back to article Cyber cops crush plod-snapper site following Millbank riot

The Metropolitan Police have tried to ban an anti-police website in the wake of the student protests against spending cuts last week. The Met's public order branch, CO11, contacted web host Just Host.com to request the site be removed because it was: "being used to undertake criminal activities". The host was then contacted by …

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Legality of advice

I'd be interested to know if they ran any of that advice past a lawyer before posting it. I rather suspect there's a big difference between what would be normal advice not to incriminate yourself, legal rights and those items which essentially were instructions to interfere with evidence and perjure yourself in court.

On a few of the items of advice then I suspect they are getting close to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

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I agree

I would think that the Met have every right to ask for this website to be taken down. Aside from the legality of the advice, the comment "Goldsmiths lecturers union has publicly commended the students for a ‘magnificent demonstration’ ." is an incitement.

Personally I find the behaviour of this mindless mob just because they may have to pay a more realistic cost for their education offensive. This is criminal behaviour, and should be prosecuted to the best extent of the law.

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Re: I agree

There certainly is an awful lot of mindlessness about this. Most people seem to switch their brains off the moment placard hits window, but just because a protest turns violent it doesn't necessarily negate the original point.

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Miss the point, much?

The first point is that it is not current students who will be hit by the increase, but those who have yet to start. Even our current lords and masters wouldn't be able to get away with changing the cost of a course after people had already started it - so your depiction of the demonstrators as a "mindless mob" activated only by self-interest is wrong on that count at least (or do you think the right attitude is pulling the ladder up behind you with a cheery shout of "Well, I've got mine, thanks!"?)

Secondly, as you'd know if you got your news from outsideMurdoch's walled gardens, the vast majority of demonstrators had nothing whatsoever to do with the events at Millbank.

And finally, the comment quoted from the lecturers' union at Goldsmiths was by no means incitement.

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Grenade

Revolting Peasants

Should bloody well do as they told. Clearly, master knows what is best for them!

V

"People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. "

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realistic cost for their education

Perhaps T.T. will be happy for us to abolish the NHS system whereby your treatments are paid on your behalf by the NHS. Instead, they should just force everyone to pay for their own treatment?

Of course this will make no difference to T.T. who paid for his or her own education directly, and only uses private medical cover anyway.

I'm not saying that they had a right to act like a mob, but they had every right indeed to protest.

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@BristolBachelor

They do indeed have the right to protest. It is the destruction of property during that protest I consider to be without any justification. These are supposedly 'educated' students surely they would have achieved a much better effect on the government if they had put pen to paper and written to their MP?

Given that illegal acts were committed during this demonstration I can see nothing wrong with the Police using all reasonable measures to pursue these hooligans.

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wtfmuch?!?

----

These are supposedly 'educated' students surely they would have achieved a much better effect on the government if they had put pen to paper and written to their MP?

----

Really? Like BT/Phorm you mean?

If you want anything to change you CANNOT work within the system - from the American War of Independence, to Ghandi, to Martin Luther King ... writing polite letters to the powers that be does not, and never has, achieved anything.

The closest you can get within the system is voting the buggers out (pithy political comment courtesy of Starship Troopers):

"When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority from which all other authorities are derived."

That's the charm of democracy - it gives people the illusion of choice while only letting them play with loaded dice. Sometimes playing within the rules only gives you the choice of death by crocodile or death by piranha - if you want to live you need to break the rules.

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Anonymous Coward

@Titus Technophobe

>surely they would have achieved a much better effect on the government if they had put pen to paper and written to their MP?

I nominate Titus as comedian of the month.

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Happy

Property Destruction is *NOT* Violence!

‎"People long in our history have gone to marches and held banners and made protests and made speeches and that's part of our democracy. What is not part of our democracy is that sort of violence and lawbreaking.

It's not right. It's not acceptable and I hope that the full force of the law will be used." David Cameron, ...PM, 2010

"There is something that Governments care for far more than they care for human life, and that is the security of property, and so it is through property that we shall strike the enemy. Those of you who can break windows—break them." Emmeline Pankhurst, Suffragette, 1912

:)

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Anonymous Coward

Property Destruction is *NOT* Violence!

If political progress can only be achived by peaceful means, why the need for the Iraq invasion?

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@Titus Technophobe

----

These are supposedly 'educated' students surely they would have achieved a much better effect on the government if they had put pen to paper and written to their MP?

----

Maybe they didn't because they all voted Lib Dem and have watched "their" MP sign a pledge not to raise tuition fees only to drop that pledge in a naked piece of political betrayal.

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@IanPotter

Then why didn't they vandalise the Head Quarters of the Lib Dems? However I think a written or a peaceful protest would be much more effective.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @IanPotter

To be fair a) I doubt very much the violence was planned as such, and b) the war protests were almost entirely peaceful and they weren't very effective at all. It's not really a matter of effectiveness. What makes an effective protest? Numbers and coverage and attention, I'd say. They rarely effect change on their own. That's not the point.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: @IanPotter

I mean, you have to define 'effectiveness'. I think the most you can expect is attention. It's like advertising in that way - it's not about getting people to like your stuff or agree with you, necessarily, it's about making your idea known and planting it in people's consciousness.

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Planning - including for life...

I'm sure the NUS didn't plan the violence, but there's usually some who will be planning for it if they think they can get away with it plus a few more hot-heads who get sucked in.

Anyway, it's about time that we had a proper review in this country over tertiary education. For far too long sloppy thinking about the merits of university education had it that economic success would come by just putting more people into that form or education. As it is now, we just have a large number of disappointed graduates who find that they can't get the career that they thought they'd get and have large debts as well. On R4 on Monday the head of Majestic Wines proudly boasted that almost all their staff were graduates. So is that really the sort of job where you need a degree, or just a filtering method Majestic use to select people that at least have the motiviation to complete such a course?

It's a telling point that the major European country with probably the best trained workforce (Germany) sends far fewer people to Univerisity than its major competitors. In fact not much more than about 60% of the OECD average. In fact the growth in tertiary education in the US has coincided with a decade in falling livving standards for the average worker (the very rich have done very well, the middle classes, much less). This mantra of education, education, education fails miserably when it's education without purpose. Fair enough, but that's a hobby - not an education.

However, what the Germans do have is a superb system of vocationally orientated training and some proper careers. What we need is an education and training system that offers young people some hope, career prospects and, frankly, not just a place people go for 3-4 years because we can't think of what to do with them. Extending adolescence for several more years is all very well, but I know far too many disillusioned young people who have been failed by this system.

Of course the University lecturers have an interest in maximising numbers, so are hardly a disinterested party.

http://www.bibb.de/en/51670.htm

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@Planning - including for life... @Sarah Bee

I have to agree with the point about reviewing tertiary education. Is there much point in producing graduates of people who really are doing education because they can't think of anything better, even if they do make superb till operatives for Majestic Wines.

By effective I mean likely to raise the point of the fees without providing politicians a 'get out'. As somebody has already mentioned above the Murdoch media are now jumping on this, and David Cameron doesn't have to justify the educational policy anymore, he can just do outraged talk about violent protests etc. etc.

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Of course it's bloody violence.

Kicking windows, throwing fire extinguishers off a roof, smashing car windows - not all of it is viokence against a person but it's violence. It was when the suffragettes did it too, even though they had a just cause.

Just because you may not think much of the fuzz's handling of this, and just because the students may have a fair point, doesn't absolve the yobs. Wishing won't make it so.

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Lib Dem HQ?

"Then why didn't they vandalise the Head Quarters of the Lib Dems? "

Either they don't know where it is (I certainly don't) or all they might think all the Lib Dems are busy serving tea at Millbank.

"David Cameron doesn't have to justify the educational policy anymore, he can just do outraged talk about violent protests etc. etc."

Amazing how quickly a supposedly moderate centrist coalition has managed to polarise things to the violent protest stage. That normally takes years.

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@Lib Dem HQ

> Either they don't know where it is (I certainly don't) or all they might think all the Lib Dems are busy serving tea at Millbank.

They could look up where the HQ of the Lib Dems is on the internet? You may be right on the second point, still at least they would have been doing some sort of useful parlimentary business.

>> "David Cameron doesn't have to justify the educational policy anymore, he can just do outraged talk about violent protests etc. etc."

>Amazing how quickly a supposedly moderate centrist coalition has managed to polarise things to the violent protest stage. That normally takes years.

Nope I don't think that this was the government, this was a bunch of idiots who thought they have a 'right' to education. These kids know all about their 'rights' but little of the associated responsibility.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Lib Dem HQ

You haven't read much about it, have you?

There are going to be more protests like this, and it doesn't surprise me at all. Ask your doctor for some diazepam.

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Re: Re: @Lib Dem HQ

I have read that Security has been stepped up for the Lib Dem HQ on account of there being more protests? Students to target the Lib Dems etc? Is this the reading to which you refer?

Like you it doesn't surprise me in the least. As an aside I in fact declined the opportunity for SSRI's when offered them by the Doctor.

You are missing the point, as in, is David Cameron going to -

a. take into account the strength of heart felt feeling in the student population and retract his policy on student fees?

b. grasp with open hands the PR opportunity handed to him on a silver platter, ignore the students, play up to the rising tide of anti student violence feeling in the Murdoch press. Use this to implement the increase in fees anyway but without any of the inconvenient debate that might take place otherwise? (I think the phrase from a previous government was ‘Today is a good day to bury bad news).

You have more faith in our Tory leader than I do Sarah.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Re: @Lib Dem HQ

c. Throw money at cracking down on protests until someone dies, subsequent police investigation exonerates officers, etc etc.

I don't have more faith in him than you.

I'm still not sure what your point is, precisely. I was just taking issue with your insistence that the protestors are just a bunch of idiot kids, and pointing out that it's not that shocking that people are reacting in such a way to these pretty severe measures from the new Tory government that didn't actually get voted in in the first place. I don't know why you can't understand the reaction, but I expect you will in the end.

Diazepam is more fun than prozac, and only slightly more completely addictive.

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Re: Re: Re: @Lib Dem HQ

Here is hoping that your point c. doesn’t take place.

The protestors may not be a bunch of idiot kids, but those that chose to vandalise the Millbank are to my thinking idiotic. I can understand the demonstration. I cannot understand the violence, it is neither justified nor does it add value to the demonstration.

It is perhaps a moot point that the New Tory government didn’t get ‘voted in’, I personally think that they have more of a mandate than the preceding Old Labour government.

It will not have escaped your notice but the country does seem to have run out of cash, that being the case things need to give. Which means severe measures all round, I too am affected by these cutbacks, and if I thought there was any point would protest. I have found fax your MP to be an effective way of raising these issues.

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Anonymous Coward

Violence has Murdoch's seal of approval

In The Times today there was a piece proclaiming violence to be justified in achieving political goals. For some of us, the political goal of "a fairer distribution of wealth" is better than the political goal of "killing brown skins".

I have found that faxing my MP is a waste of time and paper. Throwing a fax machine through his window might actually get his attention.

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Guilty

Anyone who assists offenders to avoid arrest is breaking the law, no matter how they do it.

http://www.wikicrimeline.co.uk/index.php?title=Assisting_an_offender

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Anonymous Coward

This is where it starts to get silly

So there's this law against terrorism that's been interpreted by the plod to implicate "too long photographers". By your reasoning anyone "harbouring" or "sheltering" overlong photographers suddenly will also become GUILTEEEE. Such as the pub where some long guy with a photo camera walked into for shelter from the rain and a cup or a glass or two. Because, you know, he's keeping out of public sight where the plod might spot him so they can arrest him. Because he's too long to not be an offender, you see?

You can argue until you're blue in the face that the law is the law, but if nobody but the plod cares, then the plod loses more face, and will have to face an even more plod-hostile crowd next time.

This isn't to justify anything. It's to inform you that if the law and its upholders are making asses out of themselves then they're not doing their job properly and we might as well do away with them. Because they've just become irrelevant and liberty-infringing nuisances, or worse.

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WTF?

Yeah, but...

Fitwatch are also concerned with the fact that the police (in the form of Forward Intelligence Teams) are also compiling a massive database on the activities of PERFECTLY LAW ABIDING members of the public engaged in peaceful protest. It's not just the nutters smashing windows and throwing Fire Extingishers that the police are going after.

When you can me labelled as a "Domestic Extremist" merely for attending a church meeting, then maybe the likes of FitWatch et al have a point.

As for advising people I lie in court, I haven't personally seen that advice, but if it truly does exist then there is absolutely no excuse for it. Tell the truth in court - not only is it the moral thing to do, it's also the SMART thing to do...

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pardon

The AC's comment rather proves the point that you should stay away from keyboards and the Internet when under the influence of intoxicating substances.

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Anonymous Coward

eh?

what criminal activities?

standing up to heavy handed/intrusive policing is wrong?

plod, you go too far sometimes.

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WTF?

What criminal activity ...

Perhaps that none too subtle suggestion of lying in court, incitement of perjury -

"DONT assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now".

That goes well beyond 'know your rights' and 'don't tell them anything, admit nothing, make them prove their case'.

While I have no doubt that policing probably was heavy handed (been there, done that, got the blood-stained T-shirt), could you explain to me how criminal damage, smashing up a building, dropping fire extinguishers from a great height, is 'standing up to the police'?

Not only plod but demonstrators sometimes go too far. That's their right, and it is the police's right to pursue them for that.

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Criminal activity...

"Not only plod but demonstrators sometimes go too far."

And don't forget plod "agitators", disguised as demonstrators.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What criminal activity...

<quote>

Perhaps that none too subtle suggestion of lying in court, incitement of perjury -

"DONT assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now".

</unquote>

I can't see anything there that is incitement. It is just quoting 2 facts:

"DONT assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well."

and

"‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now"

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Perjury...?

Or just Presumption of Innocence?

The only thing I would have worded differently is "That isn't me" which should, of course, be "Prove that *is* me and not some other bloke who looks similar to me.

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Perjury

"That isn't me" would, in that context be a lie, and lying under oath in court is, by definition, perjury. Of course you don't have to testify, so you don't have to lie about whether you were there so the prosecution has to prove it (and the defence can still present evidence it wasn't you without testimony). Only the defence can call the accused, but if you do stand and lie under cross-examination then technically it would be perjury. Also, any lawyer who advised a client to lie under oath would be in very serious trouble indeed.

In general, perjury cases in England are rare and normally only prosecuted where a proven lie has resulted in a miscarriage. Mostly lying under oath as a defendent in a criminal trial in the UK will get you a longer sentence compared to pleading guiltly in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

The Met

The Met still think that the internet is the little blue e symbol on their desktops.

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Nah, don't be silly

It's the 'X' icon with the word 'Mosaic' under it.

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FAIL

Fail of the day - Met Police

Earlier that day in Scotland Yard:

Top Copper: "Get that blog taken down right now!"

Copper: "Errm ok, how?"

TC: "Get the e-crime unit on it"

C: "Roger that boss"

Later that day...

E-crime boff: "But that's pointless"

C: "Just do it"

E-crime boff: "Ok, but...."

C: "Just freaking do it or it's my ass"

E-crime boff: "Fine"

Later...

TC: "What do you mean they hosted it in several other places?"

C: "As it turns out boss there are a lot more places on the internet you can host things"

TC: "How many?"

E-crime boff: "January 2010 stats show about 900,000,000 listed internet domains alone"

TC; "So what you're telling me is that not only did we let these students hoof the door in on the Conservative HQ but now they are making us look like chumps on the internet - god dam it man"

C: "Yes boss, that would be the long and short of it"

TC: "Shit"

E-crime boff, "Can I go now? I need to get back scamming noobs on WOW"

TC: "Before you go I've brought my wife's laptop in, can you ensure there's no trace of any internet activity on there?"

E-crime boff: "But I'm a network specialist I don't really do desktop supp....."

TC: "Just do it nerd"

E-crime: "No problem boss, you can trust me...."

NOTE:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

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My Concern

Is that the hosts took down the site without judicial oversight.

The Mets views on the site are just opinion until proven in a court.

If I were the hosts I would politely decline and request that they return with a court order.

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Paris Hilton

Good publicity for fitwatch though

Good point! They should write to Amazon too and tell them to unhost their site as it's probably helping offenders by selling stuff they might use to break the law with!

Good publicity for fitwatch though, no doubt the sites name will confuse some though, thinking its some sort of attractiveness rating service or dating site!

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Thumb Up

Agreed

The police can request a site be taken down, the proper response to such as request is of course

"Justhost.com will be happy to take down the fitwatch site as soon as the appropriate court documentation is provided"

If I was using justhosts.com for any hosting at the moment, I would be making arrangments for a new provider PDQ.

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Troll

@Jim Booth, 16th November 2010 10:35 GMT

I understand where your concern is coming from, but what you have missed is that, it wasn't some random idiot from the street that contact the host, but a legal authority have contact the host and asked them to take the site down. It is _not_ up to the host to decide if the site is legal or not, nor do I expect the host to hire a lawyer who's job is the read every page on the site before approving the take down notice.

As far as I am concerned I'd rather suffer from a false positive instead of allowing an illegal site to remain online while the paperwork is finished.

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Stop

@ AC 12:12 GMT

>> It is _not_ up to the host to decide if the site is legal or not

It's not up to plod either ; it's up to a judge. If the law states a court order is required then it is required - otherwise the site was unlawfully taken down.

Plod does not constitute a legal authority by themselves - they are there to *uphold* the law, not *be* the law. Therein lies a very slippery slope.

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Grenade

False Positives

"As far as I am concerned I'd rather suffer from a false positive instead of allowing an illegal site to remain online while the paperwork is finished."

Let's hope you are never a "false positive".

If you ban the whole internet you will remove 100% of illegal material. So what are we waiting for?

Why not ban people leaving their houses? That would wipe out crime!

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Big Brother

RE: @Jim Booth, 16th November 2010 10:35 GM

"As far as I am concerned I'd rather suffer from a false positive instead of allowing an illegal site to remain online while the paperwork is finished."

Guilty until proven innocent. I like the way you think.

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Their choice

A web host, like any other business, has a right to choose who they do business with. If they don't want to get involved in other peoples' battles that is up to them.

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Grenade

RE: @Jim Booth, 16th November 2010 10:35 GM

Jim, was Juan Charles de Menezes an acceptable false positive as well?

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Random Idiot

"it wasn't some random idiot from the street that contact the host"

Correct, it was instead a highly paid idiot that went above his authority by implying that there was no need for him to get a court order to get the site removed.

The MET should have asked for the page to be removed whilst they got a court order to remove the offending post, insted it just seems like it was an excuse to remove an unhelpful site.

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errr..

It was not me who stated the false positive case.....

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Pint

The Irony

It is delicious though, is it not?

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