Our top influencer – the boy from Brazil
A week ago, a 28-year-old Brazilian named David Miranda was probably known only to his family and friends. He was not a public figure. Not someone who attracted media attention.
Now Miranda is creating headlines around the world on a daily basis, following his detention for nine hours at Heathrow Airport under anti-terror legislation.
His name has been trending on Twitter all week, and his story has dominated online, broadcast and print news on a daily basis.
Unless you’ve been in a coma or on the International Space Station for the past week, you should know the background by now. But just in case you don’t…
Miranda is the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been covering the Wikileaks stories for some time and interviewed American whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Miranda was detained at Heathrow last Sunday because, according to The Guardian, the security services suspected he was ferrying classified information leaked by Snowden. After nine hours, he was released without charge, but The Guardian said his mobile phone, laptop, camera and memory sticks were among items confiscated. Miranda also revealed to the media he was “forced” to disclose his email and social media passwords.
The impact of the detention has been significant.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May have faced questions about their knowledge of, and involvement in, the arrest and detention. And May herself was criticised by former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald after the Home Office hit out at opponents of the detention.
The UK’s anti-terrorism laws have come under scrutiny – with the government’s independent reviewer of such laws investigating the case – and senior media commentators such as Paul Routledge have taken the opportunity to highlight the increased state monitoring of individuals’ communications.
The Brazilian government also spoke out against the arrest, and even the White House had to distance itself from any involvement in the decision to detain Miranda.
Then yesterday a High Court judge ruled that the material seized from David Miranda could only be examined for national security purposes, and stopped the government and police from “inspecting, copying or sharing” it. The government now has a week to show there’s a quantifiable threat to national security.
Miranda may not be a journalist, and this evolving story all stemmed from an incident that was outside his control, but for the impact it has already had – and is likely to have – on how anti-terrorism laws are used or abused (depending on your viewpoint) we’re making him our Influencer of the Week.