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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 michelcolman (1208008) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:46AM (#30805878)
    What if some hypothetical person was to threaten he would blow Slashdot sky high? Just a second, there's someone at the door...
  • by The FBI (1717712) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:53AM (#30805914)

    What if some hypothetical person was to threaten he would blow Slashdot sky high?

    Just a second, there's someone at the door...

    Who was it?

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:04AM (#30805982) Homepage Journal
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoPPvPbe-SM [youtube.com]
    They really like to "ground" people in the UK who make a fuss :)
    All this web 2.0 stuff is watched by NSA, CIA, FBI, GCHQ, state task forces and your local PD.
    So if your having a lol, remember who provided the seed cash to many of more 'effortless' web 2.0 sites.
  • Re:Gah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:06AM (#30805994)

    Shit like this makes me wanna blow up Parliament

    Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:15AM (#30806034)

    The guy makes a joke on twitter, which is public

    His tweets are protected. [twitter.com]

  • Re:Living in fear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by internewt (640704) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:34AM (#30806108) Journal

    My car tyres are flat and I have go to the garage to blow them up. what should i do ?

    Could be worse, for me it's just the left hand rear tire, aka LHR. Could you imagine how lazy pigs fishing for leads (on twitter, FFS[1]) would react to "I need to blow up the LHR"?

    [1] "Yeah sarge, just found out about 'da bomb'. It's going down at chelle97's mum's flat this weekend. It was on that Al-Taliban site, myspace".

  • by selven (1556643) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:38AM (#30806130)

    I would make a fake bomb threat in an airport, and then... just leave.

    Millions of dollars wasted, millions of dollars more airport security theater implemented just because, and to top it off no actual bomb needed.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BountyX (1227176) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:42AM (#30806162)
    UK basically has a nationwide proxy. The following ISPs share a proxy (Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal). I believe the government announced the execution of this plan mid last year (sorry too tired to link you). Long story short, the info was prob. sniffed before it got to twitter.
  • by tpholland (968736) on Monday January 18, 2010 @06:59AM (#30806248)

    Do I feel strongly enough about it to emigrate? The law as it stands in terms of freedom of speech has been much the same for centuries.

    Please don't emigrate just yet—you may be in luck. The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees freedom of speech for all EU citizens. It was enshrined into UK law by the Human Rights Act in 1998; this was the biggest fundamental change in the law regarding freedom of speech for centuries.

    The problem is, the way it is enshrined into UK law also introduces a significant number of restrictions, mostly around the areas of security, crime, and morals. But the government has to actually pass specific legislation to limit speech in these areas, and if these national laws fall short of the European Convention then they can be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights.

    One of the weaknesses of the British constitutions is that most people—even most British people—seem to have been persuaded that we don't have one, so few people are willing to stand up and fight against unconstitutional laws.

    Far from free speech not being a vote winner, it looks likely that reform of our libel laws will become a significant issue at the next election, for example with campaigns like libelreform.org causing a lot of unrest in political circles.

  • by dimeglio (456244) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:01AM (#30806258)

    Twitter is the megaphone of social networks. I'm surprise this is the first such arrest being reported. He's gonna get a background check and will probably need to take some anger management courses. Airports do not like being intimidated.

  • by Christoffer777 (991273) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:05AM (#30806284)
    If the editor decides not to publish an article for fear of his own life or security, it is too late to start worrying!

    If you don't fight these forces/tendencies all the time, suddenly you will wake up in a situation that you cannot change, or is much, much harder to change peacefully.

    It should be easier to defend against this stuff than to let it happen and then try to change it back.

    This battle requires constant vigilance, not complacency until the point where you suddenly have to revolt or migrate to keep the same level of freedom/security. btw, how do you format paragrap
  • Re:sigh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:21AM (#30806344)

    What are the odds of Britain having a revolution?

    I'd settle for a moderate political party to vote for. Take a look at the major choices in England at the next election, and some of the minor parties that have attracted significant public attention:

    • Labour: Demonstrably clueless, got us into this mess in the first place, willing to ignore court rulings that their policies are illegal, willing to fire scientists who openly say the evidence doesn't support the policy, basically just about the worst of all worlds.
    • Conservatives: Change direction faster than a sportsman running up the field, and tend to back big business (and any dubious employment practices, failed business models, and the like that come with it) way too much.
    • Liberal Democrats: Actually think we should have more socialism, and the canonical example of politicians thinking that "fair" just means "screwing people who probably aren't going to vote for us anyway".
    • Greens: Still trying to pretend they aren't a one-issue party, still with policies that sound nice until you have to deal with the non-environmental consequences.
    • UKIP: Some of their policies sound quite respectable, if only I believed they actually meant what they said and weren't just a more socially acceptable BNP.
    • BNP: [This entry has been removed by the Godwin filter.]

    Short of founding my own political party or supporting someone else who does, it looks like those are going to be my choices in this constituency at the general election later this year. By the way, I really dislike negative campaigning, and I find it deeply regrettable that the only way I can find to characterise the parties at the moment is by which aspects of their policies I dislike. I'm not sure I've seen a single policy announcement from any of them yet that actually made me nod and think "Yes, that's a good idea, someone should give that a try".

    Our political system seems to have been pushing more and more toward the extremes in recent years, and then each party makes some token grab for the centre ground in the last few months of an election campaign. We're already starting to see this since the new year.

    Maybe someone does need to found a moderate, relatively central party, that advocates realistic policies (and explains why, if those policies are unpalatable), supports the genuinely needy but without subsidising slackers, promotes competition in the markets but without letting big business get away with things just because it's big...? If recent conversations are anything to go by, almost everyone I know would vote for such a party rather than any of the current lot, and taken in isolation you'd probably say the people I know cover a wide spectrum of political opinion!

  • Dumb vs. Stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mseeger (40923) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:21AM (#30806636)

    While the police action did not speak for much common sense and understanding of modern communication, neither does the Twitter posting speak of intelligence of the poster. Saying "You got one week to get your shit together or i will blow you sky high" can be interpreted wrongly and IMHO you have to be quite dumb to make such jokes in public.

    I think both parties involved have trouble with Twitter. The police had no method of putting that posting into a context. They interpreted it as a standalone message. The poster did not care, how that statement looks as a standalone message. For him his own Twitter context was applied automagically.

    While i put quite some blame on the police, i do not think the poster is free of it. Been questioned for several hours seems to be fair for that. But being suspended from the job and banned for life from that airport is very excessive IMHO.

    CU, Martin

  • by jabuzz (182671) on Monday January 18, 2010 @08:42AM (#30806746) Homepage

    You need to remember that thanks to the situation on the island of Ireland almost all terrorism legislation in the UK predates 9.11 As a result it has been an offense to make false bomb threats for quite some time. The guy was an idiot.

  • Re:Living in fear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by professorguy (1108737) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:37AM (#30807716)
    It's interesting that in this thread you posted an actual THREAT.

    "We will use illegal detention and questioning to harass you." sure sounds like a threat to me. If a law officer had made it, he'd be an ex-officer, because I WOULD KILL HIM.

    Now someone do me.
  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday January 18, 2010 @10:39AM (#30807742)

    I was taught by my father to joke when you're frustrated.

    When my parents went on their honeymoon in Jamaica, my mother broke her neck after looking under a small waterfall. After some time in a run down hospital, they cut their honeymoon short and headed home. Unfortunately, they were redirected to Chicago. My father insisted that there had better be medical personnel on the ground. When they landed, the plane didn't approach the airport. Instead, it sat on the runway while police and ambulances surrounded it.

    Some uniformed officers came aboard, approached my father and gruffly asked if he was the one who requested medical assistance. As they led them off the plane, all of the frustrations of the previous day (trust me, I've shortened the story) got to be too much and he whispered to my mother "I guess they found the bomb."

    When they went to get their luggage later on, they found it stuck to one side all chained up. The police officers there told him that someone had reported there was a bomb on the plane and since their luggage had been unclaimed (since they were in the hospital), it was pulled aside.

    He was just lucky he didn't do this today. Instead of his luggage being chained up on the side, it would have been blown up to make sure there was no bomb. Then he would have been arrested and sent to jail on terrorism charges for making bomb threats. Finally, law enforcement would pat themselves on their backs about what a good job they did stopping the "frustrated joker bomber."

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday January 18, 2010 @11:49AM (#30808516) Journal

    The police weren't trawling Twitter: according to the article in The Independent, a "friend" grassed him up.

  • by aynoknman (1071612) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:23PM (#30808866)
    Having by and large abandoned sexual taboos, we now have a whole new range of taboos having to do with our physical security.
    "Don't ride your bicycle without a helmet"
    "Don't smoke"
    "Don't mention bombs in airports"
  • by joebok (457904) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:28PM (#30808944) Homepage Journal

    If he sent the message to the airport or the cops or the news media, then it's a hoax. Sending a message to your friends is different. Completely different. Maybe in these times it warrants somebody following up to make sure there aren't any dots to connect - but after the facts are gathered and the police decide to press charges as if this guy was a terrorist? Had intended to shut down an airport? Irresponsible at best. How much time & effort, how many tax dollars are funding this miscarriage that could be better spent? Police actions in this case are diverting resources and making us all less safe.

  • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday January 18, 2010 @12:37PM (#30809068) Journal

    I propose the past tense:

    Did you see my twat yesterday?

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday January 18, 2010 @01:12PM (#30809560) Homepage Journal

    I would say "soccer" is an idiom because I cannot trace back on the base of it's elements what is ment by it.

    As I understand it, it's originally English upper class slang. The "soc" comes from "association" football. Rugby football = rugger. It's a very distant cousin of what the Americans refer to as football.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Monday January 18, 2010 @03:58PM (#30811684) Journal

    Actually true Rugby Football fans refer to Rugby as Football at times, and refer to Football as Association Football.

    It can get complicated :)

  • by recrudescence (1383489) on Monday January 18, 2010 @05:41PM (#30812992)

    Anonymous reporting isn't as easy as you might think in the UK.

    I once called in to report a particularly gruesome fight that was happening right outside my building. It took 5 minutes of them collecting information on *ME* (that was in no way particularly related to the call) before they would even start listening to the problem. And apparently that's protocol.

    One other time, a friend and I saw someone walk into a house (he didn't spot us) and seconds later we heard glass smashing, so we called the police. Again, same line of personal questioning started before I could even start reporting the problem, so I tried to point out that I prefered this to be a simple 'anonymous tip' (just like the movies!)
    ... that only made the line of questioning a lot stricter, such as nationality, why was I walking in that particular neighbourhood away from my residence, etc.

    There is *no* way I'm ever reporting anything to the police ever again. I'll only consider it (carefully) if it's my house they're breaking into

  • by Document (520405) on Monday January 18, 2010 @07:42PM (#30814340) Journal

    My mother survived the Birmingham pub bombings of the IRA in '74. She was in the theatre next door, where the wall collapsed, creating a stampede, which accounts for a few of the 21 people dead. As a fifteen year old, she very intelligently crawled under her seat, but still had to climb over two dead bodies in order to get out of the theatre.

    She will tell you that economic damage does little to strike fear in the hearts of the public than the threat of life. Deep down (she says) we all want to survive, even if that means as cave men.

    I'm just happy that I've never had to live through an experience like that.

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