Friday, December 03, 2021

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New Stalking Bill To Stop Internet Stalking, Online Harassment and Social Networking Bullying

The new Stalking Bill might bring some good news to the tens of thousands of good, innocent people who find themselves victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying every year.

The new Stalking Bill must take account of the fact that internet stalking, harassment and bullying have become such an epidemic in recent months, with some people being driven to committing suicide because they cannot take the pressure and the shame any longer.

The police is almost powerless to help victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying because of the high costs of such investigations, as well as the costs of the extended legal process which the police is required to undergo prior to even being able to commence a serious investigation.

Ask any police officer who has got some experience in such matters and they will tell you that identification of the suspects of internet stalking, harassment and bullying constitutes a major stumbling block in even commencing an investigation. It is very difficult to investigate anything on the internet without knowing who you are investigating and without having a right to even basic access to the evidence, or, in many cases with very restricted access to the ‘crime scene’.

The new Stalking Bill should make access to identifying details of internet users who are engaged in online stalking, harassment and bullying much easier than it is at the moment.

At present, the state of the internet is one of complete anarchy. Social networking sites, blogs, forums and discussion groups are attracting ‘online rioters’ of the worst kind who (quite rightly) believe that there are no consequences to their actions.
They hide behind a veil of anonymity knowing that it will be almost impossible (especially to a vulnerable victim) to ever smoke them out. Anarchy spreads fast, so it is not surprising that we are now seeing an increase in the number of victims of internet stalking , harassment and bullying.

The new Stalking Bill is a golden opportunity for the Government to start controlling and to possibly, dramatically reduce the number of incidents of internet stalking, harassment and bullying that are devastating the lives of innocent people and their families every single day. The new Stalking Bill is an opportunity for the government to introduce ‘Online Social Responsibility’, by making access to details of those who commit these terrible acts of internet stalking, harassment and bullying, easier.

Just as with the case of the London Rioters, once the internet anarchists realise that there are in fact consequences to their antisocial behaviour and that they can be smoked out and brought in shame to justice, the number of victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying will be reduced dramatically.

In fact, many victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying will be hoping that the government will go even further with the future Stalking Bill to make access to personal details of online stalkers easier, quicker and cheaper, not just for the police but also for regular members of the public who are victims of internet stalking, harassment and bullying. The Stalking Bill should help to create a system for obtaining Identification Orders which will help victims resolve their matters through the civil courts without the need to pay expensive legal fees and without taking valuable resources away from the police.

Yair Cohen

 
 

MARY CAROLAN
Irishtimes.com

The owners of the Ballymascanlon House Hotel in Co Louth have taken a legal action for damages against internet giant Google alleging defamation of the hotel’s business and reputation via Google’s web search service.
It is alleged Google had permitted, since about March 14th 2011, the term “receivership” to automatically appear after the hotel’s trading name when a search is carried out in the autocomplete suggestions in the search bar. This suggested the hotel was in receivership or financial difficulty when it was not, the plaintiffs claim.

INTERNET giant Google has lost a landmark legal battle that is expected to open the floodgates to online litigation against anonymous online commentators.

The Supreme Court in Australia ordered Google Australia to reveal details of the owner of a website which named an entrepreneur and self-help guru Jamie McIntyre a “thieving scumbag”, the Courier-Mail reported.

It is understood the website was not one of Google’s Blogs and that Google had obtained personal details of the owner of website through its advertising program.
 
Travis Burch, a private detective who was hired by Mr McIntyre to smoke out the website’s author so he could sue for defamation, said yesterday that it was “a good day for people who don’t frankly want to be defamed on the internet”. “We’ve done a lot of work in this area and identifying and pushing trying to expose people and tracking them down through records that they leave on the Internet,” Mr Burch said. “Having a win in courts just means we’re a couple of steps closer to bringing the person to a form of justice.” He added,“the content that appeared on that website and (has) been promoted through the website is blatantly defamatory.”
 
Australian Barrister John Bryson said he believed this was the first time legal action of this kind against Google had been successful in Australia. “People need to know that they can take on the big companies, the major players, and get a win,” Mr Bryson said.

Reported in the CourierMail.com, leading communications law academic Professor Michael Fraser of the University of Technology, Sydney, said “The internet is a mainstream channel of communication now so it can’t just be like the wild west outside of the rule of law.” He added, “people can’t … be allowed to hide behind a cloak of anonymity…”

In a statement which is encouraging to victims of online defamation around the world, including UK victims of online defamation, Google Inc confirmed that it will always comply with the laws of the jurisdiction they operate in and so if a court requires them to provide the information, they will.
 
UK leading Internet law expert Yair Cohen of the Internet Law Centre  said today that “although English courts are not obliged to bind themselves by decisions of Supreme Courts in other jurisdictions, decisions such as this could still be influential on our judges, who have very little local precedents available to them to help them come to the right decision in such cases of online defamation by individuals who choose to remain anonymous.
 

Tell us what you think!

IF YOU POST ONLINE WHAT IS CONSIDERED BY THE SUBJECT OF YOUR COMMENTS TO BE A DEFAMATORY COMMENT – WOULD YOU BE HAPPY FOR YOUR IDENTITY TO BE REVEALED?
SHOULD FACEBOOK, GOOGLE AND OTHER OPERATORS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING BE COMPLETED TO PROVIDE PERSONAL DETAILS OF THEIR USERS SO THAT THE COURT CAN DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT YOUR COMMENTS WERE DEFAMATORY?
IS IT RIGHT OR WRONG TO POST ANONYMOUS ONLINE REVIEWS ABOUT ORGANISATIONS AND BUSINESSES?

Write Your Comment Now!

 
 
 
 
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Yair Cohen Social Media LawyerBy Kit Chellel Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — People who use fake names to post critical comments about companies on websites may not be as anonymous as they think, as firms use the courts to unmask online accusers. MoneySavingExpert, a British personal finance site with 5 million readers, was forced to hand over personal details about three users calling themselves Againstjpc, GomerPyle and Ladybirds, following a London court ruling in August. The three wrote comments on the website accusing JPC Group Sales Ltd., an affiliate of a U.K. publishing company, of being a “criminal enterprise” and “a scam,” the company said in court filings.  Read More

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In a first case of its kind, Magistrates’ have jailed a man who posted abusive images to online memorials dedicated to dead children. The man was jailed for 18 weeks and was banned from participating in social networking for a period of five years.

At Court, Sean Duffy, 25 from Reading, admitted to posting images on Facebook and YouTube, making a mockery of the deaths of four children, including 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde who committed suicide.

Sean Duffy online harassment conviction came after Mr Duffy admitted to the court that he had posted a video on YouTube called Tasha the Tank Engine shortly after the teenager was found dead on a railway line near her home in Worcestershire.

Paul Warren, the Chairman of the bench which sentenced Duffy, said: “This case serves to illustrate the harm and damage done by the malicious misuse of social networking sites.”

The court heard that Duffy, has been suffering from alcohol problems and has Asperger syndrome.

This prosecution, says harassment lawyer, Yair Cohen,  was brought under section 127 of the Malicious Communications Act 2003 which made it an offence for a person to use public electronic communications networks, such as telephone and internet to send or communicate grossly offensive material to others, as well as to send or communicate material which is offensive, indecent or obscene.

This law (section 127 of the Malicious Communications Act 2003) is unique in the sense that the offence is committed upon the act of communication and a person would be committing the offense even in the event that the communication was not received by the intended recipient or was intercepted prior to anyone actually taking offence to the subject matter.

This latest prosecution of Sean Duffy at Reading Magistrates’ Court may signal the beginning of a new line of prosecution by the police of internet related offences,  which will be great news to tens of thousands of UK victims of internet defamation and abuse, and in particular to those vulnerable victims who are not in a financial position to be able to afford expensive civil proceedings.

Can a criminal court judge force a defendant to remove harassing and defamatory internet posts? The answer to this question might be surprising. Read Removing harassment from the internet

Cohen Davis facilicate another online harassment conviction

Yair Cohen, Internet  Law Expert

Author: Yair Cohen

 
 

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