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House of Commons Could Force Social Networks To Identify Trolls 216

Posted by timothy
from the we've-found-a-troll-may-we-burn-her? dept.
concertina226 writes with this news snipped from Techworld UK: "Websites such as Facebook and Twitter could be forced to unmask so-called internet trolls, under new government proposals in the Defamation Bill. The move comes after a British woman won a landmark case to force Facebook to reveal the identities of internet trolls. On 30 May, Nicola Brookes from Brighton was granted a High Court order after receiving 'vicious and depraved' taunts on Facebook. The bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons [Tuesday], will allow victims of online abuse to discover the identity of their persecutors and bring a case against them. The move also aims to protect websites from threats of litigation for inadvertently displaying defamatory comments."
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House of Commons Could Force Social Networks To Identify Trolls

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:59AM (#40295757)

    Sure you can get IP addresses, trace them back but anyone trolling professionally will do so in such a way that they'll be anonymous still. Internet cafes, 3G broadband, open wifi in the middle of times square.

    It's not as if they're going to be able to use the intertubes to locate which Starbucks you're in instantly and send in the black helecopters so you are cut of mid sen

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:06AM (#40295885)

      What if they use a GUI interface in Visual Basic to track your IP address?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Sure you can get IP addresses, trace them back but anyone trolling professionally will do so in such a way that they'll be anonymous still. Internet cafes, 3G broadband, open wifi in the middle of times square.

      It's not as if they're going to be able to use the intertubes to locate which Starbucks you're in instantly and send in the black helecopters so you are cut of mid sen

      Damn. Those bastards. They got him before he even had a chance to check his post for spelling and grammar.

    • Actually, this defamation stuff is about websites not allowing people to post things unless they can be identified by readers, rather than anything to do with the website being able to identify them via IP addresses.

      But it's not your fault you misunderstood, most of the media (and many MPs) have completely screwed this story up, conflating it with a completely separate issue from last week of criminal harassment. See my comment below for more details.

  • by hessian (467078) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:01AM (#40295805) Homepage Journal

    The problem is that "troll" is a term used to mean anyone who says something unpopular, as well as anyone who deliberately provokes other people into tantrums.

    The better question is whether we will have anonymity at all. I know from looking at the comments on CNN and other newspapers that a lot of sites would rather dispense with anonymity entirely.

    The problem with this is that it is de facto censorship of important opinions. Racial information (the ultimate taboo), anti-democratic thought, anti-mainstream culture and even occult religions all need protection.

    When we call declare someone with unpopular opinions a "troll" and look up their IP, these ideas won't get expressed on the big sites, leaving only small dissident blogs that 99% of the internet audience will never see.

    • by Dan541 (1032000) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:06AM (#40295871) Homepage

      I found someone on youtube who has the right idea about cyberbullies.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ZiRT8Nwkk [youtube.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:11AM (#40295949)

      The problem is that "troll" is a term used to mean anyone who says something unpopular, as well as anyone who deliberately provokes other people into tantrums.

      No. That's what dummies have come to imply it means. They are using the world wrong. Sadly, many of these dummies are also slashdot moderators.

      A troll is someone who attempts to elicit an emotional response by using a seemingly sincere platform. As such, many see this as merely "unpopular" but they completely miss the entire point of the discourse. Some trolling is done to lead the ignorant and stubborn by the nose to an obvious conclusion to which the audience is seemingly too dense, ignorant, or stubborn to find on their own. This is pretty rare these days. In other cases, trolling is done by pathetic people who enjoy sucking the life out of beneficial dialogs. Meanings, its a sad, sad cry for attention. Usually the later are people who are seriously emotionally damaged and trolling is their primary source of social interaction.

      Which basically means, those who believe trolling means someone disagrees or finds a post unpopular are themselves likely a troll. Trolling does NOT simply you they have a different point of view or that an opinion is unpopular - ignoring the fact that most slashdot moderators these days are far too dense to comprehend the distinction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by deathtopaulw (1032050)

        ...someone who attempts to elicit an emotional response by using a seemingly sincere platform.

        This sounds like a definition of "art" I heard once.

      • by Loughla (2531696)
        I would argue that you are both correct - yes, the classical (that being a relative term. . . .) definition of troll is what you have stated, AC, but hessian points to the current and popular definition of 'troll'.

        As the English language is a fluid language, the American version especially, we really only have rules that are based on current, popular usage.

        For example, define 'cool' -- I can think of two ways off-hand, both are correct.

        So, while you may not want 'troll' to be defined as an unpopular opinion

        • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:26AM (#40296981)

          It's a linguistic artifact. Trolling in the sense of dangling bait in front of a 'fish' was pretty much what the word meant for those examples of trying to lead somebody to a conclusion, perhaps even with a quite decent purpose if you count getting ignorant people to fully expose their ignorance so it could be corrected, or similar purposes. But, when this word also conjured up images of a Troll in the mythological sense, of course it came to mean an ignorant, rude or uncouth lout., or even a monster . Thanks to Phishing, we can't go back to calling the first form 'fishing' either, not without confusion. All that's left is to start calling the first form of trolls "Wishniks", which I propose we start doing immediately.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Then you might want to (attempt to) edit the current wikipedia definition, because they disagree with you, and so does /.'s FAQ (which says pretty much the same thing as wikipedia). Just because you're too ignorant to know shit from shinola doesn't give you the right to smear shit on my shoes. Just because you think a dog is a rat doesn't make it one. Not even if most ignorant people think dogs are rats.

          Ignorance should be fought. Period. Especially in one's self. Following the example of someone you know t

      • Aren't the Web thread denizens who engage in demeaning remarks and personal attacks called Mobys?

        The other thing about trolls, is that suppose you have a Wingnut Web site where the host is "for the war" and then you have someone who is Liberal and anti-war posting and getting into a flame war. Is that person a troll? Suppose they were sincere in their belief as many people are sincerely anti-war, and that they get into an argument on the Wingnut Web site because they genuinely believe that the Wingnuts

      • No. That's what dummies have come to imply it means.

        Infer. "That's what dummies have come to infer it means."

        Note that calling other people dummies is a bad thing when you show your illiteracy in the same sentence. They might decide that YOU are the dummy.

        Oh, and this was (almost certainly) a troll....

        Or not.

        Saying that someone was wrong on the internet isn't necessarily trolling, according to you...

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        No. That's what dummies have come to imply it means. They are using the world wrong. Sadly, many of these dummies are also slashdot moderators.

        You would think people would read the FAQ. You would also think that slashdot would go back to the old metamoderation system that actually worked. I see far more bad moderations these days than I used to. But maybe that's because when I first started reading slashdot, few except nerds were on the internet. Now every damned idiot is, and many of them post here.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)
      Actually they specify people that are targeting others and harassing them not just people being obnoxious.
    • by AbRASiON (589899) *

      I'm an internet contrarion, it's simply "what I do" - it's how I function.
      Be it for entertainment, debate or genuine opinion - more often than not it's simply because I'm different and dislike things most like and like things most dislike, it works out kind of bad for me.

      At a recent family function I realised all the males on my side of the family are the same, we're ALL smartasses but in a hysterical ridiculous humour kind of way, frequently exaggerating what we say for comedy effect, not because we mean

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:55AM (#40296491)

      The problem with this is that it is de facto censorship of important opinions

      You come into my house, or local pub, and start laughing and mocking someone who has just lost a relative and if you're lucky you'll be asked to leave and not return. That's not censorship, and transferring the situation to a virtual venue like a forum doesn't make it censorship either.

      There's always the risk of the slipperly slope, and personally I think that the vast majority of what people can say should be legal. I think Voltaire had it right; but that doesn't mean that you should be able to go wherever you like and say anything no matter how hurtful or depraved and expect to be welcome. Even Slashdot uses moderation to hide 'troll' views. A lot of shit still gets through but I doubt it'd be usable if they refused to allow filtering by moderation.

    • Sorry, what you write is nonsense.

      If the person in question is in fact a troll will be determined by the Jury/Judge when he is brought to court.

      Very likely you will need a court order before you even can get his IP, for that you need to provide convincing evidence.

      I don't call this "censorship".

    • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:59AM (#40296547)
      You should probably respond less to the headline and more to the article - this isn't a bill "to identify trolls", it's a bill about harassment and defamation. The very first thing in the bill, which is an amendment to existing defamation law, is that the statement has to have cause or be able to likely cause serious harm. And that's followed by exceptions for just what you're concerned about - matters of public interest, honest opinions, truthful statements. Even those of us who strongly advocate the freedom of speech don't deny that it can be abused, and that things like threats and slander should be legally actionable.
    • by cdrguru (88047)

      Since the beginning of the Internet is has been the right and privilege of the masses to annoy, pester, defame and even drive to suicide anyone at all. Nobody is immune to this today and a lot of people are just beginning to figure out they have this power. When the Internet was populated exclusively by academic types and the military, it really didn't mean very much. Turning the average Joe loose has been quite an adventure, hasn't it?

      This is kind of a joke because as others have pointed out the maximum

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:02AM (#40295817)
    People will just start trolling behind proxies/on public networks.
    • People will just start trolling behind proxies/on public networks.

      In the case in question, it seems that the trolling was done by a bunch of mindless idiots. So no reason to believe they would do anything remotely clever.

  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:03AM (#40295827) Homepage Journal

    House of Commons? The august body that allows heckling during speeches? Cracking down on trolling?

    Hmmm...

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:25AM (#40296117) Journal

      Not only that, but Members of Parliament have unlimited freedom of speech within the chambers. They can troll anyone they so please and no statute can be brought against them.

      Hypocrisy, thy name is a Member of Parliament.

      • by digitig (1056110)
        Not exactly. There are rules on what can and can't be said in the House of Commons, and although they're enforced by parliamentary procedure, not by statute, they are enforced.
    • Of course the parliamentary hecklers aren't anonymous, and there are rules about "unparliamentary language", which can be punished by a suspension from the house for some days.

      So there's no argument by analogy there against unmasking internet trolls and making them subject punishment where they overstep the legal line on harassment.

      • Yes, the Speaker can moderate language and can certainly expel any MP for unparliamentary language or conduct. But an MP cannot be sued for what he says in the House, which is how Trafigura's dumping of toxic waste was fully outed even though a super injunction banned any mention of it. MPs enjoy a pretty much unlimited degree of freedom of speech, with only the rulings of the Speaker as the moderating force.

        • Absolutely. But that's the point. They have freedom of speech for use in whistleblowing etc. But using it for trollish purposes is punished.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:03AM (#40295831) Homepage

    They can also simply block all users FROM the UK and solve it that way as well....

    Companies always have the option to ignore laws from other countries and block the freedom hating country as a whole.

    • by iserlohn (49556) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:09AM (#40295923) Homepage

      Your freedom to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose.

      Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        I know you guys love your cameras everywhere, but a lot of other places people prefer EXISTING laws to catch criminals. If it's Harassment, then get off your arse and do detective work, Should we install cameras outside of your hose if someone sneaks up and sticks "WANKER" notes on your door?

        it's the same thing. Hire someone to find the jerk that is harassing, or the police can get off their butts and stop eating doughnuts long enough to do their job. It is not hard to locate someone who is doing this

        • If it's Harassment, then get off your arse and do detective work

          That's what this law is allowing. Police to do detective work to find out who those indulging in harassment on the internet are. Gathering information from an individual or company that has incriminating evidence IS detective work. It's not wandering round with a magnifying glass looking for clues you know. Well not for the most part - that's for forensic and SOCO specialists.

          Should we install cameras outside of your hose if someone sneaks up and sticks "WANKER" notes on your door?

          Clearly not. This isn't about the occasional robust insult. It's about dealing with people who for example seek out Facebook tribute

        • by azalin (67640)
          Isn't that what the whole thing is about? Some idiots harass a woman, she wants to sue them, but doesn't know who they are. Has the options to either drop it, go to the police and demand an investigation (yes mam, of course we'll do that first thing in the morning *cough*) or contact facebook to get the info on the guys. Fb declines to answer without a court order, so she sues them in order to get one.
        • it's the same thing. Hire someone to find the jerk that is harassing, or the police can get off their butts and stop eating doughnuts long enough to do their job. It is not hard to locate someone who is doing this online without making new laws to force a company to roll over and do the cops job for them.

          Ah, ha, so you can easy figure from which IP I'm posting this? And you know who am in real live (besides my signature gives it away, ofc.), so how would you figure who am I if I had not my sig?
          Or how would

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          Hire someone to find the jerk that is harassing, or the police can get off their butts and stop eating doughnuts long enough to do their job. It is not hard to locate someone who is doing this online without making new laws to force a company to roll over and do the cops job for them.

          Hire someone? Sorry, can't be done. At least not today. So maybe you have an IP address and can trace that to an ISP. Great. The ISP says they aren't turning anything over except under subpoena or to law enforcement. Fine, you get a lawyer and file a lawsuit against John Doe - who's identity will be disclosed by the ISP. Except they do not have the identity, all they have is the account holder and (maybe) an address. Oh, and don't take too long filing your lawsuit - some ISPs keep their DHCP history

      • Your freedom to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose.

        Nice to see this cliche used in the proper context, for once.

        Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

        You mean there aren't already laws on the books which criminalize slander and libel?

        Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

        • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853)

          Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

          There isn't. This bill is an amendment to the current law.

          • Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

            There isn't. This bill is an amendment to the current law.

            Amending it how? To add "on a computer" to the list of places you can't commit libel or slander? I sure hope not - what an abject waste of taxpayer monies such a thing would be...

            • by a90Tj2P7 (1533853)

              Amending it how? To add "on a computer" to the list of places you can't commit libel or slander? I sure hope not - what an abject waste of taxpayer monies such a thing would be...

              Is taking 5 minutes to read it really asking that much? That's not what it does, and "the internet" isn't the only thing it's trying to address. But since that's the meat of your argument here, let's pretend it did - it would only have to amend the law if the existing law specified methods that were not covered by that mediums or process. Plenty (if not an overwhelming majority) of laws detail ways or mediums in which the violation has to occur, why is updating a grossly outdated standard that unreasonable

        • by iserlohn (49556)

          You mean there aren't already laws on the books which criminalize slander and libel?

          Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

          If you bothered to read TFA, you'd discover that it is a bill amending the existing law of defamation - effectively modernisation of the law as it stands currently.

          • I did not; in all honesty, my interest in foreign legal matters is minimal.

            My main purpose in replying was to congratulate you on using the fist/nose idiom in proper context, which is seldom ever done.
        • by cdrguru (88047)

          Understand that there are no laws against libel or slander - they are not criminal acts. They are actionable in civil court only. Law enforcement has no part in the civil court system.

          Having a law that made libel or slander a criminal act would be a whole different sort of environment and as far as I know this isn't the case anywhere on the planet. Oh in some countries it is a criminal act to libel or slander certain public officials. And some religious ones as well. But the average Joe (or Jose) has t

          • Understand that there are no laws against libel or slander - they are not criminal acts.

            Just because something is not a criminal offense, does not mean it's not against the law; there is such a thing as a civil infraction. [wikipedia.org]

            I believe you're thinking of torts, [wikipedia.org] in which no particular law has been broken but one party has suffered some sort of harm.

        • Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

          All iserlohn said was "need some sort of law". If you agree on the point of a law's necessity, where exactly is the disagreement?

          Is your objection purely with regards to the legal code's table of contents? That would seem a little pedantic to me. If the old law didn't provide for something you now want, you can't avoid passing an Act in Parliament, or a Bill in Congress. Whether you want to call these a "new law" or a "correction" isn't important. Especially in England, where I believe the law has neve

      • by Shagg (99693)

        Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

        There are already laws prohibiting that.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Sorry, but the way the Internet is constructed right now everyone has the right to cause harm - it is just that they aren't exercising that right very much. Sure, people get hurt. People get hurt in bar fights also, but you don't see anyone making those illegal, do you? Well, maybe in some places but not everywhere. Think of the Internet as a way to have a bar fight with the lights out.

        No, sorry, today you can't pass laws saying that nearly untracable people and unprovable identities are responsible for

    • by azalin (67640)

      They can also simply block all users FROM the UK and solve it that way as well....

      Companies always have the option to ignore laws from other countries and block the freedom hating country as a whole.

      Like Hulu does with the non US parts of the world?

  • The process (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I think that this is an early draft text of the bill in question: http://inforrm.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/defamation-bill.pdf

    Reports on the bill are quite informative. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201012/jtselect/jtdefam/203/203.pdf

    These documents are reasonably short.

  • ... that bridge authorities are now liable for the trolls that might delve under their edifices? That bridges may be closed during rush hour, if police discovers a troll just that moment? Or torn down if trolls keep coming back?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:07AM (#40295889)

    This lady didn't just get trolled on some random anonymous forum. She was stalked and harassed in a manner that is almost certainly criminal, and without a doubt would be considered criminal if it happened in any other non-internet related forum. There really isn't any need for any special legislation as existing laws undoubtedly cover what happened here.

    Of course, this doesn't explain why Facebook dug their heels in. Nowadays I just expect Facebook to do the wrong thing in all cases, so I probably should not be suprised.

    • by azalin (67640)
      Simple answer: Never give out any information, unless ordered by a court to do so (or in facebook's case being properly paid).
  • I support this (Score:5, Insightful)

    (instant -1 from slashdot crowd)

    For those of you willing to listen to my reason and not knee jerk hate me, you have to understand that there are certain people who very carefully hide IN ORDER to hate on their neighbors in SMALL TOWN forums. If you live in a big city, consider yourself immune. Otherwise please hear me out:

    Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria. Anonymity is important, for example, with Wikileaks and Anonymous and any whistle blowers, because of the power imbalance involved. Anonymity is basically besides the fact on national or international level comment boards, such as Slashdot: you might as well be anonymous, since only the force of your ideas matter, not your name.

    But in SMALL TOWN forums, among a couple hundred or thousand people who are neighbors, hiding and hating is a serious problem, and should be fought.

    Only in that context, a small town forum, do I agree anonymity need to be unmasked.

    There are people out there with serious problems, and they ruin small community forums with their abusive attitude by constantly steering all discussions to their strife. And it's always from careful hiding with these characters. You are talking about one troll who can basically sit on a forum and utterly destroy it, for a small community.

    Please understand that this is a real problem before you form an opinion on the matter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/small-town-gossip-moves-to-the-web-anonymous-and-vicious.html [nytimes.com]

    • The problem here is where do you draw the line? If we all agree that creating technical means for citizens of dictatorial regimes to communicate with each other and the rest of the world is important, perhaps even critical, then at what level do you say "Okay, this is no longer desirable..." I agree that this sort of functionality can be abused, but I'm just not sure you can create this sort of line in the sand, and one side the ability to post information and claims anonymously is sacrosanct, and on the ot

      • my answer is simple: life isn't simple

        there are grey areas. always. everywhere. pick the most complicated set of rules capturing all conditions you can possibly imagine, and there are still exceptions you haven't taken into consideration

        this is the nature of the world you live in. the wisest person knows they don't know everything. the moron believes they know the answer to everything with a few simple absolutes

        • In which case, a court issuing an order to provide the identity of the poster, where possible, and where it is not, at least requiring the forum owner, the domain owner and/or the hosting company to remove the offending material is the best we can hope for, because a clever enough troll is going to be all but uncatchable, no matter how severe the laws may be made, and they don't get much more severe than places like Iran, where if you say things the government doesn't like, you go to jail... or worse.

          • yes, but you are confusing issues. in iran everyone should be anonymous because the source of the abuse is the government. the topic of this discussion is when the abuse comes form the carefully hiding abuser. finally, it should be easier to unmask such abusers, it shouldn't be a difficult legal process. it's easy to make a hateful anonymous comment. it should be just as easy to unmask the hater. otherwise, the power imbalance is in favor of the abuser

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria

      It's just as important in the UK or EU or US. It worries me that more and more forums are forcing me to use my real name. I do not want the last ~20 years of my posts to be hanging-around on the internet, easily searchable by my employer or the government, just by typing my name. I want anonymity.

      • but you do understand the right you want is abused? you do understand that this abuse is the source of the problem? it's not about jack booted thugs taking away your rights just because they are controlling assholes, but because there is a logical, credible reason for the limitations?

        examples:

        http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/small-town-gossip-moves-to-the-web-anonymous-and-vicious.html?sort=recommended [nytimes.com]

        9.
        Laura
        Cleveland, OH
        September 20th, 2011
        8:58 am

        I share Mrs. James' sent

      • "Checking... hmm. According to this comment, he sometimes looks at porn, and he once said something insulting about a religion. Too much of a legal risk to hire. Next."

        No, not sarcasm. That's fully how I expect employers to make their decisions. They are currently swamped for applicants, they can afford to be picky.
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Ha ha, and our local control freak, gov't sock puppet has spoken, like the true tyrant of free individuals that he is.

      There is no gov't intervention in this matters that is justified under any conditions, any and all conditions. If somebody wants to fight this privately, hire a private investigator, etc., it's their business. Allowing gov't ANY freedom on the matters of speech at all.... well, what else is new from this jerkofsqure.

    • by Loughla (2531696)

      I agree with you. In the small towns near where I live (populations of ~ 650, 140, 40, 20), we have a local newspaper. This paper has a relatively lively comments section related to the print stories. The comments are always hijacked by someone who has a personal vendetta against the schools.

      It could be an article about how the sidewalks in the park have to be replaced, or about how the Johnson's have taken a 5 generation picture (both actual examples), and the same Anonymous poster leads the discussion wit

      • exactly. only in CERTAIN CONDITIONS should anonymity be removed. where a certain character USES the anonymity to be an abusive asshole, where the size of the forum is small, and the venom can have terrible real life consequences (the reputation of a real person in a small town, for example)

        otherwise, anonymity is important to FIGHT abusers, such as certain governments, or with power imbalances, such as a whistleblower against a corporation

        it is more important to fight abusive power imbalances. anonymity is

        • by Loughla (2531696)

          The problem is that in this world of 'it has to be this or that', context is rarely taken into consideration. Maybe context isn't the right word; I think that common sense and rationality are better words for what I mean.

          Because enough people have enough influence/because enough people know how to play stupid, we have 0-tolerance laws, or, we have laws up on the plate like this one. What blows my mind is that someone can be so stupid as to honestly believe that anonymity is always evil, or that anonymity is

    • For those of you willing to listen to my reason and not knee jerk hate me, you have to understand that there are certain people who very carefully hide IN ORDER to hate on their neighbors in SMALL TOWN forums. If you live in a big city, consider yourself immune. Otherwise please hear me out:

      Judging from your username and the source you linked to, I seriously doubt you have much experience with small, midwestern communities, and definitely know less about them than those of us who actually live there, but sure, I'll hear you out.

      But in SMALL TOWN forums, among a couple hundred or thousand people who are neighbors, hiding and hating is a serious problem, and should be fought.

      And you know this how? Membership in "SMALL TOWN forums" on the internet are not necessarily limited to people who actually live there, you know. For all we know, the prick calling Jim's wife a methwhore is some 13 year old in his mother's Orange County, CA basement.

      Ev


    • Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria. Anonymity is important, for example, with Wikileaks and Anonymous and any whistle blowers, because of the power imbalance involved.
      In states like that you are not anonymous, regardless of the law.
      The only way to be that would be that theb service provider definitely does not save your IP.

    • by azalin (67640)
      Why not abolish anonymity for such forums. If you now your members, give them personalized accounts and only allow account holders to post. That also stops external posters and spammers. If you trust your operator, you can reintroduce some form of pseudo anonymity where a posters name is not shown, but recorded by the system. Make sure everybody knows how it works and enjoy a decent discussion for once.
    • Unlike the other responses I'm not going to argue with your premise. There certainly are time and places where anonymity is... unfortunate. Not just in dealing with small towns either. Even in big cities people form communities: around a common interest, a geographical subset of the city, Ethnic groups, or anything really. Dedicated trolls can ruin these types of community forums as easily as small town's. Then there's situations like the one in the article where someone just took it upon themselves to

  • They're going to get a lot of replies on this, they win.
  • Here is an alternative title for the story 'House of Commons Uncommonly stupid'
  • Only in Britain, with their extreme libel, defamation, and slander laws, can a random and potentially anonymous "taunt" be considered vicious and/or depraved.

    AnonCoward045: You're an idiot and lick goats daily!
    Lawyer: This vicious and depraved comment has ruined the reputation of "Dougaliscious81" amongst his 16 followers. Expect to be sued for eleventy billion pounds!

  • "allow victims of online abuse to discover the identity of their persecutors and bring a case against them"

    You know what? I can get behind this.

    There are already laws against this sort of thing - libel, slander laws. They work fine, except when the victim is anonymous.

    IF the law requires there to be an actual lawsuit in order to uncover someone's identity, that's fine. If it's serious enough for the victim to be suing, and serious enough for a judge to not immediately laugh the victim out of court, then it'

    • by azalin (67640)
      finally someone who actually read and considered the implications before starting a rant on free speech, Britain, facebook (evil) without knowing (or caring) what it really is about
    • From the BBC report:

      The government wants a libel regime for the internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can't be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.

      Can't argue with the sentiments of that but... honestly.... good luck with getting that legislation right. Mind you, since the government are also going to save the economy by outlawing tax evasion, the right people are clearly on the job.

      Our proposed approach will mean that website operators have a defence against libel as long as they identify the authors of allegedly defamatory material when requested to do so by a complainant.

      Or, to put it another way "Hi, someone just libelled me on your website - please tell me who it was or I'll come after you for libel."

      Here's a better idea: website operators running chatrooms/bulletin boards should be no more responsible for libel by

  • by 0123456 (636235)

    With the economy in the crap, the government so unpopular that the Labour Party, who destroyed said economy with a decade of easy credit, look set to win a majority at the next election and the EU falling apart all around them, I'm glad to see that Parliament have found time to pass a law about something so unimportant.

    • Tune in next week when they waste even more time on Lords Reform. The Coalition has become rather deft at doing anything but what it's supposed to be doing. They almost seem to view winning government the same way a Calvin viewed his sandbox.

  • Seriously, I have no issues with law enforcement investigating the creeps on line. But doesn't the UK already have a warrant process that accomplishes this without the obviously open exposure to all of society for spying?

  • You all just got trolled by the media and Ken Clarke. This is not about forcing anyone to hand over any information, websites aren't automatically liable for all the content on them, and is nothing to do with last week's Facebook case (although some MPs debating the Bill still think it was).

    This story is about the Defamation Bill [parliament.uk], currently going through the UK Parliament. For the most part, it simply codifies existing case law (but with enough pointless changes in terminology and detail to cause headaches

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