Merry christmas and happy new years

 I saw this a few days ago when I was checking my statistics and it made me really happy. I actually have readers!

So, Merry Christmas and happy new years to ALL my readers, wherever you are!

(I use the Word Press app in Swedish)

(I use the Word Press app in Swedish)

“A new year is on the way and the possibilities are endless.” ― Unknown

facebook and privacy

Being part of social media sites has many social benefits. Especially for someone like me that live abroad and need a way to stay in touch with friends through interactive communication tools, such as Facebook. However, I have realized that it doesn’t come for free or without risks.

The other day when I was on my phone looking through my Facebook messages it suddenly asked me if I wanted to download the new Messenger app. The app is beneficial as the users can access their messages quicker and easier. It all sounds good, however, the permissions Messenger wants in return sound pretty ominous. The terms of use make it look as if Facebook can use the Messenger app to copy your address book, send email and text messages to your contacts without your knowledge, and even use your smartphone’s camera and mic to spy on you.

My first thought when I realized this was “But wait, what? Can they really do this?” Well yes, the permissions requests may seem very broad, but there is a reason behind them, and as a matter of fact it is exactly what other apps are requesting too.

Facebook has a help page that details each of the permission requests and why those requests are being made;

Using your smartphone’s camera and microphone This isn’t a move to spy on what you’re saying, listen in on conversations, or secretly capture photos and video of whatever you’re doing. Messenger needs these permissions to access the camera and mic when you snap photos or video in-app, and to record audio messages or make in-app voice calls.

Calling phone numbers Facebook doesn’t have any plans to cold call your friends with targeted ads. Messenger needs your OK to dial if you ever tap a friend’s phone number in-app so it can initiate the call.

Text messaging Messenger needs permission to send you text messages because adding a phone number to your account requires a verification system. Sending you an SMS message is how that happens.

Address book access Facebook doesn’t want access to your contacts so it can send your friends ads. Granting Messenger access to your contacts simply lets you access contact information from within the app.

We already knew that Facebook did not value our privacy but the new app is giving Facebook even more information about you which they did not already have. They collect from your personal life, you can block access to your iPhone’s microphone, camera, and more, by launching the Settings app and tapping Privacy. However, if you’re uber-paranoid, maybe it’s time to delete the apps from your iPhone.


“What happens on social media stays on Google forever.” ― Unknown

An act of kindness gone wrong!

With regards to M’s blogpost I would like to talk about the matter of reporting cases involving children, specifically focusing on the Watkin fiasco.

As we have talked about in my previous blog post the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (CYPA 1933) says as a general rule that proceedings in the youth court are not open to the publics; s.47 CYPA 1933. Press representatives are not prevented from report on proceedings, but only from identifying the child or any young person involved in the proceedings; s.49 CYPA 1933.

Ian Watkins, a musician, pleaded guilty to a number of sex offences including raping two children (one only 11-months old) while the mothers (groupies) allowed and encouraged the abuse. The mother,

A court order was made to grant lifelong anonymity to the two children in accordance with the CYPA 1933. In order to keep their identities secret the mother identities could neither be revealed as this would simply cause a “jigsaw identification”. However, despite of all this, Peaches Geldof illegally named the mothers (who had until then been identified as “women A” and “women B”) in a tweet. Her twitter readers were furious by her action and called her an “idiot”.

M writes in her post that “These women sacrificed the innocence of their own children, to satisfy their own hunger for fame, but even so, they may be victims and, more to the point, their children definitely ARE victims”. I could not agree more with this. These women were persuaded by Watkins to “sacrifices” their own children in order to be “liked” by the artist. The mothers did indeed accomplice to the crime by putting their children at risk and making them a victim. Peaches Geldof similarly put the children at danger when revealing the mother’s names. She tried to get justice, but did not see the consequences of her action. As encouraging as it may seem to reveal their names one must not do so as it will identify the true victims, merely the children. I agree with Peaches twitter readers who seem to know more than the “self-known” journalist herself who indeed seem to need to take some law courses. She is not only putting the victim’s life at stake by doing this she is also acting illegally.


“You will always stand taller when you kneel to help a child.” ― Unknown


Reporting local government and elections

In this week’s lecture I will encompass reporting local council meetings and also reporting elections.

Reporting local council meetings:

The freedom of press has lately been boosted by a new governmental body. Eric Pickles signed an order in August 2014 allowing press and the public to report and film all public meetings of local government bodies. This new right to report updates a law passed by Margaret Thatcher as a backbench MP

It is important to have transparency and openness behind everything that is done by councils and other local government bodies. New right with regard to this has now been brought together in Openness of Local Government Bodies 2014, which enables members of the public to know how decisions are made. Its gives rights to member of the press and public to:

  • use modern technology and communication methods such as filming, audio-recording, blogging and tweeting to report the proceedings of the meetings of their councils and other local government bodies
  • See information relating to significant decisions made outside meetings by officers acting under a general or specific delegated power.

The government has published a plain English guide of practical information on how the public can exercise their new rights, and what they should expect from their local government bodies.

Reporting election:

It is a criminal offence to report and make a statement of fact on the personal character or conduct of an elections candidate with the purpose to effect the voting. There is a legal ban on publishing exit polls on voting day. However, you are not prevented from publishing the result of opinion polls arising from surveys before the voting poles open on the voting day. Reporters can neither express personal support for any candidate or party.

Reporters can read and follows this handbook on how to report election.

Tom Crook on cover elections:

“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them” ― Alfred Hitchcock

Read more here:

Secret Britain

In this week’s post we will discuss The Telegraph’s description of Britain as a ‘word leader for reticence among democracies’.

Click here to listen to Radio 4’s Secret Britain series by Peter Hennessy, the leading Whitehall-watcher. He tells the story of the Official Secrets Act and explores the tension between Britain’s culture of state secrecy and more open government.

Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 says that it is an offence for any person for any purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State to:

  • Approach, inspect, pass over, be in the neighbourhood of or enter any prohibited place.
  • Make any sketch, plan, model, or note which is calculated to be or might be or intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.
  • Obtain, collect, record, or publish, or communicate to any other person any secret official code word, or pass word, or any sketch, plan, model, article or note, or other document or information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.

The Official Secrets Act 1911 replaced the 1889 one. However, this section of the Act has been highly discussed as is seem to protect ‘everything’ from being revealed. It seem like this section is trying to make individuals hesitant from revealing any kind of secret that may risk the safety of the state by putting a high punishment level.

However, before making a clear statement of the exceptional section we must look at the case of Clive Ponting (R v Ponting [1985]). Clive Ponting, senior official in the Ministry of Defence, was arrested and put on trial under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 for leaking two official documents concerning the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War. Clive Ponting was a senior civil servant tasked with preparing a top secret report about the incident. Clive Pointing argued that the leaked documents were in the public interest to know the truth about the scenario of the sinking ship. The jury agreed with him and acquitted him in spite of the law, something they have a right to do. He believed that the government had been concerned only with saving itself from political embarrassment. Ponting was held innocent by the jury as he revealed the truth and thus had acted in the national interest. Pointing has later pointed out that he wanted to know more about the incident. The court held that his duty to the state meant duty to the Crown in Parliament, not to a government concerned only with covering up its own lies.

The aquitance of Pointing was completely against the 1911 Act. Lord Franks therefore in 1978 recommended a reform in his report ‘Departmental Committee on section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911’ (1978). Lord Hurd confirmed the Frank report by saying: “The weight of the argument was that if you really wanted an effective Act, it had to be less comprehensive. By narrowing the space in which you were working to defend, you made it more likely that you would succeed in defending it”. Accordingly was The Official Secrets Act 1911 replaced by Official Secrets Act 1989 which indeed changed s.2 by being more limited and accurate. It simply prohibits disclosure of information regarding the following six categories;

  •   Security and intelligence
  •   Defense
  •   International relations
  •   Assisting criminals
  •   Information resulting from unauthorized disclosures or entrusted in confidence
  •   Information entrusted in confidence to other states or international organisations

The conclusion can be drawn that this new Act makes the government more transparent and open to so called “protected disclosures” (those assessed to be in the public interest). This was easily illustrated when the Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force and allowed the public to get access to documents relating the works of government and other public bodies. However, there will always be situation where national security will be questioned and challenged.

If you want to know more about the incident of Clive Pointing then you must watch this clip (below) where it is among other things said by the Director of Public Prosecutions,  Sir Thomas Hetherington, that “I must live with section 2. It is the job of parliament to decide what should be in the statue book. So if something like section 2 is in the statue book, then it is my job to use it”.  Lord Denning is also shown in the clip and says among other things that “it is an Act that must be replaced”;

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ― Albert Einstein