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UK Authorities Accused of Inciting Illegal Protest 371

jarran writes "Questions are being asked about the tactics being employed by UK authorities to monitor and control protest groups. Schnews reports on evidence that government IP addresses are posting messages to sites like indymedia, attempting to provoke activists into taking illegal direct action. Evidence has emerged recently that the police consider sex to be a legitimate tool for extracting information from targets, and senior police have been accused of lying to parliament about the deployment of undercover agents at protests."
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UK Authorities Accused of Inciting Illegal Protest

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  • by rastilin ( 752802 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:53AM (#34978666)

    Here's a new rule. If the police tell you to do it, whatever you were told to do is now legal. That will rapidly put a stop to this kind of underhanded stuff. Also, weren't there all these laws in European countries regarding lying about your identity when you're sleeping around; or does that also just not apply when the police do it?

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:13AM (#34978750)

    Nah, that just exposes all new loopholes.

    A better option is this: If a cop instructs or incites illegal action, that officer is potentially an accomplice/co-conspirator and the department they work for is liable. Note "instructs/incites" would only count when the officer was A) acting in his or her professional capacity, since otherwise they're just another civilian breaking the law on their own time and B) actually started something instead of going along with other criminal elements as part of their cover. This would mean that the victims of riots instigated by undercover cops would be able to sue the department.

    So Officer Bob working for the EXPD posing undercover as an anarchist throws the first stone during a protest, which then sparks a riot. Under these changed rules, the shopkeeper whose window was smashed or the insurance company of the car that was set on fire has a surefire lawsuit against the EXPD, who of course wise up and tell all of Officer Bob's coworkers to never, ever pull this kind of crap again. Ol' Bob himself is, of course, given his pink slip, and might face charges if the local prosecutor has the stones.

    Plus, added bonus, the actual victims of the riot get compensation - and by "actual victims" I mean the folks who caught in the crossfire, whose homes, neighbourhoods or places of business were turned into a warzone by overzealous cops and the violent assholes who enjoy rioting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:23AM (#34978788)

    Wouldn't help anyway, it's .gov IP addresses involved, not police force addresses. The police can access the network in question, but they can't proxy through it (and would be stupid to do so when public proxies are available).

    The police are government funded, but otherwise independent - at least in theory. The idea is similar to the separation of the executive and judicial branches in the US - if the police were functionally a part of the government, they would have their hands tied trying to investigate breaches of law involving government officials, and would be in a position where .gov could force them to reveal information on investigations that would compromise those same investigations.

    Obviously there are problems in that structure, but any policing structure is inherently a compromise.

    Worth remembering that governments (and police) are made up of people, and sometimes the views of those people will run contrary to the organisation. The posts could be from an agent provocateur, but could just as easily be from a temp or secretary who actually holds those views, and didn't realise a posts source could be tracked. Slashdot of all places should know how clueless general internet users can be - that they might work in a government post doesn't automatically negate that.

  • so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:27AM (#34978806)

    So it's part of their job to have sex? as in, they are getting paid to have sex? I wish there was a name for that...

  • Old old news... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2011 @02:30AM (#34978816)

    Fact is, the police have been at this game since Victorian times,

    My father, being an old communist, used to tell tales of the 'strange' characters that tried to infiltrate the local party, forgetting that this is a small town and that your history, and that of your family, were easily found out, and, if not, you were suspect.

    Best laugh, one character turned down by the party on the grounds of 'known police informer', the next week joined the SNP, worked his way right in there as well, pity no-one from the SNP asked any of his neighbours about him and his background, you know, pertinant things like him being a member of the Orange order and a unionist...

    Know for a fact, Dundee Uni vegetarian society in the mid '80s was infiltrated by the plods, and if I was a member of any animal rights group in the UK I'd want to do a deep background check on some of my fellow members...

    A final parting note, at a Reading festival, was approached by a rather suspect character wanting to know if I had any acid for sale, next day, same character wanted to know if I wanted to buy any, I'm not suggesting for a moment that as the number of arrests for possession on day 1 were too low this was a.plod selling stuff so that a.n.other.plod could then arrest the poor sap who bought it, but...

    Being fair to the plods, this infiltration mularkey works both ways..

  • Re:Old old news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @04:19AM (#34979132) Journal
    Well, a lot of organiations don't have a problem with police infiltrators. Their politics may be extreme but many of them stay well within the law. A police informant has a lot more time to spend helping with the campaigning because he doesn't have the inconvenience of needing to find a job to supprt himself. They have a full-timer paid for by the police.
  • by jdogalt ( 961241 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @05:12AM (#34979316) Journal

    For those of you unfamiliar with the 'Camden 28', a good example of a US Agent Provocateur can be found in this story- (film shown on PBS independent lens from time to time)

    In the early-morning hours of Sunday, August 22, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced that FBI agents had arrested 20 antiwar activists in and near a draft board office in Camden, New Jersey. ...

    They also asked the jury to acquit on the grounds that the raid would not have taken place without the help of a self-admitted FBI informer and provocateur. The defendants emphasized that they had given up their plan, for lack of a practical means, until the informer-provocateur had resurrected it and provided them with the encouragement and tools to carry it out.

  • Bunch of sexists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by michelcolman ( 1208008 ) on Monday January 24, 2011 @07:52AM (#34979774)
    The article says that both male and female officers engaged in the practice, but public outcry is only about those poor women who were taken advantage of. What about the men? It's ok to take advantage of them? Their feelings don't get hurt?

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers