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UK Police To Step Up Hacking of Home PCs 595

Posted by kdawson
from the must-be-ok-if-the-good-guys-do-it dept.
toomanyairmiles writes "The Times of London reports that the United Kingdom's Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan to allow police across Britain to routinely hack into people's personal computers without a warrant. The move, which follows a decision by the European Union's council of ministers in Brussels, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state that drives 'a coach and horses' through privacy laws."
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UK Police To Step Up Hacking of Home PCs

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  • How?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:18PM (#26324763)
    Hack into people's PC? How do they do that, and what do they get out of it?
  • Linux anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by amoeba47 (882560) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:19PM (#26324767)
    enough said.
  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:21PM (#26324781) Journal

    so it seems that 1984 only got the year wrong after all. unfortunately the fear and paranoia in the public's mind is only going to fuel more of this ridiculous nonsense.

  • OpenBSD anyone? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:21PM (#26324783)

    enough said.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:30PM (#26324845) Journal

    from their point of view it is, in the US and presumably the UK the constitution would say otherwise but since when do any of them bother following their constitutions? They can get away with this nonsense because not enough people are fighting it and too many people think "well only terrorists and other criminals should be afraid." The thing to keep in mind is that once you can justify unconstitutional acts against criminals there isn't too much standing between that position and "lets violate everyone's civil rights."

  • Re:How?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:33PM (#26324869)
    I'm more interested in how as a premise though. Mainly that these days people are behind a router that acts as a firewall.. that limits things a bit I guess...
  • by freedom_india (780002) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:35PM (#26324883) Homepage Journal

    Finally!
    It is time we hack the cabinet ministers home PCs and publish the information in slashdot.
    After all they too are "residents".

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:41PM (#26324945)
    It is not possible to allow the "good guys" only to have access to secure operating systems and security technologies such as encryption while simultaneously locking the "bad guys" out. The British government will have to decide what is more important, providing secure online banking, shopping, and other electronic services as part of operating in a modern economy OR hobbling the information economy with restrictions to catch a few more low-level or careless "bad guys" at the expense of even more loss of privacy for millions of ordinary British citizens and substantial encumbrance of legitimate economic activity involving computers, the Internet, and other "sensitive" technologies. If it is easy for the police to "hack in" then it is easy for the spammers, terrorists, or anyone else to "hack in" as well. The British reaction always seems to be, "We ought to have a law against that!" instead of simply acceptating that bad things will sometimes happen despite the best laid plans or intentions and moving on with "acceptable risks" in an open society.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:43PM (#26324969)

    It's only a newspaper story. It's confused as to whether the Home Office are operating this power or talking about it.

    There are huge problems with 'hacking' a system, or any kind of secret evidence gathering. Typically the data gathered cannot be used in a court, since the police could just as easily have placed data on your system as read it.

    I would guess that this is yet one more internal push from the Security Service (who don't know the first thing about court evidence) to justify their budgets by saying that they could use burglary and hacking to gather data about criminals, in the same way as they used to do in the 1960s with Russian agents. The UK government is in awe of the Security Service (probably because they know where so many bodies are hidden) and will generally let them do anything. Bit like Homeland Security, really...

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:47PM (#26324997)
    Has it occured to anyone else that with all of the surveillance and tracking going on in the UK that they might simply make certain crimes, like say identity theft, more attractive without really reducing the overall amount of crime or catching those who are actually responsible?
  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:52PM (#26325039)

    Bear in mind, when the RIP act first came into force, only the police and security services had rights under it to perform such things as covert suveillance, and retrieve your email and phone records without a warrant. Now those powers have been devolved to all sorts of bodies, including local councils - which has led to a council covertly following a 4 year old to see if she actually lived in the cachement area of a local school (and so was eligable to attend), and another getting email and phone records to investigate a case of illegal rubbish dumping - all without warrants.

    How long before local government and other civic bodies have the right to send me a trojan via email, or break into my wireless to investigate an accusation of some petty civil offence without a warrant?

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @08:57PM (#26325081)

    Identity theft has risen sharply in the UK in recent years, as it has globally. A specific example include people cloning or stealing car number plates so they can drive in the London congestion charge zone without paying, and somebody else gets the fines.

    Government advice? Spend a significant sum replacing our number plates with ones that break if they're removed, or pay credit-insurance in case our financial details are stolen.

    I'm sure it's occured to the government that people are starting to use identity theft more to avoid detection. They just use that as an excuse to pass ever-more draconian laws allowing them to dig into your private-life ever deeper without warrants; in case, you know, you're a terrorist.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:02PM (#26325111) Journal

    it would be quite better if the resisdents of the UK did boot these scumbags out on their arse but I bet like the US at least a third of them are foolish enough to give their government that kind of power... the "only terrorists are against this massive spying" rhetoric is far too prevelant for the average joe to successfully fight this nonsense and the politicians who suggested this nonsense.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:07PM (#26325153) Homepage

    Jesus! So you get 5 years in the hole based purely on suspicion?

    Aside from the human rights issues, how is the UK any different from China these days?

  • Re:How?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumenary7204 (706407) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:09PM (#26325165)
    One would think that since we've been living in an Internet-connected society for a little over a decade (from a "Joe Average" standpoint) that people would no longer be that gullible. Alas, that isn't the case...

    John Doe sees a tempting link in his email, or one served up in a web page a'la Phorm [wikipedia.org], and clicks on it. This then triggers the installation of "legalized" spyware which tracks the user's communications and browsing habits.

    Amazing, the kind of tools and techniques that law enforcement and signals intelligence agencies are developing. Not that it would be hard: The botnet [wikipedia.org] coders and operaters have already done all the hard work for them. Simply grab a sample of the 'bot and its controller software, and tweak it for your needs. Then, ring up the antivirus and security companies [zdnet.com.au] and have them modify their security applications [wikipedia.org] to ignore the installed surveillance software.

    Problem is, well-organized criminal organizations with the appropriate technical expertise are liable to discover the spyware anyway, and find a way to use it against the agencies responsible for its deployment (i.e., to send falsified "evidence" of their activities).

    Not only that, it makes you wonder why governments blow huge amounts of cash on such technological "solutions" when the cybercooks can do the job for them for (essentially) almost nothing...
  • by Steemers (1031312) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:09PM (#26325173)

    A direct consequence of this is that it only takes one (or more?) people in law enforcement to believe that you try to keep something from them to be sentenced two or five years prison.
    No one will ever know it if you just forgot the password.
    Have you ever forgotten a password?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:25PM (#26325277)

    It is important to explain to people you know, in a calm and educated sounding manner, not in a manner that makes you look like some kind of right wing nut, why these sorts of things are all steps towards a Big Brother state, and why it is important that they do their part to convince the people they know of the same. All throughout the world, we need to vote out the incumbent members of government offices and vote in new people who want to reduce the amount of government involvement in our lives, not increase it. When new laws accumulate on the books every day, sooner or later you will not be able to do anything. Therefore it is time to vote people into office who will remove laws from the books, simplify the government, reduce the government's budget (and in doing so, reducing taxation), and reduce government surveillance of the people.

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:26PM (#26325279)
    What democratic countries? England? Since when is a monarchy with a storefront election scham a democracy? I'm from Germany and I can only laugh at those who believe we live in democratic societies. The only ones that do it almost right are the Swiss but their referendum approach only works because the country is so small they could actually kick their governments ass.

    Just the fact that the Brits monitor their citizens every move and still can't do shit about the crime rate should be enough proof that they're blind, ignorant and just plain stupid if they think this will go on forever. Fortunately your data is pretty safe with the UK government since they ususally lose the data before they can evaluate it.
  • by geckipede (1261408) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:32PM (#26325333)
    We manufacture more landmines than China.
  • Re:How?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ancientt (569920) <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:38PM (#26325387) Homepage Journal

    The "How?" portion is an important question. The article mentions getting access to someone's hard drive, which is a very specific form of hacking. They specifically mention sending a malware email attachment and using keyloggers (hardware/software is not clear.)

    The method really does make a very significant difference. If the malware email is the primary method then that limits successful hacks to those with hopelessly outdated email clients and people who open attachments that they shouldn't. Effectively this becomes a way to catch the most careless of criminals. Lets take an example, Mr. Dolt. Mr. Dolt is running an illegal gambling ring and he has to be 1.) Silly enough to use his computer to discuss it or keep records 2.) Using it in an insecure way, such as Administrator for everything 3.) Using an insecure email approach, old Outlook or clicking DancingBaby.pif from whomever sends it 4.) Using a targetable OS, Windows.
    If all those things happen, then the criminal investigation may go somewhere. This makes it mostly useful as a spam type approach. They might set up a chat-bot for example and have it ask 500,000 users if they know where "he" can find some action on the next race, then spam out the malware to all responders. As with any spam system, the rate of return can be pretty low and still seem profitable, 0.15% in this example would give a headline like "Cyber-Police squad arrests 750 criminals."

    In a slightly more paranoid scenario the police target 1000 suspected criminals and compromise all of those using Windows with a super script kiddie type toolbox composed of deliberately undisclosed backdoor hacks. The rate of success would be higher for compromise, say 95%, and they are able to monitor email and successfully garner a 10% successful rate of condemning evidence. This still leads to 85 successful arrests and a nice headline or two.

    Then there is tinfoil-hat type paranoid where the police target 5,000,000,000 users without any reason, have a script break into all of them that it can and do a search for any probable cause type stuff, then have the resulting list be provided by informants so that they can have a good reason to investigate anybody that turns up.

    Best reasonable defense against being incriminated in this manner: Use an OS that is less likely to be easy to break into (BSD, Linux) and don't keep incriminating stuff on your computer.

    Disclaimer: Remember that I'm guessing based on information that may have been reported less than accurately which was in turn based on deliberate misinformation.

  • V for Vendetta (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @09:56PM (#26325517)

    "But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty you need only look into a mirror." [youtube.com]

    I used to think V for Vendetta was fiction. It's starting to look like a documentary.

  • by bjorniac (836863) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:06PM (#26325585)

    Or rather, the criminals that they've noticed are dumb enough to be noticed. Plenty of smart criminals have gotten away with things for years and years, and I don't doubt that many go completely undetected.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:06PM (#26325589) Homepage Journal

    Has it occured to anyone else that with all of the surveillance and tracking going on in the UK that they might simply make certain crimes, like say identity theft, more attractive without really reducing the overall amount of crime or catching those who are actually responsible?

    Well, my first thought was that it's only a matter of time until they learn that part of the rise in identity theft is because some of the cops are setting up profitable businesses on the side, subletting their access to citizens' computers to the identity thieves.

    Have there been any cases like this in the UK yet? I'd expect that they are happening now, but the information may not be public yet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:07PM (#26325595)
    I think it might be time for people to encrypt their systems. Linux makes that easy. I think Windows does too. I'd rather trust Linux, though.

    But if your system gets its hard drives copied, you want to make sure the data can't be recovered easily.

    People have a right to privacy.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:34PM (#26325749) Homepage Journal

    If you think that The Times should be called Times of London to clarify matters to people who have a newspaper who has borrowed the name, you probably also rename your fonts to Times of London New Roman.
    That The Times has been The Times since 1788, generations before your local copycat newspaper, is of no importance to you?

    Heck, while we're at it, why not demand that the British call Jersey "Jersey, the Channel Island" too, because New Yorkers sometimes refer to New Jersey as just Jersey?

    New York Times is not "The Times". If someone says just "The Times", there's no ambiguity at all.

    Oh, and what's up with posting as AC? Grow a backbone, man. There are, reportedly, people with them even in your neck of the wood.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:46PM (#26325825) Homepage Journal

    They have effectively all been removed in practice. To put things in perspective, this country is on the verge of banning kitchen knives to try to reduce violent crime (now that private possession of firearms has been completely outlawed).

    15 years ago, after their big round of gun bans, we asked if there were to be a rash of stabbings would they try to ban knives. The response was "Don't be ridiculous.", now that there has been a rash of stabbings they are actually going to try to ban knives. When youthful criminals begin to bash each other on the head with Cricket bats, they will register and ban Cricket bats. Then rocks, then sticks, then anything not made of nerf.

    It's not a slippery slope anymore, it's a waterslide.

    LK

  • by jps25 (1286898) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @10:50PM (#26325849)

    So, uh, then I'll just use a screwdriver and have fun stabbing you or I'll just smash your head in with a stone.
    Or how about kicking the shit out of you with a pair of Doc Martens?
    How about a nice baseball or cricket bat to the head? A shovel will do just fine as well but STOP! Hammertime!
    Why don't I just use a scarf to strangle you?
    Where do you want to end this crap?
    You might enjoy living with mandatory children's cutlery, I don't.

    The UK has potentially more surveillance than North Korea, but it's been useless in preventing crime.
    And don't give me that shit about saving lives.
    The UK doesn't have proper health care and just last week two ambulancemen were arrested for letting a man die because "he was not worth saving" ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article5420921.ece [timesonline.co.uk] )
    There are far more serious issues the UK should deal with than cutlery.

  • by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:21PM (#26326065)

    You will never "prevent" crime. You can make it less appealing at best.

    "Knife crime" will turn into "screwdriver crime" if you ban pointed knives.

    Or they'll sharpen points on their knives themselves. It's not hard.

  • Re:How?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:24PM (#26326081)

    This then triggers the installation of "legalized" spyware which tracks the user's communications and browsing habits.

    I think all the above posts in this vein are wrong. The question isn't whether there are technical means for computers to be compromised en masse - botnets proved that already. The entire question is: which means will the government be willing to use. If the govt perpetrated mass infections of computers, it would certainly be detected, very likely to cause outrage, and easily remedied by anybody who really cared. So I predict they will remain more targeted in their attacks. The whole key to unregulated powers is to use them against a small minority so the majority don't get upset and start getting regulations passed. (Of course, that minority might not be criminals - they might be political opponents etc).

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:29PM (#26326111)
    Show me one actual democracy in Europe (I know, England doesn't want to be a part of it) and I'll gladly take your cream and slap it on a spotted dick. We all have these fancy democracy-schmemocracy thingamajigs on paper but most of the countries here aren't actually concerned about what's good for their populace. Norway and Sweden may be exceptions but they too have that ridiculous antiquated monarchy crap going on. Every country that raises taxes to pay for some useless shmuck's castle and carriage has my pity.
  • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:33PM (#26326143)

    It's called free society, people die, deal with it.

  • by SScorpio (595836) on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:36PM (#26326171)

    Truecrypt will allow full encryption for either a Windows or Linux system. However, even if you have full drive encryption, once your computer is hacked and accessible while running data can extracted from it.

    Didn't the UK also have a semi resent law about being forced to hand over passwords as well? If so encryption won't protect you much, as long as whatever you are hiding is worth spending the five year penalty in jail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 04, 2009 @11:47PM (#26326237)

    Well, let's pretend we're in an imaginary world where:

    1. There are no pointy things other than knives.
    2. It is impossible to make things pointy.
    3. Criminals obey they law.

    Congratulations! In your imaginary world you have reduced deaths due to stabbing. Unfortunately deaths due to slicing are at an all time high.

  • by sparkeyjames (264526) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:00AM (#26326309)

    2ndly you sound like an idiot who has never read a history book. All populations that have had the right to defend itself against it's own government taken away have eventually fallen under a tyrannical and/or repressive government or religious entity. Flapping your jaw is no defense.

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:08AM (#26326349) Homepage Journal

    If I break into your machine and am accessing it at your user level or at a higher level I will be looking at the same contents YOU are looking at - which is to say unencrypted unless you have lots of stuff you leave locked up and never use (lol). Encryption is GREAT when someone kicks in the door and runs off with a system that's sitting there turned off. It's less great when they get in while you're using it via network or physical means - you know grabbing your ass and shoving you away from the keyboard.

    Crypto isn't the magic wand to fix this....

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:16AM (#26326401) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you guys might want to figure out why the "young people" are pissed off and do something about it?

    Frankly if I'm going to stab someone I think I might choose a good Phillips head screwdriver over a kitchen knife anyway. Knives tend to make good slashing weapons but stabbing might be a little better with something thin and pointed. the screwdriver will certainly raise fewer eyebrows when I am walking away with it and there's no chance of my hand sliding down the hilt to injure myself and leave DNA behind....

    BTW, I carry two knives regularly. Handy little things they are and I've yet to feel the urge to plunge one into someone or hijack a plane with them - and yeah I flew with them prior to 9-11. I guess you guys are as much into security theater as our TSA is huh?

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:19AM (#26326425) Homepage Journal

    You do of course have a CREDIBLE source for this right? I notice you didn't cite it - pity that (lol). I call B.S. on this and am happy to have my pointed kitchen implements. Hey, of that percentage what percent were self defense killings? And how exactly was this tally figured out? Who paid for this research? Oh man the questions are endless on this!

  • The U.K. government might as well just announce that their subjects no longer have any rights at all. They have effectively all been removed in practice.

    This is where a unified, written Constitution comes in handy. Yeah, those can be abused as well... the Right wing points to courts basically ignoring the 10th Amendment for decades, and the Left Wing points to a number of Bush wartime programs. But the fact is, it's still much easier to plead your case in courts when you have your Constitution on paper, in clear written form, instead of a collection of traditions and court cases.

    Want to complain that the US government is doing illegal searches and seizures? At least you have a 4th Amendment to point to and say "you're violating this law". In a country with an un-written Constitution, even if there's a court precedent on the issue, without a written Constitution, the government can simply decree a thing, and it's so, until they're booted out of office.

  • by tftp (111690) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:30AM (#26326483) Homepage

    One way would be to reduce access to long pointed knives.

    And how will you cut a whole watermelon then, or similar produce?

    I would be happy not to have a pointed kitchen knife if it would save only one life.

    Millions of people should be inconvenienced only so that someone can lose his life not through stabbing but through bashing his head in? Security theater indeed...

  • by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:32AM (#26326497) Homepage Journal

    "The UK doesn't have proper health care"

    Since they have nationalized, guaranteed health care for all citizens, I'm curious as to what you think is improper about it. They spend a great deal of money on the system. It seems to me that all nationalized health care systems are moving to this system where the amount of care a citizen gets is in direct proportion to how much it will cost, or how hard it will be to save the patient (born pre-mature, sickly old patient, etc). So it's not like the UK is alone in making these kinds of value judgments on their citizen-patients.

    Not that I endorse that kind of thinking, or their nationalized health care systems... I most definitely don't. But I'm curious as to why you're a critic of their system.

  • by Keen Anthony (762006) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:53AM (#26326641)

    Then those doctors have never prepared a meal more complicated than a microwave dinner. I have several different kinds of knives, and I use them properly. Pointed knives have a useful, necessary function as a proper chef's knife.

    What's the criminal punishment in the UK for a teenager who is found carrying a knife, incidentally?

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:57AM (#26326659) Homepage

    you confuse "democracy" with "the democratic ideal of government as a limited social contract...." It's not the same thing.

    Pure democracy is essentially 2 wolves and a lamb voting about what you have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb protesting the vote.

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." -- Winston Churchill

    as for americans voting based on the cult of personality, you may be on to something [wikipedia.org].

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:37AM (#26326849) Journal
    Uhh, and how exactly is taking the point off supposed to keep someone from killing somebody with it? Hello, a slit throat will kill them just as quick and will probably cut down on the risk of that pesky screaming. And criminals aren't going to care about your stupid laws anyway. That is why they are called criminals. Ten minutes with a grinder will make all kinds of nice pointy weapons. You going to ban grinders too?
  • by Gabrill (556503) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:46AM (#26326879)

    You sir are incorrect. The 18th century citizenry had a few other things that the 21st century citizenry doesn't: Equivalency of arms and armory; support of a major 3rd party nation; distance (and more importantly time) from the British resupply depot and home base; an obviously corrupt and overbearing rulership of foreign British nationals.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:50AM (#26327185)
    Or they'll sharpen points on their knives themselves. It's not hard.

    But that's simply not true. There are enough crimes of passion that people would never stop in the middle of to fabricate a weapon. That alone would save lives. I'm not saying it's a worthy justification, but it simply isn't true to say that they'd find another deadly weapon. Yes, they may then just strike with their hands in an attempt to kill, but it is less likely to succeed than a gun or knife.
  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Monday January 05, 2009 @02:58AM (#26327219)
    Funny how the UK is slowly turning into Nazi Germany, while the US turns into the Soviet Union.
  • by cliffski (65094) on Monday January 05, 2009 @03:45AM (#26327409) Homepage

    so how is that working out in the USA? you guys sure showed your government how you felt when they tried to open guantanomo bay, introduced the patriot act and started an illegal war in the middle east didn't you?

    Yeah, that showed em! And to think, they might have got away with all that crap if you guys didn't have your guns...

  • by julesh (229690) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:21AM (#26327561)

    Want to complain that the US government is doing illegal searches and seizures? At least you have a 4th Amendment to point to and say "you're violating this law". In a country with an un-written Constitution, even if there's a court precedent on the issue, without a written Constitution, the government can simply decree a thing, and it's so, until they're booted out of office.

    Whereas in the UK, you'd point them at ECHR article 8.

    Unless the UK decides to rescind its signature of the ECHR.l

  • Re:How?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:31AM (#26327599)

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the biggest problem with how the legal system works today. It is no longer functioning in line with how society works.

    As far as the legal system is concerned, except in extreme circumstances (eg. you're suspected of violent crime) you may continue to go about your life more-or-less as per normal between arrest and court appearance and no punishment is meted out unless and until you are found guilty.

    If your livelihood depends on something they've taken for evidence - well, that's your problem. In days gone by you could go out and buy, say, a new toolkit and carry on with your job as per usual, but the law hasn't changed to account for the fact that that's not possible if the tool in question is a computer which is going to be taken and held indefinitely.

    Furthermore, as far as society is concerned, quite often "arrest == guilt".

  • by julesh (229690) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:32AM (#26327603)

    Then those doctors have never prepared a meal more complicated than a microwave dinner.

    Actually, I find pointed knives critical for preparing microwave dinners. How else do you puncture the film across the top of tray?

  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by magpie (3270) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:42AM (#26327649) Journal
    Naw the UK isn't like 1984, that would require the government to be competent. It's more like Brazil [wikipedia.org].
  • by PlasticArmyMan (967433) on Monday January 05, 2009 @04:50AM (#26327701)
    You kidding? I could do some serious throat slashing with a severed plastic bottle! Not to mention they store more easily. You can crunch it up into a bag! People will kill other people with papercuts. Banning things isn't going to help.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:01AM (#26327767)

    But that's simply not true. There are enough crimes of passion that people would never stop in the middle of to fabricate a weapon. That alone would save lives.

    No, it won't. If you're performing a crime of passion, you will likely strike at full force. Human flesh isn't very strong; even a butter knife will do serious damage, simply because it is a thin object.

    A sharp knife allows you to cut meat with precision, since you don't need as much force for it. A dull one will still cut meat, but you lose that precision and need to use more force, thus increasing the chances that the knife will slip and the damage it does if it will. Thus this kind of idiocy is likely to cost, not save, lives.

    I'm not saying it's a worthy justification, but it simply isn't true to say that they'd find another deadly weapon.

    I'm pretty sure you can kill a human with a meat tenderizer. It's a spiked steel mallet, after all, and usually stored near sharp meat-cutting knives.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:16AM (#26327843)

    UK citizens no longer have a leg to stand on in any arguement regarding civil rights if they support this shit.

    The way to prevent knife crime is to NOT have mercy on perpetrators. IOW, Death Penalty.

    The way to reduce all crime, including knife crime, is to leave behind barbaric bullshit like Death Penalty. Not even the Roman Empire, which it's habit of crucifying criminals or throwing them to lions if they were feeling nice, managed to stop people from being criminals. "No mercy" simply means that the criminals will respond in kind, and make sure to leave no witnesses; it won't make them stop them being criminals, or others from becoming criminals. It will just turn a life of crime into an outright war, with all the collateral damage that implies.

    Besides, all rights are dependant on the right to life. If the state has a right to suppress that just to make you feel safer from knife crime, why wouldn't it have the right to suspend any other right to make anyone else feel safer from the criminals/terrorists too ? And, if Death Penalty is an option, how much effort do you think it would take the government to frame a political dissident and have him executed ?

    You can't stop knife crime no matter what you do, and getting "though on crime" will simply make the criminals though on you and cause lots of unnecessary grief for no gain. Just like the War on Drugs, or any other similar campaign. It makes for a nice election speech, but is quite a brain-dead policy to actually implement.

  • by Archtech (159117) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:24AM (#26327885)

    ...young people are killing each other more and more.

    Why do you think that is? All this discussion of ways and means of killing one another is very much secondary. The key question is, why do people want to kill one another at all? Human beings are ingenious, and will always find a way to do what they want.

    Universal education was supposed to make us all more enlightened, tolerant, and humane. How come the opposite seems to be happening?

  • by locofungus (179280) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:06AM (#26328115)

    Or they'll sharpen points on their knives themselves. It's not hard.

    But that's simply not true. There are enough crimes of passion that people would never stop in the middle of to fabricate a weapon. That alone would save lives. I'm not saying it's a worthy justification, but it simply isn't true to say that they'd find another deadly weapon. Yes, they may then just strike with their hands in an attempt to kill, but it is less likely to succeed than a gun or knife.

    In the UK the perceived problem is "youths" going out armed with knives. There have been a lot of headlines recently wrt youths being stabbed to death. It's not obvious how much this is the papers blowing up a topical issue and how much is an actual increase in fatal youth on youth violence.

    It may be that the decision to use the knife is a spur of the moment "crime of passion" thing, but the decision to carry said knife is certainly premeditated and there's no reason to suppose that adding a point to an otherwise round ended knife wouldn't also be done.

    It is an offence in the UK to carry almost all knifes[1] in almost all circumstances in public. There are exceptions, folding pocket knifes (knives that do not lock open) with a blade of less than 3 inches and when you have a legitimate reason (e.g. a chef returning home from work or someone who has just bought a knife and is going home with it) but the law is an absolute offence with statutory defences (i.e. it's presumed you are guilty unless you can assert one of the defenses) so woe betide that chef who forgets and leaves his knives in the boot of the car when he goes into town to do his shopping.

    [1] Actually it's any bladed or pointed article or offensive weapon. A child's plastic sword is illegal to carry in public, as is a spare safety pin that, AIUI, the mother of the bride always carries "just in case" (although that might come under traditional or religious dress defence, I'm not sure)

    http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/content.aspx?LegType=All+Legislation&title=Criminal+Justice+Act&Year=1988&searchEnacted=0&extentMatchOnly=0&confersPower=0&blanketAmendment=0&sortAlpha=0&TYPE=QS&PageNumber=1&NavFrom=0&parentActiveTextDocId=2116646&ActiveTextDocId=2116820&filesize=4468 [statutelaw.gov.uk]

    Tim.

  • by locofungus (179280) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:09AM (#26328131)

    Just to follow up - the "plastic sword" thing isn't completely a joke:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1084886/Rambo-student-charged-possessing-inch-plastic-knife-case-dropped.html [dailymail.co.uk]

    Tim.

  • Re:EU joke (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supersnail (106701) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:20AM (#26328223)

    Only Sweden of all the other EU countries has attempted this and the various privicy groups have protested effectivly and loudly so it will probably be blown out of the water.

    This is a classic UK civil service tactic -- introduce unpopular legislation that suits thier purposes and say the EU made them do it.

    To any suckers who are still living in the Old Country -- if you dont like it stop moaning and vote the b****s out.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:28AM (#26328259)

    how much effort do you think it would take the government to frame a political dissident and have him locked in the dark for 20 years, simply disappear or "fall" down the stairs.

    Personally I don't agree with the death penalty but for completely different reasons.
    It is of course not acceptable to have a death penalty where there is uncertainty as to the guilt of the subject. Because of that a great deal of checking and re-checking must be done. Court cases, appeals, more appeals. etc. and it still won't be utterly perfect but hey.

    As a result it takes such resources to actually dish out the death penalty that only a few hundred people are actually executed each year in the US.
    With the time it takes to go through the process you're more likely to be killed dealing crack on the street in a given year than you are to be killed sitting on death row.

    So it isn't much of a deterrent. You might get caught and given the death penalty but if you're in a gang you're much more likely to be shot by a rival gang member. The death penalty is so unlikely that it deters crime about as much as deaths by lightening deter people from playing golf.

    You could solve this by lowering the standards, execute vastly more people. but there would be a price. More innocent people would be killed. If you wanted to make the death penalty into a real risk that might put people off committing a crime then you'd have to so dramatically lower the requirements for giving the death penalty that an insane number of innocents would get killed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:39AM (#26328333)

    your rights come from the government and what they and your peers agree to give you?

    Guess what, me and a few thousand other people have decided you deserve to die. Why is that? I don't know, we just have. You now have no right to life. Here's a bullet and a gun. You know what you have to do...

  • by Builder (103701) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:44AM (#26328361)

    He probably doesn't like the national health care because he's had to use it.

    I've made use of the NHS both in rural areas and within London, and I will say that it is a completely different experience. In metropolitan areas, it just does not work. Try waiting 4 hours to see a ER doctor while sitting in a waiting room with drunks fighting and bleeding all over you - you'll go off of national health care pretty quickly.

    Hell, I can't even legally buy enough cold medication to spend 5 days at home resting - the max I can buy is a 3 day supply - that's another helpful thing that these stupid fucking people have given us - http://blog.penguinpowered.org/2008/12/31/gps-should-pull-their-heads-out-of-their-arses/ [penguinpowered.org]

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:06AM (#26328489)

    It's strange how I can apply every point to my mediterranean country just by replacing "mediterranean" for any other vague reference to some zone with family connotations.

    For example, change the sea reference to "italian" and you can apply the entire post to Spain.

    What you describe is not a british culture illness.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:23AM (#26328583)

    1. mirror drive
    2. try password
    3. if drive wipes itself, reload from copy

    there...beat your neat little idea

  • Re:Nice strawman (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @08:33AM (#26329001) Homepage Journal
    Knife crime is a growing problem

    Is it? Or are the newspapers just writing more about it?

    Remember a few years ago when gun crime was the "big thing"? Despite the stats showing that only a vanishingly small fraction of violent crimes in the UK involved a gun at the time... It was an impression created almost exclusively by the media with the help of family and friends of victims that were trotted out as "evidence" of how Britain was facing a plague of gun crime.

    I am not saying knife crime isn't a problem - it is certainly a bigger problem than gun crime has been in this country since before the hand gun ban -, but I haven't seen any stats, just reports from the same media that never retracted or apologized for their unsupported "We are all going to be shot to death, OMG!!!!" scare stories.

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