sorry, but ...

Peter Fairbrother zenadsl6186 at
Fri Jul 27 23:36:58 BST 2012

On 27/07/12 17:36, Roland Perry wrote:
> In article <op.wh3nj7gb6hl8nm at>, Charles Lindsey
> <chl at> writes
>>>> Now if all the Friends are situated in the UK
>>> A huge assumption. My Facebook friends are literally all over the
>>> world. Even someone with a UK-based work life is quite likely to have
>>> at least one relative abroad.
>>>> , then any message is inevitably both 'sent' and 'received' within
>>>> the UK, and is therefore internal, since it seems to be agreed that
>>>> a server, wherever located, which provides mere conduit, or
>>>> temporary buffering/storage to facilitate such conduit, is itself
>>>> neither a sender nor a receiver.
>>>> Now if one of Alice's friends (say Bob) happens to reside outside
>>>> the UK, then things might get more interesting, since every message
>>>> is potentially from Alice to Bob (but what if Bob never actually
>>>> bothers to read it).
>>> Bob may have an email alert, which means he'll get sent the message
>>> whether he wants it or not. Similarly, if Bob has a Tweetdeck account
>>> linked to his Facebook, he'll be "pushed" many of the postings that way.
>>> This is all far to technology specific to be of use making law,
>>> however. You simply have to assume that there will be a Bob, and he
>>> will get the message.
>> If it so happens that there exists no such Bob outside of the UK, then
>> "They" will be breaking the law if they intercept it without a
>> warrant. I reckon the onus is on "Them" to ascertain that there does
>> exist an extra-terroitorial Bob if they want to go ahead and intercept
>> without a warrant. How "They" ascertain that is "Their" problem, and I
>> doubt that even the most microscopic examination of Alice's
>> communication with Facebook would reveal that.
> I'm not sure the law as currently drafted can cope with one-to-many
> messaging, where some recipients are in the UK and some aren't (and
> cases where all aren't will indeed be difficult to determine on the fly).
> I was wondering if a single non-UK Bob would make the message fair game
> - despite there also being many UK-based recipients.
> Or might the social networking server be deemed a single recipient (in
> most case not-in-the-UK), which then 'explodes' the message to multiple
> recipients (in various countries) as a completely separate exercise.
> [But see the 'mere conduit' proposition quoted above].
> Surely, what's required is a proper policy debate on one-to-many
> messages (and some resulting suitable law), rather than trying to work
> out how a one-to-one messaging law might apply to them?

Suppose Alice posts something to her facebook page, so only her friends 
[1] can look at it. However, only one friend actually does that - Bob.

RIPA S.20: “external communication” means a communication sent or 
received outside the British Islands;

Now assume they are looking at a message as it departs from Alice, it 
hasn't been received by anyone yet.

[ In fact any in-transit message has not been received yet, obviously, 
as it is still in transit; and for any outgoing message in transit, say 
an email to Afghanistan, even recording it's content for potential later 
examination if it is found to later to have been received outside the UK 
would still be just as much an illegal interception as looking at 
domestic traffic - it has not been sent or received outside the British 
Islands, so it is not an “external communication”. The fact that it is 
addressed to, and being sent to, someone outside the UK does not 
actually change that.  I digress, slightly }

Anywhoo, suppose Bob is outside the UK. "They", meaning the UK internet 
monitors, will probably never know whether Bob has received the post. 
Facebook is outside the UK [2], and traffic between them and Bob is not 
something they have easy access to.

Now suppose Bob is in the UK. They may know whether Bob receives Alice's 
post, But what they will not know is whether Charles in Pakistan has 
also received it. We know Charles hasn't, but they never will - is it 
okay for them to assume that Charles has {or rather he will}, and thus 
that it's an external communication?

I can see a Judge just throwing his hands up at this point and saying 
"Alice's communication is to Facebook".

Which I think it is anyway. It's probably to Bob too, but that doesn't 
mean it isn't to Facebook.

[1] I digress again, but kids very frequently show facebook pages to 
each other, in the flesh, even if the page is blocked to the second kid. 
The page owner may never find out. Some teachers and mothers think this 
is a big problem, and they are probably right.

[2] although, being in Dublin or wherever in Eire, is it outside the 
British Islands? I dunno

-- Peter Fairbrother

More information about the ukcrypto mailing list