Monday, 3 February 2014

Is the Scottish Goverment committing terrorism?

This article in ispreview says that "The Scottish Government’s “Cyber Integrator” (cybercrime tzar), Keith McDevitt" is asking people to close their open wifi at home.

He is saying that "There is a danger that a team of officers will come in your door and seize not only your family’s computers, phones and tablets, but also your TV if it is connected to the internet. Often the investigation can take several weeks and even if nothing is found and the person involved is cleared, there will be a suspicion that lingers on."

This is serious.

The home owner is innocent in such cases.

Offering an open wifi may not be wise for many reasons, but it is not illegal, and some even considering it to be very social and helpful.

This is a threat of nasty things happening to you, seizing your computers and your TV for weeks, and significant inconvenience if you don't change your legal behaviour. It even goes on to suggest "suspicion lingers on", which does not sound right or legal?

This is a threat designed to create fear and even terror.

Assuming the report is right, and Keith McDevitt speaks for them, then this appears to be The Scottish Government threatening terror to change people's legal behaviour.

That is terrorism, plain and simple.

Is that legal? If so, why?

What is happening to this country?

Actually, I think I can answer that - if we are now officially expected to be scared of groundless police intimidation, we are living in a police state.

ISP review do make an important point as well. If you "close" your WiFi, a criminal can still use it (hacking WiFi is not rocket science), and then you have very little defence against groundless accusations by the police. At least with an open WiFi you add huge amounts of "reasonable doubt". But really, we should not be under such threats in the first place.


  1. Similar to a debate I had about email censorship in a job I once did... the system in place at first was totally ridiculous - it sent a "mail contravened policy" notice to the intended recipient (!). The replacement replaced "dodgy" words with asterisks... a bit better, perhaps, and we did test it with examples like a certain town in Lincolnshire. I always said "better still, leave it as is, because that's better than something slipping through".

  2. While I agree entirely with what you are saying, this isn't entirely unprecedented. If you have a gun for example, you are legally required to keep it secure because it can be abused by other people to commit crimes. And if they have reason to suspect that you are not keeping it secure you'd get a similar response.

    The argument needs to be over how serious the crimes that can be committed using an open wifi connection are of course. My opinion is that they are rarely serious enough to allow this kind of thing which is entirely inappropriate as you say.,

    1. Indeed, and if the law was that you had any responsibility whatsoever for what others do with your Internet, then things would be different. At present you are not responsible for what others do, so it is not at all appropriate. It is like raiding the post office because a crime was committed by post with that postmark!

  3. Willing to be corrected but I was under the impression that an individual was responsible for anything taking place on their connection/network and only ISPs had such an exemption?

    As an aside, my home network has a separate wireless SSID for my Guest VLAN which also has a captive portal on both the wired and wireless elements. Outbound traffic from that VLAN also appears as a separate address from my /29 subnet than the rest of my network. I use OpenDNS category filtering (other DNS providers blocked on firewall) and have almost all dodgy (including legal but dodgy) categories blocked.

    1. Please be corrected - an individual is not responsible for the actions of another using their wifi, or generally. If they were then your efforts with separate VLANs would not change that, obviously. It is valid, and legal, to operate an open WiFi and have no responsibility for what others do using that Internet connection. That is on top of the fact that even an individual operating a WiFi can count as an ISP for full mere conduit protection.

  4. I must have missed something here. What right do the police have to enter your private property? I thought they could only do that if you invited them in (much the same as bailiffs work, and vampires for that matter). So, if they force entry to seize your computer equipment, that is blatantly a crime surely? I guess if they have a warrant, then that changes things.

    Also, I thought there was still a legal technicality I read somewhere which says that an IP address cannot be used to identify/link to a person. I'm sure I read that in some legal case, a jduge actually ruled this to be factual. Which is a big problem if they are trying to prove a person is responsible for some online activity.

    Yes, the UK is a police state and has been for some time now, more so every day. I expect it to get increasingly worse under the current political system.

  5. What about the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, condition A?

    (a)the material consists of, contains or implies a threat, or an incitement, to carry out a seriously violent act against a person or against persons of a particular description,

    (b)the material or the communication of it would be likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm, and

    (c)the person communicating the material—

    (i)intends by doing so to cause fear or alarm, or

    (ii)is reckless as to whether the communication of the material would cause fear or alarm.