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Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter 577

Posted by timothy
from the credibility-gap-looms dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A British man was arrested under anti-terrorism legislation for making a bomb joke on Twitter. Paul Chambers, 26, was arrested under the provisions of the Terrorism Act (2006). His crime? Frustrated at grounded flights over inclement weather, he made a joke bomb threat on the social networking site Twitter."
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Police In Britain Arrest Man For Bomb-Threat Joke On Twitter

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  • by saisuman (1041662) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:46AM (#30805882)
    "Police in arrest man for Joke on Bomb-Thread Joke on Twitter."
  • by xyph0r (1153429) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:55AM (#30805926)
    I think you're missing the point. If he knew this would happen, he probably wouldn't've done it at all. It was just him venting in a moment of frustration. How the police responded so quickly is beyond me, though...
  • by Twisted Willie (1035374) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:55AM (#30805934)
    I don't think the most troubling part of what happened is that this guy didn't try to ensure his anonimity.

    He didn't intend to make a bombthreat, hell, he didn't even make one. The fact that all hell breaks loose over something silly as this shows that the terrorists have won. Western society lives in fear, whether you like it or not.
  • Typical.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by malkavian (9512) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:56AM (#30805936) Homepage

    Of the way the world is heading. As I keep harping on about, and wish the politicians (and the police) would understand. Orwell's 1984 is a warning, not a "HOWTO manual".
    By the standard they've set on this, most of the populace should be under arrest by dint of the anti-terror laws, which over here in the UK are draconian, misguided and completely over the top.
    It really comes to something when we need to worry more about our own police and politicians than we ever would about a terror attack.

  • sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:59AM (#30805960)
    It is depressing as hell to be a British citizen.

    You get arrested then released without charge, the police take and store your DNA. The EU human rights court says this is illegal and wrong, Labour say they don't care.

    You get accused of a sexual offence, it gets recorded. Even if the accusation is entirely baseless and the person who made it is jailed for making it, you'll still have it on your record. Good luck getting a job with children when that accusation is revealed to a potential employer. Even worse, the government can put a court order on these that make it illegal for an employer to reveal why you failed a background check. You're given no legal recourse to this, even if a mistake has been made and you're accidentally added to the register.

    You can have (consensual) kinky sex, but if you video it, you're a sex offender. You can be 18 and have sex with a 17 year old legally but videotape it, you're a sex offender. Draw two stickpeople having sex, label one of them as being 17, you guessed it, you're a sex offender.

    Organise a protest criticising against soldier in Afganistan and Iraq? That'll be declared illegal and you'll be arrested on public decency charges.

    Being held 30 days without charge? Not enough! We must change the law to make it 90 days! After all, you wouldn't have been arrested it you weren't guilty!

    It's rather depressing that Labour are supposedly the left leaning of the two main parties. I would hope that the Conservatives would cancel some of these laws when they're in power but I doubt it. Removing laws is pretty hard and the tabloids would crucify them.
  • by Xiph1980 (944189) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:00AM (#30805964)
    Ehmm, no offense, but what happened to the Burden of Proof [wikipedia.org], which the D.A. should present to within certainty show that you were about to commit a felony?
    I mean, I'm sure you once shouted something akin to "I'm gonna kill you" to some drunk idiot on a Saturday night. Not a nice thing to say, granted but that doesn't make you immediately want to kill that person. Frustration has a tendency to make you say things you don't mean and/or would never do, that's why in most western countries it's very rare for someone to be trialled for something they did not (yet) commit.
  • Dissent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kegon (766647) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:01AM (#30805970)

    How very, very sad. How can anyone think for one second that his tweet was serious ? What a bunch of idiots. Not only the authorities but also the person who reported him.

    It seems we're slowly moving to a state where only correct thinking is allowed. No joking, no sense of humour, irony or annoyance.

  • Gah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mgns (934567) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:03AM (#30805978)
    Shit like this makes me wanna blow up Parliament
  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:06AM (#30805990) Journal
    Honestly, I'm not sure which side I'm on. The guy makes a joke on twitter, which is public and made for raw information without context. It is akin to write a tag saying the same thing in front of the airport. It is normal for police to investigate, I really don't blame them there. They quickly saw there was nothing to it. I prefer to criticize the airport (who banned the man for life) and his company which suspended him for a lack of common sense.
  • VERY slow response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:09AM (#30806004)

    Obviously the police didn't take the threat seriously at all:

    A week after posting the message on the social networking site, he was arrested

    If it takes the police to find Paul J Chambers [twitter.com] when there a PICTURE [twimg.com] of him on his Twitter profile AND it tells you he's from Doncaster, England.

    Now, I'm not the police, but I think that if I had access to a phone book of Doncaster, I could probably find the guy in a few hours. Given that he's 90% likely to have a drivers license, it's not like it'd make it any more difficult to find him.

    Geez!

  • by dugeen (1224138) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:09AM (#30806006) Journal
    They always claim that they have to take all jokes seriously. But really these events are about punishing people who heckle during performances at the security theatre.
  • Re:Typical.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Uranium-238 (1586465) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:13AM (#30806020)
    Frankly this is no different to making a threat against someone's life or any other kind of threat that would entail crime.
  • Re:sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zwei2stein (782480) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:14AM (#30806032) Homepage

    (Leftist party is kind of expected to make such draconian laws in order to "protect" public: it is the very essence of being nanny state.)

    You know what is actually depressing about this?

    People do nothing about it. Chances are, joe sixpack is not going to be bothered by it because chances are he is not going to be bitten by such law. Because as long as you sheep your way throught life and spend evening watching telly, you are safe. All it takes is to simply allow some freedom taken away - freedoms which ordinary people rarely make uses of it is not surprising they are not bothered by disappearance of them.

  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:15AM (#30806036)

    It's rather depressing that Labour are supposedly the left leaning of the two main parties. I would hope that the Conservatives would cancel some of these laws when they're in power but I doubt it. Removing laws is pretty hard and the tabloids would crucify them.

    Even when the Conservatives are elected, the tabloids will still be in power.

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:18AM (#30806050)

    How do you know how fast they responded? It was seven days after he made the post that he was arrested, but we don't know how long it was before the police were aware of the post.

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:33AM (#30806100)

    Anyone who wants to blow up an airport is going to have more f*cking sense than to announce their intentions to the world on Twitter first.

    IIRC the IRA used to give warnings to the police a few minutes before a bomb was set to explode.

    I guess they found out that "terrorism" is not identical with "killing people".

    Terrorists want to spread fear. Ironically, thats what most gouvernments do in their "fight against terrorism".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:40AM (#30806142)

    I agree with the Slashdot opinion that Britain tends to go overboard with police action lately, but honestly in this case I'm not so sure they were wrong. The man wrote:

    Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!

    Sounds like a bomb threat to me. I didn't see any context indicating that this is merely a joke.

    I was taught by my parents, many many years before 9/11, that making bomb threats, even jokingly, is a bad idea because if anyone mistakenly takes you seriously, it WILL get you in trouble and possibly arrested. Maybe this guy's mom should have taught him the same thing.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internewt (640704) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:43AM (#30806170) Journal

    Frankly this is no different to making a threat against someone's life or any other kind of threat that would entail crime.

    But he didn't threaten anyone, unless you have the reading comprehension of a child and cannot see a joke when one is presented to you.... oh yeah, this is the same police that recently had to lower their testing pass mark as they weren't getting enough recruits. Looks like that policy's working!

    The guy from TFA made the mistake of saying something that allowed the pigs to use powers that if they don't use, they might lose!

    "Can't have that training be wasted" said police PR spokesman H. Himmler.

  • by Nuskrad (740518) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:44AM (#30806172)
    You seem to be confusing the UK with somewhere that has guaranteed and protected rights. And if you were drunk and shouted "I'm going to kill you", you'd almost certainly be charged with a Public Order offence if the target made a complaint against you.
  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:45AM (#30806186)

    Right. Because we all know, everyone is serious on the internet.

    Nobody should be arrested because the authorities don't have a sense of humor.

  • idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chentiangemalc (1710624) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:48AM (#30806200) Homepage
    Interesting a lot of people defending this guy - but threatening to blow up an airport is just stupid. this is nothing new with bomb threats though , even pre-9/11 when in primary school somebody called our principal and made a bomb threat, and the whole school had to be cleared for the day while it was searched, and even though no bomb was found the police still spent some effort to find the prankster, because even as a joke there is a necessity for such threats to be investigated, and is a waste of police resources and time. don't even bother with proxy, just don't make bomb threats, it's not smart or funny.
  • by Xiph1980 (944189) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:58AM (#30806244)
    Well, don't be so lightly touched man, I'm from the Netherlands, we don't have a D.A. here either, but I can't be arsed to look up how exactly law is upheld in every country I make a comment on, and how court is ran. I sometimes watch Law & Order, so I know the term D.A. to be someone working for "the people" aka, the government, and is the one responsible to provide the proof that suspect John Doe is the actual person to have committed the crime. You probably have something similar over there, perhaps a person, perhaps a committee, or whatever, I don't care, but something or someone has to present the evidence in court. Fill in the blanks.
  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by internewt (640704) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:00AM (#30806254) Journal

    I just boils down to the fact that a one dimensional, or even binary, way of measuring political points of view does doesn't work.

    Well, it works for one group: the American ruling class.

    Whilst the electorate are busy slagging off the other side, the ruling class pretty much get all they want. They might have to bring things in slowly, or policies might need a few attempts at bringing in (lip service to democracy), but sooner or later they'll get their way.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:22AM (#30806346) Journal
    One idiot under arrest is hardly "all hell breaking loose".
  • Re:idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krou (1027572) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:23AM (#30806352)
    If he got on the phone and called the airport, I may agree with you. But making a comment on his private Twitter account? What's next, imprisonment because you make a comment in an IRC chatroom as a joke to someone else? A private message on Messenger or Skype? Even if he made the comment on a public Twitter account, it's difficult to understand how anyone could've taken what he wrote as a serious, credible bomb threat. Frankly, the police in this country are out of control. I'm sick of total surveillance all the time, ordinary people being harassed for no good reason, and anti-terror legislation being misused for the most bogus purposes imaginable.
  • by hanabal (717731) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:29AM (#30806376)

    think about this for a second. here's a list of many of the more famous British historical figures: Robin Hood (local thief and gang leader), Guy Fawkes (Terrorist), Henry VIII (Killed 2-3 of his wives), Jack the Ripper (Serial Killer)

  • by robably (1044462) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:30AM (#30806386) Journal
    It is for him.
  • by xlotlu (1395639) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:34AM (#30806408)

    Slashdot needs a "Troll +1" mod, so people can learn to recognize such wonderful red herring mastery.

  • The terrorist ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:41AM (#30806448)

    ... is the man telling you to be afraid.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:44AM (#30806470)

    I think you're missing the point. If he knew this would happen, he probably wouldn't've done it at all. It was just him venting in a moment of frustration.

    How the police responded so quickly is beyond me, though...

    Firstly, it implies that the fuzz over in the UK are listening pretty much non stop to Twitter to be able to react so quickly.

    Secondly, it implies that they are showing utterly no concept of applying common sense to what they do when they take what is clearly that sort of vent "oh fuck it, I am so sick of this weather!". Seriously guys, use your heads, can anyone really be that pissed at the WEATHER that they blow something up? I doubt it. I really fucking doubt it.

  • Re:sigh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by netpixie (155816) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:44AM (#30806472) Homepage

    What on earth has this got to do with TFA?

    Yes there are a large number of reasons to be depressed about British law.

    This is *not* one of them.

    In this case a twat broke a sensible, reasonable, well-thought-out law and is paying the price.

    Case closed.

  • Re:idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:58AM (#30806540)

    Interesting a lot of people defending this guy - but threatening to blow up an airport is just stupid
    don't even bother with proxy, just don't make bomb threats, it's not smart or funny

    The proxy is a particularly stupid idea - and all too typically geek. If your defenses are breached, you will be approached as a real threat. No more fun and games.

    Staten Island Teen Arrested in Apple Store Bomb Threat [nbcnewyork.com] [Jam 13]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:36AM (#30806706)

    He didn't scream it at the top of his lungs in the town square, you fucking cunt. His twitter was private, he said it in a small conversation between his friends. Then one of those friends reported him, because they are a well-conditioned little citizen like you, and the police came down on him like a ton of bricks. For a joke between friends. How the fuck can you defend this, you fucking unashamed fascist?

  • by breadstic (1396173) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:36AM (#30806708)

    Sounds like a bomb threat to me. I didn't see any context indicating that this is merely a joke.

    How about the fact that he posted it on twitter? If he was actually making a bomb threat and going to tell the world about it, surely telling the airport or the police themselves would be one of the first ports of call... not simply posting it on a microblogging website with a whole bunch of information that would lead you straight to him.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:52AM (#30806850)

    This kind of formal language does not change the fact that context is needed to determine crime.
    Crime is defined by intention as much as by act.
    When there is neither, there should be an apology.

    Your parents are cowards if they actually asked you to follow such rules.
    Your sentence is to meant to discourage youngsters from speaking against anyone on Twitter.

    All Govts know that the youth participate most in protests.
    And all Govts are afraid of Twitter.

    And so you could be spreading FUD for any Govt.
    Including USA and China.

    This took seven days to the arrest only because some Nu-Labour sinister minister wants to use this to intimidate people from posting honest opinions on twitter.

    This is the chill effect being put to work. This is the signature of fascism.

    Elections are approaching in many countries and scandals are mounting.

    We are not stupid idiots.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:01AM (#30806928)

    I think you're missing the point. If he knew this would happen, he probably wouldn't've done it at all. It was just him venting in a moment of frustration. How the police responded so quickly is beyond me, though...

    Firstly, it implies that the fuzz over in the UK are listening pretty much non stop to Twitter to be able to react so quickly.

    Or somebody who read the tweet reported it. In fact, from the Telegraph areticle (linked from the RA), police acted on "a tip-off from a member of the public".

    Secondly, it implies that they are showing utterly no concept of applying common sense to what they do when they take what is clearly that sort of vent "oh fuck it, I am so sick of this weather!". Seriously guys, use your heads, can anyone really be that pissed at the WEATHER that they blow something up? I doubt it. I really fucking doubt it.

    Can any normal person? I agree. Are there psychos out there who just might? Sadly, yes. And "You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!" does sound rather like a psycho. Britain has been the subject of extended terror campaigns, and I suspect that the British police are more familiar with what a genuine terror threat sounds like than the average /. reader. Unfortunately any measurement system is going to suffer type 1 errors (I hope innocence is still the null hypothesis). What matters is how they're dealt with if they're subsequently identified. That's not yet the case here: "He has been bailed pending further investigations." The police are not yet convinced if it was a joke, or if it was whether it was a harmless one (too many people think that hoaxing the emergency services is a "joke"; I expect that some think that real bomb hoaxes are), and it has not yet been tested by a court (as it should be if reasonable doubt remains). The real test will come if it does all turn out to be a misunderstanding. Wil he just be taken on one side and told not to be such an asshole (er, sorry, "will it be explained to him that the police need to investigate such matters, because after all, how would it have been if the threat had been real and he had carried it out? It would be helpful if he kept that in mind in future"), or will things like the airport ban remain in place?

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:05AM (#30806972)

    But then coded phone call AFTER the attack would have been enough. But I guess doing that BEFORE the bombs exploded had two beneficial (for the terrorists!) effects:

    1) Increase Panic, spread fear. (And bring more "military" targets closer to the bomb)

    2) Actually save "civilians" or at least give the terroists themselves the illusion of trying to save civilians.

    From what I remember from interviews and documentaries I saw about that, they had the self-image of an army in a war against another gouvernment and its military, and to a lesser extent against the people of that country.

    And don't forget the image. Thats even important to terrorists. It's much easier to convince an unsuspecting young guy when you can say "He, we're the good guys! We're at war, but we try to avoid civilian casualties". And it may help yourself to justify your feelings of guilt.

  • by GauteL (29207) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:25AM (#30807100)

    Quoting the Daily Mail does not give you any credibility whatsoever in political debate. Also note that the author of your article worked for the Daily Express, an even more hate-mongering and populist rag between 1977 and 2000.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:32AM (#30807148) Journal

    Plenty of cops must be twats (twits are the messages; twats are the users) so they must know what Twitter is like; small, irrelevant messages from people too uninteresting to post long comments.

    So, unlike someone calling up a talk radio station in what way?

  • by macraig (621737) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:37AM (#30807174)

    Nowhere in TFA does it state that the Twitter feed in question was private, so how exactly would you know that? Either you have access to information not in TFA, or you DON'T actually know that it was private. If in fact it was private, then why didn't you support your argument with proof of that? If it wasn't private, then your entire expletive-ridden diatribe is baseless.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:42AM (#30807214)

    For a long while, the police in the UK has been set targets for number of arrests/convictions, number of crimes within certain categories and other such targets.

    The natural change of the behaviour of the police officers as a followup of these targets was:
    - The police started arresting people for things that previously were dealth with informally, for example, if a kid throws a stone and breaks a glass window he can now end in court: in the past, the local copper would typically have a serious talk with him, take him to his parents, get them to pay for repairs and that was it.
    - The police started pushing people to accept "Cautions" which are a formal admission of guild for minor crimes which does not require going to Court: this does create a Criminal Record for a person which might very well ruin their lives (for example, a Nursing Student got one of those because she was drunk and misbehaving, which resulted in her not being able to find any work as a nurse since she now had a criminal record).
    - The police started misreporting crimes (as being in a less serious category) or even avoiding reporting them altogether (I know of a at least one case where a bag was snatched from a baby-buggy which was left unattended and the police refused to file the case because "nobody saw the bag being taken from the baby-buggy, so how do we know you didn't lost it").

    At the same time, the increased bureaucratic overhead of keeping track of all those targets meant more time behind the desk and less time on the beat of the cops.

    This resulted in people loosing trust in the Police. The familiar, well-liked and trusted local "bob" (the police officer that does the rounds in a neighbourhood) that knew and was known by the people in his beat (usually having a "fair but firm" image) was replaced by a group of guys in uniform which don't know you and you don't know them, with most people not wanting to interact with unless they really have to (they way the law is now, they can pretty much arrest you for not being properly polite). The cops themselfs have become distant and distrusting in reaction - they adopted a Us vs Them mentality.

    The cops were taken out of the community and the community was taken out of the cops.

    Under this environment, is hardly surprising that most good people don't want to join the Police Force anymore: while
    in the past police officers were respected and trusted as wise users of the power they had (mostly prefering persuasion rather than force), nowadays they're mostly feared, distrusted and disliked.

    The sad bit is that the old soft target of "making people fell safe" was much better than whatever hard targets they set for the police nowadays.

  • Re:Gah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bkr1_2k (237627) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:42AM (#30807216)

    Terrorism has been successful in several instances. First I can think of is the creation of the United States. There are more recent examples such as Afghanistan in the 90s. Terrorism and revolution are two sides of the same coin, as others have already stated.

  • Re:Gah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radtea (464814) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:55AM (#30807336)

    Furthermore, it is hard to envision any non-violent and democratic way which British Catholics could have used at the time.

    As Barbie might have said, "Thinking of non-violent means of political change is hard. Let's go kill people!"

    Fuck that and the horse it rode in on. Sure it's hard to come up with non-violent means of influencing governments. But y'know what? It actually is known to work pretty well when people take the time to think about it, whereas killing people is pretty much an epic fail. As you yourself point out:

    But as often happens when using violence to get your way, the opposite happened

    Indeed, this happens so often that anyone who continues to opt for violence today, after centuries of idiots pretending to use violence for change and failing pretty badly, is clearly killing people because that's what they like to do, not because they have any genuine belief that violence will bring about their purported political ends.

    Violence is the end, whether it's the US bombing Iraq or the 19 nitwits blowing up the twin towers.

    The Basque, the Tamils, the Sikhs, the Irish on both sides, the Scots in the 1700's, the Palestinians today... all these people tried to use violence as a means of effecting political change, sometimes for decades--the Basque have recently come up on the half century mark. They've all killed hundreds of people, at least. None of them have gotten even close to what they claim to want, which is an entirely predicticable outcome of political violence.

    It's not that it never works, but it is demonstrably inefficient and ineffective. Whereas intelligent, adaptive, non-violent political action of the kind Gandhi used in India is demonstrably effective and efficient (efficiency is measured by the number of peopled "freed" by the "freedom fighters" divided by the square of the number of people they kill.)

    So given that the entirely predictable outcome of violence is usually the opposite of what the perpetrators nominally intend, we should look at anyone who advocates "war" of any kind as the equivelent of someone who is going to cure cancer with blood-letting and prayer. We can't prove it won't work ever, but we can be pretty damned sure there are other approaches--some of which are HARD, and require actually reseach and intelligence to implement--that will work a hell of a lot better.

    The mystery is why anyone anywhere thinks anyone advocating or using poltical violence is anything but an idiot.

  • by tonycheese (921278) on Monday January 18, 2010 @09:58AM (#30807372)

    You know what? What do you expect the police to do in this position? An actual idiot from Nigeria just set his pants on fire in an attempt to blow up an airplane and the government was criticized since they had "clues" but didn't act on it.

    This guy was simply arrested, questioned, and released. I don't see the humor in saying "these airline delays suck, i'm going to commit an act of terrorism and kill thousands of people!" That's the equivalent of saying "these elevators are so fucking slow, i'm gonna blow up the empire state building!" back in 2002. Not funny, just stupid, and the police did their job - question and release.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:11AM (#30807462)

    Or just be on the NO FLY LIST.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:15AM (#30807488) Journal

    They couldn't risk not arresting the guy.

    Indeed - I'm not too concerned over the arrest because it can be hard telling real threats from jokes when something is said in public.

    But what concerns me far more is that, even though it's clear it's a joke now, he still faces problems:

    * He's on bail.
    * He may be charged with "conspiring to create a bomb hoax".
    * He's been suspended from work - apparently we're guilty until proven innocent now.
    * They've confiscated "his iPhone, laptop and home computer".

    That last one is a particular concern - whilst totally unnecessary, it now seems standard for people to lose access to items which are fast becoming essential items in today's society, for communication and in some cases their livelihoods. Sometimes they're taken for searches, but there's apparently such a backlog that you can kiss goodbye to your equipment for many months.

    No doubt they'll be scanning the hard disk to find if there's any other random "crime" that they can get him on too.

    More generally, there's also the problem of blurring the lines between statements intended for friends, but that can be read by anyone.

    Consider, if someone made the same joke in a pub, even though that's a public place, would it make sense for the person to go through that ordeal, because a random member of the public heard them and phoned the police? (Although I guess at least you could deny ever having said it in that instance...)

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:18AM (#30807504) Journal

    This guy was simply arrested, questioned, and released.

    From the original article http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/twitter-joke-led-to-terror-act-arrest-and-airport-life-ban-1870913.html [independent.co.uk] :

    * He's on bail.
    * He may be charged with "conspiring to create a bomb hoax".
    * He's been suspended from work - apparently we're guilty until proven innocent now.
    * They've confiscated "his iPhone, laptop and home computer".

    Yep, you left a few things out of your "simply".

    Not to mention that these days in the UK, an arrest means your DNA and fingerprints are kept on file, even if you're found innocent or never charged.

    I don't see the humor in saying [snip] That's the equivalent of saying [snip]

    I didn't quite catch that, could you repeat it please? Something about you making a threat?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:19AM (#30807514)

    Yeah, not being able to go around saying "I'm going to blow up the airport in a week" without raising suspicion is a true signature of fascism.

    Ya know, I hear that it's even illegal in some places to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It's like we don't have ANY rights left anymore! ...dumbass.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:20AM (#30807516)

    it sounds unmistakably like a joke,

    No, you're quite wrong. Jokes are funny, they make people laugh.There's nothing even remotely joke-like in the statement. Stupid, ridiculous, ill-advised and correctly punctuated maybe but if you said those words to a million people, even drunk ones, not a single one would laugh. In my book, that makes it a failure as a joke.

    Next question: were the police right to overreact like that? Obviously no, though if making unfunny jokes on an internett site was a crime, we'd all be in chokey.

    Next question: don't the cops have anything better to do than goof around on twitter? Again, apparently not - though maybe if they had solved all the outstanding crimes and banged-up all the criminals there might be an excuse for it.

    Next question: think of one simple way to screw up someone's life; Correct, impersonate them on twitter and make stoopid threats.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:21AM (#30807524) Journal

    No one has any problem with the police investigating it.

    The problem is when the "investigation" results in totally messing over his life, even when it's now clear it was just a joke, and that he may still be charged for the privilege of it all.

    RTFA - unfortunately the Slashdot link contains few details, you have to read The Independent story that it was taken from, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/twitter-joke-led-to-terror-act-arrest-and-airport-life-ban-1870913.html [independent.co.uk] .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:22AM (#30807528)

    I am not from the UK but I can understand England's reaction to a bomb treat, after all, the guys have had a very bad history [wikipedia.org] of bombs and other terrorist attacks...

  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:30AM (#30807618)

    Perhaps it would help if the other side made a distinction between military targets and civilian ones. As it is, any attack by any bunch of extremists is considered by the established order as "terrorist". An idiot walks into a mall with a suicide-vest and blows himself/herself up. The verdict of politicians, the media and the general populace: he/she is a terrorist. A few dudes get on a rickety, inflatable rubber boat loaded with explosives, waddle up in plain view to a sophisticated, armed-to-the-teeth, multi-hundred-million-dollar destroyer, salute to the crew on board and blow themselves up. Verdict: terrorists.

    Then you have dudes with rusty rifles hiding in mountains and engaging in sporadic fire fights with an overpowering foreign occupation force -- complete with heavy armor and utter air superiority -- that overrun their country. They too apparently are "terrorists", albeit of the "cowardly unlawful combatant" type (whatever nonsense that is supposed to mean).

    As you can see there is absolutely no incentive for any of these to aim at military targets exclusively, especially in that last case where the occupying force has a very long record of blowing up everything that moves, including thousands of women and children.

  • by GerryHattrick (1037764) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:35AM (#30807686)
    No mod points left, but yes. At this point in history we need some sense of personal responsibility.
  • Hear, hear. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by professorguy (1108737) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:49AM (#30807840)
    Sometimes you think there's no hope for humanity. Then there's a post like this.

    Hear, hear, radtea. I wish I could mod up your entire philosophy.
  • by Hojima (1228978) on Monday January 18, 2010 @11:59AM (#30808610)

    He doesn't deserve to get anything. A quote from the article: "On 13 January, after apparently receiving a tip-off from a member of the public, police arrived at Mr Chambers' office...I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it." So now there's a new recipe to be an asshole. Find any piece of written evidence of someone you hate that they "intend" to do ANYTHING harmful, and mail it to the police. Then anonymously report it and watch the police go ape-shit.

  • by OldSoldier (168889) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:37PM (#30809070)

    Great, just great.

    First in the US we have a guy whose father turned him in and who was on several other countries no-fly-list and yet he's able to board an airplane and try to set off a bomb. Now we have a guy who made only one remark and the authorities are all over him.

    These 2 items are related by the failure of authorities to see the whole picture. In the Christmas day bomber case they didn't put the evidence together to realize he was a threat. In twitter-threat case they over-reacted to only one piece of evidence.

    I would hope that if authorities looked at the entire picture in both cases the proper course of action would have been self evident. So why aren't authorities looking at the WHOLE PICTURE before reacting?

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:56PM (#30809334) Homepage Journal

    An actual idiot from Nigeria just set his pants on fire in an attempt to blow up an airplane and the government was criticized since they had "clues" but didn't act on it.

    The clues they had in that case were, IMHO, considerably more substantial.

    But you seem to be falling into a fallacy that government agencies often do: that somehow, if you're pathetically lax in one case then you can average it out by being ridiculously overzealous in another.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday January 18, 2010 @02:53PM (#30810854) Homepage Journal

    I'll tell you what, if I hear another case of the Police overreacting like this I swear I'll ...
    ummmmm ...
    I'll write a strongly worded letter to my MP.

    Unless they've banned that too.

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