Data cops seek law change after CRU broke rules

Prevarication pays


The Information Commissioner's office wants to plug a loophole in the UK’s sunshine laws, after academics at the centre of the ‘Climategate’ scandal at the University of East Anglia escaped prosecution on a technicality.

The ICO has said the Climatic Research Unit breached Section 77 of the Act - the so-called "shredding offence" - by failing to comply with requests to hand over data made in 2007 and 2008.

Because CRU delayed releasing the information for more than six months, they evaded prosecution. Prevarication pays, it seems, because "the legislation requires action after six months", the office told The Times.

“The ICO is gathering evidence from this and other time-barred cases to support the case for a change in the law,” a staffer told the paper. Internal FOIA procedures may take six months to process internally, before a requester can refer the matter to the ICO.

The FOIA requests were submitted by UK citizen David Holland and the trail of excuses is recounted here.

CRU's prevarication couldn't be clearer.

CRU director Phil Jones writes of refusing FOIA requests on principle, regardless of validity, because they would aid critics of the manmade global warming hypothesis. Jones also instructed his team to release as little as possible.

"We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind," Jones wrote in 2005.

Later he indicates that he coached the University's FOIA team:

"When the FOI requests began here, the FOI person said we had to abide by the requests. It took a couple of half hour sessions - one at a screen, to convince them otherwise showing them what CA was all about. Once they became aware of the types of people we weredealing with, everyone at UEA (in the registry and in the Environmental Sciences school - the head of school and a few others) became very supportive," he emailed American colleagues.

Attempts to close the loophole have been made before.

"Section 77 is a very difficult section to use. You've got to prove intent, which is difficult, and you've got the six-months limit," the ICO tells the BBC's Martin Rosenbaum, who describes earlier attempts to get the six month statute of limitations lifted.

The Times was following up a story by Andrew Montford, better known for the blog Bishop Hill, and author of a new book on the Hockey Stick scandal.

The leaked emails are widely believed to be the work of an insider in response to the delaying tactics. Data was collected up to a couple of days before a FOIA request was formally declined, and then released in an archive called FOIA.ZIP.

Perhaps seeking to repair its environmental reporting credibility - after a recent ad campaign made misleading claims - The Times put the story on its front page. But it felt it necessary to haul in one of the UK's most senior warmists, Vicky Pope of the Met Office's Hadley Centre, to assure that there was nothing to see, the science was sound, scientists were "human", and it was all a clumsy choice of words.

Bless her. She thinks she's helping. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Monero-mining botnet targets Windows, Linux web servers
    Sysrv-K malware infects unpatched tin, Microsoft warns

    The latest variant of the Sysrv botnet malware is menacing Windows and Linux systems with an expanded list of vulnerabilities to exploit, according to Microsoft.

    The strain, which Microsoft's Security Intelligence team calls Sysrv-K, scans the internet for web servers that have security holes, such as path traversal, remote file disclosure, and arbitrary file download bugs, that can be exploited to infect the machines.

    The vulnerabilities, all of which have patches available, include flaws in WordPress plugins such as the recently uncovered remote code execution hole in the Spring Cloud Gateway software tracked as CVE-2022-22947 that Uncle Sam's CISA warned of this week.

    Continue reading
  • Red Hat Kubernetes security report finds people are the problem
    Puny human brains baffled by K8s complexity, leading to blunder fears

    Kubernetes, despite being widely regarded as an important technology by IT leaders, continues to pose problems for those deploying it. And the problem, apparently, is us.

    The open source container orchestration software, being used or evaluated by 96 per cent of organizations surveyed [PDF] last year by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, has a reputation for complexity.

    Witness the sarcasm: "Kubernetes is so easy to use that a company devoted solely to troubleshooting issues with it has raised $67 million," quipped Corey Quinn, chief cloud economist at IT consultancy The Duckbill Group, in a Twitter post on Monday referencing investment in a startup called Komodor. And the consequences of the software's complication can be seen in the difficulties reported by those using it.

    Continue reading
  • Infosys skips government meeting – and collecting government taxes
    Tax portal wobbles, again

    Services giant Infosys has had a difficult week, with one of its flagship projects wobbling and India's government continuing to pressure it over labor practices.

    The wobbly projext is India's portal for filing Goods and Services Tax returns. According to India's Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), the IT services giant reported a "technical glitch" that meant auto-populated forms weren't ready for taxpayers. The company was directed to fix it and CBIC was faced with extending due dates for tax payments.

    Continue reading
  • Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use
    Phew!

    Google has quietly dropped its demand that users of its free G Suite legacy edition cough up to continue enjoying custom email domains and cloudy productivity tools.

    This story starts in 2006 with the launch of “Google Apps for Your Domain”, a bundle of services that included email, a calendar, Google Talk, and a website building tool. Beta users were offered the service at no cost, complete with the ability to use a custom domain if users let Google handle their MX record.

    The service evolved over the years and added more services, and in 2020 Google rebranded its online productivity offering as “Workspace”. Beta users got most of the updated offerings at no cost.

    Continue reading
  • GNU Compiler Collection adds support for China's LoongArch CPU family
    MIPS...ish is on the march in the Middle Kingdom

    Version 12.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) was released this month, and among its many changes is support for China's LoongArch processor architecture.

    The announcement of the release is here; the LoongArch port was accepted as recently as March.

    China's Academy of Sciences developed a family of MIPS-compatible microprocessors in the early 2000s. In 2010 the tech was spun out into a company callled Loongson Technology which today markets silicon under the brand "Godson". The company bills itself as working to develop technology that secures China and underpins its ability to innovate, a reflection of Beijing's believe that home-grown CPU architectures are critical to the nation's future.

    Continue reading
  • China’s COVID lockdowns bite e-commerce players
    CEO of e-tail market leader JD perhaps boldly points out wider economic impact of zero-virus stance

    The CEO of China’s top e-commerce company, JD, has pointed out the economic impact of China’s current COVID-19 lockdowns - and the news is not good.

    Speaking on the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call, JD Retail CEO Lei Xu said that the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought positive effects for many Chinese e-tailers as buyer behaviour shifted to online purchases.

    But Lei said the current lengthy and strict lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, plus shorter restrictions in other large cities, have started to bite all online businesses as well as their real-world counterparts.

    Continue reading
  • Foxconn forms JV to build chip fab in Malaysia
    Can't say when, where, nor price tag. Has promised 40k wafers a month at between 28nm and 40nm

    Taiwanese contract manufacturer to the stars Foxconn is to build a chip fabrication plant in Malaysia.

    The planned factory will emit 12-inch wafers, with process nodes ranging from 28 to 40nm, and will have a capacity of 40,000 wafers a month. By way of comparison, semiconductor-centric analyst house IC Insights rates global wafer capacity at 21 million a month, and Taiwanese TSMC’s four “gigafabs” can each crank out 250,000 wafers a month.

    In terms of production volume and technology, this Malaysian facility will not therefore catapult Foxconn into the ranks of leading chipmakers.

    Continue reading
  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022