the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Real Dangers of Dissent

Posted by Jeff Id on March 19, 2013

Well folks, some of you were wondering why nobody touched the publication of that CG3 password, I have been contacted by a UEA law firm regarding the recently released Climategate password.  Some even asked for FOIA to come clean as to their identity.   I have pointed out repeatedly that an angry activist lawyer can make a mess out of any law, and the UEA has plenty of them.  When the police came out with the statement that the statute of limitations had run out, I pointed out that each release could be considered separately by any lawyer.

Anyone with access to the recent password must be exceedingly careful in its use.  These emails were not released publicly by someone else so legally they are hot potatoes.    The UEA law firm did attach the standard “this email is confidential” bullcrap on the bottom, but it seems more prudent to head off any problems with a public release so I choose to ignore it. A lot of bloggers received the password so I doubt very much it will stay private for long.  It won’t be here that it comes out.

Dear Sir

We understand from a blog post made by you on 12 March 2013 that you have either
received an unsolicited email from someone going by the name of ‘Mr FOIA’ or that this has
been forwarded to you. The email from Mr FOIA provides a password to access a
substantial number of documents. It is our understanding from the blog postings which we
have seen that the password does work and that the information can be accessed. We do
not know what information has been made available in this way but have a very real concern
that it may include ‘personal data’. This is data which, under the Data Protection Act 1998,
might enable the identification of a living individual and which is strictly regulated under the
provisions of the Act. Unlike previous releases, and from what we understand from the
publication of Mr FOIA’s email, the information appears to have been left entirely unredacted
or filtered in any way.

The information contained in these document is likely to have been illegally obtained from
the University’s servers in October 2009. The on-going dissemination of any ‘personal data’
obtained in this way would amount to a further criminal offence. Given that the sharing of
the password would enable any third party to access any of the documents there is a very
real danger that personal data will be disclosed in breach of the Data Protection Act.
The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change but the University must
take steps where information has been obtained illegally and to protect employees and
students at the University as well as third parties from unnecessary harm arising from the
unregulated and widespread disclosure of personal data.

Accordingly, please confirm by return:

That you will not publish the password with which you have been provided nor the
information it protects
That you will forward a copy of this notice to any person to whom you have supplied
the password
That you will not publish any ‘personal data’.

If you are in doubt about what is meant by ‘personal data’ then please follow the attached
link to the Data Protection Act. Please note in particular the provisions of section 17, 21 and
55. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents

Interestingly, “personal data includes” one’s political opinions among other things.

In this Act “sensitive personal data” means personal data consisting of information as to—
(a)the racial or ethnic origin of the data subject,
(b)his political opinions,
(c)his religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature,
(d)whether he is a member of a trade union (within the meaning of the M1Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992),
(e)his physical or mental health or condition,
(f)his sexual life,
(g)the commission or alleged commission by him of any offence, or
(h)any proceedings for any offence committed or alleged to have been committed by him, the disposal of such proceedings or the sentence of any court in such proceedings.

I recommend extreme care in release of any of these emails. To date I have only re-published emails from CG1 and CG2, there is a reason for that.

108 Responses to “Real Dangers of Dissent”

  1. I can see why TallBloke has to be very concerned. Fortunately the freedom of Speech and Press in the US kind of trumps that sort of legerdemain.

    • TMLutas said

      You might want to look up how many ostensibly US publishers have been sued in the UK. It’s not quite as simple as that.

      • genemachine said

        The UK press freedom laws on get stricter by the day. I don’t know the extent to which bloggers are to be restricted but there is a cross-party consensus that, despite out draconian libel laws, the press is too free in the UK and must be further restricted.

        As Delingpole puts it “Who do you think has most to gain from press regulation: lying, greedy, corrupt scuzzballs with an awful lot to hide? Or the kind of ordinary, decent people that those lying, greedy, corrupt scuzzballs spend every day of their rotten lives trying to rob and cheat blind?”

  2. M Simon said

    Well here is something entirely OT. Or not.

    http://classicalvalues.com/2013/03/the-chicago-mob-connection/ – A little ditty about Mr. Obama.

  3. Ain’t it marvellous that nobody can go after the people at UEA who wilfully defied the UK FOIA on the grounds that more than six months had elapsed.

    Yet someone who reveals the misdeeds of the Hockey Team and its “Useful Idiots” will be pursued relentlessly.

    • hunter said

      Exactly. The cynical bastards at the UEA, and their enablers, hoped to control the public debate on climate. If the blogging community caves in here at this late date, the ‘team’ may yet prevail.
      Dump the data, release the password as widely as possible and let the chips fall where they may.
      My bet is no court will recognize the standing or right of the UEA to control the e-mails they illegally witheld and have not controlled for years. The files were not encypted by the UEA, and they have no proof that the files are in fact theirs to control. And much less do they control the password.
      Release it all, password, and data.

  4. [...] 3/19/13: Jeff Condon has received legal notice from UEA warning him not to release the password. So far, I have not seen any such notice. For those who [...]

  5. aq42 said

    Hmm

    First the Act is expressly confined to activities in or connected with the UK (section 5). Second, there is quite a wide exemption for journalistic purposes (section 32). Third, there is a ‘public interest’ defence in section 55. So, looking at the issue from a purely theoretical and academic viewpoint, a person in the United States who came into possession of personal data originating in the UK which he intended to use as the basis for publication of journalistic articles in the US probably has little to fear from the Act.

  6. asshur said

    Real good lawyer. A very good preventive strike … using the Data Protection Act as a way to curtail the dissemination of the CG3 e-mails. I suspect very difficult to challenge in a court.
    What is an “offense” in the letter of the law ? Does “disseminating false information with public monies” or “cooking up scientific data” could fall under the term “offense” of the DPA ?

  7. MikeN said

    Political opinions is not the only thing. Environmentalism can qualify as religious belief, and I think courts in the UK have done exactly that. Information regarding criminal offenses would also be a category of concern.

    I don’t think UK laws could affect an American blogger.

    I think UEA has a bigger problem but I don’t want to reveal that here.

  8. curious said

    Gallopingcamel – agreed!

    Asshur – “Real good lawyer” – I’m not sure about that. This could backfire – if MrFOIA is still around and interested, one repsonse could be just to put the content and/or the password into the public domain without restriction.

    General comment: As far as UEA are concerned, the claim about “no desire to stifle debate around climate change” rings hollow. The bottom line is they have no idea what is in that file and IMO a better approach would be to brief a legal team to respectfully request the password from the blogging community and set about producing a “personal information” redacted database. From comments on a couple of threads by sys admin types it looks as if there are tools out there which could takle this in reasonably short order.

  9. Genghis said

    Civil lawsuits have to be taken very seriously.

    It seems to me that the answer to the legal questions and problems would be the anonymous publication of the password, from someone other than you of course.

    Then once a dump of all of the complete emails has been made public, it would be extremely difficult to make any claims of damages against a particular blog.

    • Jeff Condon said

      That seems right to me. My belief is that as long as a blogger didn’t facilitate the release in any way, they would be reasonably safe. If you went nuts publishing personal attacks about someones medical condition, that could be a problem though.

    • p@ Dolan said

      You know… Seems to me that if someone who possessed that password were careless about the server he left it on, and someone ELSE were to re-steal the stolen password…

      I’m just sayin’…

  10. Kev-in-Uk said

    I think this is a perfect get out for those in the UK who ‘have the password’ – because disseminating the password to others, with, as per their lawyers notice, the condition that they stipulate will be sufficient to absolve the ‘password’ giver of any blame! By the time this has been disseminated around a few hundred thousand people – I cannot imagine anyone could be ‘fingered’ if personal information were to be released!!!
    Mind you, I’d suggest this action is undertaken promptly BEFORE further pre-emptive strikes are forthcoming………….
    as for the american question – if it doesn’t affect them – then this is also a classic time for them to release the password too. Or Foia him/herself ?

  11. hunter said

    If you let the team intimidate you into self-censorship, then this has all been for nought.
    They do not own the password, they do not own the files you received.
    In no way can they control what you do with them.
    Consult an attorney, but I would also urge you not get wobbly at this time.
    The UEA is trying to bluff their way into controlling this. Screw them. Frankly I would do a complete dump of it all, based on their high handed behavior.

    • Jeff Condon said

      I am a business owner and as such am afforded the opportunity to participate in several lawsuits. In my case these might be employment based or workman’s comp cases where extreme-left law so favors the employee that some make a living suing. Insurance covers these cases so they don’t even take much of my time, but it is a real tax.

      What I’ve learned is that the risk isn’t usually losing the lawsuit, it comes from the cost of participation. The UEA pursuing such a case would have little real damage to collect, but the lawyers would collect plenty.

      • Duster said

        I think you really just said that lawyers make living doing this. Your lawyers, their lawyers. That “cost of participation” is a very good point and transparently clear if you have ever been involved in a law suit. I saw a living trust that at the start of the law suit was worth roughly a million dollars reduced to less than half that by lawyers – all cost for BOTH sides of the suit were paid from the trust.

      • hunter said

        Jeff,
        I have had the ‘pleasure’ of being sued in Federal Court, State Court, Romanian Court and Chinese Court.
        Unless you are in the jurisdiction of the UEA, they cannot do squat to you.
        UK laws on disseminating found files do not apply here. They are simply tyring to blow smoke and intimidate you and the other non-UK bloggers. Here is a real world example: The UK press is regularly censored/suppressed over national security (official secrets act) and certain news on the Royals. None of those laws are enforceable outside the UK.
        However, the next step of the UEA, if this goes on much longer, will be to make a civil case here asserting that since you complied, you are in a contract with them that is enforceable in the US. They may find a court here to impose compliance with their claim that you have made a contract with them by complying with them in the first place. These are treacherous times for skeptics and dissidents, and those opposed to freedom, such as the UEA, are working hard to impose their will. Be careful.
        My bet is that firm flagrant and open defiance is the best choice. Wobbling and half measures only gives their preposerous demands credibility. If I was holding the files and passworkd I would publish them as broadly as possible. Their demand is bs.Complying would be worse.

        • Jeff Condon said

          I did not comply, my response was that I have released no emails or passwords to date.

          • hunter said

            I would further clarify to the effect that you thank them for their communication but reserve all rights and will act as you see fit.

  12. steveta_uk said

    1. you will not publish the … information it protects

    2. you will not publish any ‘personal data’.

    How would it be possible to comply with 1 but not 2?

    Was this really written by a lawyer?

  13. michael hart said

    “It won’t be here that it comes out.”

    Exactly. They are pushing on a piece of string. How will their actions do anything other than increase the negative publicity?

    The lawyers will get paid either way. My assumption is that most of them are too professional to care about the activism bit, otherwise they would advise their clients to shut up.

  14. TonyN said

    Jeff,

    I’m with Aq42 at #3 above.

    The UK Data Protection Act is a fiendishly complicated bit of legislation and the summary of supposedly relevant requirements in the lawyers letter is, I think, partial and misleading. I am not a lawyer, but I did have to consider the definition of private information in this context when preparing for an Information Tribunal hearing. Essentially, the Act is intended to protect personal information like private bank balances or health records. It is not, generally speaking, intended to protect data generated as a result of actives such as undertaking publicly funded research for an institution like UEA that is classified as a public authority.

    That letter sounds to me like sabre rattling, and it may be worth bearing in mind that, if any of the information obtained by Mr FOIA is indeed personal data within the meaning of the Act, then UEA had a duty under the Act to safeguard such data, which it has clearly failed do in this case having allowed Mr FOIA to get his hands on it.

    The problem is that an outfit like UEA has the funds to generate legal pressure, and sceptics have none with which to resist even if the arguments are spurious.

    I have great admiration for your decision to put this letter in the public domain.

  15. Jeff Condon,

    I have no legal expertise.

    If you did share Mr FOIA’s password with anyone then I am concerned that you are at risk from UEA legal action. Sharing with just one person might be shown as being a limited form of publication.

    In his CG3 release method I think Mr FOIA has created unacceptable risk of collateral damage to some respected and innocent blog owners. Any original respect I might have had for him is greatly diminished.

    John

    • John B said

      It appears clear that you do not indeed have any legal expertise. Mr FOIA has not created any uacceptable risk to anyone he provided the password to. He said quite clearly in his mandate that if the recipient was not happy with any risk attached then they should take no action with the material. Perfectly clear. No collateral damage. Any risk that exists to that point remains with Mr FOIA.

      The only issue therefore from that point onwards is to determine what powers the UEA have over the material at this juncture, which may well be different depending on the jurisdiction under which the material is now held. Like others I fully expect the US and UK to be different.

  16. jc said

    It appears it was only sent to suspected UK recipients. If I was a US recipient I would simply create a twitter account through a VPN and publish it.

  17. kim2ooo said

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  18. joboba said

    Enough with this cloak-and-dagger teasing. Mr FOIA, just unzip the protected file and release ALL the emails online, so that everyone and their mum can review them.

    • John B said

      Don’t you think this would be highly counterproductive? It is clear MR FOIA did not intend personal or private (ie non scientific) information to be published. By making this clear he is not only demonstrating that he is highly responsible but by doing so also claims the moral high ground. Skeptics, or indeed any other interested bystanders, should not sink to the levels of some climate scientists.

  19. PRD said

    Are delusional behaviors considered a personal matter? Narcissism?

  20. Jean S said

    Slightly OT, but Jeff, is the password md5 hash or something like that? If so, have you made any attempts to crack it, eg., using Rainbow Tables?

  21. dp said

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen as clear cut a case of FUD as this from the UEA. Because it is FUD doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real. The beauty of FUD is that it is cheap, effective, and preemptive. As Jeff points out the cost of participation in a courtroom scenario is enough reason to avoid that participation. FUD 1, guy doing the right thing 0. The Navy calls it firing a shot across the bow. You learn the hard way where the second shot goes. UEA has put the genie back in the bottle unless some altruistic free thinker who has the password slash dot’s it – I guess these days people tweet things like this.

    You’re doing the right thing, Jeff.

    • hunter said

      If I had the data and the password, I would work very hard to dump both out into every widely available venue possible, and would do it in my own public name. Eff the UEA, the team and their bogus secretive crap.

  22. The sudden interest of UEA in the Data protection Act is touching, given that they were found to have breached the DPA in their handling of my personal data. They promised not to do it again and the Information Commissioner left things at that.

  23. Ian W said

    It would seem that the time has come for an FOIA request to UAE asking them for the information in the very first FOIA request that they Dr Jones was found guilty of refusing albeit after the statute of limitations.

    Another FOIA request would be for all exchanges with Dr Mann that provided advice on how to present data for publication and for provision to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    etc.

    These would seem to be appropriate requests for real information. What was it that in the CG files that the ‘Team’ were trying to hide? Ask for it in a formal FOIA request.

    We KNOW that it is there and they know that we know it is there – the Norfolk Police know that the information is there. If the request is made as a formal FOIA to Dr Jones, he would really be playing with fire to mess about after only escaping due to the lethargy of the system.

  24. Matthew W said

    Well, let’s hope that no one gets the “Tallbloke Storm Trooper” treatment again.
    I haven’t read all the articles, but were you the only one sent this notification?

    • Matthew W ,

      I think Steve Mosher may have said the he also received a UEA legal notice too.

      It is not totally clear to me that he was talking about a UEA legal email in this comment of his from WUWT’s CG3 post:

      Steven Mosher on March 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

      I can confirm that I have received their unsolicited mail which appears to be in violation of UK anti Spam laws. Since the mail address they used includes my name, the office of the ICO suggests that I call their hotline

      John

  25. tomo said

    I would publish the name of the lawyer who signed off the threatening email – that is if they actually had the cohones to identify themselves….

  26. temp said

    I must agree with Ian W.

    Your have clearly been threatened and its a very hollow threat at that. Your response should be to get the UEA to commit crimes and expand its cover up.

    This can be done very simply by you and some friends submitting FOIA request to them for data.

    First set would request known data from climategate 1/2 e-mails. They need to be somewhat vague expect one or two key words.

    Second set would be requesting data which only you have access through climategate 3 as above vague but with one or two key words.

    Third set should be unknown info. Thing that you think they are hiding or data which they have refused to release in the past.

    Fourth set should be general requests that overlap into climategate 1/2/3 info and unknown info.

    What happens?

    If UEA refuses to give out full info for requests of the first set then its easy to go after them criminally since they should not only know that its already public knowledge. This would be reinforced by the threatening letter they sent you. How can they possibly know that the data released on this site or any other is from climategate 3 vs data FOIA released or other publicly accessed info.

    They are forced to either admit they can’t tell the difference making the threat clearly without legal grounding or they are forced to admit they are harassing you illegally.

    If they deny the second set you can then prove that they are hiding what should be public data and unlike before with the time limit if you start filing paperwork right away you should be able to at least get them charged. Winning when the system is rigged is doubtful even when you can show a clear pattern… however the very fact it will goto court should be enough to give them a good scare.

    For set three you maybe able to find info that FOIA couldn’t get, or they my slip up and release info. Either way this set is mostly for cover and to confuse.

    Much like the third set this is both cover and confusion with hope of getting something interesting… or possible not get something. If they refuse to give out e-mails that are already public or that should be covered under the request that are in climategate 1/2/3 you now once again have criminal charges to file.

    If you a few a other ppl do it right, you should be able to send about 40 FOIA request to cover all 4 sets and you can then watch them flop around. Sending the FOIA requests will be seen as a major threat to them and will likely cause them to greak out and hopefully back off.

  27. How much longer until it will be an act of utter idiocy to deny that Climategate occurred?

  28. I wouldn’t worry. We Brits have a long history of making draconian laws which are killed by ridicule before they’re overturned by politicians. (Think tea taxes). I’ve been describing Phil Jones as an obsessive manic depressive and Keith Briffa as a mentally retarded alcoholic with little fear of reprisals. (Ok, I live in France and this civilised country won’t even extradite paedophiles (Polanski) or mass murderers).

    Publish the lot. So some professor sent an email to his his PhD student inviting her to Bali instead of his wife – so what? People are dying in Africa because of the lack of cheap coal-fired electricity. A good public trial would bring a lot of things out into the open.

  29. omanuel said

    Today the New York Times published intriguingly factual information on the Sun:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/19/science/space/0319-solar.html?_r=0

    Space-age measurements and observations showed that Earth’s heat source is also the source of energy that:

    a.) Made our elements,
    b.) Birthed the Solar System 5 Gyr ago,
    c.) Sustained the origin and evolution of life after 3.5 Gyr ago, and
    d.) Endowed mankind with special talents and unalienable rights to self governance,
    e.) I.e., is the Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer of lives and worlds in the Solar System,

    That religions have worshiped throughout recorded history: http://tinyurl.com/ahfx8kl

    What a strange, strange world we live in!

    With kind regards,
    - Oliver K. Manuel

    • omanuel said

      Thanks, Mr, FOIA, Jeff, and all of you that helped expose these cowards.

      Thanks to you, I have been able to complete my research mentor’s assignment.

      No test could measure the incompetency of those who decided in 1946 to hide the Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer of all lives and worlds in the Solar System !

      With deep gratitude,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo

  30. TerryS said

    First: The UEA can not bring any prosecution under the DPA. That is the sole domain of the UK Data Commissioner. He is the only one who can prosecute.

    Second: The UEA is the “Data Controller”. They are the ones who collected and collated the data. The safety of that data is their responsibility. Should the password become public it is the UEA who would/should be prosecuted (if any prosecution occurred) since it is/was their sole responsibility to keep the data secure. A duty they have failed to comply with.

    Third: Should the data commissioner decide to go after you instead of the UEA then Section 55 Subsection 2 paragraph d gives you a public interest defence.

    Fourth: Whats the password?

  31. tchannon said

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/university-of-east-anglia-attempts-to-put-frighteners-on-tallbloke/

    Not a surprise I suppose.

  32. As an American, if I were in possession of the password, this letter would induce me to release it. But only because in the US, if I came across the information legally, then I can freely release it even if the person who gave it to me came across it illegally–their transgression does not pass on through to me. In the US.

    So this is a risky game the UEA are playing.

    • Mark T said

      Indeed, there is zero risk to Jeff here in the US.

      Mark

      • Jeff Condon said

        Mark,

        I believe you misunderstand the situation. I have had several experiences to where I have done not one thing wrong, yet bared the costs of a fake suit.

        Anyone can sue you for anything, anywhere. The cost is most often worse than the penalty. I haven’t bothered to call any of the lawyers I know because this is an easy call.

        • Mark T said

          Looks to me this was a threat of criminal, not civil, action, to which the UEA lawyer has no standing to assert on a US citizen. To my knowledge, you did not sign anything stating you would protect this information, nor did you obtain it illegally. US law would trump any in this case.

          Besides all of that, were there any attempt by the crack UK legal team to be legit, the threat would have come via registered mail.

          Mark

  33. tallbloke said

    All mouth and no trousers IMO

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/university-of-east-anglia-attempts-to-put-frighteners-on-tallbloke/

  34. Only Joking said

    What if each ‘keyholder’ were each to release a proportional section of the password?

    Another way would be to divide the length of password / (n-x) and each one of n-x puts their section. Each member would then have plausible deniability.

    n= number of keyholders
    x= number that are prepared to divulge part of the code.

  35. Of some note is that

    guccifer

    who has obtained e-mails some what the same way as f.i.o.a. and seems he/she has been able to avoid the long arm of the elite two party evil money cults wrong doers.

    Thus it seems said guccifer could be of some use by all.

    He has a data base of points of where to release and seems to have an IP unknown from unknown about unknown.

  36. My good buddy Lt. for life John F. Kerry still seeks my lz locations and has not my best intrest in his black liar heart.

  37. HaroldW said

    It is noteworthy how easily the author moves from “protecting personal data” to “not publish … the information it [the password] protects.” One could perhaps credit the UEA with making a belated attempt to protect any personal data in the emails, but the lawyer gives no justification for withholding the non-personal part of the emails.

    [That said, I would advise against publishing. I also wouldn't advise replying to the email - can't help and might get in the way somehow.]

    • Jeff Condon said

      My opinion is that anything which helps complete nefarious stories such as ‘hide the decline’, is fair game under any law. The reason being that it seems to fall under whistle blower law and the UEA won’t want to make it more public again. I did find a new email that I found mildly interesting in that it came from Mann and intended to put the Jones/Briffa series in the back of the IPCC bus. This initiated a long series of conversations leading to the infamous hide the decline. Unfortunately, I don’t know yet if it was released in CG1 or 2 already but if it turns out to be new I will still post it here.

  38. daveburton said

    If I had the password, I would be discrete with it, and also discrete with the emails, themselves, following FOIA’s original example of responsible behavior, by releasing only emails of public significance, and otherwise respecting the privacy of the correspondents. Theoretically speaking, of course.

    Of course, if anyone were to send me the password, I would promptly delete the email, fax, letter, voice recording, or whatever, and make no attempt to find out who sent it. Still, it would be prudent for the sender to take steps to preserve his or her anonymity, perhaps by using an anonymous snail mail letter, or a disposable email account, relayed through a proxy server or three, while connected to the Internet via some open WiFi connection. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    BTW, in case someone wants to contact me, for any reason, my contact info can be found here:

    http://www.sealevel.info/contact.html

    • Skiphil said

      Dave, ha ha, if I had the PW I’d be happy to send it to you…. discreetly, of course.

      Alas, I don’t have it. But other people do…..

  39. TonyN said

    As a first step, how about a simple inquiry by snail mail to the UEA vice chancellor asking if this rather unconvincing looking email was sent on the university’s instructions?

  40. tallbloke said

    The Data Protection Act specifically exempts those who can show their release of data is in the public interest. Given the billions spent on the climate scare, and Mann’s data being known to be ‘crap’ by other scientists in the loop long before it was used in the TAR, the public has every right to know IMO.

    • Matthew W said

      “exempts those who can show their release of data is in the public interest”

      Yes, but again, that’s your opinion !!!! (which I do agree with)

      Wouldn’t want to go to court on that.

  41. Alan Wilkinson said

    The lawyer is clutching at straws. First, in publishing the password by itself you are not publishing anything. Second, it is most unlikely anything significant contravening the “personal data” definition will be exposed in the emails.other than possible evidence of criminal behaviour which it is in the public interest to uncover.

    I don’t believe it carries any legal weight on that basis. I would have thought it more likely the University would seek an injunction against publication of its intellectual property – except that it knows it is then exposed to FOI legislation and cannot deny holding the documents.

  42. Skiphil said

    “The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change”

    (emphasis added)

    I think the best response to this official legal representation would be a series of articles, on as many blogs as possible, to the effect that,

    The University of East Anglia has officially and legally acknowledged that claims that ‘the debate is settled’ in climate science are unfounded.

    For the former implies the latter, there is no reason to allow for a “debate around climate change” which does not properly exist.

  43. Alan Wilkinson said

    Why not send them the password together with an FOI request for everything in the file other than personal data?

    At least it would be entertaining to watch them wriggle out of that one.

    • Kev-in-Uk said

      I agree with that general thought; EXCEPT that, if they don’t actually know what is in the emails, or at least have ‘forgotton’ what is in there – it would allow them time to prepare a ‘defence’ etc! Overall, I think it better to keep them on the back foot, but I do like your thinking!

      • Alan Wilkinson said

        I’m not sure they could marshal sufficient informed resources to actually identify what they might need to defend. Crowd resourcing is against them. And of course they would have to justify anything they withheld since the blogosphere will know exactly what they have withheld and focus on it.

        However, as usual timing is everything. Probably best to give a bit of time for exploration first.

    • Tom said

      They have already stated that they don’t have those emails (as per FOiA)., The fact that they are in the public domain still means that they are not possessed by UEA. Ironic, but surreptitiously valid.

      • Alan Wilkinson said

        I don’t think that’s a problem. Just send them the file as well – then they certainly possess them.

      • tallbloke said

        They didn’t have the emails while the server was in the police’s possession. They have it back now.

        • Kev-in-Uk said

          I still wonder if they really ‘know’ whats in them – and more to the point, if the protagonists actually remember what they have writtem in past emails. The legal attack on the premise of personal data is perhaps expected, but just seems a bit too ‘desperate’? I cannot foresee loads of damaging personal info in there – unless you have them backslapping each other for various grant awards and suchlike. As per the whole Climategate issue, there is still the pervading smell of rat!

  44. Kon Dealer said

    Mills & Boon (Reeve) are UEA’s solicitors.
    Quite frankly for a nationwide firm (here in the UK), they’re not very good at FOI matters.
    They were turned over in court last year by a layperson on a FOI issue concerning UEA.

    http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2012/january-/universitys-back-up-copy-of-email-should-be-disclosed-rules-tribunal/

  45. crosspatch said

    When the police came out with the statement that the statute of limitations had run out, I pointed out that each release could be considered separately by any lawyer.

    Well, isn’t that interesting because wasn’t an FOIA request or maybe it was further investigation into goings on at CRU in response to a FOIA request denied because the statute of limitations had run out on the breech? If that is the case, how can they have it both ways? How can they refuse to look into things because it has run out while trying to harass people because it has started over again?

    In any case, the tenacity shown in how they go after people who might be trying to get to the truth speaks volumes.

  46. John Baltutis said

    The information contained in these documents is likely to have been illegally obtained from the University’s servers in October 2009.

    How do they know? The police couldn’t find any e-mails on EAU’s servers, so do the lawyers have them? AFAICT, they’re blowing smoke.

  47. Chris in Australia said

    I don’t know how lawyers do it in other countries but in Australia, fair dinkum communications from law firms come by registered snail mail. This ensures the delivery of the mail and the sender knows the recipient did in fact receive the mail.

    Like Tallbloke said, the email was jut to put the wind up you lot !

  48. Daryl M said

    Considering the posturing and threatening by UEA, who have no legal jurisdiction whatsoever outside the UK, if I was one of the recipients, I’d unzip the file, anonymously (i.e., using a using a VPN) upload it to mega.co.nz, and post the location all over the place. Whatever sympathy I might have had for personal privacy is gone.

  49. Dear EAU, as they say here in Australia – up yours!

    You claim to not be wanting to stifle debate on climate change. As the emails have already shown, you have done exactly that for more than a decade.

    Here is a return threat – don’t threaten people or else …

  50. Graeme said

    has it been established who owns the rights to the emails?

  51. Brian Epps said

    Mr FOIA may just reply to these attempts to stifle with a wider release of the password. Is the UEA law office staffed by idiots?

  52. John A said

    Jeff

    In your reply to the UEA’s lawyers, I would quote the legal precedent of ‘Arkell v Pressdram’

    John

  53. jc said

    I’m confused. Is the password sent out the one that will open the zip inside cg2?

  54. Jeff,

    Why not post about your problem over at The Volokh Conspiricy, http://www.volokh.com/? It’s run by a bunch of lawyers who are big on civil liberties. This stuff is their meat and potatoes.

  55. Disinformation has its own roots.

    Russian hacker guccifer has a job application on the net.

    Russian hacker guccifer has its on code of conduct.

    What happens in guccifer land and the knowledge therewith stays in guccifer land.

    The EAU lawdogs and or whitehall etal will have to get a “guccifer” search warrent from Putin.

  56. Hi Jeff

    I note the letter said;

    “The University has no desire to stifle debate around climate change but the University must
    take steps where information has been obtained illegally and to protect employees and
    students at the University as well as third parties from unnecessary harm arising from the
    unregulated and widespread disclosure of personal data.”

    How about we take them up on this and challenge the university of East Anglia to a debate, either virtual or physical?

    Tonyb

  57. wwschmidt said

    Where’s Julian Assange and his legion of protectors and apologists when you need them?

  58. Refer the UK legal people to the case of “Arkell and Pressdram”. They’ll understand totally, and they will go away. All they are doing is attempting to scare you with some plain old FUD.

    Google the two names to find out what it really means.

  59. Something about this email smells like last week’s fish.

    Any lawyers here?

    Any UK lawyers here?

    The first sign to me is the language.

    Do lawyers, barristers and solicitors in the UK communicate in plain language like that? No lawyer’s communications in the U.S. would sound anything informal like that. It would ALSO be done as a court order or a restraining order. An unofficial EMAIL? And in language like that?

    Any minimally competent law firm would have quoted code down to section, and paragraph being violated or potentially being violated, not pointing to the whole shebang and have you read it and try to figure out for yourself.

    Is a judge’s name or court attached anywhere?

    I know you are intimidated, Jeff, but I think it is entirely possible that you are being scammed by someone at UEA (or maybe not even from UEA). You say it was a “UEA” law firm.

    What the heck is a “UEA law firm”?
    UEA has lawyers on staff?
    Or lawyers claiming to represent UEA?
    Have you looked up the law firm and the individual who sent it?

    And it buggers me how you would choose to violate THIS his warning but are so very careful about the emails. It seems like you are not scared of his one warning but not the other. ?????

    Steve Garcia

  60. FOIA could have bypassed putting all his skeptical friends in this dilemma if he had just released the password like he released the cache itself and the CG1 and CG2 files.

    What was to be gained by doing it this way?

    Steve Garcia

    • curious said

      Maybe MrFOIA has seen some emails in there which could cause personal distress unrelated to climate science activities.

      If so, putting the mails out in the public domain wouldn’t really be a great solution. The shot across the bows email from UEA lawyers would be consistent with someone with an issue that they really don’t relish coming out approaching the legal types and saying “This institution lost these mails – I want the protection I believe the DPA should give me”.

  61. Laurie said

    Isn’t anyone so financially down they are judgement proof? Nothing to lose?

  62. I like tallbloke’s approach

  63. MikeN said

    So why hasn’t Anthony Watts got such a letter? Why only a select few? Have you been identified as the weak ones?

    • I am curious about that as well. This blog may not have the Internet presence but I have some good friends in blogland. Either way, they have not re-contacted me.

  64. [...] 3/19/13: Jeff Condon has received legal notice from UEA warning him not to release the password. So far, I have not seen any such notice. For those who [...]

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