How to prevent murder?

As reported in the Guardian with headline: "Lee Rigby murder could have been prevented if online exchange revealed"

"The brutal murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby could have been prevented if an internet company had passed on an online exchange in which one of the killers expressed “in the most graphic terms” his intention to carry out an Islamist jihad attack."

Really, what are the Guardian saying here?

Yes, if every communication is scrutinized, and every letter that is sent opened and checked, I am sure lots and lots of crimes could be prevented. Heck, if everyone was kept under house arrest, or locking in a prison for their own safety, we'd make this a much safer place.

This report is nonsense. Why would an ISP be looking at the exchange in question?

“There is then a significant possibility that MI5 would have been able to prevent the attack,” the report says.

Lets reword that:

If MI5 had somehow had the clairvoyance to know that this was going to happen (and evidence of reasonable suspicion) they could have used existing laws under RIPA to request monitoring of this suspect and seen the exchange in question - MI5 did not do that, what a surprise. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Indeed, they say that, which rather defeats the headline suggesting that "it could have been prevented":

By contrast, Michael Adebowale was never more than a low level SoI and the Agencies took appropriate action based on the rigorous threshold set down in law: they had not received any intelligence that Adebowale was planning an attack and, based on that evidence, more intrusive action would not have been justified.

So the only way that this would have been handed over by the ISP is if everything was monitored. Who wants to live in a police state where everything we do is monitored?

I am at a loss for words.

Then we have phrases like:

We also found that none of them [US based ISP] regard themselves as compelled to comply with UK warrants obtained under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000."

Why would any non UK company feel they are compelled to comply with a UK warrant when obviously, they are not compelled to as they are not in the UK! Duh!

Let's reword that headline for the Guardian shall we...

"Murder could have been prevented if we knew who was going to do it and when and where, in advance"


  1. Some of the way in which the newspapers and big media empires have explained and categorised issues surrounding both this and the related Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is utterly ridiculous. The way they write it.. my blood boils.

  2. The sooner the internet kills off newspapers completely the better, given the low standard of journalism in them.

  3. The comment from Keith Vaz is gold:

    "We can't expect the government to sit there and be monitoring this all the time," he told BBC News. "The best people to do this are the providers themselves."

  4. I was reading this morning that facebook had closed the account for discussion of terrorist related activity after it had been reported to them.

    Indiscriminate monitoring of posts makes me mad, but if this is the case then it's perhaps not so unreasonable to have expected them to report something that they've been made aware of and taken their own action on? it's not quite the same thing.

    1. I agree, but if someone reported it to Facebook, why didn't that someone also report it to the police? I certainly would, having taken plenty of screenshots.

      Where I have a problem is when legislation compels a private individual or business to monitor the general public's communications for evidence of conspiracy.

      What if this conversation had happened in a pub: would we now be demanding that landlords eavesdrop on all conversations? Of course not, but we would expect anyone in the pub that overheard such an exchange to do the right thing (including the landlord).

  5. The level of incompetence is staggering. But another angle:

    Imagine for a moment that every ISP &/or Social Media Platform was forced and bound by law to report every crime. (Imagine there was a special hashtag all criminals were forced to use - they're muggers and rapists, they'd not skip labelling their confessions, surely?)

    Anyway, think for one second how many death threats, rape threats and worse are fitted off over Twitter alone every single day. A look at the single hashtag for GamerGate revealed hundreds of 'threats of crime' & worse.

    That firehose steam of abuse, Sent to even the FBI would mask the (at the upper end) 1 in a thousand real actual events that happened in the physical world!

    It would be a DDOS attack on crime fighting the likes of which has never been seen.

    So imagine that covered everything, everywhere online. And using the extremely loose definition of 'terrorism' used when it suits, that would be an unmanageable stream.

    I suspect that if MI5 simply tried to watch every 'terrorist video' on YouTube, they would run out of manpower.


Comments are moderated purely to filter out obvious spam, but it means they may not show immediately.

Breaking my heart

One of the things I suffer from is tachycardia. My first memory of this was in secondary school, when I got a flat tyre cycling to school an...