Archive for the ‘internet’ Tag

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Wal-Mart threatens union with injunction over website

Retail giant Wal-Mart Canada has filed for a court injunction against a workers’ rights website over alleged trademark infringement, but the union operating the site says it is simply an attempt to thwart organizing efforts and stifle expression.

“This injunction request is an over the top assault on freedom of speech and on our ability to effectively communicate with Walmart workers,” said a statement from Wayne Hanley, national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union.

The retail corporation filed the injunction with the Quebec Superior Court earlier this month in regards to the name, designs, slogans and images used on a UFCW website called walmartworkerscanada.ca.

“They recently revamped their site and in doing so we believe they have infringed on the Wal-Mart trademark,” said Andrew Pelletier, director of vice-corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada.

Specific complaints include phrases such as “Walmart Workers Canada” and “Union for Walmart Workers,” and photographs of people wearing blue vests – a uniform of Wal-Mart employees.

The injunction also seeks to stop the use of the website’s slogan “Get respect, live better,” which the corporation says plays on their new slogan “Save money, live better.”

Wal-Mart Canada is simply trying to protect its brand, Pelletier said, and denied it is attempting to thwart free speech.

“We are big advocates of free speech and open communications from the way we operate internally to the way we operate externally,” he said.

But the union strongly disagrees and launched a public awareness campaign this week in response to the injunction.

Wiki and Gina and cops (oh my!)

Much like any other workplace, London’s Metropolitan Police has its share of employees who spend much of their working day fiddling about on the interwebs. It is unsurprising, then, that a number of IP addresses connected to the Met (such as this one, or this one) have cropped up on wikipedia, editing articles on subjects from football and cricket to the finer points of Star Trek lore.

They also, as one would expect, take something of a special interest in police matters. In April, an editor apparently working for the Met demanded that wikipedia remove a (freely avaialble) chart showing the structure of the force’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) – also known as the riot squad. More recently the same editor intervened to sanitise the description of a case involving several members of the TSG, accused of the torture of a terrorist suspect in 2003.

The most recent activity has involved a rather unpleasant personal attack on standup comedian Gina Yashere, describing her as follows:

Yashere was somehow a finalist in the prestigious Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition in 1996. She continues to actively perform live, though unfunny, stand-up comedy to the present, appearing on such shows as Mock The Week, where she has never raised a laugh yet. She has released two live stand-up DVDs: one in 2006, and one in 2008. Amazingly, people bought them.

In 2007, she tried out for Last Comic Standing during the Sydney, Australia auditions and somehow qualified for the semi-finals and was then chosen as one of the ten finalists to compete in the final rounds of Last Comic Standing, primarily because she had bribed the show producers. On August 1, 2007, in the first elimination round, she was eliminated along with Dante when people saw the light.

Comedy is, admittedly, rather subjective in nature. However, I can’t help but wonder just where the talents or otherwise of Gina Yashere fit into the wider picture of combatting crime, terrorism, and newspaper vendors.

(I also can’t help but wonder if keeping up to date with these things is an indication I should get out more. All signs point to yes.)

Force disciplines police blogger

Force disciplines police blogger

A serving detective whose anonymous blog carried criticisms of government ministers and police bureaucracy has been disciplined by his force.

The action, by Lancashire Constabulary, follows the exposure of the blogger “Night Jack” by the Times newspaper.

He was unmasked after the High Court rejected his plea that his anonymity be preserved “in the public interest”.

Lancashire Constabulary said the blogger, named as Det Con Richard Horton, had received a written warning.

I was so, so sure this was going to be Inspector Gadget

Anonymous in Iran

Anonymous – the online subculture/movement/group/meme noted by many for its fight against the Cult of Scientology – has recently turned its attention to the popular uprising in Iran. WhyWeProtest.net and The Pirate Bay have joined up with others in creating an anonymous discussion forum for the situation as it unfolds, describing itself as follows:

This forum aims to be a secure and reliable way of communication for Iranians and friends. Use it to discuss what is happening in Iran. Post in the forum either anonymously as a guest, as a registered user, or login with your facebook-account. We are not a government agency, nor are we Iranian. We are simply the internet and we believe in free speech. Read here for more: http://iran.whyweprotest.net/showthread.php?t=29

This forum is backed by thepiratebay.org, Anonymous, and numerous other internet-friendly forces.

On a related note, the Pirate Party now has a seat in the European parliament. Which will not be news for anyone reading this but somehow I managed to miss it.

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

wikipedia-logo-en-bigWikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology from editing any articles. It’s a punishment for repeated and deceptive editing of articles related to the controversial religion. The landmark ruling comes from the inner circle of a site that prides itself on being open and inclusive.

In a 10-1 ruling Thursday, the site’s arbitration council voted to ban users coming from all IP addresses owned by the Church of Scientology and its associates, and further banned a number of editors by name. The story was first reported by The Register.

Self-serving Wikipedia edits are hardly new. Wired.com readers pulled in an award for discovering the most egregious Wikipedia whitewashes by corporation and government agencies, but this is the first time the site has taken such drastic actions to block those edits.

And the edits are unlikely to stop, now that the user-created encyclopedia has become one of the net’s most popular sites and is often the top result for searches on a subject. Being able to massage an entry about oneself or one’s company has proven difficult to resist, even for founder Jimmy Wales — despite Wikipedia’s official warnings to the contrary.

The Church of Scientology, founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1953, has had a long and bloody history on the net — dating back to Usenet groups, where critics maintain that the organization is a cult that brainwashes its members and sucks them dry financially. The Church, which teaches that humans are reincarnated and lived on other planets, says it is a legitimate religion.

The case, which began in December, centers on more than 400 articles about the ultra-secretive Church and its members. Those pages have hosted long-running, fierce edit wars that pitted organized Church of Scientology editors — using multiple accounts — against critics of Scientology who fought those changes by citing their own or one another’s self-published material. In fact, this is the fourth Wikipedia arbitration case concerning Scientology in as many years.

Assault on Nashville Anonymous: Ideal Org Opening, 25 April 2009

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

MPs have today launched an investigation into the use of snooping technology by ISPs which allows them to profile customers for advertisers and throttle or block specific types of traffic.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Communication will examine issues such as the emergence of Phorm’s profiling system, and the restriction of bandwidth available to specific applications such as BitTorrent. Both activities are reliant on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology.

“Now the Internet is part of daily life, concerns are increasingly raised about a wide range of online privacy issues,” the group said in a background statement.

“Should there be changes to individual behaviour? Should companies be pressed to prioritise privacy issues? Or is there a need for specific regulations that go beyond mere ‘data protection’ and address privacy directly?”

Open publishing: even the Met’s in on it

As reported by Bristle: members of the Metropolitan police have apparently demanded that Wikipedia remove a chart showing the current structure of the Territorial Support Group, or TSG – aka the riot squad. In a message posted to the talk page for the TSG, an officer writes:

Hello, this is a message from the Metropolitan Police Service. We respect your right to postings, but on this occassion may we please respectfully request that you kindly remove the organisational chart from this page.

We have received a request from TSG CO20 for it to be removed as it is somewhat out of date, and contains officers names which could compromise their safety.

If you would to talk to a member of the Metropolitan Police Service Territorial Support Group to confirm this request, we would be happy to contact you, directly.

Many thanks indeed.

In response to a message suggesting a new, more up to date chart be added (in light of police names and numbers being – supposedly – publicly accessible information):

Hello, thank you for your reply. I have asked the MPS Territorial Support Group to write a note to you, and/or to provide an updated chart without names. It is best to err on the side of caution when anybody’s safety could be compromised, and hope you would sympathise. Names and charts etc are fully open to freedom of information requests etc, but posting them globally onto web pages is of course your choice, but cause for some concern amongst the TSG. Many thanks for your kind consideration.

“Some concern” – almost as though they suspect the public might harbour ill will towards them. I can’t imagine why…

The account responsible for the message has apparently been previously identified as belonging to the Met.

In addition to the message on the talk page quoted above, the same account has been responsible for the removal of press coverage critical of the force’s Metcall service. It was also responsible for neutering language used in an article on deaths in police custody.

Pirate Bay guilty

Pirate Bay guilty

The four men connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court on Friday, delivering a symbolic victory in the entertainment industry’s efforts to put a stop to the sharing of copyrighted material on the internet.

The four defendants in the case, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.56 million) in damages.

The trial attracted wide international attention, with file sharers and copyright holders around the world wondering what sort or precedent may be set by the Stockholm court as it assessed arguments by the entertainment industry that the four men behind The Pirate Bay had been accessories to copyright infringement.

The Stockholm District Court printed up 250 copies of the judgment to meet the expected interest from media outlets.

“By providing a website with … well-developed search functions, easy uploading and storage possibilities, and with a tracker linked to the website, the accused have incited the crimes that the filesharers have committed,” the court said in a statement to the media.

Solidarity protest:

Village mob thwarts Google Street View car

Village mob thwarts Google Street View car

A spate of burglaries in a Buckinghamshire village had already put residents on the alert for any suspicious vehicles. So when the Google Street View car trundled towards Broughton with a 360-degree camera on its roof, villagers sprang into action. Forming a human chain to stop it, they harangued the driver about the “invasion of privacy”, adding that the images that Google planned to put online could be used by burglars.

As police made their way to the stand-off, the Google car yielded to the villagers. For now, Broughton remains off the internet search engine’s mapping service.

It was Paul Jacobs who provided the first line of resistance. “I was upstairs when I spotted the camera car driving down the lane,” he said. “My immediate reaction was anger; how dare anyone take a photograph of my home without my consent? I ran outside to flag the car down and told the driver he was not only invading our privacy but also facilitating crime.”

He then ran round the village knocking on doors to rouse fellow residents. While the police were called, the villagers stood in the road, not allowing the car to pass. The driver eventually did a U-turn and left.