You'd think, but as it happens yesterday and today the UK is hosting a G8 summit. Now this is in the depths of Northern Ireland rather than London, but I imagine the principles are the same.
They can spy on everyone, provided at the time they gather all the data they aren't intentionally targeting any specific person they know is in the US. But until they get the data they can't know whose it is, or where they might be. The FISA Amendments Act is a really neat/sneaky piece of legislation.
The key word is "target"; it is illegal for the FISA system to be used to target people in the US. However, we've known for a while that the US Government has a "secret interpretation" of this law which the public isn't allowed to know, for reasons that have to be kept secret but partly because, if released, the information "could result in exceptionally grave and serious damage to the national security".
One of the main suggestions for what this interpretation is is based on the precise phrasing of the law; FISA prohibits the authorisation of any acquisition of information if it "intentionally target[s] any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States."
So if the NSA (or whoever) gets an authorisation to acquire information on everyone so that, at a later date, they can search that information to find specific stuff on particular individuals, at the time when they acquire the data they are not "targeting" anyone, and they don't *know* that the people whose information they are gathering are located in the US.
It's a really well-crafted piece of legislation; I hope the legal draftsmen behind it got a bonus that year... it's even sneakier than all the PR statements coming out of the NSA and the tech companies involved.
So the bottom line is that this probably *isn't* illegal. But no one can tell for sure, because the people who have tried to sue over this have had their cases thrown out for various reasons.
How can two guys murdering someone in the street be a war (to the extent that the word still works in the 21st century)? These guys weren't part of some greater force, weren't on instructions from some nation, these were a couple of religious nutters who thought it was a good idea to kill someone.
Calling it war (or even terrorism) is to over-state it and glorify. It was (probably - we won't know until there's a conviction) murder. If guilty, they were just criminals. Politically-motivated criminals, perhaps, but still just criminals.
This issue (of downloading v streaming) has been debated in the EU as well recently. EU law includes a specific exemption to copyright law for "downloading temporary copies" of something (so browsing works), so the end user doesn't need a licence to view YouTube. However, if they "download" it for permanent or long-term use, the exemption doesn't apply and they would need a licence, so it could be illegal.
And that's without discussing any liabilities YouTube itself might have for "allowing" people to download.
In practice though, as with much of consumer-based copyright law, no one really cares.
On DRM, the measures could be good... or could be bad. This might be a response to the CJEU ruling that downloaded/licensed software could be resold, so the Government may legislate to overturn this in exchange for adding a few other consumer protection provisions.
On patents, software patents are already allowed in the UK (sort of); my understanding is that the EPC people and EU have been keener on them than the UK courts, so a move to the Unitary Patent Court might mean more software patents in the UK. There's also some really worrying stuff in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill and the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill which may criminalise the activities of people running gambling services but who aren't operating in the UK
Stuff that was missing; anything on the EU (being dealt with by Tory backbenchers next week, it seems), the Equal Marriage Bill (which has been brought back, but is being kept quiet; almost as if the Government is ashamed of it), and the anti-lobbying and MP-recall legislation we've been promised for a few years now but has never come up...
Just because a bill isn't explicitly mentioned in the speech doesn't mean it won't happen. However, the CommsData Bill is probably dead for now (it will come back in the next government, almost certainly). However, the stuff in the speech about cyber-security and IP addresses suggests the Government will be passing some sort of legislation, possibly in the form of requiring ISPs to keep more extensive records on who is using which IP (possibly forcing out use of IPv6). There's also a risk the government might try to introduce an "Online Identity Card" system, which they've been talking about (both in the UK and the EU) for a while now.
Lets see, over the past 30 years we are seeing declining sales, declining profits, record companies going bankrupt, record companies merging for cost savings, more record companies going bankrupt, fewer albums that are being released, and fewer artists being launch.
The problem with this is that it isn't all necessarily true, never mind whether it is due to a lack of DRM. On most of those metrics, no one really knows what is happening as there aren't accurate global numbers. While some groups (such as the IFPI) produce figures, they have been criticised for overestimating the market share of the major labels and underestimating the impact of independent groups or individual artists/bands. But on the data I could find after a bit of searching;
- the IFPI claimed an increase in sales in 2012, after a steady decline over the last few years,
- some of the majors are still seeing increases in profits, others declines, I don't have exact figures (although they should be available),
- only one major record company has had major financial difficulties in the last 20 years; EMI. This seems to have been due to a bad year, selling ownership of the company, and then mismanagement causing some of the big names to flee,
- the number of albums being released (as recorded by Nielsen) seems to have peaked in 2008 (although that's an old article). However, I'm not sure that is a worthwhile metric now, due to the changes in how music is distributed and consumed,
As everyone on this site should know, the police can't just bust down doors whenever the hell they want to, they need a warrant, which means they need evidence they can take before a judge.
Yes, but they have plenty of evidence. They can try to get CCTV pictures from the ATMs used to get a picture of him (as discussed above). Combine that with the GPS and you can probably identify him. They can trace the IP he's using (if the laptop is using the Internet to report) and get his ISP to hand over his details. Or they could go to the dating site (or use any of the stuff on that) to narrow it down.
There are plenty of ways for them to get enough evidence for reasonable grounds to suspect him of theft, fraud and anything else he might have done, and thus get a warrant.
But they can't be bothered, and can't be forced to do it.
It would seem to me that he should be filing charges against the police. They are bound by laws as well.
UK police are under no legal obligation to help anyone. You can be being beaten up in the middle of the street and, legally, I'm pretty sure they can walk straight past you without doing anything illegal.
Legally, the "correct" response may be to bring a claim against maybe the banks (who operate the ATMs), maybe his ISP (if you can identify it), or anyone else you can identify who might have a way of identifying him (and is somehow mixed up in his illegal activities), to get them to disclose what they do have. Once you have enough to identify him, you either sue him or bring a private prosecution.
I theory, there is almost always a remedy available under English law. In practice, it is usually far too expensive and too time-consuming to bother.
There's a common law principle that politicians and other public officials can't sue over matters relating to their office, which is backed up by the ECHR, but there are questions as to how far that goes.
There was an attempt by the Lords to introduce an amendment to the upcoming Defamation Bill to codify, clarify and expand this, but I think that the government may be killing it.
As an aside, I (a US citizen) was once threatened (by a UK entity) with legal action for comments that appeared on a website I run.
Anyone can threaten anyone else with legal action. The organisation I work for (based in the UK, operating in the UK) has received legal threats from companies in India, referring to Indian and US law... we politely replied that we would be complying with English law and that was that.
Baseless legal threats are bad, and should, in theory, lead to English lawyers (who are heavily regulated) getting into trouble. While, obviously, I can't give legal advice, if threatened by English libel proceedings when it is clear that using English law would be a nonsense, the correct response may be to respond to that effect - that England is not the most appropriate jurisdiction, that English law should not apply, and that if they do bring proceedings, you will dispute jurisdiction.
Also, talk to a (good) English media lawyer; they'll probably be cheaper than a US one anyway.
The UK libel / defamation laws are appalling...
Not really. They're bad, mainly due to the high costs involved in English legal actions (which are still nothing compared with US ones), but aren't nearly as bad as they have been made out to be. That the US passed laws to restrict the effectiveness of judgments of the English courts says more to me about the US and their political situation that the legal reality.
He "won" because the claimants (the BCA - nothing to do with homoeopathy) dropped their case after he won his appeal.
Technically the case never went to trial - English defamation cases rarely go to trial - but there were hearings and judgments on a preliminary issue as to what he said "actually meant" and whether it was "fact" or "opinion" (which affected which defences he could run).
The High Court found that Singh had accused the BCA of "knowingly promoting bogus treatments" and that this was a statement of fact. The Court of Appeal instead said that Singh had said that the BCA were knowingly promoting treatments which he (Singh) thought were bogus. Whether or not the treatments were bogus was a question of opinion (legally - obviously it is a question of fact scientifically), so the "fair opinion" defence was available.
The English courts tend to look down on the tabloids; mainly because of their wilful ignorance of and habit of misleading the public on legal issues. Tabloid opinion is unlikely to sway them.
I know that I'm a little late here, but a few comments:
Scientists have been successfully sued for stating that homeopathy is "bogus". The fact that his statement is demonstrably true didn't help at all
As far as I am aware, there has been no English defamation case involving homoeopathy, and a quick search of the case law databases don't turn up anything. I think the case you are referring to was the one between the British Chiropractic Association and Simon Singh. The key phrase Singh used was that the BCA "happily promotes bogus treatments." The lower court (helpfully called the High Court) said this was a statement of fact, that the BCA knew what they were doing was bogus. The Court of Appeal said instead that this was saying that the BCA were promoting treatment, and that Singh thought they were bogus; as this was opinion not fact (legally - obviously it is a fact scientifically) the "fair comment" (or "honest opinion" or some combination thereof) defence applied, so the BCA dropped their case.
Libel tourism is one of those things that has been grossly overblown - mainly by US politicians and lawyers, as a general "let's attack the main rival to the US legal system," I think. The article linked refers to only 2 cases; the Mahfouz v Ehrenfeld case (which I just skimmed) was one of those cases where the defendant doesn't bother to show up or contest jurisdiction (despite publicly acknowledging their awareness of the claim), so they lose.
The second case, Berezovsky v Michaels, is an older case, and might not be followed these days (interestingly, some issues of choice of law and jurisdiction have been tightened up by the EU, but defamation has fallen outside the scope of that, so is still a bit fuzzy). On the facts in that case, the Court (or House of Lords) decided that England was the most appropriate jurisdiction given that the stuff was published/circulated in the UK, damage was caused there, both B and M had strong ties to England, but didn't have connections in each others' state.
British libel laws are problematic, but not because of the substantive law, but the underlying costs; people are bullied into accepting settlements etc. because libel cases can be dragged on for years, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds (legal actions being more expensive in the UK than nearly everywhere else, except probably the US). While there are currently attempts to fix UK libel law, unfortunately the costs issue is being ignored (both in defamation and English law in genera).