@pippatips facing legal action from Pippa Middleton

Someone is sore about being outsold by their parody.

The creators of the @pippatips Twitter account are facing legal action from Pippa Middleton, according to the Independent. The account, which parodies Pippa Middleton's terrible party book Celebrate with helpful advice like "smoke can be sign of a new pope or that something is on fire", "beat stress by not worrying about stuff" and "remember to write 2013 instead of 2012 now it's no longer 2012", led to a book being published in June this year.

When One is Expecting: A Posh Person's Guide to Pregnancy and Parenting isn't doing too badly – in fact, it's outselling Pippa's own book on Amazon.co.uk, coming in at a respectable #961 in the charts compared to #3,370 for Celebrate – which might be what prompted Harbottle & Lewis to take action. According to the Indy, they've written to the book's publishers to demand that @pippatips be deleted.

At the time of writing, the account is still there – although it's been dormant of late, not tweeting since 14 June – and the new burst of publicity might do the book a world of good. Getting it back in the front of people's minds just as Babygeddon is about to hit… you couldn't get for a better Streisand Effect than that if you tried, could you?

Still, in case they get their wish, here are my favourite Pippa tips, archived for posterity:

Update:

Sad news: realPippa probably is outselling fakePippa by around 200 times, according to @iucounu who looked up the numbers on Bookscan, the main database for book sales in the UK. That means that fakePippa is getting more of her sales from Amazon, while realPippa is doing much better in physical bookshops. In a way, that's unsurprising: in bookstores, Celebrate isn't right next to a bunch of one-star reviews; and a book launched from a twitter account was always going to do well in an online bookshop.

But it does make realPippa's nastygram just that bit more vindictive.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

0800 7318496