The Public Servant daily online had an interesting item on Thursday 16th August 2007 ..
Unit to monitor anti-government weblogs
The Media Monitoring Unit (MMU), part of the Cabinet Office's Central Office of Information (COI), is considering how to add blogs and forum entries into its regular summaries of public policy coverage that are distributed to government ministers.
The summaries are designed to give ministers and departmental communications teams an early warning to issues that are rising up the public's agenda.
It is also seen as a safeguard to prevent departments being caught unawares by debates that are already in full swing on the internet.
The director of the MMU, Clarence Mitchell, admitted that there were several bloggers out there that the government took increasingly seriously.
"There's a whole level of debate taking place online which simply didn?t exist before and departments feel they need to be fully engaged in that," he said.
Mitchell said that the service would not try and intervene in monitored blogs, (Perish the thought says the Lady Dame Jane Pauline Neville Jones Fan Club) but merely give the government more chance to respond to comments, like they do through other methods, like media statements.
Enough government departments would need to be signed up for the cost of the unit to be covered, and, if successful, a service could be operational by the end of 2007.
Clarence Mitchell has of course been heavily involved in providing free Government media services to the McCann family in their heartbreaking collection of funds, to keep them in the manner to which they have become accustomed whilst somebody looks for a daughter they appear to have mislaid - which has probably precipitated the most vigorous debate on UK blogs ever. (See Lord patel's post on the subject)
Linda of Birmingham has commented acutely on this at the PS Online report.
This seems to confirm the view, held by many that blogs and their authors, are subject to monitoring already... it was certainly the case when Foot and Mouth erupted mysteriously at Pirbright as we experienced intense interest from all sorts of Government departments and Agencies, Press, and TV.
Call us old fashioned but this seems a sinister (but not unexpected) turn in the relationship of the Government to their electorate.
Prison Law points out that the FT covered this here on 15th August.
Prison Law also has this interesting extract from The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin April, 2001by Wayne D. Lord, Monique C. Boudreaux, Kenneth V. Lanning . A Developmental Perspective relating to Child Abduction cases.
Investigators also encounter cases involving false allegations of abduction. Typically, a parent or primary caregiver perpetrates these cases. They report a child as missing or abducted to hide their involvement in the child's death or conceal their knowledge of the child's location. Such was the case of Susan Smith, who fastened her two sons into their car seats and watched the car coast into a lake. Subsequently, Smith told police that an armed (black) carjacker had taken both her car and her children. A timely and thorough investigation conducted by experienced law enforcement personnel ultimately proved the fallacy of this allegation. In another case, a mother reported her teenage daughter missing and claimed to have received a telephone ransom demand. An intensive 3-day investigation located the daughter at a friend's house where she had been staying with her mother's knowledge and approval. An overwhelming need for attention appeared to motivate the mother's false report.
Read more about Susan Smith here.