To Obtain Documents About Facebook Data-Sharing, UK Gov't Seizes And Detains A US Executive Working For A Different Company

from the Parliamentary-street-gang dept

Something strange and disturbing happened in the UK this weekend. That it targeted pariah du jour Facebook doesn't make it any less bizarre or worrisome.

The short story is this: peeved at being blown off repeatedly by Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook representatives, members of Parliament shook down an American third party for documents possibly related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The long story -- broken by Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian -- fills in the details.

But first a little background: Six4Three, developers of a scuzzy app that scanned profiles for bikini photos, is currently suing Facebook for yanking its API access. The lawsuit has traveled from the federal court system to a California state court, where Six4Three is hoping for a ruling declaring Facebook's actions to be a violation of various state-level competitive business laws.

During the course of this suit -- which was filed in January 2017 -- Six4Three has obtained internal Facebook documents through discovery. These documents may contain info related to Facebook's data-sharing and data-selling practices, which could possibly include its deals with Cambridge Analytica.

Somehow, members of Parliament found out one of Six4Three's lawyers execs was in London. So, this happened:

Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London. In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.

Let's break this down: the UK government wants answers from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Since Facebook hasn't been compliant, the UK government feels justified in taking documents obtained through discovery in a US lawsuit from an American lawyer currently suing Facebook… just because he happened to roam into its jurisdiction.

This is insane.

As an added twist, the documents the lawyer was forced to turn over are currently under seal. That means no one in the US other than the litigants and the judge have access to them. At least that was the case until Parliament's bizarre, heavy-handed move.

Facebook has responded with some fluff about Six4Three's creepy app (not really relevant) and a reminder that the documents seized from its opponent's lawyer are, at this point, privileged information. MP Collins has responded with a shrug, reminding Facebook's legal rep that the UK is not California so who cares what a local court has to say about who can see what documents.

It's unlikely the California court will find Six4Three's lawyer in contempt for being pretty much arrested and threatened with indefinite imprisonment if he didn't hand over documents it has ordered sealed. Facebook has asked that no members of Parliament view the documents until it has heard back from the California court. This has been greeted with a different kind of contempt:

If you can't read/see the tweet, it's from MP Ian Lucas and reads:

Facebook said: “The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure. We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.” Too late.

Parliament may now have some of the answers Facebook has refused to provide. But was it worth it? The UK government acted more like an authoritarian dictatorship than a free country with this move. It detained a lawyer who didn't even work for Facebook and threatened him with jail time if he didn't turn over documents a judge in his home country had ordered sealed. The next few days should see some interesting iterations of the "ends justifies the means" pontificating from every Parliament member supportive of this damaging move.


Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 2:16am

    "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

    In their short-sighted eagerness to get data that they apparently felt was 'owed' to them it seems the UK parliament might have just shot it's foot with regards to future cases involving the company.

    By going after a third party because they were too toothless and/or gutless to challenge Facebook directly, followed by blatantly flaunting the fact that the documents in question are under seal in the US Facebook can argue that handing over any information to parliament risks having it spread elsewhere, as parliament clearly can't be trusted to show restraint or consider any legal or privacy issues involved in said information.

    Not only do they come out looking all sorts of thuggish, but if they thought Facebook was stonewalling/ignoring them before they pulled this stunt I suspect they are not going to be happy with the stance Facebook is likely to take after it.

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

    • identicon
      MathFox, 26 Nov 2018 @ 4:34am

      Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

      You could try to look at it from a UK perspective: There is this US corporation which is known to infringe UK privacy laws on a large scale. The company is unwilling to provide documents that make the scale of their data sharing (and the quality of their data protection) clear.
      However, you just knew that a copy of these documents is in the possession of a third party, which happens to be on a visit in your capital. A nice opportunity to obtain those documents and investigate further.

      I see no fundamental difference with seizing documents related to the inner workings of a drug cartel.

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

      • identicon
        Call me Al, 26 Nov 2018 @ 4:44am

        Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

        I was thinking the same.

        I think it shows desperation on the part of the UK parliament that they have resorted to this but the very fact they have shows how much they've struggled to get details from Facebook.

        I just hope that this doesn't become a common practice.

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

        • identicon
          Michael, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:06am

          Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

          "but the very fact they have shows how much they've struggled to get details from Facebook"

          What?! The "fact" that they have likely gone completely around their own laws and US law shows something? That's a little like saying "the fact that I was speeding shows how much I have struggled with inappropriate speed limits" or "the fact that I shot him shows how much I was in fear of my life".

          Their actions do not provide any sort of evidence of anything except they are unwilling to wait for due process.

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

          • identicon
            Call me Al, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

            They've not gone around their own laws. It is legal for them to do this in the UK. Unusual certainly but legal.

            US law is US law, that is an issue in the US and has no bearing on the actions of the UK parliament in the UK.

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

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

              All true, but expect that to come back and bite them when they're seeking a trade deal with the USA post-Brexit.

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

              • identicon
                Call me Al, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:16am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                Eh we're stuffed either way on that front.

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

              • icon
                stderric (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:29am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                expect that to come back and bite them when they're seeking a trade deal with the USA

                Reading through the rather, er, high spirited discussions about this issue in the comments, it does seem like the pragmatic effects it may have (e.g. international trade, travel, business) are being given rather short shrift.

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

                • icon
                  stderric (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:47am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                  And of course, I forgot to mention the (admittedly unlikely, slippery-slope) potential effect that keeps nagging at me anyway: if a US court issues an order that documents involved in a case are to be kept private, does that order now include a ban on international travel for all involved parties?

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:26pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                    Certainly a "travel warning" and a recommendation not to bring your paperwork with you, but as far as I know the UK already has a travel warning out for the US for other reasons so...

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

              US law is US law...

              What? I thought US law applied world-wide, subject to enforcement by military force if need be. Quick, someone ring up Noreiga's lawyers.

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

              • icon
                Bergman (profile), 27 Nov 2018 @ 1:40am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                The proper term for what the UK did is 'casus belli'. The US Marine Corps still sings about a similar incident from a couple hundred years ago -- when they stormed the shores of Tripoli.

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

          • identicon
            MathFox, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:34am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

            > The "fact" that they have likely gone completely around their own laws

            Please cite chapter and verse of the law they went around.

            The way I see it is that Parliament used a law that was originally intended to be used against non-cooperating nobility against a non-cooperating US company.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

              Sharpen up the old guillotine!

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:52am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                That is a device developed and used in France, the English used an axe to remove heads.

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

              • identicon
                Dave P., 27 Nov 2018 @ 10:07am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                Guillotine? My goodness, sir......you definitely have the wrong country! A devilish mechanical Froggie device, if I'm not very much mistaken. We here in the UK tend to go for hanging, drawing and quartering - a great deterrent, or, failing that, simplistic removal of the head by a well-placed axe or sword. No mechanical parts to go wrong, y'see. See more gruesome details here: http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/behead.html

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

            • icon
              Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 27 Nov 2018 @ 3:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

              US Corporations have long wanted to be treated like nobility....it's their bad luck that Parliament just happened to have a law for use against non-cooperating nobility.

              Lèse-majesté

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

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

            It does, actually.

            A more general statement of the principle would be "the fact that I broke the law to do X shows how hard it is to do X without breaking the law".

            Whether or not it *should* be hard to do X without breaking the law, or even hard to do X at all, is a completely separate question.

            Your "speeding" analogy doesn't include an indication of what goal the speeding was intended to accomplish, so it doesn't map very well to the case at hand.

            The "shot him" analogy could fit, in a form more like "the fact that I shot him in order to survive is an indication of how hard I found it to survive without shooting him" - although that example itself does show the limits of the principle, since people can and do indeed go to the extreme solution without even trying the less extreme ones first. (And that might well apply to the case at hand.)

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

      • identicon
        I.T. Guy, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:23am

        Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

        So you approve of thugs throwing a hood over your face and kidnapping you until you turn over X?
        That is what happened here.

        "There is this US corporation which is known to infringe UK privacy laws on a large scale. "

        Then just block Facebook in the country. Right?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't understand why, if they were so concerned, that hasn't happened other than if they did so the populous might respond with "wtf mate?"

          Maybe Europe could develop their own widely used social networking platform.

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

          • icon
            Madd the Sane (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 2:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I remember seeing somewhere that it might be impossible for them to do so, due to current laws.

            Granted, it was just a title I saw, so take with a grain of salt.

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

        • icon
          Gorshkov (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

          So you approve of thugs throwing a hood over your face and kidnapping you until you turn over X? That is what happened here.

          How is that any different from what you lot do when you jail somebody forever for contempt of court until they are willing to turn over the password for their phone when they haven't been convicted for anything, regardless of the severity of their alleged crime?

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

          • icon
            Nathan F (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

            Jailing someone forever for contempt of court is usually jailing the person who is on trial. What they just did was grab some third party who was not involved in the Facebook v UK fight and hold him hostage till he coughed up the documents they wanted.

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

            • identicon
              TRX, 27 Nov 2018 @ 7:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

              [calls up the text of the Declaration of Independence]

              Nope, nothing new here. That's the kind of thing that provoked Brexit1776. And the Crown's repeated abductions of US citizens was one of the reasons we bitch-slapped them in 1814.

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

              • icon
                blademan9999 (profile), 1 Dec 2018 @ 4:47pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

                The US were the ones who declared war in the first place.
                And for they opening act they attempted to invade Canada.
                The result, they didn't obtain any Canadian territory and the white house got burned down.
                For the US, it was a draw if you're being Generous.

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

        • identicon
          bob, 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:54am

          Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

          Blocking FB is an option but I bet this move was met with less outcry from the UK population.

          I don't like that it happened but I recognize that it was lawful in that country for the government to do this.

          I wonder what the cost to the UK will be though. Are less people going to visit, are other countries going to condemn the UK or will no one in positions of power really care?

          My guess is this time around nothing will happen.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:19am

        Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

        > I see no fundamental difference with seizing documents related to the inner workings of a drug cartel.

        What does this say about your views on the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments in general? "But ... the drugs!" is an excuse, like any other.

        You don't get to break rights at will, without ending up with broken rights. For everyone.

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

        • identicon
          MathFox, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:50am

          Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

          What does this say about your views on the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments in general? "But ... the drugs!" is an excuse, like any other. They are parts of the US constitution and as such do not apply as witten to the UK. My opinion in general is that although it would be nice to have such strong language in "my" constitution, the way the underlying principles are applied over here is likely better than in the US. (See all the articles on Techdirt on police abuse of power.)

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

            Sorry to inform you of this, UK bro, but while your police may use deadly force less often than ours, that's about the only way in which they're better. You people have downright scary levels of Orwellian thought and speech policing.

            If I had to choose between being subject to UK law and enforcement of such vs having my dick shoved in a killer bee hive, I'd have to ponder pretty hard which would be worse. And I'm allergic to bees.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:01am

        Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

        There is this US corporation which is known to infringe UK privacy laws on a large scale.

        Until Brexit, UK Facebook users are, like all EU users, dealing with an Irish corporation. The UK government should be going after them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:14am

      Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

      Fuck facebook. Get out the popcorn!

      Watch this shifty bunch drag down everyone with it. Can't wait for upcoming episides!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:35am

        Re: Re: "And we should trust you THIS time why again?"

        Fuck facebook indeed. However, this issue is about far more than just facebook. Your shortsightedness is evidence of what is wrong with politics in America today.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:28am

        Cutting off your nose to spite your neighbor

        I really shouldn't have to explain this again...

        Just because you hate the company does not mean you should be cheering on actions like this to 'get them', because if it's acceptable to do it to someone you hate, if it should happen to someone you like down the line you'll have no grounds to object unless you want to expose some great hypocrisy, and they'll have less grounds to fight back because 'we didn't get any objections when we did it to them, we're just doing the same thing to you now.'

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

  • identicon
    Bertram B Bassett, 26 Nov 2018 @ 4:13am

    It helps if you get the small details right

    The journalist in question is Carole Cadwalladr (not Cadwalla).

    By the way, did you not find it strange that the founder (not the lawyer) of the company was visiting London and carrying these documents with him? I guess not.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 4:16am

      Re: It helps if you get the small details right

      It's not clear that he had the docs on him.... he was being coerced and may have had to have the firm provide them.

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

      • identicon
        Betram B Bassett, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:17am

        Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

        The original article implies physical documents. Why would he have been carrying those?

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

        • icon
          stderric (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:33am

          Re: Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

          Why would he have been carrying those?

          And the corollary, how would Parliament have known he had them with him?

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

          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

            Pervasive surveillance.

            They see you when you're sleeping, they know when you're awake...

            Expect some kind of tie-in to Santa Claus lore in the future, when this is going to be presented as benevolent and not in the least bit as creepy as Hell.

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

            • identicon
              Ant, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:28am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

              There ain't no Sanity Clause.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

              The tie-in isn't much of a leap. The song (like the myth it's based on) is already an attempt to use the fear of pervasive surveillance to modify people's behaviour.

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

          • identicon
            Bertram B Basset, 26 Nov 2018 @ 1:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It helps if you get the small details right

            How would Parliament know he had them? Dude, this is a man with a massive grudge against FB as an entity and Zuckerberg as an individual. Maybe he was grumpy enough to let gov.uk know in advance that he'd be in London on a certain date and carrying a physical copy of the docs. That would give him a perfect get out of jail free card for any US court problems and a perfect way to get his revenge. Hell hath no fury like a geek scorned.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 1:48pm

              Given the alternative that comes to mind, that he's a grossly irresponsible lawyer that regularly talks about sealed legal documents that he's carrying, I can't help but see your scenario as being all too feasible.

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

    • identicon
      steve, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:09am

      Re: It helps if you get the small details right

      Exactly. They just happened to find out that he was in London with the docs, how to leak docs while blaming someone else.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:16am

      Re: It helps if you get the small details right

      Maybe on his way to Ireland to shield docs.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:10am

      Re: It helps if you get the small details right

      By the way, did you not find it strange that the founder (not the lawyer) of the company was visiting London and carrying these documents with him? I guess not.

      Till now, as long as you didn't carry the documents across the border, you were mostly considered safe when working in a non-dictatorship. Some lawyers and businesspeople would wipe laptops before crossing the border, then restore over the internet, work on some stuff, upload it, wipe again and go home.

      In the future it may indeed be considered strange to carry them. To start, US courts might forbid sealed documents from being taken/accessed outside the US—or even forbid anyone outside the US having the capability to access them. I.e., if a lawyer's going to travel, their network access rights to those documents would be restricted so they couldn't access them even if forced.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 4:15am

    Holy shit

    Does the UK have any laws that allow this lawyer and/or their firm to sue the government?

    This is nearly an act of war.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:28am

    and of course the USA would never even think about doing something like this! i mean, obtaining info by any means possible, threatening anyone/everyone with a gazillion years in prison, never to see the light of day again, implementing torture in whatever way decided! course it wouldn't!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:38am

    You buried the lede so far down only Elon Musk could possibly retrieve it.

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

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 6:44am

    From The Guardian: "Six4Three alleges the cache shows Facebook was not only aware of the implications of its privacy policy, but actively exploited them, intentionally creating and effectively flagging up the loophole that Cambridge Analytica used to collect data."

    There's your tech dirt, and the reason I posted the link to the insider chat.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:27am

      Re:

      From The Guardian: "Six4Three alleges the cache shows Facebook was not only aware of the implications of its privacy policy, but actively exploited them, intentionally creating and effectively flagging up the loophole that Cambridge Analytica used to collect data."

      I've read this a bunch and it kinda sounds like... a reporter and politicians not understanding Facebook's API.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re:

        I've read this a bunch and it kinda sounds like... a reporter and politicians not understanding Facebook's API.

        How so?

        An API is for programmers. Why should any user of Facebook be expected to know or understand it?

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

        • icon
          Thad (profile), 27 Nov 2018 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          An API is for programmers. Why should any user of Facebook be expected to know or understand it?

          If that user happens to be a journalist writing an article about the Facebook API, then they should learn enough about the API to describe it accurately.

          A reporter describing an API need not be a programmer, any more than a reporter describing a black hole need be an astrophysicist, a reporter describing a criminal trial need be a lawyer, or a reporter on city planning need be a civil engineer. If you're reporting on those subjects, you don't need to be an expert on them. But you should know enough to accurately describe them in terms that your audience can understand.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Sam O All-Ways, 26 Nov 2018 @ 7:46am

    You got to this remarkably fast.

    Nothing gets Techdirt alarmed like emerging Truth of what globalist corporations are doing out of sight.

    The minion gets into a snit based on A) false assertion that corporations have rights, but they don't, and B) that Parliament / gov't don't have authority (from "natural" persons) to investigate the merely fictional corporations, but they DO, and should be used more often like this.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:06am

      Re: You got to this remarkably fast.

      out_of_the_blue, in his bid to catch criminals, celebrates law enforcement nabbing the wrong person.

      Because of-fucking-course.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re: You got to this remarkably fast.

        out_of_the_blue, in his bid to catch criminals, celebrates law enforcement nabbing the wrong person.

        Because of-fucking-course.

        What the hell does this even mean?

        Damn crazy shite.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:11am

    Khashoggi style persuasion is now the new norm.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:20am

    How certain were they that he could comply?

    My first thought on reading this was the dangerous similarity to "We have this drive that appears to be encrypted. We believe you know the password to decrypt it. You cannot convince us of your ignorance. Tell us the password or be convicted."

    Even ignoring all the serious legal issues with how they did this, it sets a terrible precedent for creating unwinnable scenarios. What would have happened if he didn't have the ability to readily provide the documents they demanded? For example, if the only copy was stored in a wall safe in his home in the U.S., would they take the position that he needs to order someone to go break into his home and open the safe to retrieve the documents? What if the court had ordered the documents be made available to him, but the court clerk had not yet done so, so he had not read the documents yet and had no copies which he could provide? Would they argue that it's his duty to call up the court clerk, explain that the sealed documents need to be sent to him unsealed so that he can be released from detention, and then hope the court clerk went along with such a bizarre claim?

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

  • identicon
    Kitsune 106, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:20am

    Sooooo

    If they feel justified in this. And companies will comply ,


    How will this work with US government mandated back doors? Especially if in all computers? And what happens if laws are passed that say you have to give the passwords or fined?

    Where would WTO or courts come down? After all, having access to back doors would be security issue for all governments....

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 26 Nov 2018 @ 8:46am

    Parliament must have thought they were dealing with the PM.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:06am

    Double or triple standards

    I am wondering what they have done to make Facebook comply, without these shenanigans? I suspect that Facebook has equipment/personnel in the UK, why haven't those things been confiscated or people detained? Or if they have, why wasn't that sufficient?

    Then there is the whole concept that the Cambridge Analitica is about privacy, and the method to enhance their position is to abuse someone else's privacy?

    Finally, this was an act of Parliament, apparently, and not the UK government as a whole, or the prosecutorial portion of the UK government. Is there some sort of plausible deniability going on here?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:33am

      Re: Double or triple standards

      I suspect it's as simple as 'Because Facebook can fight back'. If they did this to one of Facebook's lawyers you can be damn sure that they would be facing some hefty legal action backed by a company with more than enough resources to make them regret it.

      A lawyer from a much smaller company on the other hand...

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

  • icon
    Ben L (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:47am

    The saddest thing

    The saddest thing about this story is that the documents are probably over-hyped. As Casey Newton [noted on Twitter](https://twitter.com/CaseyNewton/status/1066470150516310016): "So the cache of secret documents reveals that ... Facebook had a developer API ... and promoted it ... to developers???"

    That Facebook had a broad and overreaching API was [known in 2011](https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/24/facebook-was-warned-about-app-permissions-in-2011/). Only developers really cared when they started shuttering it in 2014 (hence the Six4Three lawsuit), until Cambridge Analytica gave politicians political cover to investigate it.

    I suppose the British parliament probably has broad authority to get these documents (perhaps they are explosive). However, it's troubling that they felt they needed to extort a Six4Three lawyer to get them.

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

    • identicon
      James T, 26 Nov 2018 @ 10:18am

      Re: The saddest thing

      Yeah exactly I am sure overhyped. Not to mention FB has sent Sheryl to answer questions before on this exact issue. They just didn't supply Mark, as Sheryl is the international leader of the company.

      Getting the documents is dicey at best I mean the CEO may have wanted to leak them as people are suggesting because really he had an out. I doubt he carried them in his hands, and as sealed documents I would believe they were only shared with his Lawyers. His lawyers are under court orders to prevent their release. A simple my lawyer wont give it to me should end the UK's push for it. I mean if he doesn't have them he can't give them...

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

  • icon
    Ben L (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 3:17pm

    The guy is a Lawyer?

    His name wasn't included in initial reporting, but the detained person is Ted Kramer, the CEO and co-founder of Six4Three. I haven't found any other source saying he's also a company lawyer, though I suppose it's possible.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2018 @ 9:43am

      Re: The guy is a Lawyer?

      That implies he carried the documents to the UK with the intent to provide the to that government. It easily explains how the UK knew he was in their country carrying those documents. I expect he was paid for his services.

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

  • identicon
    Whoever, 26 Nov 2018 @ 5:17pm

    What happens when Congress subpoenas documents?

    Congress can subpoena documents. Just like the UK's Parliament did.

    Congress can compel production of documents, just as was done here.

    Don't take documents abroad if you don't want anyone to read them.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Nov 2018 @ 9:38pm

      ... from the wrong party.

      Did you read the article? The problem wasn't that they demanded documents. The problem was that they demanded documents from a third party because they were too gutless to demand them from Facebook, so instead they went after someone else who was carrying what they wanted and forced them to provide said documents or face penalties for refusing.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2018 @ 9:45am

        Re: ... from the wrong party.

        Have you considered that he may have been working *for* the UK in this case? As in, paid to courier the documents to them? Why else would a non-practicing lawyer be carrying documents for a case he isn't working on a trip outside of his home country? And how did the UK *know* he was carrying those documents he should not have been carrying?

        I'm not big on tinfoil hats but this is all a little too convenient.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 27 Nov 2018 @ 11:23am

          Re: Re: ... from the wrong party.

          After the idea was raised in a comment above I do consider it a possibility, yes, though as someone else noted were such a case to be true it wouldn't necessarily involve or even require a payment, as he has plenty of reasons to want to stick it to FB and this would make for a perfect and easy way to do that.

          Barring further evidence to support the idea though it remains nothing more than a possibility.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Nov 2018 @ 5:22am

    And the Prize goes to Tim !

    For who can even imagine that anyone could publish an article about a real event which included the following:

    pariah du jour, bikini, scuzzy, UK parliament, California state court, serjeant at arms, happened to roam into its jurisdiction, too late and threatened with indefinite imprisonment.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.