I can understand the misunderstanding by the police and the accusation of “preparing illegal data access” (…or cracking security, I should say). Calling a workshop “hackerspace” doesn’t neatly define the actual meaning of the term hacker for uneducated people. Many thus confuse it with “cracker”.
It’s not excusable, but I’ve never had much faith in IT competence within the law enforcement agencies. So the misunderstanding is understandable and could be totally innocent. At least if it weren’t for some actual, hardcore slander and libel:
– Brottsrubriceringarna är brott mot alkohollagen, brott mot speciallagstiftning – brandfarliga och explosiva varor, föreberedelse till grov stöld och dataintrång, säger kommissarie J-B Cederholm vid länskriminalpolisen.
The text in italic translates from Swedish to “The crime classifications are […] preparing grand theft and illegal data access […] says commissary J-B Cederholm at the county detective agency” (county police).
And what is this based on? Lock picking devices and key cutting machines. Forskningsavdelningen explain this themselves with having the lecture/workshop Hacknight in July this year (2009). That as well as simply the general interest of lock mechanisms. It’s not preparing for anything, it’s just general knowledge for the heck of it.
Some might even say it’s good that people learn this, so that for example ASSA [Abloy] can’t keep selling expensive locks which are cracked in a matter of seconds (for which you don’t need a lock picking device anyway). Heck, there are even large, international championships in lock picking.
Further on, key cutting machines are in no way illegal to possess or use. There are licenses in Sweden for certain types of blank keys that are used for higher security locks. None of the licensed key types were available at Forskningsavdelningen though. Nothing has been mentioned about the legality on the issue by the police either.
So this just reeks of bullshit. Forskningsavdelningen did not plan any crimes. Merely reading about making a chokladboll doesn’t mean you’re actually going to. Even if you have the ingredients in your cupboard. Even if you have an urge for something sweet.
This is what we call morals.
This is what society relies on.
It’s the simple fact that law enforcement should not be engaged unless an actual crime has been committed. Innocent people should not be treated as criminals. Forskningsavdelningen have clearly been harassed by the Swedish police. The sooner an apology comes, the better.
And if they also get their equipment back, they can keep making disco lights.