UK to punish "publishing police info" with 10 years in jail

Ken sez,
Indymedia UK has info on an update to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This amendment will make it an offence, punishable by up to ten years imprisonment, to publish or elicit information about any police constable "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

Given the overreach of basically all legislation having to do with the Global War on Nouns, there's fear in blogging, independent journalism, and activist communities that this could make publishing information that the police finds disconcerting, embarrassing, or troublesome problematic (to say the least).

The amendment also apparently applies to internet service providers and web hosting safe harbor there. Hopefully enough of an outcry will be heard to get some realistic analysis brought to bear!

We will not be intimidated – Mass resistance to new offence of publishing inform (Thanks, Ken!)


  1. “publish or elicit information about any police constable “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”

    so whoever leaked the party membership list for the National Front nazis is the target.

  2. So if a service, say an “engine” for “searching”, lets call it “Boogle” were to allow you to, oh, I dunno, locate all the police stations in London with the click of a mouse, who would need to be arrested?

    I’m in the states, should I surrender to the embassy or simply turn myself in to the nearest pub?

  3. I know the U.S. government is far from perfect, but at times like this I appreciate that we at least have a Constitution that protects certain rights from casual whims of the legislature. (Assuming anybody is actually enforcing the damn thing, anyway.)

  4. for a cylinder one mile long and thirty feet in diameter, what volume of liquid gasoline must be vaporized to attain maximum effect?

  5. “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”

    I wish that was at least phrased “of a kind likely to be useful in the comission or preparation of an act of terrorism”.

  6. Well they are only following the government’s lead. If someone leaks information that makes you look bad you have them arrested.

  7. I like the way that the word “terrorism” doesn’t really mean anything any more, and therefore any law that mentions it really encompasses anything. The days when a terrorist had to be someone who used terror to achieve political aims have long gone. I miss the eighties.

    I’ll just put my photographs of UK policemen beating up or shooting innocent citizens (or illegally raiding parliament offices) on foreign hosted webservers instead.

  8. Hey, at least a person arrested under this section can’t be declared an “enemy combatant” and spirited away to an offshore prison where she is subjected to torture, without even a chance to appear in court since habeas corpus has been denied.
    Or can she?

  9. If we were to take this act literally then posting a recipe from the police canteen would be illegal.

    It doesn’t have to be information that helps someone commit an act of terrorism, remember. Just something that would help someone who happens to be planning to.

    I mean, the courts would dismiss it immediately, but it does rather demonstrate how badly worded it is.

  10. Absurd.

    It’s as if someone was actually trying to set things up so as to be useful to a future totalitarian government.

  11. What do they mean by ‘elecit’ information exactly? Is that like when you leave your USB-stick with sensitive information concerning a few million citizens on a public transport?

    Just checking.

  12. Presumably just publishing any photo of a serving policeman (i.e. of their face) would be enough to trigger this law – if the prosecutors had an axe to grind against an individual. There will be all sorts of apologists who say that it won’t be used like that, but just remember that the first people prosecuted under the legislation brought in to combat “stalking” were animal rights activists, not stalkers. The section 44 “anti-terrorist” stop-and-search laws (that don’t require reasonable suspicion) are constantly used throughout London on a daily basis but very very rarely is this anything whatsoever to do with “terrorism”, it’s just an easier mechanism for the cops to randomly harass people.

  13. A thought: what if establishing a totalitarian system of control, by politically more or less palatable means, is the aim? What if some think tank in the New Labour party determined that, within a decade or two of the cumulative effects of Thatcherism-Blairism, British society will be so atomised that it will split into mutually hostile enclaves dominated by extremists (Islamists, white supremacists, gangbangers), unless an iron-willed totalitarian state is established to knock heads together as needed?

  14. ACB, you should know that in the UK and Australia ‘gangbangers’ doesn’t mean what you are impying here. Or maybe that is what you meant, and I haven’t been keeping up with the political motivations of the social-sex scene :)

  15. It may be best just to lock-up everyone in the British Isles and be done with terrorism.

    Oh and @9, you are so right.

  16. Only one comment here actually seems to ‘get it’. This law will be used to criminalise photography and video of the police, and allow them to remove videos and photos from the net.

    I’m partly glad that I don’t live in the UK anymore, but it’s fairly clear that the rest of the EU isn’t really that far behind with the setting up for totalitarianism.

    Since the populace (myself included) is far too docile to do anything to stop it, only some kind of alien intervention can help us now. How about it, spaceshippers?

  17. Another law that can be used to arrest anyone they damn well feel like. There’s a similarly worded law banning information/literature that would be useful to a terrorist – which presumably includes things like maps of a city, chemistry and electronics textbooks, etc. One kid was in the news a few months back after being arrested under this law – the only “dangerous” texts they quoted as found in his possession were the qu’oran (which I’d guess almost every Muslim owns a copy of?) and the Anarchist’s Cookbook, which I’d guess upwards of 20% of teenage boys have seen at one stage or another.

    Takuan @6:
    I’m posting this purely because it’s proof that simple mathmatics count as information likely to be useful to terrorists:
    Volume of cylinder = pi*radius*radius*length
    = pi*15*15*5280 = 3732212 cubic feet.

    Petrol vapour will only burn if it’s between 2-8% concentration in the air by volume (I knew this already, but found it in the second link when I searched google). I assume the most efficient — and therefore fastest and hottest — combustion happens somewhere in the middle of that range, so let’s guess 5%.

    5% of 3732212 cubic feet = 186610 cubic feet of petrol vapour.

    The first google result I clicked tells me that change in volume from petrol liquid to vapour is about 1:800, which sounds about right.

    So 186610/800 = 233 cubit feet of petrol.

    There you go – maths that any teenage science student should know how to do and the results of two 30-second google searches. And yet together I’m certain they qualify as “information likely to be useful to a terrorist” and could be grounds for my arrest, detention without charge, a thorough search of my property and probably interrogation of my friends and family.

    There are many things I love about my country, but it’s becoming a fcuking scary place to live.

  18. They should just make it to be in Britain at any time is an arrestable offense and be done with it.

    We’re already moving towards that way in America.

  19. splendid,won’t even need a full tanker truck. Now,what kind of pornography and sex toys would serve as the best bait for MP’s and high ranking police officials? We could tie them to lampposts above where the tunnel runs.

  20. Hey, at least a person arrested under this section can’t be declared an “enemy combatant” and spirited away to an offshore prison where she is subjected to torture, without even a chance to appear in court since habeas corpus has been denied.
    Or can she?

    Well, legally they can’t do that in the U.S. either. Our Supreme Court has been pretty much ignored over the last eight years, but at least we have one. Here’s hoping that someone starts enforcing their rulings now.

  21. Taking liberties:

    fta: TAKING LIBERTIES is a shocking but hilarious polemic documentary that charts the destruction of all your Basic Liberties under 10 Years of New Labour. Released to coincide with Tony Blair’s departure, the film and the book follow the stories of normal people who’s lives have been turned upside down by injustice – from being arrested for holding a placard outside parliament to being tortured in Guantanamo Bay. THIS IS WHAT YOU DON’T READ IN THE PAPERS! THIS IS WHAT YOU DON’T SEE ON TV! AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU!

    On The Verge: (Download free as a Bit Torrent)

    fta: Police Repression
    Police have attempted to stop On The Verge being screened around the country. The premiere screening at the Duke Of Yorks Cinema in Brighton in March was pulled at the last minute after police invention, and several venues due to host the tour and film have been subjected to police threats – for more see SchNEWS 625, 630.Read ‘A misguided piece of official hysteria’, the Guardian article published March 27th about police repression against On The Verge click here

  22. Two famous bits of police lore 1. Disturbing the peace is what I say it is. 2. You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride. They won’t convict many people with this on bullshit grounds, but they will arrest them and run them through the whole process for the intimidation.

  23. #26 has it. It’s not about convicting citizen whistleblowers; it’s about making whistleblowing increasingly less palatable.

  24. @26, surely even the most dim-witted police understand that the next logical step will be for their switchboard to be flooded with “emergency calls” when the film is next shown. Are they really that stupid that they think people won’t push back when pushed? Or is the creation of a new class of criminals just job security for them?

  25. The more I read about what’s going on in Britain, the more it sounds like the totalitarian regime in V for Vendetta, which is placed in Britain.

    It’s scary!

  26. You know, it really is hard for me to understand what goes through the heads of people in power. What do they expect to gain with that, what do they think their country is going to turn into? Can someone tell me?

    The USA is getting bad regarding civil liberties, but the UK is teh suck. At least that is my impression.

  27. The proposed amendments are badly worded, as a couple of posters have pointed out. The article on Indymedia’s site is almost certainly correct when it says that the intent is to intimidate and dissuade people documenting harassment by police. I can’t really imagine a secure conviction under a law like this.

    From a legal theory perspective this is actually quite interesting, because the Crown’s prosecutors are not supposed to bring cases unless they are “in the public interest”. One element of public interest is that the Crown would be reasonably likely to obtain a conviction: it is not in the public interest for the time of the courts to be wasted.

    The problem is that it would take quite a long time and several appeals to demonstrate the technical faults in the law, and in the meantime the law will have accomplished what its creators intended: the protestors will have been stopped from protesting, their equipment may have been confiscated; they may even have been incarcerated. So in effect this is legislation that provides a penalty without offering any chance for redress by a court. It’s not a new idea, but it certainly seems effective.

  28. I don’t think there will be many people left who want to be policemen if this continues. Or least none that you WANT to be police.

    1. Wow. The Queen’s Speech almost makes the State of the Union Address seem substantive and meaningful. I wonder if I would read that crap just for the opportunity to wear that crown.

  29. Takuan @ 35 – oh yes, and the phoneline lie-detectors they are ~currently~ using basically flag up signs of anxiety…

  30. But they were only ever available on The Late Nite Opening (of Parliament)

    The Queen’s in bed by 10.

Comments are closed.