UK Law Enforcement Telling Citizens To 'See Something Say Something' About Dark Web Use

from the surfing-with-the-enemy dept

See Something, Say Something (UK Edition) has arrived! In the wake of terrorist attacks, local law enforcement are urging people to report “suspicious” activities. There’s a long list of things to be on the lookout for, but most notable is the call to view certain internet use as suspicious, as Joseph Cox reports.

Police in the capital have reportedly been handing out leaflets listing what authorities deem as suspicious activity, in the hope that vigilant community members can continue to provide helpful information to law enforcement. Perhaps, in a sign of how online communities play an increased role in radicalization, the leaflet specifically points to use of the dark web as a potential link to terrorism.

“Be aware of what is going on around you—of anything that strikes you as different or unusual, or anyone that you feel is acting suspiciously—it could be someone you know or even someone or something you notice when you are out and about that doesn’t feel quite right,” another version of the leaflet, which is part of a national campaign and not London specific, reads.

Specifically, it asks citizens to report someone “visiting the dark web or purchasing unusual items online.” Not exactly the sort of thing one’s likely to catch shoulder-surfing. The leaflet also recommends reporting people for engaging in suspicious photography — something that’s worked out oh so well here in the US.

As Cox points out, tying terrorism to dark web use is kind of pointless. While the dark web is no doubt used by some terrorists, it certainly isn’t where most of their activity takes place.

[M]uch of the communication between Islamic State supporters takes place on social media, such as Telegram. And the group’s and supporters’ propaganda videos are often distributed on everyday social network sites.

What an “education” campaign like this has the potential to do is turn any deviation from normal web use into something inherently suspicious. If law enforcement likes chasing down worthless tips, depicting things non-terrorists do as terrorist-centric is a good way to get that ball rolling.

I don’t doubt the public can play a part in preventing terrorist attacks, but the leaflet asks citizens to become intrusive extensions of the government. Most citizens aren’t going to know whether their friends and neighbors surf the dark web, much less have any idea if they’re “carrying out suspicious transactions on their bank account.” The upshot will be a generalized heightened level of suspicion that will most likely manifest itself as expressions of citizens’ inherent biases and bigotry.

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Comments on “UK Law Enforcement Telling Citizens To 'See Something Say Something' About Dark Web Use”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

When see something, say something goes terribly wrong

What will the government say when the citizens see the government acting like terroristic, dictatorial, power hungry, authoritarians, and say so?

Come little air-headed being, let me show you into this nice comfortable cell, with a one way door. No, no. No discussion necessary. We KNOW what is best for you!

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

Is it just me or did anyone else reading this story have a flashback to the days of when the Stasi and KGB used to encourage their citizens to report their neighbours if they suspected any activity that they thought was suspicious or subversive to the authorities.

Somewhere Putin has a little tear in his eye reminiscing about the days of old at the UK’s efforts to get their citizens to report their friends and neighbours to the authorities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Had to comment on this one. I live in Flint, Michigan and we have a pathetic public transportation bus system and they’ve started making these “see something, say something” and “TSA” announcements. I almost fall off my rocker laughing so far because there has never been a suspected terrorist attack or anything related to terrorism here where I live.

IN this day and age, nobody likes the TSA and nobody trusts law enforcement.

What makes our government think that we’re going to report anything to them? When I start getting paid to report people, then I might report it. But, unless I’m missing something, isn’t that what we pay police officers and TSA to do and they’re asking us to tell them if we see something weird?


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

When I start getting paid to report people, then I might report it.

Exactly. It’s not about whether they "trust" or "like" law enforcement, it’s about what they can get out of it. Always has been, there was never a "day and age" when people actually "liked" and "respected" law enforcement. At most, there were very small towns where law enforcement was just your next door neighbor who you gossiped with.

Some people are perfectly happy reporting anybody for anything (real or imagined) if they get paid. Other people are just as happy reporting the guy who annoyed them last week, or the girl who rejected them, or those people who shouldn’t be around good, upstanding folk like ourselves, all on the off chance the government decides to ruin their lives.

And of course, there’s been many times and places where people were afraid not to report it because not reporting it obviously means you’re an accomplice… It helps when "it" is so vaguely defined that anything can be "it."

Pixelation says:

If you see someone getting sucked into the Dark Web...

Yell, “Go towards the Light Web!”

Inside the Dark Web are beings such as pirates, Bitcoin users and…

“These souls, who for whatever reason are not at rest, are also not aware that they have passed on. They’re not part of consciousness as we know it. They linger in a perpetual dream state, a nightmare from which they can not awake. Inside the spectral light is salvation, a window to the next plane.”

Please save them from the Dark Web Beast!

Anonymous Coward says:

Encouraging people to “See Something, Say Something” can irrevocably change entire societies, and it’s not a hypothetical idea but a fact. For example it is often said that people in Poland love to complain and because we tend to not smile at strangers we are perceived as sad. This is what happens after a few centuries of “See Something, Say Something” campaign (Poland used to be in the Soviet block and even before that it wasn’t a free country for a long time).

You don’t smile at strangers on the street when any kind of behavior different than the norm can get you arrested. You also don’t share your true opinions with people you don’t trust with your life and try to downplay it if you’re happy, because you don’t know if the person you just met isn’t a jealous asshole that will report you just because you have a bigger house or subjectively appear to be happier than them.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to report things to authorities when there’s something really wrong, but people are already doing that. Encouraging this sort of behavior on an institutional level is what’s wrong. If they think it has to be done, then they at least they shouldn’t provide a poorly thought through list of ‘suspicious’ behaviors that will surely result in a lot of false positives and destroy people’s lives. Instead they should say it’s wrong to hide it if you know a friend or a family member is a terrorist because then you are complicit in taking lives. This is what people find truly difficult: coming to terms with the fact that a loved one may be a bad person. Not reporting that someone they don’t like and barely know is receiving ‘suspicious’ packages every other day.

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