The Squat

Geeklawyer’s temporary chambers

Stupid government websites

Geeklawyer recently attended the illuminating Web2.0 Transformational government conference at Parliament. It was attended by a small number of very switched on Government types who ‘got’ the Web and the possibilities of collaboration and open standards.

Great, but regrettably it was chaired by the total cock Alun Micheal who displayed the modesty and self-deprecation, in the face of criticism, that one would normally associate with Geeklawyer – except that he meant it!
So all government web facing IT is good? Erm no.

William Heath at the very readable IdealGovernment blog alerted Geeklawyer to an astonishing set of T&Cs at the site of the DirectGov website that purports to govern the conditions under which any website may link to them.

Apparently:

a) you must ask their permission to link,

b) you must describe DirectGov as they wish (i.e. you may not say anything uncomplimentary about them),

c) and you must remove the link if they want you to, immediately. Presumably if you don’t the same cops that executed Charles de Menezes will turn up at your door.

Geeklawyer is willing to provide free legal consultancy services to DirectGov on this issue. In the form of an executive summary, and free of charge here, it is:

1. No. No-one can be forced to accept T&Cs just by linking. Cretinous.
Where’s the explicit agreement? Hard, it is, even to see how one could
reasonably construe it in the circumstances. Tosh of the first order.
One isn’t bound by them.

2. The issue here is one of defamation and it can get a bit complex.
But broadly if the Government department is crap then a voter is perfectly entitled in law to say so. It is a partly matter of free speech and democracy and in addition
there is good law to say that governments can’t sue for defamation.

3. Removal of links: again, no. As a government agency they would be in all sorts of trouble if they tried to do so. Secondly if someone, e.g. Google or any random blogger, chooses to tell someone where to find some Government site that is publicly and lawfully available but the Government don’t like it then tough fucking titties, they can take their own site down. Suck my sweaty melons mr Brown.

February 22, 2008 Posted by | politics, T&Cs | 2 Comments