* Posts by bogwoppit

16 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Jan 2008

'UK DNA database by stealth' proposed in £100m NHS project


Re: Opt out?

1. Opt out is easy, because it is opt-in only. It says this in the statement.

2. Anonymous in the sense that it is not attached to your name or other details when it is passed through the analysis ecosystem. So some software somewhere knows that there is a person associated with a huge pile of data, but not who they are. Just like I know that there is a person who just arranged all those characters in your comment, but I don't know who they are so it's not very useful.

Fuel foolery, merger warnings and Budgetary boons


Passing on savings to employees

If I suddenly started paying employers' NI and didn't get a payrise to compensate for the same amount, I would look for another job at an employer that isn't that dumb. In fact, there's possibly a small saving there somewhere for the employer who has a simpler tax calculation to make. Some employers will inevitably try to do this though, especially if they were wanting to make pay cuts that are normally impossible to put into effect. But when push comes to shove, the economics of the employment market means you have to pay a salary high enough to attract the employees you need. And that depends on the market you are operating in.

If your industry has a buoyant employment market then your employer would be insane to give you a pay cut, and if it's a shrinking employment market then the natural background will be one of wage deflation and redundancies anyway. It seems reasonable to suggest that in the latter circumstances, the option for employers to apply an across-the-board pay cut would have the effect of deflating wages rather than make redundancies, and allow salaries to adjust quicker to the economics of the market. Whilst this won't be good news for some who still have their jobs in depressed markets, its effect is actually neutral and you could argue that it is more flexible and less disruptive to the economy as a whole.

Report damns health records scheme


Local != National

The EHR scheme aims to ensure that the benefits BristolBachelor describes are available whether he happens to get ill within his local area or not, and for everyone in the country. It's frankly embarrassing of the state of our healthcare that if you go to a hospital 10 miles down the road, the doctor won't know you're allergic to penicillin.

The other thing that is never mentioned is the staggering potential benefit for healthcare research that EHRs open up. If there was no clinical benefit, it would be worth it just for this.

Sexy Namir sportster to rewrite fuel economy rulebook?


Is it just me?

Or did they turn a boat upside down and paint it orange?

Asus keyboard PC due May. Or maybe June


What, no picture?

To lazy to Google.

DNA convictions fall as database doubles in size


to be fair

The database can only play a role in conviction for "repeat offenders" (used loosely since the DNA deposit isn't necessarily made following a conviction). That means there's likely to be a large time lag between deposit and "usefulness". Given that crime is skewed towards repeat offenders (who may have spent a few years in the can in between offences) this effect is exacerbated.

So the more time that goes on, the more effective the database will get, and comparing the size of the database today to recent convictions is not a fair comparison.

There's also the issue of deterrence - if you're on the database you know you're more likely to get caught so maybe you're less likely to offend. And that is impossible to quantify.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the ethical considerations (personally I believe the database should contain samples from either everybody or nobody).

MP calls for Jezza Clarkson's head

Paris Hilton


I love you guys.

Why no Paris angle? It seems so easy...

Cream drummer may flash ginger nuts in court

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Business opportunity..

...for someone who *does* know.

MPs join fight to save McKinnon from US prison


@Bad choice

"In the EU the do extradite 419 scammers. France and Germany has gone down to Nigeria to extradite those 419ers".

My comment was made in good faith, the only extraditions I am aware of have been of individuals who carried out scams in this country at some point (i.e. they actually came over to collect money). Or to the US, who as we are learning have their own rules. So do you have a reference for an example?

In any case, allow me to present another example: criticising the Chinese government. I imagine there would be a few bloggers/reporters left rather non-plussed to discover our eager-to-please government was packing them off to China to face their particular brand of "justice".

To be clear, I have no support for McKinnon himself. Normally I wouldn't say something as crass as "he did it, now it's time to pay" since he has never been tried, but a confession under no apparent duress makes it pretty much a forgone conclusion. Clearly he's an idiot who did something sane folks would know is going to get them in trouble. If he didn't get some kind of punishment he'd be lucky.

The point is, we have our laws, they have theirs. We have to have a proper system to deal with this kind of thing, and unfortunately we don't have a credible one. If he had done something actually bad (as opposed to doing them a favour by highlighting their own ineptitude), or if the US didn't have the death penalty (cue US officials promising to see him burn), detention without trial (cue Gitmo) or torture (cue the cute question "well when you say torture...") it would be an easier sell. But to top it off, a reverse arrangement is not in place and we aren't even trying to use McKinnon to see it done. In fact it's very unlikely to happen because it's a flagrant violation of the US constitution, and what does that tell you? Even the Merkins think it's a bad practice.

The fact is there are just too many reasons why it doesn't fit a British idea of justice. Even if you think white collar crime is under-punished in this country, it's still our law.


Basic rights


By "at the expense of UK citizens" Steven does not mean monetary, but rather that McKinnon is being used as a pawn to placate the Merkins. Last time I checked McKinnon was a UK citizen, and you could certainly describe him being banged up in prison to be "at his expense".


I agree, we should treat McKinnon exactly how we treat 419ers. That is, prosecute them under section 419 of the Nigerian penal code. Oh wait, hmm, that would be in Nigeria, the place where they commit the crime!

When are people going to get the implications of this case - how can we possibly let the US can impose their law with precedence over our own? McKinnon has already been processed by the criminal justice system, and charges were dropped on the basis that he didn't actually do anything criminal. You can't make up a new law then apply it a) retrospectively and b) in another country.

McKinnon supporters plan Home Office demo


@John and Jon


"Generally, I'd prefer the accused to be tried in the victim's country"

Unfortunately, John, the majority of the free world disagrees with you. Most notably in the UK, whose system is founded upon the idea that UK law supercedes US law, just as in Nigeria it is Nigerian law that supercedes UK law.


You're getting bogged down in the specifics of the case and in doing so are totally missing the point. We don't have any "bargain with NATO" to submit our citizens to prosecution under foreign laws. Sure, spying on the UK is against UK law, but the fact of the matter is that after McKinnon was arrested several years ago by the Met, prosecutors spent a long time looking at ways to try him, and determined that he had not committed a crime under UK law. Our legal process dealt with it. End of. You, I, NATO and the US may think the result was subjectively "wrong", but that was the law at the time (and it has since been fixed).

At the end of the day, allied countries recognise that you're not always going to get everything your own way. We co-operated and pursued McKinnon's criminal prosecution, which did not result in a conviction. We passed a new law to make sure it wouldn't happen again, but the US is behaving like a screaming baby, refusing to address our grievances (Gitmo, extradition for IRA financiers, military inquests, etc) whilst at the same time insisting that we break our own laws by handing over McKinnon.


Nigerians and paedophiles

The examples some are giving of situations in which we would clearly prosecute under UK law are, in fact, classic examples of why McKinnon should *not* be extradited.

If a 419-er scams a UK citizen from the comfort of Nigeria he ISN'T extradited to Britain, instead he would be prosecuted under Nigerian law (under section 419 of the penal code, I would guess). The only exception to this is if he had actually committed a crime whilst in this country (e.g. he flew over and attempted to collect money by fraudulent means).

Similarly, paedophiles operating from foreign countries cannot be prosecuted under our laws, which is why we go after the crime that is actually committed here - the grooming, taking of the photos etc. Unfortunately if the foreign country believes it is OK to look at photos of UK children under the UK age of consent, they're free to pass laws that allow it. Yes, many believe the system is broken, but it is this way for a very important reason:

The example others have cited is a great analogy: if I post an anti-state comment on a message board on a Chinese website, that is illegal in China but not in the UK. Likewise, what McKinnon is accused of doing was illegal in the US but not in the UK (at the time, and no sane person would suggest we apply criminal law retrospectively). Ought I be extradited for my crime? It depends who you ask whether what I did was illegal, and in this country we have decided that posting anti-state comments is perfectly legal, just as we have our own opinion on the legality of rummaging around servers. The only difference between what I and McKinnon (allegedly) did is that you happen to believe he was wrong. But UK law disagrees with you. So if I or McKinnon are extradited, we are doing nothing less than accepting that Chinese/US law supercedes our own. This is not hysterical hippie posturing, this is a very real and very dangerous precedent.

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Big Case

This is a huge case, and I'm rather dismayed that the media didn't cover it from all the most significant angles, instead choosing to focus on the alleged crime itself.

1. If the pepetrator and victim of a crime are not within the same jurisdiction, under which should they be prosecuted? To use an analogy, if I stand in the US and shoot someone over the Mexican border, have I committed a crime under US law, or Mexican? Or both? This is such a complicated issue, especially since as I understand it there are human rights laws dictating one cannot be tried twice for the same crime. I can only assume that since McKinnon's actions were not illegal under UK law, official policy is that "we have to have him tried for something, so let's hand him to somebody that can".

2. Can the US legal system be trusted to obtain a fair result? When our own government-sanctioned report finds that we cannot (due to torture risk), it seems amazing that we're willing to just hand him over.

3. More generally, how can we morally honour a one-sided extradition treaty, and why do we need to?

Yes, in an ideal world McKinnon should face the consequences of his actions. But there are many things which one could argue "should be illegal" but aren't, and I'd much rather see (alleged) US murderers brought to justice than a fruit loop who (allegedly) guessed some passwords. In fact, it is such a shame that despite this case presenting an ideal platform for challenging the US with our concerns over their legal system and the extradition treaty (i.e. refuse extradition for a crime that didn't really hurt anyone rather than a more morally objective one), our government chooses to pass up the opportunity.

Government data protection standards are protected data

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Smashing hard disks, government style!

Step 1. Send disks to National Data Disposal Centre (second class post)

Step 2. Oh, hmm...

Bet against the bubble - how to head off a subprime crisis


@Mark - supply & demand

I'm not sure that I agree with your assertion the supply does not exceed demand. Clearly, many more people wish to buy a house than can currently afford to. More houses == lower prices. As previously mentioned, the bursting of the bubble in the UK was not really caused by swathes of defaults and reposessions, but by reduced credit availability and therefore increased price of credit. Prices have dropped not because people don't want to buy, but because creditors don't have the cash to lend to riskier buyers.

In truth, the number of people who can no longer afford their mortgage is relatively small, and will be unless/until we start to see a lot of unemployment. I suspect the damage caused by the downturn in the market will be done in in the retail sector, when people don't have the extra disposable cash they might otherwise have done.

And just as a small reply to the "beer" comment, allow me to make the analogy more accurate: if you spent a year drinking beer, which you are quite prepared to pay for, how do you feel when you find that at the end of the year you can sell the beer you just drank for double what you paid for it?

Tolkien-inspired oil painting 'immortalizes' Silicon Valley rich people


Ronald McDonald

I wonder whether McDonalds can afford to plump $200 for the 'immortalisation' of its favourite character in such a painting? Or heck, a man with a head shaped, curiously enough, like a logo/4x4/toaster?

I for one propose we all club together to give Jabba the Hut (my alien avatar) his rightful representation.