The Government is pressing ahead with controversial plans to sell off the Royal Mail later this year – despite opposition from groups including the Communication Workers Union.
Today, at the union’s annual conference, delegates will urge Labour to give a “clear and unequivocal commitment” that following privatisation of all or part of the Royal Mail, the next Labour Government will renationalise it within three years of coming to power.
The union’s executive is not supporting the call, but will back another motion to offer full support to campaigns against privatisation.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “Privatisation is an old-fashioned idea. We’ve seen it fail in areas such as the rail industry where prices have soared and safety standards and services to customers were left in disarray.
“Our conference will be re-stating the CWU’s opposition to the planned privatisation of Royal Mail which we don’t believe is in the interests of customers, the workforce or the wider industry.
“We want a modern Royal Mail in full public ownership and able to deliver the universal service six days a week to all parts of the UK. We’ve had the full support of the Labour Party in that desire in the past and have no reason to believe that will not be so again.”
The union warned in a special edition of its magazine that privatisation would be the “ultimate wrecking ball” for UK postal services, leading to the break up of the company.
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “Royal Mail has improved its financial position, but we need to do more to put ourselves on a sound footing. By obtaining access to external money, we can invest in the business. We can secure as many jobs as possible, although we will be a smaller company in the future.
“The Government has made it clear it does not have the capital itself to invest in Royal Mail. It wants that capital to come from the private sector.
“Any sale is a matter for the Government. The six-days-a-week, one-price-goes-anywhere, affordable service can only be changed by both Houses of Parliament. Ofcom, the independent regulator, has a primary duty to protect the Universal Service. It has ruled out any changes to the scope of the Universal Service.
“Daily deliveries to rural areas will not be reduced in the event of Royal Mail being provided with access to external capital.”
A Business Department spokesperson said: “Regardless of ownership, Royal Mail will provide the universal postal service with six-day per week delivery and collection at uniform and affordable prices. “This commitment is protected in primary legislation, the Government has no intention of downgrading it, and only Parliament could change it.”
dailyalternative | alternative news – Privatising the Royal Mail will ‘wreck’ the UK’s postal service, warn workers
Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Automatic Spying Cannot Be Stopped
Last week changes to the Windows 10 upgrade path mean it is going to become increasingly difficult for any non-techy users to avoid being pushed to Microsoft MSFT +0.00%’s new operating system. But given Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 and Windows 8, why would that be a problem? Because of policies like this…
Speaking to PC World, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore explained that Windows 10 is constantly tracking how it operates and how you are using it and sending that information back to Microsoft by default. More importantly he also confirmed that, despite offering some options to turn elements of tracking off, core data collection simply cannot be stopped:
“In the cases where we’ve not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system,” he said. “In the case of knowing that our system that we’ve created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone.”
This backs up detailed data that some had chosen to dismiss as conspiracy theories.
Windows 10 has great potential, but aggressive update and user tracking policies. Image credit: Microsoft
Still, whether or not you agree with Belfiore’s standpoint that this doesn’t invade user privacy, it does seem strange that it has taken Microsoft so long to come clean and admit core Windows 10 background data collection processes cannot be stopped. Instead it gave the impression that turning off all user accessible spying options in Windows 10 settings would provide owners with full privacy – that’s tantamount to spying.
To his credit, Belfiore does recognise the controversial nature of this decision and stresses that:
“We’re going to continue to listen to what the broad public says about these decisions, and ultimately our goal is to balance the right thing happening for the most people – really, for everyone – with complexity that comes with putting in a whole lot of control.”
Interestingly Belfiore himself won’t be around to oversee this as he is about to take a year long sabbatical. When he comes back, however, I suspect this issue will still be raging as Windows and Devices Group head Terry Myerson recently confirmed Windows 10 Enterprise users will be able to disable every single aspect of Microsoft data collection.
This comes in combination with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users’ ability to permanently disable automatic updates which are forced upon consumers and shows the growing divide between how Microsoft is treating consumers versus corporations.
So how concerned should users be about Windows 10’s default data collection policies? I would say very.
By default Windows 10 Home is allowed to control your bandwidth usage, install any software it wants whenever it wants (without providing detailed information on what these updates do), display ads in the Start Menu (currently it has been limited to app advertisements), send your hardware details and any changes you make to Microsoft and even log your browser history and keystrokes which the Windows End User Licence Agreement (EULA) states you allow Microsoft to use for analysis.
The good news: even if Belfiore states you cannot switch off everything, editing your privacy settings will disable the worst of these. To find them open the Start menu > Settings > Privacy.
daily alternative | alternative news – Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Automatic Spying Cannot Be Stopped
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