Law: Wicked thoughts are not a crime – yet – The Telegraph: By Joshua Rozenberg, Legal Editor, Last Updated: 10:06PM BST 18/06/2008
The ‘lyrical terrorist’ case has highlighted the ambiguities of a law designed to prevent atrocities .
You can think what you like. That was what the Director of Public Prosecutions told a conference on Monday organised by the free speech group Index on Censorship. Sir Ken Macdonald’s remarks were backed up by Home Office minister Tony McNulty.
‘We do not seek to outlaw thought,’ Mr McNulty said. ‘We do seek to outlaw actions, in some cases.’
The Government’s aim was to find a balance between ‘the sanctity of an individual’s free speech and the security of the wider society’.
This is an article from: TorrentFreak
A few weeks after the University of Washington showed that ‘copyright infringement warnings’ are based on reckless tactics, France announces to use these notices to disconnect pirates from the Internet. The warning emails, sent by anti-piracy organizations, often carry the force of law with an ISP, despite being a blind unproven accusation. Lobby groups have pushed for these notices to be all the evidence needed for punishment in some countries, and France is the latest to follow the lobby money, with a 3-strikes law just proposed.
The new legislation will make it possible to disconnect people from the Internet, if they receive more than two copyright infringement warnings. The warnings will be sent out by the ISPs, solely based on data gathered by anti-piracy organizations.
Christine Albanel, the French Minister of Culture presented the new bill today. She hopes the bill will significant reduce online piracy, and is quoted as saying at a press conference: ‘We know that we are not going to eradicate piracy 100 percent, but we think that we can reduce it significantly.’ President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has spoken out in favor of the new legislation before, backed the Minister, and commented: ‘There is no reason that the Internet should be lawless.’
If the new bill passes, anti-piracy organizations will be in complete control of the Internet subscriptions of French citizens. There will be a new agency that will forward their complaints to ISPs, who will then send out the warning emails. One of the major problems is, however, that the data gathering techniques, as used by IFPI, MPAA and RIAA, are far from accurate.
Interestingly, the French law goes directly against the European Parliament who, this April, condemned state plans to authorize the disconnection of suspected file-sharers from the Internet. European Parliament said that disconnecting petty file-sharers would be ‘conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness’.
The controversial bill will come before parliament this autumn, and if it passes, the new legislation will become effective on January 1st, 2009.
The summary of the decision of the Court of Appeal in R v. Samina Malik (aka the Lyrical terrorist) is provided below. The Court of Appeal has her conviction overturned.
R v Malik  All ER (D) 201 (Jun)
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers CJ, Goldring and Plender JJ
17 June 2008
The defendant was arrested by police officers at her home address where she lived with her parents and siblings. The premises were searched and a number of items seized. They included a computer as well as a number of publications which appeared to support violent jihad, a number of poems written by the defendant using her pen-name ‘the lyrical terrorist’ and a number of documents containing writings on subjects such as weapons and interrogations. Subsequently, the hard drive of the computer was analysed and found to contain the material later relied upon by the prosecution at her trial for terrorism offences.
CPS Press Release : CPS response to Samina Malik appeal: “CPS response to Samina Malik appeal
17 June 2008
The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to seek a retrial in the case of Samina Malik after the Court of Appeal quashed her conviction for collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
Sue Hemming, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Counter Terrorism Division, said: ‘Since Ms Malik’s conviction, the law has been clarified by the Court of Appeal. The result is that some of the 21 documents we relied on in Ms Malik’s trial would no longer be held capable of giving practical assistance to terrorists.
‘However other documents in her possession, including ‘the al-Qaida Manual’, ‘the Terrorist’s Handbook’, ‘the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook’ and several military manuals, clearly retain that potential.. We therefore have no doubt that it was right to bring this prosecution.
‘Nevertheless, taking into account the time Ms Malik spent on remand before her first trial, and the likely non-custodial sentence she would receive upon conviction in a retrial, we have decided not to seek a retrial on those manuals.
‘Ms Malik was not prosecuted for her poetry. She was prosecuted for possessing documents that could provide practical assistance to terrorists. Furthermore she was prosecuted after, working airside at Heathrow, she had supplied information about airport security procedures to Sohail Qureshi.
‘That very day he was arrested trying to board a flight to Pakistan carrying equipment he admitted he was taking to terrorists in Pakistan. He later admitted he was going there to fight himself and he pleaded guilty to a terrorist offence.’
Notes to Editors
1. A Court of Appeal decision in February 2008 in the case of R v K clarified the meaning of Sec 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The court ruled that an offence would be committed only if the document or record concerned was of a kind that was likely to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. A document that simply encouraged the commission of acts of terrorism was not sufficient.
2. In November 2007, Ms Malik was found not guilty at the Old Bailey of an offence under Sec 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (possession of an article for terrorist purposes) but guilty of an offence under Sec 58. Sec 58 says: 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. The maximum sentence at Crown Court is 10 years.”
A controversial law in Sweden which would have allowed Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) to monitor all outgoing and incoming communications crossing Sweden’s borders didn’t get enough votes in parliament today.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
Exclusive The Home Office held a private meeting with Phorm in August last year, but BT’s interception and profiling partner did not disclose that it had completed an allegedly illegal trial of its technology on tens of thousands of unwitting broadband subscribers just weeks earlier.…
(Via The Register – Comms.)
The Register Article: Is it safe to download al Qaeda manuals yet?
Despite Court of Appeal ruling, not entirely…
Is the ‘al-Qaeda manual’ still an easy get into jail card? The UK Court of Appeal yesterday quashed the conviction of Samina Malik, aka the ‘Lyrical Terrorist’, for possession of information useful for terrorist purposes under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, but the Crown Prosecution Service still views this and other widely circulated documents as prima facie evidence of wicked intent.
See further The Times coverage below.
The government sent the security industry into gales of laughter today when it insisted that sensitive documents on Hazel Blears’ missing PC are quite safe, as the machine is ‘password protected’.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
FSA fines stockbrokers for poor data security: “A firm of stockbrokers has been fined for failing to adequately protect its customers from the risk of identity fraud. The FSA said its mistakes included failing to manage the risk of staff using Instant Messaging and web-based email.”
(Via OUT-LAW News.)