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Tasmanian Cops Decline To "Censor Internet" 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-feed-the-trolls dept.
aesoteric writes "Tasmania's police force has taken the unusual step of asking the public to stop alerting it to every 'abusive or harassing' comment posted to Facebook or other social media sites. The force said it was 'increasingly receiving complaints' about material posted to the sites, but sought to clarify that 'the use of technology to undertake some conduct does not in itself create an offense.'"
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Tasmanian Cops Decline To "Censor Internet"

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What really spins my head here is the concept that someone would report trolling on the internet to the police. The kind of person that would do such a thing is surely the worst on earth.
    • by oztiks (921504)

      You really don't get the internet do you? not only does it breed this type of behaviour but news and blog sites love to publish sensational drivel about it.

      BTW, /., user's were complaining about how crap you've become lately when you posted about the iOS AppStore hack, I sided with you on posting it thinking they were wrong.... this article however just made me eat my own words. Thanks!

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 16, 2012 @02:29AM (#40660739)

      What really spins my head here is the concept that someone would report trolling on the internet to the police. The kind of person that would do such a thing is surely the worst on earth.

      Yes, I'd report them ... oh wait.

    • by crutchy (1949900)

      What really spins my head here is the concept that someone would report trolling on the internet to the police. The kind of person that would do such a thing is surely the worst on earth.

      nope, the worst is the tragically high number of braindead morons that use facebook at all

    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Monday July 16, 2012 @04:22AM (#40661085) Journal

      As an intermittent reader of some of the unofficial/unsanctioned police blogs that have sprung up in the UK over the last few years, I was entirely unsurprised by this story.

      Complaints to the police regarding rude messages on face-book are absolutely nothing new. Most of those in the UK seem to come from the lower rungs of the social ladder and are normally couched as complaints of "harassment" (though as in Tazmania, most of the complaints fall well short of the level needed for the behaviour to be criminal).

      The real story here isn't about technology or Facebook or Twitter or whatever at all. It's about the fact that large numbers of people are so bad at managing their own lives and so used to having other people (usually some agency of the state) sort everything out for them that they think it's appropriate to bring the police into mundane arguments and disputes.

      • Wasn't there a story just yesterday or so about how Facebook could automatically detect crimespeech (or, you know, crimetext) and notify the police? I feel safer already...

      • I pay me taxes guv'ner, I don't see why I shou'dnt use them up every chance I get. Like me mum always said "you can't take it wit you".

    • I dunno. If a guy can be prosecuted for a wisecrack about bombing an airport on Twitter I guess it isn't a stretch of the imagination. Let's not forget that cyber bulling can and does lead to suicide.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Honestly, it's a shame that those individuals didn't find help in time. What a waste of potential.

        However, if they were prepared to kill themselves over something like that, it tells me that they were indeed in desperate need of professional help. I doubt they would survive very long in the real world without it if they would so readily kill themselves over "cyber bullying." What's needed is not censorship but for them to find help.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, it's unusual that somebody finally gets it right!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean, seriously... Luke Manhood? "Throbbing" to his mates, perhaps? Rampaging? E. Normous Manhood, to his missus? And to be working in the eCrimes unit as well . . . if random strangers on the Internet can come up with this, just think what his Police colleagues can do. Anyone who can go through life with a surname like that, doing the job he does, gets my utmost respect!

  • I'm Telling Dad! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aereus (1042228) on Monday July 16, 2012 @02:55AM (#40660821)

    Does this smack anyone else as really immature? It reminds me of siblings threatening to tell your parents about something. Or telling the teacher if someone is picking on you in school. Do they honestly think this is a worthy use of their police resources by having a thin skin and crying to the police about every random person that says something about them on the internet?

    • The stance taken by these particular police strikes me as fairly mature.

    • by Craefter (71540) on Monday July 16, 2012 @03:22AM (#40660905)

      It IS immature. I believe that the general public (especially Facebook users) does not develop mentally past the 14 year old stage. Sure, people get "older" (if you cut them in half and count the rings) but that doesn't mean they automatically get "wiser". I think the biggest downside here is that those people like to use their birthdate for a measure of respect they should be receiving.

      Now get off my lawn!

      • by isorox (205688) on Monday July 16, 2012 @03:28AM (#40660931) Homepage Journal

        I think the biggest downside here is that those people like to use their birthdate for a measure of respect they should be receiving.

        Now get off my lawn!

        Agreed - slashdot uid is a much better measure

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I... couldn't put it better myself.
        Physical maturity sadly is not even remotely equal to mental maturity.

        God only knows how many people I know who have a mentality less than my cousin who is now in a pipe band, is taking over his dads business and doing several high levels in his 2 last senior years of school.
        Meanwhile another cousin of mines stole money from my sister, mother, grandparents, her own brothers, her friends AND a fucking LAWYERs firm. (literally stole settlement papers)
        Talk about complete thi

        • by tibit (1762298)

          In the high school where I went to, there was no bragging about "high levels" because every freaking body took them. You came to school on the first day of the semester, and your class schedule (same as mostly everyone else's in your group) was posted on the wall next to the principal's office. If you didn't like it there, you could always go to a lesser school. Same pretty much with the undergraduate curriculum at the university, except that the schedules were on the wall next to the dean's office, there b

        • by yurtinus (1590157)
          Minor point of clarification: The education system is supposed to teach people how to do things. Peoples parents are supposed to teach people how to grow up.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Monday July 16, 2012 @07:43AM (#40661613) Homepage

        I believe that the general public (especially Facebook users) does not develop mentally past the 14 year old stage.

        And they think you are a computer nerd who is completely out of touch with real life and incapable of understanding human relationships to the point of understanding things like Facebook or social interaction.

        This feeling is universal. Everyone else is an idiot, except the ones who agree with you. The world is full of morons, if only you were in charge or could make them see...

        Newspapers discovered this was the secret to increased sales decades ago.

    • by Nyder (754090)

      Does this smack anyone else as really immature? It reminds me of siblings threatening to tell your parents about something. Or telling the teacher if someone is picking on you in school. Do they honestly think this is a worthy use of their police resources by having a thin skin and crying to the police about every random person that says something about them on the internet?

      You must be new to the internet, there is a lot of people like that online.

    • Or telling the teacher if someone is picking on you in school.

      I think it's even worse than that. These are people who you can likely easily avoid and don't have to deal with on a daily basis. People you've likely never even met. People who don't really know a thing about you (unless you publicize everything).

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        (unless you publicize everything)

        hahahaha!!! you don't know much about facecrap do you

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      It's a little more complicated then that. The government of the area actually planted this seed in their minds.

      on this site, [tas.gov.au] under the heading Department of Education (DoE) Tasmania They place two sentences in the same paragraph that says

      "This site presents information for school communities about the criminal offence of cyber bullying. Students should be informed that if they use technology in an inappropriate fashion then they could be committing a crime."

      I have yet to find the actual site they are refer

    • Or telling the teacher if someone is picking on you in school.

      If someone is picking on you in school, you should tell the administration, and the administration should be legally required to investigate and reprimand the bullying student. The first offense should be suspension, and the second offense should be expulsion.

      Our schools have turned into war zones rather than places of basic education (and no, having to deal with bullies is not a valid form of education), partly because we don't get rid of bullies.

      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        Why would you think they would get rid of the bullies after being told on?

        The school gets paid for you to be there, they get paid by headcount. Learning and being happy are not priorities.

        They need the bullies to show up to get paid.

  • or it's just one or two really busy ones.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But isn't the purpose of the police to respond in cases of immediate danger or to investigate criminal offences? Harassment, of this sort, seems like it should be a civil offence. Lawyers may get involved, but police rarely should be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2012 @05:43AM (#40661263)

    Without being to specific, I can give you some context here as an actual Tasmanian.

    Right now Tasmania's police force is being forced to make such strict budget cuts. The budgets are so razor-thin that some outer-metropolitan police stations are having their staffed hours cut back to 10am-4pm on weekdays.

    Beyond that, anyone with a finger on the pulse of the Tasmanian community will tell you that while there is a great deal of respect for the job our Police do, there is a broad lack of community confidence in our state court system. As an all-to-common example, last month someone received a wholely-suspended sentence for ripping the heads off of two kittens in front of their owners. No I'm not making this up.

    When you look at these in context and take a step back, it's pretty obvious that all Tasmanian Police are saying is that they don't have either the resources or the legal power to do anything about online harassment. Unless an actual violent crime linked to online threats take place there's nothing material that they can do anyway, so people are far better off taking their complaints further up the chain to someone empowered to actually do something about it.

    Bloody mountains from molehills...

  • word (Score:2, Informative)

    I have a really big problem with this term 'cyber-bullying'.

    They are words on a screen. If you can't deal with words on a screen, if they crush your life, then the real world is going to eat you alive, and the evolutionary process will shit you right out the other end and use you as intellectual fertilizer.
    • by Altrag (195300)

      Hate to say it, but the online world is part of "the real world" these days. Especially for anyone currently in their teens (or earlier). Remember people who were born in the mid-90s are now in their late teens -- these people have never known a time when "the internet" didn't exist.

      So, given that internet communication is just as engrained in their lives as any other form of communication, it shouldn't be hard to understand that being belittled on Facebook is just as damaging as being belittled in the re

      • They're still just words. Words are not hurtful in and of themselves, they are only symbols of meaning from another individual, like signs on the highway. How you allow them to affect you determines if they are hurtful or not. Parents are responsible for bringing their kids up to be able to manage this for themselves, and not need the law to 'protect' them from words

        We have to pass laws because people can't deal with being belittled? Whatever happened to learning how to deal with the real world and the
  • Of course "the use of technology to undertake some conduct does not in itself create an offense." But publishing always requires technology. That's why there's a difference between slander and libel: the harm is different when technology (the "press") is used to lie in public.

    Of course, the main harm is not the technology, but the publishing, by whatever means. Some publishing does more and different harm than others. But when people do harm by doing it in public, that's a police matter. Police are required

    • by jittles (1613415)

      Police are required to protect the public, especially in public.

      I'm afraid you are mistaken on that one. The police are not required to protect anyone, and you had better not rely on them in a dangerous situation. At least, in the US the Supreme Court [nytimes.com] says that the police don't have to protect anything! Maybe it is different in other countries.

  • really? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by PopeRatzo (965947)

    Tasmania's police force has taken the unusual step of ...

    Wait, Tasmania's a real place?

  • by just another AC (2679463) on Monday July 16, 2012 @12:11PM (#40663633)

    This basically boils down to something we have seen countless times over the years.

    A new law came in, in response to something awful happening, someone who is being harrassed (via the internet) to the point that they commit suicide.

    The police were doing what I think was the appropriate thing, realising that it was probably youths that were more at risk, started a campaign to educate them about the fact that online harrassment can be criminal. So far so good...

    But society doesn't change overnight. It takes time. Right now we are at the point where we are accepting of the fact that it is indeed wrong. We are accepting of the fact that there is some line that when crossed makes it criminal. If it does not reach that line, it is still frowned upon but we should not report it to law enforcement. In people's mad dash to be politically correct and overly sensitive, they are reporting stuff that should merely be frowned upon and gotten over. Eventually they will find the appropriate equilibrium and in the mean time the police have told the public they need to push that line towards the more serious occassions of cyber-bullying.

    Other examples are when sexual harrassment gained widespread acceptance people would threaten to call police over once off jokes, or a glance held for a second too long. We as a society have now (MOSTLY) worked this out, using other means of punishment, in that sexual harrassment is still frowned upon but police aren't deluged with frivolous instances.

    The only bit I don't understand is that we already had harrassment laws. Why do we need a seperate law for "harrassment on the internet"? But then again I don't understand why we need separate patents for "(existing process) on the internet" either

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What can you do? I had people impersonating me and causing all sorts of grief for me on facebook (not to mention a group of people who took it upon themselves to attack and harass me at one point in my life - reason given, to reduce my popularity with people). I had one of my neighbours from up the road asking about my type of phone and if I had spy cameras up. Some of my neighbours started refusing to talk to me and started giving me dirty looks etc. A short time later a friend alerted me to someone who

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