So what is it with Tory MEPs and the Internet?

Those horrible surveillance proposals came up again in the European Parliament, and got shot down again. Even though their co-author Syed Kamall did come out against some forms of mass surveillance, I promised I’d look into the two British Conservative MEPs who keep doing this. Anyway, so we’ve got Syed Kamall and Malcolm Harbour, and we’ve also got the great new Web site for spying on MEPs, Votewatch.eu, as well as a gaggle of other things.

Harbour is easy enough to deal with; as his Wikipedia article explains, he was involved with a highly transparent lobby for software patents which sent unsolicited bulk e-mail from his address, supposedly without his knowledge. More about the “Campaign for Creativity” – in reality, Microsoft – is here. He’s now a “political member” and member of the board of governors of the European Internet Foundation, whose “business members” include several firms involved with the CFC and which was itself party to the software-patent campaign. Conveniently, according to the EIF’s Web site, only the business members have to pay a membership fee.

Kamall, who is leading the Tory list for the London region at next month’s election, is slightly different. His primary outside interest is something called the “Global Business Research Institute”, a supposed think-tank arguing for the benefits of globalisation which has a rather second-rate Web site and not very much else. In fact, it doesn’t seem to do anything much but collect links and accept donations – a figure of $500 is mentioned. At some point it seems to have been associated with Alex Singleton’s Globalisation Institute. What interests me about this is why, if he wants to blog, he doesn’t just get a blog – why does he need an Institute?
Apparently the institute is a British company limited by guarantee, that is to say, a non-profit entity (so donations are tax-deductible) – its entry in the register of companies is here.

However, it can hardly explain his commitment to total surveillance; its total expenditure for 2008 was £15, the fee for filing its accounts.

2 thoughts on “So what is it with Tory MEPs and the Internet?

  1. Syed Kamall also opposed the directive to limit mobu
    ile phone charges when roaming in another EU member state.

    I wonder how much the mobile phone operators paid him for this.

  2. Very pedantic point, but a company limited by guarantee isn’t necessarily a charity – virtually all charities are companies limited by guarantee, but the reverse isn’t true. (They can be quite useful in tax planning, as they can stop a subsidiary tainting the tax position of the rest of the group.)

    The tax-deductibility of payments to it? Depends on who’s making them, but not many taxpayers would be able to get a deduction, I think.

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