As the founder of the Trolling Academy, I felt I had to write to warn about my findings of a recent freedom of information request to South Wales Police.
I asked them how many harassment warnings they are issued in the last year and the answer was 1760! They wouldn’t confirm what these were issued for, but in effect that is over 1,700 people who will be unlikely to be able to work with children and vulnerable adults for over 100 years!
I think readers should make sure they spread the message that if one is served with one of these ‘warnings’ they should refuse to accept it and seek legal advice from a family law solicitor. Accepting one of these is an admission of guilt, the same as a caution, which in many cases people are not guilty. More often than not they have simply exercised free speech in a way that offended someone, as in the case of Reece Messer who received a warning for simply telling Tom Daley he let his late father down by not winning a medal.
A company has been set-up called CRB Problems Limited (crbproblems.co.uk) and I recommend those who unknowingly accepted one of these harassment warnings not being aware they were a caution to contact them. In most cases if the police tried to bring a case for harassment they wouldn’t meet the ‘thresholds.’ So they, in my view, see these cautions as an easy way to gull the law-abiding public into improving their crime figures.
Tackling Internet abuse in Great Britain: Towards a framework for classifying severities of ‘flame trolling’July 1st, 2012 by Jonathan Bishop
While trolling has existed as a term since the 1990s and as a reality even earlier there has been an exponential increase in the prevalence of the abusive kind – ‘flame trolling’. Mistakenly the media calls these flame trollers, ‘trolls’, when in fact there are more often than not ‘Snerts’ and ‘E-Vengers’. The justice system in Great Britain has taken a sporadic approach to dealing with flame trolling, and the wide range of legislation that has existed since the 1980s has no strategic method to assign its usage on the basis of the nature of the flame trolling as its use often depends on the whim of different police forces. This paper hopes to change this. After a brief presentation of the background of Internet trolling in Great Britain and in general a new framework is presented. This allows prosecutors to easily classify flame trolling based on the facts of the case and pick the appropriate level based on the severity.
Bishop, J. (2012). Tackling Internet abuse in Great Britain: Towards a framework for classifying severities of ‘flame trolling’. The 11th International Conference on Security and Management (SAM’12), 16-19 July 2012, USA.
You can download this paper at this link.
GROWING incidents of online bullying and internet fraud have led to a massive growth in e-crimes reported to South Wales Police.
Officers have seen a phenomenal 15,000% growth in crime involving the web over the past five years.
In 2007, just eight incidents of cyber crime were logged whereas in 2011 the figure reached 1,207.
The data, released under the Freedom of Information Act, shows police were recording more than five e-crimes a day at its peak last year in 2010.
The number of e-crimes has risen each year between 2007 and 2010, but last year fell from 1,976 recorded incidents to 1,207.
Detective Inspector Dave Runnalls, of South Wales Police’s economic crime unit, said: “There are a number of reasons for the growth in reported cases of e-crime in South Wales, principally the force has changed the way in which it identifies this type of criminal activity.
“However, the incidents of e-crime have also increased nationally, which relates to the fact that online purchasing has massively increased.” DI Runnalls said criminals may pose as a legitimatewebsite then use a “phishing” technique to steal credit card details, or to obtain cash for goods victims never receive.
“Theft, fraud, forgery and blackmail are all examples of crimes that can take place on the web, and hackers may strike from thousands of miles away,” he added.
A spokeswoman for e-Crime Wales said: “As awareness of e-crime has increased over the last five years so has the increase in reporting e-crime as consumers and businesses are now more aware of the risks and are better able to identify and report them.”
Internet expert Jonathan Bishop,who runs the anti-bullying website Crocels Trolling Academy, said: “With each new wave of technology comes new opportunities for [criminals] to target others.
“Whereas once people who attacked others on the internet would either go unchallenged or be brought under a dedicated act – such as on race – police are now starting to make use of data misuse legislation.”
YOUNG PEOPLE TARGETED BY INTERNET BULLYING
MORE than a third of young people have been affected by cyberbullying, but many do not tell anyone, research suggests.
A study commissioned by the Diana Award children’s organisation found that 38% of young people had been victims of, or knew someone who had been a victim of, cyber-bullying. Of these, 39% said they had experienced cyber-bullying once or twice.
Yet it is not just young people who are victims of cyber-bullying – a number of Welsh celebrities have also come under attack on the internet.
Glamour model Imogen Thomas, opera star Katherine Jenkins and rugby great Gareth Thomas have all in the past been targeted on social networking sites. The most recent high profile case of cyber-bullying involved football legend John Hartson – he decided to quit Twitter after several incidents earlier this year.
David Blunkett has spoken about how he felt his Labour Government faltered in tackling cybercrime.
As I showed in a research paper in the International Review of Law, Computers and Technology in 2010, New Labour did not fail in putting law on the statute books to deal with Internet abuse.
The problem they had was they created lots of offences that the police then felt was a low priority for enforcement. It is my view that for serious trolling offences police officers should be more like GPs/Solicitors and diagnose problems and then specialist agencies like the Serious Organised Crime Agency should be paid by those police out of their precept to take the case on.
The police are generalists and not specialists, and we don’t need to create huge geographical police forces as Charles Clarke suggested in order to get the specialism needed to tackle organised crime, which is often across frontiers that the geographic police service we have can’t cope with and thus creates a post-code lottery.
There is a link in many of our minds that there is a strong link between youth unemployment and crime. We have some of the most severe economic conditions at present and I hope to tackle it over the next community council term.
I would propose to the council to use the powers given to them by New Labour under the Safe Communities and Environment Act to do this. This would involve giving young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) the chance to take part in Modern Apprenticeships in Team Leading and Customer Service by giving them fixed-penalty notice issuing powers. This would mean young people would be at the heart of cleaning up the community by acting as a deterrent to abuse to the community and an enforcement where the deterrent wasn’t strong enough.
Tough on data misuse, tough on the causes of data misuse: A review of New Labour’s approach to information security and regulating the misuse of digital information (1997–2010)November 1st, 2011 by Jonathan Bishop
Bishop, J. (2010). Tough on data misuse, tough on the causes of data misuse: A review of New Labour’s approach to information security and regulating themisuse of digital information (1997–2010). International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 24 (3), pp. 299–308
New Labour was a description of a particular approach to government of the British Labour Party, which was in power in the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2010.While this government initially envisaged an end to the social causes of misdemeanours, its actions led to a greater number of laws on the statute bookscreating thousands of statutory offences. A small number of these had direct effectson the number of computer related offences that were able to be prosecuted. This paper reviews these laws, and the role of legal systems in responding to theincreasing number of misdemeanours that are occurring in computer environments for which New Labour’s approach of creating more statutory offences has not addressed.
You can download this paper by using this link.
All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United KingdomSeptember 2nd, 2011 by Jonathan Bishop
Bishop, J. (2011). All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United Kingdom. In: Alfreda Dudley, James Braman and Giovanni Vincenti (Eds.) Investigating Cyber Law and Cyber Ethics: Issues, Impacts and Practices. New York: IGI Global.
Constitutional and Administrative Law is a core component of legal studies throughout the world, but to date little has been written about how this might exist on the Internet, which is like a world without frontiers. John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” served to start the debate about the legitimacy of nation-states to impose laws on such a virtual space. It has been argued that the nation-states won as there are now a significant number of laws regulating the Internet on national and international levels. It can however be seen that there are commonalities between the two entities. For example, there are commonalities in the way they function. There are also commonalities in the way civil rights exist, and the existence of civil remedies and law enforcement. These are all explored in the chapter, which also presents two concepts about the authority of the state in regulating behaviour in online communities. One of them, “sysop prerogative,” says that owners of website can do whatever they want so long as they have not had it taken away by law or given it away by contract. The second, ‘The Preece Gap’, says that there is a distance between the ideal usable and sociable website that the users want and that which the owners of the website provide in practice. Two other concepts are also introduced, “the Figallo effect” and the “Jimbo effect.” The former describes an online community where users use their actual identities and sysop prerogative is delegated to them. The latter describes those where sysop prerogative is exercised by one or more enforcers to control users who use pseudonyms. The chapter concludes that less anonymity and a more professionalised society are needed to bridge the gap between online and offline regulation of behavior.
You can download this paper by using this link.
I read with hopefulness the front-page story that teenagers from South Wales were going to be safe from online predators (â€œDad sets up safe â€˜new Facebookâ€™ websiteâ€, March 31). But the devil is in the detail as they say.
If I could bring to readersâ€™ attention a shocking fact â€“ browsing Googleâ€™s statistics websites Google Trends, there has been a decrease in searches for obscene images of children at the same rate there has been an increase in searches for social networking.
This suggests to me that sex offenders are fulfilling their sordid fantasies by pretending to be children and befriending them on these sites.
To road-testing of southwaleskids.com by journalist Ed Walker shows how even Hywel Danceâ€™s site is open to abuse.
As Ed showed, it is a piece of cake for someone to pretend to be a pupil at a school and invite others to be â€œfriendsâ€ with them. Without a system to verify the pupilâ€™s identity, Hywelâ€™s site is as open to abuse as Facebook.
I recently made a speech on the need for greater identity protection in order to protect vulnerable people online. I argued that there should be a special bank card that only children can have, and that they can only use social networking sites like Hywelâ€™s if they verify their identity with that card and their parent/guardian uses their credit card to give them the permission to use it. This would make it much more difficult for predators to gain access to children online.
There is currently a European Union consultation on the role of technology to protect peopleâ€™s identity online. I invite readers to take part and let the EU know that, whatever the ideal of anonymity online, the safety of our children comes first. The consultation is at tinyurl.com/eu-eid-sig and closes on April 15.
Sysop prerogative is the right that an owner of an online community has to take whatever actions they wish in order that the community functions the way they wish. In common law counties it is understood that someone can do whatever they want unless they give that right way or it is taken away from them by a superior authority, such as Parliament, in the case of the United Kingdom (UK). It can therefore be expected that the systems operator (sysop) who owns an online community is free to operate their community under any rules they want that has not been taken away from them by statute. After all the community is surely their property which they can use and dispose of in any way they choose?
However, with each right or freedom comes certain duties and obligations, something which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. This convention, like the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, places obligations on nation states to guarantee certain rights and not to interfere with the enjoyment of these rights except where they conflict with other rights or duties. This means that sysop prerogative may be both guaranteed and limited by European Human Rights Law.
Sysop prerogative can be used for instance to ban users who don’t participate, known as lurkers, some of whom make up to 90% of activity according to some sources.