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I'm not sure if I want to complete the circle or not. I quite like the feeling of a work in progress.

A protester outside Europe House holds up two large placards which between them read as "The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership - A corrupt capitalist conspiracy to end democracy".

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

My now defunct MacBook Pro seemed to have this way of attracting stickers like crazy. Do hover over and take a read. Before you ask, yes, that's a terrible thing to do to a computer - I'm a terrible person. Yes, I did get a lot of looks on the train. And, yes, I am procrastinating.

This image was created using thousands of photos of surveillance state ephemera sent in by UK citizens. It was put together live on Parliament square in London on 11 October 2008 to celebrate an international day of action for democracy and human rights - "Freedom not Fear".

 

Find out more:

 

Open Rights Group (http://www.openrightsgroup.org)

 

No2ID

(http://www.no2id.net)

 

Andrea Mosaic

(http://www.andreaplanet.com/andreamosaic/)

  

A poster put together on behalf of Osmosoft and in fulfillment of my duty as today's One Web Day ambassador. It's available as a clean, high-resolution scan [PDF].

Nothing says we're living in a surveillance society than the gradual acceptance of CCTV as normal by swathes of the population. Using this symbol of the big-brother state as advertising highlights this trend.

 

Taken for the Freedom Not Fear, Big Picture event on October 11th, 2008.

Nothing says we're living in a surveillance society than the gradual acceptance of CCTV as normal by swathes of the population. Using this symbol of the big-brother state as advertising highlights this trend.

 

Taken for the Freedom Not Fear, Big Picture event on October 11th, 2008.

The photo comes thanks to Kazze www.flickr.com/photos/kazze/225952584/

 

The quote comes from googler Matt Cutt’s blog www.mattcutts.com/blog/my-thoughts-on-recent-google-tips/ I’ve been meaning to put it up for a while, as something about it just rang true. Across all their services, Google are I believe held to a higher standard by your average web searcher because of their track record and the trust that's built up.

 

I think this expectation is one of the reasons why every time there’s even a glimmer of suspicion that google might do something stupid/evil/scary, there’s such an uproar. (Of course, another reason is that they’re so widely used, what google does matters directly to more people).

 

We’re in the midst of another of these uproars, to the extent that I had someone seriously ask me last week if this was the beginning of the end for Google. They thought it was; I disagreed. There seems to have been a flurry of others online talking about this, so I thought I’d share my thoughts as a perhaps contrary voice.

 

What sparked my friend’s question was an article in the FT, which in light of Google’s recent investment in a genetics company, and Eric Schmidt’s recent comment: “The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’, was basically talking about Google as being big brother, privacy invader, etc.

 

It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out. Personally, I think with some careful calming down by Google spokespeople, plus an element of time passing, it’ll blow over like the other Google fear panics have (Danny Sullivan has a great roundup of them here: searchengineland.com/070101-215524.php).

 

It would be different – VERY different – if Google had actually erred and done something severely wrong. Like selling out a chinese blogger (Y! bow your head in shame: web.amnesty.org/pages/chn-310106-action-eng). But so far, at least by my reckoning, they haven’t… so the furore seems to be over the fact that there’s the very slim* possibility they might in future. Because Google have such a strong reputation and trust among your average consumer, I think this will be enough to let them weather the storm over what “might be” in future.

 

Perhaps I’m overly pragmatic, but as a consumer I’m willing to accept the very slim* risk that Google turn evil and betray my trust in a way that harms me in future, in exchange for the real benefits their services provide me now.

 

Indeed, the FT article recognises that I’m not alone in feeling like this:

“Google Search, Gmail and myriad other services are today intrusive data mining enterprises - and extremely popular with customers…. When Google scans them to find what job listing we might like to see or what spa we need to visit, we tend to be pretty happy. Where standards slip and private information leaks to unwanted purposes, or is sold to low-ball retailers, we are all going to get crazy. We will take Google's equity with us”.

 

Notice how it uses the future tense in talking about the bad things… this is because they haven’t happened!! If a backlash driven by data protection & privacy happens, IMHO it’ll be when there’s cause to believe that bad things are likely to happen; or clear signs that Google have lost their soul. At the moment, I don’t think we’re at that point… and thus, while I’m watching Google closely, I see no reason to get up in arms.

 

Remember, Google aren’t not the only people with access to huge amounts of personal data … your credit card company knows EVERY PURCHASE you’ve made, ANYWHERE you’ve used the card… your mobile phone company tracks EVERY PLACE you go and EVERY CALL you make or receive… And if you live in London as I do, you’re not only tracked but VIDEO’ED. (Recent estimates were that there was 1 cctv camera for every 14 people in the UK; more than 20% of all cctv cameras worldwide were in the UK… and you can bet that the bulk are in London.

www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23391081-details/Geor... ). At least with Google you have the option to avoid it - to not sign in to use personalised services; or to give false info when you register.... try doing that with your bank. :-)

 

Such tracking has IMHO become just something you have to live with as part of modern urban life. Of course, it doesn’t mean you should be totally complacent about it – if nothing else, if you’re in the UK I urge you to consider donating to ORG www.openrightsgroup.org/... (I don’t necessarily agree with all their positions, but I pay them money every month ‘cos I think it’s important there’s SOMEONE in a position to raise awkward issues and provide an educated voice).

 

I do wonder however, whether acceptance of such tracking as being “normal” is another sign of the digital divide. Perhaps to kids when they hear “big brother” they don’t see it in purely Orwellian terms but also as a friendly face like a real-life brother lending a helping hand, offering a service??? I don’t know… (do they even read 1984 in schools these days?)

 

Personally though, as a consumer, I trust Google more than I trust my credit card or mobile provider; and certainly more than I trust politicians or social services or any other government body. So the notion of Google being able to give me relevant suggestions about “what I should do tomorrow” or “what job should I take” doesn’t scare me as much as it seems to have terrified some.

 

It’s not like I’ll be forced to act on Google’s recommendations… the same way I’m not forced to believe my horoscope. I’ve done tests like Myers-Briggs and Gallup’s StrengthsFinder and found them incredibly useful in terms of helping me work out what things are important to me in a job; if Google can add another dimension to that, in a private way, brilliant. I love how Amazon recommends new books to me based on my past book-buying, it’s incredibly helpful and means I find great books I’d otherwise never have stumbled across… if Google can help me discover local events, holiday ideas, etc that are a similarly close match for what I like with no effort on my part, just like Amazon, then I say bring it on.

 

So long as I can choose to ignore Google’s suggestions… So long as I have the option to opt out of the tracking, ie: to revert back to searching anonymously at any point… So long as Google take steps to minimise risk of something going wrong (like deleting/sanitising the data they hold on me after a period so it’s not personally identifiable)… then, at least for now, I give Google the benefit of the doubt.

 

Digital privacy is an important issue though, one that’s worth coming to your own conclusions about. If you want to read more on the topic with relation to google,

searchengineland.com/070525-150643.php is interesting.

 

(*Sidenote: Personally I judge the possibility of google turning evil to be very slim because I think google folk are smart enough to recognise that if at any moment they do, whether on purpose or by accident, they’ll utterly destroy the reputation of google – which would undermine their entire business. And yes, I know Google are under fire for censoring search results in China… I sincerely wish they didn’t; but am also pragmatic and believe that offering access to google albeit in clearly-marked censored form is better than providing no access at all and at least gives them a step to build from… and anyway by my moral compass it’s a million miles less bad than what Y! have done).

 

PS: For the avoidance of doubt: as always, opinions expressed on this blog are my own and are not necessarily shared by the company I work for.

 

Just a quick snap before I dive back into the many rooms of interesting discussion here at ORGCon. More later.

The irony here is too great.

 

Update: NO2ID & the Open Rights Group is celebrating Freedom Not Fear Day (October 11th) through collecting photos of the surveillance state. Tag your photo FNFBigPicture and give it a CC-BY licence (like this one) to join in!

Digital rights projects Hack Day at Mozilla’s offices

I've decided that it might be about time to start attaching a watermark to the photos I upload to the internet. It's not actually because I'm having problems with people using my photos on their blogs/websites uncredits - I don't really, I don't make money off my photography and I'm happy to use a Creative Commons non-commercial-attribution licence which flickr shows with the info on the photo page. That said, just because I don't make money off my shots, doesn't mean I'm giggly as a schoolgirl about other people using my work for free in their commercial ventures. Which brings us to...

 

My (best beloved) government and their truly gawdawful Digital Economy Bill. Amongst its many flaws (and it has so many flaws that MI5 are worried that it's going to make it harder to track criminals online) are some issues to do with what are called orphan works - works under copyright that have become separated from the copyright owner. Now clearly there's an issue in that there are some genuinely orphaned works who's owners can't be found and therefore the images cannot be used. However. The Digital Economy Bill has this clause that creates a process where someone who wants to use an image, may licence it from a collecting society that will be established for this purpose, if they cannot find the copyright holder through an 'adequate search' (yeah, the exact nature of adequate's still undefined - it's quite mad). They pay a small fee for this, and if the copyright owner finds out about the use they can claim some money from the society, but basically their rights are ignored. (If you want to read more on this, I recommend Copyright Action for Photographers and Photograph Users and the more openly campaigny Stop43).

 

Anyway, since I don't only use my photos here, but on my blog, and in some other sites where they're more prominently attached to my user name than my real name, I've decided that one way of making clearer that a photo is mine is to stamp a watermark on it. If I ever have time I might start putting them on some of the 2,500+ backlog I've created on here...

 

If you're in the UK, please please please email your local MP about the digitial economy bill. There's a whole host of other issues related, including the fact that it's likely to seriously damage the availabilty of public wifi - including in libraries, schools and universities, because the bill wants to make the account holder liable for any illegal activity taking place through that account - regardless of who is undertaking the activity. Worst of all, this thing came out of the House of Lords (where it started, with Lord Mandelson, who isn't even freaking elected) on Monday and the government are going to try and get it passed before the General Election through something called the 'wash up' (don't ask), which means the House of Commons (yeah, the House where the people you elect actually go) are barely going to debate it at all (believe me, I know so much more about Parliamentary process since following this whole thing, it's the ONLY good thing it's doing for me). Please check out Open Rights Group's blog for lots of information - they're really not crazies crusading for pirates rights or anything, just campaigning for a decent law that will do what it's supposed to do rather than being completely open to abuse by vested interests. The campaign site 38degrees have partnered up with Open Rights to make it really easy for you to find your MP and email him. Even if you don't agree with me that a lot of the bill is flawed, the process by which this thing is being passed is incredibly undemocratic, so PLEASE yell about that - otherwise governments are never going to stop doing it.

 

Public Broadcast/Rant Over.

ORG's Patron, speaking about his work, copyright, signing tours and /fiction

ORG's Patron, speaking about his work, copyright, signing tours and /fiction

Three police officers guard the doorway of Europe House. Beside them a large banner which reads "Stop the corporate takeover. No EU/US 'free trade' deal" is leaning against the railings.

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

Three anti-TTIP activists chat on Smith Square. In the centre a woman holds a placard which reads "TTIP means no way to protect the environment or people's health from corporate greed".

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

The Union Jack and the European flag fly above a large banner on Smith Square which simply contains the Twitter campaign hashtag "#noTTIP".

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

ORG's Patron, speaking about his work, copyright, signing tours and /fiction

This is posted on the wall of Plug in Sheffield city centre. It's an excerpt from the Identity Cards Act saying that producing false ID is an arrestable offence with a jail term if convicted. Scary that this is becoming a reality.

- Camera phone upload powered by ShoZu

The ORG poster is in a very prominent position and got lots of air time.

A large, colourful banner hangs across the front of Europe House on Smith Square and reads "Corporate hands off. #noTTIP". The Union Jack and the European flag fly above.

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

Two TTIP protesters at the Dept of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) hold placards reading "Hands Off! No TTIP" and "Corporates vs People. No GMO".

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

ORG's Patron, speaking about his work, copyright, signing tours and /fiction

A Green Party placard raised in the air at at the Dept of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) reads "Stop trojan trade deals"

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

ORG's Patron, speaking about his work, copyright, signing tours and /fiction

Digital rights projects Hack Day at Mozilla’s offices

Who knew that dead people could sign petitions? But, according to Larry Lessig, this petition contains the names of at least two dead people: Lonnie Donegan, died 4th November 2002; Freddie Garrity, died 20th May 2006.* (http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003628.shtml)

 

If you happen to find any other dead people who've expressed their concern about copyright term extension on sound recordings from beyond the grave, please do leave a comment.

 

* Wikipedia gives 3 Nov and 19 May respectively.

Dave Rowntree draws the winning tickets at the ORG raffle, while Becky keeps the patter going. Or, if you will, Becky sings her heart out while Dave plays the tiny drums ;-). Dead camera means taking pictures on the crappy - for photos - Blackberry Pearl.

Anti-TTIP activists march past Parliament. One woman holds a colourful placard which reads "TTIPing over democracy"

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

Who knew that dead people could sign petitions? But, according to Larry Lessig, this petition contains the names of at least two dead people: Lonnie Donegan, died 4th November 2002; Freddie Garrity, died 20th May 2006.* (http://www.lessig.org/blog/archives/003628.shtml)

 

If you happen to find any other dead people who've expressed their concern about copyright term extension on sound recordings from beyond the grave, please do leave a comment.

 

* Wikipedia gives 3 Nov and 19 May respectively.

Several hundred activists assemble outside Europe House, the London branch of the European Commission and European Parliament in Smith Square during the #noTTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership) protest.

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

Several hundred Anti-TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership) protesters suddenly leave their first target at BIS and march in the direction of Parliament.

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

Digital rights projects Hack Day at Mozilla’s offices

John Elliot, an IT security professional, observes the process for deciding on doubtful votes.

Comedian Mark Thomas addresses the large crowd of TTIP protesters gathered outside Europe House and speaks out about the percieved risks to democracy posed by the controversial, secretly-planned trade agreement.

 

This photo © Pete Riches

Do not reproduce, alter, re-transmit, blog or otherwise exploit my images without my written permission. I remain at all times the copyright owner of this image.

 

Media buyers and publications can access this story on Demotix. Standard industry rates apply.

 

Hi-Res, un-watermarked versions of these files are available on application solely at my discretion

If you want to use any image found in my Flickr Photostream, please Email me directly.

 

about.me/peteriches

One last shot of Cory Doctorow from ORGCon 2012, taken while I was waiting to get this shot.

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