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Age verification and privacy: avoiding an Ashley Madison scenario

There's been a lot of talk recently about the plans to introduce a government-backed age verification system for adult content in the UK. Concerns - quite reasonable concerns - are flying around that the creation of such a system would, by definition, result in a list of 'deviants' which might be abused by an increasingly totalitarian government. I agree with these concerns. I think the age verification system is ineffective and unnecessary. Firstly, unless we end…

A Kinkster’s Guide To Internet Dating

Perverts are people too, you know. Well, at least they are in between periods of time spent as puppies, ponies or coffee tables. And, because of that, at some point most of us want to find someone (or another someone - I'm not leaving polyamorists out here) to have an emotional relationship and share our lives both inside and outside kink with. Unfortunately, kink dating is fraught with potential disaster. A good example is CollarMe, which…

Michaela Community School: isolation, mindless obedience, and broken wills

Michaela Community School in Wembley found its way into the news recently, with a letter sent to a parent threatening disciplinary consequences to their child for late payment of meal fees. This is, obviously, disgusting. It might also be illegal. From a lawyer friend: 'schools can only lawfully discipline where the *pupil's* conduct falls below standard.' https://t.co/10LMmfpZX3— Adrian Bott (@Cavalorn) July 29, 2016 I went to a private…

Brexit: desperately seeking optimism

The votes are in, and the result is clear: a slim majority wants to go it alone. As both a Remainer and a firm believer in the imperfect but generally overwhelmingly positive nature of the EU, this feels like a punch to the chest. Europe's slide to the Right continues, so this is hardly a surprise, but it's still painful when it comes for you where you live. Cameron has already announced his resignation. The question…

David Cameron’s move to ban strong encryption is dangerous and futile

In the wake of the terrible events in France, the Conservative Party of the UK are, in an act of tedious predictability, capitalising on a crisis to sell a policy that further erodes British freedoms. David Cameron wants to ban any encryption that the government, or government agencies, can't crack in extreme cases. Here's his speech, transcript below the video – In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which, even…

No, seriously, why DO you hate porn stars?

A gentleman by the name of Conner Habib recently wrote about his experience as a porn actor. Not the actual day-job side of it, but about how his profession caused him all manner of hassle in his day-to-day life and his love life. "Well," I said to Alex, "I'm a porn star". It's the kind of thing that when you say it, you're worrying you might flinch a little, since you're expecting the other person to.…

A slight case of overblocking: the UK web filters are a disaster

Sadly, the UK government chose not to use the overwhelmingly unified voice of the technical community to help them make policy, because "self-regulate or we'll legislate" filtering is now a reality for UK homes. New customers to TalkTalk and BT, and soon Virgin Media too, will find that unless they explicitly choose otherwise, their connection will be filtered by an unaccountable, ominously-named "third party filtering solution". The visual language of the filter is quite clear, too…