Monday, October 27, 2003

My colleague, John Naughton, is amongst the people alerting us to the notion that is might not be a great idea to buy into Microsoft's Office 2003 sales pitch.

Michael Robertson is possibly going a bit far in suggesting the software is a virus but I agree with John, that "You would have to be exceedingly stupid to fall for it."

Unfortunately, however, most organisations have a kind of built in blindness to stupidity when it comes to this kind of thing. And the force of Microsoft's publicity will likely be more than strong enough to overcome voices of reason, thereby causing millions within and without organisations to turn from people into sheeple, and sign up in droves.

Like I said yesterday, potentially we can influence more with our purchasing power than our votes but we don't seem to see it that way. There seems to be wide spread apathy to the reality of voter or consumer power. And if you don't use it you'll lose it.

The Guardian on Saturday did a longish piece on the increasing scale of identity theft in the UK. This really is a growing problem and people would do well to be aware of it. 74 766 cases reported in the UK last year. And that's just the reported cases.

"In a survey last year, Experian, a
credit reference agency, found that 53 out of 71 local authorities
reported bin raiding was taking place in their areas, and getting
noticeably worse.

In a further analysis of 400 domestic bins, the agency found that
72% contained a full name and address, 40% contained a credit
card number and expiry date linked to an individual, and 20%
held a bank account number and sort code alongside a name.
Rifling through rubbish pays off. As does trawling through the
internet. To find more details of you, a fraudster could check out
the electoral roll, the national phone book and the directors'
database, as well as a few other data sources such as the land
registry (which holds your mortgage details)."

Nick Cohen in his latest polemic against the government says "Basic civil liberties are in dire jeopardy when anti-terrorist laws are used for day-to-day policing."

"For the past few weeks, the High Court in London has been considering the possibility that not even the threat of mass murder can make the British state grow up. Before it is an account of what happened to demonstrators who gathered in September outside Europe's biggest arms fair in London's Docklands. Cluster bombs, conventional bombs, each and every type of bomb, were on sale to buyers from pretty much every dictatorship on the planet. The demonstrators' number included Quakers and nuns...

Dozens of protesters were arrested and searched under Straw's anti-terrorism legislation none the less. Pennie Quinton wasn't even demonstrating. She was an accredited journalist who was making a film of the demo...

Her case was taken up by the civil rights group, Liberty, which asked the High Court to decide whether the police were using what were meant to be emergency powers against potential psychopaths as 'another tool in the kit of day-to-day policing'. Liberty's lawyers discovered that it has become routine for the police to declare the whole of London a special zone for anti-terrorist operations.

No one knew what the Met was up to because orders akin to the announcement of martial law were declared and confirmed in secret. From 13 August for 28 days and from 11 September for 28 days, the police had unconstrained power to treat everyone in London as a terrorist, and stop, search and hold them without cause or reasonable suspicion. "

Cohen is not Tony Blair's favorite journalist.

The New York Times is suggesting that Brazil is now a hotspot for cyber criminals. The journalist seems to be basing that assertion on a conversation with a computer savvy 22-year old Brazilian, the publisher of a hacker magazine in Brazil and a consultancy firm in London.

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