sorry, but ...

Roland Perry lists at
Sun Jul 29 09:06:41 BST 2012

In article <5013180A.2020800 at>, Peter Fairbrother 
<zenadsl6186 at> writes

>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;

That's over-analysing the situation. And in any event a transmission by 
TCP/IP involves a handshake, so the message is provably partly received 
even before the transmission has complete.

>Anywhoo, suppose Bob is outside the UK. "They", meaning the UK internet 
>monitors, will probably never know whether Bob has received the post.

It's not useful to think about posting to/from a social network site as 
emails, in general they are much more like Instant Messaging. If you are 
logged into Facebook, for example, the recipient(s) will receive them 
straight away.

Although many sites also have routine alert emails which often contain 
snippets of "what you are missing by not logging in".

>Facebook is outside the UK [2], and traffic between them and Bob is not 
>something they have easy access to.

They'd have to log in as Bob, which they could presumably do if they 
sniffed his password, or obtained it from the social networking site 
with an appropriate warrant.

I'm not aware of any sites that object to multiple log-ins, indeed they 
are almost a feature (being logged in on a smartphone as well as a 
desktop). Also none (yet) require anything more exotic than a simple 

>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?

Once you have IM and one-to-many messaging, simple questions such as 
these don't make sense any more.

Indeed, numerous social networking sites are one-to-everyone (eg anyone 
who has my "Wall" open in front of them, and I post a public 'status 
update'). For emphasis, that's everyone everywhere [apologies to 

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

That's one solution, but it needs to be reflected in the legislation, so 
we all know where we stand.

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

Because of the promiscuous nature of public postings, it's not even 
possible to list all the potential Bobs.

>[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.

On most sites, you don't even find out if the first kid looked at it. 
Linked-In is one of the few that tells you who has been reading your 

>Some teachers and mothers think this is a big problem, and they are 
>probably right.

Is it any different to a child showing another the birthday card that 
just arrived in the post, or borrowing an older brother's log-in to 
circumvent some blocking added to an account?

Control of content (with or without minors involved) is a very big 
subject, and best left to its own thread I think.
Roland Perry

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