Doormat-ologist needed

Peter Fairbrother zenadsl6186 at
Wed Sep 8 13:00:04 BST 2010

Roland Perry wrote:
> In article <4C87051C.1080704 at>, Peter Fairbrother 
> <zenadsl6186 at> writes
>> So lets extend this a bit, to messages and texts in a mobile phone - 
>> they are "in transmission".
> Be a bit careful... 

I am.

> voicemail tends to be on a server somewhere, while 
> texts are stored in the handset. 

Yes - I did make that distinction, if you read the post carefully. Or 
even just skim through it.

> The latter have been delivered, 

Perhaps they have - but they are still in transmission even if they have 
been delivered.

It's quite possible, and common, for a message to both have been 
transmitted and still be in transmission. This is true in practice as 
well as in RIPA - a message is sent, and the sending server keeps a copy 
until it gets a receipt, then it deletes the copy.

As for RIPA: "the times while a communication is being transmitted by 
means of a telecommunication system shall be taken to include any time 
when the system by means of which the communication is being, or has 
been, transmitted.."

Both "in transmission", and having "been transmitted", Clear as day.

> the law 
> cannot be intending to make a distinction between whether someone has 
> bothered to read them or not.

It *doesn't* make any such distinction. That's the point.

If they are stored in a system - whether public or private - which has 
been used to transmit them, so that the recipient can access them, then 
they are "in transmission". It makes no difference whether the recipient 
has already accessed them or not.

The answering machine is perhaps part of the public system when it's 
actually receiving messages, but it's also a private system by itself. 
And it has been used for the transmission of a message - whether 
received or not - and the message is in storage so the recipient can 
access it.

>> Also, emails in seized computers - again, whether they have been read 
>> or not is irrelevant, and as long as they are in eg the inbox they are 
>> to be considered to be in transmission.
> You are extrapolating way beyond the meaning of the Act. 

Nope. Nor am I going beyond the intention and understanding of 
Parliament, or the Home Office when they drafted the Act - see the 
guidance I quoted. If messages in a pager, whether read or not, are "in 
transmission" then so are mobile messages, and email in computers.

RIPA nowhere makes any distinction as to whether a message has been 
"read" or not, in fact with "is being, or has been, transmitted" it says 
that that doesn't matter when considering whether it is to be considered 
to be in transmission.

> But even if 
> reading someone's email off their computer is interception[1], it's not 
> a criminal offence because it's not a public telecoms system.

Eh? Of course it is a RIPA offence. See 1(2).

-- Peter Fairbrother

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