Letters to Craig Murray #9

23Oct21

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Letter #9 Delivered 10 Oct 21

Hi Craig,

I think you’d have been very busy with blogging this past week.

The ‘Pandora Papers’ hit the wires as the latest follow ups to the Panama and Paradise papers. I do fear that the long term effect of this stuff is to normalise the behaviours they uncover (just as seemed to happen with MP’s expenses). One of the early stories featured Gulnara Karimova getting a $220m payment from a Swedish telco, apparently arranged by a prominent Tory donor (and laughably outspoken anti corruption campaigner). Of course for ‘balance’ and to prop up the ‘they’re all at it’ narrative the accompanying story was about the Blairs avoiding £300k in stamp duty by buying an offshore company that owned a property, rather than the property itself.

No rest for the wicked though… Cherie Blair was back in the headlines as the ‘ethics advisor’ to NSO, the Israeli purveyor of phone hacking software. Due to some sterling digital forensics work by Bill Marczak, NSO got caught with their spyware on the devices of Princess Haya and her lawyer Baroness Shackleton. NSO (despite their usual denials of how their product is used) then felt obliged to call Blair late at night so that she could alert Shackleton to the ‘misuse’.

Elsewhere in the outhouse of tech ethics, Facebook has been having a very bad week. Firstly with ‘whistleblower’ Frances Haugen appearing on 60 minutes then in front of a congressional committee. I use scare quotes there, as I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t a long con to get the kind of regulation that will ultimately protect Facebook in perpetuity. Then on the eve of the hearing Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp all fell off the Internet for 6h due to misconfiguration of route config. My pet theory on this is that there’s now a 5th column within Facebook seeking to undermine the evil empire from within. It was amusing to read stories that they had to use angle grinders to get into server cages because all the physical security was tied back to inaccessible servers. As a friend put it, “Normally I’m all about the #hugops during an outage. But it’s Facebook, the most mendacious company on the planet.” As I left Facebook many years ago it was fun to watch the chaos unfold from the side lines, though it’s tragic to see how many people and businesses have allowed themselves to be beholden to them. It was a good week to be part of building something better that will hand control of data and relationships back to people.

I hope you’re keeping well.

Chris

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Craig’s reply 21 Oct 21

Dear Chris,

Yes, I would particularly have enjoyed taking on the extraordinary effort to blame Russia for the energy crisis. But I am sorry I shan’t be there to chronicle Julian’s hearing at the end on the month (although we have a long shot legal effort in play).

Yes, I have been covering the Gulnara / Telin story for 15 years, but didn’t know about the Tory donor aspect. No shock – the .1% are inextricably linked worldwide. I saw a Panorama on the Pandora Papers which was shown about midnight. (I have a TV, no radio, which is my only news source).

On Facebook I view Ms Haugen as a part of the campaign to get non-officially approved information off the Internet, and thus in a sense linked to my being here!

The takeover of the web by corporate gateways is the worst development. 90% of my own site traffic comes via Facebook and Twitter. and both suppress individual posts by subject matter. Facebook seems actually the more liberal.

Many thanks for writing again!

Craig



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