In written questions last week, Ian Mearns MP (Labour, Gateshead) asked the Government about the postcode lottery in Trans Healthcare. For those not in the know, this is a hot topic in the Trans community, with folk living in some areas such as Wales having been completely unable to access Trans-related healthcare. Earlier this month, the Government Equality Office’s own survey of the community identified health as the top priority.

Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to ensure that no GP consortium shall refuse treatment to an individual diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

The response came from Tory MP Simon Burns, Minister of State for the Department of Health: (My emphasis)

Mr Simon Burns: The NHS Commissioning Board will take responsibility for specialised commissioning, including the commissioning of gender identity services. Each gender reassignment case must be considered individually, according to clinical need and local prioritisation.

In other words: Tough.

A while ago, I produced a per-capita analysis of the Google privacy data showing that the UK, per citizen, is the most snooped on country – there were more requests per person in the UK to Google than any other country. More up to date data is now available, for July to December 2010, showing that the UK is no longer the most snooped on – we’ve dropped to second place. Singapore does not appear in the January to June data but no reason is indicated for this.

(Note: Previous positions in the table below are based on latest data from Google. Some countries did not have data available at the time the previous blog post was compiled, so those numbers do not match)

Population Previous position Requests per Million (Jan-Jun) Requests per Million (Jul-Dec)
1. Singapore 5,076,700 5th 20.9 23.2
2. United Kingdom 62,008,049 1st 40.5 18.7
3. France 65,447,374 3rd 28.5 15.6
4. Australia 22,469,943 6th 15.8 15.4
5. United States 310,314,000 4th 25.4 14.8
6. Italy 60,402,499 6th 19.9 13.9
7. Germany 81,802,257 13th 5.6 9.4
8. Brazil 193,549,000 2nd 31.5 9.3
9. Portugal 10,636,888 10th 6.9 8.6
10. Belgium 10,839,905 11th 6.5 7.8

And no real surprises in the removal requests category either as Lybia is still an order of magnitude ahead of every other country. The United States, home of free speech, drops out of the top 10 completely down to number 13 while the UK stays up at number six.

Population Previous position Removals per Million (Jan-Jun) Removals per Million (Jul-Dec)
1. Libya 6,546,000 1st 22.8 10.4
2. South Korea 49,773,145 5th 2.0 2.8
3. Germany 81,802,257 2nd 3.8 1.4
4. Brazil 193,549,000 3rd 3.6 1.4
5. Italy 60,402,499 4th 2.1 0.8
6. United Kingdom 62,008,049 6th 1.7 0.6
7. Argentina 40,518,951 8th 1.3 0.5
8. Switzerland 7,866,500 13th 0.6 0.5
9. France 65,447,374 3rd 0.5 0.4
10. Spain 46,072,834 9th 1.0 0.3

From time to time (OK, pretty much constantly – hundreds every month) we get copyright takedown notices from rights holders. We don’t do anything about them, we’re not their enforcement arm, but a handy little script automatically forwards them on to our customers via email. Most of them are of the form “WE’RE GOING TO SUE YOU UNLESS YOU STOP THIS RIGHT AWAY! Although, we may sue you anyway” wrapped up in some opaque legalese. So, it’s refreshing to have seen the following go past over the weekend:

Recently BayTSP detected an infringement of TV TOKYO Medianet Inc.’s copyright interests on your IP address. TV TOKYO Medianet Inc. appreciates that you enjoy their anime and hopes you can support them and the original creators directly by watching their programs at where they are making a strong effort to provide their content legally.

Supporting the content legally ensures that TV TOKYO Medianet can continue to broadcast more of the high quality anime which you crave. gives anime fans access to the anime they want as soon as possible, allowing fans to watch episodes of their favorite series as they premiere in Japan. TV TOKYO Medianet urges you to show your support by going to the website below and watching content legally.

TV TOKYO Medianet appreciates your interest in their anime and hopes you continue to be a fan.

Hopefully we’ll see more of the same in future, to my mind it’s a much more constructive approach than the usual one. (Oh, it then launches into the standard BayTSP WE’RE GOING TO SUE YOU UNTIL YOU BLEED legal language, but you can’t have everything. Most people probably don’t read that far down.)

There’s been a few developments related to my earlier post about the possible Travelodge compromise. Firstly, it’s been covered by The Register so is attracting some interest. Travelodge themselves have also confirmed via Twitter that they haven’t sold any data, which makes it pretty clear they’ve been broken in to.

I’ve also had a reply from the CEO of Travelodge. It’s a bit light on content:

Thank you for your email regarding spam e-mail you have received. I am sorry you have had the need to write to me, but appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

Please be assured we are taking this matter most seriously. I attached a copy of a letter to our customers, for your information.

It’s not clear who the letter has or is being sent to, but it was included as a PDF and the text reads:

Our main priority is to ensure the security of our customers’ data, which is why I wanted to make you aware, that a small number of you; may have received a spam email via the email address you have registered with us.

Please be assured, we have not sold any customer data and no financial information has been compromised.

All financial data (including credit card information) is compliant with current best practice standards and is audited to PCI (Payment Card Industry) requirements.

The safety and security of your personal information is of the upmost importance to us and as a result we are currently conducting a comprehensive investigation into this issue.

If you receive an email similar to the one detailed below, please delete it as spam.

They’ve included a copy of the original spam – I’ll not reproduce it here. The letter closes:

If you have any questions regarding this matter please email: andrea@tra… A
further update will be given, when we have completed our investigation.

At least they’ve responded quickly to this as companies can often take days or weeks. The lack of any detail is understandable, given that it’s still early days and they probably don’t know what happened themselves yet – but then, how can they give us assurances that financial data is safe if they do not know what happened…? The mention of PCI is a little superfluous, given that PCI-DSS is the baseline standard required by banks before you’re allowed to handle any credit card information. It’s no guarantee of security.

@PogoWasRight is on the right track, asking Travelodge: “Do you handle email marketing in-house or do you outsource to an email service provider? If the latter, who?”. We’ve seen cases of email marketing providers getting themselves broken into recently and Travelodge may be another in a long list.

Yesterday I received a spam email. Not unusual, but note the destination email address:

Subject: Zoe OConnell
Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2011 10:58:33 -0400
From: Lorraine Ackerson @lt;>
To: <zoe-travelodge@****>

Don’t miss exciting business chance.
Reputable agency is looking for energetic worker in United Kingdom to help us expand our activity in the UK sector.

– 18+ United Kingdom resident
– Only operational knowledge of Internet & computer.
– Free access to personal e-mail box
– 2-3 free hours per day
– Fast replies on our written tasks
– Excellent organizational skills.

You can without problem combine our work with your primary work.
Great income potential. Free study possible.
Applicants must be honest and commerce motivated. Operate only few hours per day.
Everyone located in the United Kingdom can be our representative.
Our manager will e-mail you within few hours if you attracted.

Top News: taylor honored for boosting antelope island.

Note that it’s zoe-travelodge@… (You can guess what the full email is but I don’t want to make life too easy for spammers to harvest addresses) My mail system ignores anything after the dash and just puts it all in my mailbox, so that I can filter mail by source more easily and also spot who has been selling email addresses.

The spammers also knew my full name. And I’m not the only one in this position as several other users on twitter have complained of the same thing. I’ve just emailed the Chief Executive of Travelodge, Guy Parsons, (Hat tip to @benjymous for finding his details) to ask exactly what was stolen:

Dear Mr.Parsons,

Yesterday, I received spam email to an email address that has only ever been used to register on the Travelodge site. This was clearly not just someone making up random addresses as the email was specifically to zoe-travelodge@**** and the spammer knew my full name. I am not the only one to have experienced this as since last night at least half a dozen other people who also use unique addresses for registering on web sites have complained about exactly the same situation on Twitter.

It would appear likely, unless Travelodge are in the habit of selling on personal details to unsavoury third parties, that your site has been compromised. I would be grateful if you could confirm that this is the case and also what other details were stolen so that those affected can take appropriate action – was this just names and email addresses or were payment details and postal addresses compromised too?

I shall let people know if I get a reply.

Update at 1315: Travelodge UK, via twitter, have stated: “Sorry for the spam email you may have received. We have NOT sold any data. We’re currently investigating this issue and will update you ASAP”

Time Out magazine have published Pride London’s “Power List” for 2011. I’ll save you some time looking: One Trans person on the list, Christine Burns OBE, at number 96. I’m not sure if I should be annoyed at Pride for insulting the Trans community by (mostly) excluding us or annoyed that the community has so little “power” that we barely even register in the top 100.

Oh, a quick look at the judges might be in order – one of the three is Bun Summerskill. Ah, that will be why so many Stonewall award winners, chief executives, directors and so on feature on the list and so few Trans people.

(Only the inclusion of Christine Burns at 96 has stopped me from writing a very annoyed letter to Pride London, asking them to rebrand this to an “LGB” power list and not an “LGBT” one)

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) released their second “e-bulletin” on Friday. It’s worth a look, even if just for the new survey – if you can’t read the PDF, here’s a direct link. Their first one received over 1,200 responses which is quite an achievement – historically an excellent response would have been 800-900! It seems that the Trans community is more engaged than it was a decade ago, which is good news in terms of getting the support needed for positive change.

Unsurprisingly, even though this was a TG rather than more narrow TS survey, the first time round healthcare was identified as the top issue for trans folk. This follow-up focuses on that topic. Please do go fill it in!

Following on from my recent post on how the Office for National Statistics “corrects” peoples gender and marital status in the Census, I asked them how often this had happened in the most recent three censuses.

They don’t know.

I’m finding it a little strange that the ONS would have their computers correct data in this way and not track how often it is occurring. The ONS previously claimed that “…the majority of respondents recording themselves as being in a polygamous relationship in a UK census do so erroneously, for example, ticking the wrong box for one household member on the relationships question.” Given that they do not track any information on such responses, their “recognition” that such relationships don’t exist may boil down to “Well, nobody who works here is in such a relationship, so they can’t possibly exist”.

(The answer they provided makes reference to impudation, but it’s a generic measure tracking overall error rates in the census, based on a more detailed follow up survey to check the results. It does not appear particularly relevant to the question.)

Yes, there’s also a follow up FoI request I have just submitted, asking what other corrections are made and how they are justified.

This isn’t really something that I’d be happy running with myself as don’t really know that much about the topic, but based on a comment posted by Zoe Brain in an earlier blog post, I included a question about Intersexed prisoners in a Freedom of Information request I was submitting anyway. Someone more active with this sort of thing may want to take an interest in the response I received, so I thought I’d throw it out there…

I’d asked if prison service guidelines on “transsexual prisoners” were intended to include intersexed prisoners too. The answer – or non-answer – is interesting as it leads me to believe the Prison Service Equalities Group don’t know themselves. All they could do was refer me (Twice, I asked for a review the first time) to the Department of Health!

They did point at their definition of Transsexual, which states it includes anyone “who lives or proposes to live in the gender opposite to the one assigned at birth…” and that they “…may or may not have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria”. (My emphasis)

This sounds like a good thing from the outset, in that you don’t need to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria (Which as I understand it, someone Intersexed who has “transitioned” from their gender-assigned-at-birth would not have) to get some protection under this policy. The downside is that you’re not fully covered unless you have a GRC, which you can’t get without the gender dysphoria diagnosis, so it sounds as if the policy probably isn’t that good after all…

(Style question: Is “Intersexed prisoners”, capital I and including the “…ed” correct for UK usage?)

Likely of interest to few people, but I try to get parliamentary business about Trans issues “out there” as it’s otherwise very poorly reported.

Following a Statutory Instrument committee yesterday, the list of “approved countries and territories” under the Gender Recognition Act has been updated for the first time since the act was passed in 2005. What this basically means is that if you have gender recognition in one of these countries, you can get a UK GRC without needing all the proof and paperwork.

The new list is here and the following countries have been added compared to the old list: