Starmer dumps doormat?

Roland Perry lists at
Wed Jan 19 10:01:49 GMT 2011

In article <4D35D1F7.5060304 at>, Peter Fairbrother 
<zenadsl6186 at> writes
>It's a very short step from there to saying texts stored in mobile 
>phones are in transmission even when read

I think one of the problems that RIPA was trying to work around (whether 
it was successfully drafted, or is successfully interpreted, is another 
matter - which I leave for others to discuss) is avoiding the situation 
where someone is guilty of Interception if they misappropriate[1] a 
mobile phone, laptop, or even a server. And would that be a sledgehammer 
to crack a nut.

I suppose the analogy is: Do you want people to be prosecuted for 
Interception if they hijack a mail van, or are there other more suitable 

Several years ago I also wrote a mini-paper about the situation in 
places like an office, where a "boss" (sorry for the stereotyping) 
diverts his phone and voicemail to a secretary, and therefore the first 
person to get (and listen to) them is not the intended recipient. Make 
that in spades when it's the secretary who sets up the diversion on her 
own initiative. [nb in these scenarios, the recipient can be argued to 
have given permission, but the sender hasn't; and many corporates use 
what are in effect public networks as a virtual PABX, so it's not 
necessarily being done on a private network either.

There are parallels for these scenarios in email (and other electronic 
communications), but I'll stick to phones for now as they are easier to 
describe. And there are other issues with (eg) one-to-many emails where 
RIPA doesn't really fit.

What I've thought for several years now is that the whole idea of 
"Interception" needs to be re-examined from first principles, and a 
fresh start made with the drafting.

FWIW, the EU Commission has recently admitted that its Data Protection 
and Electronic Commerce Directives are now "out of date" because they 
didn't anticipate (nor perhaps should they have been expected to) the 
explosion in online communications, and modes, and need to be revised 
from the ground up [eg the split between "Mere conduit", "Caching" and 
"Hosting" is over simplistic these days]. They've said that trying to 
"over-interpret" those Directives in today's marketplace is unhelpful, 
although that's what does happen if you don't revise them.

Ten years on (for all of the above legislation) is arguably 30 "Internet 
Years", so an all round Spring Clean might be a good idea.

[1] Which could be stealing, but could also be seizure by the police in 
circumstances where they didn't have a suitable explicit exemption for 
doing so.
Roland Perry

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