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Former Australian Cop Wants Jail For Internet Trolls 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-mad,-mate? dept.
beaverdownunder writes "A former police officer in the Australian state of Victoria has called on law enforcement to prosecute creators of hate pages on social media following Facebook's decision to close down a page mocking Jill Meagher, the 29-year-old Melbourne woman abducted and killed last month. Susan McLean, who spent 27 years with Victoria Police before launching her cyber safety consultancy three years ago, said police have the ability to prosecute the creators of pages that are in breach of Australian laws but appear to be unwilling to use it. 'There have been many cases in the UK where these people have been hunted down and charged and jailed. We need to do that in Australia.' Under section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, it is an offense to use 'a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense,' punishable by three years in jail."
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Former Australian Cop Wants Jail For Internet Trolls

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:04PM (#41685511)

    Eat shit and die !!

  • *shiver* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loopy (41728) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:07PM (#41685541) Journal

    The world is a big, mean, scary place full of ill-intentioned people who will take advantage of the uneducated and the less-vigilant.

    s/people/governments/ig

    Question: do you think it is easier to defend yourself against hateful onslaught by ill-intentioned individuals or against governments that will take away your life, liberty and property just because you aren't toeing the party line? Follow-up: what do you suppose are some of the best ways to defend against tyranny? /popcorn

    • Re:*shiver* (Score:5, Funny)

      by swanzilla (1458281) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:14PM (#41685645) Homepage

      Follow-up: what do you suppose are some of the best ways to defend against tyranny?

      Moat. Can't go wrong with a moat.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        I fill mine with alligators. To ensure I am not liable I have signs posted every 5 ft that say "BEWARE OF MOAT ALLIGATORS".

      • by Githaron (2462596)
        Actually, I think it might be cool to have a moat.
      • by rvw (755107)

        Follow-up: what do you suppose are some of the best ways to defend against tyranny?

        Moat. Can't go wrong with a moat.

        Yes you can! [poopreport.com]

      • Re:*shiver* (Score:4, Informative)

        by horza (87255) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:51PM (#41686093) Homepage

        Not only do government officials get their own moats, the taxpayers have to pay to clean it [telegraph.co.uk]. "Cherchez le vache!"

        Phillip.

      • Seriously...

        The dweeb's trying to legislate humor.

        Most of it is very human and always of dubious taste.

        EG: After Columbia shuttle fateful meeting with a O-Ring weakness, what the FIRST THING I saw on the web? What does NASA stand for? "Need Another Seven Astronauts."

        This is another futile attempt to regulate people reactions. (Ask the Taliban how their campaign to stop girls from getting an education's going...)

        • What does NASA stand for? "Need Another Seven Astronauts."

          I had no access to a web or a BBS at the time, but that just caused a flood of ALL of the Challenger jokes that I knew to come flooding back. There were many of them, and virtually all of them were tasteless Christa McAuliffe jokes. I don't really think that could have possibly fallen under bullying at the time, but it seems that some lawmakers want to outlaw tasteless jokes, and with the remarkably broad language in the law as described, they may be able to try.

    • *shrug* (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PeanutButterBreath (1224570) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:28PM (#41685821)

      Question: do you think it is easier to defend yourself against hateful onslaught by ill-intentioned individuals or against governments that will take away your life, liberty and property just because you aren't toeing the party line?

      That depends very much on what systems of control and accountability are in place, in either instance.

      E.g., I know that either an anonymous stranger or government agents can invade my home or remove my access to my own property. That said, I also know which is more likely to happen. I also know my chances of having such a wrong (if it is indeed a wrong) being redressed in either instance.

      Bonus, I know which is going to help me right any wrong committed by the other.

      I notice you specify "ill-intentioned individuals" and "governments". Perhaps you think all governments are "ill intentioned"? (Honest question). Personally, I don't.

      • by fche (36607)

        "Perhaps you think all governments are "ill intentioned"? (Honest question). Personally, I don't."

        The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

        • Re:*shrug* (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @05:02PM (#41686199)
          Death by 1000 paper cuts. Sure there are despots and places that make skull monuments of the people they've killed, but the ones who are "just looking out for you" and who "know what's best for you" are the ones that are the most ill-intentioned, even if they don't think so. The well-intentioned try as they might, can't figure out why some people just won't jump on board. I mean, if you listen to the current political babblers on TV here in the US, you'd get the impression that they're downright flabbergasted that Romney isn't polling in the single digits or low teens. (I have one reason why... Obama killed an American Citizen with a drone.... pissing on the right of due process and innocence until proven guilty all in the name of "war on Terrah!") But I digress....

          That's why the US government is dismantling the Bill of Rights piece by piece... not all at once, because "we know what's best." Fuck 'em. First we start by getting the weirdos... the people who post photoshopped images of Michele Obama dry-humping a fencepost. Then we start getting those "evil nasty pirates" who spread IP around like peanut butter. Then we go after those who aren't "tolerant" of others' beliefs and rituals.... then we get a police state that rivals Orwell's vision in size, scope, and efficiency.

          So defending the trolls who are just being crass and crude is simply keeping our freedoms intact.
          • I mean, if you listen to the current political babblers on TV here in the US, you'd get the impression that they're downright flabbergasted that Romney isn't polling in the single digits or low teens. (I have one reason why... Obama killed an American Citizen with a drone.... pissing on the right of due process and innocence until proven guilty all in the name of "war on Terrah!")

            Two thoughts. First, it does depend on the station. CNN's panels have a mix of Republicans and Democrats. MSNBC and FOX are apologetically biased (FOX going as far as to demonize the rest of the media). Second, why isn't this a campaign topic? Why hasn't it been in a debate or in a Romney speech? The only reason I can think of is that he doesn't disagree with it and would do more or less the same (probably less since the whole wouldn't-have-killed-Bin-Laden thing).

            I'm not being dismissive; I really

          • Sorry, not buying the slippery slope argument. Punishing internet bullies is no more likely to lead to totalitarianism than enforcing speed limits.

            • Speech. It's not like driving. You go 66 in a 45, that's a ticket. How do you quantify an internet "bully"? Where do you draw the line?
      • by Millennium (2451)

        I don't think there are very many governments out there that are truly "ill-intentioned." They're the ones you really have to watch out for.

      • Government: Necessary Evil.

        I hear a lot of folks talk about "trusting" or having "faith" in government...and it scares the living daylights out of me. How anyone could possibly believe without a moment's thought (there's my answer) that any institution has their best interests in mind is utterly beyond me.

        The institution, by definition, lives to support itself, and those that align with it. If you do not fall into 100% lock-step with said institution, it no longer serves you. Institutions do not serve ind

        • Far more people need to understand this and have the proper disregard for their "good intentions".

          What far more people need to understand is that the American (or Australian) government is a democracy. You can point to several ways in which it is not functioning optimally, but they all boil down to the same problem -- a willfully ignorant and/or apathetic electorate. All the gripes about corporate influence, religious agendas etc., while valid criticisms of the status quo, reflect the same basic dichotomy -- either people don't bother to assess their own interests and vote accordingly, or they are and

          • Wow. Quite the jump you just pulled off there from words like "trust" and "faith", to "fear" and "dislike"... do that often??

            Oh, and in focusing on your athletics you missed the point, though I repeated it at least twice:

            There is not one person on this planet that feels the same way you do about *everything*. Therefore, not even you can support your institution 100%, as your "best interests" will not always equal the best interests of the whole...even in an institution of 2, such as marriage.

            I never said

          • by reboot246 (623534)

            What far more people need to understand is that the American (or Australian) government is a democracy.

            No, the American government is NOT a democracy, and was never meant to be one.

          • by fche (36607)

            (You need a refresher on what "democracy" actually means, and how it relates to constitutional republics, such as the USA.)

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      police have the ability to prosecute the creators of pages that are in breach of Australian laws but appear to be unwilling to use it

      ...because they know if they do they'll have every whining emo adolescent in Australia constantly on the phone asking them to "do something". Pretty soon the entire system will collapse.

    • by Dishevel (1105119)

      Well. I have decided that at least here in the US I have already at times chosen not to say things do to fear of government (local, state, federal) reprisals.
      On the current topic though...
      Who is this storm trooping ex police nazi Susan McLean?
      Is she that Susan McLean from Australia that killed 12 children and then ate their private parts?
      Or
      Is Susan McLean the Australian cop that "accidentally" killed 2 infants in a stroller?
      Does Susan McLean have anything to say about her alleged rape 6 small boys in 1999?
      I

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:07PM (#41685545)

    I know I'm wasting time and space, by pointing out that if this fascist law were to be enforced, that would be the end of free speech. This police woman's remarks offend me and have been published on the Internet, so when can I expert her to be prosecuted?

    • by erroneus (253617)

      As a law abiding person, you should expect her to turn herself in.

    • by Zemran (3101)

      Politicians???

    • I'm not in favor of jail time, but I wouldn't mind a Constiutional amendment allowing particularly egregious cases to be placed on the next national election ballot: "Shall soandso, who made fun of dying cancer child soandso2, be beaten by an orangutan?"

    • It's funny because it's true. If all laws were enforced with the same zeal as murder, civilization would end. The real mission of the police is to keep the peace, the courts enforce the law, the court has the right to take down a page if it thinks the page may prejudice the case. The Aussie cops are pretty blunt about these demands, they have stated on numerous occasions in all states, they are not interested in chasing internet trolls. They will however record your complaint in case the situation devolves
  • Do Not Want! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:10PM (#41685585)

    a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense,' punishable by three years in jail."

    Cause offense? Your existance offends me! Your funny-colored hair offends me! The fact that you're a man, woman, human, or bovine offends me! See, that's the problem with "cause offense" -- it's entirely subjective. It depends on the recipient. No free country should have a law on the books claiming things that are offensive are illegal, anymore than people should be liable for the emotional reactions of others. When you make something criminal, you need to be specific about the behavior. "Entered house with force and intent to steal." That's provable, objective, and fairly unambiguous. "Caused emotional distress" can't be proven, it's totally subjective, and highly ambiguous. In any criminal test, you have to ask yourself: Could a reasonable person determine ahead of time that the behavior in question was (unambiguously) illegal?

    Kill this law with fire, and while you're at it, tell the legislator to fuck off, eat a bag of dicks, and that his face is ugly. But be sure to put a smiley face at the end... we wouldn't want to sound... offensive. In other news, please enjoy this politically, culturally, and sexually correct joke:

    ___________________________________

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:26PM (#41685787)
      A priest, a minister, a rabbi and a polar bear walk into a bar. Bartender says: "What is this, some kind of joke?".
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        That's offensive to drunk clergymen. I'm afraid you're going to have to go with:
        Someone walked into a bar and said "Ouch!"

    • Let's stay on topic.

      These are people who are misrepresenting the truth, often creating online profiles as people whom they actually are not, and that action is hurtful to society.

      It's not a simple case of "I don't like that."

      Done here.

      • Re:Do Not Want! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @05:08PM (#41686273)

        These are people who are misrepresenting the truth, often creating online profiles as people whom they actually are not, and that action is hurtful to society.

        If misrepresenting the truth is a crime, anyone who's a politician or politically active is a criminal. Creating online profiles as people who they are not means a lot of people who only use Facebook to play Farmville are now criminals. And my definition of hurtful to society depends on an objective, clear, and unambiguous hurt -- like cutting off someone's arm, stealing their car, etc. There's a clear loss there. "Someone lied to me!" isn't harming society to the extent that it needs to be regulated behavior.

        And your definition completely omits from its definition of a crime the person's intent in doing those things. I consider that pretty important in determining what should be a crime and what shouldn't be. So do most criminal defense attorneys, judges, and law enforcement... they want to see criminal intent, not just "oops"

      • OK, but this is not trolling. This is bullying and/or harassment.

    • Re:Do Not Want! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:39PM (#41685973)

      You countered your own argument:

      "Could a reasonable person determine ahead of time that the behavior in question was (unambiguously) illegal?"

      A reasonable person could. Sure as with all tests of reasonableness there's going to be a nebulous area between hey, that's ok, and hey holy shit you crossed a line. But so what? As long as the penalty for treading into the nebula is appropriate. (read: small -- community service, small fine, a warning the first time...) I'm fine with 'a test of reasonableness'.

      No free country should have a law on the books claiming things that are offensive are illegal, anymore than people should be liable for the emotional reactions of others.

      Right. As teens my friends and I thought it was hilarious to call that 11 year old boy a faggot every time any of us saw him - it was so funny we got the whole grade 6 to join in. It was just our thing. Why should we be at all liable in any way that it upset him to the point of depression and attempted suicide?

      And now when I continually proposition my hot coworker for sex and compliment her ass? She should be flattered. But now I've got this sexual harrassment charge pending. WTF!

      No free country should have a law on the books claiming that offending people are illegal, right?

      So then I posted images of holocaust mass graves, except with little penises drawn on the bodies, and each one labelled a faggot. It was hilarious, so I posted it to the local jewish temple's public forum with the subject "the faggots deserved it"

      Like what reasonable person could determine ahead of time that this was going to offend any one? Not me, that's for sure!

      Now in all serious, I -am- a proponent of free speech, and I even defend our right to say something that offends, or even to be offensive.

      But at the same time, I do think there should be tools in law for people to protect themselves from complete assholes who are just deliberately harassing them.

      There IS a balance that needs to be struck.

      • by Millennium (2451)

        Then make harassment a crime. This can be done without criminalizing any particular form of speech, thus preserving a right that should be absolute, and it has the added bonus of covering non-speech forms of harassment in the same law. The only losers in such an arrangement are the ones who want to silence people, and they deserve to lose.

        The right to bear arms doesn't shield someone from committing crimes with a weapon. Neither need the right to free speech shield someone from committing crimes by speaking

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Harrassment already is a crime. So we need to clarify what constitutes harrassment under the existing law to ensure the forms of harrassment I outlined are covered.

          But then we're just splitting hairs on semantics and legal implementation. Posting offensive messages in a forum ends up a crime either way.

      • A reasonable person could.

        So you really think if I round up a dozen people and ask them whether a given behavior is offensive, all 12 of them will agree in the substantial majority of cases that it's offensive (or not)? Because I've been watching the Presidential debates, and let me just say, even when not giving offense is at a premium, they're still regularly infuriating people in significant quantities. "A binder full of women" anyone?

        Why should we be at all liable in any way that it upset him to the point of depression and attempted suicide?

        Because being a douchebag isn't a crime. If it was, most of the people on slashdot would be on A

        • by vux984 (928602)

          So you really think if I round up a dozen people and ask them whether a given behavior is offensive, all 12 of them will agree in the substantial majority of cases that it's offensive (or not)?

          The substantial majority? yes.

          I already stipulated there was a substantial grey area between "not offensive" and "obviously offensive".

          And I already covered my ass there by stipulating that being "caught" in the grey area should be a misdemeanor at most, with even just a warning as a first "punishment".

          You're interfer

          • And I already covered my ass there by stipulating that being "caught" in the grey area should be a misdemeanor at most, with even just a warning as a first "punishment".

            I don't like the idea of anyone going to jail because what they did was in a "grey area". It doesn't matter the size of the grey area, the standard in law is beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard is we'd rather let ten guilty men go free than convict an innocent person. I cannot and will not accept your idea that there should be "grey area" crimes. "Well sir, you were close to the speed limit, so I'm going to write you a ticket that's close to the fine you'd get for actually speeding."

            Wait what? I'm not interfering with their ability to work. Its "just" their "emotional reaction" causing any issues, and according to you I'm not liable for that.

            It doesn't matter..

            • by vux984 (928602)

              I don't like the idea of anyone going to jail because what they did was in a "grey area".

              Copyright infringement depends on a jury interpreting whether your defense of what you did was fair use or not. That's often a grey area.

              "Well sir, you were close to the speed limit, so I'm going to write you a ticket that's close to the fine you'd get for actually speeding."

              The speed limit is not a grey area. Its posted and has a measurable number. (And in my opinion that's actually pretty unreasonable, because doing

    • Cause offense?

      Offensive speech is the only kind that actually needs free speech protections. Nobody bothers to challenge speech that causes no offense.

      Americans used to say, "I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it." Now it seems to be overwhelmingly, "don't rock the boat, man. What's on TV tonight?"

      • Re:Do Not Want! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:54PM (#41686131)

        Americans used to say, "I hate what you say, but I would die for your right to say it."

        Actually, that was Voltaire, a french man best known for writing such withering critiques of certain written works that the authors would commit suicide. He said "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Americans paraphrase it by just saying "free speech, fuck yeah!"

    • by Caspian (99221)

      I'm sorry, but-- having been a long-time VICTIM of trolling-- I must point out that most trolling is unambiguously INTENDED to harass and to cause emotional distress-- "for the lulz". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read some of the shit kids post on 4chan and recognise it IMMEDIATELY AND UNAMBIGUOUSLY as deliberate bullying, plain and simply-- harassment, which (yes) SHOULD be illegal.

  • Sure (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @04:16PM (#41685663)
    Sure lets all put them on a boat and ship them to an island.
  • Mrs. McLean is super mean, her IQ is but two
    Her husband married this hog
    Cause' she was surrounded by fog
    And now they live in a zoo


    Sue me.
  • Just look at US politics today. If you have a differing opinion than someone else today the other side will accuse you of hate. Once you go down the road of punishing haters with jail, suddenly you're on the road to jailing you political opponents for disagreeing with you. Congrats son, you're on the road to Tyranny.
  • I find everything Susan McLean writes offensive.

    If only there were someplace I could complain about her...

  • Won't have space in the jail to put the internet ones, just with politics and preachers they would be full in no time
  • I believe that former Australian cop is trolling us, so he would be first in line for prison!
  • The last time I read about this, the person was not yelling "Put them in jail." but rather "Off with their heads! [youtube.com]"

  • I live to see you witness the sexual murder of your entire family before someone tears your eyes out with duct tape. Legislate that, cunt.

  • Under section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, it is an offense to use 'a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense,' punishable by three years in jail."

    I'm very offended that he would suggest this. In fact I find it menacing and feel harassed. Lock him up!

  • In related news, the UK government chastened by the bad publicity following the needless prosecution of people exercising their free speech or even making jokes on Twitter, stated "There have been many cases in Australia where these people have not been hunted down and charged and jailed. We need to do that in UK".

    The government has launched a three year inquiry into whether the use of common sense could be a viable tool to be used by the prosecution services in deciding whether to jail people for telling b

  • While I'm definitely against censorship and a big supporter of freedom of speech, I still think it's reasonable to set certain limits to it. Long before the Internet there were several laws that can be seen as limiting free speech:

    - Defamation. If you maliciously spread false rumours about someone, that constitutes a crime in many jurisdictions.
    - Perjury. You're not allowed to lie under oath.
    - Causing danger to others (not sure about the English term for this). It might be illigal to shout "fire" in a
  • > Former Australian Cop Wants Jail For Internet Trolls

    Why is this news? I know a woman who thinks everyone should get free gummy bears. Her opinion isn't important either.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @05:18PM (#41686381)

    Are some of these sites people set up offensive? Sure.
    Are some of the people who set up these sites horrible people? Probably
    Should they be locked away for making a website? In most cases*, no.

    * If the person is advocating violence then that should be an offense. You have the right to say "People in Group X are stupid." You don't have the right to say "Let's round up everyone in Group X and put bullets through their brains." In addition, some of the trolling goes beyond offensive comments and lands into scary. If you're tracking people down and posting Google Earth views of their houses, or publishing information about what school their kids go to, you've crossed the line and there should be some stalking/harassment penalties invoked. This would be above and beyond setting up a "So-And-So Is A Horrible Person" website.

  • He can want in one hand and shit in the other, and see which fills up first.
  • Conveniently vague, isn't it? I'm sure it would never be abused, though.

  • Could we also actually PUNISH police when they do the wrong thing? Such as beating or even killing citizens.

    Instead, we conduct investigations, the outcomes of which we already know (the officers are exonerated, more training and investment is proposed).

    Twice this year I've seen senior police front the media and express their full confidence and support of officers accused of excessive force ... before an investigation, and before they've seen any footage of the event.

    I'm all for paying police awesome salar

  • How the hell do you get bullied on the internet? seriously. How borderline retarded do you have to be to get bullied on the freaking internet? This isn't something that's face to face. Shit! Just delete your facebook messages, emails, etc... For crying out loud don't use your real fucking name on the internet, retards. I read somewhere where a 14 year old teen boy stripped on the web cam because some dude somehow forced him through the chat to do so, how the hell does this happen? Are humans really bec

  • A few things strike me about this article:

    1. Does 474.17 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act _really_ try to ban "causing offence?" That offends me!

    2. The media seems to be a bit mixed up about the differences between trolling, bullying, and harassment. trolling is all about getting a reaction, not even necessarily a negative one. A troll would go to an Apple forum and say "I want to buy a Galaxy Tab" and then enjoy the reactions of the forum users saying that it's a bad idea. A troll would go to Slashdot and s

  • Is like a silk shirt on a pig.
  • If anything I do could be a crime, then I might as well do anything.

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