Stalking/hacking update

 

My phone – on which I now do a factory reset every 1 to 7 days and which I mainly only still use for internet access on my computer – keeps switching wifi on (and hotspot off, but that may be a different story).

(That seems to refer to urban slang. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=wifi%20wifey) (Often, when I can’t figure out what on earth something that I am bombarded with means, it later turns out to be related to urban slang.)

And that connects to the weird “married/marriage” windows that opened up on my screen some time ago, I suppose.

 

 

My new computer – different architecture, different OS – essentially behaves the same way as my old computer did since it was directly accessed on 19 July 2020 when I was out to collect something via Freecycle (old newspapers) which took a 3-hour walk.

The computer freezes all the time, various websites and services are not accessible and some of those are reporting strange error messages and so on. As with the old computer, I now keep having to flip the power switch on the wall. Because it freezes and throwing power off it is the only way to get out of the freeze. But the BIOS has stopped producing its beeps when I log in so that the reboots are less noticeable in adjacent flats. Could that be due to a software update? Sure..

 

 

On my old computer, he briefly threatened to delete another directory yesterday. Taunting. It concerns something that I am working on right now. The other directory is still missing. The one that he deleted in, when was it, September, is still missing, that is, two new directories, both empty, took its place back then. The point of that? No idea.

I also appear to have received at least one spoofed e-mail today.t

Continue reading

What makes a sadistic stalker?

How does something like sadistic stalking come about?

Why does someone decide to target a stranger and wreck that person’s life? A lot of it seems to be a loud scream to be heard. To get noticed.

But how do you deflect that kind of behaviour into something neutral or constructive?

Sadistic stalking is horribly destructive. That destruction seems to be its sole purpose. Where does that urge to destroy a stranger’s life come from?

One of the things I want to do is help starting and existing business owners avoid becoming stalked.

(It makes sense, really. As negative as it sounds, anything else I undertake only causes me to be a risk to anyone I work with. A liability. My hacking and stalking experience becomes an asset, however, if I use it to help others within this context..)

As a business owner in this day and age – or anyone whose career takes place online for that matter – you have to be online.

It means that anyone can find you and anything you do or say may set someone off. It could be as simple as someone not liking your business name that draws his attention and make him decide to take a closer look.

Very few occupations may still allow you to operate without having any online presence at all and without using e-mail, text and chat.

How did I become targeted? I still don’t really know, but I have recently begun to realize that there is a possibility that the people stalking me already started to take an interest in me when I joined an online forum related to a hobby. I was anonymous but I joked a heck of a lot on that forum and it may have been in a manner that my stalkers did not like. They were on that forum. Then I asked for a reference on that forum when I was looking for someone who could do some repair and maintenance work. That set it all in motion.

Nobody ever sees it coming. Serious, highly destructive talking.

I certainly never expected to find myself stalked this way. 

Stalking is on the increase. As a business owner, there are things you can do to protect yourself and limit your exposure to stalkers. I can help you with that.

(Think police will help you if you ever were to get stalked? Think again. In England and Wales, even the police forces themselve are now admitting that they fail stalking victims as a rule, not merely incidentally.)

By the way, stalking is usually directed at women, but does not have to be.

 

She’s making it up!

This woman in Hampshire is making it all up, of course. Everybody knows such things do not occur in real life. The woman just does not know how her computer and her phone work, but she does not want to admit it so she makes up a story.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/nov/14/universal-credit-fraud-scam

</sarcasm>

Categories: Life in Britain, Tech (IT & C, cyber)

Here we go again

I had signed up for an online network event by DowSocial, via LinkedIn, organised from London.

It does look genuine – and I had to register for it via Eventbrite – but my hacker appears to have kept the joining information from me just like he stops lots of my own e-mails from reaching people and lots of other e-mails from reaching me (partly thanks to a break-in on 19 July 2020, he now also has full control over my new computer).

Just in case I am wrong about this, I have also reported it to LinkedIn as a fake event, but it fits the pattern of a lot of what has been going on the entire year. I also got invitations to a women’s network, other networking events and so on. The ones that sound meaningful are spoofs or prevented and the ones that are useless for me are genuine or accessible.

The day before yesterday, I had both 3 views and 36 views on a video that I had posted. That changed to 38. Then it dropped to 10 (now 12 or so) after I wrote about this in the video’s description. (I think that this has to do with whether I am actually accessing the internet when I look at the screen or not getting beyond my hacker’s computer network.) 

 

What happened on 21 May

I got a message out of the blue from someone in Florida that day. It appeared to be a response to an e-mail from me, but I had not written to him and I had not tried to call him either. Last year, he let me know that he no longer has a landline. In a later e-mail, at the start of this year, however, he wrote something that indicated that he does still have a landline. Strange. I don’t think I have his mobile number. Nobody rang me, according to my mobile. (I have no land line, haven’t had one for several years.)

Yesterday, I finally decided to mention it (in an e-mail, granted, but I am currently unable to call him and Zoom/Skype calls often don’t work out with this person; he usually ends up wanting to connect when I am not at my desk). Apparently, his landline had indicated, back in May, that I had called him but left no message. Again, I didn’t call him.

Apparently, he then called me. Again, my phone did not receive any calls.

Also, at the end of last year, one of his e-mails said that he no longer had a landline, but a few months later, he referred to his landline. Has now confirmed that he still has a landline. Okay, let’s assume that his e-mail last year only said that he was contemplating ditching his landline and that I’ve simply remembered it wrong. Still does not explain the call he claims he received and the call he claims he made.

I am not entirely sure what the nature of the issue is in this case.

I also received direct messages on Twitter since the start of March from someone claiming to be a friend of this person. The account no longer exists and on LinkedIn, that person mentions a different Twitter handle as a way of contacting her. The account that contacted me on Twitter at the time had the look and feel of her LinkedIn account and I had been told by e-mail that she was going to contact me.

What I found odd at the time was that when I asked her about her work, she gave me an excuse for not answering and said she would get back to me. (The reason why she contacted me was supposedly for professional reasons! Well, if I don’t know what someone does…)

Excuses for not answering questions about one’s professional activities and excuses for not wanting to make an appointment for a video call are often good indicators for an account being fake.

Here is the second contact attempt made from that Twitter account.

Very weird, certainly in view of the fact that she had previously “disappeared”. This is not a person I’ve ever met or talked with. She did not reply when I responded to this. 

And then there is the issue of me not being able to reach certain sites in the Netherlands from time to time (such as pension-related) and possibly the issue of my missing driving licence, not to mention the rest.

However, I certainly can’t rule out that the real issue is the person in Florida, with regard to that side of the strange things that continue to happen in my life. He’s done a few really weird things over the years off and on, granted. And after all, his Facebook account is also in the name of his friend. Okay, let’s assume that, for clarity’s sake. Okay, this does have the right feel to it. It’s also the application of Occam’s razor with regard to this. So I am dealing with more than one issue, one local and one Florida-based. Okay. Knowing that really helps.

(He may have gotten stuck a bit, to do with very specific high-level professional training he received in the past. That alone might explain it. It happens sometimes, when you are in that kind of profession. If not, then it is who he is.)

Now I still need to solve the rest. (Unless he’s flown over in the past and is paying local people to complicate my life, lol, which is a little too far-fetched, I think that the rest really is genuinely locally driven stuff, “as usual” for the locals.)

 

Is my e-mail working properly?

For the past, oh, I don’t know how many years, I have rarely gotten responses to my e-mails and I often don’t get “message received/read receipts”. This includes e-mail to people I have worked with for decades and to old friends.

(My situation in England is often such that my means of communication are extremely limited and e-mail is often the only way I have to reach people.)

 

Continue reading

Guardian editor’s Twitter account hacked (and 5G)

A Twitter account appearing to be in the name of a technology editor for The Guardian just accused me of spreading lies about (corona virus and) 5G. WTF?!

I was utterly totally flabbergasted – and angry – until I realised that this was typical troll-like behaviour and that account apparently got hacked.

So I blocked the account and reported it to Twitter as hacked.

It’s amazing how quick I was to assume that the tweets from that account were genuine.

The only thing I have done is say that a lack of good information / understanding provided by governments about why people were suddenly no longer allowed to shake hands and told to wash hands all the time may have led some people to assume or conclude that something was getting onto their hands through their phones, in the letter I sent to the Evening Standard.

Confusion about biological viruses versus IT-related viruses might have caused such a misunderstanding. As this new virus emerged more or less at the same time that 5G is being rolled out…

Logical reasoning is not only what WE think is logical reasoning.

I learned that from quaker parrots.

An apple can look like a big intimidating object to a small bird.

Then cutting off a slice of that apple and give it to the apple-loving bird might make a human conclude that as the slice is okay, the apple has to be okay too, but we humans do that on the basis of knowing that the apple is okay.

For a bird that has no prior experience with whole apples, the conclusion that the slice – maybe only that particular slice – might not be good is actually also logical, isn’t it?

Logical reasoning is easy – i.e. limited because it can arrive at one conclusion only – if you already have the answer that you want to arrive at.

If you don’t possess all the answers yet, you might draw different conclusions.

Fortunately, the bird in question also had a terrific sense of humour and often poked fun at me. I learned a lot from her about the arrogance of humans.

 

 

WhatsApp flaw “puts words in your mouth”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49273606

This sort of thing has been possible since at least 2010.

Back in 2010, I knew it was happening on my equipment, but I couldn’t prove it and when you say something like that out loud, everyone assumes that you’re delusional. After all, accepting that I might be correct is a scary thought.

Too scary for most people. 

So when I finally got the proof, when I was able to compare a tweet on my phone with the same tweet on a friend’s computer, I could see that there were words in the tweet on my phone that were not present in the tweet on my friend’s computer… I didn’t show it to anyone. There was no point. Nobody was going to be interested.

The original tweet came from Portsmouth-based Maricar Jagger, but she had nothing to do with the digital mischief (other than that she was connected through her social circles).

I also knew about phone hacking via the invisible text message method before it became news – because I saw it happen on my own phone. (Same thing. Delusional cow who has difficulty grasping technology was the usual response.)

 



PS
And OUT goes a big chunk of police “evidence”, of course.

 

(See also this page.)

The irony

Many years ago, I was one the very few people who used e-mail. Some of my friends were extremely resistant to the idea of e-mail.

Years later, it was those initially so reluctant people who could not stop using e-mail. No matter how many times I begged them to call me instead of e-mail me, I could no longer get them to call me.

Oh, the irony.

That is how you learn who your friends are and who aren’t.

If you turn yourself into a bunch of words on my screen, you could be anybody – or nobody.

Humans are more than just a bunch of words on a screen.

Talking to each other is so much more efficient. You can instantly catch and clear up any misunderstandings that may not even become evident until much later when all you choose to be is a bunch of words on a screen. And you can smile together. A trouble shared is a trouble halved – or so they say – but a shared smile definitely becomes amplified.

 

Entertainment

But not just entertainment. This documentary certainly stands out because of the number of female experts in it. That is still rare.

(I seem to remember that North Korea as behind the Sony hack was later disputed or doubted, however. Either North Korean hackers got careless at one point by skipping encryption at some point, I seem to remember, or someone made it look that way.)

Also, the information given about Tor in this documentary is not complete. Your internet provider can still see what you do.

In the earlier days of the internet, there used to be a site where you could track which transatlantic cable your e-mail was using or something like that. I also remember an instance when e-mail broke down for a day or so because there was a problem with one of those cables. In those days, a lot of services were still based in the US, so your message to someone in Germany might even have to go through a server in the US, stuff like that.

How hackers wiped out a restaurant, and a lot more

That particular restaurant got wiped out in a month after having been in business for about two decades. Just for fun. Because hackers didn’t like the restaurant owner. Maybe because the name of the restaurant.

In this video, it’s a hacker who says this. He says that hackers wiped out this business because they didn’t like the owner.

(He also says that there is something really fishy going on with Google’s business listings.)

It probably happens much more often than most people are aware of.

AI can predict whether your relationship will last based on how you speak to your partner


File 20170829 10424 1u8w6jm.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
I’m TALKING.
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

Ian McLoughlin, University of Kent

Any child (or spouse) who has been scolded for their tone of voice – such as shouting or being sarcastic – knows that the way you speak to someone can be just as important as the words that you use. Voice artists and actors make great use of this – they are skilled at imparting meaning in the way that they speak, sometimes much more than the words alone would merit.

But just how much information is carried in our tone of voice and conversation patterns and how does that impact our relationships with others? Computational systems can already establish who people are from their voices, so could they also tell us anything about our love life? Amazingly, it seems like it.

New research, just published in the journal PLOS-ONE, has analysed the vocal characteristics of 134 couples undergoing therapy. Researchers from the University of Southern California used computers to extract standard speech analysis features from recordings of therapy session participants over two years. The features – including pitch, variation in pitch and intonation – all relate to voice aspects like tone and intensity.

A machine-learning algorithm was then trained to learn a relationship between those vocal features and the eventual outcome of therapy. This wasn’t as simple as detecting shouting or raised voices – it included the interplay of conversation, who spoke when and for how long as well as the sound of the voices. It turned out that ignoring what was being said and considering only these patterns of speaking was sufficient to predict whether or not couples would stay together. This was purely data driven, so it didn’t relate outcomes to specific voice attributes.

How a tone of voice can change the meaning of a few words.

Interestingly, the full video recordings of the therapy session were then given to experts to classify. Unlike the AI, they made their predictions using psychological assessment based on the vocal (and other) attributes – including the words spoken and body language. Surprisingly, their prediction of the eventual outcome (they were correct in 75.6% of the cases) was inferior to predictions made by the AI based only on vocal characteristics (79.3%). Clearly there are elements encoded in the way we speak that not even experts are aware of. But the best results came from combining the automated assessment with the experts’ assessment (79.6% correct).

The significance of this is not so much about involving AI in marriage counselling or getting couples to speak more nicely to each other (however meritorious that would be). The significance is revealing how much information about our underlying feelings is encoded in the way we speak – some of it completely unknown to us.

Words written on a page or a screen have lexical meanings derived from their dictionary definitions. These are modified by the context of surrounding words. There can be great complexity in writing. But when words are read aloud, it is true that they take on additional meanings that are conveyed by word stress, volume, speaking rate and tone of voice. In a typical conversation there is also meaning in how long each speaker talks for, and how quickly one or other might interject.

Consider the simple question “Who are you?”. Try speaking this with stress on different words; “Who are you?”, “Who are you?” and “Who are you?”. Listen to these – the semantic meaning can change with how we read even when the words stay the same.

Computers reading ‘leaking senses’?

It is unsurprising that words convey different meanings depending on how they are spoken. It is also unsurprising that computers can interpret some of the meaning behind how we choose to speak (maybe one day they will even be able to understand irony).

But this research takes matters further than just looking at the meaning conveyed by a sentence. It seems to reveal underlying attitudes and thoughts that lie behind the sentences. This is a much deeper level of understanding.

The therapy participants were not reading words like actors. They were just talking naturally – or as naturally as they could in a therapist’s office. And yet the analysis revealed information about their mutual feelings that they were “leaking” inadvertently into their speech. This may be one of the first steps in using computers to determine what we are really thinking or feeling. Imagine for a moment conversing with future smartphones – will we “leak” information that they can pick up? How will they respond?

Congratulations. Changes in your voice, pulse and pupil size all indicate you’ve found a romantic match.
Astarot/Shutterstock

Could they advise us about potential partners by listening to us talking together? Could they detect a propensity towards antisocial behaviour, violence, depression or other conditions? It would not be a leap of imagination to imagine the devices themselves as future therapists – interacting with us in various ways to track the effectiveness of interventions that they are delivering.

Don’t worry just yet because we are years away from such a future, but it does raise privacy issues, especially as we interact more deeply with computers at the same time as they are becoming more powerful at analysing the world around them.

The ConversationWhen we pause also to consider the other human senses apart from sound (speech); perhaps we also leak information through sight (such as body language, blushing), touch (temperature and movement) or even smell (pheromones). If smart devices can learn so much by listening to how we speak, one wonders how much more could they glean from the other senses.

Ian McLoughlin, Professor of Computing, Head of School (Medway), University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

World War Three is being waged in cyberspace

 

File 20171003 30864 1kwu0a1

Dr. Mike Sosteric, Athabasca University

My introduction to advanced communication technology (i.e. the Internet and World Wide Web) came in 1999.

Having grown up in the two-channel universe of the 1960s and ‘70s, I was agog at the power it represented. The technology was nascent at that time — not many web pages yet existed — but I could still see the potential for good. Here was a technology that I felt could really save the world.

I am not ashamed to say that when I first saw the Web, I was filled with schoolboy naivete. I wanted to help, so I did. I created the first electronic sociology journal, did a few more things after that, and with a massive anticipatory grin, watched and waited for utopia.

Unfortunately, utopia didn’t emerge. In fact, my naive grin soon melted away.

The melting began when I learned that researchers at Cornell University, working without ethical oversight and possibly in collusion with the U.S. Department of Defense, were learning how to use Facebook, a technology we keep by our beds, to manipulate mass emotion.

The grin melted even further when I saw fellow scientists had learned to use search engines to manipulate political preferences.

Manipulating Trump supporters

The grin turned to an outright frown when I read in that same study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a multidisciplinary scientific journal, that moderate Republicans, moderate libertarians, male Republicans and the “deplorable” poor — President Donald Trump’s base — were the most susceptible to manipulation.

I became a little worried when the scholars who wrote the study suggested that Google, by manipulating its algorithms, might already have decided a foreign election, in India in 2014, in favour of a right-wing candidate.

Then there was the historic 2016 election of Trump. That’s when my smile turned to a grimace. During that election campaign, Trump called out to Russia to hack the election, which they did. Spewing hundreds of thousands of dollars of fake ads into Facebook, Twitter and probably Google, they attacked America full-on. They didn’t do it with bullets and bombs; they did it with bits and with bytes, and with the help of American CEOs and American technology.

It was certainly an attack, and there were definitely explosions, but they were in cyberspace. Desensitized by Hollywood violence, we are not paying attention to the attack on our minds.

You can argue about whether the Russian attacks were effective, or puzzle if Trump and his family are traitors, but the fact remains — we are under attack, and if something isn’t done, it’s going to get worse.

Annual hacking event

You don’t have to be a prophet to see what’s coming. The battle plan is in plain sight. In the midst of Cyber Security Awareness Month, it’s time to open our eyes.

Consider the Russian company Positive Technologies. This firm holds an annual event known as PHDays, or “Positive Hack” days. At this event, which started back in 2011, the world’s best and brightest hackers get together to train.

It doesn’t sound too threatening until you learn about “The Standoff.” The Standoff is a military hacking competition with a blatant military goal: Take out a city’s telecom, heat, power, oil, and rail infrastructures. The city’s citizens are even offered up as a resource for the hackers. They are easy to exploit, says the rule book. They use “smart gadgets every day.” “They are vulnerable to social engineering.” They are “prepared to share [their] secrets.”

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Sitting back in my chair with a thump, I see it clearly.

There’s a global war going on, and a global arms race to go with it. The arms race is not a race for physical weapons, it is a race to develop cyber-weapons of psychological, emotional, financial and infrastructure attack. By now, the arms race is so far advanced that it makes the leaflet campaigns of the Second World War and the U.S. government’s Operation Cornflake look like toddler’s play.

ISIS and the far-right are using Twitter and other online networks to radicalize our youth, bringing the war to our streets. Russian cyber-marines engage in massive cyber-attacks, going so far as to target our voting machines.

Just recently, the sensitive financial data of almost half the U.S. population was stolen by state-sponsored professionals. There is even, as is becoming increasingly clear as the Mueller investigation into Trump’s Russia connections unfolds, a “highly coordinateed disinformation campaign” — a propaganda campaign, aimed at destabilizing American society.

Wake up and realize we’re at war

If the horrific recent gun violence in Las Vegas, exploding racial tensions and political polarization of Western democracies are any indication, destabilization is proceeding apace.

So what do we make of this?

No. 1: Realize that global war has been declared. It’s a little hard to pin down who fired the first shot right now, but the aggressors are active and engaged.

No. 2: Understand we are all under attack, even Republicans, perhaps especially Republicans, and the poor. There may be short-term financial gain for those who benefit from the destabilization, but only a fool would think the enemy is our best friend.

Finally, if you are a private citizen, you need to start taking the cyber threat seriously. Combatants are trained to see you as easy-to-manipulate resources. You are being viciously manipulated through social media.

Your financial data is stolen and could easily be used against you. Cyber-marines are training to take out the life-giving infrastructure of your cities. Are government and corporate leaders blithely unaware, or engaged in traitorous collusion? Only time will time tell.

The ConversationUntil then, wake up, gather your loved ones, lock down your social media, and batten the hatches — the war for your mind has begun.

Dr. Mike Sosteric, Associate Professor, Sociology, Athabasca University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

IP addresses aren’t passport photos

I hear it time and time again. If someone is bothering you electronically, such as by e-mail, you can identify them on the basis of the IP address, take that to the police and be done with it. An IP address is like someone’s passport photo, right?

Not so.

Most people make the mistake of assuming that cyber stalkers and hackers behave the same way they do. They think that cyber stalkers and hackers automatically reveal their own IP addresses when they approach a target electronically.

Wrong.

Anyone who’s ever used a torrent stream or tunnelled to access a TV show or some other online content in another country knows better.

Most people haven’t.

Cyber stalkers and hackers aren’t stupid and usually hide behind an electronic wall called a proxy. They can also use a series of proxies. Sometimes, a cyber stalker or hacker gets sloppy and forgets this step. It’s been said that’s what happened in the recent hacking of Sony. Others think that it was just a smart hacker who made it seem that way, though.

Grow your own food inside a computer

At least, that is what it looks like, like you’re growing vegetables inside a computer case. This is a TED Talk by Caleb Harper.

TED Talks won’t let me embed this TED Talk, so you will have to click on the above link.

You can grow your own tasty Isle of Wight, Spanish or Floridian tomatoes, lettuces, broccoli, and a lot more, by recreating local climate and nutritional conditions with the aid of a computer, using recipes that you can exchange for free.

I want one!!!

This YouTube video show you how you can build one. This is not for everyone, so it is a great projects for neighborhood communities!

How far most people are behind on reality

Read this article on CNET.

The jokes themselves are not the problem. The problem is that just about anything these days can be hacked. The internet of things. People are starting to catch up on that. The realization is slowly sinking in and United Airways appears to be freaking out over it, understandably.

You pay too much attention to Caller IDs

Wanna bet?

See, caller IDs can be spoofed, just like e-mails.

There are web sites and software that let you spoof phone numbers. I bet that if I really wanted to, I could call you pretending to be you. But why would I?

Here is one such site: http://www.spoofcard.com/

This one even lets you add background noise.

Internet trolls and the law

The first time I had the word “troll” within the context of the internet, I had no idea what it meant. I found out the hard way, as most people have by now. Internet trolls can make our lives pretty miserable and can cost some people their only means of business advertising.

But what can you do about them? They are anonymous by definition, and police officers are usually just as powerless as you are when it comes to tracking down trolls and identifying them.

In addition, while trolls can be thoroughly unpleasant and sometimes incredibly hurtful, they often aren’t breaking any criminal laws.

Many have developed their pestering skills to perfection. The way they render people powerless and expose them to senseless hurt and insults – such as in the case of Leo Traynor who was viciously stalked by the 17-year-old son of a friend – can be impossible to accept as life as usual and then just forget about. So what do you do?

One option is to sue them in civil proceedings (and for example call them John Doe). That is complicated, and hard. It forces you to be as persistent as your troll. Another one is to trap them, but it only works if the troll is not particularly tech-savvy. You can read about both methods in this Forbes article about Leo Traynor and the case of Carla Franklin who forced Google to reveal who was tormenting him. (Read more here.) Two years later, she sued Chico Shon Moss.

There are a few web pages out there that claim that Mr Traynor made up the entire story. It does not actually matter whether he did or not because the trolling he described is very real. He is not the only person who undergoes this kind of abuse. I too have some experience with this kind of stuff and I am certainly not the only one. In another account, you can read about a man called Chris Andrews in real life, a politician who quit his party when unmasked as a Twitter troll.

Nicola Brookes is a woman in the British seaside town Brighton. She asked the court to force Facebook to reveal the identity of the anonymous trolls who tormented her for months, even suggesting she was actively involved in sexual child abuse as well as a drug dealer. The High Court ruled in her favour, a legal first (see also this EU report Cybercrime and Punishment- New Developments & Challenges by Sylvia Kierkegaard).

One of the trolls turned out to be police officer Lee Rimell. He was arrested, but not suspended, says a follow-up article in the Daily Mail and this BBC article. Apparently he worked out of Birmingham.

He received a serious written warning, according to this detailed article on the web site of Sophos. It shows you in detail what kind of horrific abuse Nicola Brookes was subjected to. Not that different from what Leo Traynor said happened to him.

Yelp trolls

Last year, a New York steakhouse took legal steps to force Yelp to identify who wrote a certain post on Yelp. The writer claimed to be a waiter habitually spitting into the food served at the steak house. The writer used the name of a real person who said he had nothing to do with it and apparently filed a police report about the matter. The steak house took Yelp to court in an attempt to track  down the real poster. (Read more here, here and here.)

Earlier, another company had taken a similar matter to the courts in Virginia, claiming defamation. These cases force the US courts to carry out a delicate legal balancing act. The Virginia Appeals Court initially ruled that Yelp had to reveal the identities of seven posters, but Yelp appealed against that decision (read more here, here and here). The Virginia Supreme Court heard the matter in October 2014.

I haven’t been able to find recent information on the internet about these cases so it’s not clear to me how either of them ended. As there is a great deal of debate about the validity of Yelp reviews and the company’s ability to manipulate reviews, the point may be moot.

 

How the Magistrates Court deals with data thieves

The April 2015 newsletter from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) contains an item on the powers of the UK’s Magistrates Courts.

The Data Protection Act (DPA) has been updated and now allows magistrates to dole out unlimited financial penalties. This is the result of the implementation of section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on 12 March 2015.

Until this recent change, the maximum fine a Magistrates Court could impose was £5,000 and it had to send more serious offences to the Crown Court.