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Collapsed UK Bank Attempts to Censor Wikileaks 230

James Hardine writes "Wikileaks has released a couple of hilarious legal demands over a confidential briefing memo entitled Project Wing — Northern Rock Executive Summary. Northern Rock Bank (UK) collapsed spectacularly late last year on the back of the sub-prime lending crisis and was re-floated by the Bank of England at a cost of over £24bn. The memo was used by the Financial Times, the Telegraph and others. It attracted a number of censorship injunctions, as reported by the Guardian, which only Wikileaks continues to withstand. In their legal demand to Wikileaks, Northern Rock's well-known media lawyers, Schillings, invoke the DMCA & WIPO, claim it'll be 10 years in prison for Wikileaks operators for not following the UK injunction, but then, incredibly, refuse to hand over a copy of the order unless Wikileaks' London lawyers promise not to give it to Wikileaks. Finally they claim copyright and more — on their demands! The letters raise a serious issue about the climate of censorship in the UK, where one can apparently easily obtain a censorship order — a judge made law — that everyone is meant to obey, but no one is meant to know."
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Collapsed UK Bank Attempts to Censor Wikileaks

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  • by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gm a i l.com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:03AM (#22125888) Journal
    All your leaks are belong to us!
    • Re:It's obvious. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by intnsred ( 199771 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:15AM (#22126002)
      What's obvious is that this issue is not about censorship per se -- it's about the move to fascism. Corporations rule. Here in the US, corporations often literally write the bills that the corporate-funded Congress then pass into law. This UK innovation just has the courts directly acting on the corporations' behalf.

      "Fascism could better be called 'corporatism', for it is merely the merging of state power with corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator who "invented" fascism.

      "I hope we shall take warning from the example of England and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our Government to trial and bid defiance to the laws of our country." -- Thomas Jefferson
      • Re:It's obvious. (Score:5, Informative)

        by actiondan ( 445169 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:15AM (#22126602)
        While I agree with your sentiments, I have to point out that the quote you ascribe to Mussolini is something of a myth, probably based on a mistranslation. He is not known to have said that and, based on what he wrote, his philiosophy did not include giving power to anything other than the fascist state.

        (see http://www.publiceye.org/fascist/corporatism.html [publiceye.org])

      • Re:It's obvious. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by giulioo ( 120101 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:38AM (#22126834)
        Note that in Italian the term "corporazioni" (ie: corporations) has a complete different meaning than the English one.
        The term "Corporazioni", especially in the Mussolini context, refers to "associations" of people/companies doing the same kind of work.

        It would be like

                Associations of car makers
                Associations of car makers' employees
                Associations of lawyers ...
      • This UK innovation just has the courts directly acting on the corporations' behalf.

        RTFA. Corporation doesn't want any stories published, and wants to know who leaked the story. Court allows the newspapers to print their articles, and to protect their source. What is the innovation you refer to, and in what way is turning down most of the corporation's request acting directly in their interest?

      • Corporate Oligarchy (Score:4, Informative)

        by Molochi ( 555357 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:22PM (#22128836)
        Fascism has at its core, the philosophy that the people exist to support the government's needs. The first thing that fascist governments usually do is to remove corporate posession from owners and stockholders (a type of corporati). The merging you describe, refers to the people and how their goals and power become the goals and power of the government. Those people's groups (corporata, iirc) then no longer need to exist and, in a fascist state, will not be allowed outside of the government.

        Conversely, a trend towards allowing corporate entities more rights and responsibilities removes everyday power from the government and places it in the control of the officers and owners of the corporations. This is a move towards oligarchical control and is the antithesis of fascism.

        While a fascist state could itself be oligarchical in nature, it would still seek direct control of power and not divest it to the political systems that exist in and serve corporate interests.

  • I guess that they have been censored.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:36AM (#22126804)

      While I am as wary of any kind of censorship as the next guy, we would also do well to remember that the entire Northern Rock episode was basically caused by media over-hyping a short term liquidity problem, which is a relatively benign, if somewhat unusual, banking situation.

      The way the credit crunch/government loan issue has been portrayed in the mainstream media, even relatively decent sources like the BBC, has made it sound disastrous, thus prompting a full scale run on a bank. Given that the entire consumer banking industry basically runs on a trust system, everything would probably have worked out fine, but the resulting panic has exacerbated the problem and now we have had the big government bail out.

      So, while I'm all for free speech, I'm also all for people using it responsibly. The responsible thing to do before would have been for the media to explain that Northern Rock had a relatively sound loans book in the long term (they actually have far less exposure to sub-prime losses than many of the big banks), and that the central bank (well, "the government" in this case, argue it how you like) stepping in to smooth over a temporary liquidity problem is the correct response to this, economically speaking. Indeed, it seems unlikely that these circumstances are specific to Northern Rock: much the same could have happened (and perhaps more deservedly) to many other banks in the current economic climate. NR were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, metaphorically speaking. So it would be better if the average person had some understanding of the basic economic idea, so we don't see a repeat performance when the next big bad announcement is made by another bank.

      The responsible thing to do now would be to allow Northern Rock, the government, Virgin, and whoever else is playing behind the scenes to get on with making a deal. All leaking confidential documents mid-process does is make it harder to find a mutually beneficial way out of the current predicament, which ultimately just shafts everyone, including the taxpayer and potentially those who have money held by NR.

      Censorship has a chilling effect, but so does irresponsible spreading of half-truths and misinformation by the tinfoil hat brigade on the pretence of defending free speech. With freedom comes responsibility, always.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by EasyTarget ( 43516 )
        Err.. No. This is basically caused by a wunch of bankers who loaned money they did not have to people who cannot afford to repay it.

        It's merely the visible tip of the iceberg of debt that passes for a 'booming economy' in these times. Stop blaming the lookouts and meteorologists when it's the captain and his employers who set the course.
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @11:36AM (#22127488)

          This is basically caused by a wunch of bankers who loaned money they did not have to people who cannot afford to repay it.

          That's what the sub-prime crisis is all about, yes. But Northern Rock's problem was not primarily that they did not have the money, but rather that they did not have the liquidity and were caught off guard. Also, while NR did lend in some dubious ways (another reply to my previous post noted some particularly daft examples), so did almost everyone else in recent years, and Rock are reportedly much less exposed in this way than much of the competition.

          • by EasyTarget ( 43516 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:21PM (#22128826) Journal
            I don't have any special insight about why it's Northern Rock and not other banks, they are merely the one on everybody's radar since they actually got caught short.

            However, your repeated claims they 'have the money' are false. They did not, (+ do not, and never will) 'have the money', and therefore they could not honour their creditors when they got nervey and tried to withdraw their money. Wham! Instacrisis.

            Having the deeds on a lot of property on which you have lent Mortgages is not the same as having the actual money itself, since it's 'value' is wildly overinflated in our current economics. Basically they (and indeed most other 'geniuses' of the modern economics) are treating money reserves that have been unrealistically inflated by the housing bubble as if it is real, cash-in-your-pocket money.

            This is the same root cause as the sub-prime crisis, the whole pack of cards is built on a fictional basis: 'lending money you don't have to people who cannot afford to repay it'.

            It's easier to see in the Sub-Zero examples because the lending was done to obvious bad risks. Whereas with Northern Rock the lending is done to ostensibly affluent people who can easily be painted as 'good risks'. But in fact their debt is also crippling them and if there is any downturn in their income they're screwed, if it's a mass downturn in income the banks are screwed too. (Think: governments urging pay restraint to combat inflation and most people getting meagre pay-rises.)
            • Basically they (and indeed most other 'geniuses' of the modern economics) are treating money reserves that have been unrealistically inflated by the housing bubble as if it is real, cash-in-your-pocket money.
              Yes... This is the nature of the "real bills doctrine [wikipedia.org]".

               
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Znork ( 31774 )
            But Northern Rock's problem was not primarily that they did not have the money

            The initial problem may have been a liquidity crunch, but the subsequent problem is that they do not, in fact, have the money. They cannot sell their mortgages for the booked value on the market today, they cannot borrow against them, they cannot in any way obtain the money needed. This is not a liquidity problem, this is a solvency problem.

            so did almost everyone else in recent years

            Yeah, well, some didn't.

            The fact is, 'everyone e
  • I'm just a clueless American, but as the blurb says "£24bn", I would guess reads "24 billion pounds". Is that billion as in "million million" or billion as in "thousand million"? I always wondered how that verbal discrepancy got started, seems that accountants on either side would get a bit huffy about a potential 1:1000 error.
    • Re:billion? (Score:5, Funny)

      by u38cg ( 607297 ) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:11AM (#22125956) Homepage
      We have pretty much standardised nowadays on the 1000 million version, primarily because it allows newspaper editors to use the word 'billion' a thousand times more often. </cynic>

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by thetroll123 ( 744259 )
      Thousand million. The million million meaning is obsolete.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Thousand million. No-one has seriously used billion to mean "million million" in perhaps the last 25 years here in the UK. Usage of billion to mean thousand million was certainly common on TV news by at least the early 90s.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by KiloByte ( 825081 )
        US, UK, Australia, etc... -- in other words "English-speaking countries".
        With an emphasis on "English".

        Billion in a text in English is 1e9, everywhere. In a text in French or Polish that may be 1e12, but there is no ambiguity because the language tells you what that word means. In Polish, "pies" means "dog" while in English that's plural of "pie" -- the same word has different meanings in different languages. Or, "actual" being "real" in English and "current" in Polish and German.

        Of course, this confuses
        • yes,
          Mi = 1
          Bi = 2
          Tri = 3

          so a bilion must be twice a million which is a million million, the words tell you exactly what they mean.
        • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

          Billion in a text in English is 1e9, everywhere. In a text in French or Polish that may be 1e12, but there is no ambiguity because the language tells you what that word means.

          No it doesn't.

          Does the language tell you what "toddick" means (in English that is) ?

          Billion Has been deprecated in French (to take one of your examples, and since that's where I am) for a while. It *used* to mean 1E12, milliard being (and still being used for) 1E9.

          If very large numbers are required, people just use the SI notations nowadays instead of silly names that changed every dozen kilometres (like feet, yards or miles used to, for which you could find hundreds of definitions throughout Europe -- nat

        • um... No. not exactly...

          I would assume that this is the accepted standard in journalism, science textbooks etc. But as some who is in late middle-age in the UK I was taught million million in school -- and in fact, this is the first I'm hearing of it being officially anything else here. (I don't work with numbers and I've no reason to keep up to date with such things). I suspect that many of us have been misinterpreting and misusing the term in its modern form for many years.

          I guarantee you that, for
      • by nagora ( 177841 )
        No-one has seriously used billion to mean "million million" in perhaps the last 25 years here in the UK.

        I'm 42 and I have never seen billion used here in the UK to mean anything other than "thousand million". If it wasn't for Americans asking which meaning is intended I doubt anyone here would even know of the "million million" sense.

        TWW

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Angostura ( 703910 )
          Gentleman, we've pinned it down. I'm 43 and at school was taught that a billion was a million million, but by the time I got to work thousand million was the norm.
          • yeah, that's rampant inflation for you... time was when a billion was worth a million million, it won't be long before it's only worth a million!

            I note too there's been a catastrophic devaluation of binary - 11 in binary is now only worth 3 in decimal! (with apologies to Verity Stob).

        • I think the problem isn't Americans, but people who know anything about maths.
        • I'm 39, born and raised in the UK; I was taught that a billion is 1,000,000,000,000 but that the Americans had long ago failed to keep up with this meaning, and that by shear force of numbers have imposed the de facto standard of billion being 1E9.

          I struggled against this for a whole year or so, but when I realised that my university colleagues couldn't handle the E notation, I apathetically caved in.

          After all, I'm writing down to the level of my readers. That's what I'm paid for, not for works of truth

        • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

          If it wasn't for Americans asking which meaning is intended I doubt anyone here would even know of the "million million" sense.

          Listening to the US people talk about Europe is presumably like listening to Earthlings talking about TauCeti...

          I remember when (I live in Paris) I went to get my (then) girlfriend's US penpal at the airport and she (the penpal) confided to me that she had brought her hair-drier because she knew we wouldn't have any, although she really wasn't sure we had electricity yet(*). This was in the 80s though. And to put the US people at rest, yes, all of western Europe did have ample electric power at the time. A

    • by jimicus ( 737525 )
      The generally accepted UK use of the word "billion" is "thousand million".

      Whichever way you read it, £24bn is a fair bit of cash.
    • I'm just a clueless American, but as the blurb says "£24bn", I would guess reads "24 billion pounds". Is that billion as in "million million" or billion as in "thousand million"? I always wondered how that verbal discrepancy got started, seems that accountants on either side would get a bit huffy about a potential 1:1000 error.

      In regards to currency I think it means a thousand million. Having it mean a million million is rare these days. Long scale being mostly replaced in all official capacity by short scale. Although I may be mistaken because I'm Canadian not British. Also, it'll probably be a million million USD soon.

    • Billion means the same thing in proper english as in american english. It is milliard in french and a few other european languages.
  • ...Seriously, I nearly soiled myself. What is this, Monty Python?
  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:07AM (#22125922)
    .. I never realised until recently with the whole NHS thing on the news that we even had laws that tried to silence people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iminplaya ( 723125 )
      That law has been there for almost 300 years [copyrighthistory.com].
    • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:45AM (#22126900)

      .. I never realised until recently with the whole NHS thing on the news that we even had laws that tried to silence people.
      Yes. It's true, and this isn't new. In the UK you categorically DO NOT have the right to freedom of speech. You have never had the right to free speech.

      (actually in most of the EU it's the same - e.g. in Germany, Nazi related things are illegal -- um, ironically...) In the UK this has most often been used in relation to the IRA, e.g. internment in the early 70's, or the forbidding of Sinn Fein to speak publicly in the early eighties -- which resulted in the BBC using actors to relay their words. Actually, it's very, very interesting that the BBC were keen on free speech in the Eighties, but are no longer so bothered about it.

      Nor, incidentally, do you truly have the right to remain silent. That was removed a few years ago as well. You silence can be construed as admission of guilt -- no pleading the fifth.

      It really is time that the UK people realised that Big Brother is here, today, right now. The UK is not as free as some dictatorships in the World. Democracy is smoke and mirrors here, nothing more. It probably is already too late. Americans, you need to ensure you have a change in your Government. Do not repeat the UK's mistakes.
      • by hptux06 ( 879970 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @01:16PM (#22128754)
        The home office [homeoffice.gov.uk]'s website does actually say you have the right to remain silent.

        I find the arguments surrounding freedom of speech interesting. While it'd be brilliant to be able to say what you like, there are still some cases where it isn't ideal: for example, there are laws against slander and libel. Then there's soliciting crime, encouraging racial hatred and similar. The government try to cut a fine line between what *needs* to be restricted, and what doesn't, and they do get it wrong - I agree censoring Gerry Adams was idiotic.

        But if you RTFA, you'll find that the judge hearing the case ordered the leaked document to be removed from publication, but not to gag the press from talking about the fact that it had happened, nor to stop people reporting what was in it. This is not censorship, this is protecting confidentiality.

        As for the UK not having free speach, name a particular UK law regulating it that you believe shouldn't be a crime.
  • Collapsed? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:14AM (#22125998)
    Northern Rock has not collapsed. It's share price has, but the bank itself is still trading normally.
    • Re:Collapsed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:22AM (#22126050)
      "Northern Rock has not collapsed."

      I think it has, actually. The UK government injected a huge amount of tax-payers money into it, and there has been talk of forced nationalisation.

      The London Review of books has a very interesting article about it that also gives quite a bit of financial background (eg. regarding futures, options, and the way that banks operate) that helped me to better understand the context of the whole thing.

      http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n01/lanc01_.html [lrb.co.uk]
      • It's even partially responsible for the fact that the pound is tanking [yahoo.com], even compared to the already-pathetic US dollar.

        Once Bush gets his second round of suicidal tax cuts, I'm sure things will even themselves out....
      • Re:Collapsed? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by u38cg ( 607297 ) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:55AM (#22126390) Homepage
        It isn't tax money. The Bank of England is a central bank, a lender of last resort that can lend essentially unlimited sums in situations where it (and government oversight) deems appropriate. Appropriate circumstances are where a bank is in danger of folding despite being essentially sound businesses. This is the case with Northern Rock - they have plenty of assets, in the form of mortgages; the problem is they tried to fund it with a source of lending that was not (despite their protestations) guaranteed to continue. When the credit markets ground to a halt, they were sitting ducks.

        The Bank did the right thing in extending credit (albeit at an uncompetitive rate), but the Government did the wrong thing in guaranteeing saver's deposits. They would probably have survived anyway and given the entire industry a harsh lesson in the realities of financing. As soon as they did that the nationalisation genie was out the bottle, and once it's out it is very difficult to put back.

        • Thank you for explaining the reasons for why the government did lend NR money, the news I've seen never explained this to me, I think sometimes the news channels assume everybody has an understanding of such financing 'things' :-). Most tend to sensationalise rather than provide the in depth analysis.
          • by Splab ( 574204 )
            Actually I think the news stations have absolutely no idea what it means, but fear to show failure and thus just act like it should be common knowledge (and not just regarding this, but generally).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
          If the government hadn't issued the guarantees they did the run on the bank would have continued and NR wouldn't have had any assets left with which to continue lending (in fact if it went on long enough there wouldn't be any assets with which to pay people withdrawing money from their accounts, which could(would?) be a disaster for banking in general - most people still believe that banks keep all the money they're given in safes... if joe public realised that that hasn't been true for 200 years it could
          • google for "fractional reserve banking", read a few articles and then tell me that your savings and pensions are safe, or maybe you';d prefer to buy gold or other precious metal first?
        • As I have my mortgage with NR, but I think I'm going to re-mortgage if this is how they're going to behave.
        • It isn't tax money. The Bank of England is a central bank, a lender of last resort that can lend essentially unlimited sums in situations where it (and government oversight) deems appropriate. ... snip ...

          The Bank did the right thing in extending credit (albeit at an uncompetitive rate), but the Government did the wrong thing in guaranteeing saver's deposits. They would probably have survived anyway and given the entire industry a harsh lesson in the realities of financing. As soon as they did that the nati
          • it had about 100bn of assets

            Actually most of that 100bn is worthless because it is mostly in mortgages, which it can't sell in the current market climate. That's why it got into that mess in the first place. If its depositors tried to withdraw their money there was a risk of running short of liquid assets. Plus if your reserves get too low you can't lend any more, and your business model is hosed - no loans == no new income.

            Because NR didn't diversify (all the other banks did) it was left with a problem,
            • by rcs1000 ( 462363 ) *
              "Actually most of that 100bn is worthless because it is mostly in mortgages"...

              Whoah there!

              Worthless? Let's take some assumptions. Assume 20% of Northern Rock borrowers default (10x historic levels).

              Then assume they have loans at an average loan-to-value of 90% (which it isn't). And assume that house prices have fallen 30% (which they haven't). So - approximately - Northern Rock would lose one-in-five pounds lent to those who defaulted. Or, a 4% total loss on assets. (Which would be 5x the greatest loss a S
        • "It isn't tax money ...."

          I'm not an authority, but I think this is incorrect. But to be honest, you don't sound like you really know what you're talking about either. Can I recommend again reading the article? (I know the LRB is a bit left, but there are a lot of interesting things in the article).

          "the Government did the wrong thing in guaranteeing saver's deposits."

          This is a big (belatedly-recognised) problem with the arrangement at the moment, and is discussed in the article to which I linked. The banks l
          • by flink ( 18449 )

            Now, I go on a bit about this, cause I think it's disgusting that banks sell shares. The shareholders _should_ be the people who've put their money in there. (yes yes, naive idealism, I know)
            I'm pretty sure what you're describing is a credit union -- it's basically a not-for-profit, depositor owned bank.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by digitig ( 1056110 )
              In UK terminology it's a "Mutual Society" I think. There are very few left in the UK, though. Most of them demutualised when the government relaxed the banking regulations some years ago.
        • but the Government did the wrong thing in guaranteeing saver's deposits

          I don't think they had much of a choice. The Government has been actively encouraging people to save for years. If a lot of people lost their savings a lot of blame would be directed at the Government for their blind encouragement of saving.

          I think it all comes down which would look worse in the media - the situation we have now, or the situation that would have happened had the government not backed up peoples savings.
    • Re:Collapsed? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bri2000 ( 931484 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:33AM (#22126140)
      If you consider having to get an emergency government loan of £24 billion in order to maintain solvency in the face of depositors withdrawing their money, together with a government guarantee worth £30 billion or so in order to allow you to access the wholesale money markets, trading normally then that's right. It's more accurate, I think, to say that Northern Rock's business model of borrowing short (by issuing short term paper secured on their mortgage portfolio) to lend long collapsed following the flight from mortgaged backed securities in August/September. There may be a legitimate debate to be had over whether or not Northern Rock's mortgage assets are really as valueless as the markets think - the UK government certainly seems to think not but I'm not sure that's a punt I want them taking with my taxes.
      • Re:Collapsed? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:40AM (#22126202) Journal
        Well, you have to be careful in distinguishing the kinds of solvency problems. If it was merely a matter of "We can give you your money, but only after our loans are paid back with interest", that's what central banks are for: to lend when the bank has trouble selling its (good quality) loans because of temporary market kinks. (i.e. liquitiy crisis) So it wouldn't be that bad for the government to do it also. It's just making it a loan that will be paid back with the stream of income from the bank's loans come in.

        HOWEVER, if it was a case of "We're lending you the money, even though we know your loans are bad and you can't actually pay us back but we're going to prop you up anyway", THEN you have good reason to object to it, and it would be an unfair taxpayer bailout.
        • The second case could fall foul of EU law anyway, although I'm not sure of the specifics (press reporting hasn't been very deep in this area). That's the reason for the rapid sale/nationalisation options - if they kept it going much longer they'd be in breach (and, it appears, may already be in the opinion of some).

    • Actually, its share price is doing very well. The FTSE (London stock exchange average) fell 5% today, but Northern Rock shares are up 25%.

      Some people might be naive enough to thing that, if a bank becomes insolvent and requires to be bailed out with £60 billion of government money to repay its investors, then the owners of the bank would lose their money. In fact they seem to be making a fat profit out of the situation.
      • Re:Collapsed? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:49AM (#22126310)
        but Northern Rock shares are up 25%.

        Very true. Over the course of the last 24 hours, Northern Rock shares are up 25%.

        But 12 months ago, Northern Rock shares were touching 1200p each. Today they're worth 88p each. That's more than a 90% drop. Take a look at the graph for the last years' share prices here:

        http://www.citywire.co.uk/Shares/ShareFactsheet.aspx?InstrumentID=2375 [citywire.co.uk]

        Right now Northern Rock shares are only for those with brass balls so big they need a wheelbarrow to carry them around in.
        • by xtracto ( 837672 )
          Right now Northern Rock shares are only for those with brass balls so big they need a wheelbarrow to carry them around in.

          Or for speculators. If the share are at 88p each one it means they can not go down further, it would be clever then to buy and maybe hedge whatever risk (how much will you lose if you buy 200 shares?) in another investment (some Option or whatnot).

          • by gknoy ( 899301 )

            If the share are at 88p each one it means they can not go down further...


            It can always go down further. If you buy at 88, and it drops to 44, or 22, you've just lost 50% or 75% of your investment.

            So - again, it IS for speculators. I agree that in the case of a bank like this, it might seem likely that it will go back up ... but that's not a certainty, is it?
  • by Trevelyan ( 535381 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:26AM (#22126082)
    Modern banking does rely an some non understanding and/or acceptance of the system to work. This video [google.com] explains how banks today came to be, and why our governments are so entangled with them. The UK government bailing northern rock doesn't surprise me, nor does their desire to keep some things out of the public eye. Its scary that our press can be silenced so easily.
  • by BestNicksRTaken ( 582194 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:37AM (#22126182)
    https://secure.wikileaks.org/leak/Project_Wing_-_Northern_Rock_Executive_Summary.pdf [wikileaks.org]

    grab it before it gets taken down.

    when i lived in the usa i got quite peeved by the way bills were just put into place by companies who "owned" congressmen and senators (dmca is a prime example). now i'm back in the uk the practice seems to have followed me - it wasn't my fault honest!
  • by devnullkac ( 223246 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:42AM (#22126220) Homepage

    Taking a page from the business of assassination: censor the censoring documents.

  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <kurt555gs.ovi@com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @09:45AM (#22126254) Homepage
    In the era that I grew up, no one would try to use copyright laws to censor wrongdoing. Edward R Murrow would not have even thought that leaked documents could not be used as a news source.

    History will show that the DMCA is one of the most evil laws ever past in the country, and is the lynch pin to Fascism.

    The whole WIPO organization is simply there to protect the rich, and do no good whatsoever for the common man.

    But it is censorship, not music that the DCMA is about.

    Just try and see how far anyone gets getting congress to repeal this one.

    This is the keystone of total control by the rich.

    Have a nice day.
     
  • You can't put out wildfires by spitting on them.
  • They care about getting things done (as anyone else in corporate culture). And it means using all means necessary, even fraudulent cease and desist letters, copyright claims, etc. Think SCO, but as common sense in lawyer's mind.

    I hope Wikileaks will get trough this and will be stronger than ever.
  • "re-floated by the Bank of England at a cost of over £24bn."
    and of course the first thing they do is spent as much of it as possible on lawyers for frivolous suits. You've fucked up once, why not try it a different way this time?
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:12AM (#22126570) Homepage Journal

    The letters raise a serious issue about the climate of censorship in the UK...


    Well, maybe. I can claim anything I want, and unless you can put a dollar figure on the cost of my making that claim, you don't have a legal claim against me. In some ways the more outrageous the claim, the safer I am in making it. I can claim I own everything written on Slashdot because God told me it was mine. If Slashdot shut down, and sued me for damages, I suspect the judge would throw the case out on the basis that we're both as crazy as a bedbug.

    The art, I suppose, is to make a threat that is credible enough to make others do your bidding, but not so credible it can't be construed as fraud. Making wild DMCA claims is pretty borderline. What you're really saying is that while I'd almost certainly beat the snot out of you in a court of law, life's short and is it really worth my while just for this? If there were quantifiable money on the table, I'd got to court, but if I could assuage you for nothing, I might well do so, even if I wouldn't bother if you were asking nicely.

    With respect to this being censorship -- well whether it is or not depends on whether the content is the deciding issue. If you break into my house and steal my diary, and a judge orders you not to print my diary, it's not censorship, because the issue here is ownership. If you anonymously mail the diary to my local paper, I can get an injunction against their publishing it. It's not the content of the diary that is at issue, it's the fact that I have a common law copyright to my private, unpublished papers.

    If you want to publish your diary and I don't like what you have to say about me, my stopping you would be censorship, except if it were defamation.

    There are two issues here: freedom of expression and privacy. I don't like the term "balancing", because that gives a false impression of what has to be done. The two issues have to be reconciled. Freedoms to do something do not, in general, mean you are free of obligations that might restrict you. If you have a document I created, the question is what duties do you have to me relating to publishing that document and disclosing its content? Whether you have a right to even posses the document certainly matters. Your duties to others and the public certainly matters. If I carelessly leave a private letter in the coffee shop, and it just has personal (although amusing) information, a reporter who discovered it would, I think, be duty bound to return it to me unpublished. If it details my involvement in embezzling public funds, the reporter's duty to the public is paramount.

    It's not cut and dried.
    • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:31AM (#22126762)
      With respect to this being censorship -- well whether it is or not depends on whether the content is the deciding issue. If you break into my house and steal my diary, and a judge orders you not to print my diary, it's not censorship, because the issue here is ownership. If you anonymously mail the diary to my local paper, I can get an injunction against their publishing it.

      Whether or not something is "censorship" has nothing to do with the content. Censorship is simply the act of erasing something that is deemed objectionable by someone else. It doesn't matter what the "thing" is, who is erasing it, or who "someone else" is.

      You might argue that some kind of censorship, such as your diary example, is justifiable, but it is still censorship.
      • It's not censorship at all it's copyright.

        There are also tortuous laws concerning corporate secrets (that we borrowed from the US) and can be invoked here.

        Basically if you leak that kind of shareholder information you can end up in jail - that much is made clear to *anyone* who is party to such information. Printing that leak is a copyright issue, and also may open up the journal that prints it to other legal problems.

        That's why leaks are always anonymous - wikileaks are treading a *very* thin line by not
  • by ContractualObligatio ( 850987 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:15AM (#22126604)

    The letters raise a serious issue about the climate of censorship in the UK, where one can apparently easily obtain a censorship order -- a judge made law -- that everyone is meant to obey, but no one is meant to know.

    Does it? From the linked newspaper article:

    But the judge, Mr Justice Tugendhat, rejected a more stringent prohibition that Northern Rock had sought - to ban news coverage of the memo on FT.com and other websites.

    "We were looking at funding a principled legal case about news that was looking increasingly historic by the day," said Paul Murphy, the editor of Alphaville.

    Northern Rock failed to win an injunction against the Telegraph after the paper revealed details of the sales document sent out to prospective bidders.

    The bank failed to force the Daily Telegraph to reveal its source for the article and failed to get the newspaper to remove its article.

    Even as a British taxpayer, I struggle to work up much concern about "censorship" when clearly no-one's freedom of speech is being curtailed. A judge says newspapers can't publish private documents, and the newspaper drops the "public interest" appeal because it's already become old news. In the meantime, newspapers remained free to publish their articles and protect their sources.

    It's quite a leap to go from those decisions to taking a mercenary law firm's typically overstated demands as being a "serious issue".

    p.s. on the subject of not being serious, I can't be the only one who would struggle to take a judge called "Tugendhat" seriously. Tug who's end into who's hat, I'd like to know...

  • Life imitates art [george-orwell.org] once again.

    The thing that he was about to do was to open a diary. This was not illegal (nothing was illegal, since there were no longer any laws), but if detected it was reasonably certain that it would be punished by death, or at least by twenty-five years in a forced-labour camp.

    While I accept this this Orwellian vision is not quite the same as the instance contained in the story, it seems the logical conclusion. If a law is secret how can one obey it? If a law cannot be read does it

  • This is rubbish (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:24AM (#22126688) Homepage
    The letters raise a serious issue about the climate of censorship in the UK, where one can apparently easily obtain a censorship order -- a judge made law -- that everyone is meant to obey, but no one is meant to know.

    This is false. There is no legal basis in the UK for what they are doing. They're chancing their arm, and hoping that the threat of big scary lawyers will frighten away the... other big scary lawyers. I can't see that working.
    • This is irrelevant to the UK they are using US Laws to stop a US based site ... ?

      The DMCA has no relevance to UK or European laws ...and the Wikileaks site is hosted in the US so is outside UK juristriction?
  • by jcdill ( 6422 ) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:50AM (#22126948)
    Copyright only exists for writing that is "creative" in nature.

    The text of a legal document sets forth a demand, a contract, etc. The writing is not creative, it is just a listing of facts or positions. I was told this by one of the top partners at WSGW (top legal firm in Silicon Valley) when he advised me to copy another company's contract. The formatting of the contract (e.g. the forms you can buy at a stationer's store or download pdfs online) is creative layout - you can't just photocopy the contract and use it as that is a copyright infringement. But if you want to make your own form with a different layout and using the exact same words, that is perfectly legal.

    Of course, lawyers can CLAIM copyright on their legal documents, but that doesn't mean they are correct. Lawyers make false claims all the time, when it suits them or suits their case. Recently the RIAA made a claim that it is illegal to rip music from your own CDs [washingtonpost.com] to listen to that music on different devices that you own. In the 1974 Supreme Court ruling in Sony VS Universal Studios [everything2.com], this type of personal use copying was ruled as fair use, but that didn't stop the RIAA from making this new outrageous claim.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )
      There most definately is copyright on legal documents. They may not be art but they have been created in some sense.

      By your definition I can freely copy anything by Britney Spears because it's not remotely creative :p

      "Recently the RIAA made a claim that it is illegal to rip music from your own CDs to listen to that music on different devices that you own"

      In the UK this is in fact 100% illegal. As is using a VCR to record a TV programme, for example.

      Luckily we don't enforce the law over here... In Europe
    • Copyright only exists for writing that is "creative" in nature.

      The text of a legal document sets forth a demand, a contract, etc. The writing is not creative, it is just a listing of facts or positions. I was told this by one of the top partners at WSGW (top legal firm in Silicon Valley) when he advised me to copy another company's contract. The formatting of the contract (e.g. the forms you can buy at a stationer's store or download pdfs online) is creative layout - you can't just photocopy the contract an

  • Since the Blair government. The wholesale overturn of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights of 1688 with the thought-crime laws and the disarmament of the Englishry-in-Arms, and the establishment of the Panopticon - the once-imaginary ideal prison - over all of England with the cctv Surveillance State has created Orwell's Oceana, where once there was an England.

If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work, the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.

Working...