device and collect and collate every bit of information found.

    It was given a wide audience at the time with ‘Cambridge Analytica’ most people assumed they(CA) had done something wrong. It was never quite like that, a separate outfit with access to the ‘FB’s’ API collected tons of data, so much of it, they needed extra help to analyse it. In that incidence it was a Political Party, but it could just as easily been a Foreign power – there are no restrictions.

    The lists and illustrations are endless, it is just not FaceBook, arriving here at ‘John Redwood’s Diary’ my details, what I am posting etc. is collected and collated by 4 outside entities. How and what the data collected is used for is outside my control as much as it is outside of Sir John’s . How could the UK Government intervene, this data is removed from the UK and stored outside the UK’s jurisdiction

    There is no GDPR consent asked for on this site but we are all interrogated, documented and pigeon holed. Then again GDPR is written backwards, You will be told about the lovely cuddly ‘Cookies’ that improve your experience and then if you have the time after a further 100 plus pages of reading you find the bit that says we treat you as a commodity and sell everything we glean from you to whom ever we like!

    Reply This site makes clear any posting you make to it becomes public at your risk. I do not exploit this site commercially either by taking ads or selling data from it.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 4, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply.

      Sir John, while it absolutely clear you and your people are not involved in data collection and its monitorization. The point we all miss is those that those that supply the facilities we use, don’t have the same view. We all sign off on them as they are hidden or obscured in gobbledygook

      In the very nature of coming to this blog site(Diary) the following named outlets are collecting data from your viewers –

      All this data is removed from the UK, therefore from any UK legal jurisdiction. For all anyone knows it could be ending up with those lovely, highly intelligent tech Guys in Tehran

      The Internet is a dangerous place, and our own ‘keep you safe'(the big lie) authorities and law makers are compounding the issue, by their own personnel needs to control

      In my other life I had a need to implement GDPR and try to get a grip on its true implications – i.e. its meaningless in its current form, just a passport to exploit.

  25. Sane
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Thank goodness for social media as our MSM are showing not so much. The attack on the US Embassy. We have a crazy response from our government that would be seen as lunatic if news got to the British people as a whole. This government will not abolish the BBC and fake satellite media in the UK.
    Sky News announces “Britain is alarmed” about the US action. No it isn’t!! The UK government should be alarmed with its dopey foreign policy. Leave their designer drugs at home. just because their eyes are not dilated and they appear to speak lucidly is no guide nowadays that they are not drugged up to the eyeballs. It seems they are.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Irony, we protect our MSM, as they are the Guardians of our Freedoms. They are permitted to do and say as they want.

      An individual that challenges another’s thoughts on Social Medias gets censured or at the extreme locked up.

      Not forgetting Social Media has one purpose and that is NOT as an outlet for truth. Social Media is solely there to permit the interrogation of your and that of people you know on your contact lists for the collection and collation of data so as to be sold on to un-named sources. Foreign and Domestic. How else is it supposed they earn such vast sums each year.

      All data Collected in the UK is removed from UK jurisdiction and stored in foreign countries so is untouchable by UK Laws.

  26. Mike Wilson
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    There seems to be the suggestion in there that the evolution of a cashless economy would make it easier to see how and where the state spends our money. Does the state currently transact business in suitcases of cash?

    • acorn
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes. There are £100; 10 and 1 million Pound notes that are not in circulation but are issued by the magic money tree (i.e. the National Loans Fund), to cover the issue of Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes. Without such backing by the UK Treasury, those two countries would be Sterling counterfeiters.

  27. Ian @Barkham
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Boris Johnson in a former position. is quoted as saying, I paraphrase “He would sooner the voices against us were permitted the open forums, so we knew who they were. Rather than driving them under-ground making it harder to detect the threats”

  28. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Should we develop businesses in this field they must be protected against foreign takeover. We ought to have had enough of this ‘open for business’ policy which has meant in effect that everything we have is for sale to anyone who comes up with enough money, and how much of this is borrowed here anyway.

    Then profits and surplus cashflow go abroad. I fail to see how this benefits our economy except perhaps via local employment should there be expansion which will be mostly at the lower skills end. The best bits of the business is held by the buyer.

  29. bigneil(newercomp)
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    We apparently have a million ( and increasing regularly ) illegals here in the UK – – why not use the technology to find – and deport – THEM – instead of attacking the people whose taxes you take?

    • jerry
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      @bigneil(newercomp); “We apparently have a million ( and increasing regularly ) illegals here in the UK”

      Care to explain how you, or your informer, came to that figure?…

      • Caterpillar
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 12:39 am | Permalink


        in 2009 LSE estimated 670,000
        in 2015 Migration Watch estimated 1.1 million.

        Migration Watch also do rate estimates. There are various sources for estimation methods.

        It does seem that bigneil’s estimate might be low given the above, but I guess you can check the various sources.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 8:10 am | Permalink

          what concerns me is what are they doing? Are they able to get NI numbers, driving licences etc by someone doing it for them? Do they work in a cash only black economy? Whar obstacles to setting up a bank account?

        • jerry
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

          @Caterpillar; I will ask again, how have they come by those estimates?

          Who has counted these unknown-unknowns, why are they then still unknowns (apparently) rather than there being a million plus known-knowns, but then the LSE and MW would not be using words such as “estimate”…

          Anyone can pluck numbers out of the air and sound informed, especially amongst those seeking confirmation of their own beliefs.

  30. glen cullen
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I see today that the courts are making new laws again

    Being ‘Vegan’ is now deemed a religion by the courts with far reaching implications to our laws and systems……thought that was parliaments job

    In this technology ago maybe we should remove religion from lawmakers like the USA

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Making laws is a large part of their job.

      Read up on the English common law, and how it works.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Indeed why on earth should belief systems (usually totally irrational ones) be legally protected from any criticism when true and rational beliefs are not? Why should employers be expected to put up with (and pay extra costs for) employees who want special treatment. Why should other employees be expected to put up with covering for these employees?

      I assume the courts have decided that the “Climate Alarmist/C02 devil gas” religion is already a protected belief system?

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        The Court has ordered none of those things.

        All that it has said is that a vegan, say, cannot be disadvantaged with respect to, for instance, a Jehovah’s Witness non-vegan in the workplace simply by dint of philosophical belief.

        • Fred H
          Posted January 4, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

          Us Leavers should also be accorded the same protection from disadvantage by dint of philosophical belief.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Surely vegans are inevitably always eating meat in the form of tiny insects, maggots, slugs and the likes in their vegetables?

    • steve
      Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Glen Cullen

      “Being ‘Vegan’ is now deemed a religion”

      Not in this country it can’t be. So ignore that court ruling.

      Perhaps the court was mistakenly thinking the state religion to be Buddhism or Hinduism.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted January 4, 2020 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        It was not deemed a “religion”.

        Ignore that posting.

  31. acorn
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s a good week for “taking back control”. I find that my gas and electric supplier is now owned by the French, including the French government. My next passport will be produced by a French company. And; the UK/EU fishing grounds will be policed, post Brexit, by a French spy satellite company, thanks to DEFRA.

    In addition, I am getting email from UK/EU financial salesmen; advising high net worth families, on how to obtain residence/citizenship in an EU27 member state – not just Ireland which is the current favourite apparently.

  32. georgeP
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    So what future for British business overseas now- they are burning the UK flag along with the US and Israeli flags on the streets in Teheran. President Trumps’ Secretary of State ‘pompous’ Pompeo said the US was making the world a safer place for Americans and yet all American nationals have been told to vacate Iraq. No doubt they have also been told quietly to vacate other Middle Eastern countries as well- nowhere is safe for them now and we know for decades Israelis cannot leave Israel to journey to any of neighbouring countries- not with any degree of safety anyhow- and so now I see they are burning the UK flag in Teheran- the way things are going I don’t think we are going to need that new blue passport

  33. hefner
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    On today’s topics, there is an interesting contribution from Tim Minshall (U.Cambridge) ‘Three risks to progress’ discussing innovation vs. invention, the role of business, universities and UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) in “The Shock of the New”, November 2019.
    Well worth a read from the JC Taylor Prof. of Innovation, Head Institute for Manufacturing.

  34. Alec
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    The dangers of terrorism online are enormously outweighed by the dangers of the state having control over us. In the last thousand years governments have killed hundreds of millions of people with their wars and repressions and famines. Also most “terrorist” attacks have been at the instigation or as a response to government actions. A cashless society is the ultimate nightmare seeding complete control of your life to bankers and bureaucrats. China on steroids in fact. I see the only hopes of avoiding this Orwellian disaster as either crypto currency or the complete collapse of the economy. I’d prefer the first but see the second as just as likely.

  35. steve
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Good evening JR

    You say –

    “Many asked for protection from false allegations and from messages of hatred.”

    If that came to be I would expect the SNP to be gagged in English media, and the same for project fear pedlars.

    “The internet should not be a school for terrorists”

    Indeed. But nor should it suppress citizen’s rights to free speech. A difficult balance.

  36. Time Lord
    Posted January 4, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “…the extent to which censorship is needed and justified, and the role of the internet in causing harm as well as its manifold ways of doing good.”
    No politician has a constituency our Cyber Space: You come here with nothing.

  37. We watch the Earth
    Posted January 4, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    There used to be something termed akin to ‘an internet passport’ .Paid politicians, should also require a visa to enter.But there are no visas. So, keep out of our land!
    What next, will politicians go to Jodrell Bank and tell everyone in the billions of light years of the known cosmos to watch what they say? Of course they will. Such universal arrogance!

  38. MeSET
    Posted January 4, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Seriously. Apart from yourself JR, I haven’t heard any MP albeit in the context in which they were emphasising showing any real understanding of social media and how people in general use it.

    It is a theatre with volunteer actors who move on and off stage.

    I have just seen a clip on one tweet of what Jess Phillips believes about her near 350.000 Followers on Twitter, allegedly, and says they love her in effect.Well, she is at least as good as any other human.
    However, ‘following’ someone on Twitter certainly does not necessarily mean an expression of love or agreement. How can it in human terms? The lady has numerous quotes taken from her tweets and is roundly ridiculed with intricate ‘memes(?) out-classing any available satirical magazine.
    If I wished to argue online with a political opponent,( I would be acting) I perhaps would Follow a Remainer of large following and get a great deal of entertainment and interact with many intelligent Brexiteers. No, it’s A Theatre.
    MPs and other politicians do have the power to stop what they call Hate -Speech, but if not said there, such speech will be said in places and with real physical presence, not observable by anyone other, generally. Please Let the Play Go On! as in ‘The Show must go on.’
    I follow the Royal Shakespeare Company on Twitter. It does not mean for its management I^ …have↓…any^….res↓ …pect^….at↓….all^ It could be the very opposite knowing what I know.

  39. Stephen O
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    China already does have a social credit system to reward or punish individuals based on their perceived loyalty. This affects access to public services and credit. Doubtless they will continue to refine the technology over time.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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