Curious news today, that the British police have been seizing laptops and routers from a blogger, and requesting police action in two other countries as well. This pretty clearly violates the principle of freedom of speech online, I think.
The context of all this is the “Climategate” emails. The climate research centre at the University of East Anglia was one of the big puffers of “climate change”. Their work was seriously undermined, however, when someone leaked a large tranche of emails from the centre to climate sceptics, who put them online.
The emails revealed key staff engaged in very dodgy-sounding activities. They were seen deliberately refusing to release data — as they legally should have done under the Freedom of Information Act — when the data would have (supposedly) shown that their conclusions were actually false. The emails also showed them generally behaving in a less than scientific or professional way. A second tranche of emails was leaked a little while ago.
The political effect of the scandal has been to torpedo the whole “global warming” lobby in the United Kingdom. An inquiry was held, and concluded that no-one at the centre did anything wrong (!), but this did nothing to alleviate a general impression that the unit had behaved fraudulently.
So who is being arrested now? Well, not the dodgy-sounding scientists. They did nothing wrong, we’re told. No, the police are pursuing the bloggers — the people who reported on this, it seems, and took delivery of the “stolen” emails. The Register has the details.
The question for me is not whether we agree with the climate change argument or not. The issue that causes me to blog about this here is the free speech issue. The police should not be doing this. The bloggers did what journalists are supposed to do and revealed dirty-looking deeds by the establishment. To silence them is what authoritarian regimes do. How is this action in the public interest?
The need for a constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech in Britain has never been more obvious.
It would be interesting to know who, precisely, authorised this action. But as with so many things in modern Britain, that particular piece of information is not being made available.
UPDATE: Updates about this at Watts up with that, including links to the Telegraph and Guardian. A lot of people don’t like this one. It’s beginning to look as if the US DOJ is the main mover in this.