Now that we have a supposedly pro civil liberties inclined government in power it will be interesting to see whether they keep to all their promises regarding Gary McKinnon and his extradition to the USA on trumped up charges of hacking into US military computer systems.
Before the election both Nick Clegg and David Cameron attacked the Labour governments decision to allow his extradition to the USA for numerous reasons including:
* The unbalanced extradition treaty that gives US citizens many more rights than UK citizens.
* The fact the USA waited a number of years after the crime had been committed until the unfair treaty was ratified by the UK before requesting his extradition.
* The fact that Gary, who claims he was looking for aliens, has Aspergers a form of autism which would make his extradition, trial and punishment all that more harsh.
From a technical point of view I understand that the hacking was pretty unsophisticated and didn’t involve much more than Gary running an easily available port scanner tool to find unsecured computers on various US military networks and then popping up stupid messages whilst he was looking for evidence of aliens.
Whilst the USA claim he cost them a billion dollars in damages what they actually mean is that Gary exposed the uselessness of their unsecured networks and the cost incurred was actually the amount it cost to install proper security measures that should have been there in the first place. In reality they should have been thankful that it was only a stoned autistic alien hunting geek that was poking around their unsecured networks and not a professional team of Chinese or Russian hackers.
In fact I am guessing that the real reason the US is prosecuting Gary instead of offering him a well paid job in their cyber security department like they have done with other high profile hackers is purely the unsophisticated nature of the hack which didn’t actually involve any mad hacking skills at all. It’s probably out of pure embarrassment that they are pursuing him as he has basically revealed to the world that the most advanced high tech armed forces in the world had their network breached in such a simple manner.
This is not to say that Gary didn’t commit a crime and we all know hacking is illegal. However to give him the orange jumpsuit treatment and put him in some dark penitentiary with gang members, rapists and other seriously nasty individuals seems a bit harsh to me. The crime was committed in this country on a PC in London therefore he should be punished in the UK and not sent off to the USA to never come back.
Not only does the USA have stupidly over the top sentencing guidelines they seem to love locking people up for their natural lifetimes and I can easily foresee a US judge throwing the whole book at Gary for his crime and locking him up for 20+ years. The fact that the Labour government first introduced such an unfair and biased extradition treaty in the first place is bad enough but to then bend over and just let them have their way with one of our citizens in this manner is appalling and I just hope that our new coalition leaders have a bit more bottle and are capable of keeping their word on this subject.
Obviously I don’t hold up too much hope as power corrupts very quickly and it seems that morals and high ground are quickly left on the opposition benches once the ministerial cars pull up. We have already had cries of “sell out” directed a the Lib Dem’s due to their support of Tory cuts, increased tuition fees and the raise in VAT which they actively campaigned against during the election therefore I am half expecting the same excuse to be used in relation to Gary and aspects of their proposed freedom bill which was a lofty idea aimed at rolling back Labours surveillance state, restoring Civil Liberties and reviewing the US extradition issue in particular.
Both Nick Clegg and David Cameron have gone on the record with their support for Gary McKinnon and pressure needs to be applied to both leaders of the coalition so that they are constantly reminded that this is one promise we expect them to keep. Not only is it an important case in terms of Gary’s personal situation but it is also a strong reminder and maybe even a wake up call to the UK population about how little our UK citizenship means when it really comes down to it. If we don’t fight together to keep Gary from being extradited then who is to say who could be next.
The USA is already trying to implement cut off switches claiming that they own the Internet and they are increasingly concerned about cyber security using the threat of terrorist hackers as a reason to implement mass online surveillance and tracking. Who is to say that the next person to be accused of cyber attack isn’t some middle aged housewife who accidentally forwards an email containing a dangerous virus onto an American government network. With our current extradition law British citizens can be extradited to an American jurisdiction without prima facie case of a crime having been committed which makes it very easy for the US government to import Brits into their horrible justice system even when the crime was committed here as it was in Gary McKinnon’s case.
To highlight this current injustice an online campaign has been created which aims to create a Twitter Storm on November 5th to raise awareness for Gary McKinnon. If you want to join in this campaign for Gary then you just need to send one or more tweets to @ukhomeoffice between 12pm and 5pm that mention Gary and include the following tags: #tweet4gary #freegary #mckinnon #garymckinnon.
Hopefully we can create a mad Twitter Rush, get these tags to trend and raise Gary’s plight to those people not in the know. However the main aim is to show the current UK government how much support there is to prevent his extradition and to reform the unfair treaty that currently treats Brits as 2nd class citizens.
So remember to create some automated scheduled tweets for Nov 5th or just set yourself a reminder to post some or Retweet any of the others that will filling the web. For more details check out: tweetstorm4gary.wordpress.com
The primary and only legitimate function of the State is to protect its citizens. The last Labour Government passed a disgraceful piece of legislation that allowed a foreign Government to whisk British Citizens to their jurisdiction on the minimal amount of prima facie evidence, at the same time the United States refused to ratify, and we cannot do the same to their citizens.
The fact that the Coalition Government has not announced a moratorium on all such cases is an affront to every citizen of this country.
Twitter is a good medium to protest as a lot of MP’s are tuned in.
Make a difference on November 5th.