UK press doesn't understand chemistry or Amazon, launches bomb-making panic


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/23/uk-press-doesnt-understand-c.html


#2

Yeah, but it does add parts for a lot of illegal things.

For instance, to build to silencer, a simple way is a specific oil filter and a thread adapter. I looked at a few different oil filters…they each had separate thread adapters — usually one designed for microphones — as the recommended companion piece.

Only useful if you own a gun and not looking to fix your car.


#3

I have always been a dedicated fan of Channel 4 news. Which is why this particular scoop made me cringe that much harder.


#4

However, it is illegal in the UK to make more than 100g of black powder without the necessary licences. Since Amazon doesn’t check if customers are authorised to mass produce gunpowder, they could be aiding illegal activity.


#5

100g at a time or per annum?


#6

I’m making a bomb in my colon right now, and this cup of coffee is the fuse.

In a few minutes I will detonate it in my bathroom and the area will be uninhabitable for at least an hour.

(sorry, my roundabout way of saying “what a load of crap.”)


#7

Common items that can be used for bad but most often used for some fun or science? And calls for reason, not panic? Refreshing.

Let’s be honest. Anyone using these items for bad do NOT need Amazons help. Period. No would be bomb maker is going to go, “Sulfur? I need sulfur? Shit, thanks for telling me Amazon!”


#8

Blasting caps: case of 144 at $100 plus shipping.

People who bought these also like:

  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Fuel oil

#9

Round up all the people who got good grades in chemistry!


#10

For a recommendations algorithm to be suggesting shrapnel to sulfur shoppers implies that thousands or tens of thousands of people are putting these items together in their shopping cart. So where are all these black powder bombers?

That’s a reasonable question. This whole panic is indeed bullshit.

And why on earth would an aspiring bomber use an online shopping cart tied to their real identity?

That’s not a reasonable question. Are you assuming that pseudonymous purchases don’t drive “frequently bought together” recommendations and real-name purchases do? Why make that distinction? How could Amazon distinguish them even if it wanted to?

I’m nitpicking this one point; the article, as a whole, stands.


#11

GASP You can buy The Anarchists Cookbook on Amazon (and on ebay, Goodreads & Barnes & Noble.)


#12

If such licenses are a personal responsibility, then how does that involve amazon? They don’t know what you might make, when, or how much. And apparently none of the materials require such a license separately.

I interpret this as The State trying to take advantage of the connectivity of digital commerce, and using it as a cheap way to do their policing for them.


#13

I remember chemistry sets, and every drug store had potassium nitrate and sulfur.

Good luck on making every single “bomb ingredient” illegal.


#14

Won’t be too long before beginning a joke like that will get you arrested.

And me too, for associating with the text.


#15

Obviously they’re buying those so they don’t get solvent everywhere when they clean their guns.


#16

But they have no obligation to make that check. They are selling a legal product, which has perfectly legal and innocuous uses. If you choose to do something illegal with that product, that’s not their problem or responsibility. I’ve bought plenty of books from Amazon I could bludgeon somebody to death with, but if I do, Amazon wasn’t at fault for aiding and abetting a murderer.


#17

…unless it’s the Dummies Guide to Bludgeoning People to Death…


#18

As noted in Cory’s post the ball bearings are for ball mills used to combine/breakdown the chemicals in question. Both for rocket enthusiasts and for other legitimate non-explosive uses of these same compounds.

It is quite hard to make a pseudonymous online purchase of physical goods. Particularly on venues like Amazon. You may use an Amazon account under a different name. But payment must be handled via credit card, debit card. Or Amazon pay account which must be charged by the same or a bank account. All of those things require proof of identity to get. Even those pre-paid cards (which amazon doesn’t always accept) require activation with a name and address. You can fake those things. Get enough, and good enough fake ID to get a bank account in a false name. Or steal some one else’s identity. But you still need to get the goods. Which requires delivery to your home, PO box, or Amazon locker. All of which also requires proof of identity, contact info and such. So you also need false or stolen documents for this stage. Which doesn’t alter the fact that in order to retrieve your goods you need to be at a fixed identifiable location where people can recognize you.

So you’re talking about multiple layers of identity fraud or theft, a long with a pickup that leaves you a sitting duck if you’ve been identified. Its a terrible way to anonymously acquire things. Remember silk road? Once you rise to the point trying to actually get things that way, the level of difficulty means there are much better venues than Amazon that you can take advantage of. Like buying these chemicals in bulk, in person, in cash, at a random location. To which you have never been and will never return.

Also doesn’t change the fact that I can go to my local Walmart and buy large cans of black powder, even cordite gun powder. Fairly cheaply. In person. For cash. Without showing ID or needing a gun license.


#19

Not in the UK.


#20

Really? My wife used to watch it but i found it quite sensationalised and opinion driven.

The studio interviews made me cringe because they weren’t intelligent debate but an attempt to get a flaming comment.