Tallbloke, and the other recipients of the second batch of stolen CRU emails, are not, as I see it, people whose actions are good for the world. They have very strange ideas about climate as a phenomenon and of climate science as a professional practice. They are on the whole deeply and damagingly wrong.
But their confusion is not illegal, and in most cases their shenanigans are well-intended. Of course, extremists are like that. But the point is that people have a right to their own minds, and to their personal machines as an extension of that basic freedom.
They were unlikely to be voluntary cooperative with the CRU investigation. As a result, there are bona fide reasons to seize their computers. Specifically, they should do so immediately, to try to find tracks in the server logs while they are still fresh, as they ought to have done the first time.
But police forces seizing computers is not something to take lightly. The potential for abuse is vast and obvious, and what cuts your enemy today may cut your friend tomorrow.
I hope that the investigations are done quickly and professionally, and that the confiscated equipment is returned intact to its owners with maximum haste and due apologies, regardless of the serious harm I believe those owners are perpetrating.
At some point there is a right to be wrong.
I am not a purist; on any issue I think there are various principles at work.
Still, when police work becomes confiscation of intellectual property, the value of free thought and free speech have to weight heavily. Taking somebody’s computer is not like taking their eggbeater or their glockenspiel. It’s serious business, and needs to be handled with care.