Jeff Vinall, a Conservative Party activist who is director of communications for the Oxford University Tories and is a second year law student at Brasenose College has abused the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act to censor a website that reproduced a posting from his Facebook account in which he called Nelson Mandela a "terrorist," shortly after Mandela's death.
Vinall sent a DMCA takedown notice to the hosts of the UK-based website Political Scrapbook after an initial demand to censor their reporting was declined. The DMCA is an American statute and notices issued under it have no standing in the United Kingdom; furthermore, it's clear that the brief quotation from Vinall qualifies as fair use under the American copyright law and fair dealing under English and Welsh copyright law.
In my opinion, Vinall is trying to have his cake and eat it too. I think he believes that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, but he also believes that saying this aloud brings him and the party into disrepute. At the same time, I think he believes that repudiating his tasteless remarks will alienate a sizable number of Conservative supporters who also hated Mandela and cheered his death -- so using bullying, censorious tactics to suppress the reporting of his remarks is way for him to suppress news of the remarks without having to issue an insincere apology through gritted teeth that would disgust the party's reactionary wing.
The Oxford city council has ruled that every taxi must be outfitted with a CCTV for the express purpose of recording passenger conversations that are to be held for 28 days in case the police wanted to conduct an investigation in which the footage might prove useful. The idea that peoples' words should be recorded when they are in public places "just in case," is really troubling, as it's hard to see why, if it's justifiable to record taxi passengers in case they're criminals, you wouldn't also record restaurant patrons, park-goers, bus-riders -- why you wouldn't, in short, record every word uttered in public just in case someone committed a crime.
And, of course, this is a natural progression from the existing CCTV doctrine that says you should record every person's movements (though not their words), for the same reason.
A council spokeswoman said the "video and audio would run all the time within the vehicle".
She said police would only locate footage, stored on a CCTV hard drive for 28 days, if it was needed for a police investigation.
She added: "The risk of intrusion into private conversations has to be balanced against the interests of public safety, both of passengers and drivers."
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: "Given that one rail route to Witney [David Cameron's constituency] is through Oxford, we'll be letting the prime minister know that his staff might want to avoid using Oxford cabs."