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Cheese photo leads to Liverpool drug dealer's downfall (bbc.co.uk)
319 points by mnw21cam 71 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 197 comments

Umm you can't even see his fingerprints on that photo. It's way too blurry. Weird.

Edit: The lines on his palm are very clear though in the whole picture: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/news/merseyside/news/2021/m... Maybe that was it. Those are also pretty unique.

It's a pretty huge leap to assume that the image you see in a public news article online is the same image the police have access to without any form of recompression or artifacting.

The blur is clearly optical.

The fingers are out of focus. No amount of image resolution will correct for out of focus optics at the time the photo was taken. The fingerprints are nowhere to be found in this picture. So clearly something is bogus about the claims in the article.

"Bogus" seems strongly worded when the article makes no hard claims, but it does call into question the implication we're all here for, which is that fingerprints were extracted from the photo.

Although, come to think of it, it is in fact perfectly possible in theory to recover information from out-of-focus images. In practice it tends not to work well due to noise, but it's theoretically a reversible transform if you can deduce the blurring kernel. I highly doubt it would work well on a social media JPEG, however.

A convolution is not generally reversible. Or are you thinking of something else?

You can remove blur from images with [blind] deconvolution. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_deconvolution

Blind deconvolution is useful in astronomy and space domain awareness where you can make reasonable assumptions that the support for the signal pixels is limited against a blank background. This isn't the case in everyday terrestrial photography, and the Lena image on that wiki shows the sorts of results you get from applying a blind deconvolution algorithm naively to this sort of imagery.

> the Lena image on that wiki shows the sorts of results you get from applying a blind deconvolution algorithm naively to this sort of imagery.

the edges seems to be restored fine on that image - this is exactly what you'd need for fingerprints.

Also, the image have clear partial palm prints which police may have had in their db on this guy too.

It wouldn’t even be blind deconvolution since they can use the cheese label as ground truth.

I wouldn't think so, since the level of blur is less or non-existent on the label. In infinitely long focal length, everything is the same level of focus.

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to see a lot of motion blur on that label, an amount that could easily account for the blur on the fingertip, too. Given the ultra-short focal length of mobile cameras and the large focal depth that comes with it I would expect very little out-of-plane blur on the fingertips.

The label is very blurry.

Plus, the point is that the picture is not a blurred picture of a finger. There is a lot of information in this photo which could be used to help to guide the de-blurring process.

https://www.merseyside.police.uk/news/merseyside/news/2021/m... is the police source for the news. The fella pleaded guilty, so (I guess?) the rest of the evidence didn't have to be revealed in court.

Of interest is that Liverpool police arrested 60 people because of the Encrochat "hack" for selling drugs and weapons. I imagine some of those would be customers, but I imagine a few hundred would have been arrested across the country.

I don’t get it. I’m mostly very skeptical of the claim of making a positive fingerprint ID through a picture. Has anyone ever heard of this before? Fingerprints are known to be very unreliable and subjective. I’m not convinced this is actually what happened, and not just a cute story pushed by the British law enforcement.

Edit: I did find a couple articles talking about technique of lifting prints from photographs, so I guess it’s a thing? Enough confidence for them to track him down, and win a guilty plea.

Yeah, the article title should be "Drug dealer caught by online photo that revealed fingerprints". That's the interesting and unexpected part, here. I didn't really know that could be done and hadn't heard of it before; but I suppose it's not too surprising given the prevalence of high-resolution phone cameras, now.

I'm guessing what happened was that they were monitoring an anonymous chat group on this EncroChat app and weren't sure of the true identities of some of the people in it. They saw one of them posted a photo showing fingertips, decided to see if they could extract and match the fingerprints against their database, and got a hit.

I disagree with the (current) top post in this thread saying it's "likely parallel construction". It could be, but the claimed story also sounds pretty plausible, if it's indeed true that they could match the fingerprints based on that photo.

That said, if they didn't heavily downscale or obfuscate the photo before uploading it, the fingertips look so blurry that I imagine it'd be hard to get anything actually useful from it... (https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/F8F6/production/...). If that's close to the original photo, I would grant more probability to the parallel construction/source protection hypothesis.

I'd be quite impressed if the photo was really that blurry and they still managed to extract fingerprints. Though, maybe it could become more feasible with some Photoshop adjustments?

That's not the full image. The full image (https://twitter.com/MerseyPolice/status/1395783747115618306) has a lot of detail in the palm area - enough to get a match I'd assume, if they have his full palm print on file.

Even if it's not a super high probability match, it could have been enough to give them a name and find more evidence.

I don't buy that they'd make up the story _and then tweet proudly about it_, especially when the image they posted is so easy to be sceptical about because of the blur.

Thanks; makes sense.

>I disagree with the (current) top post in this thread saying it's "likely parallel construction". It could be, but the claimed story also sounds pretty plausible

Others have pointed out that this happened in the UK, so it's probably not parallel construction anyways. Still, I wanted to get this out there: isn't the claimed story being plausible a pretty important part of parallel construction? If you needed parallel construction for your evidence to not be thrown out of court, then if the story of how you obtained it isn't plausible, it seems likely that it'll get thrown out anyways.

>Others have pointed out that this happened in the UK, so it's probably not parallel construction anyways.

Yeah, I should've said "parallel construction / source protection / cover story". Parallel construction implies hiding an illicit and/or unethical technique (like warrantless NSA collection methods), but it could also be done to protect a valid information source, like a confidential informant.

>Still, I wanted to get this out there: isn't the claimed story being plausible a pretty important part of parallel construction? If you needed parallel construction for your evidence to not be thrown out of court, then if the story of how you obtained it isn't plausible, it seems likely that it'll get thrown out anyways.

Absolutely. But it's kind of a double-bind sort of situation. If it seems potentially implausible, you can say it smells like a cover story diversion. If it seems plausible, you can say it could be a believable-sounding cover story diversion that's tricked the naive masses.

It's similar to the logic serial conspiracy theorists use; counter-claims are easily dismissed as "that's what they want you to think" / "of course they'd do that". The onus is on the claim-maker to provide evidence of possible deceit.

I support this line of thinking.

It's delusional to completely outsource the assessment of plausibility, it's a fast track to dictatorship. It's on each of us to assess how much faith to hold in such claims. Otherwise we fall into the trap of believing the powers whatever they do.

  - Look, that show trial in the USSR (or Nazi Germany, etc) has concluded with the confessions of guilt from all the accused.
  - But there was no solid evidence presented, there is quite some ground to believe they were forced to confess under tortures.
  - *If they needed* tortures for the confessions in the court, *then if their story isn't plausible, it seems likely that it'll get thrown out anyways.*
  - ???

This is a very good example of showing that decentralized anonymous communication channels of any type are not enough to ensure free speech. I'm not saying that this particular example has anything to do with free speech, but it does show that you can not speak freely even over encrypted anonymous channels. You can still easily be doxed.

We can not rely on any technology to ensure freedom of speech. We need to engender social acceptance and our laws to encourage it.

You mean I shouldn't share a photo of personally identifiable information through the same communication medium that I'm using to sell drugs?

Anyways, you think we should change the laws so that just because somebody is using an encrypted or "anonymous" chat app the police can't use any of that to build evidence against them? That seems too OP for the criminals

Next up: T-Shirts printed "I'm feeling invisible and I demand you to respect that feeling!"

I was in court with a traffic ticket and the “opening act” was a bench trial for a lady who stole beer from a gas station.

Her defense was that the clerk was lying, because Jesus gave her an invisibility cloak. The judge didn’t skip a beat and asked “Did you put the beer under the cloak?”. She said “shit” and changed her plea.

No amount of technology will keep you anonymous if you freely post details that identify you. This example is just poor opsec. He might as well have posted a picture of his driver's license! Just like that guy who posted the exact GPS coordinates of his terrorist camp.

Are you arguing that arranging to commit a crime is protected speech? I don't think that one will fly anywhere, even in the US, let alone in the UK with no constitutional protection only the much weaker ECHR one.

>let alone in the UK with no constitutional protection only the much weaker ECHR one.

I think that's overstating the situation a little.

The Human Rights Act (which enabled domestic courts to give effect to the ECHR) is considered to be as much of a constitutional document as one can be in the UK.

Laws can't accidentally go against Convention rights. Secondary legislation can be struck down if it breaches the HRA/ECHR, and even primary legislation (Acts of Parliament etc.) isn't completely immune.

Primary legislation must be interpreted by courts to be compatible with the ECHR, even going as far as to reverse the plain meaning of statutory language in some cases. It's only where there's an express contradiction or one that can't be "interpreted around" where the court has to apply the statute as-is.

> The Human Rights Act (which enabled domestic courts to give effect to the ECHR) is considered to be as much of a constitutional document as one can be in the UK.

Yes - that is, it can be overruled by a simple majority of MPs plus the unelected House of Lords. So constitutional change can be achieved with the support of only a minority of voters.

That's pretty much every protest ever. You would make organizing protests against marijuana laws or laws against homosexual behavior illegal?

Moxie Marlinspike has argued that it is important to be able to break the law and that perfect surveillance means the end of making social progress in a civil manner.


As the law recognises that the law can be changed, protesting to change the law is not generally itself a crime.

Laws get interpreted by humans, not by computers, so they should not to be taken literally and in isolation — they’re both harder and laxer in different ways.

In some cases changing the law is itself illegal, which brings us back to the original question.

There is also the matter of protecting a persons right to commit a crime when it involves behaviors that should not be criminalized. A same sex couple being in a relationship is something that we should protest for, even if it is illegal. Not just making it legal, but also protesting specific examples of it being criminalized.

Is free speech itself something worth protecting enough that we should give it some level of special protection? In a world where the only person who doesn't have to know the law is the cops enforcing it, who are given their own special protection from harm they cause, I don't think it is an unreasonable request.

Read the second sentence of my post.

You dont need any sort of encryption to preserve anonymity. You just need a fraction of a clue.

Look at Satoshi Nakamoto. The entity posted in public forums and had conversations in the public view for so long. He is presumably one of the most infamous subjects in the last 10 years an nobody has managed to doxx him

Some areas of conversation require disclosing who you are. Freedom of speech means being able to say you don't agree with your town council for instance. Thus revealing much about yourself.

Yes you can censor yourself, hide facts, and remain anonymous.. but you can not do so across the entire spectrum of discourse, only in limited domains.

This was over one of those all in one encrypted messaging phones where you have to trust a single entity. Such things are eventually subverted by the powers that be due to that single point of failure. So I don't think this can be extended to some sort of general principle.

> So I don't think this can be extended to some sort of general principle.

Very clearly it can. There is no technological solution to doxing. You have to censor yourself, you have to hide facts, you can not speak freely.

Wikipedia says EncroChat used central servers in France.

Right and the design flaw was that a server breach meant all phones were breached. Which is what happened.

There is some heavy editorializig by the BBC here. As a cheese lover, the cheese was fine. That person just posted a photo that also included their fingertips.

I was hoping it'd be some extremely rare regional cheese that allowed them to find the guy.

I kind of wanted it to be a Wallace and Grommet crossover with Breaking Bad.

Claymation Brian Cranston points pistol at snitches head- "You've got the wrong trousers" <Bang>

Welp with that comment HN has peaked for the day.

Kind of disappointed. I thought they would do some high-tech matching of the blue veins in the cheese in the photo to one in the suspect's fridge.

It was posted as a "cheese photo", it just happened to include his fingerprints.

I was thinking that the block of cheese was tracked down at the store by police by it's very unique shape, and fingerprints dusted off of it...

I think the article is originally from Echo, which is Liverpool's local newspaper. Crazy the number of people that have been arrested in that city.

In reality, the police were likely violating his rights and doing some good old fashioned parallel construction. They had his prints from his products, knew who he was already, waited until they watched him post a picture of cheese, then claimed it was only the picture that caused him to be caught.

This is a clear change in police methods, enabled by tech, and an abuse of your constitutional rights if this was a U.S. citizen. But hey, it’s funny because the guy liked cheese.

IMHO the concept of "parallel construction" is mostly an USA specific thing because USA legal doctrine is heavy on fourth amendment application and "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine that can make evidence inadmissible depending on how it was obtained. But all those things and rights are specific to USA, not in general, and not even for other common law countries.

As far as I understand, such "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine is not applied in UK, as long as the evidence is believed to be true, it would generally be admissible in court even if it was obtained through e.g. mass warrantless wiretapping, so if they knew who he was already, they could and would have just gone ahead and there would be no need to put in the effort for some parallel construction.

After looking at the Wikipedia page for Parallel Construction[1], there is a subsection about the UK, it mentioned that one could argue that parallel construction is now a concept that applies in the UK as of 2016. It then points to an article on The Register subtitled “Enshrining parallel construction in English law”[2].

It looks like Section 56(1) of the Investigatory Powers Act prohibits “any content of an intercepted communication” from being used in court.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_construction

[2] https://www.theregister.com/2016/12/06/parallel_construction...

There was an article[0] from 2018 about how the UK police monitor CCTV footage with "super recognisers" - people who have a way-above-average ability to remember and identify faces. Ostensibly, they would look at footage from previously captured crimes and then pick out the perpetrators by watching other footage. It just smells like a convenient source for parallel construction to me.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/nov/11/super-recogn...

The UK doesn't even have the exclusionary rule --- in fact, most countries don't. There's no need for "parallel construction" there.

In many countries the parallel construction is to protect illegal police methods. They torture a criminal in an abandoned shed, or threaten to have his mother evicted, to get his list of associates. Then they cook up things like “fingerprints in a cheese photo” to make themselves seem very clever and also keep their methods concealed.

The exclusionary rule ain't the only reason to engage in parallel construction.

A whole long list of reasons can lead to that, a list that also includes criminal actions by the police itself.

Parallel construction is also used to protect sources and methods.

The perverting the course of justice charge alleges the trio disclosed information that law enforcement could access encrypted EncroChat data.


> Parallel construction is also used to protect sources and methods.

And, of course, it is the unethical and unlawful methods which have the greatest need of "protection".

Snitches get stitches, or a dirt nap. Protecting a confidential informant sounds facially reasonable, but obviously abuses are possible.

In the US people have a right to face their accusers, to cross examine witnesses, to shake out lacking credibility or perverted motivations.

If parallel construction is being used to conceal people who testified against you there might be a motivation for it that is more complicated than an outright end-run around your civil rights, but it's not clear that it's any more justified.

Moreover, even if there is something that ought reasonably be protected misleading the court about it isn't the right way to do it: Say there is a confidential source. Let the court decide if the results can be admitted and under what terms. Allowing prosecutors to lie isn't the right answer, the state is already at a tremendous advantage without it being dishonest.

The central officer in this case made up drug crimes and confidential informants for years and his squad killed at least two people in an overtime padding scheme that was only found out because they recklessly shot each other on a raid.


In the UK, defense lawyers aren't allowed to reveal details if it harms future police operations. So again you don't need parallel construction.

Does this result in a lot of sealed/private hearings where methods of gathering evidence are discussed? I'd imagine the majority of criminal prosecutions would involve at least some "trade secrets" (for lack of a better term) on the part of the police.

There have been various rather nasty trials in which vital defense info was ruled both secret and inadmissible; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-interest_immunity covers the most famous examples, particularly Matrix-Churchill which I'm just about old enough to remember.

I believe ECHR 1998 has improved the situation a bit, although the existence of a court outwith the UK to which people can appeal their human rights violations is controversial and unpopular with the right.

Railing against the ECHR is arguably one of the things that sparked Brexit.

The ass of that joke is the UK being very influential in creating the ECHR in the first place.


Which is very funny because the ECHR has nothing to do with the EU. But hey, that’s brexit logic for you.

Can you elaborate this a little?

A key point of Brexit is to "restore sovereignty." At least some of that ire is directed at the ECHR, which can issue rulings that override British rulings and parliament. One of the examples of this occurring is when the ECHR overturned a British ban on voting for prisoners. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirst_v_United_Kingdom_(No_2)

Like many things independence from the ECHR has not actually happened yet. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7e0577d5-e617...

Interesting. But UK was not the only country in Europe that does not allow inmates to vote. The list includes Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Liechtenstein and Russia.

Three of them belong to EU and do not plan to leave or change their stance on this issue.

Allowing inmates to vote is a strange proposal for me. Could we then argue that a leader of a criminal organization should be able to keep leading it from the prison? Eliminating the imprisoned from the society is one of the core principles of the imprisonment and it feels therefore counter productive to let inmates to vote, especially on local government election where a single vote counts the most.

Now if imprisonment would be altered for example to an involuntary reeducation and readaptation program, then keeping the right to vote would make much more sense.

The EHCR is not saying that all prisoners should always be able to vote, but that a blanket ban on prisoner voting without considering the circumstances or whether or not it is proportionate violates human rights.

Wikipedia has this to say on the topic, at least in the US:

> Opponents have argued that such disfranchisement restricts and conflicts with principles of universal suffrage.[5] It can affect civic and communal participation in general.[1] Opponents argue that felony disenfranchisement can create political incentives to skew criminal law in favor of disproportionately targeting groups who are political opponents of those who hold power.


One can plainly see that in the US this has a highly racial component. It's not hard to see how this could be turned against any group of "others" targeted by the government.

Humans Rights Watch, 1998: https://www.hrw.org/legacy/reports/reports98/vote/usvot98o-0...

> State disenfranchisement laws have a dramatically disproportionate racial impact. Thirteen percent of all adult black men—1.4 million—are disenfranchised, representing one-third of the total disenfranchised population and reflecting a rate of disenfranchisement that is seven times the national average. Election voting statistics offer an approximation of the political importance of black disenfranchisement: 1.4 million black men are disenfranchised compared to 4.6 million black men who voted in 1996.23

(it's worth nothing that ruling was in 2005 and prisoners still can't vote so it's not as much of an override as people might imagine)

> Like many things independence from the ECHR has not actually happened yet.

Independence from the ECHR does not follow from leaving the EU. To get out of the European Convention on Human Rights, the UK would have to leave the Council of Europe. The Convention is also in the Brexit agreement. Though of course whether the tories will follow the provisions of the treaties they sign is another matter.

I know that but that's certainly not what was sold. The link I provided says as much.

Indeed. Well, I didn’t know you knew but the article said as much. I just wanted to put it explicitly here. Some other comments here show that it is still a common misconception.

We're sick of having rights and we've had enough of EU monsters telling us we can't all die from drinking posion. What is this, Nazi Germany?

- standard brexiteer position despite the ECHRs not actually being an EU body.

That sounds airtight—the defense lawyers surely wouldn’t say a word because it isn’t allowed.

It's sadly more common than one would think. There are some very undemocratic bits in the bowels of the UK justice system, and nobody that matters has any intention of fixing them. In fact, they are busy trying to import all the worst elements of the US system, removing legal aid so that poor people won't be able to bother the rich and powerful anymore.

I agree with you on the legal doctrine piece, but most in the US (myself included) would say that the US Constitution doesn't grant anybody any rights. It codified inalienable rights that exist for all people merely by virtue of their existence. Every person has the right to speak their mind, to defend themselves, to not incriminate themselves, etc. etc. with all the caveats and potential nullifications that accompany those rights. The fact that some countries may violate those inherent rights is irrelevant, and the fact that some of those countries may be common law is equally irrelevant.

It's possible to believe both that Liverpool and the surrounding area is better off without this man free, but that the UK as a whole is worse off for their frequent violation of rights with regard to those in the US Bill of Rights.

The position that the US constitution applies to the UK is a pretty crazy piece of legal maximalism in the first place, but there is plenty of US caselaw that it doesn't apply equally to non-US nationals even within the US.


https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/c.php?g=592919&p=4170926 (which reminds me of the US failure to ratify certain international conventions under which it provides weaker rights)

I'm not meaning to imply that the USC applies to anyone other than US citizens from a legal standpoint. Not only am I not a lawyer, but I'm meaning to draw a distinction between legal rights and human rights in this context.

I'm saying that the rights codified in the USC are inalienable rights. The US government isn't granting the freedom of speech, and it can't take it away. The right exists because you're a human being.

The fact that a country doesn't recognize it as a right doesn't change its status.

As an American happy to live in a country with all our protected freedoms, there are some parts of the Constitution that other reasonable countries don't agree with, and that's fine. There are other cultures with other value systems and they're no less valid.

(1) Freedom of Assembly, part of our 1st Amendment, is one example.

A French court recently decided a protest in Paris could not take place. The court rationale was that a previous protest a few years ago in the same area on the same issue led to violence and destruction of property.

The French Constitution allows freedom of speech, but not freedom of assembly, and Americans are often confused by that. The freedom to write and say what you want does not equate to the freedom to protest in the streets. Not allowing freedom of assembly would have saved many lives in the protests that have swept the US, though potentially at the cost of slower social progress.

(2) Right to bear arms, our 2nd amendment, is another example.

The vast majority of first-world countries don't agree that the right to bear arms is an inalienable human right in today's society.

As Americans, we may prefer the added protection against government tyranny and our personal ability to protect ourselves and our belongings. Unarguably, however, it comes at the cost of mass shootings, and additionally, though many factors are responsible for our uniquely high homicide rate, easy availability of firearms certainly does not help to curb it.

--- All this to say, many of our protected rights have clear, substantial disadvantages. It's not our place to tell every other country in the world how to operate.

> Not allowing freedom of assembly would have saved many lives in the protests that have swept the US, though potentially at the cost of slower social progress.

The US supreme court has established that the government can't regulate the content of speech, but the government is in its right to regulate the time, place and manner of speech. [0]

So it is very much a thing in the US and has been enforced plenty of times, for example during Occupy and even during BLM when protests were just declared as "riots" to then crack down on them with the full force of a militarized police arresting thousands of people [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_speech_zone

[1] https://apnews.com/article/american-protests-us-news-arrests...

> even during BLM when protests were just declared as "riots" to then crack down on them with the full force of a militarized police arresting thousands of people

Many Americans actually died in these events in addition to dangerous fires (with people still inside buildings!) and random acts of violence, so the riot characterization has at least in some cases been fair. It makes sense thousands of people would be arrested when hundreds of crimes have occurred.

The difference in the US is that these events could not be stopped from occurring, and people were not immediately arrested and water cannoned and so forth by police. It was only after the event grew and escalated and changed in nature.

That is where France differs — a protest can, from the beginning, be declared unable to occur, and police respond to it accordingly.

This is not at all to say that these events were all wrong or created with ill intent, but that there is a clear advantage and disadvantage to the right to freedom of assembly in the US.

> That is where France differs — a protest can, from the beginning, be declared unable to occur, and police respond to it accordingly.

I think you are misunderstanding what all of this actually means: The US government doesn't just have to tolerate protests anywhere anytime.

It is in its right to deem certain times, places and forms of expression as not valid, the only thing it can't regulate is the content of the expression.

So you are free to protests for whatever you want, but you are not free to do it whenever and wherever you want, the authorities have the last word on that, regardless of any violence or crimes happening.

I understand what you're referring to, but was aiming to explain the difference between the US and France in a more approachable way. The US could block a protest from occurring, but the legal basis would be much tougher than that in France (it's more protected in the US).

In the US, a court won't simply forbid a protest ahead of time because the issue was protested several years ago in the same neighborhood and it led to a riot.

> Many Americans actually died in these events

Did they? How many? And of those how many were killed by the police or far-right sympathisers like Kyle Rittenhouse?

25 Americans last I read. Almost all if not all were killed by fellow civilians, not police.

> The French Constitution allows freedom of speech, but not freedom of assembly, and Americans are often confused by that.

It is a subtle issue, but under French law assembling and protesting is covered under free speech, which is a human right.

However, another principle is that all rights are limited when they are in conflict with other people’s fundamental rights, one of them being to live in peace. So in case of protests they have to register beforehand to ensure that there would be some police to prevent violence. That’s the theory anyway. They are not quite as murderous as American policemen, but French ones can also be violent and heavy handed.

For the same reason some protests can be forbidden. Usually, it is very difficult as the local government needs to demonstrate a significant risk of unacceptable violence. It is easier these days (in the last 2 decades or so) since there are “exceptional” measures in force to limit terrorism. And of course now there are public health restrictions because of COVID.

    Right to bear arms, our 2nd amendment, is another example.
From what I've read about this arcane piece of legislation, some historians have suggested it stemmed from the fear of slave owners who believed that freed black man may choose to exact revenge on them and they feared that others in their country, who favoured abolition of slavery and criticised them for owning slaves, may not stand with them to offer protection against such revenge attacks. Thus, many spoke in favour of the right to bear arms, stoking fears of a future conflict between the white man and the black man.

This has no basis in reality.

I am not an American, so I may indeed be mistaken. But the reasoning sounded logical to me - The whole civil war in the US happened because the confederates differed with other Americans on the question of white supremacy and the abolishment of slavery in the USA. For these secessionists, the enslaved blacks and the Americans who supported freeing them were the enemies.

USA also allows and disallows protests at various places and times. And they have just legislated new additional laws about that.

But I give you that personal guns being framed as anti goverment tyranny is profoundly us thing. I find out odd also because those guns tend to be stockpiled by pretty authoritarian groups and very rarely by civil rights groups.

I think a lot of people in the US would say that rights like freedom of speech ought to be available to everyone, everywhere in the world.

But if you ask them whether 4th-8th amendment rights should extend to detainees at Guantanamo Bay; or whether separation of church and state should be demanded of our Israeli friends; or whether the Queen should be deposed as a tyrant; you would find a lot less support.

These two points of view aren't contradictory, the Constitution is very clear that it does not grant anybody rights but it is less clear about whose rights they can infringe on.

Yes, that's the usual human rights rationale but it's practically a theological one - that the rights have always existed and exist even if you can't see or action them.

Interestingly ECHR doesn't bother to define what a right is or where they come from, leaving the implicit position being simple legal realism that the rights exist because this document says they do and the parties agreed to it. https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Archives_1950_Convention_...

The other point of course is that even if you recognise a pre-government system of human rights, it is reasonable to apply exceptions. For example, the right to free speech is reasonably curtailed when the person speaking is ordering a lackey to commit murder. Most countries recognise some level of intrinsic human rights, but they all handle these exceptions slightly differently.

It's not that the UK is dastardly in violating this person's right to privacy because it doesn't think the rights are worth upholding. It's just that the UK has formulated a particular set of reasonable circumstances where it is alright to violate the right to privacy, and has reasoning behind each of them. The US has a different set of formulated reasonable circumstances where it is alright to violate the right to privacy that much of Europe is pretty horrified about. Both sides being horrified at the borderline areas of the other is not surprising.

> Interestingly ECHR doesn't bother to define what a right is or where they come from, leaving the implicit position being simple legal realism that the rights exist because this document says they do and the parties agreed to it.

That’s a strange take. It is basically a rewriting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. It even says so right there in the preamble. And it’s a law, part of an international treaty, not a history book. So where the origins of these rights are is beside the point and a legal description is not really surprising.

That's all good for the origin story but obviously lacks impact in reality.

The "bug" in the system is that when you talk about inalienable rights inherent by the grace of god or the creator is that god doesn't write shit down. The canonical texts have been edited by various entities for thousand of years in some cases. So you're dependent on the interpretation of others. Usually people's understanding of God's will (assuming agreement on the deity) is influenced by their mortgage.

I'm sure the high and mighty philosophy was confusing to any of the 1M enslaved people who were literate. But then again, the fiscal success of the plantation was dependent on those humans being classified by law as more intelligent cattle.

You’re interpreting it way too literally. The Declaration of Independence isn’t saying “god said X”, it’s declaring that everyone had these rights, not based on the govt giving it to them, but that they always had them and the US govt is simply recognizing that. There is no religious document one needs to refer back to.

I think it’s actually a genius way of describing rights. It’s the same way one might say that slavery ended not because the govt decided to give slaves rights (the government doesn’t have that power), but rather that they always had them and the govt simply stopped denying their rights.

> I think it’s actually a genius way of describing rights.

In context, it absolutely is.

Remember that many of the key constitutional framers were believers in deism, and believed in god in the context of a creator, but not as an omnipresent supernatural being.

Outside of that context, things get difficult. Looking beyond the slavery example, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was governed in the early years of the republic as compared to New York or Pennsylvania. It demonstrates the differences in how context as defined by religion matters.

It's interesting how the US has such a different cultural view of rights than other English speaking commonwealth countries that you'd expect to be culturally similar. I can't speak for other countries but as a Canadian I view the idea of "inalienable" or "god-given" rights as preposterous. A right is a promise a government makes to a people. I have a much more expansive right to free speech than someone in North Korea does, that's just an objective reality since the North Korean government does not make the promise of free speech to their people. I have no right to be granted employment if I cannot find it myself, but that right has existed for others in various places and times. You can say that people should have certain rights, but to me it's wrong as a statement of fact to say that they already have them.

This view of rights also makes it easy to say that we should have the right to healthcare, or food and water, or housing. You don't have to debate about whether those are "inalienable human rights" to decide that it would be better for our government to make those promises to our citizens.

More of an aside, it is weird to me that you would include the right to not self-incriminate among the set of inalienable rights. That one seems like a much more arbitrary detail of your justice system than some more obvious right like access to food and clean water.

I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you arguing that you think that the UK police and/or justice system tacitly enforce the US Constitution because they think it's a good idea or merely that you think that the world would be a better place if all of humanity adhered to said constitution?

The former is preposterous, the latter is your opinion but it's frankly irrelevant in this discussion.

    It codified inalienable rights that exist for all people merely by virtue of their existence ... The fact that some countries may violate those inherent rights is irrelevant
Ok, so what is your opinion on the trial and detention of various foreign "terrorists" in the USA who are / were in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base military prison? If we go by the very US laws you believe apply to every human being in the world, that implies the US government tortured, denied due process and illegally detained and treated many foreign citizens differently because they were not American citizens.

> but most in the US (myself included) would say that the US Constitution doesn't grant anybody any rights. It codified inalienable rights that exist for all people merely by virtue of their existence

As an American I find this a very surprising interpretation, and I doubt anybody in my close social circle would agree with it either.

Its not an interpretation at all. Its is litterally written by Jefferson in the preamble to the constitution

> We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

From your comment I wonder how many americans actually understand the history behind the constitution.

I'm really, really enjoying that two people (this comment and a sibling comment) both posted in support of this interpretation of the constitution, and then both of them posted the same snippet of the Declaration of Independence instead.

The Declaration of Independence made the claim that certain rights were inalienable. The US Constitution was much less exciting and largely just laid out how the government would function.

"We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The Bill of Rights wasn't even part of the original constitution. The constitution was ratified in 1788, and the Bill of Rights was ratified in the form of amendments 1 through 10 in 1791.

> The Bill of Rights wasn't even part of the original constitution

I see this claim frequently, but I still judge it as "mostly false." Multiple states refused to ratify the constitution without the bill of rights. Without the bill of rights, the original constitution would have collapsed in less than ten years. The original constitution by itself was a piece of paper. The constitution together with the bill of rights are the foundation of our government.

Incorrect. The Bill of Rights was written after the US Constitution was ratified. The part about it collapsing is conjecture (quite a few scholars agree with thus position).

This is the reason that the Bill of Rights say "Congress shall make no law infringing on..." The creators of the Constitution were very clear that rights were not granted by the state, they were inherent to all people.

There's still room for the Bill of Rights to only apply to Americans though, it is not clear whether they may make no law infringing on the rights of citizens or people.

It's disappointing to me that you and your social circle weren't educated in your own country's government and history. Can I ask which underfunded school district you attended?

In most American schools, for "social studies", US history is grades 8 and 9, while US government is grade 10. What did you study instead at these grade levels?

It's literally what the constitution itself says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The vast majority of Americans are not Silicon Valley technocrats who reject any kind of deontological ethics.

As others have pointed out - that's not the constitution.

From a philosophical perspective, though, I agree that Jefferson and others saw those rights as fundamental human truths. They were saying "people already have these rights, we promise the government won't infringe on them", not "the government grants people these privileges". (Of course, who qualified as "people" continued to be a matter of debate. And some of the "fundamental" rights later enumerated in the bill of rights, specifically the third, seem like pretty localized of-their-place-and-time concerns in retrospect.)

I think what prompted my comment and some of the other replies to pc86 was that the beginning of this comment thread was discussing some fairly specific applied legal concepts (e.g. "parallel construction") from a practical perspective of applied law. So replying to that thread with a point about political philosophy from an entirely different country is a bit of an odd tangent. Re-reading the comment, I do think that's how it was intended, but I think the context made it easy to misinterpret it as suggesting that Americans believe everyone in the world should abide by our political philosophy. Which is certainly regrettably true of some Americans, but I hope it doesn't describe anywhere close to most of us.

>From a philosophical perspective, though, I agree that Jefferson and others saw those rights as fundamental human truths. They were saying "people already have these rights, we promise the government won't infringe on them"

In general, that's almost certainly true. But there was also genuine disagreement between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the power of the central government and the Bill of Rights was essentially an effort to craft a compromise that could be ratified. Madison whittled down a long list of suggested rights and liberties to 12 amendments. Some of which (as in the first amendment, right to a trial, etc.) are fairly fundamental. Others of which, perhaps most of all the third as you say, fairly clearly grew out of Revolutionary War concerns.

That’s the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution came 11 years later (and did not, even then, include the Bill of Rights).

As I understand it, the Bill of Rights was considered redundant by many people - and some thought that enumerating the rights line by line was dangerously limiting them.

Not sure where, but i heard once that the constitution was actually only intended to be a temporary document until a more reasonable draft could be hammered out. Even its authors didn't imagine it would still be relevant 200 years later.

The first one was more temporary while they figured out what they had just did. (things like how do we pay the bills)


That is why the one we are under is basically the 2nd revision of that.

In the US (and associated territories) I think you mean.

> but most in the US (myself included) would say that the US Constitution doesn't grant anybody any rights. It codified inalienable rights that exist for all people merely by virtue of their existence

And many outside the USA would disagree with your position that a 200 year old document, written in part by slave owners, is the sole source of truth of our inalienable rights.

I for one disagree with the concept of immutable, codified constitutions entirely. I grew up in New Zealand, a country with no codified constitution, and yet somehow a country with a far better track record in human rights than the USA.

> And many outside the USA would disagree with your position that a 200 year old document, written in part by slave owners, is the sole source of truth of our inalienable rights.

Their disagreement also is meaningless, fortunately.

Whether the documents were written in part by Martians or slave owners doesn't by itself alter the words on the documents, as such rationally what is solely to be judged is what was written, not how people feel about some of the contributors. If the world went by the standard you're floating, the last several thousand years of history and all successful political systems of human liberty have to be necessarily obliterated, including New Zealand's entire political system and system of law, which is inherited from a thus poisoned history involving European slavery and conquest.

The US, as with most of Latin America, inherited enormous European slavery and has spent its entire existence dealing with the fact of that history and its intense consequences. What has New Zealand confronted that compares to that? Nothing remotely close (and yes I'm familiar with the history of New Zealand).

> and yet somehow a country with a far better track record in human rights than the USA.

The benefits of being a tiny, largely irrelevant westernized country formed merely a century ago and long after slavery was outlawed in the West. New Zealand's existence has been an exceptionally easy and sheltered one compared to most every other nation, and good for them.

What responsibilities globally does New Zealand have? Practically none. It's free to not matter, in the best way possible. It doesn't have to make hard decisions that risk altering the world. It's like a cute little trinket country, lots of preaching and little responsibility. It never has to step inbetween two warring parties going at it in a civil war and decide which side to support, who is right and who is wrong (North Korea attacking South Korea, North Vietnam attacking South Vietnam), or choose not to get involved at all and have that similarly be judged by history just the same as a superpower capable of intervening (and arguably with a moral responsibility to do so in some cases). It doesn't have to decide if it's rational to launch a war to stop a genocide of Muslims in Europe (Kosovo). It doesn't have to decide whether to protect Ukraine against an invading Russia. It doesn't have to decide if it's worth going to war with China to try to save democratic, peaceful Taiwan. It doesn't have to make a decision about maintaining or not maintaining a global superpower military (which comes with severe, inevitable moral consequences whatever direction you choose to go with that). It never has to make any globally consequential decisions what-so-ever, decisions that can remake the planet; it can be a very nice, easy place to be, the life of a sheltered, small population island that rides on the prosperity and protection of other larger successful nations.

Dropping context around the birth & existence of New Zealand and its particulars, is convenient and makes your premise very unrealistic. The US was born into a context of European sin and had no choice in the matter. Make any other decisions around the founding documents at the time and you don't get a US to begin with (as demonstrated by the civil war that it took to smash slavery in the southern states a century later). Which simultaneously doesn't excuse any mistakes the US has made since then, however context always matters, and New Zealand has had a trivially easy existence by comparison. There isn't a single nation of global importance without some terrible history behind it and there is a reason for that (it's impossible in actuality; only in theory is it not).

No one outside of the US or perhaps a minority within NATO takes this kind of ahistorical apologetics seriously. They see the US for what it is. As an American, my most fervent hope is that believing these sorts of stories becomes untenable here as well.

Fruit of the poisonous tree assumes that the real way they identified the target was through illegal means. It doesn't have to. Could be an anonymous tip, a suspicion from the police, etc.

"Fruit of the poisonous tree assumes that the real way they identified the target was through illegal means."

But bear in mind that typically we read "illegal means" as some sort of deliberate violation of the law, whereas in the US it's more like there's a relatively carefully defined set of "legal means". There are a number of sources of inadmissible evidence that a common, normal person would probably consider perfectly moral to introduce as trial evidence, but is denied in the US. (At least, officially. Of course things can be cheated. I'm talking about the nominal system here, not the real one.) "Illegal means" means less in this context than it might normally.

Chap got 13 years, considering how lenient our sentencing usually is i can only assume he was moving massive quantities. Couldn't have gone unnoticed even in a place like Liverpool.

Great explanation, I understood parallel construction and chain of custody but did not know it was due to "fruit of the poisonous tree."

Watch this episode of The Good Wife (season 05, episode 13): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3540606/ ...

Nope this is all from the compromise of Encrochat.

There have been dozens of stories about the pseudonymous users of that service being linked back to real identities since the initial first large wave of arrests

Sometimes you don’t need crazy parallel construction theories - just a simple criminal network cracked because the participants believed it to be secure

Right, it seems like he was discussing criminal activity on Encrochat, posted his fingerprints in the picture, and the Police must have had his prints on file from previous incidents. No rights violations required, not that such rights would apply in the UK anyway but that's a different issue.

I'm extremely skeptical that usable fingerprints can be captured from any casual photo that is sent through a chat app

The CCC in Germany did this once with a picture from Ursula von der Leyen, but IIRC they contacted the original photographer who provided an extremely hi-res image

Except that the photo they've shown is clearly way too low quality to get fingerprints. Presumably they actually used his palm (the article sort of mentions it), and they have a really small pool of people that they suspected so they could just manually compare his palm with known palm prints.

I think that's fine though.

I don’t know why you think the photo on the BBC is the original photo. It’s probably been re-compressed half a dozen times as it was passed between police to reporter to CMS to CDN.

it's not compression blurry though, it's out of focus

In this other source, the fingerprints of the thumb and the pinky are almost visible https://www.merseyside.police.uk/news/merseyside/news/2021/m... Anyway, the other fingers look too out of focus to detect anything.

It's not even out of focus, it's motion blur.

> I don’t know why you think the photo on the BBC is the original photo

Because people love to troll when it comes to pixels?

The writing in the BBC article suggests "this photo", they refer to "the photo" and show a photograph.

IMO that's bad journalism if it's not the original photo - how about 'the original photo, of which this is a lower quality copy, had enough detail for police to read fingerprint markers from, those markers were matched to the suspect [...]'.

If it's not _the_ photo, then who knows, perhaps it's a fake the BBC produced or it's a stock photo. Why not state details about the pertinent evidence on which the whole story supposedly hangs.

It's very possible the police blurred the fingerprints in the image they distributed.

Not really, the cheese is also blurred. And not uniformly so, very gradual. It looks like a photographic artifact, not post-processing.

I'm glad they were able to take this guy off the streets but there's a smell to this IMO and it's not just the cheese.

Edit: Someone else shared the link to the uncropped picture: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/news/merseyside/news/2021/m... . Fingerprints are still too blurry but his palm lines are very clear. It could indeed be those.

I wouldn't quite describe parallel construction as a crazy theory given the amount data and metadata a person generates.

A major dealer in Liverpool is almost certainly someone who has his prints on file for previous crimes. They'll have suspected that account was him for a while but didn't have reasonable grounds, this photo clearly convinced someone it gave them that.

But sure, let's take talking points from another country and apply it here too to get angry because question mark

Exactly, this „taking Us talking points and bruteforcing them onto other societies with a completely different legal system, history, and culture“ angers me a lot.

> completely different legal system, history, and culture

America's legal system, while divergent nowadays, owes a lot to the UK's and they have a substantially common history, and American lawyers + judges still cite (pre-independence) English cases and thinkers from time to time -

'The [US Supreme] Court’s references to Blackstone [english lawyer/politician/judge] have increased tenfold since the 1930s, so that the Commentaries is now cited in 1 in 13 cases. At the same time, practically nobody reads it. Indeed, part of Blackstone’s persuasive power today comes from his text’s simultaneous familiarity and mystery. The Court capitalizes on Blackstone’s status as a kind of mythical ancestor – the “oracle of the law in the mind of the American framers,” citing Blackstone for the original meaning of the Constitution. ' e.g. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2402231

[ But yeah, US-centric projection can be wearying. ]

Do you see any visible fingerprints on the photo? I don't.

The police may have downsampled before releasing and the website may have downsampled before posting to save bandwidth.

> Do you see any visible fingerprints on the photo? I don't.

The photo accompanying the article has the fingers blurred out. In the original photo the fingers must have been clearly visible, because that’s how the police are claiming they identified the man.

It's motion blur, evident from the blurring of the letters. Unless the police added motion blur to the entire photo (why?), they would appear to be stretching the truth.

If you look at the full size image there's at the very least a large portion of palm print fairly visible. That's enough if you have a palm print, I assume.

I’m a little confused could you explain a little more detail why you think this is parallel construction?

You’re probably right that they already knew who he was, and probably had some evidence that he was drug dealing, certainly enough to arrest him. But unequivocally proving he’s a dealer is still tricky, especially establishing intent. The image made it possible to tie the individuals real world identity to their “anonymous” identity, and thus associate it with clear intent to distribute drugs (presumably they also had his chat history).

If the chat system he was using was compromised by police with a lawful warrant to compromise the service, then what right was violated? How is it different to police infiltrating online forums, or even just physical locations that dealers are know to spend time in?

If the photo in the article is the actual photo posted, then I'm most impressed. It seems out of focus in all the areas you'd expect to need detail to match fingerprints.

Yep—there’s also tons of motion blur. Although this could perhaps be filtered out using deconvolution. Using the cheese label as ground truth to parameterise the deconv filter, this might just work.

976px x 549px is a standard size the BBC use for images to be displayed on desktop computers. 976px x 549px would be half a megapixel. The BBC most likely resized the image they obtained from the NCA down to that res and prob threw some jpeg compression on it just as a matter of course when publishing the image to the site.

While the focus would play a huge part, an iPhones camera (ok the phones were Android Based, but the res of an iphones main camera hasn't changed since the iphone 6s, which is what 5 years old by now? So its not unfair to say the phone model could easily of had just as a camera with just as high MP) is 12MP. So right off the bat the image you are looking could easily have 24 times less pixels in it then the image posted to the system, and thats before you throw in compression that could easily smooth out the fine detail of a finger print.

EDIT: The BQ Aquaris X2 (which seems like was one of the models used on the service) comes with a 12mp camera. Even if the phones camera was disabled so the person had to manually copy the picture to the phone inorder to share it just means the picture we see on the BBC site could easy be just a shitty compressed of the orig that was shared.

The full image is 2048x1152: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/2048/cpsprodpb/F8F6/production...

Anyway, it's still cropped, and in this other version from a different source you can clearly see part of his palm print, which the BBC references: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/images/...

I don't think there is a fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine in UK.

Of course there might be other reasons not to admit to illegally obtained evidence.

There isn't. Until very recently (Human Rights Act) justice was deemed to have been served by bringing all evidence to the court.

The ECHR gave some rights which now have to be balanced against justice but its still anything goes. There is some interesting court ruling on Azima Rakia hacking case too.

Interestingly the courts are waiting for the case where computer hacking infringes on people's right to privacy...

Rather than pretend i'll quote a leading case. Woman faked her hand palsy and was filmed illegally by the insurance agents...this is the appeal rulign (so important in uk legal terms)

Jones v University of Warwick [2003] EWCA Civ 15 https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2003/151.html

That leaves the issue as to how the court should exercise its discretion in the difficult situation confronting the district judge and Judge Harris. The court must try to give effect to what are here the two conflicting public interests. The weight to be attached to each will vary according to the circumstances. The significance of the evidence will differ as will the gravity of the breach of Article 8, according to the facts of the particular case. The decision will depend on all the circumstances. Here, the court cannot ignore the reality of the situation. This is not a case where the conduct of the defendant's insurers is so outrageous that the defence should be struck out. The case, therefore, has to be tried. It would be artificial and undesirable for the actual evidence, which is relevant and admissible, not to be placed before the judge who has the task of trying the case. We accept Mr Owen's submission that to exclude the use of the evidence would create a wholly undesirable situation. Fresh medical experts would have to be instructed on both sides. Evidence which is relevant would have to be concealed from them, perhaps resulting in a misdiagnosis; and it would not be possible to cross-examine the claimant appropriately. For these reasons we do not consider it would be right to interfere with the Judge's decision not to exclude the evidence.

Mr Weir's submission that we should determine the issue on the basis of the facts as they were before the district judge is not realistic. Nonetheless, it is right that we should make clear that we do not accept that the criticism of the claimant's legal advisers for deciding not to reveal the contents of the video films in issue to their medical experts is justified. It was sensible to defer doing so until it was known whether the evidence could be used. While not excluding the evidence it is appropriate to make clear that the conduct of the insurers was improper and not justified. We disagree with the indication by Judge Harris to the contrary. The fact that the insurers may have been motivated by a desire to achieve what they considered would be a just result does not justify either the commission of trespass or the contravention of the claimant's privacy which took place. We come to this conclusion irrespective of whether Mr Weir is right in contending that in this particular case the evidence could be obtained by other means.

Excluding the evidence is not, moreover, the only weapon in the court's armoury. The court has other steps it can take to discourage conduct of the type of which complaint is made. In particular it can reflect its disapproval in the orders for costs which it makes. In this appeal, we therefore propose, because the conduct of the insurers gave rise to the litigation over admissibility of the evidence which has followed upon their conduct, to order the defendants to pay the costs of these proceedings to resolve this issue before the district judge, Judge Harris and this court even though we otherwise dismiss the appeal. This is subject to Mr Owen having an opportunity to persuade us to do otherwise. In addition, we would indicate to the trial judge that when he comes to deal with the question of costs he should take into account the defendant's conduct which is the subject of this appeal when deciding the appropriate order for costs. He may consider the costs of the inquiry agent should not be recovered. If he concludes, as the complainant now contends, that there is an innocent explanation for what is shown as to the claimant's control of her movements then this is a matter which should be reflected in costs, perhaps by ordering the defendants to pay the costs throughout on an indemnity basis. In giving effect to the overriding objective, and taking into account the wider interests of the administration of justice, the court must while doing justice between the parties, also deter improper conduct of a party while conducting litigation. We do not pretend that this is a perfect reconciliation of the conflicting public interests. It is not; but at least the solution does not ignore the insurer's conduct.

It's a plausible theory, but they almost definitely would have had prints from him already.

The fingers and palm were analysed in the photo. There's a better photo here: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/news/merseyside/news/2021/m...

Without any image processing, we can already see palm prints and the ridges and lines in the palm and fingers. These are unique biometric identifiers. In fact, palms have more identifying characteristics than fingerprints.

They are almost certainly telling the truth in this story.

Not needed (Occam's Razor). EncroChat is a gold mine for the police, world wide. Being active there alone is suspicious, and it was effectively a honeypot. High quality picture containing a finger contains fingerprint. You run that through a database and presto.

yup, this is the first thing that sprung to my mind as well. yeah right, they analyzed his palm in a blurry photo. give me a break. they monitored him in some way that was illegal and then used this as the cover story

Why would it be a violation of his rights? The police have a right to investigate and they sure have a right to gather fingerprints from drugs.

Do they, for example, have a right to decrypt emails for the purposes of data mining? I'd have thought they needed a warrant and/or reasonable suspicion before they're allowed to just mine anyone and everyone's private communications.

Are UK police, for example, allowed to run fingerprint and facial matching algos against all image-based content uploaded to Facebook/YouTube/Instagram/whatever? I thought dragnet policing was considered to infringe the right to a private and family life, say?

In short the police right to investigate is curtailed, and controlled by the courts and a warrant process, at least.

I'm not following, of course they would have to have his fingerprints also somewhere else.

Similar to how companies "don't discriminate" when hiring or firing.

Almost certainly true and seems to show a fairly deep understanding of police work in the real world. I am truly conflicted about these techniques.

Here's a fun little game. Try and get GPT3 to reconstruct the story, based on the headline (and maybe just a wee nudge). Here's one attempt:

===== Story of the day: Cheese photo leads to Liverpool drug dealer’s downfall “In an awe-inspiring display of the power of the internet, police in Liverpool have arrested a drug dealer in connection with an online cheese sale. A 28-year-old man has been charged with controlled drug supply after a photo of him holding a block of cheese was posted on Reddit yesterday. The photo was posted by the user ‘Whatyouknowaboutdis?’ underneath a thread about the best place to buy cheese. The photo, captioned: “Cheese is good”, clearly shows the man holding a large block of cheese, however, one observant user noticed something very sinister. The cheese, which was only on top of a carrier bag, didn’t have a price label and appeared to be slightly curved towards the bottom. After seeking advice from other users, ‘Whatyouknowaboutdis?’ commented: “This is actually really interesting, the cheese is curved towards the bottom (in the pic) but if you look at the bag it’s flat. It’s on a bag, so the cheese is obviously curved due to the weight of the block. This is a new one to me, I can’t wait to hear the excuse.” As expected, the photo shot to the front page of Reddit, with more than 800 comments and counting, including several from users who claimed they were police officers and would be investigating. One user, who claimed to be a police officer with the Kings Cross Police Force in Australia, commented: “I’m a cop and I’m here to tell you … this is a very clear case of controlled drug supply. The cheese has clearly been purchased by this man.” The Reddit users were not to be disappointed, however, as the Liverpool police tweeted this morning: “We’ve arrested a man today. He was charged with drug offences after an image of him holding a piece of cheese was posted on @reddit.” ==== * (search engines: this is a fictitious story with fictitious names made up by GPT3)

Here are a few more attempts: https://saigaddam.medium.com/cheese-photo-leads-to-liverpool...

I love how bad GPT-3 is at logical inference:

> "This is actually really interesting, the cheese is curved towards the bottom (in the pic) but if you look at the bag it’s flat. It’s on a bag, so the cheese is obviously curved due to the weight of the block. This is a new one to me, I can’t wait to hear the excuse."

It's fascinating that it mimics linguistic structure exceptionally well, but not semantic structure and sequence. Reminds me of how people with Wernicke's aphasia can create long sentences that are grammatically alright, but nonsensical. Not quite the same, but there's an interesting limitation on the semantic side, which is almost masked by a truly world-class linguistic ability. I continue to be in awe of GPTS's ability to mimic any style and marry into to pretty much any kind of content.

The story has a sort of a dreamlike quality. All the words and sentences are there and any individual piece kind of makes sense but if you zoom out the whole thing is nonsense.

The implication is that police are routinely scanning all Encrochat photographs to extract fingerprints and other biometric details to match with existing databases.

Isn't it just as likely that the police had a hunch and guided a chat with the aim of having the perp take the (or some other) incriminating photo?

Bobby_1979: Lunchtime, lads. Let's see those cheeses!

CarlS: Check me out, getting fancy with the marks and sparks stilton :P [img]

Or even more prosaically — they were monitoring that chat for anything juicy at all, and got a break when the conversation organically went to cheeses and the guy posted that pic

Yes, they compromised the network through the usual means (the center) and recorded all the messages for a while. https://www.reeds.co.uk/insight/encrochat/

Still finding it hard to believe that society is willing to spend this much resources on locking up people for dealing in the wrong sort of chemicals.

13 years? wow. do British prisoners get out early for good behavior and such similar to US?

Yeah, they didn’t get them from that photo.

Edited to add: where has this story come from? Why does someone want us to believe in CSI Stilton? And why on Earth do they think we’d swallow it?!

Isn't this just like trying to link the Dread Pirate Roberts identity to a real-world person? Not really anything nefarious about that.

Ross/DPR ruined it by acting like some anonymous drug lord doing (fake) assassinations with (pretend) Hells Angels. Violence is the scourge on (certain) societies that needs to be dealt with.

This guy was just selling drugs consensually/non-violently (AFIK) and probably happened to be far up the chain.

The police pat themselves on the back and 20 other distributors they didn't catch are getting a minor pay raise and life goes on.

The only hope is this guy can find real productive work in the 5-7yrs he actually does in prison, and doesn't become a hardened criminal with street rep from prison.

The other risk is potential power vacuums that results in violence that wouldn't otherwise be there but I doubt it in Liverpool (unlike Mexico and for example: CJNG, aka Jalisco New Generation Cartel).

Note: I feel the need to point out I'm not some hippie activist against the police. It's just obvious and rational that DEA is burning through money while the real work of addiction and access to drugs is much harder problem than arresting replaceable dealers and needs a new whole new approach. It's been obvious for decades and some governments are finally realizing it.

Forgive the hot-take-paranoia, but this tale is exactly what the parallel constructors want you to think.

In reality the criminal was traced using* a government mandated BT Internet router backdoor / super grass / chemtrail deployed insect drones.

*one of the above is not serious.

in the category "we had nothing else to write, the title pretty much has all the information". There's no reason to even click the link, it's not going to tell you anything about how we got from A to B other than "they looked at the fingerprints of the hand in the photo".

How do they legally get from "it's his hand holding the cheese" to "he's the true source of all the bravado in this nefarious forum" to "he's a drug dealer"?

If all they needed was a fingerprint, certainly there are more convenient ways to go about it. He's got to touch something other than his product.

This smells more like a false narrative contructed to cover up the actual source / methods for cornering him. Maybe law enforcement had someone on the inside? And still does? Or a loyal flunkie turned on him? But holding cheese? (Note: I'm aware this is technically possible. I'm questioning it's use in ths case.)

Much like the news stories of "car stopped on interstate and police find _____ amount of ______ in the trunk." Right. Of all the cars traveling the police randomly pick the car filled with drugs? Sounds great. But too random too often to be legit. They knew which car to stop but they're not going to say how they knew.

The police could have had his prints from his merchandise, or an entirely separate issue, with no idea that they matched a certain until-then anonymous drug dealer known only for his posts on EncroChat.

So they have drug product with prints.

They match those to the hand / fingers holding the cheese.

Presuming the EncroChat is anonymous, how do they then tie that to the person arrested? Where and how does that happen?

You are right, under the assumption of anonymity, that alternative does not work. Prints on file for a different reason, such as a prior conviction, would give you an ID.

According to a link from the article, however, EncroChat was cracked last year. Stewart was presumably not one of those arrested at that time, which implies that either this crack did not yield enough information to ID him, or did not yield enough evidence to proceed against him. The former case could be solved if his prints were on file, and in the latter case, his prints might have led to additional evidence which had previously not been attributed to him.

As the article says he was identified by his prints, the former seems much more likely.

The article states that EncroChat has been cracked by police. It's not anonymous.

I suspect it's the other way - they have his prints on file already from some previous arrest, and the image linked the incriminating EncroChat account to his real identity through the data already on file.

Did they blur that photo for use in the media?

I can't see how you get could any prints off of that image.


amazing the amount of data leaked by a photograph.

I remember I once saw a post here about research at (I think) MIT where they were able to use shadows in photographs to “see” what was behind the camera and “see” around corners. It was really rough and didn’t really look like very much but I think about that research all the time. What happens when that technology improves and every photo that has been posted online is suddenly a photo of way more than the photographer intended to share?

You’re probably thinking of the Dual Photography work from Stanford (and all the follow-on work): https://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/dual_photography/

How much did all this cost? End the mad 'war on drugs' now!

That reminds me so much about "The Expanse" and i don't know why!

Obviously because Miller busted the Space Cheese Cartel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcNnUHSwOHI

Dumbass drug dealer took a picture of his fingerprints*

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