Don't assume that people in 'authority' will always play by the spirit of the rules, if not the actual rules themselves. Whilst 'they' may not actually be breaking any rules, some people will attempt to use your ignorance of the rules to get the better of you, or by hiding things in plain sight to trip you up.
As Ambush Predator pointed out the other day:
She said: ‘We couldn't believe it and were annoyed that other people in our group got in. I would like to know what we can and can't do.
So go and find out then. No-one is going to tell you, you'll have to do some research and some reading, no biggie, just takes a little thought. It is in nobody's interests but yours, so don't expect anyone to take an interest other than you.
However it does not follow that people in authority WILL attempt to hoodwink you or bully you, but one should be aware of the potential. Always think before you act or speak, and as a general rule of thumb, if you're not sure, do and say nothing.
The Libertarian Party blog has posted up a notice from an acting police inspector about the fitwatch website. Now, I've little time for the students and their protest. Firstly because they are asking for money to be taken from people under threat of imprisonment to give them a material advantage over others. That sounds like extortion to me. Secondly, as soon as you start throwing objects at police officers any sympathy I do have vanishes.
The police often get it wrong, usually in the Senior Management suite, occasionally on the ground. I believe that when they get it wrong in the nice big leather chairs it is because they are self-serving, promotion chasing opportunists who neither understand nor care what is happening on the ground. When individual officers get it wrong on the ground it is in the main, I suspect, because there is no chance for them to keep on top of the endless parade of new legislation which makes little or no sense. To keep on top of it all would probably involve a police officer being in the classroom for a fortnight every month. There will of course be a number of people in the uniform who are completely unsuited to the job through attitude or aptitude.
However the vast majority of police officers you encounter will be trying to do their best in very trying circumstances with nowhere near the resources and support they need.
On this occasion, the police inspector has got it very wrong.
APPLICATION FOR CLOSURE OF A UK BASED DOMAIN NAME
Fitwatch.org.uk - IP 188.8.131.52
To whom it may concern at Singlehop
In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:
* The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities.
Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law
We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months. Please note that this request will be also sent to the domain name registrar for the website. You should provide the following contact phone number, email address and reference number to the registrant: 0207 230 8100 firstname.lastname@example.org
REASON FOR CLOSURE
This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law. The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.
The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK. Therefore to prevent the domain names from being used in crime we request that the domain name is suspended for a minimum period of 12 months (or until expiry of the domain name if earlier).
This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
(a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
(b) which has a tendency to, and
(c) is intended to pervert,
(d) the course of public justice.
Registrant Information for fitwatch.org.uk
Registrant : [DELETED]
All other personal details withheld
Registered on : 17-Nov-2008
Authority to close the website and IP address given by
Will Hodgeson, Acting Detective Inspector
CO11 Public Order Branch
Many Thanks in Advance
DI Paul Hoare
Police Central e-crime Unit (Computer Crime Unit)
SCD6 Economic & Specialist Crime Command,
1st floor, Indigo Block, Cobalt Square
1 South Lambeth Road,
0207 230 8100
As Guthrum points out, there is no word for any magistrate, judge or court. I'm sorry, but in this country you cannot restrict peoples' freedom of expression on the word of an acting inspector, it just doesn't work like that.
But go back and actually read what the statement says. Go on, I'll wait. . .
Did you see it?
We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website
Request. There is no order, no command, no obligation. A request. But if you got that letter, would you see it that way? Unlikely. It is hidden in plain sight. I said the police officer got it very wrong. Well, not wrong, he's perfectly within his rights to ask the host of this site to take it down, but without an order from the court, the host is well within their rights to decline.
Not just in situations dealing with the police, but with every authority figure you come into contact with, every contract you sign, every time you agree to something, take the opportunity to consider what is going on and what has actually been said or written.
Don't assume that people you deal with have your best interests in mind, because likely as not, they don't.
Don't think 'Oh, but they wouldn't do that.' Because they would.
Look out for yourself, because nobody else will. If you are ever uncomfortable with a situation, say so and state that you will pause the situation until such time as you find out your rights and the truth. Power companies calling at your door to get you to switch providers are a good example of this. Don't get your rights from them, don't get their 'truth', find it out for yourself. For 99% of things to happen to you, you have to consent. So withold your consent until you are absolutely sure about the consequences and recourse available to you.
If you are unsure (and it is perhaps good practice even if you are sure), politely and calmly, yet firmly, challenge the person in front of you. Who are you? Where does your authority come from? From which Act of Parliament? What sanctions are available to 'them' if you do not comply? Where is this set out?
Don't be abrasive or smug, point out that you ask because you want to know, to understand. Anyone who is on the level will explain and provide evidence and/or will not object to a delay whilst you establish the facts.
Once they try to tighten the screw, to apply pressure, to hurry proceedings along, to give a garbled or over-complicated explanation, or fail to offer any explanation at all, then it is time for your alarm bells to ring. In the instance of a private company, show them the door, in the instance of the police, say nothing and make sure you get a solicitor who can answer your questions to your satisfaction (remember, the duty brief is not free, you've paid for them via your taxes), and never ever sign anything until you've had the chance to read and digest the document, even if it is only a mobile phone contract, and if the beneficiary is hovering over you to get it done, walk away, they're up to no good.