[LINK] Dangerous tweets: Arrested, fined, deported in 140 characters or less

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Fri Feb 10 10:51:58 AEDT 2012


> Dangerous tweets: Arrested, fined in 140 characters or less
> By Nate Anderson | Published about 5 hours ago
> Evidence of grave robbery and terrorism?
> In 2010, South Yorkshire police showed up at the workplace of 26-year old Paul Chambers and arrested him. His crime: posting a frustrated joke to Twitter after his girlfriend's flight was delayed due to snow at the local airport.
> "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed," he wrote. "You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
> This was perhaps unfortunately phrased, but was it "menacing"? Even police didn't think so. As Chambers's lawyer describes the chain of events leading to his arrest:
>> [The tweet] was not sent to the airport, and when it was found in a search some days later it was graded as "non-credible" by the airport security manager. However, the process in place meant that it was referred to the airport police, who did nothing, and then to South Yorkshire police, who arrested Paul at his workplace for a suspected "bomb hoax." The police in turn realised after interview that it was intended as no more than a joke; but they had to refer it to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision.
>> The CPS agreed that it was not a bomb hoax offence, but they decided it was in the public interest to prosecute Paul under section 127. This seems the first time... that this offence had been used in respect of an internet communication.
> Chambers was fined £400 plus costs (now over £3,000). But he has appealed the case, which was heard in London this week, and the ruling will set precedent as the first time an appellate court has considered this sort of issue related to social media.
> The UK isn't the only government not sure how to handle tweets. Two weeks ago, British tabloid The Sun interviewed a man and woman who had been sent back home after long flights to California, where Homeland Security agents pointed to a recent tweet from the man saying, "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America."
> If it all seems a bit over the top—what person actually out to "destroy America" would write such a thing publicly, on Twitter, and in English?—it could be far worse if you live in Saudi Arabia.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
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