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Theresa May Wants To Regulate The Internet (buzzfeed.com)
241 points by anon1385 213 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 179 comments

As much as I expect nanny-state behaviour from the Tory's this has blown me away. I thought the author may be exaggerating so I went and actually read the manifesto. It's only about one page near the end but it reads like something you'd expect from a dictatorial regime. It seems like after cutting us off from Europe via Brexit the government now wants to cut us off from the rest of the world. I just hope internet companies stand up the UK and refuse to do business here. I'm perfectly fine with losing access to the internet for a short period of time if it shows the government we won't let them interfere in this area. I perfectly understand prosecuting people for harassment online or requiring social media companies to work with the government to prevent that but regulating the entire internet and trying to get the rest of the world to do the same via an international treaty is terrifying. Particularly when the point of the regulation is controlling the people's access to information and enforcing Theresa May's backwards, old fashioned, morals.

If you care about this stuff you only have a few days left to register to vote. You can do it online in a few minutes I believe.

> I just hope internet companies stand up the UK and refuse to do business here

Honestly, as a techie my impulse is to go "fine, have your shitty internet" to legislators who repay the advances the tech revolution has given them this way, but -

The reality is that tech companies are all still businesses hungry for bigger marketshare and willing to follow the money. The "internet giants" have all bent over backwards for China (or just been supplanted by chinese alternatives); I wouldn't be surprised if they did the same here.

After all, not doing so means you're leaving money and mindshare on the table for your competitors. It sucks, but that's what'll ultimately drive corporate decisions. The "ethical choice" is usually just a deferral of the eventually "more profitable" choice.

While I agree this would also put a burden on tech companies to police their platforms more and, likely to build backdoors which could put their companies in jeopardy. It might be more financially viable long-term to fight.

The problem is that what they've written looks very reasonable. After all, who could disagree with a statement such as the quote below?

"It is in no-one’s interest for the foundations of strong societies and stable democracies – the rule of law, privacy and security – to be undermined."

The Internet is a dangerous place at times. As anyone who needed the NHS a few days ago is all too aware, modern technologies can be vulnerable to very damaging attacks. There are whole new variations of criminal activity, from bullying and harassment to fraud and identity theft, that have been enabled by our modern, highly connected lives, and these often do have serious consequences for the victims. None of this is seriously in dispute, and no-one would seriously suggest that it wouldn't be better if these problems were effectively addressed.

The real problem is that I suspect Theresa May and her government have a very different idea about what things like "effectively addressed" mean compared to most of us here. The biggest single step to undermining privacy and security online in our country may well have been the Internet surveillance laws passed recently by the current government, laws which started out as a personal goal of May herself from her time as Home Secretary.

In their haste to ensure that laws and principles can be applied online as well as offline, it appears that the Conservative leadership has forgotten that offline we also have rules about following due process and principles about being innocent until proven guilty and legal requirements for reasonable grounds for suspicion before doing various things that interfere with a private citizen's life.

"The Internet is a dangerous place at times. As anyone who needed the NHS a few days ago is all too aware, modern technologies can be vulnerable to very damaging attacks."

But this was a failure of the government to fund the required security for the NHS. It was dangerous because the government was complacent, they cut funding to the support that kept the data safe, they used outdated technologies. This incident was the governments fault. And after reading this manifesto, it wouldn't surprise me if they let it happen on purpose to help push this agenda.

But this was a failure of the government to fund the required security for the NHS.

Perhaps, though a lot of the later reporting I saw suggested that the situation was far less clear than it initially seemed. For example, the vast majority of the systems affected by the recent involuntary encryption problems were reportedly running Windows 7. An update had been made available on that platform but only a few weeks earlier, so in some cases it was still in review before being deployed by IT departments etc. For home users affected by similar attacks, there have also been various problems with getting Windows 7 updates deployed in timely fashion, not least because Microsoft borked the Windows 7 update mechanism for a lot of people a few months ago and even systems set to automatically install important updates may have been silently failing to do so.

In any case, this is all rather academic. You and I and no doubt many other people reading these comments on HN might understand the technical issues involved, and we might have reasonable discussions about different strategies for updating systems to mitigate such threats. The average non-geek reading the paper just sees "Your local hospital Emergency Department was closed this week, with ambulances rerouted to other hospitals 20 miles away, as a result of evil people doing bad stuff that made the computers stop working." If the government promises to stop the evil people doing bad stuff so hospitals can carry on helping people, that average non-geek is going to support them, blissfully unaware of either the prospects for success or the unintended (or, more cynically, unadvertised) side effects.

"I just hope internet companies stand up the UK and refuse to do business here."

I wouldn't bet my money on it, since UK ISP companies were quite happy following government's agenda (see porn filter and Internet history collection).

My current ISP (ask4) doesn't filter any of the sites that they're supposed to. I can't comment on the history collection, of course. This is not a recommendation of ask4 however - the connection is relatively unreliable and slow/oversubscribed.

There are others. Mine (idnet) doesn't filter and is very good. Andrews & Arnold is famously hacker-friendly and high quality and also doesn't.

Of course, when it becomes a legal requirement things might change.

There is currently no legal requirement for UK ISPs to enable content filtering however all the major ISPs have agreed to voluntarily implement this. Whilst in theory users have an option to 'opt out' in practice most users are unaware of this and the process varies considerably depending on ISP.

As far as court ordered blocking, IIRC only the top 5 ISPs are currently required to implement this. Not sure what impact this has had on subscription rates for smaller providers.

Whilst in theory users have an option to 'opt out' in practice most users are unaware of this and the process varies considerably depending on ISP.

Do you have any robust data you could share about that? I'd be interested to see it. The only reports I've seen were informal/anecdotal, but if anything they suggested the reverse usually happens, with not many customers opting into filter programmes and those who were signed up automatically generating a fair number of hostile calls to ISP customer support people about wanting to opt out (and quite a few of those in connection with sites being blocked inappropriately).

They weren't happy about it. Behind the scenes, this stuff costs them a lot of money and potentially increases their legal exposure. It also makes them look bad to their customers, though that's not really a competitive disadvantage if everyone is compelled to be customer-hostile in the same ways. However, since they're UK businesses and they're not above UK law, what other viable option do they have?

UK ISP's don't have much of a choice. There business would be over. US tech companies do (especially ones that aren't publicly traded) as they have a huge market outside the UK. Think the SOPA action but on a more impactful scale.

I'm registered but went through the registration process out of curiosity, very easy.

There's still time to get a postal vote registration. They email or post the form and you take/send it to your local council offices.

Which page are you referring to? I'd like to read but don't have time for the whole manifesto right now and I couldn't find it!

Page 82 of the document (the 2 pages before the conclusion paragraph).

PDF link: https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/manifesto2017/Manifesto20...



Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. We disagree. While we cannot create this framework alone, it is for government, not private companies, to protect the security of people and ensure the fairness of the rules by which people and businesses abide. Nor do we agree that the risks of such an approach outweigh the potential benefits. It is in the interests of stable markets that consumers are protected from abusive behaviour, that money is able to flow freely and securely, and that competition between businesses takes place on a level playing field. It is in no-one’s interest for the foundations of strong societies and stable democracies – the rule of law, privacy and security – to be undermined.

So we will establish a regulatory framework in law to underpin our digital charter and to ensure that digital companies, social media platforms and content providers abide by these principles. We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law. We will also create a power in law for government to introduce an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms, just as is already the case with the gambling industry.

Just as we led the world in regulating embryology thirty years ago, we know that if we create the right system of governance for the digital economy and use of data, we will attract the right businesses who want to become the global centre for data use and research.

Just a clarification: while it's page 82 of the paper document, it is actually page 84 of the PDF file. The chapter titled "A FRAMEWORK FOR DATA AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY".

Here is a link that should take you straight to page 84 of the PDF (tested on Firefox and Chrome only):


I like the idea of the digital land data at the top of that page! Thanks for the reference.

As a British citizen, this makes me sick to my stomach.

However, I'm probably in the minority.

A few years ago I went to a debate about the Internet and how it affects families, and it was interesting and rather scary to hear people's attitudes.

It seemed that a lot of people didn't fully understand what the Internet was, asking why it didn't have a watershed [1] like TV does.

Despite good arguments being put forward for freedom and openness, the crowd voted overwhelmingly in favour for heavy censorship and controls.

And now, thanks to Theresa May's band of paternalistic fascists, they're going to get their wish.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watershed_(broadcasting)

Thank you. I often find myself in subconscious denial ("oh, surely it's just a fluke and they'll get back on course soon") over news of the direction our British friends are headed, because of the self-affirming echo chamber net communities often form.

I've only ever sometimes heard (but fortunately tried to keep in mind) the fact that the reason for it is that it's not seen as dystopic by the British public, and that they're majority-for the changes being made. (Even though it makes perfect logical sense, the subconscious impulse of denial is still there without hearing "the other side".)

With that said I do hope your fellow citizens can be persuaded to see the value of the internet as an open platform. Censorship works in theory but I think what people want more is the ability for self-censorship; that and censorship of the whole are two radically different things.

If only adblock lists (content subscription in general) were a more common model. You could tell your neighbors they can just "not subscribe to those channels" without affecting others. Hmm

The thing is, I don't disagree with those parents' concerns. There's a lot of horrible horrible crap on the Internet, stuff that I don't want my child anywhere near. And if I wasn't tech savvy, having the government do it would probably sound like a good idea

However, enforcing a nation-state firewall which blocks stuff 'for our own good' – and records every aspect of our lives in the process – is not the right way to go about it.

Seems to me that government tend to treat the web as a public space (like a city park). And naturally some things are not appropriate in that context. But many of us treat it as a private space akin to a bedroom, and expect similar levels of privacy. This difference in view is a source of the problems. Because it is really neither public or private but some indeterminate place in between. We need the difference to be much more explicit so that some kind of social convention can determine socially acceptability. So that the law can respond appropriately to context.

I would propose for the government to put approved content under https://city-park.gov.uk so that concerned people can limit their browsing to that site.

Right, which is why I said this

> If only adblock lists (content subscription in general) were a more common model. You could tell your neighbors they can just "not subscribe to those channels" without affecting others. Hmm

Content subscription is a relatively easy model to understand. A stratified net is easier than DIY filtering but still is 'handled by the government' and affords the flexibility of a (somewhat) open internet.

Far sight better than wholesale blocking.

That's the Overton Window shifting. Not too long ago I recall everyone being horrified by a stratified net, where you had to add your name to a list somewhere to disable filtering. Now that's considered the better option?

Being Tory though it's got to be profitable for private business too; just providing blocking that's useful isn't going to keep the shareholders happy.

Unfortunately many voters have no concept of liberty and what it means for those you disagree with. They're perfectly fine with using the hammer of the state to punish "immoral behavior."

Though how many would look a friend in the eye and say, "if you offend my sensibilities, I want you to be thrown in jail?" Hopefully few.

I think this is a similar problem to that of net neutrality: a majority of people don't understand how the internet works (in any way, shape or form), and therefore are easily swayed by the loudest parties - often the ones trying to make a profit, not protect the internet.

It's worse. Way worse.

People don't want to know. Or they know and act anyway

> It seemed that a lot of people didn't fully understand what the Internet was, asking why it didn't have a watershed [1] like TV does.

It's all very well dismissing this, but I can't imagine being a parent and trying to moderate a childs access to "extreme" content (sexual or otherwise) in the modern world. On the off chance I manage to properly "secure" the home computer they'll be surrounded by friends with smartphones, laptops etc.

In ye olden days the risks were of some parent letting children watch a 15 movie at a sleepover, or perhaps one kid getting a magazine and showing it about. The internet is never more than 3 clicks from the latest deathgif etc some of which can have a pretty strong influence on a person (let alone a child).

Declaring everyone who sees things such as that as problematic to be fascist is probably not going to result in positive change.

You're right - there are far more risks. Access to extreme content is easier than it's ever been and can often happen inadvertently. It's a hard problem, and one I don't fully have answers to.

I don't object at all to people censoring their own feeds or deciding what is acceptable to themselves - I do it myself. Tools for this should be easy to use and widely available for those who want them.

What I do object to, strongly, is a bunch of unaccountable people secretly deciding what we should and shouldn't have access to, especially on such slippery justifications as 'protecting the children' or 'preventing terrorism'.

Unaccountable is a bit strong - given that this is being done by elected officials, but sure. This is one small but potentially landmark step on the way to complete control over the most powerful and complete source of free information possible.

Sure it'd be great if parental controls really worked and were easy to set up. They're not, not even close. Heck - facebook will happily share beheadings for a couple hours until it gets to the front of a support queue somewhere.

I, too, have no answers. But I do feel like demonizing the people who would like the government to resolve the issue for them (and the government for doing so) doesn't move the conversation forward. What is the price of free and uncensored access? Is there one day going to be a price we're unwilling to pay?

I can't open the pirate bay dot com because the government doesn't want me stealing content. I don't think they're malicious or evil for that policy, I understand the logic. It even works in preventing some level of piracy.

In the olden days, the neighbor kid would bring the splatter movie VHS he 'lend' from his uncle. In the eighties there was a huge discussion (at least in Germany) on how to prevent children from viewing inappropriate video cassettes. And I don't see that the 17/18 year olds of today are all depraved and damaged because of all the Internet porn they had access to.

ISPs could offer a web connection with a "watershed" or serve restricted services per device, which would have a similar effect. I use OpenDNS, loss of people use their ISPs blocking service, having that work on a watershed for a home router send reasonable.

Don't see why it's such a ridiculous idea to you?

This already happens, as a result of the last "think of the children" initiative. UK ISPs are required to at least offer filtering to customers.

It does make me laugh as a British citizen when the government touts the use of evidence-based frameworks and its ' nudge' unit and then employs a blunt instrument such as this which is purely legislative and flies in the face of all available evidence.

Since the advent of the internet and the accompanying rise of internet porn, sexual irresponsibility, teen sex, rape and divorce have all been in decline. That's to say nothing of the arguments for encryption and against backdoors, which have been well trailed in these parts before.

Luckily, as the Chinese example shows, it just doesn't work, though I did find it amusing the time I caught a long haul China Air flight from Beijing with 'Free Wifi' where there was only one website available, and it was the website for China Air.

The Great Firewall works amazingly well, if not perfectly well. It is a little leaky at the edges, but certainly influences how a very large proportion of Chinese users experience the Internet.

Yup. The goal of TGF is suppression, not complete shutout. By most accounts it unfortunately does a really good job of that.

I'm curious as to which "Chinese example" do you have in mind that doesn't work?

Edit to reply to your wifi issue: you need to use that one website to login to access the "full" internet.

The Chinese example where they have tens of thousands of people monitoring internet content and spend millions per year on filtering and blocking technology - and it can all be circumvented with a VPN.

It ultimately can't be, though. All it takes is for those governments to push for international enforcement of their laws for their own citizens (which already has precedent) allowing foreign subpoenas for IPs, or limit VPN use to require corporate/private licensure, or any number of other avenues of legal or technical attack, at least one of which is likely viable and already known to the Chinese as a contingency.

People who chuckle at "hurhur dumb legislators" ought to be scared shitless of the forest they're missing for the trees - the precedent that's being set as an impetus for further action in the future.

"But we still can now" is just that "first they came for the X" recitation all over again. Hyuk it up now, and by the time your avenue gets shut off, everyone else will have already been cowed into submission. It's the basic freedoms that are important to defend, not the loopholes that defer your fate.

Not to mention the target you paint on your back by being in the minority of people who dare to try and circumvent the government "protections".

It works "well enough". There will always be a 1% or 0.1% of the population who will be able to circumvent the blockaid, and China will keep arresting the ones it catches in the act.

But the point is it works for the other 99%. The thing about censorship is that you don't know what you were supposed to know. 1% of the population may see those censored articles before the governments gets around to censoring them, but what about the rest of the population? They'll keep living in ignorance of what was revealed and think the government is still great (with some help with the 24/7 propaganda bombardment from the media).

This is also like saying "(in-app) ad-blocking works on Android" - if you know how to root your phone and install it from F-Droid. But for the vast majority of people it doesn't.

Interesting. So on one side people are bashing the the level of censorship by the government and how people are unable to exercise certain rights.

On the other side the same people are laughing at its ineffectiveness and how trivial it is to circumvent them and access information freely. One of them must surely be wrong?

Btw, censoring of keywords and blocking of websites are two different issues. VPN solves the latter, not the former.

No, both can be right. Censorship can be ineffective, but circumventing it may still put your name on some list. And once you do get charged with something, that fact can easily come up.

Also, VPNs are usually leaky. You can trivially identify many protocols, even under encryption. There was some researcher recently (sorry, can't find the link) identifying which movie is being streamed over encrypted link. Some networks are better at injecting noise than others - Tor has some benefits here for example.

So basically you are arguing that censorship is still effective in the sense that it serves as a deterrence and the base for other forms of tracking. And that would certainly harm freedom of speech in certain ways. So you are still supporting the idea that censorship is effective.

> in the sense that it serves as a deterrence

Absolutely not. I argue it's effective, as in, it provides an extra tool for the government to go against you if you cross some gov. defined line. I think it provides little deterrence. Same as the law against murder is more for definition of the crime and punishment than for deterring people from killing each other.

The problem is that it suppresses the majority of ordinary people but the people who actually want to do the stuff the government is trying to stop can still keep doing it anyway.

> Btw, censoring of keywords and blocking of websites are two different issues. VPN solves the latter, not the former.

So in China, they block access to foreign apps like Twitter, Facebook and so on, and so people gravitate towards the home grown alternatives - which are required by government to censor keywords and content.

Also, China does dynamic blocking of websites based on keywords and other things.

It's both very sophisticated and trivial to bypass.

I agree with everything you said but I failed to see how that is a problem (from the perspective of the GFW). Again what you said is exactly the intended effect of GFW.

I don't see the tension between saying that the government's intent is to create an all encompassing censorship machine based on what it defines as social harms, and saying that such an endeavour is doomed to fail.

One is about intent, the other is about ability to execute on that intent. In law, we punish people for intent to commit harms if they have gone some of the way towards planning those harms, even if the intended harms do not come to pass.

Right. So we can say that Chinese government has bad intentions. But based on your description, surely Chinese people do enjoy freedom of speech and access to the information, since such censorship efforts are doomed to fail? Why is that I see the the opposite conclusions in Human Rights reports?

The Chinese 'Golden Shield' project should not be confused for this one; they have different goals. The primary goal in the Chinese case is economic protectionism and it's succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. Google, Facebook et al might dominate the rest of the world but they are solidly locked out of the Chinese market.

The Great Firewall of China, of course.

It's working exactly as intended. You need a VPN to access certain websites, some keywords are censored properly. How is that an example of not working?

So what do you exactly mean by not working?

Chinese government is unable to prevent people accessing prohibited content. Which part is unclear here?

That's meaning-less - Use police as an analogy.

Police forces are unable to prevent people from committing crimes.

True - But police forces are phenomenally capable at both stopping a lot of people from committing crimes, and dissuading people from even thinking about committing crimes.

They also raise the barrier of entry (so to speak) for being criminal.


In today's day and age, a great firewall will work. The average person does NOT have the patience or inclination to go figure out a VPN. Heck I couldn't be arsed, and I am dramatically more capable than the average person.

But there's an additional risk you should consider.

Great firewalls are content to let the minority get away with accessing other sites, as long as they don't make themselves a nuisance.

Instead, they train the Average person, and the average populace to behave in a particular manner.

And that shift means that future generations of tinkerers, thinkers are the ones which will start out far removed from a natural set of ideas.

You can't cheat everyone all the time. The point is not cutting China out from the Internet, but keep sensitive information in the educated elites, not the masses. As a bonus, they created parallel version of services that exist on this side of the firewall.

Well it prevents 99% of the people who don't know how or don't bother setting up VPN from accessing prohibited content, that's the intended effect. So I would say it's working well.

According to stats I found, it prevents <71% in China. https://www.statista.com/statistics/301204/top-markets-vpn-p...

Edit: another one is pretty close as well: http://insight.globalwebindex.net/chart-of-the-day-90-millio...

And that's just people who explicitly use it. With that kind of market penetration basically everyone knows what to do, or who to ask if they want to access some geoblocked service in the future.

According to my observations now here in China, your stats are wrong.

Edit: Just to substantiate, many people I spoke to vaguely know what they would see if they get unfiltered internet, so there's not really much motivation to bypass GFW.

Sorry, but this is an anecdote. Do you have a source that shows some usage? I'd love to see that, whichever side it agrees with, but personal experiences rarely generalises to nations.

Interestingly with censorship being such a sensitive topic in China, it's hard to find statistics on VPN usage rate. I will just say that I'm a Chinese citizen who visits China regularly every year. My impressions can't be too far off from the actual stats.

On the other hand, it blocks 0% of people who have the intent to access that content so it doesn't really work at all for the people it's supposed to stop.

That insightful line from Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri comes to mind, "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master"

I find it necessary to make a distinction here; I would deny you access to my personal information.

A very appropriate quote!

Heh, of course it can't go without "terrorists" trump card:

"the government will work even harder to ensure there is no "safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online"."

It's very sad to see UK becoming closed, police state.

We've had an oppressive police state on and off for decades - the only difference now it isn't just applied to miners or Northern Irish nationalists.

There's only a small list of countries left to subjugate, so it was inevitable that Britain would turn its ambitions inwards.

But think of the children!

I guess they are saving this as a secret weapon for election next month.


They won.

> If elected, Theresa May will "take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy" – and crack down on Facebook and Google to ensure that news companies get enough advertising money.

The last agency that should decide what's reliable or objective is the government. Despite voting to remain within the EU, I was optimistic about Brexit. Change is good. I'm English/Irish. I never expected to say these words, but I think I'll go to Europe.

> If elected, Theresa May will "take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy"

That's the kind of thing you usually hear from dictators. I hope she remembers to give citizens the same rights online and offline, not only the same restrictions.

> "Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline"

Of course they should, but if there are already those offline rules what prevents them to already enforce those rules online? Example. If hate speech is illegal offline in the UK, if somebody reports me for online hate speech I'm already in troubles. No special rules are needed.

What are they aiming to, automate the enforcement? What could possibly go wrong?

> The manifesto also proposes that internet companies will have to pay a levy, like the one currently paid by gambling firms.

Business friendly ;-) The Brexit then this.

> Example. If hate speech is illegal offline in the UK, if somebody reports me for online hate speech I'm already in troubles. No special rules are needed.

UK law enforcement is having trouble getting US court orders, because the crime in the UK isn't a crime in the US. Thus people commit crimes in the UK, using US companies, and are evading UK law enforcement.

Mostly this doesn't matter so much (certainly not enough for Conservative's measures to make sense), but there are a few people making credible death threats or organising vigorous campaigns of harassment, so it'd be useful if there was a way to stop it happening.

"The plans will allow Britain to become 'the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet', the manifesto claims."

It is so sad that a government thinks this is something to be proud of.

Every day there are news coming out of the U.K. that just makes me even happier that I left it. This is no exception.

Which country did you leave to? I'd like to get out of here ASAP.

Suggest you pick one in Europe while it's still easy to do :) I think most EU countries let you apply for full citizenship after being there a while (e.g. France lets you apply after 5 yrs, less if you're married to a French national).

What about Scotland? (I am serious!)

While we're veering OT fast, I really can't see Scotland staying in the Union once Brexit is complete.

There's still going to be strong ties with England, given all the toing and froing over the centuries - so I'd expect it to be quite easy for someone English to stay in Scotland almost regardless of what deal is eventually cut with the rest of the EU.

I would honestly hold off on Scotland until its known how things will work out. Scotland's budget deficit is now 10% of GDP which is larger than that of Greece. To be a member of the EU it requires a deficit of no more than 3% of GDP.

Worth noting though that the budget deficit of all countries varies a lot over time and that the budget deficit as % of GDP of Scotland now is actually less than that of the UK in 2009-2010 and I didn't hear much about the UK being evicted from the EU because of that.

2009-10 was still the middle of the worst global financial crisis in a century. The rules for being allowed to join the EU are strict - once you're in you don't have to keep following the entry requirements.

Ha! Fair point. I guess Ireland is the closest cultural match today if you want a confirmed EU member state.

Sweden. I love it, but it's my home country so I'm biased. I lived in the U.K. for about five years.

Ditto. And sadly they will likely win the election.

I want out but I'm not sure my partner will leave. Every day living here makes me more depressed and anxious. And I worry that we'll leave it too long and stand no chance of moving to an EU country.

I'm torn between getting out and staying and trying to make things better. If we get another Tory government (particularly if they increase their majority) I'll have lost hope.

I feel absolutely the same. I went to Canada.

Was it difficult to get in?

It would have been if I hadn't married a Canadian in the UK. In fact, if I had wanted to get in on a work visa instead of as a spouse I doubt I would have been able to get in because I don't have any university qualifications and you get lots of bonus points for those. That said, they wanted to know everything about me on the application form - 10 year address & work history, parents & siblings names, addresses and dates of birth, membership of any trade unions, political parties or other kind of organisations, details of the relationship I have with my wife.. as well as the more usual health exam and police check.

I'm not sure how long it's going to take for people to realise: the government is not your friend. They don't want to help you. They want to control you. You are their property. You are registered and you are farmed. Like animals.

Ask them nicely to stop, and they well smile back and reply 'think of the children'. Behind their dead eyes are the schemes used to enrich themselves at your expense. Rule after rule applied. Each more insidious than the last.

Welcome to dystopia. Enjoy your stay.

> I'm not sure how long it's going to take for people to realise: the government is not your friend

Slow your roll there m8. Government as an aggregate will of a people can do good. (I say this because a libertarian utopia would basically endgame into gang leaders oppressing people in a similar manner.)

"The government" when it is just the people is probably the best way to collectivize problem-solving efforts. (Which is why people have not and will never "learn" that lesson you are hoping they will.) As with anything, it's going to extremes that fucks us.

OK. I'll just fire up my VPN to route around the 'problem-solving'. I'll use crytocurrency when I can to mitigate the 'good'.

> Which is why people have not and will never "learn" that lesson you are hoping they will

I don't think anyone will learn anything. We don't walk down the current path because people are learning. I avoid the shitshow the best I can. Money, tech, metathinking. You all can do what you want.

> OK. I'll just fire up my VPN to route around the 'problem-solving'


Nonparticipation and avoidance are stopgaps; don't expect stopgaps to save you. Those who participate and invest themselves in making their systems work (and find a place within such system) are not the ones who get stranded without recourse when the governments continue to act in accordance with their own precedents.

In this instance, if you were a citizen of Britain and decided your response to this was plugging your ears and using a VPN, I would not put much stock in your success with that venture going forward, as you'd be at the mercy of the gov't not implementing one of the contingencies I listed in that comment or any number of others they could easily justify given their precedent and direction.

Cryptocurrency is as vulnerable to the will of the people as anything else. At some point, the point of sale is discoverable - oh hell, I've written on this before too.

Head-in-the-sand-ism only gets you so far :)

I'll move countries if they get too egregious. I'm not tolerating that bullshit when I'm the one doing the productive work.

You call it head-in-the-sand-sim, I call it fuck-off-ism.

I'm already to the point where I'm going to have to pay for health services, which are free on the NHS (National Health Service). I pay twice. Once for the govs incompetent service & again for a reasonable service. They are a waste of space in my estimation.

Government as an aggregate will of the people is just a hivemind. There has to be push and pull; give and take. The 51% cannot completely neglect the wishes of the other 49%.

However, on the other hand, I agree with you. Who's to say that private conglomerates have our best interests in mind moreso than the people we elect to represent us?

In order to maximize personal freedoms, I believe that there can be no utopia. Debate and compromise and the messiness that comes with those two are essential.

> The 51% cannot completely neglect the wishes of the other 49%.

In these cases, the only non-gridlocked solution is fragmentation. It's the survivorship bias - the only issues that continue to paralyze a region are the ones that couldn't be decided one way or the other.

In the US' case, this would be granting certain issues to be within states' power to decide upon, and incentivizing people to move and live under the system that works for them. Ultimately, though, that won't happen - because the people who believe in these issues (be they taxation, abortion, LGBetc rights, etc) are in an all-or-nothing mentality whereupon changes have to be enforced federally.

America will never admit to itself that it's too diverse and that its various extremes cannot be reconciled, so it's stuck moving at a glacial pace with the eventual hope that the 'average' will move in the direction of progress.

Which is all well and good as long as you don't mind the periodic risk of government shutdown or terrible policy precedents being set by lobbyism/financed-campaign promises in the interim.

> Who's to say that private conglomerates have our best interests in mind moreso than the people we elect to represent us?

They surely don't. I can refuse to use a business. If I refuse to do what the government says, they'll take what I have, put me in jail, or use violence on me.

> In order to maximize personal freedoms, I believe that there can be no utopia

No one suggested any type of utopia.

And yet the alternative, large corporate interests with no bounds or regulations, is so, so much worse.

The government is chosen by the people. This is not Saudi Arabia. If people do not want May, if they care about being free, they will vote against her. If you care, you will organize people against her to stop this. If you work at an Internet company, you will push them to lobby against her in the coming election; destruction of the Internet will be bad for everyone. Wikipedia should block the UK and show a black page that tells them what is about to happen, then links them to register to vote. You can change the government instead of whining on the internet about dystopia.

A corporation, on the other hand, behaves exactly as you have described, and you will never have any recourse, because the people who own it own it.

> You can change the government instead of whining on the internet about dystopia.

Or I can take my human capital/money & move countries. Let people live in their own mess.

Or use tech to route around bullshit.

I want as little to do with politics as possible.

> will work even harder to ensure there is no "safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online"

Why just online? Isn't it about time we stop letting car-makers and construction companies get away with helping terrorists? I say all cars and rooms in houses should be fitted with mandatory listening devices, constantly transmitting to government servers. Encrypted, of course, with a court warrant required for the police to decrypt the data. That should put those privacy extremists' fears to rest.

Edit: In case of misunderstanding - this was sarcasm, meant to illustrate where we'll get to if we pass laws solely using the metric of "might save a few lives".

It's interesting that there is a huge section of the UK population that this sort of thing appeals to. Out of touch with technology, terrified of change, disconnected with the younger generation.

So many people vote without knowing the party policies. "My dad voted Tory, I vote Tory."

So you're confident you know the minds of a 'huge section of the UK population'? Well done! Watch out because a lot of organizations will now snap you up in return for mouth watering sums.

What other explanation do you have to the Tories winning by a landslide? The majority of voters like them I.e. a huge section of the UK population)

A large percentage of people under 25 don't vote.

Exactly, last several attacks in Europe were not by well-communicated and secretly organized (using encryption and/or darknet) group with guns, but lone-wolf type attacks using mundane cars, trucks and knives -- why not ban these?

'1984' was not supposed to be a manual, but a warning...

As someone that was a child when Portugal was becoming used to what means to be a free country, beware what you wish for.

Honestly, it's like Theresa May watched the first hours of V for Vendetta and Children of Men respectively, and mistook them for instructional films.

You forgot "Read everything Orwell wrote as a starter", specifically https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_and_the_English_Langu...

.. while at the same time removing some of the few restrictions that exist on what can be posted in the newspapers (which are definitely neither reliable nor objective).

Remember which newspapers are cheering this stuff on. They're usually the same ones that brought us Brexit.

I really don't like where these manifesto pledges are going, and there isn't really much we can do at the moment to stop a Tory majority, going on the current polling numbers (yes, I know polls can be deceiving).

I think the only way we can combat this in people's minds is to come up with concrete examples of how it will adversely affect their privacy or daily Internet routines.

This is something else the UK could outsource to China - these guys have the state-of-the-art on monitoring and blocking technology. Something is very wrong here.

And even there it does not really work if you have the means to circumvent it. And guess what? The terrorists have, but the everyday man have not.

In fairness we all have access to the tools.

Understanding and implementing them right can be tough though.

Absolutely disgusting. Even if, which I don't, I supported the Tories I could never vote for them with this policy.

I've been saying this for sometime, but to me UK's role model has seemed obvious since David Cameron took over: China.

UK wants to become the West's "China" in terms of surveillance and censorship. Cameron has been very friendly towards China, he liked what he saw was happening there and wanted to bring it over to the UK.

This would be similar to when Nicolae Ceausescu visited North Korea, and then wanted to install the same kind of dictatorship in Romania, because such level of obedience from the populace looked very appealing to him.

Remember when Western countries used to decry the "Chinese/Iranian/etc model" ? Whatever happened to that idea? I think the U.S. hasn't even accused China of human rights abuses in recent years (that includes Obama's last term, too).

It's good to see May's government is really focused on those all-encompassing Brexit talks it needs to do.

> "We will put a responsibility on industry not to direct users – even unintentionally – to hate speech, pornography, or other sources of harm," the Conservatives write.

Because they've done such a bang-up job with folks like UKIP and things like Page 3 girls? Is there any other English-speaking nation that has had such open pornography in a daily newspaper?

As for hate speech, the English make a sport of deriding the Scots, Irish, Welsh, French, Spanish, Polish, Pakistanis, Americans, and who knows how many others. Getting rid of hate speech properly would take out a core part of the national character.

The British appear to be working hard on implementing a Putinesque information and media control policy. Just instead of acting openly totalitarian they attempt to play the role of mother that knows whats best for all the poor silly adult children. They are forcing their moral values on everyone whether they like it or not.

This is ironic coming from a state that is so loath to offend that they ignored Rotherham and similar incidents.

They are actively working on killing their financial industry via brexit and this policy if implemented will go a long way towards accomplishing the same in regards to their technology industry.

The more and more Theresa May talks about the internet, the more and more I think I should start a VPN business, it's going to be a big sector in the UK once the great firewall of the UK goes live.

It is obvious to me that VPNs will also be declared illegal (for users and proprietors) in short order. This will be in addition to ISPs being asked to block VPN connections and log and report any VPN connection attempts along with the associated user account. If your organisation has a 'legitimate' requirement for using VPN, your VPN software will have to use some government-backed key escrow where they can decrypt the traffic, for "National security reasons".

This is a scarily realistic prospect.

It's the execution in particular of some of these things that annoys me as much as curbing freedom. All of the burden is typically put on companies, often without even understanding the challenges or considering their size. Anyone aware of the EU VAT rules for digital sales? The smallest of startups is tasked with herculean accounting and software requirements. To the point where some people just shut up shop. It's like some governments just want everyone to be poor and do nothing.

I am as left wing and anti-authoritarian as they come. I read the digital bit in their manifesto and I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's simply stating the laws of the land should be respected and reflected in the online landscape. What's wrong with that?

Britain is a deeply divided, but pluralist country, where the majority are conservative. This is broadly in line with what I would expect that majority to suggest or want.

They challenge the long-held idea that people on the internet are capable of dealing with things they don't like or the government wouldn't like them to see. They also remove the need for there to be a victim of a crime.

I see a lot of discourse on the internet in the same way it happens in a pub. There are very little boundaries to the beliefs someone admits to sharing, and presence of a regulator to check that nothing illegal is being discussed doesn't sit right.

> They challenge the long-held idea that people on the internet are capable of dealing with things they don't like...

However long-held those beliefs are, they pale into insignificance in the context of the nation state. The internet is not its own realm. It exists in the context of nation states. Nation states have laws that the people of the nation should obey or suffer the consequences.

> ...the government wouldn't like them to see

Britain has a long history of authoritarianism, enacted through its class system. Successive governments promote authoritarian policies because it appeals to the conservative majority.

> They also remove the need for there to be a victim of a crime.

Could you explain what you mean by this?

> I see a lot of discourse on the internet in the same way it happens in a pub. There are very little boundaries to the beliefs someone admits to sharing, and presence of a regulator to check that nothing illegal is being discussed doesn't sit right.

I think a lot of people behave as though the discourse they engage in on social media is as if it is in the pub, but it is simply not the case. The existing laws regarding on-line communication encompass anything that is 'published' online and people do get prosecuted.

I think you're right to point out that the people in the UK deserve what their elected representatives bring upon them. As their manifesto points out, they want to be world leaders at bringing the internet into parity. As you say, prosecutions for publishing silly comments do happen as a consequence of this process.

I don't think anyone's surprised by the proposal, just part of the small minority who would rather not have the government intrude on their space. From a practical standpoint the legislation risks making social networks prohibitive to run, and will make it financially and/or legally intractable to do things like run forums or possibly any website that publishes news or has a comments section.

Any move by a government to regulate the internet will always be viewed through the lens of this minority as an infringement on a space where ideas should be free, controlled by an actor that shouldn't be trusted and can't be removed (i.e. no Second Amendment) if it's caught abusing its powers.

>> They also remove the need for there to be a victim of a crime. > Could you explain what you mean by this?

Online hate speech has been prosecuted when it was targeted at a dead person.

> I think a lot of people behave as though the discourse they engage in on social media is as if it is in the pub, but it is simply not the case. The existing laws regarding on-line communication encompass anything that is 'published' online and people do get prosecuted.

While true, this is an example where the line isn't concrete. If a pub is full of people being unpleasant or talking about things one doesn't want to hear, one can simply leave. Targeted abuse is different to being uncomfortable about topics one is voluntarily eavesdropping on.

Hmm, what would it take for the major "Internet companies"(which are primarily American) to "cut the cord" to Britain rather than complying with this kind of outrageous overreach?

Genuinely curious.

EDIT: Also,

> The laws would also force technology companies to delete anything that a person posted when they were under 18.

sounds quite literally insane, censoring the speech of people just because they are minors?

> > The laws would also force technology companies to delete anything that a person posted when they were under 18.

> sounds quite literally insane, censoring the speech of people just because they are minors?

No, how I understood it, it means that you can decide to have stuff deleted if you wrote it when you were a minor.

"We will give people new rights to ensure they are in control of their own data, including the ability to require major social media platforms to delete information held about them at the age of 18"

Doesn't this mean that it is a choice, not a requirement to censor?

I want to feel like the HN crowd are reading this wrong. That it's about things like going after market power of FB/Goog rather than suppressing speech. But then you remember that it's Mrs. May's Manifesto.

I wonder if they've thought this through. That's one more reason the Scots will have to exit the union. Right now is not a good time to rock the boat like this.

The end of freedom of speech, and freedom of thought.

And after the next terrorist attack, they'll say it wasn't enough of a lock-down.

Einstein was right: Human stupidity is infinite.

Virtually all the parties in the UK have stupid big brother policies like this, and the ones which don't are complete jokes in most general policies.

The liberal democrats, the SNP and the Green parties (in England & Wales, and in Scotland) do not support policy such as this.

a) Tor/VPN b) A fake ID c) Bitcoin d) Mesh networks/Torrents Some tech. that aid in privacy/anonymity yet to be invented etc.

It's impossible to regulate the internet. The common people will be at disadvantage.

Running awareness campaigns are the best tool the govt. got which will be much more positive & effective than these non-nonsensical unethical monitoring and controls.

This is preposterous. how on earth will they enforce what people post on the internet? Blocking access to sites via ISPs is one thing, but am I going to be fined for blogging with an unconservative/anticonservative inclination?

This is just going to push new business away, as if the UK wasn't already a sh*thole for startups...

This is the document (and page) you're looking for... <waves hand>


I wonder what's her stance towards the Great Firewall? This seems like the first few steps towards building something similar to it. It's quite scary to think that governments are slowly becoming more like China recently.

403 (Maydrian's Wall)

"FUD in channel - content cut off"

I hate to repeat myself, but 1984 was not a how-to manual. At least in the US we have the pesky Constitution, which at least makes this sort of thing more difficult, but of course not impossible as we are seeing with the FCC.

Yes, thanks to heroes like Ajit Pai and the hilariously double-speak inspired "Restoring Internet Freedom Act", we are continuing to lay the foundations for serious, widespread censorship.

> Internet companies would also be asked to help promote counter-extremism narratives

Funny, from the party who promoted Leave for the Brexit, a position which is usually considered as "far right".

And the UK falls further down the rabbit hole of totalitarianism

Hm. Cost/benefit analysis anyone, ever? Cost of massive restrictions of what people can write and therefore think versus the comparatively tiny benefit?

Doesn't apply to right-wing parties.

I'm entirely serious - the press have a default frame that left-wing policies need to be costed but right-wing ones are assumed to be fiscally responsible. Rules only apply to progressives. The logical conclusion of this in the US is Trump, the man to whom no rules apply.

What's the point of doing anything on the internet if governments can come at any time and destroy everything with a single click?

I feel depressed.

I really don't see my future in the UK. It's pretty depressing living here at the moment.

Do brexiteers honestly endorse this?

Hard to say. But we need more censoring to mainstream the usage of TOR

I guess she wants to build New Oceania. Disgusting.

the headline and article link for this post keeps changing and its comfusing me

The very vaccine vs. versilimitudinous, vacuous vermin is voting.

I must admit I thought it was going to be about SJW types wanting to free us from harmful independent thought. I was surprised, but then I don't have a lot of context for British political parties.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14374887 and marked it off-topic.

Turns out that in the real world, conservatives are far more dangerous for your freedoms than "SJW types".

I don't like the "SJW" metaphor, but that said, there's really nothing to choose between those so described and their opposite numbers on the other side of the Assemblée Nationale. Different as the ends they profess to prefer may be, they eventually converge upon very similar means. Those of us with qualms about consequentialism find this unsettling.

I guess I'm misinterpreting all these antifa videos. Here I thought it was just a human thing, and both sides have the capability of pulling dumb, dangerous ideas out. No it's just conservatives right?

One important difference is that Theresa May is leader of a major western country, while Berkeley students you saw in a video on the internet aren't. This makes one of them a much more pressing threat.

True among people on the same "side" of the political spectrum too. The Tories' brand of authoritarian conservatism is much more dangerous than Westboro Baptist Church, for example. You can find Westboro advocating plenty of outrageous things, but they aren't in charge of a country.


"CapX" is produced by the Center for Policy Studies, an opaque right wing think tank: https://www.desmog.uk/2017/02/08/opaque-and-deceptive-think-...


This is basically a propaganda organisation, not a news organisation. Not that the news is reliable either.

It's still an excellent compendium of verifiable data. I'm left leaning, but like the Labour front bench, the Labour voters, and the Guardian I have to stand against hard left extremism rather than support it. in which case, the LibDems and Greens are excellent choices.

What makes you think Corbyn is an "extremist"? If you think the Labour party, with its strong social democratic is extreme, what must you think of the Communist Party? Perhaps I'm in a minority, but I don't think Corbyn is left enough.

For those who don't live in the UK, Corbyn (and Momentum, the hard left group which has recently taken over the Labour party in the UK) is well known to support various groups who commit political violence against non-military targets.

The same is true of the Conservative party of course, if we count e.g. support of the government of Bahrain: http://www.dpglaw.co.uk/torture-victim-seeks-review-uk-train...

Yep, not just Bahrain but the Saudis as well. I won't vote for the Conservatives for other reasons but UK governments both left and right have always sidled up to awful regimes in the name of diplomacy. We don't need to add extremist groups to the list.

How about we reject both the dictators and the terrorists?



There has been a huge partially successful smear campaign against Corbyn, some written by reputable politicians, some like this so laughable and ridiculous that only the already convinced manage to read through the whole thing without rolling their eyes and closing it.

It means people with power are afraid of him which is quite encouraging!

The article addresses the 'smear campaign' theories - that:

- the Labour front bench

- the Labour electorate

- the Guardian,

- Jewish groups

- Caitlin Moran

and anyone else opposed to this madness are all involved in some kind of organised conspiracy against Corbyn, quite well:

> Labour’s communications team lies about “the IRA thing”, claiming that Corbyn’s glorification of butchery should be seen as “helping the peace process”, as though the man who voted against the Anglo-Irish Agreement was secretly urging Gerry Adams to compromise.

Corbyn fighting against the trial of the Brighton bomber and voting against the Anglo-Irish Agreement are matters of record. As are his statements of support for:

- Hamas

- Hezbollah

- Fidel Castro

- Hugo Chavez

and other hard left groups who've attacked innocent people.

They're laughable, but more in a: "this man thinks he has a shot of running the UK". Thankfully we reject this kind of populism more than the US does and a large chunk of the left isn't participating in or voting for Labour until/unless he's gone.

Indeed the neoliberal consensus is that he and anyone who rejects it should not have any say in the government and extremist neoliberal ideology has taken over much of the elite power structures in the UK (as well as the US!)

If saying nice things about bad people were actually a problem, no politician in history in any western society would ever be allowed to rule. Pick any politician and you will find them endorsing, funding, supporting or any combination brutal dictators, apartheid regimes, terrorists like Al Qaeda (years ago), slave states, various factions fighting in Syria, Iraq (pre Iraq war), Qatar, Turkey, Dubai, Iran (pre islamic revolution or post), Israel, death squads in South America, Pinochet, on and on and on. To have any "serious" position in modern foreign policy is to support evil.

These "statements of support" are of course ridiculous 'gotcha' red herrings that actually mean nothing that neoliberal ideologues use to smear his personality and avoid talking about actual policy that could seriously effect the lives of ordinary UK citizens which they desperately do not want to improve, policy like for example the devastating and horrific one that is supposed to be the subject of this discussion thread.

> To have any "serious" position in modern foreign policy is to support evil.

Saying the trial of the Brighton bomber is a "show trial" and protesting it has very little to do with foreign policy. The IRA did not represent a foreign government and the five people killed were neither military nor government ministers.

Neither does mourning Fidel Castro, after he's dead.


- The mainstream left people you'll find not voting for Corbyn are normally referred to as 'classical liberal' - liberals have always been against people inflicting violence upon others. The people handing out copies of 'Socialist Worker' outside the tube, Corbyn and you are 'extreme left'.

- Acting as if supporting Momentum is the only way to challenge the conservatives on privacy is insincere.

I can believe some people (perhaps you!) genuinely object primarily to Corbyn's viewpoints on foreign policy, Northern Ireland, etc., but much of the media commentary seems disingenuous to me. Do people really think if Jeremy Corbyn took over from Theresa May, it would lead to him instituting gulags in the UK or something? This feels like trying to stretch disagreeing with something he said about the Cold War into some kind of actual worry about 21st-century policy he is likely to enact, for mostly election-campaign point-scoring reasons.

My usual assumption is that people focusing on those issues among the large media companies and especially the Blairite Labour-right, are mostly people who actually object to other parts of Corbyn's views. Namely the ones that are in the Labour manifesto and most likely to be enacted if he's elected. But such opponents don't want to attack those openly stated policy positions head-on, so they try to change the subject to Fidel Castro, as if talking about Fidel Castro in 2017 is relevant. For example, some people think re-nationalising significant parts of UK infrastructure is extremist, a return back to the bad old days of sclerotic state-owned companies. And if you did think that, it is completely fair to attack Corbyn on it, because that's something he supports, is in the manifesto, and would have at least some likelihood of enacting if in office. But many of Corbyn's opponents, even among people who call themselves Labour, seem allergic to debating his proposals to nationalise the rail system, i.e. to debating the actual policy direction the UK should or should not take. They don't like those proposals, but they would rather attack them indirectly, by debating something else.

I think most people be the primarily to Corbyn's viewpoints on terror (not foreign policy, as we have discussed, most of these groups are not governments), and polling bears this out.

This speaks volumes about his character, and I think to the extent his party would allow him he'd wreck incentive to work, yes. Obviously Corbyn's opponents do note this policies, which are based us an unfounded utopia where everyone can work for the NHS, nationalising rail won't make it as shit as the last the it was nationalised, and police officers cost GBP 7.50 a year.

> and I think to the extent his party would allow him he'd wreck incentive to work, yes.

Please be aware that all the research we have shows the current DWP system implemented by the Conservatives makes it harder to return to work; cause harm; are more expensive than other systems; and are causing death.

We do need to protect public money. The benefit system should help people back to work. The current system does not do that. I don't think any party has properly addressed this.

A hundred 20 year old kids rioted one time against people they perceive to be nazis and were managed by the police, which is definitely the same as a modern mostly free society actively sliding into authoritarian dictatorship.

Not sure how it works in the UK, but here in the US there's a difference between "conservatives" and "Republicans". The key being that Republicans love big government when it's them in charge of it whereas conservatives want less government.

So from the conservative conferences I've attended, the general sentiment is that people DON'T want an authoritarian government watching them. Further right into Nationalism is where you get the "if you didn't do anything wrong you have nothing to hide" mentality.

> So from the conservative conferences I've attended, the general sentiment is that people DON'T want an authoritarian government watching them.

May, as Home Secretary, made the laws that give the UK government 72 hours (IIRC) to read your personal email and 3 months to see all the subject lines / senders / recipients.

To be clear: I'm not advocating voting for Corbyn by the above.

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