Monday, 24 February 2014

Beneath the Veil

A reprint of an earlier article. There was nothing sinister about its removal. I accidentally set my pc date to 30 April 2014, and that was the date of the blog posting, which meant it would have been "on top" of all blog postings made with the correct date. Two blogs had this misfortune. Unfortunately a stomach bug hit before I could restore it to the proper date. So here it is back again, and I'm still not 100% but well enough to briefly put it back.

Most of Stuart Syvret's blog postings have been resurrected at:

The blogger writes:

"A citizen of the Channel Island of Jersey has written to me informing me that the authorities there have closed down the blog of a former politician Stuart Syvret. I personally know very little about Jersey and the history of his case but it appears he is being persecuted for trying to reveal the cover-up of child abuse on that island. To support his right to express himself freely, I have agreed to repost some of his blog myself until he creates a new blog in another location."

This is by a mystery blogger called "Erlan Verhoten "who says of himself that:

"I am a researcher for the Technical University in Eindhoven, currently completing my PHD in informatics at the University of Nottingham. My main interests are Internet tunnelling, freedom of expression in cyberspace, and the suppression of freedom of expression by governments all around the world."

Now there is an Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and there is a department of informatics at Nottingham University. So that much is plausible.

But there is no sign of anyone existing online with the name ""Erlan Verhoten". All google reveals is his sudden appearance a week ago. Before then, there is not the faintest imprint of someone who has interests in the "the suppression of freedom of expression by governments all around the world.". The only citations of his blog are from people who are local bloggers, the journalist Leah McGraph Goodman, and for some reason, as a comment on the blog, under a posting on Gay Scotland.

So it is pretty obvious that Erlan Verhoten is not his real name. And his profile picture also is a fake. There is a photo of a man with the caption

"This is actually my grandfather, who was an agronomist and invented a new species of Tulip, named after him."

But if you look at the file, it is a GIF file with the name: edgard_varese2.gif

Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse  also spelled Edgar Varèse; (December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965) was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. You can read about him – and see the identical photo at:

He never was an agronomist, and he never invented a new species of tulip!

But it puts the Jersey authorities in a quandary. The lawyers who successfully shut down Stuart Syvret's blog were able to do so because they had a Court ruling (albeit under Data Protection, and not defamation), and were able to wave that at Google.

Because ownership of the blog resided with Stuart (who could be easily identified as the blog author), and the Court ruling named him and requested the pages removed, Google complied and suspended the blog.

But no one knows who on earth "Erlan Verhoten is, and he has not had a successful court case against him - unless he is Stuart under an assumed name. Stylistically that would be difficult to prove – all the mannerisms that feature so strongly in Stuart's postings, the dashes, the familiar adjectives (e.g. "evidenced")– are not present. The presumption of any outsider would be that it was not Stuart.

To remove this blog, the Jersey authorities would have to identify the blogger, and bring a court case against them. That is because it was not a matter of defamation, but Data Protection laws. With defamation, the scope would be broader, because to repeat a libel is to be guilty of libel, which is generally accepted across jurisdictions. But if Mr A processes personal data on a blog (the grounds for the action against Stuart Syvret), and Mr B also processes the same personal data, Google would almost certainly look at the laws for that jurisdiction – and without the identity of the blogger, that would be difficult.

I suspect that "verhoten" means something in some language, and it is some kind of sophisticated joke. The word does exist, for example, in Finnish, where "verhoten hänen kasvojaan" for example, means "to veil her face" using the word "verhoten" which on its own means "lining".

Edgar Varèse, French composer, who didn't even write "Tiptoe Through the Tulips"

1 comment:

Erlan Verhoten said...

Erlang is a computer language.

If you remove the base stroke from 'verboten' (forbidden, in German) it becomes verhoten, thus 'forbidden language' or speech, ie censorship.

The stroke removed by such action becomes the underscore, which in Erlang means:

"The anonymous variable is denoted by underscore (_) and can be used when a variable is required but its value can be ignored."

An anonymous variable is one whose value is not required after an assignment, similar to the 'actual person' who might host or post a blog - the only identity required is contingent and transitory.

But thank you for your interest.