Last week a 26 year-old man, upon hearing that his local airport was closed due to snow and with a planned trip to Ireland just 8 days away, wrote the following 'tweet' to his followers on social-networking site Twitter:
"Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
While perhaps a little close to the mark under the current atmosphere of fear surrounding airport security (one that has, of course, prompted our dear leader into installing intrusive body scanners up and down the country), what happened next could only be described as a massive overreaction.
As reported in the Independent:
A week after posting the message on Twitter, Paul Chambers was arrested under the Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who interpreted his post as a security threat.
After he was released on bail, he was suspended from work pending an internal investigation, and has, he says, been banned from the Doncaster airport for life.
"I would never have thought, in a thousand years, that any of this would have happened because of a Twitter post," said Mr Chambers, 26. "I'm the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine."
Now, Big Brother Watch fully supports the use of intelligence and data to track-down those who would try and commit terrorism (as opposed to random stop and searches and invasive scanners etc).
However it is pretty clear that a mid-20's, East Midlands-born man with no previous convictions, who posts an empty threat on a social networking site, is not announcing his next target so much as being slightly injudicious with his choice of words.
It is in times of hightened stress that our freedom and liberties are most sorely tested. In this case, it is fair to say that the police failed the test.
By Dylan Sharpe