City Of London Police Turn Down Torrentfreak's FOIA Request Because It Would Take Too Long To Fulfill
from the too-hard,-won't-try dept
The City of London Police (notably, not the London Metropolitan Police and you will rue the day you ever make that mistake) have been both a law unto themselves and the UK's foremost copyright cops… which would make them a copyright law unto themselves… or something. Name another law enforcement agency that has single-handedly done more to pursue the Pirate Bays of the world. I follow this sort of stuff pretty closely and no one else even comes close. Here's a very brief rundown of the City of London's efforts in the service of King Copyright.
- Ordered registrars to shut down websites (without a court order) and threatened to strip registrars' accreditation if they didn't comply
- Created a secret "pirate site blacklist" for advertisers
- Inserted banner ads on "pirate" websites stating the sites had been forwarded to the police for "review," all without any legal basis to do so
- Arrested the creator of an anti-censorship proxy service, basically because Hollywood told it to
- Claimed Tor is "90% of the internet" and a "risk to society." Also: "bitnet."
Torrentfreak (which follows this sort of stuff extremely closely) sent a FOIA request to the City of London police seeking correspondence with "representatives of the creative industry regarding the pirate bay also known as TPB, thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.sx, thepiratebay.org, or Pirate Bay."
Forget all the nice things I said about the UK's more relaxed attitude towards Freedom of Information requests. (Well, not all of them. This is a police force that serves the copyright industry, not the UK government itself.) The response to Torrentfreak basically says that it would require making an expenditure of time and as such, falls outside the expense guidelines for FOIA responses.
“In order to establish the existence of any correspondence of this kind it would be necessary to examine all mail systems, all call logs and all files/documents held by the force,” the reply read.If so, then any request that might require 18 hours of work will automatically be tossed out. On one hand, this almost seems like an admission that the City of London Police communicate frequently with representatives of creative industries. On the other, it seems like an easy way to blow off a request for information it's in no hurry to release.
“The cost of completing this work would exceed the limit prescribed by the Secretary of State in accordance with powers contained in Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act. The limit is currently set at £450 and the hourly rate is set at £25.”
This sends Torrentfreak back to the drawing board and raises serious questions about the City of London's computer system. (Then again, the assertions about "bitnet" and "the internet is 90% Tor" raise a few technology-related questions of their own…) Any correspondence system utilized by governments should be searchable, including anything archived. It's not as though this sort of technology is obscure and limited to entities with unlimited budgets. It's fairly basic stuff. But the City of London police maintains it's a job that would exceed the time budget and, therefore, Torrentfreak gets nothing.
Torrentfreak will be revising its requests in hopes of finding something that's not too time-consuming for the City of London police to tackle. If and when these are released, I'm sure they'll make for entertaining and enlightening reading, provided they aren't redacted into complete uselessness.