Posts Tagged ‘Phone hacking’

RT: Government Wishes to Define Google and Facebook as ‘Media Outlets’, Impose Tougher Regulation

October 12, 2017

This shows how desperate the government is about people getting news from alternative media and the internet, news and opinion that very definitely isn’t approved by Tory Central Office and the shills for big business. In this short video, RT reports that the government is considering defining Facebook and Google as ‘media outlets’, as this would allow them to impose the same kind of tough regulations imposed on broadcasters. The programme’s host talks to Neil Wallis, described as a ‘media commenter’, and a spokesman for the Christian advocacy group, Christian Voice, for their views.

Wallis states that this is a gross intrusion into freedom of speech, and states that it is unworkable, and cannot and should not work. He admits that there have been ‘gross excesses’ on Google and Facebook, and that the two should be doing more to crack down on dubious content like fake news or terrorism. However, the legislation goes too far in threatening to impose censorship. He also makes the point that such regulations would be extremely difficult to impose. He states that he makes dozens of Tweets during the day, often retweeting stories. Each of these would constitute under the kind of legislation the government is proposing a new publication, and someone would have to monitor them. In short, it would simply be too cumbersome and difficult to monitor and regulate the sheer amount of online posting.

The spokesman from Christian Voice states that there should be greater regulation, because too often material is posted on the web by anonymous individuals, of whom nothing is known. He also makes the point that people posting in haste may make far more extreme statements than they would otherwise do face to face. He therefore thinks it is fair to pass legislation that would require people using the two companies only to post the type of comments that they would make in a face-to-face conversation.

He is, however, concerned by the government’s statement that they wish to examine particularly the issue of religion on the Net, and LGBTQ rights and issues. The spokesman states that if this means limiting what can be said about Islam or homosexuality, then it is an infringement of free speech.

This looks very much like the Tories getting worried about people passing on uncensored and unspun news over the internet, bypassing the censorship and bias of the mainstream broadcasters and the rightwing press. And in order to justify their censorship, they’re trying to use the pretext yet again of protecting people from cyberbullying, online radicalisation by Islamist terror groups, and, I would assume, the threat to children from online pornography. The report doesn’t mention the last, but that’s been one of the major concerns that has been used to justify previous attempts to regulate content on the internet, such as that imposed by David Cameron’s wretched government.

The Neil Wallis interviewed by RT has the same name as the former editor of the News of the Screws, Neil ‘Wolfman’ Wallis, who used to turn up regularly along with the sordid little rag he edited in the pages of Private Eye’s ‘Street of Shame’ column. If that’s the case, then Wallis probably isn’t the best spokesman for press freedom, on the grounds that his publication regularly abused it to invade the privacy of various celebs and other, more ordinary people, whose private lives should have been no concern of anybody except themselves. The most egregious example of this spectacular lack of journalistic ethics and integrity was the phone-hacking scandal, but the Screws had been at the bottom end of the journalistic barrel doing pretty much the same type of pointless muckraking for most of its existence. Think of Mahmoud Mazher, the ‘Fake Sheikh’, who went around trying to get celebrities and politicians to make indiscreet comments or otherwise catch them out. In his guise as an Arab dignitary, he tried to get George Galloway to say something vile in support of the Holocaust. Galloway was wise to him, having recognised Mazher’s 7 ft tall driver and bodyguard, nicknamed ‘Jaws’ because of his immense height and mouthful of gold teeth. Galloway’s an ardent critic of Israel and its barbarous oppression of the Palestinians, but he’s not an anti-Semite. When Mazher tried prompting him into praising the Shoah, Galloway replied instead that the Holocaust was an horrific crime against humanity. And so the ‘Fake Sheikh’ went off unsatisfied.

But even if it the same Neil Wallis, he still has a point, despite his own and his former newspaper’s squalid and sensationalist brand of journalism. Such regulation would be a further, damaging attack on freedom of speech.

It’s clear that the spokesman for Christian Voice is in general far more supportive of such legislation, except where it touches what can be said about Islam and homosexuality. This probably reflects his own bigoted views against a competing religion and same-sex attraction. However, even there he has a point. A few years ago, it was reported that Christianity had overtaken Judaism as the most persecuted religion in the world. And very many of the countries that persecute Christianity, especially severely, are Muslim. With the increase in Islamphobia and racism in the West, there is a need to protect Muslims and their religion from bigotry and prejudice. However, this should not be used to limit reasonable criticism, including rejection of Islam, or any other religion or ideology.

The same should be true of any discussion of homosexuality. Prejudice against homosexuals should be condemned, as should any attempts to encourage discrimination or violence towards them. But people should be allowed to object to homosexuality as a simple matter of free speech.

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My Cartoon Against Rupert Murdoch and Rebecca Wade

June 18, 2017

This week I’ve been putting up some of the cartoons I’ve drawn which express me feelings of disgust and revulsion at the Tories and their vile supporters in the press. This time it’s the turn of Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Scum and the Times, as well as Faux News in America, and his equally revolting protégé, Rebecca Wade. This was the woman responsible for whipping up a witch hunt against paedophiles in the Scum, which resulted in a mob attacking a paediatrician in Wales. I think she may also have been partly responsible for the phone hacking scandal over at the News of the World.

Murdoch himself I’ve portrayed as a decaying, cyborg mutant, the mass of monstrous, mutated flesh on the right sided of his face and body reflecting his own vile, corrupt soul. I also tried to put the biohazard sign on his forehead, but it hasn’t really come out terribly clearly. It just looks like a nasty wrinkle.

And at their side is a skull, representing death. The symbolises all the people the Tories have killed and are killing with their murderous austerity policies.

Tory Press Scaremongering about Sinn Fein Taking Seats in Westminster

June 14, 2017

In addition to the DUP’s links to Loyalist paramilitaries in Ulster, it seems the Tory press over this side of the Irish Sea have been trying to scare people with the spectre of Sinn Fein MPs taking their seats in the British parliament in Westminster. The Scum, Express and the Scotsman have been running stories about this.

This was too much for the French Philosophical Feline, who has produced a whole post showing how this very definitely won’t happen. He points out that Sinn Fein haven’t taken their seats in the British parliament ever since they became the third largest British party under Eamonn De Valera in the Coupon Election of 1918. If I remember correctly from when we did the ‘Irish Question’ as part of 19th century history at school, the Irish Nationalists’ policy of refusing to take their seats in Westminster goes back that far.

The Cat quotes a long section from an article by Sinn Fein’s Danny Morrison, stating the reasons the party won’t ever take up their seats in the British parliament. It’s partly because they’re Republicans, and so won’t swear an oath to the monarchy. It’s also partly because they can’t see themselves, as a minority party in parliament, ever passing any useful legislation.

But it’s mostly because they don’t recognise the validity of British government in Northern Ireland. They see Britain as a foreign, occupying power and so refuse to collaborate with it. Morrison also makes the point that it would be hypocritical of them to deny the authority of the British government over Northern Ireland, while actively claiming to have a right to interfere in British politics.

The Cat concludes

The British press has a terrible reputation for propagandizing and stirring up trouble, and anything it says with regards to Ireland and Irish sovereignty should be taken with a ton of salt – especially if its in The S*n, a paper that lied about Hillsborough and hacked people’s phones.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/dont-get-too-excited-sinn-fein-are-not-taking-their-seats-at-westminster/

Spitting Image on Rupert Murdoch’s Journalism

January 19, 2015

Long before the phone hacking scandal, Murdoch’s papers, like the Sun and News of the World, were notorious for the virulence of their invective and running highly dodgy stories about celebrities. In this Spitting Image sketch, Murdoch and two of his journalists, shown as vultures, concoct an ever-more sensational and completely unfounded story about cricketer Ian Botham, in which they accuse the great man of terrorism offences and incest.

Unfortunately, precious little has changed in the over a quarter of a century since the sketch was shown, so that it still remains highly topical.

Fabian View of the Necessity of Press Regulation

April 20, 2014

Fabian Book Pic

I’ve posted a few quotations today from Peter Archer’s paper on ‘The Constitution’ in Ben Pimlott’s collection of papers Fabian Essays in Socialist Thought (London: Heinemann 1984). There’s another section from the same paper, which is also extremely timely, in which he advocates better regulation of the press to protect the public against propaganda and distortion. He believes this is necessary, as we needed a well-informed electorate with access to reliable, unbiased information to make democracy properly work. Archer states

The second, and converse, problem which has accompanied the expansion of the news industry is what, if anything, can be done about the abuse by large sections of the press of their opportunities for manipulating opinion. Those who wield a giant’s strength, in the absence of a saint’s conscience, are likely to endanger the very values which they helped to nurture (as the media are never tired of reminding the trade unions).

Electors cannot exercise their power of decision in a vacuum. Inevitably those who have access to presses and microphones will be in a position to control the supply of facts and ideas. And however high their standards, there are limits to the degree of detail or profundity attainable. The attention earned by any pronouncement will depend less upon its importance than upon its sensation value. Sometimes the sacred right to free speech will be invoked on behalf of the spiteful and the trivial. What is not inevitable is the veritable absence of control over standards of accuracy and fairness, which in the 1983 election probably reached an all-time low.

There is of course a whole range of inhibitions upon the right of the media to report information which has come their way. any civilised community requires rules relating to contempt of court, to defamation, to privacy and to obscenity. It is arguable that in some respects they are too restrictive, and the reports of Royal Commissions and committees accumulating dust on departmental shelves bear witness to the reluctance of successive governments to lift even a corner of the lid from this Pandora’s box. Almost certainly the subject will need to be treated as a package, but these statutory restrictions are sufficient neither to guarantee an informed electorate nor to protect the privacy of individuals. Every annual report of the Press Council offers fresh evidence of the need for a code of conduct relating to respect for privacy, the correction of inaccuracies and misleading innuendoes, and redress for unfair selectivity. There is also a need for a body with power to impose statutory sanctions. Indeed, the more responsible sections of the press (not only the ‘quality’ papers) have supported the suggestion. Of course, such a body would have to be independent of government. It would need to respect the vitally important freedom to publish facts and express opinions. But the existence of the Press Council itself demonstrates the need for restraints which go beyond the present legal categories. And in their absence, a democratic electorate is like a navigator dependent upon distorted instruments.

Well, the Mail on Sunday, along with its week-day sister and much of the rest of the press smashed its moral compass long ago. Murdoch’s journos are in the dock because of the phone hacking scandal, which has itself resulted in state regulation of the press. And today the Mail on Sunday printed a disgraceful and shameful attack on food banks, largely because their rise embarrasses the government’s claim people aren’t starving under their austerity programme. Mike over at Vox Political has expressed misgivings about the campaign on Change.org to have the journalist, who wrote the article, sacked. The man was simply given a job to do by the editor. This does not excuse him, but the real responsibility for the story lies with the newspaper itself, and it and its editor should be subject to extreme censure.

For decades the British press was allowed a large degree of freedom to print its lies and bile because both Tory and Labour administrations felt they could use its support. John Major felt that he should have moved to limit Murdoch’s power after the newspaper magnate abandoned the Tories for Tony Blair. And Blair was constantly worrying about what Murdoch and Dacre would have to say about any of his policies. As a result the power of the press has grown, and journalistic standards become even lower. And this vile, partisan attack on food banks is the result.

The Mail on Sunday should be ashamed of itself, and held to account for its lies and falsehoods for attacking the one institution that now stands between many people and starvation.

From 1999: Empower America Suitably Honours Rupert Murdoch’s Services to American Culture

September 30, 2013

With Murdoch’s News International still in the headlines over the phone-tapping scandal, this item from Private Eye fourteen years ago seems a particularly appropriate comment on the Dirty Digger’s contribution to artistic standards worldwide. In their edition from the 1st October, 1999, the Eye reported that Australia’s ‘minister for public enlightenment’ had been awarded a prize for his achievements by a campaigning Right-wing group over the other side of the Pond. The article read

‘When Rupert Murdoch was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award by an obscure American body two years ago, this well-deserved tribute received copious coverage in his newspapers.

Strangely there has been no mention of his latest triumph: being “dishonoured” by right-wing media lobbying group Empower America.

Even before Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox releases Brad Pitt’s sick new film Fight Club, Rupert has scored a double, picking up two awards. He wins the third annual Silver Sewer Award for his “outrageous contribution to the degradation and coarsening of our culture and unswerving dedication to the pursuit of profit above principle.” And he also picks up a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his “personal role in the corrosion of American values.’

Now I actually like Fight Club, and I do think it made an excellent point about the existentialist despair, lack of direction and emasculation some men felt in consumerist modern American society. But it definitely ain’t family viewing.

As for Empower America and their Silver Sewer Award to Dirty Rupe, all I can do is say what the great wit and philosopher, Voltaire, would probably have said in these circumstances. ‘I may not agree with your political views, but I will defend to the death your right to stick it to this horrible old media tycoon’.