Big Brother Is Watching Me 12


Having learnt how to post photos, I decided yesterday to post one of my time in Uzbekistan. I posted it then immediately thought better of it, so I clicked back to the building screen and scrubbed the entry. It was certainly posted for less than a minute; even, I am pretty sure, substantially less than thirty seconds.

Imagine my astonishment then to be contacted this morning from Uzbekistan by somebody who appeared in the photo. They had been forwarded a copy by the British Embassy in Tashkent, apparently to try to cause trouble between me and them.

The British government capturing and using a page I had up for a few seconds is a bit troubling. There was nothing in the small caption that would be likely to trigger an alert.


12 thoughts on “Big Brother Is Watching Me

  • Geoff Jones

    Interesting that it didn't appear in my regular RSS reader (which is how the BBC got caught out by modifying its posts recently – thinking that no one would notice) – so I guess they are closely monitoring your actual site rather than its feeds.

  • Roger Whittaker

    It appeared in my RSS reader, and indeed I can still see the photo there. I assume the Embassy uses an RSS reader and very regularly updates the feeds, so they captured it.

  • Craig

    Roger,

    Thanks. What would have triggered the capture – what did in your case?

    If you can still see the photo where is it being stored? I thought I had deleted it very comprehensively out of the site.

  • Craig

    Roger,

    I should add that the British Embassy in Tashkent doesn't monitor. It will have come out to them from the FCO.

  • Sabretache

    Craig

    The contents of sites are cached all over the place. RSS and other aggregation services capture anything new/changed for those caches relentlessly. Google's cache is vast and it can take a few days for it to discard old stuff – during which time others have captured and archived it. The perils of technology eh?

    On the general point though; unnerving isn't it?

    I'm just an ageing member of the hunting community whose determined but perfectly legal activities in defence of a way of life popped up on the radar screens of our esteemed security services a year or two after His Toniness's came to power. I soon learned to conduct my life on the assumption that I was being watched. Still do in fact. A bit pompous to assume that they could give a toss about little ol' me, some would say. But there really is no accounting for what or who they decide is worth keeping an eye on – especially when the discomfiture of paranoid politicians is also involved.

    In your case I would be surprised if they are not hard at work searching and compiling information that could be used to discredit you should the need arise – with the judgement about any such 'need' being entirely a matter for them and/or their political masters.

  • Craig

    Another one of countless little strangenesses – I just received two emails from the statcounter on the site, saying I had requested a password reminder and giving the login and password. I had not requested this at all.

  • Ed

    The way that RSS works is that the reader has to poll (ask) the server to see if the blog has been updated. There's no "trigger" mechanism as such unless it's something specific to your blog host. This polling can be done directly by the end user's PC or by an aggregation service. Users can choose to have their PC poll at regular intervals or only when they specifically ask. Aggregation services will poll at regular intervals – they probably have their own ways of deciding the poll rate based on the popularity of the blog and the rate at which it's changed in the past.

    My guess would be that Roger's reader or the aggregation service he uses just happened to poll your feed during the brief time that the post was up. Maybe the FCO uses the same aggregation service.

    If the aggregation service polls every half hour, for example, then the post would have been visible to its users for at least that time. It's entirely possible that they'd actually hang on to it for longer, even past the next time they poll – they are an "aggregation" service, after all.

  • ziz

    There are 3 elements, one unsurprising, the others of concern.

    1. Someone is maintaining a very close watch – I assume that you are one of many many people- this as you know would not be done in Tashkent.

    2. Having looked at the current crop from your site, somone (or several people – you know how these things work) decided that the image was "of interest" to Tashkent station.

    3. Tashkent – presumably in cahoots with FCO London decided to stir the shit.

    Wouldn't a carefully worded letter to Margaret Beckett (She is currently the Foreign Secretary) be in Order? – she seems to have litle else on her hands to deal with currently and her next door neighbour Lord Levy is about to leave her alone.

  • hayate

    See what happens when you ridicule Rusbridger (is it Rusbridger? I keep wanting to write Rustburger).

    ;D

  • John Pankiw

    It seems you are working on a nobel peace prize. I will join noam and read your novel…best wishes.

    John Pankiw

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