Hidden Talents of the Google Streetview Car…

Whilst playing with some Google maps last night, I noticed a new control:

Click it, and the browser throws up a request:

For those of you who haven’t seen this sort of thing before, the latest browsers come complete with location aware browsing. In the case of my browser, “Firefox gathers information about nearby wireless access points and your computer’s IP address. Then Firefox sends this information to the default geolocation service provider, Google Location Services, to get an estimate of your location.”

If you’re using a mobile phone, additional cues ares available, such as a GPS fix if your phone is GPS enabled, and cell tower triangulation, where the phone’s location can be detected not only from the current cell the phone is registered with, but also from the signal strength of surrounding cells.

If you accept the location finding, the new Google map control turns out to be a blue dot control…

You can revoke the location aware privilege by going to the site you granted access to, selecting “Page Info” from the Firefox tools menu, and then tweaking the Location Awareness setting:

Adding location awareness to a web page is trivial (e.g. Where are you? Find out with geolocation in Javascript) and is something I suspect that Facebook will soon have a privacy setting for…;-)

Anyway, in order for wifi network detection to be usable, a service is required that can map a network identifier onto a location. Skyhook Wireless is one provider of this service (I don’t think Google has acquired it – yet…), but Google also appears to be building its own…

There are several ways for Google to do this, of course…. If you have an Android phone, then it’s in principle possible for the phone to reconcile GPS data with cell tower and wifi network identifers and signal strengths. And the Google Streetview car? Well it appears that it doesn’t just collect imagery… On Google Street View Car Logging Wifi Networks: “Google’s roving Street View spycam may blur your face, but it’s got your number. The Street View service is under fire in Germany for scanning private WLAN networks, and recording users’ unique Mac (Media Access Control) addresses, as the car trundles along.” In the past, of course, there have also been privacy concerns about Google Street View capturing faces and car number plates. (See also: Large-scale Privacy Protection in Google Street View [PDF]).

Ever one to take an idea and run too far with it, I had a little think around what other sorts of “assist” information Google might be able to capture from Street View. So for example, in December last year (2009) it was announced that Google takes another stab at QR codes. Will it work this time?: “Google announced a broad plan to introduce QR code stickers in the windows of over 100,000 local businesses nationwide.” Hmm…so that means if Street View captures the QR code, it can then reconcile that location with your business…

(Street View captured QR-codes also provides a launchpad for augmented reality ads in Google Maps and Google Earth, e.g. by using the QR-code as the augmented reality registration image. See for example Real-Time Ads Coming to Google Street View?.)

Something else that was announced this week – Google Cloud Print, in which printers become accessible, and fax machines can be laid to rest…

Our goal is to build a printing experience that enables any app (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world.

The Goog will quickly work out where in the world those printers are, of course… (I can’t wait to see a “Printers near me” option appearing in context menus… Err…;-)

(Just in passing, this also caught my eye this week: Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets. In short, digital photocopiers are scanners, with hard drives. So assuming that you know all those stories about sensitive information leaking from organisations via hard drives on scrapped PCs, well, err..? What happened to your last workplace photocopier?)

Okay, enough loose threads there for you to weave into your own nightmare scenario… @andysc suggested this was all getting a bit like Halting State, so I’m going to track that book (which is new to me) down right now…

See also: So What Do You Think You’re Doing, Sonny?

Keeping Up with Facebook Privacy Changes (Again)

Although on a day to day basis I’m a Mac user, every so often I need to dip into the Windows virtual machine on my laptop. This generally fills me with fear and trepidation, because as an infrequent Windows user, whenever I do go over to the dark side I know my internet connection will grind to a halt and I will get regular requests to restart the machine as Windows goes into update mode. In a similar vein, on a day to day basis it’s Twitter that meets my social web needs. But on the rare occasions I go into Facebook, I’m also filled with dread. Why? Because there is frequently a new privacy minefield to negotiate (e.g. Keeping Your Facebook Updates Private).

Over the last few days, there’s been a Facebook developers conference, so I thought it worth checking in to see what new horrors have been released; and here’s what I saw today:

Hmm…

So Facebook makes it easy for website owners to help you “tweet” a link to your Facebook stream… (I wonder, does this also work as a social bookmarking service? Can I browse through the links I’ve Liked?

Ah – according to Deceiving Users with the Facebook Like Button, it appears that “Removing the feed item from your newsfeed does not remove your like — it stays in your profile. You have to click the button again to remove the ‘Like’ relationship.” So it could be used as a social bookmarking service, of a sort. Or at least a Facebook equivalent to “favorited” websites in your browser.

As you might have guessed from the previously linked to post, all may not (yet) be well with the Liked implementation though – because it seems that it’s possible to add a “Like” link on one page that actually Likes a page on another website. Which reminds me a little of phishing

So, what other goodness (?!) does Facebook have in store for us?

Instant personalisation, hmm…? So if I go to Pandora, say, it can trawl my Facebook profile, decide from my Likes and updates that I’m a goth hippy groover, and generate a personalised radio station for me jus’ like that? The oo’s have it… (ooh…, cool… or spooky…?;-)

And guess what, Facebook have thoughtfully opted me in to that service, without me having to do anything, and without even forcing me to notice (I didn’t have to follow the link on the home page to read the new service announcement; and for mobile users, I wonder if any of the Facebook apps tell the users that they’ve been opted in to this new way of giving their personal data to third parties…?)

I think I’ll click here:

I think I’ll untick…

Am I sure…? Err, yes… Confirm.

But what does this mean…?

Please keep in mind that if you opt out, your friends may still share public Facebook information about you to personalize their experience on these partner sites unless you block the application.

Hmmm, I think I’ll Learn More… (do you ever get the feeling you’ve ended up in one of those Create Your Own Adventure style games, only for real… Is this Brazil, or a Trial?

Err, right…

I guess this is the one:

What data is shared with instantly personalized partner sites?
When you and your friends visit an instantly personalized site, the partner can use your public Facebook information, which includes your name, profile picture, gender, and connections. To access any non-public information, the website is required to ask for you or your friend’s explicit permission.

Or is that “When you or your friends visit…”? That is, if my friend visits Pandora and goes for instant personalisation, can Pandora use my friend as a vector to grab my public information? A question that now follows is – can Pandora identify my Facebook identity through some mechanism or other (e.g. Facebook set cookies?) and reconcile that with what it has learned about me from my friends who have opted in to personlisation features. And if so, could it then offer me personalisation services anyway, even though I opted out on Facebook…?

I’m still unticking… because as Facebook adds partners, I probably won’t pick up on it…

So, do I dare walk up the Facebook Privacy tree…? Let’s go up to the Privacy Setting page:

So here’s the Profile Settings control panel:

Hmmm… there’s a link there to Application Settings, which I don’t think appears on the Privacy settings page. Where does it go?

I’m not sure I understand everything in that drop down menu…?

How about the Contact settings?

Search?

Blocking?

Sheesh.. So here are the tabs that I have to work through:

Many of the pages only require setting a simple drop down box (though thinking through the implications, and what relates to what may be comples); but there are also quite a few that offer “Edit Settings…” links, and I suspect that some of those open up into rather more involved dialogues…

I reckon you could easily spend at least 1 week/10 hours of a 10 point short course just looking at Facebook privacy settings, and trying to think through what the implications are…

Which brings to mind the Facebook network visulisation I started working on with Gephi… Could we use visualisation tools to highlight who in your Facebook network can see what given your current privacy settings? Methinks there’s an app in that…

PS popping back in to Facebook just now to delete most of the apps I’m signed up to, I noticed on the “click here” page linked to above the option:

What your friends can share about you
Control what your friends can share about you when using applications and websites

Clicking through to Edit Settings, here’s what I see:

[Since grabbing that screenshot, I’ve unchecked all those boxes…]

I’ll spell out the text for you:

What your friends can share about you through applications and websites

When your friend visits a Facebook-enhanced application or website, they may want to share certain information to make the experience more social. For example, a greeting card application may use your birthday information to prompt your friend to send a card

If your friend uses an application that you do not use, you can control what types of information the application can access. Please note that applications will always be able to access your publicly available information (Name, Profile Picture, Gender, Current City, Networks, Friend List, and Pages) and information that is visible to Everyone

So… if i don’t take steps to protect my information, then my friends can give access to my presence, videos, links, photos, videos and photos and tagged in, my birthday, hometown etc etc to third party applications? Does that mean if I have various privacy settings set to share with friends only, they can still share the information on to third parties I did not anticipate seeing the data?

In the following set up, who can see photos and videos of me?

Answers in the comments please… If anyone’s done the experiments to see just how the various previous setting inter-relate, I’d love to see a write-up. I’m also thinking: maybe Facebook should be required to publish a logical model of what’s going on? (Are there logics of privacy? You could probably get somewhere close using epistemic logic?)

(It’s all a bit like writing legislation that says that as yet unspecified powers will be given to a Minister, who may then devolve those powers to others…;-)

PPS a page I didn’t link to/show a screengrab of but should have included is the Applications page (this is not under the privacy settings. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/editapps.php?v=allowed

If you don’t use an app, particularly an external one, I suggest you delete it…

[UPDATE: Why I Joined the Facebook Privacy Changes Backlash…]

Viewing WordPress Posts in Chronological Order

A short and sweet blog post this one… if you want to share a list of posts by tag or category, or the results from a search on a WordPress blog in the order in which they were posted, just add ?orderby=ID&order=ASC to the end of the URL.

Like this:

http://digitalworlds.wordpress.com/category/what-is-a-game/?orderby=ID&order=ASC

What this means is that you can share tagged posts in a chronological view, rather than the default reverse chronological review. Which means your reader can read them in the right order without having to go through any grief…

[UPDATE: as Simon Dickson points out in a comment below, the above actually returns the order in which posts were created. For the order in which they were published, use ?orderby=date&order=ASC]

PS it works for feeds too…

PPS I just added this hack to my blog sidebar too – as a “View these posts in chronological order” link:

:-)

PPPS a whole host of other ordering parameters appear to be available too:

* orderby=author
* orderby=date
* orderby=title
* orderby=modified
* orderby=menu_order Note: Only works with Pages.
* orderby=parent
* orderby=ID
* orderby=rand
* orderby=meta_value Note: A meta_key=keyname must also be present in the query.
* orderby=none – no order (available with Version 2.8)
* orderby=comment_count – (available with Version 2.9)

On wordpess.com blogs at least, the pagination parameters other than order don’t appear to work though? (nopaging=true (i.e. display all corresponding posts), posts_per_page=, paged=)

As Time Goes By, It Makes a World of Diff

Prompted by a DevCSI Developer Focus Group conference call just now, I had a quick look through the list of Bounty competition entries (and the winners to see whether there was any code that that might be fun to play with.

One app that’s quite fun is a simple app by Chris Gutteridge (Wayback/Memento Animation) that animates the history of a website using archived copies of the site from the Wayback Machine. So for example, here’s the animated history of the OU home page

And here are links to the history of the current Labour Party and Conservative Party domains: The animated history of: http://www.labour.org.uk/ and The animated history of: http://www.conservatives.com/.

The app will also animate changes from a MediaWiki wiki as this link demonstrates: Dev8D wiki changes over time.

(I can’t help thinking it needs: a) a pause button, so at least you can scroll up and down a page, if not explore the site; and b) a bookmarklet, to make it easier to get a site into the replayer;-)

The Dev8D pages also suggest a “Web Diff” app was entered in one of the challenges, but I couldn’t see a link to the app anywhere?

Diffs have been on my mind lately in a slightly different context, in particular relating to the changes made to the Digital Economy Bill on the various stages it went through as it passed through the Lords, but here again a developer challenge event turned up the goods, in this case the Rewired State: dotgovlabs held last Saturday and @1jh’s Parliamentary Bill analyser:

So for example, if we compare the Digital Economy Bill as introduced to the Lords:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/001/10001.i-ii.html
and the version that was passed to the Commons:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/10089.i-iii.html
here’s what we get:

Luvverly stuff :-)

PS @cogdog beats me to it again in a comment to Reversible, Reverse History and Side-by-Side Storytelling, specifically: “maybe this is like watching Memento backwards?” Which is to say, maybe the Wayback/Memento Animation should have a “play backwards” switch? And of course, this being a Chris Gutteridge production, it has. So for example, going back in time with the JISC home page

(Sob, I have no original ideas any more, and can’t even think of them before other people do, let alone implement them…;-(

More Thoughts on Data Driven Storytelling

Every year for what must be getting on for the last 10 years or so now, we go to Festival at the Edge, a spoken word/storytelling festival at Much Wenlock. Although I’ve never plucked up the courage to actually tell a story there, I did do a workshop 3 or 4 years ago on Storytelling for Beginners. One of the exercises we did was to draw a sketch map of a walk we were familiar with from our past from having walked it regularly. Then we had to walk it again in our minds eye and place a marker at a point we could tell a story about from a walk we remembered: something that had happened at a particular location on a particular walk, for example, or a description about a feature along the route; (on the walk I depicted, I described a gap and a low stone platform in a wall by a farm where (I remember being told) the milk churns used to be left; it isn’t there now). Then we had to walk the route again, and add more features to the map, remembering more about it… And again… Five or six times in all… Then we had to tell a story or two to the rest of the group.

This technique is the flipside of a technique used by many storytellers to remember the essential points of a story: the use of a physical map (or memory palace) in which to situate key elements; the process of telling the story is then tied to tracing the route between memory locations, and telling each partial tale associated with each location.

The power of our creative imagination also means that we can take random markers, and generate story to connect them. Take @cogdog’s Five Card Flickr Stories exercise for example: “you get a shuffled deck of five panels from different Nancy cartoons, and you have to pick one at a time to, in five steps, produce a coherent story, or at least die laughing trying. The point is to make connections and discuss the reasons for the choice.”

Anyway, in a comment to Digital Storytelling, the Data Way @jimgroom suggested that I “come up with an assignment, and I will send my students to your blog to figure it out.”

I’m not sure I’m confident (yes, that is the right word…) enough to post such an exercise, but here are a few more thoughts exploring what form such an assignment might take, bearing in mind that the storytellers may not be majoring in statistics or have particularly good data handling skills.

Note that these ideas were spawned whilst walking the dog, so the sense of journey might show through!

First up, I thought about maps, and one of the most powerful stories told in the data visualisation community, that of John Snow’s Cholera Map. The story, dating back to the 1850s, describes how physician John Snow plotted on a map the location of the homes of people who had died in an outbreak of cholera, and in doing so was able to locate the source of the outbreak*. The storytelling here comes from being able to use “data” forensically, in order to tell the story of where the source of the cholera was, given the journey it took, and the evidence it left behind.

My second thought was off on a forensic tangent – historical storytelling based on aerial photography (see for example one of the many websites on aerial archaeology – what can you tell about what happened in a place centuries ago based on human modifications from those times that are still recorded in the landscape, though not necessarily immediately obviously from the place itself…) Interesting, but not necessarily data driven…

Being, as I was, on a walk, I then started to wonder about what data might be accessible enough to folk who don’t really do data that would allow them to tell stories inspired by that data. Map based journey data is one such source – given a trail, what can you tell about the journey that was taken and what happened on that journey?

Fortunately, there are several sites out there that already collect trail data. So for example, Mapmyride shows routes and elevation data on a bicycle trip:

Everytrail adds in speed data alongside the elevation data:

From a quick search, and in particular this post: Mountain Training in Moratalla, Murcia, which includes heart rate data alongside elevation and hill gradient along a bike ride, I found a way in to Garmin Connect, where folk share all sorts of personal data. Running a Google search for site:http://connect.garmin.com/activity/ should turn up all sorts of results pages, which leads to one possible data driven storytelling assignment – given a Garmin connect data journey, what happened to that person on their journey?

One thing of course, leads to another, so having hit on the idea of telling a personal story about someone unknown from data traces (or 5 random photos…) they’ve left behind, so I checked my delicious bookmarks, and (re)discovered Daytum, a persoal data logging site.

So for example, what story can we tell about a day in the life of this person, inspired by what they spend their time doing?

Again, searching for just site:http://daytum.com/ will turn up a random selection of public data profiles around which we can ask: what’s this person’s story? (Or we may go one further: pull down two random profiles, and tell a story about their life together, how they met, etc etc.)

It’s not just individual data that we have access to, of course – there’s also mass action data, like some of the webrhythms I’ve collected on Trendspotting, or data collected from living buildings that you can peek at on Pachube – but I’ve written more than enough for now. Hopefully there are one or two ideas in here that act as a starting point, at least, for a data driven storytelling exercise… As ever, comments are appreciated. If I get a chance in the next week, I’ll try to refine this post to make it a little more assignment like. And please, if you’ve ever run a data driven digital storytelling activity, I’d love to hear about it:-)

* There are a couple of books that tell the story of Snow’s Cholera map in more detail: The Medical Detective: John Snow, Cholera and the Mystery of the Broad Street Pump and The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks (interview). If you fancy tipping me one, they’re on my Amazon “Patronage” wishlist;-)

PS you remember that story about the “map a familiar route” exercise I opened this post with? Here’s a similar activity, told digitally: e.g. by Downes (Here Is Where I Grew Up…) and @cogdog (Memory Mapping). [UPDATE: Jim Groom has also set an assignment on neighborhood mapping for his Digital Storytelling class – cr3d1t. It’ll be interesting to see what his students come up with…]

PPS Here’s a fantastic piece of storytelling – and annotated line chart of a day in the life of hashtag that went bad… #cashgordon. A great resource for building this sort of story is Crappy Graphs (make your own crappy graph).

PPPS On the topic of maps’n’journeys – this Arcade Fire promo was incredible: Arcade Fire: The WIlderness Downtown

PPPPS here’s another great set of examples of new wave digital storytelling: We Tell Stories (six examples of new ways to tell a stort, from Penguin books). Of particualr note – a story told via Google Maps: The 21 Steps

Reversible, Reverse History and Side-by-Side Storytelling

Although I tend to live very much in the flow of the web, I also have a memory of (some of) what’s gone before. So for example, there’s a viral video doing the rounds at the moment about the Future of the publishing industry – feel free to watch it, but before you’re tempted to share it, please read on…

Very nice, and maybe not surprising that Penguin Books are behind it, as they were with a whole host of other innovative storytelling techniques two or three years ago (http://wetellstories.co.uk/).

But when I saw the video I thought: okay, but not that original (and I’m guessing originality was partly the reason why this video has gone viral…?) Because I’d seen exactly the same form and presentation last year in what is arguably a far more powerful story:

Thanks to @cogdog has for finding the original link, as well as an earlier political video it was based on:

This idea of reversible time requires a cleverly constructed narrative of course. On several occasions over the last year, I’ve pondered how to go about constructing such a narrative – the videos shown above give a host of structural clues and cribs to get you started – but I feel that an easy way in might to to take a familiar story and tell it backwards. That is, tell a reverse narrative.

I’m sure this conceit must be a well used one in science fiction, but the first time I (remember) coming across it was in the novel Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis which tells the story of a life, told backwards.

A couple of years ago, Brian Kelly used this trick as a tool for helping out with the creation of risk assessments – The History Of The Web Backwards, who “suggested idea of ‘History of Web backwards to @daveyp in pub in Glasgow on 2 May 06, after a Radio 4 prog which used this idea.” (I wonder if it was this programme, on international datelines, that spurred the idea? Shifting meridians: a tale of time ?)

Another playful take on time is the replay. I’ve posted about this before (Relative Time Replay: History, In Real Time) but the main idea is that we take the real time events from one epoch and replay them at another time. So for example, last year saw a replay of the first moon landing using Twitter, amongst other things, to replay the landing as if in real time. The idea of replay is also behind the idea of the Twitter video captions hack too, of course.

Finally, although not strictly a time based device, I think that here might be a good place to mention side-by-side video storytelling. A great example of this is Duelity which counters creationist claims with an evolutionary perspective, told side by side:

(This resembles the reversible device in the videos above in the sense that each separate video is coherent in its own right, as well as when the videos are played side by side; just like the forward and the reverse narratives in the other videos both work as narratives.)

Digital Storytelling – a whole lotta fun:-)

PS Hmm, maybe I should try to weave some of this into the “Narrative” Topic Exploration in the Digital Worlds course? (Delivered wholly online, now taking registrations for a May 2010 start;-)

A Letter to My MP About the Digital Economy Bill

Just sent, via WriteToThem… It rambles a bit, which may be a problem… and it’s possibly a little bit confused – but then, if I’m confused about a law and break it, that’s no defence, right? (And the great thing about this bill is that if it’s enacted, it seems to pre-enable another bit of law that hasn’t been written yet?!)

Dear Andrew Turner,

Following the passage of the Digital Economy Bill from the House of Lords to the House of Commons, I am writing to you again in order to express my concern at both the current state of the bill and, to quote the Earl of Erroll, the “unethical” way in which it is being passed into legislation (Hansard 15 Mar 2010 : Column 464 ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/100315-0004.htm ).

As you proudly state on your website http://www.islandmp.org: “First and foremost I am the Island’s representative at Westminster, scrutinising parliamentary bills, working to shape legislation to improve the lives of all my constituents and holding the government to account.”

Question: do you think it is right that as a member of the House of Commons, you will be limited in your ability influence the passage and content of this bill?

Question: I would like to ask you to detail the extent to which you are and/or will: a) scrutinise the bill and b) hold the government to account about the way in which it passes bills such as the Digital Economy Bill into law apparently without respect for due process.

Question: what steps will you take personally to demonstrate support for other members who are interested in scrutinising and influencing this bill, as well as those who wish to speak out about what is widely believed by industry members and and interested parties such as myself to be an example of bad (proposed) legislation?

As to the bill itself, I would like to ask you:

Question: whether you have you read it and formed an opinion about the consequences of passing into legislation the bill as currently drafted?

For example, regarding the amendment to Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, in particular the insertion after section 97A of:
“97B Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement The High Court (in Scotland, the Court of Session) shall have power to grant an injunction against a service provider, requiring it to prevent access to online locations specified in the order of the Court for the prevention of online copyright infringement.”
my reading of this paragraph is that sites such as Youtube or flickr that encourage user contributed content under a post-moderation (takedown when informed) policy might in principle be identified as sites to whom access should be prevented. In situations where material is copyrighted and held in private, but where it may be in the public interest to share that material without permission (e.g. Wikileaks, or even accredited news sites), could the amendment be used to effectively censor sites hosting that content? If that reading is correct, do you think this (mis)use of the law as proposed is fair (i.e. using it not in the spirit it was presumably intended?)

Based on my reading of the Bill, it also appears that the Bill is drafted in such a way that a “Code” that is: i) enforceable by the terms contained within the Bill, if enacted, and that ii) can draw on provisions also drawn up within the Bill, has been proposed that has not, as yet, been written (and may not be…). That is:

‘After section 124C of the Communications Act 2003 insert—

“124D Initial obligations code by OFCOM in the absence of an approved code

(1) For any period when sections 124A and 124B are in force but for which there is no approved initial obligations code under section 124C, OFCOM must by order make a code for the purpose of regulating the initial obligations.

(2) OFCOM may but need not make a code under subsection (1) for a time before the end of—

(a) the period of six months beginning with the day on which sections 124A and 124B come into force, or
(b) such longer period as the Secretary of State may specify by notice to OFCOM.

(3) The Secretary of State may give a notice under subsection (2)(b) only if it appears to the Secretary of State that it is not practicable for OFCOM to make a code with effect from the end of the period mentioned in subsection (2)(a) or any longer period for the time being specified under subsection (2)(b).

(4) A code under this section may do any of the things mentioned in section 124C(3) to (5).

(5) A code under this section may also—

(a) confer jurisdiction with respect to any matter (other than jurisdiction to determine appeals by subscribers) on OFCOM themselves;
(b) provide for OFCOM, in exercising such jurisdiction, to make awards of compensation, to direct the reimbursement of costs, or to do both;
(c) provide for OFCOM to enforce, or to participate in the enforcement of, any awards or directions made under the code;
(d) make other provision for the enforcement of such awards and directions;
(e) establish a body corporate, with the capacity to make its own rules and establish its own procedures, for the purpose of determining subscriber appeals;
(f) provide for a person with the function of determining subscriber appeals to enforce, or to participate in the enforcement of, any awards or directions made by the person;
(g) make other provision for the enforcement of such awards and directions; and
(h) make other provision for the purpose of regulating the initial obligations.” ‘

Whilst I am not legally trained, my reading of this section, and the one shown below regarding what the Secretary of State (who may be anybody by the time the law, if passed, comes into force…) may or may not ask an unelected body (i.e. OFCOM) to do what can be summarised along the lines of “we might ask OFCOM to make up a legally enforceable code using some or all of the bits of some laws we’ve just made up; or not; whatever…”

Question: How would you summarise: a) the intent of the passages quoted immediately above and below? b) justify the passage of the legislation as stated bearing in mind your role as my representative at Westminster, with a “first and foremost” role for scrutinising parliamentary bills on the behalf of constituents such as myself?

’10 Obligations to limit internet access: assessment and preparation
After section 124F of the Communications Act 2003 insert—
“124G Obligations to limit internet access: assessment and preparation
(1) The Secretary of State may direct OFCOM to—
(a) assess whether one or more technical obligations should be imposed on internet service providers;
(b) take steps to prepare for the obligations;” ‘

I look forward to hearing your response, in particular your answers to the questions that I have specifically identified as such.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Hirst

PS here’s the response @liamgh got from his MP: A reply from my MP about the Digital Economy Bill. If you’ve written to your MP on this matter, and received a reply, why not post it somewhere and add a link to a comment below? Or just paste the response into a comment to this post…. not that the MPs are likely to be sharing answers or anything…;-)

PPS this all reminds me about Nomic, which I seem to remember I tried to recast into a Digg like game I called Nomigg… Hmmm… would be good to revisit that one day…

UPDATE (19-20/3/10): I had a holding letter response saying that Andrew Turner was looking into the matter. I just replied with an additional question:

Thanks for getting back to me to let me know that Mr Turner is looking
into matters raised in my letter regarding the Digital Economy Bill
and the way in which it is being rushed through the House of Commons.
I wonder if I could add another question to the ones raised in my
letter, specifically:
Question: is Mr Turner aware of the Open Letter regarding the way in
which the passage of the Bill is handled ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/19/digital-britain-file-sharing ) and does he intend to add his name to it or otherwise express
support for it?