Tag Archives: google

We’ve given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations

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As Lib Dems we have campaigned long and hard for curbs on the government’s power to snoop on our internet data.

Yet, most of us (not all) have personally given an eye-wateringly broad “Snoopers’ Charter” to big corporations – namely Facebook and Google.

I know, I have checked on my data held by Facebook and Google. You can do it too. Facebook had all my photos, posts, friends etc etc going back to February 2007. The data was 354 megabytes in size. That’s equivalent to 71 copies of the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 12 Comments

What Google reveals about the current state of play in Eastleigh

The search results thrown up by Google often provide a neat little insight into what angles of a story are dominating coverage and people’s attention. The angles that get the most prominent coverage and the most interaction and responses are the ones that rise to the top of the search results. So what do they tell us about the current state of play in the Eastleigh by-election?

Posted in News and Parliamentary by-elections | Also tagged , , , , and | 7 Comments

The sensible campaigner is the campaigner with backups

The office wall in one of my former jobs had a cartoon with two drunks slumped in an alleyway bemoaning their fate. One was saying to the other, “It all started to go wrong when I realised the backups hadn’t been working…” He at least had been trying to use backups.

Sometimes people fear trusting data to computers, worried that a wrong key press may result in valuable information being lost. That is to get things wrong: data is safer on computers because it is much easier to do regular backups.

Posted in Campaign Corner and Online politics | Also tagged , , , and | 4 Comments

Opinion: Traditional media is not all we should be looking at

It’s not often I agree with a Conservative MP, it’s even less often that I hear them say something that actually strikes me as truly insightful.

During the parliamentary debate on the BSkyB bid there was one such moment. At 6.25pm Dr Phillip Lee stood up and spoke to a now mostly empty chamber. This was a shame, because what he had to say was, in my view, extremely relevant and highly important. (Hansard)

He spoke on the fact that a lot, if not the vast majority, of the news people are getting today comes from not the mainstream media, the …

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Google says to politicians: get on Twitter

When the public is searching for information about prominent politicians online, one of the most common things looked for is their Twitter account – so says the data from search engine giant Google.

Chances are you’ve noticed that as you start typing a search term into Google’s search box, it tries to guess what you are typing, suggesting several ways to complete what you are typing in. Those guesses are derived from Google’s huge data set of what people having been searching for online, so seeing what Google suggests also reveals what the most popular searches made by other people have …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Map error causes military invasion

No, this isn’t a plot from a political satire but it’s a bona fide news story:

An error on Google Maps has caused an international conflict in Central America.

A Nicaraguan military commander, relying on Google Maps, moved troops into an area near San Juan Lake along the border between his country and Costa Rica.* The troops are accused of setting up camp there, taking down a Costa Rican flag and raising the Nicaraguan flag, doing work to clean up a nearby river, and dumping the sediment in Costa Rican territory.

La Nacion — the largest newspaper in Costa Rica — says

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Worth a second outing: Can Google’s dominance be broken?

Welcome to a series where old posts are revived for a second outing for reasons such as their subject has become topical again, they have aged well but were first posted when the site’s readership was only a tenth or less of what it is currently or they got published and the site crashed, hiding the finest words of wisdom behind an incomprehensible error message. Today’s is about Google. I’ve updated the social network usage figures.

Google dominates the search engine market, both in the UK and internationally. Although there are some countries where a local search service has the lead …

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How do the media election websites compare? (UPDATED)

The FT beat me to the punch with a review of the different election websites, so I’ll give my review a slightly different focus: which are best for local information about candidates? And if you are a candidate (or helping a candidate) what online information should you worry about making sure is correct?


  • More extensive constituency descriptions that others listed below, but otherwise the constituency pages are surprisingly skimpy by comparison with only very limited election results and candidate information.
  • Some links to BBC news stories where there has been one relevant to the constituency.
  • Uses Thrasher & Rallings for the

Posted in General Election and Online politics | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The first Google Street View Liberal Democrat superboard of spring?

First we brought you a smudge.

But now there’s no mistaking this Liberal Democrat superboard on Google Streetview.

Well, I say spring, but this image from Bedford looks as though it was taken in autumn – during the campaign to elect Dave Hodgson as mayor?

Anyway, now that the stakes have been raised (ahem), has anyone spotted a more impressive political campaign poster on Google Street View?

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

Is this a Google Street View first?

Take a look at this. To you it may be a smudge, but to the eagled-eyed politico it’s Google Street View showing a political campaign poster (for the Burnley Liberal Democrats’ campaign to save the local hospital). Is this the first time a political campaign poster has been caught on Google Street View?

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged | 10 Comments

What happens if you fail to include an imprint in an online advert?

One for the techno-legal-political geeks amongst us (hello? anyone still there…?).

Last year when writing about the issues with online imprint rules in the UK I made reference to Florida where:

the Florida Election Commission has banned the use of Google Ads because they necessarily do not include the Florida equivalent of an election imprint – as there isn’t enough room. That ruling is being contested, and may yet trigger a change in the law but it shows the risk of doing nothing and hoping all will come out okay.

The ruling was indeed contested and it was decided that the candidate …

Posted in Election law and Online politics | 2 Comments

Digital Economy Bill: Parliamentarians reply to prospective candidates

Yesterday we covered an open letter from 25+ Liberal Democrat prospective Parliamentary candidates (and see also this comment from ex-MP Richard Allan), expressing concerns over the line the party had taken in the House of Lords on a key part of the Digital Economy Bill. The party’s DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) team has now replied in turn with another public letter.

Two things to note when reading it. First, this sort of public exchange of letters is unusual, but very welcome. Although journalists sometimes struggle with the concept of a party that debates policy openly

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 52 Comments

Book review: learning from the Obama and McCain online advertising campaigns

Campaign ’08: A Turning Point For Digital Media is a slim volume by Kate Kaye, senior news editor at ClickZ, taking an in-depth look at the online advertising used in the 2008 Presidential contest for the primaries and then the general election.

Though the book touches on other aspects of internet campaigning, what makes it stand out from the crowd of competing volumes is its focus on advertising.

It starts with a reminder that there is only one John McCain: the McCain mocked in 2008 for not getting online campaigning is the same McCain who was feted in 2000 for getting online campaigning. Indeed, in many ways it was his 2000 campaign that put online political fundraising on the agenda in the US, just as Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign put online organising on the agenda.

Posted in Books, LDVUSA and Online politics | Also tagged , , and | 1 Comment

Daily View 2×2: 22 October 2009

Good morning readers. It’s the 22nd October and there are just 70 days left til the end of the year. Today is Derek Jacobi’s birthday, the 43rd anniversary of the first time an all-female group topped the charts in the States, and the 114th anniversary of a rather scary train-wreck at Paris’s Montparnasse station. Train wreck at Montparnasse, 1895

2 Big Stories

Postal strike poll puts blame on government as union announces action

The Guardian reports a Yougov poll in which voters put the blame for postal strikes squarely on Gordon’s shoulders.

Gordon Brown’s handling of the Royal Mail strikes comes under strong criticism from the public and Labour backbenchers today, with a new poll showing most voters believe the government should get directly involved in the dispute and force management and unions to go to the conciliation service Acas.

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Tom Brake MP writes… Google Streetview and British citizens’ privacy

The traditional privacies and anonymities enjoyed by people in this country come under greater pressure every day. Google Streetview is the latest point at which private interests come into conflict with technological advance. I remain concerned that this service, which places comprehensive, zoomable and rotatable photographs of Britain’s streets freely on the internet, has not come under enough scrutiny from those who are supposed to safeguard our individual liberties.

The Liberal Democrats have been absolutely unequivocal in their criticisms of the expansion of state surveillance, arguing that having CCTV on every corner is invasive and unnecessary. I simply don’t think that …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Tom tries to put the Brake on Google Street View

As today’s Times reports:

Google’s Street View service got off to a bumpy start in the UK as privacy campaigners tried to block Google’s car-mounted cameras from photographing Britain’s streets. Now, Google is heading off the beaten track.

The internet company has loaded its 3-D Street View cameras on to rickshaw-style tricycles in an effort to capture national landmarks, monuments and sights that cannot be viewed from a car.

The pictures will form part of Street View, a mapping service from Google that gives 360-degree views of the country’s biggest cities, allowing people to take virtual tours from their computers or mobile phones.

However Lib Dem MP tom Brake is less-than-impressed:

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 9 Comments

How to get something removed from Google Street View

There has been plenty of debate elsewhere already about the privacy implications of Google’s Street View service (and this fun Matt cartoon), so I won’t add to that here but instead I thought some people may find it useful to know how you can ask to get something removed from the service (e.g. any embarrassed Liberal Democrat activist who has been caught on camera walking past a letterbox and not putting a leaflet through it):

1. Go to http://maps.google.co.uk/.
2. Locate the offending scene, e.g. by searching for the postcode, dragging the yellow person on to the map and then …

Posted in Online politics | 8 Comments

Opinion: Can Google’s dominance be broken?

Google dominates the search engine market, both in the UK and internationally. Although there are some countries where a local search service has the lead (e.g. Russia), overall Google is undoubtedly number one.

The world however is full of companies which used to be massive, even dominant, but fell from grace. Remember the days when Novell dominated the server market? Or watch Blade Runner and look at the brand names used back then, firms so big that it was easy to believe the future would include them. Names such as Pan-Am.

So could Google too fall from grace? And if so how?

Posted in Online politics and Op-eds | 9 Comments

Canonical URLs: improving your website’s performance in search engines

A rather more technical post than usual, but if you are used to playing around with HTML tags or fiddling with the innards of systems such as WordPress, this post has some good news that could make your website perform better in search engines…

The multiple URLs problem

It is quite common for a page on a website to be accessible via more than one web address. For example:



http://www.libdems.org.uk/news/new-government-bailout-is-blank-cheque-131421437 (i.e. without ;show at the end)

both link to the same page.

There are two reasons this might be a problem. First, a search engine may fail to realise that these are the same page and so search results get clogged up with duplicates. Second, some people may link to one version of the URL and other people to the other. Splitting links between these two versions can mean the page performs less well in search engines than if all the links were to just the one.

Search engines are pretty good at trying to deal with this sort of problem, but they aren’t perfect.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments

Why you should Google your suppliers

An interesting piece in today’s Guardian with the news that Lord Sutherland, who chaired an inquiry into last year’s Sats test shambles in England, has pointed out that basic checking of the competency of a supplier can including Googling their name – but this wasn’t done when the Sats testing contract was awarded:

Giving evidence yesterday, Sutherland said: “I don’t know companies that don’t do that kind of probing, whether it’s by telephone or Googling.

“If you Google, first you get the press cuttings and then you say, ah no, that’s so and so but here’s a serious report that maybe we

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Staying in the loop

November’s edition of Total Politics carries the following piece from me about finding information on the internet. Here’s a slightly extended version of the piece:

There is no shortage of information out there, but getting what you need, when you need it can be a challenge, particularly when your inbox, mailbag, radio and TV are all thrusting new pieces of information at you all the time. There are though a few simple steps you can take to radically improve and refine the information you find on the internet.

If you want to know what is happening in the world of UK politics, Politics Home (www.politicshome.com) is a great start, as it pulls together the latest content from traditional and online news sources into one regularly-updated front page. For more specialist political news and comment, the various ‘home’ sites focusing on the main parties are a good start: conservativehome.blogs.com, www.labourhome.org and www.libdemvoice.org.

However, one of the major tricks to getting the most out of websites in the most time-efficient manner is to cut back on the amount of time you spend going round checking websites and instead make the websites come to you whenever they have something new – and there’s a special sort of software that can do this for you.

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Will the unthinkable happen on the internet?

Internet users – myself included – have got used to relying on free online services which rely heavily on either online advertising or investors being willing to put up large pots of money even when there isn’t a clear way of turning users into income.

Many of the services have become such a key part of their users’ lives that their failure is often unthinkable to people. What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and discovered Facebook or Flickr or Twitter or Google or one of a score of other major free services had gone bust?

Well, you’d probably  have more …

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

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