Latest FOI response from BIS re #deact/#debill

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 Posted by
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I have received another response to my request for information from BIS about communication between the ministers involved with the #deact/#debill. I realise that I am now pressing the point but I am very surprised that they are claiming that there was no email communication between the three ministers and am now wondering what, if anything, they are hiding. 

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 25 May 2010 14:51
Subject: RE: FOI Request – Digital Economy Bill
To: Me


Thank you for your emails.

In relation to your previous email, I realise my response may need clarifying. You are correct to say that emails are retained. However, the reason that the information is not held is because such emails were not sent (i.e. after a search, we found that emails about the Digital Economy Bill were not sent between the Ministers you referred to within the period you specified).

Also, I should have made clear that as the Digital Economy Bill was a Bill managed across both the Department for Business and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), I asked colleagues at the DCMS to conduct a search and they also had a nil return (i.e. no emails sent).

I will contact the FOI team to let them know that you would like an internal review and will let you know when the results will be available.

Best wishes

BIS refuse to give further information on #deact/#debill, not sure how to proceed.

Sunday, May 23, 2010 Posted by
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With reference to my request to BIS for discussions which took place on the #deact I have received the below – I am _very_ surprised that the information I am requesting "is not held". Would be interested to see what, if anything, was sent by Mandleson to Sion Simon and Stephen Timms about making the #debill tougher than originally discussed and whether they tried to ensure it would be "washed up" as far back as August last year. Is there any legislation for retention of emails by gov depts that I should know of? Appreciate any advice on this

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email.

I have detailed some further background below on the information you requested.

The first part of your request was for "Minutes of meetings which took place in August 2009 between Lord Mandelson and David Geffen". This information is not held by this department because there is not a record of such a meeting taking place as Ministerial business. You may be interested to know that the Department regularly publishes a list of Ministerial meetings on its website.

The second part of your request was for "all emails relating to the proposed digital economy bill from August 2009, September 2009 and October 2009 which were sent between Sion Simon, Lord Mandelson & Stephen Timms." To investigate your request, we conducted a thorough search of relevant electronic records (emails) that the department holds. I have established that the information you requested is not held. Even if this information was held, it may be subject to exemption under section 35(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act which applies to communications between Ministers.

I hope that this further information is helpful and would ask that you consider it before proceeding with your request for an internal review.

Please do let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Kind regards

FOI Request Response – Digital Economy Bill #deact #debill

Monday, May 17, 2010 Posted by
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I have received the below as a response to my request for information
from the Department of BIS. I am not hugely surprised that there are
no minutes from the Lord Mandleson/Geffen meeting but for there to be
no email communication logged between the 3 major protagonists of the
#debill is surprising, I have appealed and hopefully will find out
further information.

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: 17 May 2010 12:08
Subject: FOI Request – Digital Economy Bill

Ref No: 10/0699

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email of 23 April where you sent a revised request
for the following information:

“Minutes of meetings which took place in August 2009 between Lord
Mandelson and David Geffen. I would also like to see all emails
relating to the proposed digital economy bill from August 2009,
September 2009 and October 2009 which were sent between Sion Simon,
Lord Mandelson & Stephen Timms.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’), you have the right to:

·        know whether we hold the information you require

·        be provided with that information (subject to any exemptions
under the Act which may apply).

I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and
electronic records, I have established that the information you
requested is not held by this Department.

Appeals procedure

If you are unhappy with the result of your request for information,
you may request an internal review within two calendar months of the
date of this letter. If you wish to request an internal review, please
contact me.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you
have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

          Information Commissioner’s Office
          Wycliffe House
          Water Lane
          SK9 5AF

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Yours sincerely,


NAME REDACTED | Digital Economy Bill Manager | Department for
Business, Innovation and Skills | 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) is building a
dynamic and competitive UK economy by creating the conditions for
business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and
giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve
this we will foster world-class universities and promote an open
global economy. BIS – Investing in our future

The original of this email was scanned for viruses by the Government
Secure Intranet virus scanning service supplied by Cable&Wireless
Worldwide in partnership with MessageLabs. (CCTM Certificate Number
2009/09/0052.) On leaving the GSi this email was certified virus free.
Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or recorded for legal purposes.

The Guy from “Windows” he say “omg”

Saturday, May 15, 2010 Posted by
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Got this through from my dad this morning:

Guy called on landline yesterday saying he was from "windows" asking if I was aware that my computer was being seriously affected by viruses (don't think he used that word) and wanted to access the computer whilst I was sitting at it. I didn't feel convinced he was real and asked him to email his request and contact details. He said "OMG" and that he couldn't do that. I said I hadn't noticed any warnings or deterioration on my laptop. He said OMG again and that Windows couldn't email it's customers every time it notifed them of a problem. I ended the call What do you think?

Thankfully, dad is not easily fooled and didn't give the guy access but I have no doubt that someone will be fooled by it. I haven't read about this particular attempted fraud anywhere else but am sure it is happening. Anyone else experienced this?

Conservatives & Lib Dem Pact

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Posted by
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I've just been reading the Pact between the Conservatives & Lib Dems and I must confess I have not so far thrown my laptop across the room in frustration. There are some elements of it that I find a bit disturbing, like this:

This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.

The campaign at says a good deal about this.

The section that I really like is listed below:

10. Civil liberties
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of
civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.
This will include:
    –    A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill.
    –    The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of
         biometric passports and the Contact Point Database.
    –    Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
    –    The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater
    –    Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
    –    The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
    –    The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
    –    The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
    –    Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
    –    Further regulation of CCTV.
    –    Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
    –    A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

I think that the above is a vital piece of policy and am delighted to read it. The labour government managed to bring in a large amount of policies designed to infringe our civil liberties and this great repeal is music to my ears. The only item I see missing is the repeal of the Digital economy Act which was so undemocratically pushed through in washup by the corrupt Mandleson.

Skype microphone issues on Acer Aspire one running ubuntu

Thursday, May 13, 2010 Posted by
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This link has helped me to get skype working properly on my acer aspire one netbook on ubuntu 10.04 – a very easy fix and can now make and receive skype calls 🙂 Appears to be something to do with stereo or mono inputs.

Loved this picture

Friday, May 7, 2010 Posted by
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Response from Liam Logan(SDLP) re #deact #debill

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Posted by
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I have received the below from Liam Logan about the Digital Economy Act:

Re the digital economy act, I thought it was an ill thought out piece of legislation, as most rushed things are but on a positive note, I happen to believe it to be virtually unworkable given the holes that have been left. I doubt if a parent could be held liable for the actions of a child using the home computer. 

Thus far that is Alliance & SDLP opposed to the act, I look forward to hearing from others soon.

Response received from MLA re #deact #debill

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Posted by
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I have received the below response from one of my MLAs Alex Easton with reference to my email yesterday. A good start.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Easton, Alex <EMAIL REMOVED>
Date: 27 April 2010 09:55
Subject: RE: Letter from your constituent Simon Whittaker
To: Simon Whittaker <EMAIL REMOVED>

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email I will look into the issue with my colleagues
and consider your points.

Yours truly,
Alex Easton MLA

Alliance Party & the #deact #debill

Monday, April 26, 2010 Posted by
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I have received an email from Stephen Farry at the Alliance Party responding to my question about the #debill. He sent me the following information from their manifesto which is being launched tomorrow(Monday 26th April 2010):

Alliance will vote to repeal the Digital Economy Bill and replace it with better legislation. The issues raised by the Bill must be addressed, but the legislation passed in parliament is deeply flawed. The Bill has far reaching implications for fair internet access, privacy rights on the internet and the future of analogue broadcasting. These need detailed discussion in parliamentary committee and with the general public. It was inappropriate to force such a complex piece of legislation through in the last minute ‘wash-up’ process without proper debate.

Am very glad to see a party taking such an interest in this flawed legislation, I would hope that others would follow suit.