What a Numpty
Fancy using your work email account, doesn't she realise they are watching you.
An office administrator at the Department of Children, Schools and Families has been sacked for posting an anonymous comment about Hazel Blears on TheyWorkForYou - the government-funded* website which aims to increase political engagement. Lisa Greenwood, a £16,000 a year administrator, was sacked in May after an anonymous …
The most sinister thing about this is that someone traced the posting. Was it obscene or legally defamatory? I don't think so - so why was anyone from DCSF tracing stuff in the first place? Are they doing this with all posts made to theyworkforus? Is it in fact a honeypot to trap the unwary public and identify names to add to a 'watch' list?
/me barricaded into my mountaintop complex.
So basically, any anonymous post (or probably any that forget to mention how GREAT OUR LEADERS are and/or PRAISE OUR LEADERS) is traced??? What's the anonymous part of this then?
What's next? Send the Territorial Support Group to your home to beat you up (hey a nice way to save on travel, no need to go to protest any more). (I can see some UK style swatting coming...)
This story is a perfect example of why anonymity is essential when it comes to political discussion:
This person has been fired because of a political opinion. This is not acceptable in a supposedly free country.
If I were to slag off my politician-boss like this, I would have posted the comment using any anonymous feature the web site offers (and still not trust the features). If they force account creation (like here), I would created a new account using made up details and a spam.la or mailinator email address. I would then submit the comment through TOR, accessing the TOR network over an SSH tunnel out from the corporate network.
People need to educate themselves in these technologies, because those who would be tyrants given half a chance are still working for governments, and probably always will.
...just how many NuLab apparatchiks are used to track & trace any comment/communication to a Gov website.
That's bad enough, but to be fired for having your own opinion is so typical of this Stalinist Caledonian dictatorship currently occupying my country.
I hope they don't come the old "fired for mis-using web access" crap as that would make them look even more ridiculous - if possible. We all know that no "offence" would have been committed had there been an anonymous sycophantic post, don't we?
When do they open the "Camps for Political Re-education"?
"...was sacked in May after an anonymous posting was traced to her work email account"
So let's get this right, post to any Government 'open forum' with an opinion that they don't like and you'll get the comment traced back to your door where they'll fire you for it.
I hope that she takes them to tribunal for it and drags them through the muck.
New Labour sometimes makes Orwells 1984 look less like a work of fiction and more like a documentary.
Think about this for a minute.
She posted anonymously, so nothing immediately gives her away as being an official, and more than likely is a member of the public.
What frightens me, is that even when working under the assumption that this post came from a member of the public, somebody with access to the (supposedly) independant TheyWorkForYou has gone and looked up the IP address, done the necessary research to find the IP was allocated to the Civil Service (I'm assuming they don't just pass all IPs on, not ready for the tinfoil hat yet), and then finally reported this borderline offensive comment to somebody with sacking power.
How many public posters have been subject to this type of investigation? Do all negative comments recieve this treatment? Have they run a whois on my IP as well? Yours?
If you've got nothing else on, I'd love to hear more about the how and why this IP was retrieved.
TheyWorkForYou probably won't answer my e-mails, and I'd really like to know who within the (independant) organisation has decided that it's their job research and report ALL/ANY negative comments. I'd also love to know who they report to.
The site is run by a charity called mySocietly and if they have passed on email details to the Department of Children Schools and Families then they may be in breach of Data Protection Laws.
If I was Lisa Greenwood then I would go and see a lawyer about mySociety passing on personal details to a third party without her consent.
This is totally outrageous, is it a one-off for They Work For You routinely give up the names of commentors?
Also, this persons comments seem to be the model of self restraint, the tirade that came out of me when I saw her doing her best 'lodsamoney' impression, cheque in hand, on the telly was rather more opinionated and explitive laden.
"....agreed to pay the Revenue £13,000 to cover her missing tax payment...."
Private Eye pointed out how this works some time ago. She could apply to resubmit her tax return for the year in question and then pay the 13,000 quid bill resulting or, more likely, 13,000 quid plus interest and a big fat fine for tax evasion.
Just sending them a cheque will result in the cheque being taken as an advance payment against this years tax and in its eventual refund when its found not to be required (and rather conveniently after the heat's off).
But this is being seen to be doing the right thing, so that's all ok then.
When I originally saw this, I suddenly understood why the thieving bastards were falling over each other to "refund" any tax underpaid.....
Perhaps the DCSF have logs of outbound traffic ... like many businesses do ... so they can track abuse. I do. But then I'm just a lowly PHP dev. What do I know? Perhaps all you C-tards can tell how the real men do it.
And as the first post pointed out, as a civil servant she is contractually obliged to be politically neutral.
Perhaps not as sinister as it first seems.
From the website...
"TheyWorkForYou is a website run by mySociety, which is itself a project of UK Citizens Online Democracy, a registered charity. It was originally built almost entirely by volunteers (see History below), but now mySociety pays Matthew to keep the site running and up-to-date as part of his wider work for mySociety. However, things are still added voluntarily by anyone who wishes."
Now, you don't email in comments, like on el Reg, so if they really did trace her through her email account she must have given it during the post and the charity then handed it over to the spooks. Nice. Or the spooks could be lying and have keyloggers etc on all the government PCs.
Their logo says "Keeping Tabs on the UK's parliaments and assemblies", but maybe that should read "helping the UK's parliaments and assemblies keep tabs on you".
Now, big brother or black helicopter? No wait - someone in dark glasses is going through my coat pockets!!!
"New Labour sometimes makes Orwells 1984 look less like a work of fiction and more like a documentary." - Blitz
Nearly true, old lad.
They have in fact, adopted it as an instruction manual & party manifesto.
It has been in use since 1994 within the party, and imposed on the rest of us since '97.
Ten years ago, I was accused of being paranoid. Today, I am hailed for my perspicacity.
or someone elses email account, or a generic email account. Easy really.
Although, anyone noticed how most free secure email services (with the exception of Hushmail) seem to be unavailable these days? Almost like someone doesnt want us using encrypted anonymous email services. Weird eh!? Kinda makes me wonder who owns Hushmail... (!)
Agree w/ all comments regarding the highly suspect nature of theyworkforyou/us ....stinks of shit, looks like shit, probably is...
"You are only sorry that you have been caught. You are a disgrace (including all the other honourable members). Why haven't you been sacked?"
Doesn't sound biased to me.
She just hates the whole damn thieving lot of them.
Hope she takes them to an employment tribunal. Could make for interesting news coverage.
She's shit out of luck on that one, as she was working there for under the required 12 months needed, to be legaly able to bring up any employment dispute action.
But certainly, I would love to know WHY they traced an anonymous comment.
Oh, and surely Civil Servants have to maintain political neutrality, when in an offical capacity. In private, they can vote for who they like and tell their neighbours that the whole bunch of unelected criminals deserve to be strung up with pianowire; and I would consider an anonymous posting as a private matter.
I suspect that this person wasn't "traced" by a vindictive official tracking down the source of every negative comment on theyworkforyou.com.... more likely, the source of and/or keywords in an email she received from the site triggered an internal process.
As a civil servant she cannot be seen to be politically biased and it seems only reasonable that her WORK email would flag certain items for investigation. Take the 'government' factor out of this and all we have is an employee who used her employer's resources (the email system) to undertake an activity specifically prohibited by her Ts&Cs.
She knew she was doing wrong and admits that she expected to be disciplined... big surprise, she was!
@Data Protection Act, you're right, they may well be in breach, but there is still something missing. All we've got so far is an anonymous posting on the site, and a population of 60 million who could have posted it (ok, minus infants/illiterates etc for the pedants).
What was it that made DSCF request the IP of the poster? Because if they had a specific reason for thinking it was from within the Civil Service, then a witchunt is a very bad thing, but if they requested it purely because the comment was negative (i.e is this routine practice?), then we are into some seriously sinister territory indeed.
Come on El Reg, this one's got some legs, can you do some more digging and find out what's going on?
"How dare you wave a cheque about on national TV, saying that you are sorry.
You are only sorry that you have been caught. You are a disgrace (including all the other honourable members). Why haven't you been sacked?"
Slap me if I'm stupid, but how on earth is this a political comment?
The post itself includes all of the thieving barstwards^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h honourable members. So she was following Civil Master guidelines and treating all parties equally.
Oh I forgot Zanu Labour has to be treated more equally than the others.
But I’m not a Civil Serpent.
Well, apart from the fact that she should have been more careful about whose computer she used to post the comment, they should have awarded her an OBE for accurately capturing the mood of the nation rather than a P45.
I've been rude about politicians on websites but I use my own computer (and my own name) when I do so. And I don't work for the government, apart from as an unpaid tax accountant, like many others.
but have any of the people banging on about '1984' actually read the book. There's never been a regime as bad as the one in 1984, except perhaps North Korea, even Stalinist USSR didn't have telescreens.
As I've said before, Brave New World(by Aldous Huxley) is far, far nearer the truth - read it and understand.
Five seconds of research finds that this fake outfit called Theyworkforyou is in fact a project of MySociety. MySociety is part of UK Citizens Online Democracy, a registered charity, number 1076346.
The "charity" UK Citizens Online Democracy is mostly funded from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, to the tune of £336,000 to date, Department of Transport to the tune of £25,825 to date, and the Department of Constitutional Affairs to the tune of £12,000 to date. There have been some smaller "private" donations.
They work for you?
My fucking arse.
1. Where did you get that idea. There is nothing that says member of the civil service cannot be members of political parties or hold political views. What they are not allowed to do is allow their political views to influence how they do their job.
2. The rant was not political it was directed at a poison dwarf who'd been caught with her hands in the till.
I imagine that if she made the posting from her work computer during work time she will have fallen foul of the appropriate computer use policy which could very well leave her liable to dismissal.
As for civil servants neutrality I imagine one could infer that someone who posted:
"You are only sorry that you have been caught. You are a disgrace (including all the other honourable members). Why haven't you been sacked?"
has the view that all honourable members should be sacked. I assume this could easily be taken as an indication that she would allow her feelings to interfere with her job. Not saying it definitely would interfere with he job, but if used as part of a defense at an unfair dismissal trial I think it would carry some weight.
Hazel Blears definately should have been sacked, and investigated by the IR and then prosecuted IMHO.
Being a little pedantic, no? I'd have thought any right-thinking individual would read the implicit 'at work' into that sentence.
As for your second point; these are from your own source:
"You must use resources only for the authorised public purposes for which they are provided."
"You must not act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests."
Whatever I might think about Blears (none of it terribly complimentary), if the reported comment was accurate (and her quoted response certainly indicates it was - wherever she might have made it) then it clearly falls foul of both of these conditions which are 'part of the contractual relationship' between Greenwood and her employer.
If you think she needs a 'good lawyer' to take them to the cleaners on this you're sadly mistaken... any lawyer she finds to take this on will need to be, in my opinion, a pretty bad one to even consider it.
There's a new post on the mySociety blog about this story.
One-line summary: wherever the alleged comment might have appeared, it certainly wasn't on TheyWorkForYou, or any other mySociety site. The implication that mySociety would hand over personal details of a user of one of their sites without fighting it tooth and nail is not only damaging, but simply wrong -- totally at odds with the way they work.
Disclaimer: I do some volunteer work for mySociety.
Using your employers time and equipment to do your own thing is permitted but not exactly a right. If she used the email system then her employer could well be reading everything that goes out, I would imagine that is is illegal but it's still easy to do.
I would think that tracking her down from the other end would be unlikely since you would not bother with every comment and this one was not unusual.
Personally I want them to know I am trouble. That way I don't have to worry that I will be discovered. They also show more respect you don't cower. OK yes they push you to the ground and try and band your arms backwards but if you're still not scared of them then they start to fear you.
Plenty of people have kept their heads down and worked hard to reach positions of respect and responsibility. They really don't want to lose their jobs their homes their marrage their children. Those people should do as they are told, they are owned by the system.
So - it seems she sent an email to Blears - from her work address. Then 1 of 2 things happened:
1. Blears gets the email, 'reports' it to someone at the DSCF
2. The DSCF in the course of monitoring their employees email notice that she sent an email to Blears.
I know where my money is on that.
Then there's the question of whether it's politically partial or not too... and in that case it seems to be an attack on Blears, not partisan in any way.
Lastly there's the issue of slack journalism/lack of fact-checking by those who ran this story - I'd love to see em point to where you 'post anonymously' on theyworkforyou.
I must have skimmed the bit that told me your source for this story was that bastion of fine journalism and unbiased reporting, the Torygraph.
The Grauniad suggests that there may have been a little imagination involved:
TheyWorkForYou had nothing to do with this. Here's their comment: http://www.mysociety.org/2009/07/06/theyworkforyou-nothing-to-do-with-this-sacked-civil-servant-story/
The Telegraph have already removed any mention of TWFY from the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/cabinet-expenses/5750511/MPs-expenses-Civil-servant-sacked-for-calling-Hazel-Blears-a-disgrace-in-anonymous-internet-post.html (Rather sweetly, it now appears to say that "Miss Greenwood wrote on the internet of Miss Blears".)
Dangermouse, Ian 54 -- if you'd like me to talk more about the history of MySociety from its days when we were running a fax machine in a cupboard in one of our volunteers' houses, and MPs were screaming at us for the horrific injustice of letting their constituents contact them directly, and why it's about the least likely organization to hand over data of its users to anyone without a court order, feel free to mail me. My name's Danny O'Brien, and I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, there's still a lot of work to be done monitoring and holding governments to account across the world. If you'd be interested in volunteering, let me know.
I'm Stefan Magdalinski, and I am one of the founders of theyworkforyou.com, faxyourmp.com, upmystreet.com, and the Open Rights Group. I'd like to clarify some points before everyone trashes the work that I and others have spent 10 years carefully crafting, mostly in our spare time.
1. The Telegraph didn't contact us before running this story. If they had, we would have told them the following:
2. No government department contacted us about this post.
3. This alleged post was never posted on theyworkforyou.com, nor any other mysociety site.
4. Theyworkforyou.com, within the mysociety umbrella, occasionally applies for government grants for specific development tasks. The most recent of these was a grant we applied for from the Ministry of Justice, specifically to add Hansard pre-2001 to the site. We are nothing to do with the government, and they have no rights over us.
5. We're now fighting a rearguard action to
a) identify what did happen, where the post appeared, and
b) find out if this was a deliberate attempt to spread misinformation about our motives (in certain parliamentary corners, we're not the most popular people), or just lazy journalism from the Telegraph, compounded by more laziness from the Reg.
c) limit the damage caused by this attack on our reputation. We're a bunch of (mostly) volunteers genuinely trying to open up government and make it more accountable, we really don't need this.
I would appreciate people's help in spreading the truth, rather than more disinformation.
If anyone wants to ask me any more questions, or more clarification, my email is stefan (at) whitelabel (dot) org. We'll also be updating the blog at
http://www.mysociety.org/2009/07/06/theyworkforyou-nothing-to-do-with-this-sacked-civil-servant-story/ as we find out more.
thanks for your time.
At least I can sleep safe at night knowing that our government is back in control of the country. These wishy-washy liberals, with their independant thoughts must be stopped, it's this sort of thing that started the war you know!
I fully support my leaders and their efforts to cleanse the country of "people" who would have us thinking thoughts of our own! They must be detained and re-educated! Open the camps now! The country will not be safe for Daily Mail readers until every last one of them is rounded up and taught not to question, only to obey!
"Hush Communications is a profitable, privately held Delaware corporation. Its headquarters and operations are located in Vancouver, Canada, with offices in Dublin, Ireland, and Anguilla, British West Indies." while I am on here Civil Servants are banned from expressing a political opinion and have been for a long time AFAIK since the modern Service was set up in Vicrorian times(this is only for Goverment employed persons) the same goes for Armed Forces personnel
although you can talk about it till you are blue in the face,as for keyloggers on g'ment PC's ofcourse there is or should be
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