Thursday, June 18, 2009


"Merrily the feast I'll make.
Today I'll brew, tomorrow bake;
Merrily I'll dance and sing,
For next day will a stranger bring.
Little does my lady dream
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!"
Radio Free Stan isn't a Magistrate's blog. It's a blog from someone who happens to be a Magistrate.

You see, whole days can pass when I don't give a thought to blogging or magistration. I listen to music, I do a job, my daughter beats me at Mario Kart (and most other things in fact).

When I do mention my JP activities, I'm very careful to disguise any distinguishing features. Genders are bended and time is warped so that the head of guy who was up for a public order offence last month is likely to end up on the body of a woman I saw on a speeding charge two weeks ago.

Not all bloggers are this careful, and it seems that the award winning (but indiscrete) police blogger NightJack was one of them.

Nevertheless, I'm spitting mad with the Times for outing him. How can they possibly justify doing something quite so at odds with Rule 1 of journalism : "Protect Your Sources"? All I can think is that they are pig sick of The Telegraph getting all the juicy MPs' Expenses stories and couldn't resist a rare exclusive of their own.

Like NightJack, I write anonymously. Well, as anonymously as you can be after writing several hundred thousand words about your life over three years. In actual fact, a good journalist or a mediocre Home Office spook could probably work who I am without breaking a sweat. But why would they ?

Totally changing the subject ... Something odd happened yesterday. According to my weblog someone in London with a PlusNet/Force9 internet connection downloaded 141 of my blog postings to their Windows Vista PC in 23 minutes, which rather skewed the statistics for the blog:-

I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation, but I'll probably never know. This is a good thing, and the way things should be. People should be able to read what they want online.

However, in a more repressive regime, the combination of IP address, name of the Internet Service Provider and time of day would be enough for government to track down that person.

The point I'm making here is that there is a slippery slope. It starts with the likes of NightJack, who wrote some disreputable things and were exposed. The next step is for people who haven't written anything bad to be exposed, for fun or profit. The ultimate step is for people to be exposed just for reading something online.

There is nothing wrong with anonymity, we all rely on it in various ways every single day of our lives. I'm finding it very hard to comprehend that as of yesterday, the law does not protect this right.

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