The Yahoos quit England and go home to Ireland

Well, it might hve some minimal effect but, in reality, it is little more pie-in-the-sky idealism and naive wishful thinking on Yahoo's part, and thus little more than a gesture - as the company well knows. The fact is that Yahoo's electronic comms will remain as subject to surveillance (from Britain, the US and who knows else?) in exactly the ways they were in the UK. For, regardless of Yahoo staking a claim to the moral high ground, (and nothing wrong with doing that) Ireland itself is no more immune to spookish oversight than anywhere else on the planet - that's the way of the world these days, whether you are in Cork or Killarney, Birmingham or Baltimore, San Francisco or Shenzhen.

But Yahoo has made a point - even if it is essentially an ineffectual one. In so doing has also attracted the attention of the UK's Home Secretary (Interior Minister), Theresa May, who has summoned Yahoo execs to explain their actions in quitting dear old Blighty without so much as a 'by your leave'.

The reality is that by moving to the Irish capital Yahoo will be relieved of the legal requirement to hand over details of user-generated emails and other electronic messages to UK police forces and intelligence agencies under 'warrants' issued under the terms of the UK's wide-ranging anti-terrorism laws; the politically controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000.

With the recent upsurge of violent activities amongst dissident republican circles in Northern ireland and the bordering counties in the Irish Republic this could cause real difficulties for both the police and the intelligence services - hence Ms. May's intervention in what is a ostensibly a business decision taken by an American company.

Yahoo says that it has long been concerned about the security and privacy of customer communications across its network and was particularly angered and worried when, a couple of months ago, it emerged that GCHQ, the UK's eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, had captured and archived the images of millions of Yahoo subscribers who have been using webcams. This data was trawled-up and gutted regardless of whether or not the images were of those suspected of any offences. And, of course, the vast majority are not. Yahoo called this "a whole new level of violation of our user's privacy." Which indeed it was.

Anyway, Yahoo has packed its bags and decamped to Dublin. In a statement the company writes that "Dublin is a natural home for Yahoo". ("natural" perhaps because, in 1726, an Irishman, Johnathan Swift, invented the word and used frequently in his satire "Gulliver's Travels".'

The statement adds,"Yahoo will be incorporated in Ireland under Irish law. Our move was driven by business needs that we believe are in the best interests of our users. Dublin is already the European home to many of the world's leading global technology brands." True, but not as many as Britain.

However, that's what Yahoo's press relations department would have us believe. But then, in a further communication to its customers, the company added a telling postscript, and delivered a shot across the bows of the good ship Brittania.

It announced, "The principal change is that Yahoo EMEA, as the new provider of services to our European users, will replace Yahoo UK Ltd as the data controller responsible for handling your personal information. Yahoo EMEA will be responsible for complying with Irish privacy and data protection laws, which are based on the European data directive." That's the one through which successive UK governments have driven team after team of coach and horses

By the way, Johnathan Swift's father was married to Abigail Herrick who came a tiny Leicestershire village close by the English town Melton Mowbray - where the word's best pork pies come from. Abigail hailed from Frisby on the Wreake. Not many people know that.

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