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'Cruel and unusual' demands

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April Fools A human rights lawsuit filed on behalf of prominent US government agencies - including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base - has been filed in a European Court. The lawsuit, which plaintiffs also sent to Foreign Minister David Miliband - asks that British websites cease engaging in "cruel, unusual and persistent" interrogation techniques which leave the US visitors disorientated.

The lawsuit says that government personnel visiting sites (including The Register) have been subjected to "cruel and inhuman" requests for survey information, often for prolonged periods.

The British interrogators, says the lawsuit, bombard visitors with humiliating questions such as "How much do you earn?", "Is your IT Department really going Green?" and "Mobile phone Lanyards - do they make you truly connected? Do you know where yours is?".

Disinformation and disorientation techniques are also used in a violation of the Geneva Convention on Web Surfing.

Visitors are told "this will only take 20 minutes of your time, Thanks!" and then subjected to a disorientation program. Methods include graphics of exploding donuts that roll across the screen (until the survey is answered) and promotion material which repeats on a endless loop, forcing visitors into a "stress position".

The lawsuits highlights the (illegal) use of Macromedia Flash for surveys - itself a violation of the Convention - and documents techniques such as check boxes that can't be unchecked, and removing the ability to go backwards on multipage forms, which leave the respondent unable to function logically.

A human rights lawyer told The Register: "Torture never produces truthful results. If someone is shining a light in my eyes screaming, 'Are you going to deploy fibre based storage in your enterprise in 2008?', I'm just going to lie." ®

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