Some British political blogs have been amusing themselves with the News of the World 's hypocritical attempt to censor websites from publishing an alleged photo, of an alleged journalist, by means of emails apparently from a firm of solicitors, attaching a copy of a temporary High Court injunction.
However, we are more worried about the new "takedown notices" empowered under the recently passed Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006
These notices under Section 3 only require the "opinion of a police constable" i.e.
They have worldwide scope and penalties up to 7 years in prison (i.e. severe enough for extradition procedures to apply) for not complying quickly enough with a "takedown notice" (2 working days) and thereby being deemed to agree or approve of the internet content in question. This might be deemed to incite or glorify terrorism or be classed as "disseminating a terrorist publication" or providing training material in the use of noxious substances (i.e. all the Health and Safety information which companies and institutions are legally obliged to make available under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulationsl), something which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Admittedly the Terrorism Act 2006 says that such notices have to be served "in person" or via "postal delivery", but these days most postal services will happily print out and deliver a letter from an email or fax or SMS text message etc. so there is the prospect of apparently automated Section 3 notices being served.
However, this leads to potential Denial of Service attacks - how can you actually authenticate that such notices are genuine ?
Remember that there is now no easy way for the public to to contact either the former National High Tech Crime Unit or the new Serious Organised Crime Agency, who one might assume would be the people with the expertise and contacts within the Internet Service Provider and Telecommunications industries. Remember also that you only have 2 working days in which to comply.
Our recent experience with the supposedly well equipped and trained Metropolitan Police, where it took 4 days and several phone calls, for them to be able to receive an email with some photo image attachments, is, in this context, extremely worrying.
Instead of "War of the Worlds", a more appropriate literary reference might be "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson, circa 1986:
"Son of a bitch," said Bobby, "we just told Chrome we're an IRS audit and three Supreme Court subpoenas. ... Hang on to your ass, Jack.
So long, Rikki. Maybe now I see you never. And dark, so dark, in the halls of Chromes s ice.
Bobby was a cowboy, and ice was the nature of his game, ice from ICE, Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics. The matrix is an abstract representation of the relationships between data systems. Legitimate programmers jack into their employers' sector of the matrix and find themselves surrounded by bright geometries representing the corporate data.
Towers and fields of it ranged in the colorless non-space of the simulation matrix, the electronic consensus-hallucination that facilitates the handling and exchange of massive quantities of data. Legitimate programmers never see the walls of ice they work behind, the walls of shadow that screen their operations from others, from industrial-espionage artists and hustlers like Bobby Quine.
Bobby was a cowboy. Bobby was a cracksman, a burglar, casing mankind's extended electronic nervous system, rustling data and credit in the crowded matrix, monochrome nonspace where the only stars are dense concentrations of information, and high above it all burn corporate galaxies and the cold spiral arms of military systems.