[Diggers350] Activists warned to watch what they say as social media monitoring becomes 'next big thing in law enforcement'

Ram Selva seeds at snail.org.uk
Mon Oct 1 18:24:25 BST 2012

Once in a while I get pulled up by some one or the other (who I only 
pity) for saying something or the other.

I think it has already happened in Diggers350 to some extent. Some have 
tried it on Offlist on the somewhat associated TLIO group ... something 
to the effect 'you are posting too much' or the similar.


My observation is self censorship is often seen to be done by few gate 
(I have been using the Internet from the time when it was comparatively 
very much decentralised as NewsNet servers were the norm for 

I believe United Kingdom has an unbroken tradition of control through 
gatekeepers ... probably from heritage BeefEaters and the like.

Anyhow the liberal mouthpiece Independent article is so wrong as its 
the US master of the UK poodle that is watching and calling the shots. 
This is not limited to just social media. Yahoo! has always been a 
traditional mechanism to contravene digital freedoms (Yes, why is 
Diggers350 on YahooGroups?!)

What a load of nonsense that only because of a judgement in a NY court 
over Twitter that privacy is users of Twitter is being broken! Using the 
damned thing is giving away everyone's freedoms unless of course the 
user is Twittering him/herself.

UK Home Office's communications data bill (ISPs including mobile 
connections even if encrypted are being targeted as a day to 
eavesdropping service is to be implemented across the board)  is 
currently a campaign point for seasoned digital rights activists.
Amazing the Independent article misses mention of this! -- instead even 
says at point ""People involved in public protest should use social 
media to their strengths, like getting their message across ..."

'Activists' who **pull other unsuspecting new Internet users** in to 
the Social Media traps are the ones that should think first.

It must also be noted that if one is clocked by the scum they break all 
rules already. Monitoring digital communications is standard for the 


On 2012-10-01 14:55, Paul Mobbs wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Wow! As if we didn't already know! (I remember the days, 30 years 
> ago, when
> the police went around with CB's to listen-in on Nukewatchers!)
> I think this headline is stating the obvious, seeking to generate 
> shock
> where none should exist -- and the last line says it all.
> In effect it's a call for self censorship by campaigners when in 
> fact, if we
> truly believe what we say, then we should say it as the core truth of 
> our
> work irrespective of the consequences which might flow from that --
> precisely because it's only by challenging those views/practices 
> which are
> in opposition to progressive views that we'll create progress.
> A state where saying unwelcome facts is tantamount to taking arms is 
> not a
> free or democratic state -- it's a despotic oligarchy where only the
> interests of one group are pursued by the state rather than the 
> interests
> of all.
> P.
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/activists%2Dwarned%2Dto%2Dwatch%2Dwhat%2Dthey%2Dsay%2Das%2Dsocial%2Dmedia%2Dmonitoring%2Dbecomes%2Dnext%2Dbig%2Dthing%2Din%2Dlaw%2Denforcement%2D8191977.html
> Activists warned to watch what they say as social media monitoring 
> becomes
> 'next big thing in law enforcement'
> Exclusive: John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key 
> activists
> online and that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly 
> savvy when
> it comes to social media
> Kevin Rawlinson, The Independent On-line, Monday 1st October 2012
> Political activists must watch what they say on the likes of Facebook 
> and
> Twitter, sites which will become the “next big thing in law 
> enforcement”, a
> leading human rights lawyer has warned.
> John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key activists online 
> and
> that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly savvy when it
> comes to
> social media. But, speaking to The Independent, he added that he also
> expected that to drive an increase in the number of criminals being 
> brought
> to justice in the coming months.
> "People involved in public protest should use social media to their
> strengths, like getting their message across. But they should not use 
> them
> for things like discussing tactics. They might as well be having a 
> tactical
> meeting with their opponents sitting in and listening.
> "For example, if antifascist organisers were discussing their plans 
> on
> social media, they can assume that a fascist organisation will be 
> watching.
> Social media sites are the last place you want to post something like
> that," he said.
> Mr Cooper QC's warning comes after a New York court ordered Twitter 
> to hand
> over messages posted on the site by a demonstrator belonging to the 
> Occupy
> Wall Street movement in America. Malcolm Harris, 23, is accused of
> disorderly conduct after he was arrested on Brooklyn Bridge during a
> protest last October.
> After a lengthy legal fight, Twitter eventually complied with an 
> order to
> hand over the tweets on 14 September. Prosecutors hope to use them to
> disprove the demonstrator's defence that police escorted the 
> protesters on
> to the bridge before arresting them for allegedly blocking it.
> Addressing the possibility of similar cases arising in the UK, Mr 
> Cooper QC
> said: "The police are aware and are getting more aware of powers to 
> force
> and compel platforms to reveal anonymous sites." He cited the case of
> Nicola Brookes, in which he succeeded in forcing Facebook to hand 
> over
> details exposing the identity of an anonymous online bully.
> Mr Cooper QC added: "activists are putting themselves at more risk. 
> Police
> will be following key Twitter sites, not only those of the activists 
> but
> also other interesting figures. They know how to use them to keep up 
> with
> rioting and to find alleged rioters.
> "In the same way they used to monitor mobile phones when they were 
> trying
> to police impromptu raves, they are doing the same with Twitter and
> Facebook, as those who say too much on social media will find."
> But some activists are trying to overcome that naivety. In London on
> Saturday, former members of the Occupy encampment outside St Paul's
> Cathedral - among others - were among the 130 people who meet 
> technical
> experts for lessons on how to keep themselves safe online. The 
> so-called
> "Cryptoparty" was part of a global movement to arm those who want to 
> carry
> out protests online with the skills to maintain their anonymity.
> Attendees at the event at the Google Campus in east London's Tech 
> City were
> simply asked to bring a laptop and technology experts promised to 
> teach
> them skills like encryption. The events were the brainchild of an
> Australian activist, who uses the online nickname Asher Wolf. She 
> said:
> "The idea is to stay safe online and protect the privacy of personal
> communication.
> She added that there were more secure forms of online communication 
> than
> those commonly used and insisted that Cryptoparty was not a tutorial 
> on how
> to hack but said that, once people have learned to maintain their 
> online
> security, "what they choose to do in their private communications is 
> their
> business".
> While some argue that genuinely peaceful protesters can have little 
> fear of
> arrest regardless of what they say online, Mr Cooper QC said: "It 
> would be
> wrong to establish a general rule that private communications should 
> be
> handed over to the police. The principle that the law enforcement 
> agencies
> should establish relevance first should not be diluted."
> The lead officer on digital media and engagement for the Association
> of Chief
> Police Officers Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie confirmed that 
> police
> "monitor social media for potential issues" around protests but said 
> they
> generally use them to engage with demonstrators, which he said was 
> "key to
> the police service's approach to policing peaceful protests".
> However, some have found themselves regularly the subject of unwanted
> police attention as a result of their attendance at demonstrations. 
> In May,
> peaceful protester John Catt lost his legal fight to force police to 
> delete
> information they hold on him on the National Extremism Database. 
> Pictures
> of and references to him are held because of his links to protest 
> groups.
> But long-term activist Mr Catt argued that, since he has never been
> convicted of any crime, officers were not justified in recording the
> details.
> Lawyers for Mr Catt claimed that he is "logged and recorded wherever 
> he
> goes" and that the surveillance at more than 55 protests had a 
> "chilling
> effect" on people exercising the right to protest.
> But Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Irwin sitting in the High Court
> refused to order police to remove references to him from the 
> database,
> saying that recording his actions was a "predictable consequence" of
> regularly attending demonstrations.
> And that ruling came around five months after it emerged that City of 
> London
> Police included the Occupy London movement on a leaflet warning 
> businesses
> in The City about terrorist threats. The CoLP dismissed the inclusion 
> of
> the protest movement alongside the likes of al-Qa'ida as a clerical 
> error.
> But, Mr Cooper QC said, social media are "far too much of an 
> important tool
> not to be used but they need used in a less naïve way".
> He added: "When people are acting within their rights of public 
> protest,
> which are important but often become the 'Cinderella right' because 
> they
> are subservient to their siblings, they should be very careful indeed 
> about
> what they post because I would suspect that key activists are being
> followed anonymously by law enforcement agencies.
> "These social networks are all, in my opinion, forces for good; I am 
> a
> great fan. But they are liable to abuse and misuse. And, not only are 
> the
> police catching up, the courts are too. The Lord Chief Justice is 
> very
> social media-aware and in fact allowed tweeting from court.
> "It is right to say the criminal courts are social media friendly; 
> the law
> is beginning to understand them. If people continue to use social 
> media in
> a naïve way then legitimate individuals are probably going to give 
> too much
> away."
> While he supported the right of people exercising their rights to 
> public
> protest without unnecessary disruption, Mr Cooper QC stressed that 
> real
> criminality was a very different issue.
> He said that an unambiguously positive effect of the police's 
> increased
> interest in social media would be an increasing numbers of criminals 
> being
> caught because of their indiscretions online. He said: "With social 
> media,
> it is amazing how many people involved with crime seem to let 
> themselves
> down with it.
> "More and more, the police and defence teams analyse the Facebook 
> accounts
> of witnesses they are trying to undermine. It is accepted in criminal 
> law
> that remarks made on these which are inconsistent can be put to the 
> witness
> as inconsistencies in evidence or as evidence of bad character."
> DCC Scobbie agreed, saying: "The police service works hard to secure
> evidence from any source during the course of an investigation. 
> Information
> which is openly and publically available on social media sites that 
> links
> criminals to crimes and offences has been used to help secure 
> successful
> prosecutions."
> Mr Cooper QC added: "One of the big revelations in crime detection in
> recent decades was the Filofax; it was amazing how often serious,
> professional criminals would record the weights of drugs in their
> conspiracies in little graphs in the back of their Filofaxes.
> "The police soon learned to seize the Filofax when they searched a 
> house.
> Things move on and the next big thing was mobile phones; they were a
> revelation. With mobiles, not only do we have a whole industry in 
> forensic
> phone analysis, we can also work out where people were using the 
> phone by
> the mast locations.
> He cited a past client who insisted he was not at the scene of a 
> murder he
> was accused of committing but who - mobile records showed - had made 
> a call
> while standing next to the bin the victim's body was later found in.
> He said: "Police will use social media just as they used the Filofax 
> and
> the mobile phone and why shouldn't they?"
> - --
> .
> "We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
> nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
> for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
> that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
> righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
> God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
> (Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')
> Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
> For details see http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ebo/
> Read my 'essay' weblog, "Ecolonomics", at:
> http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/ecolonomics/
> Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
> 3 Grosvenor Road, Banbury OX16 5HN, England
> tel./fax (+44/0)1295 261864
> email - mobbsey at gn.apc.org
> website - http://www.fraw.org.uk/mei/index.shtml
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