When IT Meets Politics

Apr 12 2009   12:58PM GMT

How does Guido Fawkes acquire his e-mails?

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo


Leaving aside the issues of concern to the Westminster Village”, for which Guido Fawkes is one of the prime on-line gossips, there is an overdue need for more realistic and informed debate on whether the Internet is, or should be, a vehicle for confidential communication.


A consequence of publicity for “leaked” e-mails is security paranoia. But that very paranoia, including demands for on-line traffic to be retained in case it may be needed by any of over 500 agencies and regulators with investigatory powers, compounds the problem.


The Internet has long had “more bottlenecks that a brewery”. We can now see that it has “more leaks than Thames Water”. The points of potential access are proliferating, from Trojans on personal computers and mobiles, through network and cloud back-up services, to  traffic retained under a wide range of  legislations (not just the UK and/or RIPA). So too are those with the ability for trawl for that of interest to advertisers, investigative journalists, fraudsters, regulators, law enforcement or those engaged in industrial, patriotic or political espionage.


The range and variety of those who might have passed e-mails to Guido Fawkes is surprisngly wide: from whistleblowers to those (domestic or overseas) wishing to see “regime change”.


Should you be similarly concerned about those who might pass your e-mails and web searches to who-over is willing to pay? And is a cheap or even “free” service worth the price? 


4  Comments on this Post

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  • arnie
    The email was leaked by someone from the Unite Union, somebody who doesnt like Charlie Whelan. Do think for one minute if an email account had been hacked, this would have been the only story in the public domain?

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  • Rebecca Froley
    Response from Philip Virgo - The simplest answer is usually right but given the insecurity of the Internet and the systemic trawling of unencrypted, offshore, web-based, advertising funded e-mail services, not just those based in the UK, there is almost an infinity of possible answers. It is just that the most other e-mail exchanges are not worth leaking.

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  • Andrew Hardie
    The SMTP mail protocol and the FTP file transfer protocol were two of the biggest mistakes in the evolution of the Internet.

    FTP has been largely superceded by better protocols, such as SCP and SFTP. A replacement for SMTP has long been needed but has been obstructed and obfuscated by vested interests (commercial and otherwise) for more than a decade.

    As for where or how Guido Fawkes gets his emails - in most areas of human activity cockup is more usual than conspiracy, except in politics...

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  • Rebecca Froley
    There's some more speculation about the 'Red Rag' blog over on the BBC site.

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