When will The Powers that Be
Leave Intelligence to the Intelligent?
Internet café owners are being asked to spy on their customers as part of the Met police's terrorism prevention efforts. Under a pilot project in Camden some have agreed to monitor their customers' internet habits for evidence of interest in Islamic extremism, the BBC reports. They are intalling police screensavers and putting …
As if mixed communities didn't have enough stress points. The most frightening part of this is the increasing capacity of govt and police for almost infinite self-justification and self-righteousness.
Mr Kundnani is right in that this is a profoundly dangerous development. What perhaps he hasn't grasped is that it's supposed to be. In the current climate of security theatre, the very people who should be trying to heal the rifts in our communities are thinking of newer and bigger wedges to drive in.
The terrorists' primary aim is to divide and polarise - they're doing very well thank you without our police and govt pitching in to help.
"Café owners are asked to use their own judgement as to what amounts to extremist material."
What could possibly go wrong?
Will all the ones that spy have the posters? Because obviously no business user should go near them as their commercial confidential material will be spied on.
The big companies had better issue warnings to all their staff straight away that these places must not be used under any circumstances..
"In the current climate of security theatre, the very people who should be trying to heal the rifts in our communities are thinking of newer and bigger wedges to drive in.
The terrorists' primary aim is to divide and polarise - they're doing very well thank you without our police and govt pitching in to help."
Dead right. But it's worse than you think
The 'terrorists' are actually doing very badly - mainly because they don't seem to be trying at all. The very few attacks we have seen are entirely home-grown, with no support from external sources. The attacks we have seen are actually directly caused by the response to the Security Service actions.
The reason for this is not hard to discover. Security Service ware nearly out of a job after the Berlin Wall came down in 89. They spent the next few years looking for a threat - any threat - that they could justify their existence with. They found one with the twin towers, and they are now milking it for all it's worth. Otherwise, it's the dole....
"Café owners are asked to use their own judgement as to what amounts to extremist material."
errr... didn't a university send it's own students to prison for reading materiel that was hosted by the US government and was, in actual fact, in the list of *allowed* materiel? if yes, how can an internet cafe operator know better?
The fail is on you, nothing would be acheived by having a mini rant in a cafe and chucking your coffee on a chair.
I can only hope that some bright spark sees the publicity opportuinty here and markets themselves as "The internet cafe that will not monitor what you do!" not only will that approach give customers a piece of mind, but will raise customers suspicion that other cafes do moinitor them.
That approach might work, for people that know enough to care. The rest of the sheep however...
They are the armpits of the world.
No prospect of the owner's friend (who will of course be paying tax and NI, because they do have a right to work in the UK) showing any interest in anything than making sure the owner gets rent for usage, and then only just....
Don't you lot all sip latte in Caffe Nero, using your 3G dongles, pretending to update your spreadsheets?
(Have I missed anybody...?)
"Hello officer... yes, there are a couple of young islam men here playing CounterStrike and I think they're enjoying it too much..."
I love hearing about it when people get charged with wasting police time, when stories like this clearly show us that they must have plenty of time to waste.
Because not everyone's idea of suspicious behaviour is the same. You might be looking at something perfectly innocent that someone else considers dodgy. Then you're stuffed. Of course you can tell them that you're innocent, but that's what guilty people say, isn't it?
It's trying to officially sanction paranoia, which isn't healthy for anyone and will achieve very little in terms of protecting the public, much like terror policy in general.
...wondering why people might not want to have their every move monitored, whilst posting anonymously.
"Everyone is always up in arms about this kind of stuff. I have no idea why..."
Perhaps because we just don't like the idea of our everyday activities, regardless of whether they're legal/moral/socially acceptable/etc or not, monitored by an ever growing brigade of official and unoffical busybodies?
Perhaps because we're concerned about the real prospect that this increasing level of prying, combined with the growing levels of fear and mistrust (partly genuine, but mostly fuelled by the media and official campaigns like this), makes it more likely that innocent people are going to end up incorrectly labelled as suspects simply because their behaviour patterns don't fall into some puritanical/unattainable definition of what's normal?
Perhaps because many of us grew up during the Cold War, worrying about the threat of nuclear annihilation, rejoicing as we watched the first cracks appear in the iron curtain, then learning about how the ordinary citizens in the former Soviet bloc nations lived their daily lives and thinking "thank god for Western freedoms"... When Germany reunified and we learned just how much time and effort the GDR regime spent gathering information about its citizens, who in the UK could have imagined that we'd start behaving in the same way?
So you might not see why stuff like this is a big deal to so many people, but that doesn't mean it isn't a big deal to us all. We should all be worried, very worried, about the way we're being persuaded bit by bit to spy on one another. It's not exactly the sort of thing you expect from an allegedly free and democratic country (though perhaps our current leadership takes its definition of democratic from the aforementioned GDR...), and dash it all, even worse than that it simply isn't British!
"Most of the people complaining are just concerned that they are going to get caught doing something they are not allowed to be doing."
You are full of shite.
I'm not concerned about getting caught doing something i ma not allowed to be doing. I am concerned about getting caught doing something *is* allowed, but which some uptight ass decided they don't like. Or worse yet; something that was allowed for my entire life, but someone decided is now suddenly against the law.
The goalposts move around , and many people decide their personal sense of right and wrong should be the determining factor in how others should behave. What if you are in the middle of ridiculous-uber-christian-fundementalist-ville and trying to get the address for an abortion clinic? Or a gay bar? What if you are trying to find out how to make a small flash-bang for a science experiment, or a gag at a campfire? (I have been known to embellish my ghost stories with flash powder; legal at least in my jurisdiction, but not in some others.)
What if you are a visitor to another country, taking the opportunity to look up the local laws to find out if your favourite sexual activity/drinking game/fireworks display/stunt driving/whatever is legal in this jurisdiction, and the café owner decides this is suspicious and you are a terrorist? Hey, maybe you are in a cyber café in a mall somewhere, and you just passed one of those stores where they sell all sorts of nifty sharp weapons. You decided you would like to learn more about a few of them, possibly with an eye to buying one or two. You sit down to do some research, and next thing you know you’re being hauled off as a terrorist.
I’m not afraid of getting caught doing things I’m “not allowed” to. If I wanted to engage in that sort of activity…I guarantee you they’d not find me. (I’m a network admin by trade, and paranoid as a hobby. They’re light-years behind the leading edge tinfoil hatters, and you can browse the internet with impunity if you plan it even halfway well.)
No, I’m afraid of overzealous pompous ****s who might call the cops on me as a terrorist/naked crazy child rapist/murder/whatever simply because they don’t like what I research on the internet. Even if that research is perfectly legal.
"Not allowed to be doing"? Allowed by whom??
There's a lot of things that a lot of people in this would would like to "not allow" others to do, be that being gay, freely protesting outside Parliament, looking at "extreme" pornography (ie something that the person advocating the law doesn't like) or visiting websites about the Tiananmen Square massacre.
If you really have no idea why people are "up in arms" about this, I suggest you consider the words of George Santayana: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
Or maybe just being sarcastic, but in case anyone thinks you're actually being serious (or even actually are being serious) you really don't see anything wrong with asking group a (in this case internet cafe owners) to spy on group b (in this case, their customers) and reporting anything that group b is doing that group a think is dodgy?
I don't see anything wrong with this either. In fact I believe anyone should be available for stop and search, complete body scan and search of internal organs on the grounds that a police officer believes to you have been looking at him in a funny way.
I believe that everyone over the age of 2 should be bar-coded, microchipped, tagged and registered on the national criminal database.
I believe that you're guilty until proven innocent, that anyone who disagrees with the government is a potential terrorist, that MI5 should have the inalienable right to tap anyone's phone at any time and/or to keep detailed records on said persons for no other reason than that they look 'unusual'.
I also believe that you, sir, are an automaton and a lady - a LADY, sir - who at the behest of a man in a white coat would willingly inflict electrical shock treatment on someone else</Stanley Milgram's Experiment Pointlessly Repeated By French Television>
I also believe the moon to be made of cheese, my head to be constructed by aliens from the future, and this to be the end of my post. Good day, sir.
It seems inappropriate to describe this as a measure intended to help win the "battle of ideas", although it is part of a broader strategy which does support engagement with radical ideas by "respectable" clerics and their ilk. This is basically the only option besides net filtering to prevent websites that would be illegal in the UK from being accessed in the UK, and whilst it may seem unpalatable, it could be described as representing the middle ground on this issue, and it can only be hoped that it is successful, so the government doesn't end up doing something a lot harsher. Nobody except crazy socialists actually want there to be a police state in order to enforce the state agenda, and whilst the radicalization of Muslims is mainly an educational problem, there is also a sharp end to their actions, so it is not enough simply to offer them a carrot. Remember, in the UK, these sorts of websites would be shut down, so people wouldn't even have the opportunity to visit them.
If cafe owners are going to be snooping through your data, shouldn't they therefore be displaying this very clearly somewhere so as not to fall foul of other laws? And leaving security up to the subjective judgement of an untrained proprietor is, as has already been mentioned, a recipe for disaster.
It's a delightful irony that this 'initiative' arrives on the day that one of Parliament's own committees is saying the Government is overdoing the security measures.
what 30 years of avoiding any sort of serious technical education leads to. This idea has clearly come from the same place "sex offenders will have to register their email addresses with the police" one did.
Er ... TOR ? Anonymous (offfshore) proxies ?
And besides, if any terrorist really wanted to ensure privacyt, he'd just handwrite his notes in arabic, and fax his mates ....
What sort of terrorist uses an internet cafe? I mean, really. They caught on a long time ago to chaneg their cell phones regularly to prevent monitoring, and I suspect anyone serious out there in the terror club will have worked out that having an operative in an internet cafe where the screen can be viewed by strangers etc etc is probablt not the way to do things. ("Oh noes! Agent X did not get his 'Dont-Go' message because there wasn't a PC available down at Sri's Payless Groceries and Internet cafe!")
But how will a non-arabic speaking internet cafe owner know what an arabic language website is about?
1. Muslim goes into internet cafe
2. Muslim navigates to perfectly reputable arabic language news site
3. Shop owner calls police
4. Police don't know what the page is about either
5. Muslim man is arrested
What there's an annual contest for really dumb ideas?
Clearly this one's not intended to win over any wavering hearts or minds within the Muslim 'community', or frankly any other one. Presumably any cafe owner pulling this stunt is going to haemorrhage business sharpish, because most people really, really hate nosey fuckers for entirely normal un-fundamentalist reasons. I'd be astonished if one of them doesn't end up with a few loose teeth.
How can it plausibly be a good idea to give the power to finger people to those with no more knowledge of what qualifies as 'fundamentalist' than the man on the Clapham omnibus? This is nothing but a recipe for the kind of cheap score-settling that must have plagued the stasi, and at least a couple of steps more stupid than the Met's "photographers are terrorists" poster campaign.
"I despair" is getting overused, but really, I do.
Perhaps our snooping overlords should join forces with China, develop an approved-site-only intranet and disconnect from the rest of the world. They could then divert their talents to something more productive like installing nanny-chips in rubbish bins.
When you've all got over your hang up with moaning about the state of things in China some of you might just get round to doing something about this on our own doorstep. However, I think it more likely in the not so distant future that it will be the people of China who will be sneering at the lack of freedom of expression in the UK and consider intervention to save us from ourselves.
Brrrrr Brrrrrr..... Brrrrr Brrrrrr......
Hello, Police ?
I'd like to report this bloke in a turban.
Thats right..... I saw him accessing the Nu-Labia website.
What's that ?,
You will send SO-19 around to give him a Brazilian ?
Right you are gov'nor. Just doing my bit for Blighty.
... is "what a bunch of hypocrites!" We call ourselves a free country, and tell the world that we're the ideal liberal democracy that all nations should want to become. But then our coppers pull retarded stunts like this so they can throw a bone to the hard-of-thinking. And, of course, if anyone questions the coppers' strategy then it's all "do you want the terrorists to kill your granny?" and "all it takes is one".
Meanwhile, we're just hardening the attitudes of the guys that are the real nutters and handing them another set of grievances to get the kids (they blow up too fast these days) into the gang.
This could be interesting* if anything happens with it.
I'm pretty sure that I, as a white male, with long hair, biker jacket, and an mp3 player blasting out Rammstein, would be able to look at Islamic history, paying careful attention to the Crusade era, without a problem. Hell, I could easily say I was researching for Assassin's Creed.
If my Asian wife (not a Muslim, but was brought up as one) was to look at the same material, it might be considered "extremist", as the Islamic response to the Crusades of Western Christendom is often used as an analogy for current Jihadist behaviour - in effect, Islam responded with violence to the Western Christian coalition in the Crusades, and they're doing the same now. The only thing that's changed is the method. The Crusaders use smart missiles instead of Templars, and the Muslims use IEDs instead of light horse archers.
Either way, the material is either legal, or it is not (whether some material should be legal or not is another conversation entirely!). Jumping on people who have chosen to view legal material for no reason other than "they might be thinking bad thoughts whilst viewing it" is not acceptable. What I might consider perfectly reasonable theological or historical research, would be another person's "extremist propaganda".
What happens if I view extremist Christian material? It does exist, as can be seen with websites about god hating homosexuals, to cite only a single example.
I feel the need to grow my beard long and enter an internet cafe (if I can find one!) with greetings of "Salam, brothers" just to see what happens. Though I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to risk being locked away and never heard from again, as seems to happen with depressing regularity.
*: note that I mean "interesting" in a subjective sense.... "terrifying" is also applicable here.
Well said and its good to read common sense.
"Extremist" is meaningless and basically comes down to whatever the person looking at doesnt like.
I find websites such as Rapture Ready or the Westboro Baptist Church to be hatefilled extremists sites, would the police respond if I reported someone for viewing them?
In fact this strikes me as a good way to fuck over people I dont like....
There are a few extra steps that you could add there - changing your wireless mac address frequently is a good start - but that's the basic idea.
Then again I don't see how terrorist communication requires anything obvious on the screen at all... There are just so many ways to use the internet anonymously, without any risk of being observed, I don't know where to start. But using open (or WEP encrypted, which amounts to basically the same thing) wifi networks is an extremely obvious place to start.
Yes smart terrorists and secret government agents are careful about the computers and phones that they use. But a bored university student may be less particular.
On the other hand, students don't NEED the Internet to radicalise them. And they don't need to invite hate-speakers to address their meetings. Students can get radical all by themselves, just sickened at all the messed-up-n ess in the world.
Having said that, a professional standard of terrorist organising and action does require outside contact with the people who know what they're doing in that field of endeavour. There's such a long list of people who tried to blow something up or assassinate somebody and failed miserably, because they didn't know how to do it right.
After hearing that god-awful "shop your neighbour" anti-terrorism ad on the radio one too many times (and one too many times for that ad means hearing it just once, let alone the umpteen times I've endured it since), I have to say that whilst this new attempt to put the fear of dog into the population by making them think there's a terrorist around every corner is one that saddens me, what makes me even more sad is that it surprises me not one bit.
Why do we have a police force?
They have delegated the task of hunting bad people to untrained, poorly informed, opinionated, bigoted busybodies. They may as well get El Reg commentards to do their policing for them.
Seriously, we pay for, train and equip a police force who are *supposed* to know the law well enough to act when they see possibly illegal behaviour. How the fuck is some minimum wage internet cafe worker supposed to see something and discriminate it well enough to identify real terrorism from everything else.
The BEST that this crackpot idea can provide is a massive increase in thought crime offences - we already have legislation that allows for all manner of material to be deemed of use to terrorists, so view it at your peril - but even this is an optimistic view point. If recent history is any indicator, I cant imagine anyone who gets reported as suspicious, having a clean enough life to avoid any charges. Once an investigation starts the apparent urge is to find *something* to prosecute if only to justify police time (twitter bomber for example).
Its insane. Its lazy policing. Its lazy people for allowing the world to get into this state.
I really, really wish there was another planet I could emigrate to. As it stands, everywhere in the world is insane......
So yet more people going to arrested for watching internet virals then.
Anyone remember the one that montage of arabs firing an Elephant gun and falling over a while back?
Better not watch that if you have brown skin!!
Sh*t wait..I'm half chinese but when I grow a beard and get a tan I look arab...better keep clean shaven and avoid the sun before using an internet cafe!!!
As an internet cafe owner in the Scottish Borders,
If they expect me to put posters up for them - they can pay for the privilege - the space that their posters take up - is space we could be advertising our upcoming events in the theatre.
If they expect me to install their screen savers - they can quite frankly get stuffed - again we use the screen savers for advertising upcoming events.
As we are also a coffee bar and a theatre - if they expect me to wonder about keeping an eye on what people are doing they can get stuffed - I have better things to do with my time, if they think someone deserves watching - they can do that themselves can't they? Not the first time we have had the police in for a cup of coffee.....
To *really* win the war of ideas, we need to bring back electroshock therapy. Give everyone a good dose of it when they turn 16^H^H12^H^H screw it, every birthday. And put tracer tags on everyone. And make it illegal to breath without a license that can only be issued on successful completion of an annual psychological profile. Oh, and put on the occasional public execution, just to make the point. We can start rounding up and hanging, drawing and quartering all the namby-pamby, tree-hugging liberals who think the war of ideas is about people talking to each other.
Given the vast number of open wifi connections in urban areas I suspect most would be terrorists would use those rather than the local internet cafe.
But if people see the posters they will believe the threat is as big as the govt like to portray it and will continue to live in daily mailesque fear of the muslims, peado's and speed cameras out there.
They say this is "...more to determine if their users need what they term as "support"..."
So that would be taken to the nearest Tube Station and offered the remedy of seven bullets, then?
As for the 'tard who really can't see any problem with this, apart from the obvious problems of the reporting of innocuous stuff and the corresponding waste of police time, who pays for all this? Oh, yeah the business owner...
If you look at the (ironically fundamentalist) christians who turned those gay guys away from their B&B the other day, I'm sure even you can manage to link together some interesting scenarios...
I for one welcome all potential busybody fundamentalist christian etc etc etc and so forth...
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Commie-Mutant-Traitor-Scum / Muslim-Paedo-Terrorist-Scum Detected. Please remain calm. HIL Sector Blues have been despatched to your location with Plasma Cannons at the ready.
When I played Paranoia as a child, I never imagined I'd end up living it.
Here in Australia our Great Leader Mr Rudd and his trusty sidekick Sen. Conroy are saving the police and cafe owners all that trouble by just filtering our internet access so we cannot even surf to such naughty websites..
So nice to be protected out of basic civil rights ....to save democracy and the children of course!!
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