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The Tories erase all speeches from the web. AIBU to think this us really sinister?

(68 Posts)
aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 09:54:28

The Tories have erased their entire archive of speeches from the web.
I challenge anyone to defend this - how on earth could this be in the public interest?

Article here

It's not a space saving exercise - they are actually trying to censor them - the article says

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

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 09:59:38

Computer Weekly magazine says:

"The Conservative Party has attempted to erase a 10-year backlog of speeches from the internet, including pledges for a new kind of transparent politics the prime minister and chancellor made when they were campaigning for election.

Prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne campaigned on a promise to democratise information held by those in power, so people could hold them to account. They wanted to use the internet transform politics.

But the Conservative Party has removed the archive from its public facing website, erasing records of speeches and press releases going back to the year 2000 and up until it was elected in May 2010.

It also struck the record of their past speeches off internet engines including Google, which had been a role model for Cameron and Osborne's "open source politics".

And it erased the official record of their speeches from the Internet Archive, the public record of the net - with an effect as alarming as sending Men in Black to strip history books from a public library and burn them in the car park.


The Conservative Party HQ was unavailable for comment. A spokesman said he had referred the matter to a "website guy", who was out of the office.

It wasn't always going to be like this.

Such as when the prime minister first floated his groovy idea that the democratisation of information would transform politics, at the Google Zeitgeist Europe Conference, on 22 May 2006.

"You've begun the process of democratising the world's information," he told the Googlers. "Democratising is the right word to use because by making more information available to more people, you're giving them more power.

Above all, the power for anyone to hold to account those who in the past might have had a monopoly of power - whether it's government, big business, or the traditional media," said Cameron, who was then campaigning for power as leader of the Conservative opposition."

Agnesboo Thu 14-Nov-13 10:01:22

Yes I found it rather sinister when I read about it last night.

Wallison Thu 14-Nov-13 10:04:26

We are at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania.

Dawndonnaagain Thu 14-Nov-13 10:09:05

I have frequently said that someone should tell Cameron that 1984 is a novel, not a fucking handbook!

Dawndonnaagain Thu 14-Nov-13 10:10:49

Sorry aufaniae, No, I don't think you're being unreasonable, I do think it's incredibly sinister.

PrimalLass Thu 14-Nov-13 10:10:59

It's like a bad decision from The Thick of It.

Agnesboo Thu 14-Nov-13 10:11:23

And dawndonna is the reason we should be able to like posts.

TheSkiingGardener Thu 14-Nov-13 10:12:45

Um, sinister? Really? Because obviously there is now absolutely no record of those speeches anywhere.....

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:16:00

Yes Gardener, it is sinister.

In Cameron's own words "by making more information available to more people, you're giving them more power". They are doing the opposite.

They've not just deleted them, they've tried to hide them from the internet archive machines.

What possible explanation could there be for that, that's in the public interest?

EdithWeston Thu 14-Nov-13 10:16:41

on the existing thread about this it was pointed out that Labour did this first.

So I think it is wrong to single out the Tories for criticism on this.

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:17:11

"someone should tell Cameron that 1984 is a novel, not a fucking handbook!"

That'd be really funny if not so true.

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:18:09

Edith, did they? If they really did, that's just as sinister. Where's the other thread about this?

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:18:30

Ooh, sorry I see there's a link ...

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:21:06

Does anyone know anything about Labour deleting their speeches? I'm curious to know, when did they do it, and did they also go the extra step of trying to stop the wayback machine and the like from accessing cached copies?

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 10:30:28

See, what the Tories have done is not just delete the speeches but actively tried to stop them being found by google.

Whether Labour went that far or not (and I'd be interested to know) that doesn't stop this being a move more akin to a dictator than a democratic party.

If you're not shocked you don't get it IMO.

Unless there's some explanation for it I can't fathom - can anyone explain why actively blocking public access to cached versions of the speeches could be in the public interest?

MurderOfGoths Thu 14-Nov-13 10:41:23

While I think it's a bit pathetic of them, people are reacting like they've accessed Google's data and wiped it, when all they've done is told the spiders not to search - something most websites do for at least one section. (Eg. MN and OTBT)

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 11:56:06

Hiya Murder <waves>

I agree stories are overegged all the time, especially where the technology is involved as they can rely on the fact most people don't know how it works. And it's annoying when they do that.

However, I think here is a real story here. OTBT is a good example, as it is a deliberate use of technology to keep something secret and hidden. Why would the Tories want to do that with their speeches?

They've told the bots to disregard those URLs, which is worrying IMO as it's a step further than just deleting the stuff (which they could have justified by saying they were saving space or somesuch excuse). Instead they have actively taken a step to hide the cached version of those pages from the internet. Why?

Computer Weekly, reporting to a presumably tech-literate audience (as I know you are!) wrote "it erased the official record of their speeches from the Internet Archive, the public record of the net - with an effect as alarming as sending Men in Black to strip history books from a public library and burn them in the car park."

It's dramatic language, sure, but I feel justified. The salient point is the attempt to conceal, which is not how a democratic government should behave, surely?

Tanith Thu 14-Nov-13 12:06:26

I don't know if they can remove them from the internet! They will be somewhere.
I mean, the internet even knows in advance what they will say! I'm always reading that so-and-so will tell delegates at whatever conference...
Gets on my nerves, to be honest.

Tanith Thu 14-Nov-13 12:10:22

Oh, and Edith, "He did it first!" is no defence, as any Primary school teacher will tell you.

Mimishimi Thu 14-Nov-13 12:23:58

It is sinister but surely there would still be references to those speeches from political commentary articles in newspapers? How could they hope to hide the entirety of their statements? Surely they can't possibly be worried that people might have figured out that lies are the modus operandi (for Labour or Conservative)?

EdithWeston Thu 14-Nov-13 12:36:43

"Oh, and Edith, "He did it first!" is no defence, as any Primary school teacher will tell you."

Didn't say it was. Just pointing out that Labour is equally "sinister", and arguably more so as they were the initiator. As any Primary school teacher would agree when dealing with an outbreak of bad behaviour. Dealing with the pupil who comes up with the "sinister" ideas is vastly more important than what needs to be done with the copycats.

aufaniae Thu 14-Nov-13 12:48:15

Are they Edith?

Please can you give us some detail of what Labour actually did? Did they try to hide the cache of their speeches too? I'm genuinely interested.

Dawndonnaagain Thu 14-Nov-13 12:53:13

Edith, I am interested in where you found this information, ten pages of google produced absolutely nothing.

garlictrivia Thu 14-Nov-13 13:08:31

It is sinister, and hugely undemocratic, to remove access to public speeches they made. They're literally trying to rewrite history. Why would they be ashamed of what they said? Are they scared of being held to account?

Rhetorical questions, but they still need to be asked.

There is a special hypocrisy to this, given Cameron's glasnost platform, with his 'sunlight' and 'freedom'.

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