Friday, 15 April 2016

Online abuse law needs shakeup

Image result for troll
Conservative MP Maria Miller, chair of the Commons Women and Equalities committee, urges a review on the "significantly increasing" problem of online abuse, here reported by the BBC.
[...] Ms Miller [...] said police found it "incred
ibly difficult" to make current laws work.
She added it was time to get tough on social media networks too, which treat online space as the "Wild West". 
The national digital policing lead said responses to victims were inconsistent.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh points out that police are working with 30 different pieces of legislation, including the Computer Misuse Act, which is 26 years old.  Such law was not designed with modern offences in mind and are no longer fit for purpose.

The UK government is far too concerned with policing the internet in general but free speech has to have limits.  The article relates the all-too-familiar story of Nicola Brooks:
My ordeal started in 2011. I was singled out for commenting on a Facebook page for an X Factor contestant. The abuse escalated very, very quickly, which included a fake paedophile profile made of me. They spread and shared my profile photo and name all over Facebook pages, saying I was a prostitute, a drug dealer, a paedophile. Obviously the other users were reacting to this. 
The report system to Facebook did not work. My family, friends and I constantly were reporting escalating abuse to Facebook. After about four days, I realised I needed expert help so I contacted the police and a law firm. I was told to print out all the screenshots, which I did. 
I took over 200 screenshots into my local police. It was awful. I was in there less than 15 minutes. They would not look at the evidence. They said because it happened on Facebook, it was not a police matter, no crime had been committed. And they told me to close down my Facebook account.
Tactics of this sort are common among people who want to silence others.  The victims are usually women who are guilty of nothing more than having an opinion while female.  This is why the common response that victims should just stay off the internet is inappropriate.  The internet is a public space like any other and companies and law enforcement agencies need to take some responsibility for users' safety.

No comments:

Post a Comment