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Something bad happened, police the Internet…

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It’s been a terrible few weeks following on from stories of brutality, war and child murder, and how we police the Internet is a question being asked..

Of all the major events of the last few weeks the brutal slaying of an active soldier in Woolwich, the terrible atrocities happening in Syria and the disgusting events which happened to a child April Jones have all been reported on cross the worlds media.

The one constant side report of these stories is how the Internet was used and post event how different organisations are looking for more policing on the Internet.

It’s a natural event post any event for us to bolt the stable door after the horse has bolted, and it’s easy to shout for laws to save us as everyone understands laws, they are there to protect us, make us safe. What is not easy however is looking at how we fix the problem not create a law which is difficult to enforce, almost to an impossible level. If someone wants to do something they will find a way.

As an example of the last comment, one only has to look at china and how it studiously regulates its Internet access, it’s well known that looking for stories about china on CNN or BBC display redacted pages, and services such as MSN will stop working for 30 minutes should certain keywords be used. However hard the great firewall of china wants to filter information to keep its citizens safe, there are ways of getting unfiltered Internet access, via proxy, VPN, dial up and other methods.

So when I read stories based on knee jerk reactions it really does display an complete misunderstanding as to what the Internet is..

Take this headline grabbing BBC article quote

Search engines such as Google should do more to restrict access to online pornography, a government adviser on child internet safety has said

It comes after a court heard April Jones’s murderer Mark Bridger searched for child abuse and rape images

Mr Carr, a member of the government’s Council on Child Internet Safety, said Google and other search engines should reset their default search setting to the safest option – blocking access to legal as well as illegal sexual images.

Those wanting to reach such material would have to register to search for other content, which would deter many from doing so, he argued.

So a man who is a member of the government’s Council on Child Internet Safety, has in a single interview linked phonography, child pornography and Google.

But he said one of the “key routes” paedophiles used to find content was through adverts containing “code words” that are placed on legal hardcore pornography sites.

He said: “Google’s moral leadership is essential here. They are the biggest player in this space in the world. If they did it, I think others would have to follow.”

The simple premise here is being made that someone looking for child porn, is searching google for the words “child porn” and that is giving him links which are taking him to porn sites which in turn are providing links in ads which are providing code words to child porn.. I’m sorry that’s probably happened once, and research shows that most paedophiles are members of closed irc and usenet groups..

The problem here however is not stopping sick individuals getting this stuff, that’s a no brainier, it’s the call for laws to be passed, because once you have laws and opt ins you then see them being stretched and used out of scope. It starts with paedophiles and honest intentions, then moves on to opt ins for other things middle England doesn’t like.. Maybe you need to opt in to express your non Christian religious beliefs because the “terrorists” are using the Internet to communicate or maybe you need to opt in to buy gardening or kitchen equipment because fertiliser and cleaning chemicals are used to make bombs.

Once a law is in place it won’t be revoked, only expanded on.. And most of the time will never be acted on. In London there is a law backed up by a £2000 fine if your dog craps in a public place, you still see dog crap in parks on pavements.. So the law doesn’t work, it was reactionary.. The problem wasn’t solved just the reaction..

Systems like this also will only be acted on retrospectively, consider the uk data protection act, has a company ever been held account over this without a complaint being made? So if you don’t know a company is mishandling, misusing your data are you protected? No.. Not until they are caught, by which time the damage is done.

Someone who is a paedophile is sick, they will find what they want to find with or without the Internet, paedophiles existed a longtime before the Internet, in fact I would suggest that the Internet has lead to cracking down, and arresting more paedophiles than before it existed..

The events post Woolwich show how an expanded law covered something you might not have expected it too..

Two Bristol men were arrested because of comments made on Twitter were found offensive and person(s) complained to the police about it

The men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred

This made headlines in all the major news outlets, the comments I won’t condone, however think again about this story..

Twitter suggest that there are about 200million tweets worldwide a day, and using some basic math

  • number of tweets for an hour = 18 025 800
  • a minute = 315 667
  • per second = 5 261.1
  • So there are about 5000 tweets a second from sources all over the world, that’s impossible to read by the human eye, we follow people to see their tweets, so for these two guys to have a single tweet each pulled out of that days 200million means whoever complained was probably following them, which is akin to hearing a conversation in a pub because you chose to stand next to someone. yet we get calls still to regulate twitter..???

    The guys were arrested (in a country which advocates freedom of speech and expression) under a public order offence act of 1986 which was brought to curb the events of the Poll Tax riots

    Part 3 of the Act creates offences of use of words or behaviour or display of written material (section 18), publishing or distributing written material (section 19), public performance of a play (section 20), distributing, showing or playing a recording (section 21), or broadcasting (section 22), if the act is intended to stir up racial hatred, or possession of racially inflammatory material (section 23).
    Part 3A was created by the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 with the insertion of new sections 29A to 29N. This part created new offences for acts intended to stir up religious hatred. Sections 29B to 29N are to be further amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 when the relevant parts of that act come into force. These further amendments will extend Part 3A to cover intent to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation (to be defined in new section 29AB).

    Following this act, the police could have shut down the Daily Mail website following comments made post Woolwich, Facebook Pages again following comments even I was offended by and I’ve a fairly liberal outlook on life.

    Interestingly I believe police could only detain the two individuals, not charge them under this act..

    Also had an amendment gone through to the act may have not even been able to detain them

    The Government has now announced that it is “not minded” to challenge a Lords amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill which would remove the word “insulting” from section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. Section 5 makes it an offence to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour” or to display “any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting” within the hearing or sight of a person “likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”.

    Section 5 has been used to arrest and/or prosecute (for example) religious campaigners against homosexuality, a British National Party member who displayed anti-Islamic posters in his window and people who have sworn at the police. Police charged a teenage anti-Scientology protestor, although the charges were later dropped, as they were in a well publicised case of a student arrested for calling a police horse “gay”. Hotel owners were charged (although later acquitted) following a religious discussion with a Muslim guest. The Human Rights organisations Liberty and Justice and the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) have argued for some time against the current wording. In a response, the previous government said in 2009 that removing the word insulting would leave courts to decide whether particular words or behaviour were “(criminally) abusive or merely (non-criminally) insulting”. It proposed instead to deal with the issue through guidance.

    With all this leagalese and grey areas its understandable why its easy for the media to get het up over the easy win headlines of Internet blame, however it’s also important to understand how the Internet empowers too..

    Syria has one of the worlds most draconian Internet regulated societies, a system which is turned off to stop reports getting out of what is happening there http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22446041 yet the Internet finds a way, despite laws, regulations and shutdowns sold to the community as making Syria a safer place, information still gets out which is how we know the plight of the people stuck in the middle of the fighting in Qusair.

    While we seek understanding and blame for events which are too heinous for most of us to willingly comprehend, it’s easy to give time to people who see these events as a way to police the Internet and how we live, to many the Internet is seen as nothing more than the Wild West, however as with all societies the Internet has good and bad which are not managed or dealt with by specific laws, but by peer management, community and common sense, you don’t need to fix the Internet in these examples you need to fix the underlying social issues first. What does need fixing can be done by community not laws..

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    This entry was posted on June 2, 2013 by in comment and tagged , .
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