Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Extradition .com ‘wire fraud’ - Who next for extradition?

In my last Blog Post I ended with:
"Mulgrew is also critical of America’s claim that any ‘wire fraud’ crossing its national boundaries gives it the right to prosecute. ‘British parents with teenage children should know that a simple email sent through a US server could be enough – in the wrong circumstances – to see them extradited."

Does anyone really know where their communications get routed? Where is the cloud things are located?
Try http://www.webwiz.co.uk/domain-tools/traceroute.htm 

Now today we hear that Richard O'Dwyer, TVShack creator US extradition has been approved.

O'Dwyer argued that TVShack did not store copyright material itself and merely directed users to other sites, making it similar to Google. Apparently US prosecutors state that they have jurisdiction to hear the TV-Shack case as it runs through a .com domain name.

The Telegraph says that a British attempt in 2010 to prosecute the operators of a similar website, TV-Links, failed because of European laws that give internet firms such as Google protection against copyright infringement claims if they have little influence over the material to which they link.

According to the Open Rights Group UK citizens should not be subject to US legal standards on copyright infringement. Reported in Computer Weekly, David Cook, a cyber crime expert at law firm Pannone, says " The 'mere conduit' defence for online file-sharing hosts was successfully used in the UK in the 2010 case of TV-Links. I then mounted a multi-faceted defence in the OiNK case, which included the 'mere conduit' point, but the prosecution dropped the case prior to responding in Court to the issues raised. I used a nearly identical defence in FileSoup and, again, the prosecution backed off and discontinued the matter."
But he also says that "The mere conduit defence relies on the host being unaware of precisely what the material was"

Speaking to BBC Newsbeat, Mr O'Dwyer said: "I've done nothing wrong under UK law, and, it's pretty ridiculous isn't it? "A 65-year-old man was extradited a few weeks ago, so if they can extradite someone that old they can extradite anyone really, couldn't they? "Copyright laws differ between countries and that's yet to be fought, that argument."

In the Guardian Julia O'Dwyer said: "The US is coming for the young, the old and the ill, and our government is paving the way. By rights it should make for an interesting conversation between the Obamas and Camerons aboard Air Force One – but I'm not holding my breath. If Richard appears to have committed a crime in this country, then try him in this country."

Recently five people were selected to ask their questions live and put "Obama in the hot seat" in the forum arranged by Google Plus. The most popular question among Google Plus users asked to vote was about the case of Richard O'Dwyer. (See here)

A questioner asked why extradition laws written to combat terrorism were being used in the case.

Obama said that separation of powers meant he played no role in the case but that more broadly defending intellectual copyright protects US jobs.

However, the president repeated concerns about the two bills aimed at cracking down on online piracy that have stalled in the US Congress in the face of widespread objections. Obama said the need was to balance protection of intellectual property without undermining the openness and transparency of the internet.

Iain Martin has written a very good piece in the Telegraph, that I rather agree with. He says 

" This is becoming chilling. What on earth is wrong with ministers? Why are the Conservatives in the coalition so frightened of taking on the Americans? In opposition they indicated that they would be demanding a renegotiation of the treaty but now they shrug their shoulders apologetically."

"It should be easier for David Cameron, who is in the US now to visit the President. He's a pragmatic sort and so is Barack Obama.
He must explain that the extradition treaty is of growing concern in Britain. The Government's fundamental duty is to protect its citizens. This treaty does not treat them fairly and, as a result, it is going to have to be overhauled urgently or scrapped."

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