Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A website "taken down"

The Fitwatch website has been "taken down." - see Computer Weekly 16th November 2010.  Quite on what legal basis this has been done is not entirely clear at the moment.  Law and Lawyers does not support either violent protest or the giving of possibly dubious "advice" offered via a website to those who may have been involved in the violence at Millbank, London.  Nevetheless, a right to peacefully protest and to comment about the actions of the State - including the Police - is a fundamental part of democracy.  Of course, an element were far from peaceful but it appears that the vast majority who took part in the main demonstration acted entirely peaceably.

The issue of funding of university education is a matter of massive public concern and if the country is to have any future success then proper funding of universities is essential.  The massive increases in fees are more than likely to deter many from pursuing their hope of a degree and the country may well be, in the longer term, the poorer for it.  A further source of grievance is that the arrangements for funding of degree courses varies across the U.K. with Scotland being particularly generous to students - see BBC 10th October.  This inequality between the constituent parts of the U.K. is going to be unsustainable.

The Guardian 16th November 2010 

and for an item on the possible effect of increasing student fees see The Guardian 18th November.

Freedom of expression is an important right contained within the European Convention on Human Rights Article 10.  It is not an absolute right since certain restrictions apply - Article 10(2).  Any restriction on the right must be prescribed by law  and must be necessary in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime , for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.


  1. There has been a huge amount of misinformation on the proposed student funding package. I will not go into detail but the crucial point is that University Education will be free at the point of receipt (just like the NHS) both in respect of fees and living expenses. Money will be paid direct to providers. Pay back will be by a particularly progressive form of graduate tax over max 30 years. The alternative source of funding mooted is a lifetime graduate tax - no one says that that tax liability will discourage poor students. Why not?
    On the Fitwatch issue, there were posts on the site encouraging the destruction of evidence of criminal offences. Attempting to pervert the course of justice? Even worse, a possible conspiracy to pervert the course of justice involving the site itself as a conspirator. No wonder this post was removed.

  2. Anonymous- as usual - thanks for your cogent comment.

    The bottom line remains however that the student would leave University with huge debts and I know that this is already acting as a deterrent to many families. There is also the disparity with Scotland which is usually explained away by saying that it is a "devolved matter."

    No right-thinking person supports some of the posts on Fitwatch and I do not condone those sites which have repeated what Fitwatch said. I made all that clear in the post.

    Nevertheless, the Police have to have a legal basis for any action. Whilst I cannot be sure, I suspect that they made a request to the ISP which was more than happy to comply given that the conditions of use relating to websites usually forbid use of the website for illegal purposes. Those seeking a website host usually agree to the conditions of use at the outset by clicking "I agree." Very few people actually read them !!