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Background information about the Internet Detective case

LETTER TO THE MP FOR OMBUDSMAN ACTION
I have written the following letter to my MP on 22 April, 1999 and this provides background information about my case.

22/04 1999

Dear MP-

Re: Request for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration investigation

My name is Yaman Akdeniz and I am currently a PhD research student at the CyberLaw Research Unit of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds.

I have been pursuing an Open Government Code of Conduct request since October 1998 in relation to a Police Research Group (Home Office) Publication:

David J Davis, Detective Inspector, Fraud Squad, West Midlands Police, The Internet Detective - An Investigator’s Guide, Police Research Group, Home Office, 1998.

The initial response I got back from the Police Research Group in November 2, 1998 was that the above publication was "not for public release as it has a number of operationally sensitive parts." I was not happy with the initial explanation given that the book would be of no use to me with the sensitive parts removed and I asked the Police Research Group to be treated as applying under the Open Government Code of Practice for this publication on November 2, 1998.

I told the Police Research Group in an e-mail message that "the publication has been mentioned by the press (see for example Campbell, D., "On the bit beat: PCs are getting to know their PCs," The Guardian, Online Section, 9 July, 1998), suggesting knowledge of it outside the police. In addition, I understand from these sources that the Home Office, which commissioned this research, has produced thousands of copies of Internet Detective: An Investigator's Guide for distribution among police forces in the UK, suggesting again a very low level of security."

Furthermore, I asked them to disclose the remainder of the book with suitable redactions and explanations (in terms of the Code on Open Government) as to why materials are left out. I was also asked what use such a "censored version" would be to my research and to my faculty. It was impossible for me to judge at that point whether it would be of use to my research as I have not seen the publication itself apart from the media coverage. I referred to the PRG that "the point of the Code of Practice is to empower the citizen to make their own judgements rather than having officials take them paternalistically for them."

On November 5, 1998, the PRG decided to send me a "censored version" of the Internet Detective as my request "has given [the PRG] the opportunity of reviewing [their]distribution policy on ‘sensitive’ documents." As the Internet Detective is capable of being understood and would not be misleading with the sensitive parts removed, the PRG prepared a version of the Internet Detective for despatch to me.

From the November 5, 1998 version that I have been sent, chapters 8, 9, 10, and appendices C and D were removed in addition to the table of contents of Internet Detective as "these parts are subject to Part II, paragraph 4 of the Code" according to a PRG e-mail message dated November 9, 1998. Apparently, "the undisclosed parts of the document relate to advice given to Police officers on preventing and detecting crime via the Internet." The explanation given for the removal of such parts was that:

"To give any further details in terms of content would itself tell the reader the Police strategies for preventing and detecting crime and lead to interference with the judicial and investigative processes. The version of the document released to the press in July 1998 had these sensitive parts removed with the agreement of The association of Chief Police Officers and the National Criminal Intelligence Service."

I have responded to the PRG on November 11, 1998 (see the letter attached) and asked the PRG to consider my letter as an appeal to the decision taken by the Home Office. My request was for the reconsideration of the removal of the above mentioned parts of the publication Internet Detective.

I mentioned the media coverage of this publication at the time (see my November 11, 1998 letter) and one of these coverage was Campbell, D., "On the bit beat: PCs are getting to know their PCs," The Guardian, Online Section, 9 July, 1998.

I have contacted Mr Duncan Campbell to compare my version with his version of the Internet Detective. Mr Campbell’s letter is hereby enclosed and obtained through e-mail correspondence and Campbell states in his letter that he obtained a copy through the press office of the Home Office. Further, Mr Campbell states that (Campbell letter is also included as evidence):

"I was surprised by the suggestion in your letter that Sections 8-10 and Appendices C and D were deleted before it was sent to us. This is incorrect. Only section 10 was deleted from the copy sent to us. Section 8 on ‘Hiding Information and Identities on the Internet’ and Section 9 on ‘Internet Investigative Techniques’ were included. So were Appendix C on ‘Types of Crime’ and Appendix D on specific case studies."

Mr Campbell’s statement contradicted the information PRG have provided me and he does possess a "less censored" version of the publication Internet Detective.

On November 12, 1998 the PRG responded by saying that I was "quite right." The explanation was that:

"The confusion arose because the original bid from within the service was to remove parts 8, 9 and 10 and the appendices, which is the version you had. We prepared that version and then the original objectors relented to pressure on parts 8 and 9. We then prepared the version that the press received. We kept both versions and the version you had was the first one, which was more heavily censored. I apologise for the confusion and the inconvenience. I have put the fuller version in the post to you."

I finally got the same version as the media got and the only missing section was chapter 10 entitled "Internet - police investigations." Non removal of the table of contents of the less censored version of the Internet Detective gave me a fair idea of the contents of chapter 10 and my conclusion was that the disclosure of the information provided within those 15 pages would not "prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law, including the prevention, investigation or detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders" in a letter sent to the PRG on November 16, 1998.

I also stated to the PRG that:

"I believe David Davis produced an excellent guide not only for the police but for whoever is interested to read about such issues and the guide is beneficial for the public. Page 11 carries the notice that the guide is the personal work of the author (David Davis) and does not present itself as an official document of the Home Office or the West Midlands Police. Therefore, the book includes right or wrong the views of one single policeman within the UK and it does not present itself as the Home Office view or the West Midlands Police Authority’s views."

I have been told on November 30, 1998 that the PRG sent a copy of Internet detective to the representative of the ACPO crime committee who originally objected to ID being placed in the public domain. The PRG also decided to have two meetings in relation to this request: one with their Open Government specialists (1-12-98) , and then with ACPO research committee ( 9-12-98) before they reach a final decision on whether to allow or decline access to part 10.

PRG told me that the Home Office was treating my request for access to part 10 as an Open Government Code of Conduct appeal on December 1, 1998.

On December 9, 1998 I have been told via e-mail that:

"Following meetings with our Open Government staff, and members of ACPO research committee, as well as liaison with the representative of the ACPO Crime Committee who placed the embargo on part ten of the Internet Detective we have decided to decline your request for access to part ten of the document under the exemptions in the code. The information is not wholly owned by PRCU although we own publishing copyright and we felt the need to consult with our partners before reaching a decision."

I confirmed with the PRG that I would like to proceed to the next stage of the Open Government Code process with a review by the Record Management Services unit at the Home Office on December 10, 1998. I pointed out that:

"The Internet Detective carries a Crown Copyright with Home Office in parenthesis on page 11 of the publication. Further, the book has the logos of PRG and West Midlands Police Department on the cover of the guide. Moreover, a grant was provided to the author Mr Davis by the UK government through the Home Office Research Grant scheme. Furthermore, a note by the author on page 11 states that ‘the guide is the personal work of the author and does not present itself as an official document of the Home Office or the West Midlands police.’ There is nothing on the book that would back your claim that the publication is not wholly owned by the Home Office and I would like to see evidence of this factual matter."

Mr. S of the Departmental Record Officer finally responded to me via post on 26 February, 1999 (copy of the letter included) and the Home Office was not prepared to overturn the previous decision of the Home Office in relation to my request to access chapter 10 of the publication Internet Detective. Mr S acting on the behalf of the Record Management Services within the Home Office was satisfied that "to disclose this information could prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law including the prevention, investigation, or detection of crime.!

I am still unhappy with this decision and therefore I would like you to take my request to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Ombudsman). My point is that there is nothing in my belief that would justify the removal of chapter 10 especially after having examined the table of contents of this publication (a photocopy is included as evidence). If my point is not strong enough, as a matter of fact, I do know that some people outside the police received the Internet Detective in full.

Part II, paragraph 4(b) of the Open Government Code of Conduct states that:

"Information whose disclosure could prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law, including the prevention, investigation or detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders."

And if that is the case with the excluded chapter 10 from my copy, how can the Home Office claim that a publication with over 2000 copies distributed will remain confidential?

I hope you will consider the complaint I have described above and the evidence attached. I would like to see the full disclosure of chapter 10 of this publication and I hope this can be achieved through the Ombudsman scheme. I would be interested to meet the Ombudsman to explain further my case if you support and refer my action to the Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Yaman Akdeniz


November 11, 1998 letter by Mr. Yaman Akdeniz to the PRG
My November 11, 1998 dated letter to the PRG about the Internet Detective. I have written this letter following the receipt of the first (more censored) version of the publication.

11 November, 1998

Dear Mr J-

Thank you for the censored version of the Internet Detective and also thank you for the e-mail message you have sent me (dated November 9) following the receipt of my cheque and letter. First of all, I found the publication very useful as it has been written clearly and includes useful information such as the full list of UK Internet Service Providers among other things. I would like to congratulate its author and the Home Office for commissioning such research.

I now understand that Parts 8-10 and Appendices C and D are removed under Part II, paragraph 4 of the Open Government Code of Conduct entitled "Law enforcement and legal proceedings". I am fully aware of the Code of Conduct and please consider my letter as an appeal to the decision taken by the Home Office.

I would now like the Home Office to reconsider its decision to remove Parts 8-10 and Appendices C and D of the publication Internet Detective for the following reason:

You state in your e-mail message dated November 9 that the "unseen parts of the publication are witheld for operational reasons" and that "the version of the document released to the press in July 1998 had these sensitive parts removed with the agreement of The association of Chief Police Officers and the National Criminal Intelligence Service."

I have been aware of this publication since mid summer 1998 following its distribution to the media and the coverage of the book by the press. I can name at least three press stories covering the Internet Detective together with a BBC Online coverage (see at http:/news.bbc.co.uk). These are namely:

Weaver, M., Guide to the Internet for police launched," The Daily Telegraph, 4 July 1998, Campbell, D., "On the bit beat: PCs are getting to know their PCs," The Guardian, Online Section, 9 July, 1998, and Ward, C., "Netheads: DI David Davis," (1998) .Net Magazine, November, 31-32.

I have contacted one of the authors of the above articles namely Mr Duncan Campbell earlier this week to compare my version with his version of the Internet Detective. Mr Campbell’s letter is hereby enclosed and obtained through e-mail correspondence and Campbell states in his letter that he obtained a copy through the press office of the Home Office. Further, Mr Campbell states that (see his digitally signed letter below):

"I was surprised by the suggestion in your letter that Sections 8-10 and Appendices C and D were deleted before it was sent to us. This is incorrect. Only section 10 was deleted from the copy sent to us. Section 8 on ‘Hiding Information and Identities on the Internet’ and Section 9 on ‘Internet Investigative Techniques’ were included. So were Appendix C on ‘Types of Crime’ and Appendix D on specific case studies."

Mr Campbell’s statement contradicts the information you have provided me and he does possess a "less censored" version of the publication Internet Detective.

Moreover, the above mentioned .Net article of November 1998 does refer to Operation First-Out, Operation Starburst and other operations which are mentioned in the Internet Detective. However, there are no signs of those section in my copy of the Internet Detective even though I can read about these "sensitive parts" through a popular monthly publication. So far, I was not aware of what was removed from my "censored version" of the Internet Detective, but I am now at least aware of what is missing apart from section 10 of the publication.

Part II, paragraph 4(b) of the Open Government Code of Conduct states that:

"Information whose disclosure could prejudice the enforcement or proper administration of the law, including the prevention, investigation or detection of crime, or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders."

And if that is the case with the excluded sections from my copy, why does the media get a "less censored" version of this publication. I believe the release of the publication to the media is for publicity purposes and if these parts are so sensitive why did the media get it in the first place ? Moreover, how can the Home Office claim that a publication with over 2000 copies distributed will remain confidential ?

As I said to you in an earlier communication, I am not after favours but I would like to be treated reasonably and equally for receiving a copy of Internet Detective through the Home Office under the Open Code of Government. Therefore, I would like you to reconsider your decision to exclude Sections 8-10 and Appendices C and D.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Yaman Akdeniz


10 November, 1998 letter by Mr Duncan Campbell
A letter of support from Mr. Duncan Campbell who has received a less censored version of the publication through the Home Office.

Date sent: Tue, 10 Nov 1998 00:34:34 -0500

To: lawya@lucs-01.novell.leeds.ac.uk

From: Duncan Campbell <duncan@gn.apc.org>

Subject: Your open government enquiry

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Hash: SHA1

11 November 1998

Dear Mr Akdeniz,

Thank you for your e-mail letter of 10 November, the contents of which I have noted.

It is correct that, as you say, I wrote about "The Internet Detective" in the Guardian this summer. The copy from which I prepared my report was sent to the newspaper by the press office of the Home Office. I was surprised by the suggestion in your letter that Sections 8-10 and Appendices C and D were deleted before it was sent to us. This is incorrect. Only section 10 was deleted from the copy sent to us. Section 8 on "Hiding Information and Identities on the Internet" and Section 9 on "Internet Investigative Techniques" were included. So were Appendix C on "Types of Crime" and Appendix D on specific case studies.

I am perplexed by the position you have reported. In my view, Inspector Davies and the Police Research Group have prepared an excellent study which has no like anywhere and which I have unhesitatingly recommended to anyone, whether from law enforcement or otherwise, who is involved in investigative matters concerning the Internet. Frankly, it deserves commercial publication.

I have no objection to your passing this communication to third parties. For that purpose, therefore, it is digitally signed.

Yours sincerely,

Duncan Campbell

IPTV Ltd

1 Meadowbank

Edinburgh EH8 8JE

0131 659 6566

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RESPONSE TO MY MP dated 12/05 1999
This is my response to my MP after his interest with my appeal to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Please note that individuals cannot appeal to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the system requires an MP to appeal on the behalf of a citizen.

Dear Mr MP-

Re: Request for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration investigation

Thank you for your letter dated 11 May, 1999 and I am glad that you are interested with my appeal to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in relation to the non-disclosure of the Chapter 10 of Internet Detective by the Home Office.

You will find enclosed the completed "complaint for referral to the Parliamentary Ombudsman form" and all the evidence in relation to my complaint. I also added an "index" of the documents and evidence provided for my complaint (26 different documents) and that can help the Ombudsman with the examination of documents that I have provided.

I would be available to meet the Ombudsman or his office representatives if necessary in relation to my appeal.

I hope to hear from you soon and many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Yaman Akdeniz


INDEX OF DOCUMENTS PROVIDED TO THE PARLIAMENTARY OMBUDSMAN
[I have provided the following documents and communications for the view of the Parliamentary Ombudsman in relation to my appeal - a total of 26 items]

BY MR YAMAN AKDENIZ

IN RELATION TO A COMPLAINT INVOLVING THE INTERNET DETECTIVE - A PUBLICATION BY THE HOME OFFICE

Please note that I would be available to meet the Ombudsman or his office representatives if necessary in relation to my appeal.

(1) Letter dated 22 April, 1999 (from Mr Yaman Akdeniz to Mr MP) - This letter explains my complaint in a chronological order in relation to the publication The Internet Detective - An Investigator’s Guide, Police Research Group, Home Office, 1998 (by David J Davis, Detective Inspector, Fraud Squad, West Midlands Police).

(2) E-mail dated 30 October, 1998 - My initial request in relation to the Internet Detective.

(3) E-mail dated 02 November, 1998 - The initial response to the above message from Mr J, Police Research Group ("PRG"), Home Office.

(4) E-mail dated 02 November, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(5) E-mail dated 02 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(6) E-mail dated 03 November, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(7) E-mail dated 04 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(8) E-mail dated 05 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(9) E-mail dated 06 November, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(10) E-mail dated 09 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(11) Letter dated 10 November, 1998 (from Police Research Group, Home Office to Mr Yaman Akdeniz) - This letter was sent together with the initial version of the above publication.

(12) Letter dated 11 November, 1998 (from Mr Yaman Akdeniz to Police Research Group, Home Office) - This letter was sent once I got the initial "more censored" version of the above publication. This initial version did not include parts 8-10 and appendices C and D and they were removed under Part II, paragraph 4 of the Open Government Code of Conduct. I did request further disclosure by relying on evidence provided by Mr Duncan Campbell.

(13) Letter dated 10 November, 1998 (from Mr Duncan Campbell to Mr Yaman Akdeniz) - This letter by Mr Campbell supported my claim as Mr Campbell had a different version than the initial copy which was provided by the Home Office. This letter was sent to me via e-mail and digitally signed by Mr Campbell.

(14) E-mail dated 12 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(15) Letter dated 10 November, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(16) E-mail dated 30 November, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(17) E-mail dated 30 November, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(18) E-mail dated 01 December, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(19) E-mail dated 09 December, 1998 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz. With this letter the PRG declined the provision of chapter 10. They stated in their message that "following meetings with our Open Government staff, and members of ACPO research committee, as well as liaison with the representative of the ACPO Crime Committee who placed the embargo on part ten of the Internet Detective we have decided to decline your request for access to part ten of the document under the exemptions in the code. The information is not wholly owned by PRCU although we own publishing copyright and we felt the need to consult with our partners before reaching a decision."

(20) E-mail dated 10 December, 1998 - from Yaman Akdeniz to PRG

(21) E-mail dated 29 January, 1999 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(22) Two E-mails dated 05 February, 1999 - from PRG to Yaman Akdeniz

(23) Letter dated 26 February, 1999 (from Mr S, Departmental Record Officer, Home Office to Mr Yaman Akdeniz) - This letter (Home Office reference: RMS/99 22/413/1) was the final rejection by the Home Office following my appeal to reconsider their initial decision to disclose chapter 10 of the above publication.

(24) Cover of the publication Internet Detective is attached

(25) Table of Contents of the Internet Detective is attached

(26) Two different versions of page 11 are attached - One version which is more censored and was provided with my initial request. The other one is from the second version and is not censored. Please also note that the publication on that page carries a 1998 Crown Copyright (Home Office).


LETTER TO MY MP dated 02/12 1999
My inquiry about the decision of the Parliamentary Ombudsman

Dear Mr MP-

Re: Request for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration investigation

It has been nearly six months since I last heard from you in relation to my case (ref of complaint: Case No: A. 3/00) with the Parliamentary Ombudsman involving the non-disclosure of the Chapter 10 of Internet Detective by the Home Office.

I still have not heard from the Parliamentary Ombudsman and I wonder if they have written to you as I received an e-mail message from the Police Research Group within the Home Office in relation to my case (see below). Apparently, the Ombudsman made a decision and rejected my appeal. I hope you can inform me further about this.

Yours sincerely,

Yaman


A message from the PRG about the decision of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, 01/12/99

Date sent: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 13:57:04 +0000
To: Yaman Akdeniz <lawya@lucs-01.novell.leeds.ac.uk>
From: Police Research Group <prg@prg-homeoffice.demon.co.uk>

Subject: Re: Internet Detective

Mr Akdeniz.

By this time you should have heard the result of your open govt. appeal through the Parliamentary ombudsman. My understanding of his judgement is that we are entitled to withhold those parts of section 10 of the publication which we had previously declined to let you have. I also understand that Mr Omand, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, is writing to you apologising for us asking your reasons for seeking access to the documents, and for the delay in dealing with your appeal through the COG. I trust that your experiences in dealing with the Home Office, PRCU and the COG appeal has not put you off visiting the PRCU web site and using our publications services.

Regards

PRG


LETTER TO MY MP dated 03/12 1999

Dear Mr MP-

Re: Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

I have received today your letter dated 02 December, 1999 and the attached report from the Parliamentary Ombudsman involving the non-disclosure of the Chapter 10 of Internet Detective by the Home Office.

As you say I am disappointed with the result but again I was not surprised at all with the conclusion. My impression was that the Open Government Code of Practice process does not have teeth. I would try the request again once the Freedom of Information Bill is enacted to see if there would be an improvement. I will also write an article about my experience with the Code of Practice.

I have not heard from the Permanent Secretary within the Home Office in relation to my case and I will let you know if they ever contact me in relation to this issue.

I would like to thank you for your efforts in relation to my case and I would like to meet you, of course if possible, in your Leeds Constituency Office to discuss this case further. I will be way between 5-15 December but I would be happy to meet you in any time you might think appropriate.

Regards,

Yaman


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