Skip to main content

The Google Dilemma

No, it wasn’t me who took down Google last night but something obviously happened, severe enough to cause a lengthy outage across their Blogger servers.

The column I wrote for Silicon “Just whose legislation rules the internet” last week, was of sufficient interest for me to include it in a meeting at Westminster. on the evening before the ecrime congress. With luck, it may provide a little background detail as a foundation for an adjournment debate on the internet and law, which I think is planned for next week, Parliamentary time permitting.

It has placed Google in a slightly awkward position and as one observer told me (paraphrased), “I don’t think that when pressed with a UK court order, Google UK will refuse to comply with a proper request for information. However because of the brand and the sheer volume of potential complaints they might receive, they are more likely to hide behind the smokescreen of US law in order to discourage such enquiries.”

This view reflects an earlier conversation I had with one of Google's company’s directors, an old friend from Microsoft. Google is most cooperative but appears internally divided between its proper US and European legal obligations. However, the internet, as one might expect, provides more than one way to skin the proverbial cat and so in the example given in my Silicon column, Google’s cooperation was ‘nice to have ‘but subsequently not ‘need to have’.

The last time I explored the subject of the internet and the law was when I wrote “March of the Spiders”, which had a section on ‘Notice & Takedown’ (NTD) in regard to copyright legislation. That report, which was published the ‘Aediles’ and the Conservative Technology Forum, was subsequently used as a submission to the European Parliament in the most recent review of the EUCD, the EU Copyright Directive.

There are still reference copies sprayed around the web and there’s a back-link to the original document for interest here.

Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…