Head Of City of London Police Unit That Operates Without Court Orders Worries About Online 'Lawlessness'

from the know-thyself dept

A year ago, Techdirt wrote about a new unit set up by the City of London Police to tackle crimes involving intellectual monopolies. Since then, there have been a flood of posts about its increasingly disproportionate actions, including seizing domain names, shutting down websites, inserting ads on websites, and arresting someone for running an anti-censorship proxy. This makes a PCPro interview with the head of that unit, Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Andy Fyfe, particularly valuable, since it helps shed a little light on the unit’s mindset. It’s well-worth reading the whole thing, but here’s a key section:

I’m very interested in having a debate in the media about how much policing of the internet people want. At the moment, there?s almost no regulation and no policing of the internet and that means members of the public — such as you and I — when we’re trying to use it for shopping or to do internet shopping, actually don?t have anyone looking out for our interests to make sure that the people we?re dealing with at the other end of the line are legitimate or reasonable or looking after our data properly.

In the end, that might mean that the internet becomes completely ungovernable, and that no one can dare operate on it at all, no one can dare do their shopping or banking on it.

DCI Fyfe seems to be talking about a different Internet from the one most of us use, which is not just subject to regulations, but to multiple regulations because of the way overlapping jurisdictions are involved. Indeed, because of this, the Internet arguably has far more policing than the physical world. Moreover, in terms of “looking out for our interests,” the Internet is unique in that its users are able to do that for themselves using online rating systems, reviews left on websites and general comments on social networks. Word about dodgy online operators gets out incredibly quickly, so in this respect, we are probably far safer online than in the physical world where such mechanisms are rarely available.

However, it is true that there is a threat to online shopping and banking, but not the one DCI Fyfe is probably thinking about. Buying and selling goods, or transferring money online, is relatively safe thanks to strong encryption that is now routinely available for such operations. Or rather, it was relatively safe until spy agencies like the NSA and GCHQ decided to undermine the entire basis of these activities for their own purely selfish ends, and disregarding the collateral damage they would cause to general users of the Internet.

Despite the harm caused by such actions, DCI Fyfe thinks a time may come when the government will want to interfere even more:

That time might come, but it’s how much interference the public will tolerate, because clearly a lot of people believe there should be no state interference at all on the internet, but that leads to lawlessness and anarchy.

The growing crusade of DCI Fyfe’s unit against online sites purely on the say-so of the copyright industry shows that he doesn’t really care what “a lot of people” think about state interference. And when it comes to “anarchy and lawlessness,” acting without court orders seems to fit that bill rather well.

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Comments on “Head Of City of London Police Unit That Operates Without Court Orders Worries About Online 'Lawlessness'”

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28 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Simple translation

Anytime someone starts going on about the ‘wild, lawless internet’, it’s simple enough to translate into what they’re really complaining about, namely that the internet doesn’t have the laws they want it to.

It would be like someone complaining about the ‘lawless roads’, not because there aren’t any laws involved in driving, there most certainly are, but because they don’t believe people should be able to drive past a certain speed, and they want drivers who violate that rule not to be fined, but have their cars seized without the driver being able to contest the seizure before it happens.

Anonymous Coward says:

“That time might come, but it’s how much interference the public will tolerate, because clearly a lot of people believe there should be no state interference at all on the internet, but that leads to lawlessness and anarchy.”

Oddly enough, that’s how we built (most of) the Internet, including the truly interesting bits.

But one can’t expect inferior people like this to study, let alone comprehend, history.

Whoever says:

That pesky trial process

His attitude towards the law is evident from this statement:

[With an] investigation, where you’re investigating people and building intelligence and evidence against them, and you plan to go out and make arrests… can sometimes take months, and then you end up in court and it’s a very public, sometimes costly trial process. That is not always the best use of our police time when we’ve got so many issues people want us to deal with.

Yeah, those pesky courts and their insistence with “facts” gets in the way of this guy just “dealing with” the “many issues people want” them to deal with. What “people”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: That pesky trial process

That is not always the best use of our police time when we’ve got so many issues people want us to deal with.

This Fyfe character sounds like he’s right out of Mayberry.

Here’s you a clue Barney. Maybe if all your people weren’t glitzing around with the entertainment companies they might have time to address some of those many issues. Exactly how many had to be put on the side while you were wined and dined to see things the way the copyright holders wanted you to?

How much of your time was taken up with the threatening of domains on the internet, totally outside your jurisdictional control, not to mention being on the outside edge of legality without getting the court’s say so that this was permissible use of taxpayer’s money to ignore those within your jurisdiction that are paying your salaries?

Some how it looks like we see too different functions for cops. The one you’re getting paid to do and the one you’re getting bribed to do.

Spike (profile) says:

With the way PIPCU and CoL Police keep going it appears they only just discovered the internet as they have complete technical ignorance of its underlying workings as shown by their idiotic decision making.

The real problem is that they appear to only take technical “advice” from the content industry and will not/cannot research anything for themselves. They are clearly either being bribed or being taken for a ride by big content.

monurta (profile) says:

Also fraud is a threat of faster internet!

The City of London police came to my island to let us know about the internet as well. Faster internet = more fraud!
We have DSL which is typically >10mbps (not superfast), but more than fast enough for “fraud” to be an issue, as is any other speed. But apparently faster internet = bigger fraud threat, because they say so.

http://guernseypress.com/news/2014/09/27/fraud-is-a-threat-of-faster-internet/

“David Clark from the Economic Crime Directorate said that while JT and Sure’s [the two local ISPs] investments would create a huge amount of opportunity it would also have a downside.”

“For me, Guernsey is going to thrive on the opportunities of this faster internet, but while it is thriving and not looking back, then there is always the potential to get caught out by fraudsters”

The irony being that the CoL police are basically committing fraud with their actions most of the time, then coming and telling other people to be worried. Damn right we should be worried.

Anonymous Coward says:

all this is pure bull shit being spouted by someone who wants to get the UK at the top of the censorship tree! he’ knows exactly what the score is with the internet and if people thought there was problems, that would soon be known, not just in the UK but everywhere, because that is the reach and the speed of the internet. what Fife and the CoLP ought to do is keep the fuck of the internet and stop pretending to do and to want to do things to make it better, to make it safer, when the real, whole aim is to lock it down , worse than it is in non-democratical countries, just to protect the entertainment industries! the reason there is already censorship in the UK is because Cameron and Perry put out a load of lies about ‘protecting the children’ but if it were possible to find out, i’ll bet there is a thousand times or more sites shut down for copyright infringement for the entertainment industries than those supposedly having child pornography!!
when you then consider the actions that have been taken by the CoLP, threatening sites with criminal action when they couldn’t have done anything and in some cases weren’t doing anything illegal anyway, he and the CoLP want to look at their own tactics before condemning any others. and dont forget, the guy in charge of all this in the UK is an ex entertainment industries lobbyist, i believe. not saying that he was chosen for the job intentionally or that he would be bias at all!! not fucking much, ass hole!!

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