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WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: “I’m FITwatch, and so’s my wife!” Cop censorship backfires as news of arbitrary website shutdown goes viral
WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: The FITwatch takedown letter – cops demand hosts shut down police watchdog website
A letter from the hosts of the FITwatch blog – taken down at the behest of the Metropolitan Police – has been published on IndyMedia, and it makes for interesting reading, not least because it also includes the text of the cops’ email to the hosting company…
Hi [recipient’s name deleted],
We received a request to close an account the site mentioned below is hosted on:
Request from Metropolitan Police in London Uk to remove website used
for criminal purpose – fitwatch.org.uk IP 18.104.22.168
APPLICATION FOR CLOSURE OF A UK BASED DOMAIN NAME
Fitwatch.org.uk – IP 22.214.171.124
To whom it may concern at Singlehop
In connection with our criminal investigation into registration or use of the domain name set out in this letter, we hereby confirm that:
• The domain is being used to undertake criminal activities. Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice, contrary to Common Law
We hereby request Singlehop to de-host this website for a minimum period of 12 months. Please note that this request will be also sent to the domain name registrar for the website. You should provide the following contact phone number, email address and reference number to the registrant: 0207 230 8100 firstname.lastname@example.org
REASON FOR CLOSURE
This website are committing offences of attempting to pervert the Course of Justice under Common Law. The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in Central London. The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested with a major police operation underway to identify and arrest further offenders.
The person controlling these websites has posted material held to be contrary to Common Law within the UK. Therefore to prevent the domain names from being used in crime we request that the domain name is suspended for a minimum period of 12 months (or until expiry of the domain name if earlier).
This common law offence is committed where a person or persons:-
(a) acts or embarks upon a course of conduct
(b) which has a tendency to, and
(c) is intended to pervert,
(d) the course of public justice.
Registrant Information for fitwatch.org.uk
Registrant : [DELETED]
All other personal details withheld
Registered on : 17-Nov-2008
Authority to close the website and IP address given by
Will Hodgeson, Acting Detective Inspector
CO11 Public Order Branch
Many Thanks in Advance
DI Paul Hoare
Police Central e-crime Unit (Computer Crime Unit)
SCD6 Economic & Specialist Crime Command, Metropolitan Police.
1st floor, Indigo Block, Cobalt Square
1 South Lambeth Road,
0207 230 8100
[Senders’ name deleted]
I wrote the previous post in a hurry late at night; I then realised I actually had the ‘offending’ FITwatch post in a tab on my browser from when I started reading it originally. So here it is, in full, stitched-back-together screengrab glory (click for full size)…
Meanwhile Tilting At Windmills has published a very handy list of sites republishing the original FITwatch post, the story is on The Register, the hashtag #FITwatch looks like trending, Guardian journo Paul Lewis has written a story on it, and in general Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson (né Detective Sergeant Hodgson) and his CO11 chums are looking like the proverbial donut-munching Keystones.
WE ARE ALL FITWATCH: Cops take down police watchdog website with wild claims, no evidence, spurious legality
It seems that FITwatch, the campaign-cum-mindset that has helped turn the tables on the harassment policing strategy employed by cops eager to undermine anti-authoritarian political activists (and working class youths, football fans and any number of others whom the Boys in Blue consider inconvenient but who generally act in a lawful fashion) has really needled someone… The FITwatch website has been suspended by its webhosts, reportedly at the request of Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson of the Metropolitan Police’s ‘public order’ unit CO11. In the words of a posting on IndyMedia, “Following contact from New Scotland Yard, the Fitwatch website and domain name (www.fitwatch.org.uk) have been suspended for a minimum of twelve months for ‘attempting to pervert the course of justice’.”
Fortunately the wonder that is the interwebz often leaves shadows where once were forms, so you can still read caches of posts on the FITwatch blog. This is the last one published, following the recent raucous student anti-cuts demo that brought public anger to Tory Party HQ. I reproduce it here (typos corrected, bullet-pointed for legibility) for you to decide what all the fuss is about.
Read it and consider for yourself the implications of police officers demanding the closure of websites without due process. Read it and consider the implications of police officers who were closely linked to the failure to properly investigate the death of an unarmed civilian, Ian Tomlinson, at the hands of other police officers, acting in this manner. Read it and consider what next such police officers will be prepared to do in the name of ‘public order’, in the name of ‘justice’.
Beating police repression after the student occupation.
The remarkable and brilliant student action at Millbank has produced some predictable frothing at the mouth from the establishment and right wing press. Cameron has called for the ‘full weight of the law’ to fall on those who had caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to the expensive decor at Tory party HQ. Responsibility is being placed on ‘a violent faction’, after the march was ‘infiltrated’ by anarchists.
There are an encouraging number of initiatives to show solidarity with the arrested students – something that is vital if they are to avoid the sort of punitive ‘deterrent’ sentences handed out to the Gaza demonstrators. A legal support group has been established and the National Campaign against Cuts and Fees has started a support campaign. Goldsmiths lecturers union has publicly commended the students for a ‘magnificent demonstration’.
This is all much needed, as the establishment is clearly on the march with this one. The Torygraph has published an irresponsible and frenzied ‘shop-a-student’ piece and the Met are clearly under pressure to produce ‘results’ after what they have admitted was a policing ‘embarrassment’.
51 people have been arrested so far, and the police have claimed they took the details of a further 250 people in the kettle using powers under the Police Reform Act. There may be more arrests to come.
Students who are worried should consider taking the following actions:
If you have been arrested, or had your details taken – contact the legal support campaign. As a group you can support each other, and mount a coherent campaign.
If you fear you may be arrested as a result of identification by CCTV, FIT or press photography;
- DON’T panic. Press photos are not necessarily conclusive evidence, and just because the police have a photo of you doesn’t mean they know who you are.
- DON’T hand yourself in. The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to ‘come forward’. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are.
- DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the bloke in the video is not you if the clothes he is wearing have been found in your wardrobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo, including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time. Yes, this is difficult, especially if it is your only warm coat or decent pair of boots. But it will be harder still if finding these clothes in your flat gets you convicted of violent disorder.
- DON’T assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now.
- DO keep away from other demos for a while. The police will be on the look-out at other demos, especially student ones, for people they have put on their ‘wanted’ list. Keep a low profile.
- DO think about changing your appearance. Perhaps now is a good time for a make-over. Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.
- DO keep your house clean. Get rid of spray cans, demo related stuff, and dodgy texts / photos on your phone. Don’t make life easy for them by having drugs, weapons or anything illegal in the house.
- DO get the name and number of a good lawyer you can call if things go badly. The support group has the names of recommended lawyers on their site. Take a bit of time to read up on your rights in custody, especially the benefits of not commenting in interview.
- DO be careful who you speak about this to. Admit your involvement in criminal damage / disorder ONLY to people you really trust.
- DO try and control the nerves and panic. Waiting for a knock on the door is stressful in the extreme, but you need to find a way to get on with business as normal. Otherwise you’ll be serving the sentence before you are even arrested.
In the spirit of keeping up a head of blogging steam, here’s how my day has panned out.
Childcare – mostly good, with some excellent napping, very good smiles and awesomely damp nappies. We have discovered he likes early 90s college rock/indie type stuff, with a particular fondness for Belly‘s Star and Flood by They Might Be Giants. Less keen on Piece Of Cake (Mudhoney).
Housekeeping – cleared all the crap from LLF’s new desk in front room (I say “all the crap”, I mean “all my crap”); finally threw out loads of threadbare old clothes I’m never going to wear and which I would feel embarrassed about dumping over at Classics; tidied front room; got rid of detritus strewn around bedroom.
Technology – finally figured out how to reset password on the wireless box, meaning I could properly protect the network as well as enable AirTunes.
Work – shilled a little (though I note that my boss at the company I’m an external for has reacted to the impending corporate restructuring by massively revising her LinkedIn profile and soliciting lots of testimonials – possibly not a good sign…); finished off a couple of (non-paying) bits for friends.
So that’s been my day. Wanted to finish writing up my thoughts on the ‘What’s The Blogging Story?’ thing from Friday, but didn’t get enough quiet time to sort that out. Tomorrow, maybe.
So I went to the ‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘ event at the Watershed I mentioned earlier. Bit of a curate’s egg, really – some interesting panelists, but very little chance to actually talk about blogging, the social web or much else. Frankly it was not worth the seven quid I paid to go.
Ex-Mirror editor-turned-Guardian media pundit Roy Greenslade had a stab at being a bit quote-worthy on former News Of The World boss-turned-Tory spin king Andy Coulson and his involvement (or otherwise) in the hacker scandal*:
Just go to Coulson now… The only reason anyone can get hot under the collar about Andy Coulson is because The Guardian have exposed him. Because they have exposed him, because The Independent have taken it up as a big cause as well.
Now that’s a perfect example of the way in which the other press, self-interestedly, because they either support the Tories, or they support Rupert Murdoch, covertly, allow this to go forward.
But there’s plenty of stuff on the net about Coulson, plenty of material available, and I think that… By the way, we haven’t dropped the Coulson thing, none of us have dropped the Coulson thing. I mean, I know the guy is guilty. Is that being tweeted?
I know, I know, I know an editor must have known. I do, I do, I did say on a public platform recently that it is either a case that he knew, and therefore is lying, or it is a case that he didn’t know, and is therefore the most incompetent editor Fleet Street has ever known. Is that being tweeted? Because that’s the truth of the situation.
So he’s either a liar or incompetent, and therefore he shouldn’t be director of communications of our Prime Minister’s office. And we will pursue this.
I think that the line-up went something like this…
- Mike Jempson (MediaWise)
- Sarah Ditum (Paperhouse, @sarahditum)
- Roy Greenslade (The Guardian, @GreensladeR)
- Brooke Magnanti (Belle de Jour, @belledejour_uk)
- Sunny Hundal (Liberal Conspiracy/Pickled Politics, @sunnyhundal)
- Donnacha DeLong (National Union of Journalists vice-president, The Revolution Will Be Streamed, @donnachadelong)
- Anton Vowl (Enemies Of Reason, @antonvowl)
- Kevin Arscott (Angry Mob, @uponnothing)
- Will Gore (Press Complaints Commission)
- Elisabeth Winkler (Real Food Lover, @ewinkler)
- Chris Street (Bristol Editor, @bristoleditor)
- Iqbal Tamimi (Palestinian Mothers)
I’ve been mulling over tonight, and will back up a few thoughts tomorrow if I get the chance.
* The scandal being so many papers – tabloids and broadsheets alike – were/are at it.
I’ve been out of the blogging saddle awhile, so that I’ve been tweaking this post so much I’ve given it jogger’s nipple, soz.
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