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Anti-fracker targeted security chief

An anti-fracking protestor targeted Cuadrilla s security chief at the Little Plumpton shale gas site, a court heard. David Logan was among protesters who made vile comments about him and challenged the security manager to a fight via messages on Facebook. Logan asked the security boss to meet him for a bare-knuckle fight and called him an obscene name. In a victim s personal statement to a court the security manager stated he and his family had been harassed and that he and his family had had to reset their internet privacy settings.

The security manager had also installed CCTV at his address because of the threats and police had placed a vulnerable marker on his home. Unemployed Logan, 37, of Wensleydale Avenue, Grange Park, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to sending a threatening message by social media . He was sentenced to a 12 weeks community order with a tagged curfew from 9pm to 8am and ordered to pay 100 compensation to the security manager with 45 costs plus 85 victims surcharge by Blackpool magistrates. Presiding magistrate, Roger Merry, told him: People do not seem to understand the fear and trepidation it puts the victims in when things are posted online. We view this offence very seriously. You put this gentleman and his family in fear.

Logan had previous convictions for a malicious communication offence against the police. When interviewed by police Logan talked about being against the fracking process for shale gas. He said he would have fought the security manager if he had turned up. Gary McAnulty, defending, said his client was a man who did daft things when he was drunk. He was curbing his use of alcohol and no longer used social media, he told the court.

PSNI hired security firm to trace Twitter accounts of alleged trolling officers

A private cyber security firm has been involved in a year-long probe into the anonymous Twitter accounts of officers and staff within the Police Service of Northern Ireland allegedly involved in online racist abuse and trolling, it can be revealed.

The firm was hired by the PSNI last year to help trace the identity of the individuals behind a number of Twitter accounts, which also appeared to publish information about ongoing police operations, the Press Association has learned. On Monday, the PSNI confirmed that Twitter activity by persons purporting to be police officers was under investigation. On Wednesday it emerged that an internal police probe was first launched 12 months ago, shortly after the PSNI’s chief constable received online criticism for comments he made on social media to an officer. George Hamilton apologised after he told an officer on Twitter in August last year to stop “wallowing in self pity” and “dry your eyes” after he raised concern about the increasing pressures of the job. Following the online exchange, a number of anonymous Twitter users, suspected of being police officers and staff, criticised the chief constable and posted complaints about the job and PSNI management. A fake recruitment video was also made and posted on Youtube by one of the Twitter users under investigation. The video shows a number of PSNI officers dancing beside a police helicopter and at other sites across Northern Ireland. A voiceover says: “Are you considering a career where every day you drive home you fear you will be shot ? Do you want the rush of wondering if the IRA has planted a bomb under your car ?

Do you want to be told to dry your eyes when asking for mental health support? “Then join the Police Service of Northern Ireland today . Recruitment is now open to a host of new officers to be belittled by senior management teams, spat on by the public, harassed by the police ombudsman and have their spirits crushed.”

A security source told the Press Association it was around this time that the private security firm was asked to help trace the suspected police officer owners of a number of Twitter accounts. The source said the account that began to cause the greatest concern to management was being run under the Twitter handle @DonYeeoo because of alleged racist and sectarian comments, trolling of other social media users and sharing of classified police information. When it first came to the attention of the authorities the @DonYeeoo account was called Fenian McTaigerhun . The description of the account holder said “Crime Solver & lion tamer.” Some of the tweets under investigation, which have since been deleted, included: “Saudis in general just are disgusting people . Intelligence and money means nothing . Horrible dirty culture.” Another tweet said: “White people at Black Lives Matters protests are the worst of the worst … . and should throw themselves into the sea.”

The Twitter user also criticised serving police officers posting: “Every now and again I run into cops who really shouldn’t be cops . At one stage they were probably alright; but they checked out years ago.” A source close to the investigation said it was difficult to trace the identity of @DonYeeoo because the Twitter user knew how to cover their online footprint.

However, the source said photographs of locations within PSNI buildings that the Twitter user had posted, as well as data assistance from Twitter, have been used to trace the person suspected of running the account. “The initial investigations into the accounts brought the attention on the @DonYeeoo account and that account became the number one priority . Some of his content was causing major problems.

“He was smart using VPN (virtual private network) etc and it took a while for Twitter to provide information necessary . He started getting sloppy . Location pictures led to his downfall .

CCTV was played back at the locations,” the source said. A number of the anonymous accounts which formed part of the internal probe were suspended last week. It is understood investigations are still ongoing.

PSNI assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton recently said police are “examining material posted on personal social media accounts by a number of individuals and are undertaking investigations to establish if the individuals are all serving officers.”

On Monday, the PSNI said the organisation “will not accept any racist, sectarian, sexist or homophobic behaviour from any of our staff.”

Joyce McMillan: Call a halt to the security culture

We are giving up too many freedoms because of the threat posed by a tiny number of people says Joyce McMillan

Last week in Barcelona, it happened again . There was a terror attack, involving a van driven at speed into an unsuspecting crowd; 14 people died . Within 24 hours, the people of Barcelona were gathering on the streets, singing and chanting their defiance, saying that they were not – and are not – afraid; it s the same reaction to terrorism that we see in great multicultural cities across the world, from Paris and Berlin to London, Manchester and Boston . And as in all those other cities, people said that terrorism would not be allowed to change their way of life; they would party on without fear, and not permit themselves to be cowed by tiny groups of terrorists. Yet we must, when we go through the ritual of saying this, be increasingly conscious that in most countries of the west, what we say is not true . We have allowed ourselves to be changed by the threat of terrorism, since the horrifying attack on New York in 2001; and the very fabric of our cities is beginning to show it . Here in Edinburgh, this year – after the attacks in London and Manchester this spring – festival crowds are, for the first time, experiencing bag searches in many venues, the sight of tank-trap-like barriers on the High Street, and the occasional presence of armed police on the streets . Public buildings in London, and our own Scottish Parliament here in Edinburgh, are increasingly surrounded by ugly ranks of traffic bollards and blast-proof walls; and from time to time, major events are simply cancelled outright, as in Rotterdam this week, following explicit terrorist threats. And all this is to say nothing of the less visible but even more significant electronic surveillance state that we have allowed to grow up over the last 16 years, with millions of law-abiding citizens being put on watch-lists without evidence or redress, on suspicion of having once signed an online petition, or gone to a demonstration .

To call this process insidious is to understate the case; these days, anyone who dissents from the norms and systems of our evidently flawed society to the extent of actually doing something about it runs the risk of being categorised, in UK security terms, as a potential domestic insurgent . Yet there is, to put it bluntly, very little evidence that terrorism in the west represents a threat that justifies social, cultural and physical change on this scale . In the 16 years since 2001, well under a thousand people have died in terror attacks across Europe, fewer than a hundred a year, whereas 300 times as many die in road traffic accidents . And although the security establishment constantly tells us of the large number of terror attacks they prevent, thanks to tight surveillance rules, there is surely a limit to how much of such information any thinking citizen should be expected to take entirely on trust, given the huge vested financial interests involved in maintaining a heightened sense of threat. Add to all these factors the desperate plight of all public authorities in a risk-averse age, faced with the inevitability of legal action and huge penalties if they fail to implement recommended security measures and lives are lost as a result, and you have a situation where over-reaction to the threat of terrorism becomes almost inevitable . All the pressure is on the side of expensive and obvious security measures, and on the lavish demonstration that the authorities have made the safety of the public their absolute priority ; although in truth, if the safety of the public was an absolute priority , we would not only ban motor transport, but ensure that no-one ever got out of bed in the morning. In the real world, in other words, we make constant calculations of the benefits and risks of whatever action we undertake, even if only crossing the road to buy a coffee . In the wrong circumatances, motor vehicles kill; but we value the freedom they bring us so much that we tolerate an annual death toll on the scale of a 9/11 attack in Britain every year. Yet when it comes to our response to terrorism, those mechanisms for calculating risk and benefit seem to have entirely broken down .

The risk of continuing to live our lives without bag searches and street barriers and relentless online surveillance is deemed too great even to contemplate; whereas the unseen but huge benefits of living in a civil society – where security is not a major industry, where people enjoy privacy and freedom of movement without intrusion, and where our children are not constantly given the false, disempowering and reactionary impression that all public space is dangerous and all strangers a source of threat – are never weighed in the balance at all. It therefore seems to me obvious that we now need to call a halt to the the growth of terrorism-related security-state thinking, in the UK and elsewhere, and begin a much more mature conversation about the freedoms and decencies we are so willingly giving up in order to meet what is by any normal measure a small threat, posed by a tiny minority of citizens . For if the growth of such attitudes and systems is undesirable in itself, the reasons why we have been so tolerant of it are also deeply disturbing, and a serious capitulation – despite our fine words – to those who want to see a society undermined by division, hatred, and mutual mistrust between communities . At the Edinburgh Festival this year, there are not only barriers in the streets, and some cops carrying guns. There are also hundreds of very angry young performers, speaking in the voices of communities that feel excluded and demonised by an official and media culture that too often places the heavy hand of security above the civic peace, fairness and inclusion that really keeps us safe .

Those who sow the seeds of a security state, in other words, inevitably reap the whirlwind of anger from those they insult, harass and exclude; and it s now beyond time for those of us who truly care for long-term peace and harmony to call a halt to our ever more pervasive security culture, and to begin to questions its terms.