Labour Party Website Banned From Internet Search [updated]

If you're a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.

A couple of days ago I was intrigued to see a piece on Skwawkbox about possible blocking of Labour Party pages from internet search engines due to the inclusion of the noindex and nofollow meta tags which effectively blocks search engines from indexing that page’s content making it seem invisible to the web. These tags exist solely for that purpose.

labour-code-source-extract_1338x166
Above: An extract of the source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review. The complete source can viewed at the page itself or here.

The content on the Labour website is part of The Labour Party Democracy Review and is an open invitation directed at Labour Party members to participate in the future of the political party

“If you’re a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.”

Therefore its exclusion from internet searches is to the obvious detriment of possible change. It could also be said that any such restriction could be considered a direct attack on Jeremy Corbyn himself and his desire for inclusivity.

As it concerned what I thought at the time to be no more than a misplaced meta tag, possibly the result of a sloppy cut and paste operation by some inexperienced intern, it didn’t concern me as anything overtly sinister.

However that was a couple of days ago and despite a number of contacts made to certain individuals, departments and businesses with responsibility for such things – both by Skwawkbox and domestic empire, the offending search-restrictive content remains conspicuously unchanged.

Update: Skwawkbox contact with Labour HQ.

Labour’s HQ confirmed that the tag was not accidental and referred to emails that had been sent to members with a link to provide their input to the review – but this begs the question of why bother putting the page on the site at all if you’re going to hide it?

Now the situation has become murkier with confirmation to this blog by a leader’s office (LOTO) source that neither Corbyn nor his office had given approval for the noindex measure:

“We absolutely did not sanction that tag or anything else that would limit the number of people participating. On the contrary, we want input from as many people as possible so we get the benefit of everyone’s perspective.”

Although strangely absent from their portfolio the company responsible for creating the Labour Party website is Wide Eye Creative, based in Washington USA:

“..purpose-driven creative digital agency that empowers organizations, campaigns, and causes.”

I contacted them and its man in charge Ben Ostrower altering them both to this error in markup that was resulting in a negative impact for their client. Two days later I’m still awaiting their reply and removal of said meta tag. But regrettably they seem more interested in discussing Star Wars and somewhat ironically, Net Neutrality.

Wide Eye Creative & Ben Ostrower tweets

Normally one would expect such coding errors to be fixed immediately upon receipt of notification along with a cheery, ‘Thank you’, for spotting such a glaring error that might have otherwise caused public embarrassment – so why the stalling?

I don’t wish to launch into full conspiracy-mode, but the lack of action surrounding this simple code change, or even to acknowledge its existence is cause for some concern.

At the time of writing the errant meta tags that effectively ban The Labour Party Democracy Review from being seen remain in situ.

Links:
The Labour Party Democracy Review
View source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Download source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Why has Labour HQ blocked Democracy Review page from search engines?
Excl: LOTO – ‘we did not sanction hiding Democracy Review page from search engines’
Google: Block search indexing with ‘noindex’

Updated 18th December 2017: Skwawkbox obtain reply from Labour.
Updated 16th December 2017: to better illustrate source code.

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UK ‘Snooper’s Charter’ Nearly Law

Illustration by R. Kikuo JohnsonIllustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

The Investigatory Powers Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Lords and will soon become law.

For the first time, security services will be able to hack into computers, networks, mobile devices, servers and more under the proposed plans. The practice is known as equipment interference and is set out in part 5, chapter 2, of the IP Bill.

Bulk data sets

As well as communications data being stored, intelligence agencies will also be able to obtain and use “bulk personal datasets”. These mass data sets mostly include a “majority of individuals” that aren’t suspected in any wrongdoing but have been swept-up in the data collection.

These (detailed under part 7 of the IP Bill and in a code of practice (download PDF), as well as warrants for their creation and retention must be obtained.

“Typically these datasets are very large, and of a size which means they cannot be processed manually,” the draft code of practice describes the data sets as. These types of databases can be created from a variety of sources.

Continue reading here.

Source:
Snooper’s Charter is nearly law: how the Investigatory Powers Bill will affect you (Wired)

Download:
IP Bill – Draft BPD code of practice.pdf. (www.gov.uk)

Opera Browser Servers Hacked

27th June 20013: IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ALL OPERA BROWSER USERS
opera-crime-scene_368x400
Servers belonging to software developers Opera have been compromised. At present it is unclear how much damage has been done. Opera themselves have been their usual less than forthcoming selves when queried, moreover their official statement raise more questions than it answers. Additionally there is no news for its users on it’s official facebook pages or twitter account.

Further Reading:
Opera breached, has code cert stolen, possibly spreads malware – advice on what to do
Attackers sign malware using crypto certificate stolen from Opera Software
Opera network cracked
Opera’s network hacked, code-signing certificate stolen, used to spread malware
Opera tries to put a good spin on could turn out to be a pretty nasty breach
Opera’s official statement raise more questions than it answers

Another nail in the coffin?

WebKit Opera: First Impressions

27th June 20013: IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ALL OPERA BROWSER USERS
Opera breached, has code cert stolen, possibly spreads malware – advice on what to do
Attackers sign malware using crypto certificate stolen from Opera Software
Opera’s network hacked, code-signing certificate stolen, used to spread malware
Opera’s official statement raise more questions than it answers

So then Opera enters a dramatic new phase, but is a bright new dawn or is the sun about to set on a much loved friend?

From herein I shall refer to Presto as Classic Opera and WebKit as, erm, ChromOpera? ChrOpera? ChOpera? COpera? I haven’t settled on an appropriate conjunction just yet.


View full size image. Opera Next v.15.0.1147.61

Observations on Opera Next version 15.0.1147.61
One aspect that I and I’m certain most users love about Classic Opera is in how customisable it is. ini files can be edited with speed and efficiency that brings a real sense of ownership to the experience.

WebKit uses SQLlite to store its user data so by using SQLite Database Browser I’ve been able to view and edit some files (see screenshot below). Crucially the Preferences file can be edited in a plain text editor, although only a few options have been added thus far, so there really isn’t much one can do to customise things just yet.


View full size image. SQLite Database Browser

Overview & Omissions
This is merely a cursory overview. A first impression review.

    Search: No edit options. Cannot Add or remove.
    Bookmarks: Not available.
    UserJS: Not available.
    UserCSS: Not available.
    Themes: No edit options. Cannot Add or remove.
    Toolbar: Not available.
    Passwwords: Import not available.
    Certificates: Import not available.
    Blocked Content/urlfilter: Not available.

source: Gary Walsh – WebKit Opera: First Impressions MyOpera Blog

Update:
Problems with Dragonfly [1] [2]

Opera Next Users Poll
Farewell Opera? Poll
Farewell Opera? Results

Further Reading:
Why Opera switching to Blink (WebKit) was the blunder of a century
Opera Next 15 Released! Opera Desktop Team Blog
SQLite Database Browser

The Rise of US Covert Surveillance

Secret Surveillance Reports: Channel 4 News

Barack Obama defends secret surveillance reports, assuring citizens phone calls are private. But the Information Commissioner’s Office says there are “real issues” about US agencies accessing UK data.

In his first comments since the government’s surveillance programmes were made public, President Obama insisted that they were conducted with broad safeguards to protect against abuse.

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this programme is about,” said the president.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the National Security Agency and FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading US internet companies. Meanwhile the Guardian reported that the US government is collecting telephone records of millions of Americans as part of counterterrorism efforts.

On Friday, it also emerged that at least one European intelligence agency is using the US Prism service too: the Guardian reported that GCHQ has had access to the system since at least June 2010, and generated 197 intelligence reports from it last year.

Mr Obama insisted that the surveillance programs struck the right balance between keeping Americans safe from terrorist attack and protecting their privacy.

But the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that that there were “real issues” with the revelations. A spokesperson told Channel 4 News that there appeared to be aspects of US law that conflicts with UK law and that the ICO had raised concerns with the EU commission, which is in discussions with the US government.

US vs UK law
In a statement, the Information Commissioner Office (ICO) told Channel 4 News: “There are real issues about the extent to which US law enforcement agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens.

“Aspects of US law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to US agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own data protection act.”

Continue reading… Obama defends US spying on internet and phone data – Channel 4 News.

Further Reading
To be updated