back to article US spy court says internet firms can't report surveillance requests

The US Department of Justice has issued a formal response to requests by Google, Microsoft, and other internet companies to disclose more information about government requests for user data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And – surprise, surprise – it's firmly against the idea. "Although the Government has …

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Anonymous Coward

How convenient.

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The US Department of Justice has nothing to do with Justice whatsoever.

They are on the same level as a "Volksgerichtshof".

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Freedoms

The people that make up the rules are in charge....

At times like this the freedom of the press and the freedom of the judiciary from interference from the legislature is essential.

Unfortunately the judiciary increasingly has its strings pulled by the legislature and does what it is told.

For now the press is still free, but how long before Government changes the rules and legislates to change this. Imagine that after the Leveson inquiry the biggest advocate for press control, the Labour Party get into power, they could dictate what can and what cannot be printed by the papers.

Not good.

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Unhappy

Re: Freedoms

It's already happened in South Africa. It's soon going to be illegal to report on any corruption or wrong doings by ANY government or local authority body or official.

The ANC is begining to make the old Nationalist (Aparthied era) government look like paragons of virtue.

Of course there was nothing political when Zuma (the current president) had his bribery and corruption charges over a massive arms procurement deal railroaded out of prosecution. The irony, the judge who allowed this to happen was also the judge who found his co-corruptee guilty and in the verdict stated that an obviously corrupt relationship existed between Zuma and Shaik.

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Anonymous Coward

The really sad thing is that the NSA is trying to hide the fact that it is spying on American citizens, not terrorists!

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Anonymous Coward

In which case ...

In which case:

a) assume that everything is insecure

b) especially assume that everything American is insecure

c) don't put anything in the Cloud, Hotmail, Gmail, SkyDrive, Dropbox, etc.

d) don't buy any form of American hosting service, Cloud, SaaS, PaaS, etc

<encrypted>

cins8475098ds9841t0$$43856c~%zxcusd009841-89sd09f=091=56909-095e-bfd98b52skcoqwi

</encrypted>

G

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Thumb Up

Re: In which case ...

I do hope that was and appropriately targeted obscenity.

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Re: In which case ...

Or more effective - a ruling from the eu that using a US cloud provider means you violated eu data protection laws. Closely followed by one banning using American software products in confidential eg. medical or government applications.

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Re: In which case ...

Several members of the EU work closely with the NSA and probably do the same thing with UK, French and German software products. Pretty soon you'd be down to a choice to use only Chinese software!

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Devil

Re: In which case ...

How about instead of Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc etc being "disappointed" by the ruling, they all simply say:

"We will stop giving campaign contributions to anyone who supports secret surveillance. and instead we will throw our financial muscle behind candidates who will work to repeal the current laws"

<tumbleweed>

Hmmm, thought not

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In which case ...

In which case:

a) assume that everything is insecure

b) especially assume that everything American is insecure

If you didn't arrive at that conclusion well over 10 years ago you're either young or tragically naïve. It's also not just the US that is at it (not that that is any excuse).

BTW, I keep hearing that US sysadmins of multinationals now should not be allowed into data centres in other nations - anyone know why?

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Re: In which case ...

I get tired of pointing this out. It's one thing to be spied on by our own governments, we elected them and in theory we have some kind of control - what control do we have over a foreign government? And specifically, one that passes commercial information to US competitors?

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Re: In which case ...

BTW, I keep hearing that US sysadmins of multinationals now should not be allowed into data centres in other nations - anyone know why?

Because such sysadmins must obey the laws of the USA. This means that they can be ordered by their government to spy (copy data, insert backdoors, ...) from where they are employed, even if their employer has nothing to do with the USA.

If you handle anything remotely sensitive you should not use a USA citizen. I find this amusing, when I were a lad you would not employ a citizen of the USSR for much the same reason; how the world has changed!

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Rol
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Re: In which case ...

This truly is an opportunity for EU companies to step in and take EU clients away from the US,

Hell, it should be made mandatory to keep EU data within the EU, on EU servers, owned and run by EU companies.

As an EU citizen I expect, nay demand, that all government systems are protected from international intrusion, which in practise would require ripping Microsoft out of the equation and blacklisting ALL non EU compliant companies from providing IT services, something that wouldn't have been possible before, but now the argument for such a trade barrier is overwhelmingly incontestable.

Growth in EU IT will be exponential and strategically speaking totally necessary, as our reliance on America's "benevolence" in keeping the LEDs flickering, isn't a sound basis for our future.

We could make a start by pumping a few beellion into creating a professional Linux based system with a view to making this the de-facto OS of all EU governments.

As a user of Linux, I appreciate it is already of a standard that deserves the moniker professional, but a paid for workforce dedicated to supporting it, should be the mission target.

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Meh

Re: In which case ...

" I find this amusing, when I were a lad you would not employ a citizen of the USSR for much the same reason; how the world has changed!"

Quiet.

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@alain williams

Uh, no they can't. The US government can't ORDER a citizen to do any such thing. They can't order a citizen to do anything at all. They can't even order citizens to pay taxes. There are laws specifying the penalties for not paying taxes, but if you really don't want to pay taxes you can refuse to pay and suffer the penalties specified under law.

They can't compel citizens to do what they want via secret laws as you seem to imagine they might - the citizen has to know what the law is to comply! But just because there is a law doesn't mean the citizen will comply unless the penalties for non-compliance are pretty severe. There are laws against speeding, for instance, which I break to some degree or another every time I get behind the wheel.

They aren't even ordering corporations like Google to turn over information, it is more of an arm-twisting (or threat of arm-twisting) that makes it happen. Probably they're threatening (or implying a threat) to put them on a blacklist making them ineligible for any government business, or that hey'll get a rectal exam from the FTC, IRS, and any other agency they can think of.

If you believe otherwise, why did that NSA document show years between the time the first companies started sharing data, and the time the last company listed, Apple, did so? If they were forcing them they'd all have started complying at pretty much the same time, not over a period of 3-4 years.

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Re: In which case ...

Well... data posted by you is appearing in the USA.

Upvoted anyway. Go to it.

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Wait, what?

The US department of Justice is still running?

Has anyone told the White House?

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Re: Wait, what?

America was not shut down properly.

Would you like ti restart America in safe mode

with free health care

and no guns ?(recommended)

credit to jesuslikesaparmo sickipedia.org

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Re: Wait, what?

I would prefer no healthcare and cheap guns.

At least it wouldn't be a liberalwank with everyone happy and born equally retarded.

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Joke

Re: Wait, what?

"America was not shut down properly.

Would you like to restart America in safe mode"

Have they tried turning it off and on again?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait, what?

Please insert the disk labeled "The Constitution" and reinstall...

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Re: Wait, what?

<takes pince nez glasses off>

The red one or the blue one?

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> Such information would be invaluable to our adversaries..

Such information would be invaluable to our critics...

Fixed it.

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No adversaries are the phrase they use for the US public. After all the NSA's job is to protect the US government not the US people regardless of what they claim.

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Anonymous Coward

"NSA's job is to protect the US government". I think it's worse than that, now it's more about the "tail wagging the dog".

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Anonymous Coward

err ,,,,

Are there any lawyers out there who can advise me which specific act of the UK parliament (not EU, UK) gave FISA the right to authorise people snoop on my Internet traffic? What happened to innocent until proven guilty - or, innocent until a court that is accountable to the public actually grants a specific warrant for my communications?

I mean, the majority of people on El Reg know it's been going on for years, but still .....

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Re: err ,,,,

I'm with you. Fuck everyone who legislates themselves the right to read my fucking email. It wasn't that long ago that interfering with the post was the next thing to treason.

Frankly, if left to myself -with the privacy that is my fundamental fucking human right- then I'm harmless. Consider me the enemy long enough and continue treating me as such; then the more likely it is to happen. Possibly it's some sort of terrorist-creation program, to justify the security theatre. Or possibly, if you think that you can blackmail every single citizen then you think that everyone will be compliant. Either plan works only up to a point.

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Re: err ,,,,

*SIGH*

Innocent UNLESS proven guilty.

Innocent until proven guilty implies that you are, in fact, guilty...it just hasn't been proven yet.

Innocent until proven guilty is no different than guilty unless proven innocent.

I realize that you've had people feed you "innocent until proven guilty" your whole life, but that's a glorious example of newspeak changing the language to match the desires of those in power. And you're going along with it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

"... And you're going along with it."

You've spelled "you're" correctly. That may confuse people.

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Re: err ,,,,

“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”

- John Adams

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

"...legislates themselves the right to read my f'ing email. ..."

Legislates?

The new M.O. in the USA and elsewhere is that they simply do whatever the hell they want. This may include murdering by remote control those accused (as distinct from convicted, and perhaps based on bad info extracted by torture) of being a terrorist, and anyone else within the kill radius. This may include using torture and indefinite detention without trial. This may include imposing a Constitution Free Zone covering 75% of the US population. This may include 'capturing' your private data, and then examining it later if they feel like it.

The cornerstone of this crap is having one of their own legal beagles write a convoluted garbage memo that you're typically not allowed to see.

The system is seriously broken and there is no fix.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

as original AC saying err, I'd like to point out:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence."

Council of Europe of the subject: "Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law".

Or, if you prefer, Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms: "Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal".

Until.

Until.

Until.

I'm not the one who wrote "until" in to those documents. I haven't had people feed me that my whole life, I read the documents in question. I'm not going along with it, it's already in place, and I strongly resent your assertion that I'm being taken for a ride - when all I'm doing is reading the documents in question. Next you'll be saying I think Comrade Bob is a nice guy just because the UN is ignoring his thousands of breaches of the ICCPR.

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Re: err ,,,,

The UDHR is not the only document with that error. Literally hundreds of key documents in the past hundred years have that same error...but we don't have to follow along whit it.

Innocent unless proven guilty is a far more important concept than innocent until proven guilty. Change the language, change the thinking.

Which would you rather be?

Me, I'm innocent unless proven guilty. I've done nothing wrong, so there is no "until". Unless your "until" involves falsifying evidence. Unless that happens I eschew until for unless.

Until later!

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Unhappy

Re: err ,,,,

much as I wish that could be true, there are so many laws, rulez and directions it is impossible not to do something illegal without knowing it, just by walking down street now. One is guilty, just unconvicted. The greenies, loud defenders of liberty that they are, have stated their goals of covert surveillance to protect blowflies, feral animals and pests. My enemies enemies are more enemies. In a continuing trend, New Scientist have a wishful review of a book arguing civilizations grow out of their gods. Cynics like me suggest the gods merely change names. But it is a palatable myth to keep the gullible, such as lefties and humanists quiet as the slave masters get bigger chains ready.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

@ panhead20

But did John Adams ever envision a day when a guilty man went free, THEN went on a rampage and killed many people and a few cops before being killed himself? It's happened in real life here within the last two decades, meaning innocence has been lost EITHER WAY.

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Re: err ,,,,

Did John Adams ever imagine that imprisonment would become an industry, with nearly 1% of the total population behind bars at a cost of over sixty billion dollars per year?

It is better that a hundred guilty men should go free than that a single innocent man should be jailed unjustly. If you are worried about mass murders sort your fucking gun laws out, mate. While you're at it, maybe you could try a dozen or so fewer Wars On Things. You'll find that makes for a less pissed off, edgy population.

But what do I know, eh? I'm from a country that mostly works.

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Re: err ,,,,

But what do I know, eh? I'm from a country that mostly works.

You are? Just out of curiosity, what country is this?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

"I'm from a country that mostly works."

Which Joseph Conrad had a character observe of late 19th century England in his book "The Secret Agent". Although I think his usage was along the lines of "where everything almost works".

An Amazon reviewer says "Adolph Verloc is the eponymous Secret agent who , as an agent provocateur, seems to have spent more time and effort falsifying reports to justify his employment than actually provoking anarchy. "

The Kindle edition is free - as is "Heart of Darkness".

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Thumb Up

Re: "You're"

You've spelled "you're" correctly. That may confuse people.

OK, now THAT made me laugh. Thanks :)

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Re: err ,,,,

Canada, eh?

Oh, we have our problems; corrupt politicians and stupid laws among them...but we have a judiciary that sides with the people and actually gives fucks about the charter of rights and freedoms.

We have decided that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, but the needs of the one outweigh the desires of the many." Things we regularly bitch about - wait times being long for health care, as one example - are not nearly so bad as we make them out to be. In the case of health care, wait times are long because access it needs based; medical triage by professionals is the standard by which need is determined, not money. When things like queue-jumping for the well-connected occur it's a bloody scandal here, and the judiciary very definitely gets involved.

If Canada has a fault it is that we roll over for the Americans too easily. Our current masters - the Tories - are far too quick to shelve "made in Canada" legislation and solutions to issues like intellectual property in the hopes of getting a pat on the head from the Americans.

Like any country, we have things we are not proud of. Our RCMP (the Canadian equivalent of the FBI) have been involved in some human rights scandals that boil down to "treating women badly and treating aboriginal peoples worse."

What makes us different from the US of the UK is that these are big fucking deals here. We actually use terms like "human rights scandal" to describe these events and we will see senior RCMP officers and public officials in front of a judge on these topics. Months go by and we still talk about these issues. We don't get distracted on topics that matter like this and we still have real journalists that actually keep digging.

We have flaws. We have problems...but we actually care enough to correct them. The latest season of television isn't enough to keep us from holding our elected officials to task. We don't just have two political parties, each mostly identical to the other. We have many and change happens here rapidly and overwhelmingly.

So Canada, eh? There's definitely some problems...but it mostly works. That's a lot more than I can say of the cretins to the south of us.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,,

That's a lot more than I can say of the cretins to the south of us.

I think that's one of Canada's biggest issue: being right on the border of that lot. I feel for you.

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Re: err ,,,,

Innocent UNTIL proven guilty. You say hundreds of key documents have that error, when in reality you just disagree with the wording. Which is fair enough, but look at it this way. If someone commits a murder, and that murder is witnessed live and recorded on CCTV, it is STILL wrong to say that person is guilty before a court verdict EVEN WHEN THE EVENTUAL VERDICT IS GUILTY.

If a paper calls the defendant guilty while the relevant trial is still ongoing, then it is slandering an innocent and interfering with Justice. That doesn't retroactively become okay three days later when the guilty verdict comes down under innocent until proven guitly, but under innocent unless proven guilty? I'm not sure.

In the context of the principles of law, It's not about whether you ARE innocent or guilty - no court will ever 100% truly know that - it is about WHEN the duty of the legal system to treat you as an innocent becomes the right to deal with you as a convicted criminal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

"If a paper calls the defendant guilty while the relevant trial is still ongoing, then it is slandering an innocent and interfering with Justice. That doesn't retroactively become okay three days later when the guilty verdict comes down under innocent until proven guitly, but under innocent unless proven guilty? I'm not sure."

It is only slander/libel if it is untrue (or rather a defence against a charge of slander/libel is that what you said/wrote is true). So if a person is subsequently found guilty there is evidence that what you said was true. The interfering with justice aspect stands regardless of the verdict. By publishing claims that have a direct bearing on a case you may be preventing a fair trial - that remains true whatever the verdict. The fact that a correct verdict is reached despite what is done only mitigates the consequences of the action - not excuse the action.

So to my mind "unless" still works - though I agree that the it is widely written as "until"; but I do love a good argument.

IANAL - so this may be a hopelessly naive view of what the law should be rather than what it is.

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Go

Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

"It is only slander/libel if it is untrue (or rather a defence against a charge of slander/libel is that what you said/wrote is true). So if a person is subsequently found guilty there is evidence that what you said was true."

My point is that it is still slander at the time because the accused has the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty and they don't get takesies backsies for the offence after the guilty verdict - when the statement was made the defendant was false as they were legally innocent then. Innocent unless proven guilty could theoretically provide wiggle room for a slick tongued lawyer.

Look at it this way - if you told everyone I was a car thief (when I wasn't) and I later stole your car in retaliation, your statement, although now true, remains false at the time of making.

I am not a lawyer either, but I too like to argue over wordings.

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Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

Laws don't say "innocent unless/until proven guilty." High-minded documents do. Laws talk about the presumption of innocence which is a way of avoiding the whole debate entirely.

Your argument, however, is still horribly flawed. Being found guilty in a court of law is being "proven guilty." Full stop.

You are innocent unless proven guilty. That guilt is proven in a court of law. No newspaper may say you are guilty unless you are proven to be so. Until that point they must say things like "alleged murderer", "the accused" and "suspect".

If you prefer to live in a society where you are innocent until you are proven guilty then please make sure that society is a fuck of a long ways away from me. It sounds thoroughly terrifying.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

AC: "It is only slander/libel if it is untrue (or rather a defence against a charge of slander/libel is that what you said/wrote is true). So if a person is subsequently found guilty there is evidence that what you said was true."

auburnman: "My point is that it is still slander at the time because the accused has the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty and they don't get takesies backsies for the offence after the guilty verdict - when the statement was made the defendant was false as they were legally innocent then. Innocent unless proven guilty could theoretically provide wiggle room for a slick tongued lawyer."

Well not quite. The word guilty has a technical meaning in court and a broader range of meaning outside. Now anybody can say anything about anybody at anytime - that is freedom of speech. If what is said is not true then the injured party may be able to sue for defamation under the slander/libel laws. Such a claim might be defended by 'proving' that what was said was true. Such a case would be heard by a civil court and would be judged on the balance of probabilities [or for the more cynical - the size of your bank balance]. Whether or not you have yet to be found guilty by some other court would not be relevant - though if you were it would make things much easier.

auburnman:"Look at it this way - if you told everyone I was a car thief (when I wasn't) and I later stole your car in retaliation, your statement, although now true, remains false at the time of making."

But that is a different set of circumstances, as I would [should] be unable to prove that my statement is (was) true. The situation as previously presented would be more akin to you having stolen my car, but because plod decided it was not worth the effort you were not brought to justice. Being unhappy about this might publicly accuse you of being a car thief (which you are). Now the ball is in your court [so to speak]. Being a bit of a chancer you might decide to sue me for slander/libel. When this gets to court I might choose to use a defence of it being true, and if I am able to provide a case that is convincing on the balance of probability then I should win. The fact that you have not been found guilty of the crime in a criminal court is not relevant. Of course the real winners would be the lawyers, this is why the tabloids and the like use carefully chosen words like allegedly, or print damning accusations in quotation marks (as a record of what is said in court by a prosecutor) - hence headlines like "auburnman is a habitual car thief" appearing in large print on the front pages, with the "said prosecuting council" appearing in much smaller type in the full story on page 55.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

Trevor_Pott: "No newspaper may say you are guilty unless you are proven to be so. Until that point they must say things like "alleged murderer", "the accused" and "suspect"."

Well provided they are not interfering with justice they may say it if they have reason to believe it to be true; you then have the option of sueing them for libel. In that court case their reasons for believing it to be true might be judged (if they use that defence) and the verdict would be on the balance of probabilities.

Of course they might also say these things if they think you are unable [too poor] to take them to court, or if they think they can defend the charge in some other way [e.g. you are dead so can't be slandered/libeled]; but generally they avoid these risks by using careful wording because it is easier to do so.

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Re: err ,,,, [auburnman]

In civilized countries which have found a balance between the individual and the group this isn't determined by your pocketbook. Nor is it a financial burden to go after those who have libelled you. Only in cretinous backwaters like the USA where "free speech" is applied with maximalist strokes, unless, of course, said speech is directed at government officials. (Which is ironic, because calling out government officials is why "free speech" is in their constitution in the first place.)

So no, you cannot simply say someone is guilty unless they are proven to be so. Not here in Canada. If you do so then you will in all likelihood be yourself guilty of libel, and the person whom you have wronged will not end up out-of-pocket to pursue this.

How the barbarians choose to handle their mewling masses is rather irrelevant. Their take concepts like "freedom of speech" or "presumption of innocence" are as utterly corrupt as the Chinese, merely different in the implementation of that corruption. (Though decreasingly so.)

The UK is not far behind.

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Re: err ,,,,

I used to belabour this same argument about "unless" vs "until", but eventually someone who was actually a lawyer showed me that the case is "until" and always has been, dating right back to Roman law in essence and back to the 17th century in practice.

The bottom line is that in law neither Unless or Until are used, but instead it is called "presumption of innocence" and fundamentally means that the state (or prosecuting power) must begin with the assumed innocence of an accused party.

Even the universal charter of human rights says "until". So, whilst I might agree that "unless" would be more grammatically and linguistically accurate, it is not the case that using "until" is newspeak.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence

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