• UK News: Two Extraditions Prevented


    A couple of months ago, I lamented two convictions for speech. It filled me with pessimism about the liberty of citizens in the UK, and exacerbated my worry about the looming extraditions for Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer.

    However, this time we have good news. Last month Gary McKinnon, who was accused of hacking into computer systems belonging to the US government (he claims to have been looking for evidence of UFOs) had his extradition blocked by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. The reason given by May is that McKinnon, a sufferer of Asperger’s syndrome was likely to take his own life if he was to lose his appeal against extradition. The compassion shown by the government is admirable, but I worried that the justification for blocking McKinnon’s extradition wouldn’t apply to most other people in a similar situation. In particular, Richard O’Dwyer does not suffer from Asperger’s. Might he get extradited, then?

    Fortunately, no. O’Dwyer was threatened with extradition to the US on piracy charges, but rather than hosting pirated material himself, it is merely alleged that he linked to pirated material. He credits his website, ‘TVShack’ with paying his way through university, says that he does not regret creating TVShack. In this case, the extradition was not blocked by the Home Office, but yesterday it was announced that O’Dwyer had managed to strike a compensation deal to prevent his extradition, paying a ‘small sum’. I’d like to know what is considered a ‘small sum’. While I understand the reason for their existence, I’m not a fan of laws prohibiting computer piracy, and I hope to set my arguments down in the form of a blog post at some point. Briefly, I think that it should be a right for us to duplicate data, even if it may be immoral to do so. This is similar to my stance on free speech – plenty of (or all) hate speech is worthless and immoral; yet I think that it is unjust for the state to make such speech a criminal offence. I certainly think the idea that piracy is a kind of theft to be wildly misguided.

    Anyway, congratulations to Gary McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer – it makes me a little more optimistic that the UK isn’t handing its citizens over to another country that wants to punish them, especially as the ‘crimes’ in question were committed in the UK!

    Category: Politics

    Article by: Notung

    I started as a music student, studying at university and music college, and playing trombone for various orchestras. While at music college, I became interested in philosophy, and eventually went on to complete an MA in Philosophy in 2012. An atheist for as long as I could think for myself, a skeptic, and a political lefty, my main philosophical interests include epistemology, ethics, logic and the philosophy of religion. The purpose of Notung (named after the name of the sword in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen) is to concentrate on these issues, examining them as critically as possible.