Doormat-ologist needed

Charles Lindsey chl at
Mon Sep 13 12:42:08 BST 2010

On Sat, 11 Sep 2010 02:00:20 +0100, Peter Fairbrother  
<zenadsl6186 at> wrote:

> Charles Lindsey wrote:
>> On Wed, 08 Sep 2010 13:00:04 +0100, Peter Fairbrother  
>> <zenadsl6186 at> wrote:
>>> 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.
>>  I think not. If the "doormat" doctrine has any validity at all (and I  
>> believe it does),
> So do I.

Then is is clear your understanding of the word "doormat" differs from  
mine (and from Lord Bassam's, too).

By definition, the "doormat" is the first entity encountered by the  
message after is arrives at the intended "address".

>> then once the message has reached its intended destination (e.g. a  
>> computer or an answering machine), then it has been "delivered", and is  
>> no longer in transmission.
> A message's destination, or rather it's intended recipient, is always a  
> legal person - though the legal person might be a machine rather than a  
> human.

If it lies on Lord Basam's doormat, then it is not yet in the possession  
of Lord Bassam, who is the intended recipient. Perhaps it is picked up by  
Lord Basam's buttler, placed upon a silver salver, carried to Lord  
Bassam's study and placed in his IN Tray. It has still not reached Lord  

Now, when Lord Basam finally takes it in his hand from the IN Tray, then  
he has finally got it.

But the whole point of Lord Bassam's remark was that he considered it to  
have been "delivered" as soon as it lay on his doormat.

Clearly, there are electronic equivalents to the "doormat", "butler" and  
"in tray", which may well amount to a private telecommunications system.  
But that does not affect the primary "doormat" doctrine.

> The destination cannot ever be a system used to transmit it though, by  
> the simple definition of "transmit".

The destination of a message is essentially the "address" to which it was  
directed, and the doormat is "just inside" that address.

> However if there are any copies which are stored in any of the systems  
> used to deliver it so that the intended recipient can do something with  
> them (collect or otherwise access them), then the communication is still  
> in transmission for the purposes of section 2.
> Incidentally, that includes both a copy in the system and a copy which  
> is out of it. Both copies are "the communication". Both copies are in  
> transit for s.2 purposes.

This is where the Act does not cover all the possible scenarios. I think a  
Court would be bound to recognise that different copies of the message  
were in a different status of "being in transmission", since I can see no  
other way in which the Act can make any sort of sense. With that  
interpreation, it immediately becomes clear when you need a Secretary of  
State's warrant and when you need a PACE warrant.

Charles H. Lindsey ---------At Home, doing my own thing------------------------
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