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Britain's Conservatives Scrub Speeches from the Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:45PM (#45414507)

    Where's the torrent file?

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:56PM (#45415369) Homepage

      I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of the Streisand Effect.

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:41PM (#45415799) Homepage Journal

        I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of the Streisand Effect.

        I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of 1984. [wikipedia.org]

        • by d3m0nCr4t (869332) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:16PM (#45416233)

          I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of the Streisand Effect.

          I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of 1984. [wikipedia.org]

          Oh they have, but instead of feeling appalled, they just get a hard-on.

          • I thought that America's Tea Party were over the edge, I think they've been one upped by the Torrie's. This is a time when we need WikiLeaks, could someone forward a message to Julian, to "get back to work."

            As a side note. Maybe someone at the NSA could send the data over to Snowden who could then send it over to Julian; that would be epic.
            • by bfandreas (603438) on Thursday November 14, 2013 @12:04AM (#45419827)
              The UK Tories under Cameron are indeed appalling. It is hard to decide if they are merely incompetent or malicious. Their actions of late point to the latter. Indeed one could only speculate how bad it would have been without the LibDems.

              The UK political scene has always been a bit foreign to my German tastes. A backbench MP suggesting that feckless fathers should be dragged to work in chains in defense of the badly executed bedroom-tax would have been forced to apologize in German politics. And he would have lost his seat come the next election. The comically idiotic ads targeting "illegal" immigrants to turn themselves in are both malicious and incompetent. And even now there is another push to introduce the "snooper's charta" which in the light of the recent revelations about the GCHQ isn't even needed for them to do what they do.

              The other paries in the UK look good in comparison because of the unmitigated disaster that is the current Tory crop. Thatcher was bad but potentially a necessary evil due to the unmaintainability of the Postwar Dream. But think as I may I can't begin to fathom where to start to look for a justification for that cabinet, that PM and that party. They do not even have the use of a compass needle that permanently points to the south. You can't say "let's do the opposite of what they are suggesting" due to the utter confusion that is their politics.
        • I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of the Streisand Effect.

          I dunno, but I'm guessing none of these politicians have ever heard of 1984. [wikipedia.org]

          I am pretty sure they have heard of it. In fact it's almost as if they use it for inspiration. That, and all Kafka, of course.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        They have. That's why they're all doing it at once. That way nobody in particular is noticed. And, yes, copies will be made and kept, but they won't be found by search engines, and they can be plausibly denied.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:47PM (#45414531)

    People have used robots.txt to buy up domains they want to censor.

    For example, this happened with partyvan.

    • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:42PM (#45415231)
      Of course, as a robot, archive.org should respect robots.txt. I have a website with millions of files of data that archive.org has no reason to keep for me, all behind a robots.txt that bars such nonsense.

      I also have a link to a realtime predicted tide generator which takes about 30 seconds to calculate the information it sends back. Before I hacked in a robots.txt to cover it (it's on a different port than the normal web server and thus, according to the robot operators, a completely different website than the one that already had a robots.txt to stop them) one "helpful" robot indexer latched onto it and was sending ten requests per minute. Nice of them to throttle themselves, yeah, when they were running my apache server up to the connection limit (keeping other people from using the site) and driving the load up so the site was useless for anyone local.

      So any suggestion that any robot operator ignore robots.txt should be shouted down as the complete nonsense it is.

      People have used robots.txt to buy up domains they want to censor.

      You can't buy a domain with a robots.txt. Once you own the domain, you have the right to "censor" it all you want, including the use of a robots.txt that bars all robots. But if your goal was to "censor" a website, just stop running an HTTP server. That's much better than any robots.txt in keeping everyone from getting your stuff.

      • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:54PM (#45415355) Journal

        As I understand it, Archive.org uses robots.txt to censor old, already captured data. That's a serious flaw in an archive IMO.

        • by DriveDog (822962)
          That's what had me wondering WTF. I would not have guessed that current settings could affect previously archived information.
      • When robots.txt is used for censorship, it no longer deserves any respect. I hope more people decide to ignore them. We should never let other people decide what we can see and hear. For the time being we can store stuff locally and employ P2P.

        • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:21PM (#45417791)

          When robots.txt is used for censorship, it no longer deserves any respect.

          It's not censorship when I tell robot data scrapers to bugger off and not abuse the website I run by copying every image I have and looping through the multiple links that take people there, or to invoke a program that generates data on they fly tens of thousands of times a day to the detriment of real users who actually have an interest in the information and can't get it because some robot is using all the available server processes.

          I hope more people decide to ignore them.

          The day that the first scraper starts ignoring mine, his IP is going into the firewall. If he tries to be a sneaky shit and use multiple IPs, then the site where YOU could come get data for free may very well go away, and you wind up with nothing. Neither I nor my employer have the spare bandwidth and cpu cycles to have every robot come download the Tb of data I have on the web. If free public access becomes an abuse of the server, the free public access goes away.

          We should never let other people decide what we can see and hear.

          When you are talking about my data, I have every right to decide whether you can see or hear it. It is your attitude of entitlement that makes me always have second thoughts about putting anything on the web. Most people are reasonable, decent people who appreciate the service. Some think they have a right to demand it.

      • by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:27PM (#45415687)

        The problem is that people are buying up the domain names of old websites which no longer exist just to publish a robots.txt file. Then archive.org automatically deletes, or at least blocks access to the entire history of everything that ever happened at that domain including the past website which the new owner has nothing to do with.

        I suppose they are just trying to honor site owner's wishes even when they may have initially forgotten about robots.txt and added it later. The robot doesn't know that the old content belonged to someone else who DID NOT wish to block it. Maybe a good solution is that when they notice a new robots.txt everything for the last 'X' months get deleted. (go ahead and debate values of X) Data from prior to that should be left alone. Even if it was posted by the same site owner who is posting the robots.txt today. Tough cookies! If you want to control how your data is used I don't see a problem with requiring you actually take the time to learn about things like robots.txt before you publish. It's really no different than releasing source code under the GPL and then later turning it into a closed source product. All your new work belongs to you but you don't get to force everyone to delete ever copy they might have of the old code and you can't stop them from forking it.

        -- I would totally consider an 'X value' of zero as being on the table btw

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          I suppose they are just trying to honor site owner's wishes even when they may have initially forgotten about robots.txt and added it later. The robot doesn't know that the old content belonged to someone else who DID NOT wish to block it.

          That's probably why they do it that way. They could have picked either side and been wrong for some group. The website operator who didn't know about robots.txt to start with and found some of his material on a robot indexer shouldn't have to track down every robot who has ever visited to be able to rectify the mistake.

          The other issue with keeping data after a robots.txt is published by a new owner of a domain is that the archive will contain data that claims to have come from that website but in fact did

    • by Bardez (915334) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:44PM (#45415837) Homepage
      Robots.txt should be respected at the time of retrieval. It should not be retroactively respected to censor or remove old data. That is a shame. I've used the Archive before on a site of a gaming company that I loved, which nearly went bankrupt (or perhaps did) but managed to eke its way through. Part of their relaunch nuked the Internet Archive's archives and I definitely felt a sense of loss.
      • by RedBear (207369) <redbear@@@redbearnet...com> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:29PM (#45416405) Homepage

        Robots.txt should be respected at the time of retrieval. It should not be retroactively respected to censor or remove old data. That is a shame. I've used the Archive before on a site of a gaming company that I loved, which nearly went bankrupt (or perhaps did) but managed to eke its way through. Part of their relaunch nuked the Internet Archive's archives and I definitely felt a sense of loss.

        Yeah, I had the silly impression all this time that the entire purpose of the Internet Archive was to archive the goddamn Internet precisely so that people couldn't pull this kind of retroactive erasure "cleansing of history" bullshit and get away with it.

        What a dope I am. It's amazing how inadequately we are protecting our freedoms and our history these days. If we don't do something much more drastic our grandchildren will end up being slaves to some theocratic corporatocracy and they'll have no idea that the world was ever any different.

        Lately I think Orwell was overly optimistic.

  • How did they delete them from archive.org? Did they hack it?
    • by uncle slacky (1125953) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:55PM (#45414651)
      No, but the Wayback Machine always respects takedown requests. Note that the British Library maintains an archive of UK sites, and still has the speeches in question (from April 2008 onwards):http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20080410100951/http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.speeches.page [webarchive.org.uk]
      • by LocalH (28506) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:58PM (#45414697) Homepage

        It's not even a takedown request. IA will honor robots.txt totally and retroactively - if they have 10-15 years of archived data at a specific domain (or subdirectory on that domain), and someone puts up a robots.txt disallowing them access, not only will they refuse to archive it going forward, but they will remove all previously archived material from being viewable (I hope they don't actively remove it from their archive, but merely stop making it available).

        • Indeed this is ridiculous that the IA would retroactively remove stuff though as you say hopefully just disable access instead. Even then, why would they keep stuff they aren't displaying? It's an 'archive' and should reflect how stuff 'was' at the time; legalities of that obviously being quite murky and hard to defend against expensive lawsuits, but still.
          • by LocalH (28506)

            I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they have a lot of stuff that isn't publicly available on their website for one reason or another. Don't have a citation though.

          • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:48PM (#45415291) Journal

            Indeed this is ridiculous that the IA would retroactively remove stuff though as you say hopefully just disable access instead.

            I think the archive actually does just suppress access rather than purge the actual data, so they can again display it once copyright runs out (if it ever does...).

            I also think the point is that newbies may not know about robots.txt and that even an experienced webmaster might accidentally allow access to something private long enough for it to get archived, or receive and honor a takedown notice, so this allows the correction of the error.

            It's an 'archive' and should reflect how stuff 'was' at the time; legalities of that obviously being quite murky and hard to defend against expensive lawsuits, but still.

            That's why. They have limited funds and need them to buy more disks and stuff, not fight lawsuits. If the choice is not display some stuff or go broke and not display anything, the choice is also obvious.

            I wish, though, that they were able to detect when a domain changed hands and not honor robots.txt requests retroactively past the boundary. IMHO a new owner is a new web site that happens to have the same name.

            Especially: I wish domain name parking sites didn't put up robots.txt files that cause the archive to immediately purge/hide the previous owners' content. I've lost access to a lot of content from dead sites that way. (It also keeps the owners from rescuing their old content if they don't have personal backups.)

        • by Zedrick (764028)
          That really sucks. And explains why I've not been able to find older versions of my own websites.
          • by LocalH (28506)

            It fully explains it. Someone bought up the domain that you were hosted on previously, added a blanket disallow in robots.txt, and suddenly all your old stuff is gone.

            • by Zedrick (764028)
              No, I added the robots.txt myself :-\

              The domains are still mine, just took them with me to the different webhosts I've been working for.

              OTOH, nothing of value has been lost, just wanted to know exactly what I wrote about Seven of Nine 13 years ago.
              • No, I added the robots.txt myself :-\

                The domains are still mine, just took them with me to the different webhosts I've been working for.

                OTOH, nothing of value has been lost, just wanted to know exactly what I wrote about Seven of Nine 13 years ago.

                Well that is the thing... sometimes are better off lost. Apparently the Internet Archive is testing the "cannot be unseen" principle.

        • Not much of an archive if they delete the past because someone says it should be deleted. Even Wikipedia allows you to go back and see all changes to an article.
      • by Bohnanza (523456)
        Sounds like somebody needs to archive the archive.
      • by asmkm22 (1902712)

        So there's no actual internet archive? How was this not planned for years ago?

        • So there's no actual internet archive? How was this not planned for years ago?

          People mistakenly thought the Internet Archive was an actual archive of the internet, instead of the "Internet Archive of Uncensored Things". (until today i was one of these people)

          Perhaps now this will either make IA do the right thing, or perhaps someone will step up to the plate.

  • Google cache etc will ensure every public speech made since the late '90s is kept forever and many made before that will also be indelibly etched into history.
  • strei . . . you know what, screw it. Let them shoot themselves in the foot.
    • by compro01 (777531)

      Them shooting themselves in the foot isn't all that amusing when the foot in question is on your neck.

    • by Evil Pete (73279)

      OTOH, this means that whenever reference is made to one of their speeches people can just insert scandalous bits. Objections by the Tories would be countered by pointing out that because they removed all copies from the Internet then anything they publish has been modified and is therefore not to be trusted. It should be easy to cultivate an aura of mistrust in anything that they say after that. Well, that is what I would do if I was Machiavelli. Or true to my username. :)

  • by themushroom (197365) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:48PM (#45414551) Homepage

    Because that's what they did in that book.

    • by Mabhatter (126906) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:53PM (#45414625)

      The main character's job was "correcting" stored historical documents to match what was being said "right now".

      The reasoning why their government must keep EVERYTHING on private people, but can obstruct and hide PUBLICLY OFFERED documents has to be really really funny!

      • by Shatrat (855151)

        This is just basic smart politics. An old speech can never help you in an election, but can be mined for quotes to be used against you. Journalists should keep their own records anyway, or establish some 3rd party trusted repository.

        • Also politicians don't want you to hear every speech they make, someone might point out they are making contradictory statements to different demographics..
  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:49PM (#45414567)

    Lucky they now have secret blacklists at every major UK ISP to block these. Think of the children that would be harmed by reading these speeches!

    FTFA:

    In a remarkable step the party has also blocked access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, a San-Francisco-based library which captures webpages for future generations, using a software robot that directs search engines not to access the pages.

  • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:49PM (#45414571)

    because they broke almost all of their pre-election promises.

    The most important thing to learn about the Tory party in the UK is that, contrary to popular opinion, it is not the party for the responsible, the capitalists, nor the hard-working (except in the sense that they want most people to work hard for them). It is a party representing a few wealthy individuals, and their mission is not small government, but privatised government, where nothing happens without their masters getting a cut.

    Sorta like a mafia.

    • by mpe (36238) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:56PM (#45414671)
      because they broke almost all of their pre-election promises.

      When was the last time a political party (or even an individual politician) did anything else?
      • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:01PM (#45414747)

        There have been more ideologically-oriented governments, from post-War Labour to Thatcher.

        They might not keep all their promises, and all ideologically is strongly diluted with practicality, but they're not the vacuous bunch of cunts we have in Britain today. (They're not that different from Blair, of course, but Blair had a more representative set of people to steer him.)

    • by roninmagus (721889) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:30PM (#45415101)
      The main issue that conservatives (at least in the US) have in their thought process (trust me, I am one) is that they believe "responsible," "capitalist," and "hard-working" actually leads one to become one of those few wealthy individuals.

      Unfortunately this is usually not the case at all; the responsible, capitalist and hard-working ones only lead those wealthy few to become more wealthy.

      This is a truth I think conservatives should realize and embrace, so that we can actually come up with real solutions to problems.
    • The most important thing to learn about the $political_party_name party in the $local_country is that, contrary to popular opinion, it is not the party for $positively_framed_groups_and_associations. It is a party representing a few wealthy individuals, and their mission is not $claimed_mission, but !$claimed_mission, where nothing happens without their masters getting a cut.

      Sorta like a mafia.

      Sounds like pretty much every political party I know of once I FTFY.

    • by Blue Stone (582566) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:58PM (#45415393) Homepage Journal

      because they broke almost all of their pre-election promises.

      Here's a nice little summary of all those broken promises, pledges and outright deceit. [newstatesman.com]

  • 1984 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:49PM (#45414573) Journal

    “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, 1984

  • Wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by symes (835608) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:54PM (#45414645) Journal

    This is not accurate. Speeches made in Parliament are archived in Hansard for a start. And there is no changing that.

    • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by game kid (805301) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:13PM (#45414913) Homepage

      I like your optimism.

      They'll find a way to close that to public access (except "on a need-to-know basis" and to Royal family members, staff, and "security" officials) too, as soon as they see how embarrassing (or criminal) parts of the archive may be. Clearly, they always find a way, however brutish [slashdot.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EasyTarget (43516)

      Sigh.. 'Wrong in what way?

      This was the archive of speeches, not just the parliamentary ones; but all the ones at election rallies and conferences too.

      For instance; ToryBoy recently sat in a big gold chair and ate a 4 course meal along with all his rich chums in the Guildhall, London. He then stood in front of an gilded podium and made a speech [theguardian.com] in which he told all the little people that they had not worked hard enough and that austerity is now here to stay.

      This speech is exactly the sort of one that will ne

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:55PM (#45414657)

    There's a theory out there that states that because most of what we do in the so-called Information Age is stored is somewhat fragile digital storage systems (as opposed to, for example, parchment) historians in the future will have very little to base their research on about our age, as most of the info will be permanently lost.
    Well, hundreds of thousands of posts on BBS systems from the 80's and 90's are already gone, delete the Internet Archive and the Web is gone too, any thoughts?

    • There's a theory out there that states that because most of what we do in the so-called Information Age is stored is somewhat fragile digital storage systems (as opposed to, for example, parchment) historians in the future will have very little to base their research on about our age, as most of the info will be permanently lost.
      Well, hundreds of thousands of posts on BBS systems from the 80's and 90's are already gone, delete the Internet Archive and the Web is gone too, any thoughts?

      An archive of the archive, operated in near-secret and kept in a Datacenter built into the side of a hollowed-out, dormant volcano... Or maybe TWO dormant volcanoes... You know, for redundancy.

      Sharks with lasers on their heads optional, but recommended. Once "the last place" for evidence to be found becomes this place a great many people (including likely several large, powerful governments) will want to take control of it.

    • by Sperbels (1008585)

      historians in the future will have very little to base their research on about our age

      They'll base their research on what they've always based it on: The "official" records of the victors.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)
      Funny story... [amazon.com]
    • by Zeromous (668365)

      They are not gone, there at least dozens of CDROM backups of my FIDONET archives to be dug up from the landfills millions of years from now you insensitive clod!

      • Try a few decades in the future. After that the data will be gone - the dye in writable CDs and DVDs does not last beyond that and even then when stored in ideal conditions.
  • The Tory party have deleted the backlog of speeches from the main website and the Internet Archive — which aims to make a permanent record of websites and their content — between 2000 and May 2010"

    How'd they do that? Do they make a copyright claim on the record of speeches they made in public?

  • they dont want to be called out on their broken promises and outright lies
    call me Mister Obvious
  • 100 Years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BringsApples (3418089) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:06PM (#45414803)
    We as humans are not able to "remember" back further than 100 years. I mean that you cannot get any information from anyone that would give you a clear, practical understanding of the mindset from 100 years ago. You can go ask your grandparent(s) things about the past, but the vocabulary that they use more than likely won't fit your vocabulary and therefor you will not be able to get the understanding that they're trying for. Maybe 100 years is to small, but it can't be far from the real number, plus it's nice and round ;)

    In this way, our society(s) are going through life sorta like that movie Memento. All that has to happen is a slight variation of the real story, that would produce the same basic result, but with a new context - Christopher Columbus "discovered" America comes to mind. Perhaps the powers that be depend on this, and are looking to make that number (100 here) smaller.
  • Not in the USA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edibobb (113989) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:09PM (#45414847) Homepage
    In the U.S., politicians post speeches full of lies online, and nobody cares. I'm not sure if this is because everybody believes the lies, or because nobody believes the politicians.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/national/article/Rumsfeld-denies-making-claims-Iraq-had-WMDs-1202942.php [seattlepi.com]

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU0m6Rxm9vU [youtube.com]
  • Students usualy want to hide F's. Don't want to look stupid.

    Wonder what these conservatives are trying to hide? Not much point trying to hide their stupidity. Everyone already knows that about them.

  • what do you have to fear? 8)

  • In fact, it was predicted. It was a particularly sharp observer of English politics [wikipedia.org] who coined the phrase "memory hole". [wikipedia.org]

  • Interesting. Are they going back and censoring Hansard [parliament.uk] too?
  • It gets worse (Score:4, Informative)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:43PM (#45415823)
    I just tried to complain to my MP about this but it seems he's blocked me on Twitter. I guess that's it then, we are living in a fascist state.
    • by niks42 (768188)
      http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ [theyworkforyou.com] will find you a page where you can mail your MP and they will answer. I complained to my MP about the police use of Terror laws to detain David Miranda, and I know it got to him as he replied. He did reply saying it was a police matter and nothing to do with Parliament, but hell, it struck home! Power to the People ..
  • by volvox_voxel (2752469) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @03:57PM (#45415997)
    It makes Winston Smith's job at the Ministry of Truth more difficult if there are old archives available..
  • They recently made an announcement that contrary to their election pledge (again) they would look to make economic austerity permanent, instead of scaling back on cuts once the economy recovered.

    I would have a bet that in a couple of days if the pressure is still on that they'll either claim it was a mistake, or hackers. Who knows, it might even be true.

    I could easily believe that they are stupid enough to think that deleting a few pages erases the past.

  • So they don't even approve of their own messaging? Seems very unconfident. Why should anyone believe in them if they don't even believe in themselves?
  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:43PM (#45417951) Homepage Journal

    Here in Canada, Conservative PM Harper has taken heat lately for breaking all the links on our government's historical archive of the legislation that's been posted for the past decade or two. It's just... gone. The entire archive, except for maybe the past 5 years worth.

    That archive is public government information, not Conservative property.

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