Why is BT charging me for services that they tell me are free/included?

I prepaid for an entire year of line rental and only use it for DSL; so compare:

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.45.45

With:

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.50.12

And:

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…when, further, I saw this happening a few months ago (July? August?) and unsubscribed from those services; as I see it, I should not be being billed anything either because I unsubscribed from the services, or simply because I am promised that I “get the features with no extra cost”.

This is misrepresentation.

So @BoingBoing has apparently gone puerile and forgotten the bigger picture /cc @doctorow

I like Boing-Boing, I’ve read it for years. I’ve met Cory several times as part of my work to help the Open Rights Group. I am generally sympathetic to a lot of the posts which are posted there.

I like the blog.

So yesterday there was something in the BoingBoing twitterfeed – a Disney Winnie-the-Pooh, meant to mock Richard Dawkins for having posted something about the TSA doing the pointless things that the TSA do, viz: taking away harmless things from you at airports:

Yes Richard’s a brusque character and a pain in the arse as far as some people are concerned; but still this is a notable, useful and blatant piece of security theatre, about which BB has written at length.

I feel that the war on the war on terrorism should win over nerdy character assassination, so I tweeted my – relatively modest – thoughts about this, to be met with a reaction which I’d describe as “apparently puerile”:

Being ignored would have been more mature response than this, I’d even half expect that.

But that’s not the weird thing.

The weird thing is that I checked my Google Docs this evening to find that Mark Frauenfelder has shared with me a “public” Google Doc entitled:

“People who are disappointed with Boing Boing”

Screencap:

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My name is not on it, there is no explanation why he has shared it with me. Does he expect me to edit myself onto it? Am I supposed to see it and understand that I and a handful of others are “alone” in our criticism? Is this some sort of shit-list? A list of uncool people?

I can only suppose in the light of the childishness of the exchange last night that to understand the intent I would have to reach into my memory of pre-pubescence.

What the fuck, Boing-Boingers? You’re meant to be the cool people – and, mostly, the hip ones too? Perhaps you’re a collective rather than an organisation, but this action of whomever many speaks ill of your brand.

[PDF]
People who are disappointed with Boing Boing – Google Drive

Quote of the Day:

Person A, quoting Mark Twain:

“Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”

Person B:

“In 2013, I think egress bandwidth may trump ink.”

Muffett’s Personal Opinion on the Cyber Volunteer Force

A friend of mine asked me about the UK’s mooted Cybersecurity “volunteer” force; this is approximately how I responded:

The Cyber-Force thing is simultaneously scary, tragic and amusing; Iain Lobban – Director of GCHQ – has been heard to lament that they cannot afford to pay for geeks:

www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/news-security/gchq-boss-complains-of-cyber-brain-drain-34212

…that essentially they can’t compete with private sector industry for salaries and conditions.

The truth is a little more complex and a little less clear-cut than that.

From my modest experience of the demographic – dating from around 1994 to the present day – the UK defence establishment has subsisted by chewing-up public spirited geeks who were willing to trade shitty pay for unfireable job-security and an index-linked civil service pension from age ~55ish, thence to buy a cottage in Cornwall, or Provence or something.

The unfireable pension opportunity has now evaporated and DERA (the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) which provided the hinterland of geeks for GCHQ was largely privatised as Qinetiq – significant numbers have left that – plus computing is now sexy again, so suddenly a lot of the UK’s core security expertise is going into private hands.

You know my perspective on “cyber”[1] – that it is a framing of the debate to launder:

  • interception/monitoring/snooping
  • filtering/blocking/censorship
  • public relations/propaganda, and …
  • expansion of state regulation opportunity

…as a necessary new military activity in a new “domain” – the domain of “communications” – which they call “cyber” because calling it communications would be too obviously unmilitary for people to bear.

Not to mention that honesty would sound too “Orwellian”.

However the good manpower is now off earning loadsamoney with either:

  1. “Big Data”, or…
  2. “Silicon Roundabout Startups” – which are sacrosanct because they may save the economy and the DTI is currently behind them.

…and therefore GCHQ are calling for volunteer cyberwarrior do-gooders.

If in one scenario this is not terrifying to normal people then it bloody well ought to be, if only for the example of “LOVEINT” at the NSA:

news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57605051-38/nsa-offers-details-on-loveint-thats-spying-on-lovers-exes/

…because if the best-funded cyberagency in the world has significant spy-on-your-ex-lover issues, what the hell will happen when you let loose a bunch of volunteers on the spook-internal databases of the UK?

There would be rather more “snoop on your mate’s ex-girlfriend” than “Edward Snowden” activity, to be sure.

But let’s instead imagine that GCHQ are not fools and that the volunteers are kept at a discreet arm’s length from the datacentre at Cheltenham; what then? Will you have a bunch of volunteers going around to BNFL and setting up firewalls for nuclear power stations? Or trying to hack into the National Grid? I think they’re already equipped.

What will they be doing, and will they actually be any good at it? And whom will they be depriving of a paid job in the interim? Answers: they won’t be sure, not terribly, and possibly themselves.

I’ve spoken with a competition winner from the GCHQ “UK Cyber Champion” contest and it seems that even if they really like you as a person, the public sector does not have the culture to employ creative, individualistic, modern computer people.

So I think they are in trouble; and you can’t justify the budgets if you can’t get the staff.

If I was to suggest a way out for GCHQ and the Government it would be to stop fretting about process so much, stop throwing money at the big defence contractors and instead engage directly with smaller parties in the private sector.

But that will never happen on the scale which it needs to. Alas.


[1] my perspective on cyber: www.slideshare.net/alecmuffett/how-to-think-clearly-about-cybersecurity-v2

The cost of UK Cybercrime was not £27bn – Hansard

Told you so…

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Labour)

Let us look at cyber-statistics. In answer to my parliamentary question, the Minister put the cost of cybercrime at £27 billion, but that turns out to be a 2010 “guestimate” from defence company Detica. The National Audit Office misused Cambridge university figures, managing to confuse pounds with dollars. We all know that online crime is rising, but the Government rely on outdated third-party figures. Is he surprised that the public do not trust the Government’s efforts to fight cybercrime, given that they clearly cannot even measure it?

Source; also, the Cabinet Office are throwing it under a bus:

I am writing to advise you that following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by the Cabinet Office.

The £27 billion per annum figure is not our figure but comes from a BAE Systems/Detica report. We do not hold any information about how this figure was arrived at.

End days for Cyberfear?