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Let your voice be heard

Online protests could soon land you behind bars

Civil rights campaigner and owner of high street store The Body Shop Anita Roddick today asked internet users to support her 'virtual' protest against the war on Iraq, by bombarding the government with emails, phone calls and faxes.

The 'Jam number 10 on the 10th' campaign follows the success of last week's 'virtual march on Washington' on 26 February, in which an estimated one million people took part, jamming switchboards around the city for up to 12 hours.

Roddick wants voters to "rebel against Tony Blair's hawkish stance" from 8am to 5pm today by calling and faxing government ministers and departments in a bid to bring the government and local telephone networks to a halt.

But if the European Union's cybercrime code is enforced under the same terms as were agreed last month, this protest would be classed as a denial of service and Roddick could effectively face up to two years imprisonment.

"The UK's Computer Misuses Act doesn't currently cover denial of service attacks," said Harjinder Obhi, solicitor at law firm Bristows.

"This new [EU] framework will allow government to punish people who specifically go out to attack sites. The question will be one of intention — whether the person simply intended a peaceful protest, which is legal, or whether they intended to deny service to a [site] which isn't," said Obhi.

"Denial of service is like an online version of a riot. It's okay to have a march but quite different if you stop businesses working," Obhi added.

To participate in today's 'virtual march' contact Jack Straw on 020 7839 2417 or parliament on 020 72193 000. A full list of numbers and contact details can be found here.

Number 10 refused to comment on the number of calls it has received thus far. However, we got through on the public line on our first try, which gives some indication that the campaign isn't going quite as well as last week’s Washington assault.


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