Scotland Yard charge: teaching people to use crypto is an act of terrorism


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/10/scotland-yard-charge-teaching.html


#2

Dear UK, please cut it out with these things that will give ideas to the powers that be over on this side of the pond. kthbye.


#3

In a sort of reversal of Animal Farm, these days, all citizens have civil rights, except for those who don’t. It’s OK to take pictures, unless you are a Muslim. It’s OK to be non-threatening to the cops, unless you have brown skin.

It’s OK for white Christians (and maybe Jews) to use cryptography, but brown Muslims are absolutely not allowed to do so.


#4

No - teaching people to use crypto for the purposes of terrorism is a terrorist offence. Taking pictures of something, buying all sorts of stuff that would otherwise be legal (pressure cookers, fertiliser etc ) aren’t illegal as such, but they are if you do them for the purposes of terrorism. It will, of course, be up to the prosecution to prove that this is the case in this instance.


#6

Sure. Let’s add “eating a meal in preparation for battle” as well. The problem is they are actual charges. It’s one thing to use the excessive target practice leading up to a shooting as evidence that someone was training for something, but you don’t get charged with “target practice”. This is just stupid.


#7

Well, Cory’s Jewish, which I guess means that Little Brother will be the litmus test on that hypothesis.


#8

Well yes, that is also illegal in those circumstances - and rightly so.

I’m sorry but this sort of crap really undermines legitimate criticism of government overreach. You can’t have the only terrorism related charge being “blew someone up with a bomb” if you want to actually, you know, stop that happening.


#9

Exactly.

The problem is that it is very simple to abuse these laws, because, in the haste to “save” us from terrorism, the lawmakers have put very few checks and balances in them.

France has even more draconian ones on the books, you can get up to several years in prison for “apology of terrorism” - simply saying in public (on Twitter, FB, …) that you agree with what e.g. IS is doing or that “it served them well” (e.g. with regards to victims of an attack) is enough for the prosecutors to bring charges. Several even high profile people landed in trouble because of this recently, including a mainstream journalist.

Another thing that could get you charged with being part or helping “an association of criminals or a terrorist enterprise” is simply searching for and visiting djihadist websites. Also several cases of this were prosecuted recently.

The important part is not what you get charged with but what the courts will do with it. The French courts are very independent and tend to frown on inflated BS charges. On the other hand, if that person has some connections to IS (knew someone who knew someone who left for Syria, chatted with someone over Telegram, etc.), links to extremists or is a known “troublemaker” (the controversial “comedian” Dieudonné comes to mind …), then they will be happy to use even these laws to throw the book at them.


#10

Holy crap. I’ve done all of those things! Repeatedly! I need to ask my Uni to get someone else to teach classes that cover crypto. I’m ambiguously middle-eastern around the ears and don’t want to end up a statistic.


#11

The problem is they are actual charges.

Nope, Cory and tbf, the BBC don’t report the actual charges very clearly. Looking at the Metropolitan Police’s press release, it would appear that the actual charge here are: membership of a proscribed organisation, terrorist training, preparation for terrorism, directing terrorism and possession of articles for a purpose connected with terrorism, variously offences under the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006.

The charge is nothing to do with encryptionm, that’s the alleged offending behaviour.


#12

It’s contextual. I’m wary of the practice of overcharging, however charging someone for illegal use of otherwise legal objects is common. A crowbar is legal, but you can be charged with illegal possession of one as a burglar tool or a concealed weapon, depending of context.


#13

I think it becomes more problematic when shifted from illegal use of objects to illegal use of concepts.


#14

If these charges stick, if the courts there make these clearly legal and ethical things not only illegal, but append the “super illegal” stigma of terrorism to them, it will be more or less time to turn out the lights and close up shop in the UK.

Declare the region lost, like the people’s republic of china and russia, because this is a loss that the populace cannot recover from without extreme measures.


#15

I was about to make exactly the same example, but with a hammer. Or more topically, a packet sniffer (eg Wireshark), which is invaluable for understanding what’s going on on a network, so it’s used by admins and criminals alike.


#16

Dear UK,

V For Vendetta was a comic book, not a guide.

Your Pal,

  • WG

#17

its likely the charges wont stick and they wont be able to make it illegal. many should not turn out the lights and close up shop in the UK and its not a region lost.


#18

You can be arrested for acting as the wheelman in a bank robbery. Doesn’t mean that driving is going to become illegal.

Strongly recommend reading the comments at the Ars article. Most of the readers there seem to recognize clickbait when they see it


#19

Stupid, alarmist post. This isn’t about encryption at all. It’s about “the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism or for assisting the commission or preparation by others of such acts,” if proven.


#20

nah, the law turns around the presumption of innocence, take a look at section 57 of the terror act.

A person commits an offence if he possesses an article in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession is for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.

how to defend against this? what is “reasonable suspicion”? an USB stick with a live OS is superhandy, and while I carry around Knoppix and grml something like TAILS shouldn’t be able to add another charge for the suspect.

I’m fine with using this as additional evidence for the core charge (supporting terrorism if I read the articles correctly) but punishing someone for the possession of an anonymizing is not compatible with my impression of the rule of law.


#21

That’s what they said about the patriot act. About maoism.
About every shitty thing to happen in decent places: not here. We don’t do that here.