Wednesday, 19 June 2013


My responses to the above:

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Head of Libraries
Registration & Archives
James Whatman Way
ME14 1LQ

Dear Ms Anley,
Further to your letter of 4/6/2013, a detailed appeal shall be forthcoming – from myself - within the week.

I found it impossible to find a copy of Kent County Council's (KCC) Acceptable Internet Use Policy on its own Website, yesterday morning.
I was told by Tunbridge Wells' library staff that a copy of this was downloadable via the page that first greets customers when they login - it most certainly is not.
I was then told to take pictures of this initial login page with my mobile phone in order to have a copy of this document – a somewhat ridiculous suggestion.
I was eventually given a printed (undated) copy that appeared incomplete when compared with the length of the login copy.
Because KCC tries to set so much store by this document, it surely cannot be unreasonable for an easily downloadable copy to be readily available for public scrutiny?

Although I was told by a member of the Tunbridge Wells staff on Wednesday, 5 June 2013 that people are not judged before being found guilty of violating Library rules, I find that now (today was the first example) staff have to ask someone else before they will book time for me to use a computer. This is a rather obvious example of Whites making a negative assumption about a Black man without lawful excuse or provocation, especially given the fact that you told me I had until 18 June 2013 to appeal your decision made in your letter of 4 June 2013. This is what happened:

Staff Member: Hello, can I help?
D020951626: Yeah. Can you book me onto a computer? I booked number three, but that computer doesn't work. I can't cancel the booking because it's already started. 
Takes my Library Card
Staff Member: OK.
D020951626: And, of course, I can't cancel the booking because it's already started. So, I need you to cancel it and book me another one.
Looks at my Card
Staff Member: OK, erm. If you'd like to wait one second, I won't be long.
Leaves for 1' 20"
Staff Member: Number fifteen upstairs [indistinct].
D020951626: That's fine.
Makes booking
D020951626: Thanks.

Common Law
You will understand from all of the foregoing that legal action is almost certain regarding this matter – along with the entire issue of the legality of the KCC Acceptable Internet Use Policy and the rather desperate means employed to enforce it.
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Cath ANLEY Head of Libraries, Registration & Archives James Whatman Way MAIDSTONE Kent ME14 1LQ
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
1.      You lack evidence against me that will stand up in court;
2.      KCC’s Acceptable Internet Use policy is inconsistent with:
2.1.   English Common Law - it accepts the existence of, yet punishes, accidental violations as if they were deliberate; &,
2.2.   how the Internet actually works - it is based on the belief that the Internet is like tv in that channels (Websites) can be selected purposefully; effectively outlawing Websurfing;
3.      KCC’s allegations against me are vague, impossible and lack supporting evidence;
4.      KCC’s Web-filtering software is:
4.1.   Deliberately not Fit-for-Purpose;
4.2.   compares poorly with other such systems; proving 3.1
4.3.   is designed to filter Customers rather than Websites; leading to the potential for harassing disliked Customers.
In your letter of 4 June, KCC alleges I violated its Acceptable Internet Use Policy at a time when the library was closed. This automatically rendered the rest of this letter suspect as to veracity and specificity, as well as indicating Bad Faith on KCC's part. (It is also Bad Faith this Use Policy is not available as a download.)
As with KCC’s letter to me of 3 April 2013, its letter of 4 June 2013 is deliberately vague as to what is being alleged: I ignored the first missive because it lacked an Actus Reus. The vagueness is designed to conceal a lack of factual support for the contention that I have tried to access Adult Websites. It is also designed to conceal the fact that KCC cannot prove I have tried to access these Websites intentionally or deliberately, since computer records do not record the mind (in English Common Law, the Mens Rea) of the PC user. Simply repeating an accusation is not, in itself, proof or evidence - it is evidence for a lack of transparency in public services.
If I failed to access an Adult Website, the alleged complaint must come from internal monitoring; proving that KCC’s Web filter worked on this occasion. If I actually accessed an Adult Website, then the alleged complaint could have come from a member of staff or of the public. But you are unclear about this.
You are accusing me of doing something I could not reasonably know was a breach of KCC’s Internet Use policy. Such a policy is unacceptable because it does not include the word 'deliberately', 'knowingly' or 'intentionally' - as was verbally attempted at Southborough Library in March 2013, when a member of staff tried to demonstrate a Mens Rea by alleging I was trying to search for 'Internet porn', when:
1.          He had not seen me do any such thing;
2.          he could not explain why I would start doing this after using the library PCs for years;
3.          why I would not simply go across the road to the sex shop there - a much easier place to find porn;
4.          why I would seek something like pornography in such a public place; &,
5.          why I would seek something like pornography in a public place knowing the Library Service applies Web-filters.
Clearly, he believed I was crazy even though my argument with him was as lucid and as logical as this letter - despite his attempt to make a negative assumption about a Black man in a public place without lawful excuse or provocation. He was so desperate to win the debate, he even claimed I would argue 'free speech' in my defence. This man does not know me and he is not telepathic (Uri Geller he ain't), so he understands perfectly well that it is harder to punish someone  for an unintentional act as compared to a deliberate one. (And my suggestion that any unacceptable Websites I visited should be blocked was met with a claim that he could do nothing about this; putting him in violation of KCC's Acceptable Internet Use Policy, himself, since his attitude makes it pointless reporting such Sites to Library staff.)
None of this vagueness will pass muster in an English court since it strongly suggests that KCC’s data drilling of individual users is flawed, incomplete or difficult to interpret – as well as the possibility that the filter's settings are ineffectual or poorly-applied.
There is no way that anyone can know that a Website is blocked unless they actually try to visit it or, the URL obviously contains a reference to human sexuality in a language they understand. To claim otherwise is Bad Faith on KCC’s part. None of the URLs I have accessed fulfils this lack of a Mens Rea; implying two things. One, that KCC’s Acceptable Internet Use Policy is not consistent with English law; in seeking to punish accidental and non-volitional acts - even though Strict Liability does not apply here. There is, for example, no appertaining issue of Public Safety as well as no reference to it applying in KCC’s Acceptable Internet Use Policy. Two, that you Web filter is not FitforPurpose.
I commonly (at least once a week on the Library Service's PCs) come across material which I would have thought would have been pre-blocked - surely the purpose of a Web filter? - but is not; eg, the "Total Fascism" Blog or "The Social Evil". I also, just as commonly come across filtered Webpages whose URL suggests no possible violation of KCC's Internet Use Policy; eg, "",  "",  "" or "". Yet, despite this, still receive the idiotic message: 'Please do not try to access this type of site again.' How could I possibly know there is a problem, when trying to access Websites of whose content I am largely unaware?
Do KCC’s letters now mean that every time I receive, say, a "This Page Cannot Be Displayed" message, that I will receive a letter chiding me for having received it? If so, the Library Service is going to have to send me a lot of letters.
Proving intentionality is not that difficult: Attempting to access URLs that are unacceptable, on their face, for example. The fact is that Results are not Intentions, otherwise there would be no distinction between Murder and Manslaughter.
How the Web actually works
One of the most interesting problems I have found using the Library's PCs comes from Blogging. KCC’s filtering here is very patchy but, I am a grown up, and can move-on past any unpleasantness when confronted with it. Many Blogs have names that are not always consonant with content – such as the ubiquitous 'Untitled' – and with Blogs that are not contentspecific: Sometimes they are acceptable; sometimes not. Blogs are also poorly-indexed (few use the Dewey Decimal system, for example) and often unstructured; being, therefore, much harder to block (without Web-filter White-listing), since one cannot be aware – without paying someone to look – what Blogs contain.
Search Engines frequently throwup search results that contain unknown materials and truncated descriptive text so that one has to click on the unclear ones to ensure the most comprehensive research. You Use Policy offers no advice about what to do about avoiding these pitfalls: No advice is actually possible – and you know it full well; hence, KCC not offering any. (I would certainly be happy to read any document written by any Web professional anywhere in the world showing how users within a filtered system would have any reason to believe that any hyperlinks they could click were unsuitable in some way to click. Yet, no such document exists; otherwise, a copy would be placed in every Library – even though such documents exist with regard to spamming and phishing, for example.
You even suggest that people who are confronted with 'uncomfortable' material turn off the PC monitor and report this to staff; proving you are perfectly well aware that people will – from time to time – access material that should have been filtered. (My experience is, however, when one reports anything to staff, they automatically assume you are responsible for what you are reporting [as happened to me in Tonbridge, some years ago]; in desperately seeking a scapegoat. This is especially true, of course, if the staff do not personally like a user – as often happens when the user is not Caucasian. I had to vigorously reproach a volunteer at Tunbridge Wells some months ago for thinking he could abuse me in a public place and neither he nor his manager were terribly happy about this - but I always give as good as I get.)
Blame Game
KCC is clearly trying to blame users for the fact that its own technical staff are inadequate to the software task set for them by KCC. Every e-mail I have sent that asked why I am being told not to try to visit a Website that I could not possibly have known would be a violation of KCC's Internet Policy is never answered directly – as if this Kafkaesque absurdity were quite normal and logical. If it is difficult for KCC to filter potentially offensive material, why would it be any easier for users? We are all actually in the same boat here, but KCC pretends otherwise. Merely attempting to open a locked door is not a violation of KCC’s Acceptable Internet Use Policy - especially as the public is invited into the corridor where these doors exist and no prior notice is often given of what lies behind these doors.
Asking staff questions about this Internet Use Policy is a waste of time as there is a clear desire for the policy to remain unquestioned; making it inevitable that it must, therefore, be tested in the courts.
I have no real case to answer here, so it is better for me to focus on the lack of Case Law in this area. It is quite clear that you have not taken legal advice about the content of this policy - nor was it written by a legallytrained person - and seek, instead, to act in a Draconian manner.
There is much Web access in Kent and KCC's is the worst in terms of user-friendliness and flexibility. ASDA Wi-Fi (Mumsnet), for example, blocks whole sections of the Web very successfully. And tThe Tunbridge Wells' Gateway has three aspects to it that impress the most:
1.          White-listing (rather than Blacklisting); prevention being better than cure. A Blacklist means having to constantly monitor new, unfiltered Websites for suitability, you start from a position that all Websites are accessible, except the filtered ones – a Cure; a White-list means Sites have to earn their place on the list, so, such a list is already inherently pre-selecting – a Preventive;
2.          the e-mail ability for users to ask for Websites to be unfiltered if they were filtered in error – supported by clear Categories & Instructions;
3.          blocking Websites because they contain certain words; meaning Sites changing their content rapidly are sometimes blocked and sometimes not – but, at least, they are blocked.
The Library Service is very poor at these three essential filtering strategies and, thus, seems unwilling to take its responsibility to the public at all seriously. Item 2 is peculiar in that the Library’s filter says:
"If you feel this website has been incorrectly blocked, please write down the web address and provide the codes shown below."
But offers no e-mail link nor any instruction as to who to give this information to. This technical primitivism proves there is no desire to unblock Websites once filtered because that would mean admitting an error had been made. One member of staff at the Tonbridge Library once summed-up this odd attitude to me: "We block Websites for a reason!" In other words, even if the reason is wrong, it does not matter because we do not care!
Of course, as I pointed out at the time, if Whites block anti-racist Websites for being racist (a common way for Whites to play the Race Card), Whites appear institutionally-racist – as was the case with 'How to Rent a Negro' and 'Race Traitor' which were, for a time, filtered as racist by political ideologues at KCC.
Clearly, it is impossible to get this filtering perfect, since it is impossible to manually check all of the currently 20,000,000,000 Web-pages currently in existence, but blaming customers for the blunt-instrument weakness of KCC’s Web-filtering strategy is certainly not the way forward and tantamount to an partial admission of failure in this regard.
(You also clearly do not update any filters you use regularly enough.)
You are all perfectly well-aware that the Internet is fraught with legal difficulties in terms of public access and hope that users are not aware of this so they can be blamed for not complying with an edict (KCC's Acceptable Internet Use policy) that no-one practically can comply with because you use software that does not get the job done. This smacks of harassment and an attempt to conceal the fact that KCC’s policies, procedures and software are ultra vires.
Cultural differences
The fact that any Sites visited could cause offence to many of KCC’s customers - of which I happen to be one - is irrelevant, since I also cannot know this in advance any more than I could know that a Website is unacceptable to KCC. I come from a different ethnic group to Whites and am not as hung-up on sexual issues as Whites are. The fact that KCC’s Web filter does not work very well (compared to, say, ASDA or the Tunbridge Wells' Gateway) means I am regularly confronted with potentiallyobscene material. There is no central censorship authority for the Web (as there is, for example, for DVDs); explaining precisely why KCC employs Web filter in the first place because KCC has decided that public policy demands it. Yet, KCC’s inappropriate aggression and open hostility to customers proves you are also perfectly well aware as to how ineffective KCC’s Policy truly is - along with the weak software it is intended to compensate for.
KCC clearly wants to fight a test case with me, so I shall be more than happy to fight KCC over this issue in court.
cc: Southborough Library

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