Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has today re-iterated her and the government’s commitment to the Communications Bill, dubbed by many the snooper’s charter. She was answering questions from the joint parliamentary committee examining the proposals.
I wasn’t there and I have no transcript, so I’m taking the BBC report at face value. It says:
“The aim of this is to ensure our law enforcement agencies can carry on having access to the data they find so necessary operationally in terms of investigation, catching criminals and saving lives.” (said May)
Of the 30,000 estimated cases last year where the police made an urgent request for communications data, between 25% and 40% of them resulted in lives being saved.
Draft Communications Bill: May says web monitoring will save lives
I’ve never heard this before. Between 7500 (25% of 30,000) and 12,000 (40% of 30,000) lives were saved last year because of urgent police requests for communications data? I’ll be honest here: I don’t believe it.
But the question remains, where have these figures come from. Even this government wouldn’t dare pluck random figures from the ether without some face-saving backup.
Well, back in June the Home Office published a document called Communications Data Bill – key background information. It includes the following:
Many tens of thousands of communications data requests are made every year in urgent threat to life situations: e.g. to find a vulnerable or missing person or in kidnap situations.
Communications Data Bill – key background information – 14 June 21012
Ten thousand is not many tens of thousands. Twenty thousand is just a couple of tens of thousands. Thirty thousand could – at a pinch – be described as ‘many tens of thousands’. Logically, then, the figure mentioned back in June accounts for the entire 30,000 cases ‘where the police made an urgent request for communications data’ last year mentioned today by May. It’s the same 30,000 in both cases.
Those requests are largely (we can assume, since that is all that is mentioned) to do with missing persons and kidnaps. (I would guess that kidnaps are far fewer than missing persons requests.) This assumption has some weight because the next premise could, at a pinch, be true: if a missing person is not found, he or she could be presumed dead; or at least would have died if not found. Tenuous, but arguable.
This could easily be used to justify a claim that between 25% and 40% of such requests led to missing persons being found and lives being saved. And I don’t believe anyone would object to communications providers handing over limited intelligence (after all, they know precisely who they are looking for) as quickly as possible in these cases.
Where these figures cannot be used is to justify the blanket surveillance of the entire population on the basis that we’re all potential terrorists and criminals; and that just because missing children and vulnerable lives are saved, so will many more because of the Communications Bill.
That is such a blatant distortion and misuse of statistics that it goes beyond being damned statistics and is a pure and simple blatant lie.
In losing its design case against Samsung in July, and the subsequent appeal earlier this month, Apple was ordered by the court to display a statement on its website confirming that the Samsung Galaxy Tab does not infringe the Apple iPad’s registered design. It has now obeyed the letter of the law and has posted the required statement in full, viz:
On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung Electronic (UK) Limited’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001. A copy of the full judgment of the High court is available on the following link http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2012/1882.html.
However, in typical Apple style it has turned defeat into victory by adding several additional paragraphs – including, for example, the famous statement that Apple “is cool”, while Samsung is “not as cool”. Apple’s statement concludes with a completely new paragraph:
However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.
This, surely, is Apple obeying the letter of the law, but wilfully disregarding and exploiting the spirit of the law.
With the support of Eurojust and Europol, 48 members of an Albanian-speaking organised crime network were arrested on 16 October in the region of Mulhouse, France, during a simultaneous operation, coordinating 400 police officers, investigators and prosecutors from several European law enforcement agencies and prosecution offices.
The suspects were operating in Germany, France and Switzerland and active in trafficking heroin and cocaine, illegal immigration and the use of counterfeit documents.
This is not a teaser for the next series of Engrenages, but an announcement from Europol. Still, it will make a great next series when they do it…