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Australia Attorney General Proposes New Laws To Stop Twitter Trolls 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the tweet-nicely dept.
CuteSteveJobs writes "Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has flagged new laws to end anonymous trolling via Twitter: 'Twitter should reveal the identities of the anonymous trolls who are breaking the law by abusing others online.' The new laws were proposed after trolls attacked Footballer Robbie Farah. Farah was later granted a meeting with the Prime Minister to to discuss social media abuse. Ironically today it was revealed that Farah himself had trolled the Prime Minister telling her to 'Get a Noose' on her 50th birthday."
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Australia Attorney General Proposes New Laws To Stop Twitter Trolls

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  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by simplexion (1142447) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:04AM (#41321385)
    This isn't going to end well for Roxon.
  • by rexkbh2100 (2709583) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:06AM (#41321395)
    Really, everyone know's trolls don't really exist! I check under every bridge I cross and I've never found one. Silly people.
  • by DiamondGeezer (872237) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:08AM (#41321401) Homepage
    Who gets to decide what is, and is not, trolling? Will trolling be a crime, and under what statute? How much will the "troll patrol" cost?
    • by niftydude (1745144) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:16AM (#41321421)

      Who gets to decide what is, and is not, trolling? Will trolling be a crime, and under what statute? How much will the "troll patrol" cost?

      Clearly, if they don't like you, everything you say will be considered trolling, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, if they do like you, everything you say will be considered witty, charming, innovative and magical.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:01AM (#41321587)

        Who gets to decide what is, and is not, trolling? Will trolling be a crime, and under what statute? How much will the "troll patrol" cost?

        Clearly, if they don't like you, everything you say will be considered trolling, and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, if they do like you, everything you say will be considered witty, charming, innovative and magical.

        So, they'll have Slashdotters with mod points enforcing the law?

        Oh God! That would mean all the Linux, GNU and F/OSS critics will be put to death!

        • by RaceProUK (1137575) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:33AM (#41321733)

          So, they'll have Slashdotters with mod points enforcing the law?

          *sings* It's the end of the world as we know it

        • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:26AM (#41321949) Journal

          Imposing general Slashdot culture on history would be fun. Take the Gettysburg Address. It would have begun with Lincoln saying "I know I'll be modded to oblivion for this", and thoughtful and useful responses would be interspersed with bizarrely off topic and fanatical support or criticism of the then most popular manufacturer of buggies and saddles.

          • We never would have left the caves.

            "Spears? Arrows? Pfft! Shiny nonsense for lazy people! Running up to a sabertooth tiger or mammoth or potential wife and bashing it with a rock was good enough for me and it's good enough for you kids! Now get off my patch of dirt!"

            • We never would have left the caves.

              You're an adult male and you don't have a cave? - get one, they are (historically) very cheap at the moment. If a cave girl moves in and wrecks the decor, get a small cave out the back and tell the little monkeys to stay out of it.

      • by gsslay (807818)

        And whether they like you or not will be dependant on whether what you say is trolling or not.

        At what point you enter this circular reasoning is optional, but the result is the same; restrictions on free speech.

    • > Who gets to decide what is, and is not, a crime? Will anything be a crime, and under what statute? How much will the "crime patrol" cost? In other words, it's a combination of the police, the justice system and elected representatives. Just like every other act that causes enough distress amongst others to be considered a "crime".
    • by udachny (2454394)

      What do you mean, who? /. moderators get to decide [slashdot.org]

    • by HJED (1304957)
      hm, especially since the media has been reporting that they can allready be charged for "harrasment using a carriage service".
    • by KalvinB (205500)

      The same people who decide what is and isn't harassment: the victims who report it. And then the police either say "yep" or "nope."

      The difference is that "on the internet" harassment can be blocked. In "real life" that can be much more difficult.

    • Fortunately the estate of Eduard Khil is safe because was not trolling, he was trolololling.

      A 2012 edition of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL8CD8PjVmA [youtube.com]

  • by The_Myth (84113) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:09AM (#41321405)

    The interesting thing that a lot of Australian Internet Users miss is that we (Australians) do not have a provision garanteeing or protecting free speech. All internet posts are pretty much covered under the libel and slander laws.

    • by bug1 (96678)

      But if the servers are in a different country...

      • by Vylen (800165) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:45AM (#41321521)

        The location of the server doesn't matter when it comes to defamation law in Australia. The test case was Dow Jones & Co. Inc. v Gutnick.

        Despite the article in question that allegedly defamed Australian Joseph Gutnick, was published by an American company and provided via American servers, the case of defamation was allowed to be tried in the Australian state of Victoria. The key point being that the defamation occurs at the place the communication is received (in this case, Australia), not where it is stored.

    • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:45AM (#41321525)

      Farah (a footballer) has demanded new laws and the Prime Minister (a lawyer) and Attorney-General (also a lawyer) agreed. It took journalist John Birmingham to point out to them there are already laws against this: Section 474.17 of the Commonwealth criminal code creates an offense, punishable by imprisonment for three years, of using a carriage service, and yes the internet counts, in such a way that a reasonable person would consider it “menacing, harassing or offensive”.. People have gone to jail. What more do they want? http://m.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/time-to-take-a-deep-breath-before-jumping-on-trolls-20120910-25o81.html [smh.com.au]

      Free Speech is weak in Australia because there is no bill of rights and defamation laws are so tough you can't say anything bad about anyone which is a real problem if you are a journalist, let alone a twitterer.
      https://www.efa.org.au/Issues/Censor/defamation.html [efa.org.au]
      http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Resources/medialaw_in_australia_02.html [thenewsmanual.net]
      http://www.law.uts.edu.au/comslaw/factsheets/defamation.html [uts.edu.au]

      • MORE POWER!
      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I would guess that they want more reason to track you and intercept and record all of your communications.

      • by asifyoucare (302582) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:24AM (#41321933)

        Farah (a footballer) has demanded new laws and the Prime Minister (a lawyer) and Attorney-General (also a lawyer) agreed.>

        And this same Farah once tweeted to the Prime Minister that she should get herself a noose for her birthday. He is a dumb hypocrite.

        P.S. This is the worst Australian government of my lifetime. Even if I agreed with their policies, and I don't, I'd despise them for their incompetence. They like to busy themselves in all sorts of minor matters and bugger it up every time.

      • ...which is a real problem if you are a journalist, let alone a twitterer.

        The correct adjective is "twit". HTH.

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        Free Speech is weak in Australia because there is no bill of rights and defamation laws are so tough you can't say anything bad about anyone which is a real problem if you are a journalist, let alone a twitterer.

        You can say bad things all you want, you just can't be defamatory.

        (For the life of me I cannot understand people who think the point of free speech is so you can hurl abuse at others.)

      • Try saying the same in the USA where there is free speech and you will still get the same result

        In the US speech is free the result is punishable by Defamation, it's just the laws are weaker ....

    • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:57AM (#41321575)

      The interesting thing that a lot of Australian Internet Users miss is that we (Australians) do not have a provision garanteeing or protecting free speech. All internet posts are pretty much covered under the libel and slander laws.

      The interesting part is that this is a myth.

      Speech is one of the five fundamental freedoms [immi.gov.au] that every Australian is entitled to. The other four are Association, Assembly, Movement and Religion. Feel free to have a read.

      What we don't have is a US style bill of rights, but just like the US's bill of rights Australia's five fundamental freedoms is only as good as the people who defend it (it's for this reason I believe Oz doesn't need a bill of rights).

      • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:20AM (#41321663)
        So you think you have free speech because a government web site says you do? Let's look at that a little deeper:
        http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/choose-australia/about-australia/five-freedoms.htm [immi.gov.au]

        " Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write ... ",
        Sounds good, but you can do anything within the bounds of the law. Here's an equivalent sentence I just made up:-
        " Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to kill anyone they like, at any time ..." (which is true, assuming there's a law that says a soldier is allowed to kill someone else, and the "Australian" in question in my sentence happens to be one, and feel like killing an enemy...)

        Their quote continues:
        " Free speech comes from facts, not rumours "
        Which I could legitimately re-write as so:-
        " Australia has laws to prevent you from saying anything you cannot prove. You are not free to spread rumours which you suspect but cannot prove because you are missing information (more on that below)." And God helps anyone who gives you that missing information!

        And more:
        " and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. "
        LOL. You have the right to speak out, so long as you are constructive to your opponents and do not harm them.
        Sounding less and less "free" to me...

        It continues:
        " There are laws to protect a person's good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. "

        At what point do we draw the line and drop the word "Free" entirely I wonder?

        And it ends with a doozy:
        " Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others" (even if they deserve it!)

        So basically, you can do anything that's as fucked up and stupid as you like, because nobody is allowed to tell anyone else about it, because it might harm you...

        James Ashby who is now facing 10 years in prison: "Mr Slipper's lawyers suggested James Ashby could have breached sections of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which prohibits public servants from publishing or communicating internal documents without authorisation." Free speech my arse

        http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/political-news/staffer-could-face-10-years-for-sharing-slippers-diary-20120706-21mna.html [canberratimes.com.au]
        • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @06:51AM (#41322057)

          James Ashby who is now facing 10 years in prison: "Mr Slipper's lawyers suggested James Ashby could have breached sections of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which prohibits public servants from publishing or communicating internal documents without authorisation." Free speech my arse

          Interesting that you have already tried and convicted Arby. Considering that article specifically states that the Federal Court has not decided to refer the matter to the AFP.

          Also funny how you neglect to mention that the charge is not "saying what he liked" it's a violation of the Commonwealth Crimes Act. From the fine article you posted

          Mr Slipper's lawyers suggested the former media adviser could have breached sections of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, which prohibits public servants from publishing or communicating internal documents without authorisation.

          So he didn't exercise free speech, he used his position to leak sensitive documents to political rivals. He was given access to senstive information and abused that trust, name me a single nation that wouldn't consider that at least in part, criminal. But nice try to make it all about "TEH FREEDOMS(TM)".

          Besides this, he hasn't even been charged and the maximum sentence is two years but we all know he wont even get a slap on the wrist if convicted (he's lost his public service job already though).

          " There are laws to protect a person's good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. "

          This does not inhibit your speech. You can still make false and misleading claims against other people. This clause merely says you can and will be held accountable for what you say.

          And it ends with a doozy: " Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others" (even if they deserve it!)

          Really, a "doozy".

          So you honestly expect to be able to hurt other people and then hide behind "MAH FREEDOMZ(TM)" when they want to harm you back.

          Get real sunshine. Free speech is not here to protect people who abuse it, this is the "fire in a crowded theatre" bit. You can shout "fire" in a crowded theatre but you are responsible for the panic it creates.

          Finally, I just love how you left out this part.

          We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest.

          Which is key to what is being discussed here.

          • >Finally, I just love how you left out this part.
            >> We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest.
            >Which is key to what is being discussed here.

            Where are you getting your information from? Don't read it off another government web site. Ask a journalist instead. The government doesn't need to censor the media because it self-censors. Journalists are very restricted in what they can report: If they publish or posses a leaked government document they can be
          • by Hatta (162192)

            This does not inhibit your speech. You can still make false and misleading claims against other people. This clause merely says you can and will be held accountable for what you say.

            Like the GP post said, you can restate this argument to claim that you have "freedom of murder" which you clearly don't. Since you missed it the first time:

            "This does not inhibit your killing. You can still kill other people. This clause merely says you can and will be held accountable for people you kill."

            Now, are you going

        • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @10:04AM (#41324127)

          " Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write ... ", Sounds good, but you can do anything within the bounds of the law. Here's an equivalent sentence I just made up...

          And what country on this planet has completely unrestricted "free speech"? None.

          Let me guess: You're American?

          Let me demonstrate my Australian free speech: Fuck off.

      • by HJED (1304957)
        From your link:

        Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person's good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.

        Some very intresting wording on that site... what we do have is constituationally protected speach with regard to politics as the High Court rulled that the constitutions' guarentee of democratic elections cover this.

        tl;dr: political trolls will be fine or will have some very intresting court battles, its already illegal for most other forms of trolling

        • by mjwx (966435)

          From your link:

          Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person's good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.

          Some very intresting wording on that site... what we do have is constituationally protected speach with regard to politics as the High Court rulled that the constitutions' guarentee of democratic elections cover this.

          tl;dr: political trolls will be fine or will have some very intresting court battles, its already illegal for most other forms of trolling

          What this simply says is that you will be accountable for what you say. It does not inhibit your rights to say it, rather it makes you aware that if you spread false and malicious information you cant hide behind free speech to avoid the consequences. This is the "fire in a crowded theatre" bit of free speech.

          I.E., If I printed "HJED loved to beat his wife" on the front page of the SMH, you'd have a right to sue unless I had hard evidence that you enjoyed beating your wife.

          • by HJED (1304957)
            Whilst you example is valid, it also includes other things which are a bit more contriversial, such as what is interpreted as 'terorist publications', as supposed to religouse or political publications, etc.
          • And who gets to decide what information is 'false' or 'malicious?' Would you trust any authority with that power?
    • by jittles (1613415)

      The interesting thing that a lot of Australian Internet Users miss is that we (Australians) do not have a provision garanteeing or protecting free speech. All internet posts are pretty much covered under the libel and slander laws.

      Most countries do not protect libel and slander through free speech. In the US, or UK, or Australia I could not knowingly lie and defame someone without being liable for my actions. In fact, with freedom comes responsibility. You really are free to say whatever you want, but you must face the consequence of your actions if you do something that violates the rights of another. However, I do think that this law sounds a bit much. People have been trolling anonymously since the invention of the printing p

  • Internet only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@mave t j u . org> on Thursday September 13, 2012 @04:17AM (#41321425) Homepage

    Or will they also go after the shockjocks and the printed media?

  • A Twitter user or troll found to ''menace, harass or cause offence'' using the social networking medium could be jailed for up to three years.

    Yeah, because offence is never a subjective thing used for censorship - such as when cries of "blasphemy!" are hurled around at the first criticism of cherished beliefs.

    It's bullshit. Harassment and threats are already taken care of under law, and should be taken seriously. I'm not a fan of twats on the Internet thinking they can issue threats with impunity, but also not seeing a need for yet another fucking law to remove freedom of speech in favour of people who take offence at near enough anything.

  • Just make sure people know whatever they say online can be used against them, possibly forever. The very, very least needed is pseudonymity as here on ./. But I guess the raise of the ACs observable recently shows that a lot of people do not even trust that. Chilling effects indeed.

  • by GeekWithAKnife (2717871) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:06AM (#41321603)
    The irony is that if Nicola Roxon posted this on twitter it would have had to be removed due to trolling. Because really, how do you draw the line between trolling and comments you dislike or anger you and your fat mother?
  • Was the famous Michael Atkinson. There was a massive backlash and he was forced to repeal it a rush. I suspect the same might happen here once the public realise the implications of such a law.

    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/victory-atkinson-loosens-gag/story-e6frea6u-1225826104175 [adelaidenow.com.au]

  • Intimidation (Score:4, Informative)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @05:11AM (#41321621) Homepage

    The identity of a supposed troll has no legitimate use to the recipient of those identities if not to take legal action.
    So if no legal action is taken, revealing identities has no justifiable purpose. Unless the "justification" is vigilante justice.

    • I like your black & white world; mine has too many shades of gray.

      I agree most enthusiastically, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY was just too much.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      in all practicality, the police can already ask twitter for the id's.

      and in all practicality it should be the police who get the id's in such cases. not random people.

      identity theft anyone? just look up some celebs twitter and ask for the id claiming they're trolling.

  • My main fear with this type of law is that it could be extended to protect businesses.

    Just imagine how many people Microsoft would be able to sue, for causing offence?

    Of course, the other concern is the exact interpretation of "causing offense" is not clear. This is bad for Free Speech, as other posters have mentioned.

    • by SQL Error (16383)

      So the fact that it's a unconscionable infringement on fundamental liberties doesn't worry you, but the possibility of the law being upheld consistently does?

  • Ignore. Them.

    Troll them back for larfs, maybe?

    Or perhaps just understand that there's a difference between something published by a well-credentialed masthead with a long reputation for quality journalism and a throw-away 140-character blurb from @axethetax.

    Come on, people. A bit of skill in discrimination when it comes to dots on a screen, please.

  • Always trying to one-up Mother England. And no, this isn't trolling, or even an opinion, it's a simple statement of fact. Road traffic, privacy, speech, assembly, commerce, think-of-the-children censorship, gambling, personal and domestic defence: Australia leads the "1st world" in suppressing, oppressing and treating its citizens like children who are incapable of fending or thinking for themselves.

    Welcome to the future, where all the corners are rounded and running with scissors is a felony.

  • Since your first laws didn't immediately produce a well ordered, polite society of Internet users, maybe realize that you can't legislate taste or manners, and STFU?

  • Grown adults whining and moaning that they're not worshiped as gods. Well fuck them.

  • Instead of all this rigamarole, why don't they just block all requests for the Twitter domains on their DNS servers? That will solve all these problems.
  • by Antarius (542615) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @07:38AM (#41322337)
    I'd like to know what sort of person that Farah was, growing up.

    I wouldn't mind betting that I'm like a lot of slashdotters - was physically bullied during high school by athletes such as Farah, to the point that the thought of going to school made me physically ill and I contemplated suicide to escape the (seemingly) never-ending physical and mental abuse.

    I'm disgusted by Trolls too, don't get me wrong. But I want to know if Farah is "without sin" (clearly he's not, at least in Gillard's case) before I give him an ounce of sympathy for "being bullied."
  • by jest3r (458429) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @07:58AM (#41322509)

    that Australians are Dumb, Drunk and Racist ... so this type of thing is not surprising really.

  • @SilenceDogood Men are just as guilty as us RT @New-England-Courant Seeking comments on female vices

    (insert young Ben Franklin troll face)

  • Mommy... he's teasing me and he won't stop. Sheesh! All the world over, politicians are kindergarden babies. I'm in the USA and this story could have just as easily happened here, and I believe anywhere. Mommy, he's poking fun of our (Insert whatever here), Make him stop. MAKE HIM STOP. WAAAH, WAAAH.

    Unfortunately, we can't just drag politicians out of the restaurant of public discourse and give them a bottle or something.

  • by WaffleMonster (969671) on Thursday September 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#41325743)

    I've noticed lately Australia seems to be reverting to its roots as a penal colony. So sad to see soo many countries go down the route of talking "freedom" while acting to limit speech they don't agree with.

    The real measure of freedom is societies ability to tolerate the bullshit of others. A society which believes it is acceptable to act like children and yell mommy everytime someone calls you a fat smelly hobgoblin will get what it deserves.

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