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Cartoon: Big data, c’est moi!

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© Matthew Buck Hack cartoons

The speedy passage of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act last week significantly moved the battle for control of storage of digital information in the United Kingdom.

It is impossible to understand the (disputed) extension of powers the act enabled without reference to the highly controversial information disclosed by the former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden in the past 18 months. This revealed the wide extent of digital surveillance undertaken by the security services withou an obvious accountability to parliament.

Equally significant are the disputes over the jurisdictional control of ‘data’ and the location of the servers (repositories for storage). These involve consumer and advertising companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox and Cisco, plus the national governments and the supranational organisations such as the EU and the many regulators of trade and industry.

In this contentious area of public and private policy there are many dissenting voices some of which I recorded at a recent meeting at the Law Society. (That event had a specific focus on the activities of the agents of the state).

That said, it is useful to remember than private enterprises play quite as large a role as governments in this and some of Snowden’s more interesting revelations concerned the previously undisclosed collusion between the corporates and the government particularly in the provision of back doors in consumer technologies that allowed the (until this week) unwarranted surveillance activity of the security services.

Underlying the politicking and rock-throwing is the ongoing disruption of the digital communications revolution and its effect on our working lives. If you are curious about this I recommend three pieces of reading – here, here and here. The first two concern themselves with the expansion of surveillance powers in the  new bill in the UK and the last with the big picture of what technology and particularly the vast new repositories of data are doing with our lives.

The drawing above reflects my view of the speed at which the new bill was passed and is a piece of traditional handmade agitprop. It features the PM but it quite as easily have been the leaders of any of our national political parties. The reference (for the truly keen) is to King Louis XIV of France to whom the quote ‘The state, it is me’ is attributed. This has long been taken an an exemplar of absolutist power and data presently, seems to be the preferred method to achieving this for our leaders.

Seeing: Seat 21

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Daytime sleeper on a train in a ten minute pencil sketch.

Cartoon: Allegations of child abuse in the UK

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© Matthew Buck at Hack cartoons for tribunecartoons.com

Not one but two inquiries are announced into the persistent inability or unwillingness of national institutions in the UK to fully investigate long-running stories of child abuse.

Updated: 14th July 2014. There are persistent complaints about the neutrality of Lady Butler Sloss, the eminent judge who has agreed to lead the overarching ‘general’ inquiry into long running allegations of child abuse. She is the sister of Sir Michael Havers who was Attorney General (the government’s chief legal officer) during much of the period that seems to be under discussion.

It is impossible to know what the precise conflict of interest might be (other than the obvious family connection) because the terms of reference for both inquiries announced by the Prime Minister are also yet to be announced.

Updated: 14th July 2014 at 2pm: Lady Butler Sloss has stood down.

Messing about at The Hat Fair

image The much-loved Hat Fair festival of street performance in Winchester, Hampshire is on again and provided an interesting opportunity for a swift snapshot of the artist mucking about.

Cartoon: Watching England Play

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons for tribunecartoons.com


The Prime Minster’s former Head of communications Andy Coulson is convicted of conspiracy to hack phones.

Cartoon: Colouring it in

Exhibition of cartoons: Parody, pastiche or piracy

Ryan Giggs revealed as subject of injunction © Matthew Buck Hack cartoons

Exhibited at Parody, Pastiche or Piracy June 2014 © Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Regular readers who can get to London within the next three weeks might want to visit the ‘Parody, Pastiche and Piracy’ show I wrote about here. It will be a good exhibition with many fantastic contributing exhibitors, many from the UK’s procartoonists.org.

Parody takes many forms and one of the most popular in recent years has been digital short-form video. Indeed, it has produced memes such as ‘Downfall’ in which the excellent movie by Constantin Films became an audio-visual staple for disasters of all sorts.

The attitude of the producers of the film to this wild popularity held up a fascinating mirror to the issues around IP and parody in a global network. Everyone felt they owned a piece of a great film and wanted their own networks to love a bit of it too.

So popular did the internet meme become that eventually content distributors such as YouTube (Google) felt pressured to remove all of the parodies that were appearing featuring the original sequence from the movie.

Happily, however eventually Constantin Films also came to understand this was a self-defeating view even though in law they were or had been correct. The effective ban on publication of such video parodies using this clip was lifted in 2010.

The example above features a UK centric parody by Paul Bernal about the dubious reuse of NHS data in a project called Care.Data.

Cartoon: Tony Blair and intervention in the middle east

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons for http://tribunecartoons.com

The long delayed Chilcot Report must be due – and Iraq is going up in flames again.

Cartoon: Three Lie-Ins

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© Matthew Buck Hack cartoons for The Times Educational Supplement

The football World Cup is upon us once more! Joy!

Cartoon: British Values

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© Matthew Buck Hack Cartoons

Patriotism is the refuge as someone wise once observed.