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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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:22pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:44pm

    in the hope that vigilant community members can continue to provide helpful information to law enforcement.

    Not that it will actually stop attacks, going on past performance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:47pm

    Sorry Techdirt, I'm going to have to report you.

    I see that your website is using https encryption. You must be hiding something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:56pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 1:59pm

    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?

    ROTFL

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 2:22pm

      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."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 7:13pm

      Re:

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

      Shut up, that could very well be the next step!

      Don't forget YouTube's much-maligned "Heroes" program that recruited paid snitches to report people posting "non-advertiser friendly" videos.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 2:06pm

    That's why Tails mimics Window$.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sigalrm (profile), 23 Jun 2017 @ 2:12pm

    Ok, I give up - what exactly does it look like when someone is "visiting the dark web"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SpaceLifeForm, 23 Jun 2017 @ 2:23pm

    Visiting dark web

    You do not see it (because it is dark), you get drawn in for some reason, you get stuck, and a big fascist spider solves your mistake for you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 23 Jun 2017 @ 4:04pm

    Aren't we forgetting something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Jun 2017 @ 3:34pm

      Re: Aren't we forgetting something?

      Yes, but if they pile even more hay on top of the already overflowing stack then surely the'll somehow reach a point where having vast amounts of useless data magically becomes incredibly effective at stopping terrorists! /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 5:05pm

    Why do they think anyone who is watching the removal of their health care, freedom, jobs, family ... do that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 6:17pm

    Boy, I would like to see those statistics about how many are reported for:
    * Surfing webpages with a dark background.
    * Having a Matrix code screensaver
    * Programming in public
    * Ordering things from Asian or Middle eastern countries
    * Having a hobby homelab for IT or robotics

    Feel free to add your own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2017 @ 11:39pm

    "it could be someone you know"

    That whole part sounds like East Germany. You have to suspect everyone, everywhere, all the time!

    And people made fun of that back then but I guess it only takes 25ish years to go full circle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      And people made fun of that back then but I guess it only takes 25ish years to go full circle.

      While their own governments eyed it with envy. It's surprising it took 25ish years to spread.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 6:55am

    Remember kids .. when ratting out your neighbors to the secret police, do it anonymously, for your own safety. And you should include yourself to remove all suspicion it was you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2017 @ 6:37pm

      Re:

      Kids using anonymity software because "citizens" could be anonymously seeing kids ratting out on friends anonymously?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 24 Jun 2017 @ 8:18am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 8:29am

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

      Carrie Anne in the Poltergeist movie was the first "Dark Web" user.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 3:50pm

    Hello, this is John Doe. I saw the Tories conspiring against Theresa May.

    Derp.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 3:59pm

    The real reason for this...

    is to create fear among the people. You know, kind of like how terrorists do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 24 Jun 2017 @ 7:06pm

    Remeber this?

    Using Linux has been deemed a "suspicious" activity.
    https://www.cnet.com/news/computer-science-student-challenges-tech-seizure/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2017 @ 9:11pm

    mean while in poor places in london

    Hundreds are being evicted because a council management company wants their land, while using the deaths of dozens that are there own responsibility as an excuse

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2017 @ 10:15am

      Re: mean while in poor places in london

      Government motto: "Never let a good tragedy go to waste. Even if you have to make it yourself."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 Jun 2017 @ 11:30am

    Also, messaging apps are now social media, apparently?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    eol, 25 Jun 2017 @ 11:43pm

    I see 'Insightful' and 'Funny'. Where is the 'Sad' button?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jun 2017 @ 12:39am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NaBUru38 (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 8:21am

    Duh, it's a trap. If you saw something (say underage porn), you are a criminal. Saying it means that you consumer will get punished, not the publishers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    XcOM987 (profile), 26 Jun 2017 @ 9:10am

    The timer has started

    I wonder how long it will be before encryption or VPN are added to this list?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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