back to article The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal

Some of you may already be familiar with our sub-editor Gareth Corfield's work as he is usually the man behind our social-media presence. You. Yes, you. Reading this now. You're reading this on a website where potential TERRORISTS operate. Aren't you scared? Why haven't you clicked away? You support this form of terrorism, don' …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

    Nothing new there, the police would use a picture of you picking your nose against you if they could.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

      Watch the Not The Nine O clock News Sketch "Constable Savage" for police trumped up charges - very funny.

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

        Seconded.

        Indeed, Jasper, I suggest that you get yourself a t-shirt with the logo 'foreign-looking gentleman' printed upon one side.

        The link is here, btw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO8EpfyCG2Y

      2. BillG Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

        Reminds me of a Monty Python sketch defending police brutality

        Police: "The defendant was caught doing something, (mumbles) not normally considered illegal."

      3. Psyx

        Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

        Key thing to remember: The police are not barristers. They have a *working* knowledge of the law, but are not experts and aren't supposed to be.

        Yes, I *know* that in an idealised world every PC would be au fait with every piece of legislation, but if they were, they'd be called 'lawyers who also patrol the streets', we'd have to pay them all over £80k a year and not many people would ever qualify for the job (and if they did, they'd take the training, work for 5 years and then go and work in the private sector for more money, just like RAF pilots and GPs). It's just not viable for police to know about what they're enforcing in detail. Instead they only have a working knowledge. That's why the CPS exist, and that's why a lot of arrests go nowhere when the CPS discover that there's no actual case.

        The police exist to nick you for likely causing an offence and taking you to a station. It's someone with proper training's job to then figure out if you actually did something wrong.

        However, all that doesn't excuse a PR dolt for passing legal advice on to a member of the media. Frankly, it's a stupid, stupid thing to have done, and whoever the muppet is should lose their job.

        If things had been the other way around and the press had been advised by a PR officer that something was perfectly ok, and you read and acted on that and were later arrested, you know how much slack you'd be given for having been told what the law was by a PR copper? Zilch.

        tl;dr: If you want legal advice, talk to a lawyer, not a copper.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

          @Psyx: "Key thing to remember: The police are not barristers. They have a *working* knowledge of the law, but are not experts and aren't supposed to be".

          And yet it is their duty to arrest anyone whom they see (or hear about) breaking the law. How on earth can they do that if they don't know the law themselves?

          Further. It is a well-known legal maxim that "ignorance of the law is no defence". In other words, if you unwittingly break the law you are just as guilty as if you had done it deliberately.

          I recall being told by my accountant, a partner in a substantial firm and a specialist in company accounting law, that the relevant laws would fill an entire shelf of books and change so rapidly that even he cannot begin to keep up with them. Now consider how small a fraction of all the laws are concerned with accounting. No one - not the most dedicated, assiduous lawyer - can possibly have even a rough knowledge of them all.

          Yet our legal system insists that every citizen must act as if he knew every law in detail.

          Obviously, if policemen do not know the law they cannot enforce it. If they fail to enforce laws that are on the statute book, that's bad. But if they try to enforce laws that don't exist, that is catastrophic. In either case, contempt for the law will ensue.

          There is one simply, glaringly obvious solution that our politicians will NOT try: drastically cutting down the number and complexity of the laws.

          1. Richard 51
            WTF?

            Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

            "There is one simply, glaringly obvious solution that our politicians will NOT try: drastically cutting down the number and complexity of the laws."

            Don't give them ideas we will end up with a law that says anything that the home secretary says is bad is illegal and therefore punishable by up to life imprisonment. SImple enough?

          2. Psyx

            Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

            "And yet it is their duty to arrest anyone whom they see (or hear about) breaking the law. How on earth can they do that if they don't know the law themselves?"

            Again - as already stated - they have a WORKING knowledge of the law. They're trained to do the job, not be lawyers.

            Again: It's the job of the CPS to figure out precisely what laws were broken after the bill have pried the proverbial two parties off of each other and mopped up the blood.

            And you can still sick them for illegal arrest or harassment if they balls it up.

            It takes years to qualify to be a solicitor, and then you earn a ton of money. Do you honestly believe it's viable for our policemen to be trained to those standards of familiarity with the law?

            What do you want: Policemen who are au fait on a working level with the law, or to triple the salray of every policeman.

            Because those are your choices.

            "Yet our legal system insists that every citizen must act as if he knew every law in detail."

            No, it doesn't. That's not how our legal system works. It expects us to act as a reasonable person would. Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to the morally obvious, but it's a perfectly acceptable defence when it comes to intricacies that a reasonable member of the public would not understand, have exposure to, or be likely to take legal advice over.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

          Psyx,

          >They have a *working* knowledge of the law, but are not experts and aren't supposed to be.

          Then why is ignorance of the law not a defence when you seem to think it is acceptable for police officers?

          1. Psyx

            Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

            "Then why is ignorance of the law not a defence when you seem to think it is acceptable for police officers?"

            Ignorance of the law is a viable defence if you otherwise acted as a reasonable person with decent morals and had no real reason to get prior legal advice.

            If you genuinely believe the police should all have a degree in law and go on a ten-week refresher course each year, then you can pay for it. I'd rather they just did the police-work, let CPS sort out the complex legal matters and got done for wrongful arrest and harassment if they screw it up. Because that's what you can do if they do: If their partial knowledge of the law screws you over, the law is theoretically on *your* side.

        4. fajensen Silver badge

          Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

          Key thing to remember: The police are not barristers. They have a *working* knowledge of the law, but are not experts and aren't supposed to be.

          Then they shouldn't (pay people to) be running their gob in public about things that they know little about and apparently cannot be bothered to look up for themselves or perhaps even seek some advice from actual barristers - before sticking their foot in it!

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Chris W Re: Police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance

      "......the police would use a picture of you picking your nose against you if they could." Socio-political astynomiapbobia, no doubt driven by insecurity and a desire to be seen and accepted as 'cool'.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    They've got you...

    It's not actually READING it that's the problem - "(e) transmits the contents of such a publication electronically" - a useful phrase meaning that clicking on the link causes the file to be transmitted electronically to your router, where it is again transmitted to your tablet/phone/laptop etc - they've got you bang to rights, you evil terrorist!

    As far as the plods are concerned, using any electronic equipment makes you a terrorist suspect

    Good to read that someone is challenging them - can we have the name of the senior officer who authorised the statement? At a minimum they need to be sent off for some lengthy re-training, ideally they should spend a year or two on traffic duty in Port Stanley. They are obviously unfit for their current role.

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Re: They've got you...

      Dear Sir,

      under section e) I would mount the defence that the user is not transmitting it, but rather requesting somebody else to transmit it to his/her computerised-viewing-equipment-of-choice via whichever technologically available means... Therefore it is YouTube (Google) who falls foul of the law, and hence they want to remove / are removing / have removed the referred contents.

      I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of the <opinion> piece. Well done.

      Regards,

      Guus

      1. Vic

        Re: They've got you...

        the user is not transmitting it, but rather requesting somebody else to transmit it

        Ah. Conspiracy to cause the transmission of material contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006.

        I was going to put a "Joke Alert" icon on this, but in hindsight, I'm not sure it's a joke...

        Vic.

        1. gerryg

          Re: They've got you...

          There's interesting case law about this. For example Knuller v DPP (1973) HL

          There exists a common law conspiracy to corrupt public morals and outrage public decency.

          D published a magazine containing advertisements for homosexual acts amongst consenting adults.

          Held:

          Conspiracy to corrupt public morals ... really means to corrupt the morals of such members of the public as may be influenced by the matter published' by D, with 'corrupt' being synonymous with 'deprave' or amounting to 'conduct which a jury might find to be destructive of the very fabric of).

          Regarding the offence of outraging public decency: 'the substantive offence ... must be committed in public', i.e. before more than one person. "'Outraging public decency" goes considerably beyond offending the susceptibilities of, or even shocking, reasonable people'.

          Obiter... it's based on Shaw v DPP which was quite an interesting and relatively famous case as he had sought clarification from plod as to what would be ok before he published.

          On the other hand some argue (pdf) this is contrary to Section 7 ECHR.

      2. d3rrial

        Re: They've got you...

        @Guus Leeuw

        They can always claim that your Graphics Card transmitted it to your Monitor.

        If they have the judge in their pocket, he could rule on this.

        1. Psyx

          Re: They've got you...

          "They can always claim that your Graphics Card transmitted it to your Monitor."

          No 'they' can't, because the law of the land is supposed to be interpreted and sustained in line with what a reasonably intelligent and just man on the street would do.

          Ultimately, our law is not about weaselling, but common sense. Common sense interpretations apply.

          "If they have the judge in their pocket, he could rule on this."

          Judges tend to take their work fairly seriously, despite what TV teaches us.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They've got you...

            "No 'they' can't, because the law of the land is supposed to be interpreted and sustained in line with what a reasonably intelligent and just man on the street would do."

            A magistrate is guided by his assisting law officials to apply their interpretation of the letter of the law. They have very little room for manoeuvre. However - electing to have a Crown Court jury trial increases the minimum sentence if found guilty.

            I know of a trial where the defendant rightly elected to have a Crown Court trial on on the grounds that the prosecution's scant evidence was very subjective. However his lawyers - who were not specialists in that legal area - then convinced him to change his plea to guilty.

            Their reasoning was that it would be seen as a "technical offence" with no intent - and he would get probation. Otherwise a jury could be very unpredictable in this subjective matter - and the minimum sentencing rules would increase a "guilty" sentence to a prison term.

            When imposing probation - the judge apologised to the defendant that his hands were tied by the minimum sentencing rules. He also commented that the prosecution's evidence was very slight.

            In my opinion an innocent man was railroaded by the system to accept the lesser of two undeserved punishments. It seems that the one legal person who applied intelligence and common sense found himself irrevocably bound by government imposed rules.

            1. Psyx

              Re: They've got you...

              "A magistrate is guided by his assisting law officials"

              Magistrates are no more judges than a TA private is a member of the SAS. They are part-time busy-bodies with no legal background.

    2. djack

      Re: They've got you...

      Not really, transmission implies that you have the information in question and are sending it somewhere. Even if you have made a request for the transmission to be made, you are still only receiving it.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: They've got you...

        But they have to make sure, so they will take your computers, phone, and just to be sure your toaster. You might get them back some day...

    3. McMoo

      Re: They've got you...

      I think they might be able to argue that you have caused the video to be transmitted by requesting the video. Perhaps they could get you as an accessory, in the same way that giving a thief a list of things to steal, but not actually stealing them yourself, would?

      Sounds to be clutching at straws - and I have no intention of watching the video, but I resent being told legal things are illegal.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: They've got you...

        They'd just redefine "transmit" to make sure they got you, much as when many people are charged with "making" indecent images of children, what they've actually done is viewed it on their computer, thereby causing it to be downloaded and so a new copy "made."

        My cynical mind suspects there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it enables a longer penalty without changing the law (though that shouldn't be hard to do, even without whipping up a moral panic first). Secondly, when you hear about people being arrested for "making" doesn't it sound so much more impressive? It's as if they've actually tracked down and found the people physically abusing.

        I'm sure, in a similar vein, they could find a learned friend who would argue that, for instance, the transmission of the video across the internet occurred as a result of you clicking on a link. Having established causality, it's merely a short leap to that that you, therefore, transmitted the video.

        Few people with any sense of how technology works would necessarily agree with you, but the PR team would get to trumpet another terrorist suspect banged up, and everyone goes to bed feeling a little bit safer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They've got you...

          "They'd just redefine "transmit" to make sure they got you..."

          This is, by the way, a perfect example of one reason (among many) why programmers have to be smarter and more careful than lawyers.

          Redefining "transmit" to mean, effectively, "receive" (or, at most, "request") is absolutely typical of what lawyers do. One bunch of highly paid lawyers argue for weeks about the wording of a law, then another bunch of highly-paid lawyers argue (in front of a judge who is a yet more highly paid lawyer) about what that wording "really" means.

          Whereas a programmer has to make his code state, at all times, exactly what the machine should do. Not nearly, approximately, figuratively, or somewhat. Exactly. If the code says anything in the slightest bit different, then that is what will happen - and the programmer will be blamed for it.

          Whereas lawyers deal in ambiguity and uncertainty, prosper from it, live immersed in it, programmers have avoid it utterly. Which job is harder and deserves to be better-paid?

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: They've got you...

        An argument could be made that by clicking on the link, you are also transmitting. Namely, transmitting a request to the server to view objectionable material.

        Note that the law makes no mention of the 'quantity' of objectionable material which needs to be transmitted in order to constitute an offence; it could be something as small as a ping packet and you'd still fall foul of PC Ignoramus.

    4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: They've got you...

      And in which case why hasn't the head of the BBC or other new outlets been nicked yet?

      1. DrGoon

        Re: They've got you...

        No need to make the collar if you can make them bend the knee.

    5. Charles Manning

      Yup it is down to interpretation

      (e) transmits the contents of such a publication electronically;

      Now that's getting close to the wire.

      You could argue that by clicking the link you are causing the transmission, but causing the transmission is not illegal, just transmission.

      But you could also argue that your equipement does transmit the publication:

      Your NAS/ADSL modem tranasmits it to your Wifi AP.

      The Wifi AP transmits it to your computer's wifi module.

      That transmits it to your CPU

      Which transmits to your screen.

      ...

      They could clarify this by a slight change to (e):

      (e) transmits, or causes transmission of, the contents of such a publication electronically;

      In that case, clicking a link would get you on the wrong side of the law.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They've got you...

      "Terrorism" is an offence defined to mean "any form of dissent". For example, making a vocal protest inside a party political meeting will result in you being ejected under Terrorism laws.

      As for watching a video of a beheading, I expect that's more a matter for Health and Safety regulations.

    7. AlbertH

      Re: They've got you...

      As far as the plods are concerned, using any electronic equipment makes you a terrorist suspect

      Using anything other than Apple or Windoze turns you into an arch-hacking criminal. I had a couple of Scotland Yard's finest Defectives maliciously impound two of my computers - simply because they ran OpenBSD in one instance and Mint Linux in the other.

      After a few days, I got a phonecall from their "computer forensics" department demanding user passwords (they couldn't work out how to circumvent them themselves) - I pointed out that if they couldn't achieve something as trivial as recovering a user password, then their "forensic" skills wouldn't be up to analysing the contents of the machines anyway. I got both machines back a few days later with their hard drives wiped with a tape demagnetiser!

      I sued. I won. I got very substantial damages out of the Met and the Defectives don't work there any more. The machines were restored from back-ups, of course!

      It's scary how incompetent these clowns are!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Distribution.

    Does the copy sent to GCHQ count?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Distribution.

      No, but the copy GCHQ _transmitted_ to the NSA does.

  4. nematoad Silver badge
    Stop

    The "LAW"

    Enforce the law = make the law.

    The police must have been reading Judge Dredd's book on law enforcement.

    " I am the law."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The "LAW"

      Yep, loved this bit...

      "I favour an alternative explanation: that the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case"

      Man, they've been doing that shit for years. It's the easiest thing in the world - spout shit and wait to be called out on it. Their standard behaviour is "a night in the cells" for whatever bullshit reason they can think up just to piss you off. Politicians are little better, the superfluous little parasites.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The "LAW"

        I've been in the car and have been stopped for "dangerous acceleration".

        My favourite was being pulled over for "not stopping at a give way sign".

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: The "LAW"

          "dangerous acceleration" and "not stopping at a give way sign". I'm guessing that your car has something about it that attracts attention.

        2. PassingStrange

          Re: The "LAW"

          @AC: 'I've been in the car and have been stopped for "dangerous acceleration".'

          That's perfectly reasonable (if not necessarily well-explained to you). ANYTHING you do whilst driving on the road or a public place can be an offence, if you go about it in a way that could cause problems for other people (including pedestrians). Check the legislation and you'll see that our main road offences were quite deliberately framed with broad-brush terms such as "reasonable consideration", "due care and attention" and "dangerous" - with the interpretation of what constitutes such left, in the final analysis, to the courts and case law. It's an approach that removes any wiggle-room for getting away with blatant infringements on technicalities, whilst leaving room for common sense to prevail. It's also one that has, on the whole and in my own personal opinion at least, worked pretty well. (And it's also one that means that the government's high-publicity "attack" last year of "new" offences for middle-lane hogging, etc., was a wholly-unnecessary PR exercise - everything was already perfectly well-covered by the existing legislation - but that's a different discussion).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The "LAW"

      Not quite. Wasnt Judge Dredd typically able to cite which law was broken before passing Judgement?

      Quite a world we live in where Judge Dredd represents an Ideal compared to the reality of the Met...

    3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: The "LAW"

      There is no justice, just us...

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Reading that law, it looks like it's YouTube's fault

    Shouldn't the Met have sent the stormtroopers round to Google's London HQ by now?

    1. Uffish

      Re: Reading that law, it looks like it's YouTube's fault

      The troopers did storm in, but they got bogged down in the defensive ring of free food canteens and toys. They have called in all their mates as reinforcements.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    glad we sorted that out...

    I don't think I'll go looking for the video.. much more interesting things to do with my time, but glad to hear I am not a terrorist if I did.. quite frankly I am much too busy to get involved with all that terrorism stuff.

    (dear GCHQ; the previous statement is an ironic take on cause and effect - it was a joke based on the ridiculous idea that if the MET designated me a (potential?) terrorist then I would then somehow be obligated to start carrying out terrorism. to be clear; I am not a terrorist, nor do I have any terrorist ideas, sympathies or materials, and neither does my wife).

    However this does raise the question: are only the _uploaders_ of such materials now designated terrorists by the UK government or are the various sites that such materials are uploaded to also impacted? (e.g. would youtube et al. be considered for 'common carrier status' and not liable for any such content on their networks, (their policies of removal of such content notwithstanding) - or is youtube now listed as a terrorist organisation? If they are not, does that mean that the terrorism act is only applied when the state representatives wish to apply it?)

    Facinating stuff / IANAL / I'm sure someone will point out the flaw in my reasoning somewhere.

    1. xyz

      Re: glad we sorted that out...

      See...you're protesting too much...that will make you "interesting"...oh and you put ANAL in caps, so you're obviously a child molester too...putting that "I" in front didn't camoflage your true intentions.

      So...to clarify, the correct response to anyone in authority should always be "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir"

      Chief Constable Savage

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: glad we sorted that out...

        iANAL?

        -OP

  7. Chris Tierney

    Smartasses

    Perhaps the Met were just using the Booleen method. False OR True = True

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Smartasses

      "Perhaps the Met were just using the Booleen method."

      That's the 'Doreen' method of clairvoyance:

      False OR True = CASH

      (though it seems to always return False, CASH is the result)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They love blanket criminalising anything done online...

    Well, if they, a court, and a jury decide that "transmits the contents of such a publication electronically" inflates to "causes to be transmitted the contents of such a publication electronically" then viewing the video could be twisted into an offence under that section.

    Much the same as the Communications Act 2003 allows a catch-all crime of "saying something offensive online" that can be invoked should you do or say something that enough people complain about on Twitter.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: They love blanket criminalising anything done online...

      Something Offensive

      :-þ

  9. david willis

    The Police and the Law.

    Taking Photographs in a public space - until recently people were getting accosted and arrested for this.

    "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. ... The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home..If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." President James Madison

  10. Dave Bell

    I had the fond belief that, most of the time, the law required intent. There are a few exceptions, such as child porn (and porn cases in general are full of Police crap). With all the malware and other virus-like downloads going on, even apparently from Microsoft, it's hard to be sure who decided what about a particular file on a user's computer.

    And these PR departments seem to be optimised to feed stories to less-than-competent journalists who don't have the wit to ask awkward questions but are just capable of acting as another unit in the internet of things that connects the Police to a printing press. Abd it's not just the Police.

  11. Nigel Whitfield.

    Accuracy? Pah

    When Green says "People need reliable and accurate public information, and they have the right to expect it from the well-funded PR departments of UK police forces," I'm afraid that's more a hope than a realistic expectation.

    Time and again, the PR department of the Met has shown that it is not accuracy that they favour, but putting themselves in the best possible light. There was a shocking amount of disinformation disseminated about the De Menezes case, and then later about the Tomlinson one, including some outright lies.

    One would hope that they would have learned that if you can't stand something up, it's better to give a holding statement, like "we're reviewing evidence and we'll issue a statement when we have the facts" rather than, well, telling lies.

    Personally, I'm of the view that when the PR office has a habit of willfully misleading to cover up mistakes, that goes a very long way towards creating a culture in which the relatively small number of bad apples feel they can act with impunity, because the communications team have their back.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Accuracy? Pah

      "Time and again, the PR department of the Met has shown that it is not accuracy that they favour, but putting themselves in the best possible light."

      Isn't that kind of the point of a PR department?

  12. corestore

    "I favour an alternative explanation: that the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case: "So what if it's not against the law, you shouldn't be doing it anyway."

    DING.

    There was another wonderful admission on that recently, of the truly innocent 'What, shouldn't I have said that? Why on earth not?' kind, in a connected matter: plod freely confessed that, in dealing with people trying to fly out of the UK, where there was some suspicion that they might have jihadist intentions, one tactic they were using was simply to *make them miss their flights*.

    Yep. UK plod openly - nay, proudly - admitted they felt they had the power to deliberately detain people trying to leave the country at airports, not for any articulable legal reason, not for investigation, purely and only to MAKE them miss their flights.

    You could NOT make it up.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Also there is apparently no law against

    killing unarmed, legally resident Brazilians who act perfectly normally on the Tube

    Or by virtue of fraud, raping women protesters and fathering children by them

    Or attacking and killing perfectly affable elderly newspaper vendors

    Or selling information for money to elderly media moguls

    Or, after bungling the case for years, spying on the family of murder victims

    Welcome to Sh1thole Police State Britain!

    1. Irongut

      Re: Also there is apparently no law against

      You forgot inviting the BBC to tag along during a questionably legal raid on a property while the owner was out of the country.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Also there is apparently no law against

        Crikey - you are talking A VERY LONG LIST when you start on the crimes of the Met lesser than murder, perverting the course of justice, rape, fraud, corruption or assault.

        The fact that the Met still exist proves that;

        a- We live in a country where the rule of law is arbitrary

        b- We live in a Police State

        c- We do not have a functioning democracy

    2. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: Also there is apparently no law against

      Or by virtue of fraud, raping women protesters and fathering children by them

      I think if you accepted this one, you would be on a very slippery slope indeed. It would mean that every white lie anyone ever tells to have sex could be brought up against you later, ranging from shaving or adding a few years here and there, to exaggerating the size of your penis, job importance, wealth or whatever. You consent to sex if you like the person you are with, regardless of his/her job title.

      Your cynical points about all the others have validity though

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Also there is apparently no law against

        "would mean that every white lie anyone ever tells to have sex could be brought up against you later"

        Exactly what happens in Shitain, now. Or did you forget abot the teen girl who pretended to be a boy to have a relationship with another girl. She did substantial prison time in Police State Shitain.

        And no I am not a cynic - just a realist.

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: Also there is apparently no law against

          Wait, so if the curtains don't match the carpet that's now attempted rape?

          I have been the victim of a serial rapist, and I didn't even realise it :'(

        2. Marcus Aurelius

          Re: Also there is apparently no law against

          In the case you are quoting a very significant element of the case was that at least one of the people who she'd had an intimate relationship with was under 16 when she was 19. Also when initially arrested, it was assumed she was male and the actual arrest was for sexual assault on the assumption she was a guy.

          In other words this was a sexual assault case and the gender of the offender had little to do with it.

      2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: Also there is apparently no law against

        It's called "procurement of a woman by false pretences"

        http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/4-5/69

    3. Psyx

      Re: Also there is apparently no law against

      "Police State Britain!"

      Mate, I don't always think much of our police either, but it's not a police state. It's a long way away. And I don't like it to be called such as it belittles the plight of people who are unfortunate enough to live in them.

      Ultimately, you're not going to be banged up without trial, beaten for confession and have your family threatened by the police because of your perceived wrongdoings. Our police don't routinely carry firearms. You can have a trail and legal representation. There are no star chambers.

      It's not a perfect police force and I'll be near the front of the line when it comes to pointing out short-comings, but we should have a bit of perspective and consideration for those less fortunate before tossing around phrases like 'police state' and 'Orwellian'.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it is a shame

    it is a shame that this happened but .. all this over 1 man ? how many die each day in the uk ..usa and other country's from murder or foul play ..why must we be whipped up into a frenzy ..yes we all don't like the thought of terrorists .. but again ask yourself why there doing this to make you afraid ? I am not for the reason they think ..if they make us that afraid it's easier for them to pass laws that really shouldn't be passed to take away our freedom one step at a time ...

    the billions we spend on the gchq and they still can't do there job to protect us ?

    that scares me even more ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it is a shame

      This isn't about the killing of one man. It's about the legal issues surrounding the video of it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: it is a shame

        Chris, that wasn't his point.

        His point was, grotesquely: what's one more murder. And the answer is to convince people to stop killing other people. Of course, if every criminal took two months' holiday, how many police would go on the dole and courts be shuttered?

  15. Cipher
    Big Brother

    If they want to stop terrorists...

    ...by mustering overwhelming support for their actions against these animals, they would put the video on the evening news. Force the moderate muslims to respond to these barbaric actions, see what response the anti Israel crowd has to say. Remind everyone exactly who and what these murderous thugs are up to...

    In a broader sense the video is news. In a free society how can one justify such censorship? It is a slippery slope to total government control of what we can see and read and what we cannot...

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Re: If they want to stop terrorists...

      The video is at it's most effective when it's talked about but not watched. Getting it taken off the main places ordinary folk will see it is the best way to get most people to know *about* it. When you do watch it it's obviously terrible acting, poor special effects and far too good audio quality for a cheap camera outdoors in the wind. If too many people saw this too many people would know it was a fake. Their will be people at the BBC who know it's fake but they don't want to get their friends into trouble.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The police are WRONG

    Can't you be arrested for saying that?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The police are WRONG

      I believe you get put on the list of domestic extremists and dissidents. You will them be randomly stopped and harrassed for the rest of your life.

      1. a53

        Re: The police are WRONG

        As will your relatives, neighbours and their relatives.

        1. Tommy Gilchrist

          Re: The police are WRONG

          And (apparently) anyone who heard and/or read about you saying it

        2. Keven E.

          Re: The police are WRONG

          As will your relatives, neighbours and their relatives.

          and

          And (apparently) anyone who heard and/or read about you saying it.

          That leaves Kevin Bacon about " " this far away from being a terrorist.

      2. corestore

        Re: The police are WRONG

        "Criticism of the police, while in itself technically legal, will usually, upon investigation, turn out to be linked to other offences"

      3. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: The police are WRONG

        I find the police give you some respect if you put up a fight. You get treated like a criminal, ie they are scared of you and not like a law abiding citizen which means they walk all over you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The police are WRONG @Wayland Sothcott 1

          I don't believe you've ever had an real dealings with the police. If you had you'd know that "fighting back" as you call it will only get you arrested even quicker. In all cases, once you've been arrested they will chop and change charges until they find one that will stick.

          To give one example I'm willing to a publish. I was arrested for stealing my own car. Once the mistake was realised they tried on drunk driving. They couldn't make that stick so they eventually settled for reckless driving. A year and half later up in front of the magistrate two police officers swear blind almost word for word as to my driving style during a high speed chase through a city centre in car that wasn't capable of performing any near what they said. Result heavy fine and points on my license. They will get you and they will not be wrong.

          Am I bitter? Damn right I am, as I said that is one example and I will never believe the word of any police officer. You want me on your jury because no matter what the evidence, I will find you innocent.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The police are WRONG @Wayland Sothcott 1

            "Damn right I am, as I said that is one example and I will never believe the word of any police officer. You want me on your jury because no matter what the evidence, I will find you innocent."

            I am afraid that if I am ever on a jury I will view any police statements, or their expert witnesses, as being highly suspect. The recent practice of loading prosecution cases with unprovable allegations from third parties seems designed to be highly manipulative of juries.

            1. Chas
              Unhappy

              Re: The police are WRONG @Wayland Sothcott 1

              I once had the displeasure of being on a jury where the case was an alleged assault on a police officer inside a police station. There were three days of evidence, the three police witnesses gave wildly conflicting accounts of the incident and the judge spent one and a half days (!) summing up the case in excruciating and, frankly, unnecessary detail.

              We retired, elected a foreman and held a vote—unanimously not guilty. We didn't feel the need to debate since not one of the police witnesses could agree and the alleged injury was so minor it was laughable. We were back out in three minutes, delivered our verdict and were in the pub before you could say "Not guilty, m'lud!"

              I was frankly appalled—as were we all—at the astronomical waste of the court's time and money.

              =:~)

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Obscene publications

    Don't need terrorist legislation to go after the consumption of images/videos/text. Existing legislation, such as that used in child porn cases, criminalises the download (damn difficult to prove someone was actually watching something) of whatever is deemed to be offensive (historically and culturally specific). Pornography can, and in some countries is, defined as including violence as well as sex. We've seen elsewhere how much the police would like to be able to define what is unacceptable.

    Course that makes for slightly confusing headlines. And, if were any cases brought, might lead to a change in the law if the judges decided the police were overstepping their bounds and swamping the courts with trivial misdemeanours. I also reckon you'd have a damn hard-time proving the beheading was more obscene that now routine pictures of drone strikes and bombs we get to see.

    1. a53

      Re: Obscene publications

      Hmm, I suspect using a knife to behead someone, as was reported, would be far more of a butcher's job, than those you suggest.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Obscene publications

        What would be worse? The blood? How about film of the wounded or dead? What about staging a similar scene in a film? It's damn difficult to define these things legally.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: What about staging a similar scene in a film?

          Yes, what about SAW ?

          I hate the premise and despise the series, but it has been rather successful.

  18. Somerset John

    Given that terrorism is inducing a state of fear or terror in order to further ones own agenda, and the Met seems to be doing everything it can to induce that state in the citizenry of this country, should not the Metropolitan Police now be declared a terrorist organization?

    1. a53

      Should not the Metropolitan Police now be declared a terrorist organization?

      As should Mrs May, for exactly the same behaviour. I was proud of her for managing to expel certain odious people from this country. She does however display a poor example of trying to control the populace by making them guilty till proved innocent.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: guilty till proved innocent

        Yeah, they still bother with that "proven innocent" part for the moment.

        Soon, they'll just be guilty.

  19. a53

    A variation on old news

    Seems like this is the same plod who insisted taking pictures of his colleagues was illegal, only to have a judge correct him a while later.

  20. paj

    A new use of "may"

    So if the Police say it "may" be a crime, that means it isn't a crime... if it was a crime they would say it "is". That's a new use of the word to me... wonder if it will get in the dictionary as quick as amazeballs.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There was a time in England when criminal laws were supposed to be drafted so that it was clear to everyone where the limit was. If it was not specifically forbidden - then it was legal.

    In the last few decades laws have been drafted with criteria that are at best woolly and at worst subjective. Mostly this was down to rushed, careless drafting - or too much reliance on consultation with zealous single-issue pressure groups. There have even been instances of "let the courts sort out the details".

    Most people no longer have any real grasp of the range of criminal offences which they may inadvertently commit. They are aware that people are being arrested by State agencies for what seem spurious nit-picking reasons. Their perception is that a person's legal actions are apparently deliberately (mis)construed to fit the alleged crime.

    What is considered "illegal" becomes redefined by these very public - and sometimes apparently successful stretching of a law's intentions. This brings a law into disrepute with two effects: people distrust the State - and start to break other laws with a attitude of "damned if you do - damned if you don't".

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Yes, this has been a pretty disturbing trend, and it has chilling effects.

      For example, the old Section 28, and its prohibition against "promoting homosexuality" was pretty vague, and had lots of knock on effects, because no one much fancied being a test case. At one stage, the council owned bus company in Edinburgh was unwilling to accept adverts from the local gay switchboard, because that might be promoting - though in fact, the actual paragraph was pretty clear that it referred to maintained schools, that chill spread far and wide.

      Then there was the Criminal Justice Act 1994, which bravely tried to define what a rave might be and even offered up a legal definition of music:

      "“music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats."

      The noble tradition didn't start there, of course; obscene publications with it's "likely to deprave or corrupt" is a bit woolly, and governments of all colours have enjoyed passing poorly worded legislation in recent years.

      This has been a charming month on the legal front really - not only have the police decided that just watching something might make you a terrorist, thereby leaving us all in mortal fear of auto-play video, but the appearance in court earlier this month of two people who had old material they'd not deleted from their phones potentially leaves us all at risk from an unsolicited MMS or Vine as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      consider this a 2nd upvote

      And this a third.

  22. parkerman
    FAIL

    the devil is in the detail

    ok, so the section on transmitting is interesting.

    Transmission is carried out by the host where the content resides, forwarding of that content is carried out by the network devices in the path from the sender to the receiver.

    Secondly, and most importantly, whether this content transmitted via via a TCP connection or via a UDP multicast connection the device receiving the content is the receiver - always !

    Bearing that in mind, and unless the MET want to arrest the YouTube server or any given router on the internet were in the clear........

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: the devil is in the detail

      Other courts have already decided that streaming is not distributing.

      But this isn't about the law but shameful PR of the met. It is a fundamental principle of the British legal system that the police don't get to interpret the law and, thus, decide what is legal and what is illegal.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: the devil is in the detail

        "It is a fundamental principle of the British legal system that the police don't get to interpret the law and, thus, decide what is legal and what is illegal."

        Except the Met have been doing this for years and getting away with it.

        There are too many coppers who believe the law is whatever they say it is, and will attempt to take you down for disputing that. This kind of corrupt behaviour needs weeding out - firmly.

  23. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    No problem

    Just declare all terrorist videos copyright of the state. You watch the video - you automatically infringe the sovereign copyright - you go to jail, baby!

    After all, it is a well known fact that copyright infringement is far more heinous crime then robbery, assault and battery or, say, murder and as such, commands the punishment on par with terrorism and paedophilia.

  24. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

    Erm, there probably is if it falls under Extreme Porn legislation, where simple *possession* is enough to get you banged up...

    > the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case:

    What is this "now" business? Certain elements of the Police have been decising that someone's a "wrong'un" for years/ decades/ generations now and finding excuses to charge them with "crimes" (see Constable Savage from Not the Nine o'Clock News for details).

    I recently was chatting with someone who had been a Police Officer but left because he became so disillusioned with this sort of institutional attitude from some of his colleagues. When he tried to raise the issue with his superiors he was basically told "shut up and let them do their jobs".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

      Many years ago I was questioned by two plain clothes policemen for several minutes who were waiting for me outside my hotel. They were arguing my Range Rover's tax disc was invalid because it stated the make as "Land Rover". My subsequent query to DVLA was answered with "Land Rover". Since then I have seen the same bloody-minded attitude used to prosecute innocent people in more serious cases.

      An ex-police officer privately advised that in those situations it was well known that some officers were "hard men". Worse it was also a reputation worn with pride by whole police units. They decided who was guilty - then pursued that assumption by any means possible. Complaints from arrested, but not charged, law-abiding people were discouraged by veiled threats of "anonymous" smears in the local media or future harassment. Defence witnesses were also threatened, off the record, with "consequences" - if they didn't change their statements to incriminate the defendants. Nothing provable of course. The worst thing was that the institutions then closed ranks to excuse such officers as being "zealous".

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

        "Nothing provable of course. "

        Given that I can buy a bodycam at maplins for £20, that's not a safe assumption for them anymore.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

      Does the legislation also class the act of a digital copy being cached on your PC as "making" to add to "possession"?

      1. Graham Marsden

        @AC - Re: "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

        > "making" to add to "possession"

        Very probably.

        Of course the real purpose is just to make it sound better in the media because "making" implies that you actually produced it

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "there is no criminal offence of watching videos"

      ...What is this "now" business? Certain elements of the Police have been decising that someone's a "wrong'un" for years/ decades/ generations now and finding excuses to charge them with "crimes"...

      Exactly. You want to avoid getting the "special treatment"? You better make damn sure no wretched busybody ever gets wind of anything you do, even if you think it's all perfectly legal. Don't ever give them the chance to decide, or you'll be sorry...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What they really mean

    Don't watch the video because the beheading is an obvious fake and widespread knowledge of that would ruin our 'be afraid, very afraid of teh ISIS' power grab.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What they really mean

      Here is the Daily Torygraph

      Foley murder video 'may have been staged'

      Analysts believe the British jihadi in the video may not have been James Foley's killer, although it is accepted that the journalist was murdered.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/bill-gardner/11054488/Foley-murder-video-may-have-been-staged.html

  26. Stuart Halliday
    Facepalm

    Surely the video was published on YouTube?

    Therefore YouTube is guilty and if you share links to that page, you're guilty of promoting it?

    What's the problem?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: What's the problem?

      Youtube is an American company

      1,The Met's oyster card doesn't go that far

      2, American have a Constitution with guarantees of freedom of speech and all sorts of other 'age of enlightenment' improvements.

      3, Criticism of America "may" itself be a terrorism offence.

  27. Bluenose

    The PR department said "may"

    And therein lies the issue. It "may" be criminal dependent on the wording in the Terrorism Act 2006 if you regard You Tube or any other media site on which the video has been made available as passive and that therefore the act of transmission is initiated by the person who clicks on the play button for the video. As the police wish to stop people viewing this (and not necessarily for criminal purposes but for the protection of the public in general) then they may "choose" to interpret the law in such a way. As the PR wonk said, it is all down to interpretation.

    It is important to remember that the police are not only required to respond to criminal incidents but to act in such a way as to protect the general public from the possibility of crime. By interpreting the law in a particular fashion they may well be able to restrict or prevent people from doing something criminal. For example by planting the suggestion that watching a certain type of video may be illegal they may be able to prevent young knobheads from circulating the link as a joke or windup or even threat ("grass us up and this is what will happen to you") which is according to the Act a crime. One only has to look on line at the idiots who pose with guns or the money from drug deals to see some of the idiots that the police have to contend with or even worse the drunks who piss on war memorials while their mates film them.

    I am not friend to the police having seen members of my family suffer from their stupidity and desperate attempts to justify large sums on investigating non-crimes but at the end of the day they are a very thin line responsible for protecting a lot of people and have often given their lives in undertaking that duty and it appears to me that they may, given a more favourable view of their actions be seen as trying to prevent crime by implying that an innocent act could be interpreted as a crime.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: The PR department said "may"

      " or even worse the drunks who piss on war memorials while their mates film them."

      My Great grandfather was gassed at the Somme (survived). He was one of the people who would gladly piss on war memorials - he had very strong sentiments about the glorification of people having thrown their lives away for no better reason than a bunch of industrial rivals were getting in each others faces.

  28. tentimes

    A sick video - why would anyone watch it?

    I have to ask why a human being would want to see another beheaded. I would not click on the link simply because I never want to see such a disgusting inhuman act. As for the police, well I expect they were desperate for this not to become a sick tribute to the killers. Maybe they fumbled it, but I still can't understand why anyone would link to it - it is just too sick.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I fully agree with your position on this matter.

      Unfortunately, I am aware that there are people who revel in this kind of stuff. There is also the political aspect of this video that must be taken into account : it is in the interest of the terrorists to bring our attention to this act and make us petition our government to (hopefully) cave to the terrorist demands in order to make it stop.

      1. Mycho Silver badge

        I sought out the audio

        I heard people describing it as a British accent, but I wanted to know what kind of British accent.

        Had I not found the audio I might have just played the video minimised. If it were illegal then having minimised it wouldn't be a defence.

      2. nematoad Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Arghhh!

        " ... and make us petition our government to (hopefully) cave to the terrorist demands in order to make it stop."

        That's right, let's all head for the nearest hole in the ground.

        I'm getting tired of correcting this ridiculous error.

        It should be: cave into

        Speleology has nothing to do with it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Arghhh!

          No, it's not "cave into". It's "cave in [to something]".

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: A sick video - why would anyone watch it?

      Why? Look up "morbid curiosity" for an answer. It's simply in the human nature to sometimes be curious about these kinds of things. Now, why is that in the human nature - this is a question to scientists.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A sick video - why would anyone watch it?

      And it's so out of date - where is the social media interactivity?

      I prefer my snuff movies to have more action and a digital readout showing range to the target and a GPS location with a link to Google maps so I can see what the hospital looked like before the smart bomb took it out.

      And an ad popup. Customers who liked the "daisy cutter 5000" also purchased these other area denial cluster sub-munitions....

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: A sick video - why would anyone watch it?

      "I have to ask why a human being would want to see another beheaded"

      You're questioning the entire premise of horror "splatter" films.

      I still think that horrors with implied nasty bits are far scarier.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. "may"

    There's a lot of material on the Internet that would be covered by this, such as "How to make thermite"... Trouble is so would a lot of legitimate educational videos to do with chemistry such as how alkali metals behave when dropped in water, or organic chemistry.

    Do we really want a society where knowledge of certain subjects is forbidden just because a small minority misuse it?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Re. "may"

      The police banned an Iraqi born doctor from taking AS level chemistry to re-qualify in Britain because of concerns the information might be useful to terrorists.

      Presumably German BMW engineers visiting the new Mini plant aren't allowed to see any details of the car in case they learn how to build tanks.

  30. lawndart

    says:

    Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

    Knowledge that there is no law covering this particular "crime" is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

    Knowing your rights is grounds for suspicion in the eyes of the law.

  31. billse10
    Megaphone

    " This attitude of "we know best, to hell with laws and rules" " doesn't begin to sum up the sheer arrogance and extreme laziness of the Met. I recently had cause to put in a complaint against an officer who - while on duty in uniform - chose to assault a friend. He refused to identify himself in any way, and we were not given an opportunity to take a pic of him in uniform showing face and shoulder number. So the complaint included the fact that the officer didn't identify himself when asked for his name or rank, or make available the same information.

    The Met response? As the complaint did not identify the officer, no meaningful action will be taken. "Sorry, we are too busy abusing our powers to actually investigate our own officers when they deliberately choose to put a member of the public in danger."

    Anon because - no, wait, not anon. I -want- them to knock on the door for this one. ;-)

    Good luck with the complaints procedure if your team choose to go that way !! (They need some new toilet paper at the local station, £5 to the El Reg Beer Fund if you get a meaningful response that results in published actions against named officers; will double it if those actions include any sanctions with any teeth - ie more than just being fired)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...will double it if those actions include any sanctions with any teeth - ie more than just being fired)

      My word, man! "Fired"? What are you, some kind of extremist?!? Don't you know that revoking doughnut privileges for a week for gunning down a random citizen on a whim is already classified as a cruel and unusual punishment for those brave officers always ready to put the boot on your face for whatever they see fit?!?

  32. poopypants

    Fascinating

    If I am to take the above posts at face value, then it would appear that there is less freedom in Great Britain than in this 'ere former penal colony.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Fascinating

      Australia has the right idea - put the politicians in jail, it's simpler and safer for everyone.

  33. sisk Silver badge

    Good grief

    I'm of the opinion that intentionally seeking out and watching a video of a man being murdered in cold blood is in poor taste, but calling it a crime is way over the top. Somebody's stirring the pot to serve an agenda here, as if it weren't a bad enough situation already.

  34. HarryBl

    It's the Met. What else do you expect?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > I favour an alternative explanation: that the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case: "So what if it's not against the law, you shouldn't be doing it anyway."

    I believe that this is likely the truth.

    Too many top brass in the police service are effectively politicians. They should not be making public pronouncements of this type *at all*. It is their role to keep the law, not act as the moral guardians of the public good.

  36. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    So sugar and match heads or sugar and chicken droppings are illegal, too, Plod?

    Agencies of the US government have published recipes for devices that use these materials. In fact they can be downloaded this very day.

    So is it Plod's position that downloading these recipes is illegal? How about from Cryptome or the table magazine Inspire?

    No wonder people think they are a joke.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So sugar and match heads or sugar and chicken droppings are illegal, too, Plod?

      Agencies of the US government have published recipes for devices that use these materials. In fact they can be downloaded this very day.

      Yes, I've seen those recipes. The same publication, downloaded out of curiosity back way back when, contained a recipe for nitroglycerin that stated you were safe while cooking it provided the temperature never exceeded 100 degrees Celsius.

      Let me reiterate that: They said nitroglycerine, a substance so unstable that transporting it more than a few yards is considered an act of insanity, a substance which you have to be careful not to expose to sunlight lest it explode, is safe up to the boiling point of water.

      Now I realize that the chemical reaction is still ongoing at that point and it's not actually nitroglycerin yet, but even so it seemed pretty obvious that whoever wrote the book was either clueless or trying to blow would-be anarchists up.

      Also neither the matchstick bomb nor the napalm recipes worked. *walks off whistling innocently.*

      1. JaitcH

        Re: So sugar and match heads or sugar and chicken droppings are illegal, too, Plod?

        Quote: "neither the matchstick bomb nor the napalm recipes worked."

        My match recipes work, we use it in military robot demonstrations. You must have got a decoy copy that was put out to stop people 'trying it at home'.

  37. gersey

    actions that are legal have consequences too

    Watching the video may have serious consequences. Imagine being arrested for some petty misdeamour. If the video is on your phone then bail will be denied. If the phone shows you emailed the file to a friend that could mean being held for 40 days with no access to a solicitor.

    Just because some action is legal in Britain doesn't mean you can't be extradited.

  38. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Pirate

    This is frickin' ridiculous...

    I didn't watch the jihadi snuff video in question, but I would consider it reviewing newsworthy material if someone else had a strong enough stomach to watch it. And of course there are the jihadi nimrods who are twisted enough that they probably get off on seeing the decapitation of a heretic. I wouldn't really go after them either, unless they are file-sharing the video or they are paying for access to the video (which could be argued as encouraging more violence via video)

    The cops have to realize that watching old concentration camp videos does not make you genocidal, and watching a high-speed chase on TV doesn't make you a serial traffic offender. In short, we need to decouple watching some generic crime video from the criminal offense in question.

    In a free society there is going to be stuff out there that I don't want to see, but you might want to see it. And of course the reverse is true.

    (Pirate icon since we don't have a terrorist icon)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ratchet only goes one way

    I suspect that to avoid any such "confusion by the public" in future, an ammendment will be passed to criminalise the viewing, so that fiction becomes reality after all. It's the kind of PR stunt Cameron would love to jump on, telling us all how he is singlehandedly wiping out evil, or some such meaningless phrase. And no-one will oppose it because who really wants to be the political figure to defend the right to watch a beheading video without being classed as a terrorist?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the ass clowns who don't understand...

    ...authorities are referencing promoting of terrorism via the video, not just observing a news clip. Obviously the ass clowns are easily confused.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: For the ass clowns who don't understand...

      What about the promotion of terrorism by bombing innocent bystanders whose only "crime" was to be in the general area of some suspected terorrists?

      Arbitrarily killing someone's family via a button push is the fastest way I can think of to turn a perfectly reasonable human being into a revenge seeking maniac.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now what?

    So, inflamed by this article (incitement to riot, perhaps) I found the afore mentioned U-toobe link and clicked on it. I then went and made a cup of tea (carefully locking the door to my room, so that a visiting burglar wouldn't see it inadvertently.) When I came back, said video had finished.

    I didn't view the u-toobe. But my puter did.

    Save the world, eat Govthugs and other terrorists.

  42. Cody

    I cannot imagine why anyone would want to watch it

    I cannot imagine why anyone would want to watch it, and we should feel sympathy for those who are compelled by the requirements of their profession to study this stuff. It must take a terrible toll and one hopes they are rotated responsibly. I know there is a free speech and free information argument, but not about this stuff. I am very freedom of speech oriented but have no problem with it being made illegal to watch this kind of thing.

    1. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: I cannot imagine why anyone would want to watch it

      "I cannot imagine why anyone would want to watch it," .... "I am very freedom of speech oriented but have no problem with it being made illegal to watch this kind of thing."

      You should feel ashamed of yourself. The freedom of speech is (a) not relevant here (this would be the freedom to have accurate information, not the freedom of speech,) and (b) not something that should be compromised on in such a manner.

      This is how all rights are eroded; when something SHOCKING, which the majority of people find OFFENSIVE, occurs, they demand action because their delicate sensibilities are inflamed. A law is passed to criminalize that offense, and once it is on the books, it's open to any use or abuse that can be wiggled into its wording.

      Suppose a law is passed making it illegal to view the "murder" or "simulated murder" of a civilian by a terrorist. Congratulations, now watching Die Hard can get you nicked, because that's exactly what happens when Hans Gruber shoots Mr. Takagi, a simulated murder. Oh, sure, that wasn't what the law was INTENDED for; clearly, it was only intended to make it an offense to watch something put out by those damn dirty brown people when they murdered someone (which is frankly, I should think, a far more serious offense meriting far more of the attention of the public,) but the law doesn't specifically say it excludes works of fiction.

      You should be ashamed of yourself for daring to suggest it should be a criminally punishable offense to view something, no matter how disturbing it may be. Maybe some sickos get off on it, but what they do behind their own computer screens is no concern of mine. Maybe some few lunatics would look at it and say "Damn, that was badass. I should join those guys/do that to the guys I hate."

      Far more likely, those who view it would do so out of morbid curiosity, or even simply to see the unfiltered account of what is newsworthy.

      You shouldn't try to be the nanny with his/her hand over the eyes of the poor childlike sheeple, and DEFINITELY shouldn't be the nanny who spanks them for pulling away from the hand to see.

  43. Keven E.

    "...or..."

    "“music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats."

    I say it's anything I damn well want to define it as... so, who am I to say it doesn't have any specific definition anyone can give... I mean, if this was a democracy of some sorts, then a whole different *story applies.

  44. Sampler

    Snuff?

    As it's a video of someone being killed, would it count as a snuff film? There must be laws against sharing and viewing those? (these are legitimate questions, I'm not sure and not in a position to be checking - thankfully el'reg is one of the few whitelisted pages at work!)

  45. mark 177

    Google NOT guilty!

    I'd imagine that with the bandwidth they need, Google would have transmitted this content *optically*, rather than electronically.

    I rest my case, your honour.

  46. 101

    Brits are Terrs, they have always been Terrs

    Oddly, this article convinced me that indeed 83% of Brits are terrorists. Likely the other 17% are terrs also, based on their electronic dossier and related contradictory laws, rulings and interpretations.

    Indeed the entire world is following the lead of NSA and GCHQ attempting to collect the entire electronic data dump of everyone. They have laws written like the one mentioned here with vague definitions of terror and terrorist so that everyone is indeed a terrorist, co-conspirator or potential terrorist.

    Indeed I think 'they' have always suspected El Reg of being a Terr. Me too. Apparently 'they' were right.

    Off to the Tower you go.

    It's for your own good you know.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just to clarify...

    "Viewing the video could be taken into consideration if any other information comes to light."

    .. equals ..

    “According to the fuzz, anyone caught watching such videos will not be arrested for that alone - but the police would definitely use that information against them if they got the chance”

    .. yes?

    Some admittedly ill-chosen comms going on here, but hardly the RFT for the first tarmacking contract for Airstrip One. I would expect that my frequenting a location, though entirely legal, might be taken into consideration if I am a suspect for a subsequent crime that took place there

    Even the original ..

    "We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under Terrorism legislation."

    .. is more like the kind of generic boilerplate that organisations frequently generate to cover off all possible semantic eventualities in as few words as possible without getting into the legal weeds rather than, for example, a declaration of martial law. The fact that it has prompted so many folks to have a read of the legislation to reassure themselves is probably a good thing all round. People should read their laws. Even the ones about paint drying.

    I would rather have a law enforcement agency that has a red-hot-go at public comms than one that prefers silent running. It might have behoved them to shut up once they realised that a different end of the stick had been grasped, though.

    Speech impediments seldom improve under scrutiny.

  48. bernmeister

    We are the Law.

    The observation that "the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case" describes a very worrying trend. The British police have used this approach often to obtain convictions for non existent crimes using naive magistrates, high court judges and juries to force their views on what is or is not a crime. Who polices the police?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE!

    You know the law (technically Acts of Parliament, but lets not be picky), all 73,000+ in Engalnd, so what's you excuse for not being ignorant?

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/all

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    release the paedos!?

    Are we saying it's not illegal to watch those kinds of videos?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My question is a little more circumspect, as we know all the security services need is an excuse to get someone.

    However, the police were saying that people would need to help them to find who "john" was.

    But they gave no "audio only" version so the only way people could help would be to watch said video.

    So they bumbled around for a few days rather than releasing an edited authorised film to allow us to assist in finding the name of the killer.

    1. Keven E.

      Disorganized

      Appointed (certainly not democratically elected) hierarchies of money, power, politics, *intellect, weapons and <ahem> "self-control" will inevitably have organizational leaks (let alone logical ones) to reveal the bullpuck that *such creates. I wonder who's getting fired over this one. Can't police officers be terrorists?

      (on loudspeaker from behind) "Pull over!"

      Officer walks up to your window

      "What seems to be the problem, sir?"

      "Your taillight is broken"

      " I had no idea, it must have just happened"

      " Terrorists. They all say that. Step out of the car..."

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's far more likely to be...

    Section 58 Terrorism Act 2000 <http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/11/section/58>:

    (1) A person commits an offence if—

    (a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or

    (b) he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind.

    Given that an indecent image of a child stored in one's temporary internet cache can attract charges of both "making" (contrary to Section 1 Protection of Children Act 1978) and "possession" (contrary to Section 160 Criminal Justice Act 1988), it would not surprise me if the courts ruled that copies of the video stored in one's temporary internet cache amounted to either "collection" (contrary to Section 1(a) TA2000) or "possession" (contrary to Section 1(b) TA2000).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It's far more likely to be...

      It has been noted that (a) includes train timetables, the address of an airline's web page or a copy of the A-Z.

  53. TheMole

    MET bullies

    In 1986 I was stopped in my car and when I asked why, the answer was 'your car is registered in Tottenham and this is a nice area'. A thorough search of me and the vehicle ensued.

    A few months later I was stopped and when a passenger asked why, he was pulled from the car, his arm twisted behind his back till he screamed and was told 'We're the fucking Met sonny, you don't mess with us', as three other officers looked on.

    That was the 80's.

    Fast forward to the 21st century and the Met has modernized itself and (unlike most state-run operations except GCHQ) realised the potential of technology, so no longer are they restricted to physically bullying individuals, they can now cyber-bully the whole nation with one click of a mouse.

    That's progress !

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: MET bullies

      Not just the MET, 10 years after the end of the miners strike South Yorkshire police were having to ship suspects to Nottingham for identity parades because the level of hatred for the police meant they couldn't get any volunteers for a line-up.

      Although at one point they did famously get creative and blacked up a bunch of officers in a line-up where the suspect was black !

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. MET bullies

    I discovered recently that a lot of innocent materials result in mail tampering, pyrolytic graphite is one of them.

    No idea why as it is not toxic, flammable or a drugs precursor but if you order it from certain places the post will get delayed and/or opened.

    It would be interesting to see what it is about this specific material that upsets Ze Plod, from what I can tell it barely shows up on X-rays at all.

    Perhaps some samples display strange properties when exposed to the magnetic fields of some portal type scanners which trips an alarm ?

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was a stupid thing to say but people have to realise that what they do online can affect their real life world too. If you are consistently commenting on such videos you might get put on a list.

    Your actions have consequences. Not that you need to stop doing what you are doing but realise that you are not in a vacuum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > If you are consistently commenting on such videos you might get put on a list.

      Or if you borrow books from a library that the party doesn't like.

      I didn't fight a war against the Nazis/Communists/Terrorists so people like you could go around reading whatever you liked.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Police and the Law.

    recently when a police riot van crashed into my parked car i was threatned with reckless parking, i think he was joking..??

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the only tool you have is the law

    I guess every problem looks like a crime.

  58. Pax681

    /No such thing as "British" Police...

    "that the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case"

    British police?.. there is no British police service... you have the various police services in England and Wales under English law.

    You have the Police in Scotland, one single police service under Scottish Law a separate and distinct legal system and jurisdiction

    And you have the police Service Northern Ireland under Northern Irish Law ,a separate and distinct legal system and jurisdiction

    so.. erm.. British Police??

  59. Jake Maverick

    tell it to Barrett Brown....

    but hang on, youtube could be prosecuted for hosting the material...? i.e. the owners and every employee....um......

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Viewing terrorism abuse is the same as viewing child abuse

    Obviously viewing terrorism abuse is no different from viewing child abuse, even though no actual abuse occurs while viewing.

    Both are crime scenes, and in both cases the victims and their family are reliving the abuse, and you are no better than the perpetrator, and deserve to be thrown in prison.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. The Police and the Law.

    I hd an interesting discussion with the plod the other day regarding some chemistry experiment or other, and they didn't know if it was restricted or not.

    Interesting to note that as of 2 September 2014 in the EU you can't legally buy, possess or sell >9% H2O2, >30% nitromethane, >35% nitrate (ie KNO3, etc) or any concentration of nitric acid.

    Which sucks for the R/C car folks and homebrew PCB etchers as H2O2/HCl is one of the better etchants and does not ruin PCBs nearly as quickly if you get the photoresist slightly wrong.

    Nitric acid is also used for gold refining, in combination with hydrochloric and also for many other useful reactions such as making some polymers.

  62. denzil

    I favour an alternative explanation: that the British police now truly believe they have the right to state that something's illegal even when that's not the case

    no sh*t sherlock

    i was recently stopped by the police ( walking home @ 4am from a party ) , i was asked if i had been

    in trouble with the police before , has to remind them that you cant be in trouble with the police as they are just a agent of the law , they were not impressed , even less so when i refused to give my name and address and inform them where i had been that night , unless they wanted to arrested me .( they didnt btw). they also tried to tell me that me drinking in a pubic area was a offence ( i live 800 yards from the party so i had a open tin of cider with me) had to point out on the sign that it states "its a offence to drink in a this area if requested to stop........"

    note : usually i wouldnt have a problem with the old bill , but the attitude of the two idiots who stopped me was shocking .

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not that it is illegal, more the fact that if you are arrested for something else, or under suspicion AND you have been looking at lots of execution videos, calls for the death of the West etc it will act against you in court.

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