Open Thread: Using ‘1984’ As An Instruction Manual…

… And killing irony dead. I’m kinda hoping someone with better tech skills can explain why this is impossible (it is Sky News, after all):

The Conservatives have attempted to hide 10 years of speeches from the internet, it has emerged.

The speeches, news stories, press releases and blogs, which date back to 2000 until the party came to power in May 2010, have been hidden from public view on the Conservative Party website.

They have also removed the record of their past speeches from internet search engines, including Google, according to Computer Weekly

The removal of such a large collection of speeches will fuel speculation the Tories are attempting to make it difficult for people to hold them to account to pledges made ahead of the 2010 election with the 2015 vote looming.

In addition the archive of information has been erased from the Internet Archive, which is the public record of the internet.

Some of the speeches involved are those made by David Cameron and George Osborne in which they campaign to use the internet to make politics more transparent…






54 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

  2. 2

    This is a type of Burkean restraint.

  3. 3
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    They have also removed the record of their past speeches from internet search engines, including Google, according to Computer Weekly…

    Yeah, um, I’m with you in the “how is this happening” boat. Doesn’t Google determine its own content rules and the Tory Party doesn’t have executive veto power over them, because why would they?

    Anyway, stuff like this is when techie-libertarians come in useful. I predict a follow-up story about how the documents have been liberated by someone from 4Chan or Reddit.

  4. 4
    Alison says:

    Whenever I see that Science and Technology tag, I hear this in my head http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvQITCEoMx4

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    The Conservatives have attempted to hide 10 years of speeches from the internet, it has emerged.

    Well, that’s a perfectly weasel-y use of the passive voice. How exactly did it emerge? Who “emerged” it?

  6. 6
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Also, as long as the N*wsm*x Feed is there, it can at least be used for unintentional comedy. ‘Obama’s Job Performance; Approve or Disapprove?” “O.K., that’s 5% approval to 95% disapproval, and in the 5%, most people cited their reason as ‘He’s obviously the Antichrist, which means I’ll finally be proven right about the Rapture happening in our lifetimes. We at Newsmax will adjust our content accordingly.”

  7. 7
    Barry says:

    Note the Wikipedia article on the Heritage Foundation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritage_foundation

    They skip the Bush II administration totally.

  8. 8
    MikeJ says:

    It would be interesting to read what Computer Weekly wrote instead of what Sky said they wrote. There’s nothing in the sotry about google other than the assertion above. The Internet Archive is not “the public record of the internet” as claimed. From the very beginning they’ve respected robots.txt files, as they should.

    It’s not surprising to see the tories running away from what they’ve said, but this is a shit story.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Alison:

    Stay off the drugs, Alison.

  10. 10
    fka AWS says:

    I have found the quality of the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine to be exceedingly spotty, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some shit was missing, but I don’t know exactly how they’d go about removing shit that was there.

    Ahh, this explains it:

    The specialist computer magazine explained that the Tories had used something called a robot blocker to remove the speeches, which effectively hides speeches in a “secretive corner of the internet like those that shelter the military (and) secret services”.

    This writer knows nothing about computers or the web, apparently.

    ETA: By “extremely spotty” I mean they’ll have random dates for a news site front page, which doesn’t help much except to get an idea of what it looked like.

    ETA 2: I would assume some of this stuff would be available on other public web sites like the Parliament?

  11. 11
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Violet: I know, it was such a blatant example that I actually misread it at first as saying that they’d attempted to hide the public record on their speeches, but it has emerged anyway.

    Bet it all does, for that matter.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    MikeJ says:

    The CW story: http://www.computerweekly.com/.....et-history

    The entire thing seems to be about changing their robots.txt file. I like scoring political points on them, but there’s a difference between not handing out three year campaign lit on street corners and 1984.

    BTW, if you’re working on a campaign, whether it’s a presidential or a state legislature race, you’re committing malpractice if you aren’t making your own complete copy of your opponent’s web site every day. (Please use a variety of IPs and throttle your request speed so you don’t look like a DOS.)

  14. 14
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @fka AWS: It’s simple, as Ted Stevens already explained, it’s a series of tubes. They’ve had theirs tied.

  15. 15
    James Hare says:

    Sorry but there is no “there” there. It is common practice to block off portions of a website using robots.txt. Archival material and multimedia files are often blocked because they’re not material you’re really trying to get crawled all the time.

    The Internet Archive obeys robots.txt files because anyone running a bot to crawl content is supposed to. Not obeying a robots.txt file is making unauthorized access to a computer system, which is a crime.

    This is not the Conservative party trying to hide anything. Most likely it’s their web host trying to limit traffic to web crawlers.

  16. 16
    Baud says:

    OT: I wasn’t expecting this from WaPo (via TPM):

    CBS News aired a misleading report on Monday about security issues concerning the federal health insurance exchange website based on leaked partial transcripts of a health care official’s testimony, according to the Washington Post.

  17. 17
    fka AWS says:

    @James Hare:

    The Internet Archive obeys robots.txt files

    I’m surprised the IA retroactively honored a changed robots.txt file, removing past content like that.

  18. 18
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    that’s how it is now, for CBS News. They just make stuff up.

    Did you see this? Everything they said on the Benghazi story was wrong.

    Another questionable assertion in the “60 Minutes” report was Logan’s unsourced reference to the Benghazi Medical Center as being “under the control of al Qaida terrorists,” an assertion that McClatchy correspondents on the ground at the time and subsequent reporting in Benghazi indicates is untrue.

    So is she just a crazy person?

  19. 19
    Warren Terra says:

    I’m actually quite shocked by this, from the Computer Weekly story @MikeJ linked above:

    “Alexa Internet, the company that crawls the web for the Internet Archive, does respect robots.txt instructions, and even does so retroactively. If a web site owner sets up robots.txt on the site, the Alexa crawlers will stop visiting those files and will make unavailable all files previously gathered from that site,” it said.

    I mean, obviously every reputable webcrawler respects robots.txt exclusions – but why the fnck would Archive.org retroactively remove from their results some pages, just because several years later the current version of the page is now excluded?

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    @fka AWS:

    To exclude the Internet Archive’s crawler (and remove documents from the Wayback Machine) while allowing all other robots to crawl your site, your robots.txt file should say:

    User-agent: ia_archiver
    Disallow: /

    (of course that works for only restricting some subdirs too)

    http://archive.org/about/exclude.php

  21. 21
    Yatsuno says:

    @Kay: Pfft. You think this will be enough for Huckleberry Closetcase and Grand Theft Issa to give up their Crusade? They BELIEVE Obummer did something wrong here! And they WILL bend reality to their wills! IMPEACH THE NI-CLANG NAOW!!!

  22. 22

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Yeah, um, I’m with you in the “how is this happening” boat. Doesn’t Google determine its own content rules and the Tory Party doesn’t have executive veto power over them, because why would they?

    I know you can block Google from indexing your data by including a robots.txt file, and I believe they will normally honor requests to remove stuff from their cached copies. AFAIK, that is considered to be standard behavior for search engines because the material they’re indexing is normally under copyright and there’s always a chance of a lawsuit if the copyright owner objects. I don’t know about The Internet Archive, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if they had a similar policy for the same reason.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    fka AWS says:

    @Roger Moore: The copyright argument makes some sense. However, the ComputerWorld article doesn’t make it clear whether the content is still somewhere on the CP’s web server, accessible if you knew the URL. If they wanted to take it down, they didn’t need to robot.txt it, they could just take the subdirectories off the site.

  25. 25
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    Did Obamacare kill 4 Americans in Benghazi? Watch 60 Minutes this Sunday to find out.

  26. 26
    Mike in NC says:

    @Violet:

    Conservatives have attempted to hide 10 years of speeches from the internet, it has emerged.

    “Mistakes were made.”

  27. 27
    MikeJ says:

    @fka AWS:

    If they wanted to take it down, they didn’t need to robot.txt it, they could just take the subdirectories off the site.

    It would have still been on archive.org had they not added the robots.txt file.

  28. 28
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    They BELIEVE ObummerHillary Clinton did something wrong here! And they WILL bend reality to their wills! IMPEACH THE NI-CLANGBURN THE WITCH NAOW!!!

    Fixed it for ya.

  29. 29

    @Baud:
    Did 60 Minutes’ bad reporting kill billions of American brain cells? Watch 60 Minutes this Sunday to find out!

  30. 30
    David Koch says:

    @Kay: CBS hired the former VP of Fixxed News and they went down the toilet.

  31. 31
    Devore says:

    I’m speechless

  32. 32
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @Kay: No, she just works for an organization who hired a former Fox News VP to be its “News” VP. I expect things at CBS to get much worse.

  33. 33
    Mike in NC says:

    @Yatsuno:

    You think this will be enough for Huckleberry Closetcase and Grand Theft Issa to give up their Crusade?

    I saw an article today where yet another Tea Party candidate (the fourth to date) has decided to try to unseat Huck, so he must be sweating bullets right now. Expect him to push for bringing back DADT any day now to mollify the loons.

  34. 34
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Yatsuno: Nope. They’re moving on to Heartless Hillary Ignored her Friend’s Request for Security and Shot Him Like She Shot Vince Foster.

  35. 35
    MikeJ says:

    The Internet Archive was unavailable for comment. But a fortnight after Computer Weekly started asking its San Francisco HQ for an explanation, the Conservative speeches have begun reappearing on its site.

    An odd definition of Orwellian.

  36. 36
    Felanius Kootea says:

    @David Koch: Beat me to it :)

  37. 37
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mike in NC: Oddly, I would think the more candidates of the T-Type that ran, the happier Huckleberry would be.

  38. 38
    Baud says:

    @Alison:

    Excellent!

  39. 39

    @Suffern ACE:
    More teabaggers is only helpful if they hang around through the primary. If the weak ones drop out, it would mean he’d have to compete with a superteabagger for the nomination.

  40. 40
    David Koch says:

    I tell ya, I love Palin. She’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    I don’t think I ever laughed harder then when she got the Paul Revere story backwards.

    but she’s outdone herself, the bungler. instead of launching of her phoney war on xmas she ended up launching a war on the Pope.

  41. 41

    @David Koch:

    I tell ya, I love Palin. She’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    ITYM the grift that keeps on grifting.

  42. 42
    Baud says:

    @David Koch:

    Hard to believe how close she came to being able to assassinate McCain and assume the presidency.

  43. 43
    Kay says:

    @David Koch:

    I never watched CBS news, honestly, I like to read news better than watch, but I keep hearing “gold standard’ so I was buying that :)

    I’d love to know the real story. Who paid the liar? The publisher, but who else?

    Issa should do that investigation. I’d watch that.

  44. 44
    David Koch says:

    @Kay: Their ratings have been in the toilet for years. They have apporx a 3rd of the ratings of their competitors. So they spent a ton of money on Katie Couric hoping to buy themselves market share and it failed. Desperate, they turned to the fixxed news model and that’s not working either.

  45. 45
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Yeah, let ’em all feast on each other and win with a 30% plurality.

    From a larger perspective, it really reminds me how monumentally stupid the Tea Party is when there are four different dumbfucks fighting for the privilege to be the ‘Real Conservative’ alternative to Lindsey fucking Graham.

  46. 46
    Chris says:

    @David Koch:

    I don’t think I ever laughed harder then when she got the Paul Revere story backwards.

    I just love that her supporters can’t ever just say “yeah, she misspoke/had a bad day, it happens to everyone” and move on. They have to immediately rush to talk about how the gobbledegook is actually a totally true Truth, and it’s just that the liberals and the liberal media are too dumb or elitist to get it etc etc etc.

  47. 47
    Anoniminous says:

    @David Koch:

    All of the nightly news shows ratings are on a sustained long term decline.

  48. 48
    lamh36 says:

    Well this won’t help the “Obama is Gay” wingnut rumors…lol.

    Seriously though. This a nice picture from Pete Souza.

    Pres Obama and VP Biden join hands during a prayer at end of mtg w faith leaders on immigration reform pic.twitter.com/WAim8Wtivl

  49. 49
    C.S. says:

    Isn’t this more Animal Farm than 1984?

  50. 50
    Woodrowfan says:

    deleted

  51. 51
    Woodrowfan says:

    Isn’t this more Animal Farm than 1984?

    it sounds more “F-Troop” than 1984.

  52. 52
    RaflW says:

    @Kay:

    that’s how it is now, for CBS News. They just make stuff up.

    CBS has figured out that Fox makes as much or more from advertisers with zero content control, so why bother with the muss and expense!

  53. 53
    RaflW says:

    @Woodrowfan:

    deleted

    Clearly this should be investigated.

  54. 54
    scuffletuffle says:

    @lamh36: Totes gay, dudes…..

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