Disclosing the identity of internet trolls and cyber-bullies
As matters stand at the moment, victims of the anonymous cyber-bullying, are able to start the process of unravelling the identity of their online attacker by making an application for a court order to this effect. These types of applications are not very easily granted and are relatively expensive to obtain, which leaves the vast majority of the victims of cyber-bullying exposed to further and potentially more serious attacks.
In the long term, this situation is unsustainable. You can imagine what type of society we are going to live in if people are allowed to continue to post anonymous defamatory information about those they did not like to the extent that there is no longer any sense of accountability. The problem is becoming more severe by the day as the realisation that antisocial behaviour on the internet attracts no consequences at is slowly penetrating into the minds of the young generation.
I know that there is no easy solution to this problem and I am fully aware of the global nature of the internet and of the many arguments that exist against the introduction of legislations concerning the use of the internet.
I do believe however that Parliament needs to introduce legislations that will make it easier for victims of cyber-bullying to obtain user information and IP addresses of cyber-bullies directly from the internet and technology companies by direct application to them or by a direction of a specially designated independent body, avoiding the need to initiate costly legal proceedings to achieve the same aim.
To avoid undue hardship to the technology companies, they should be encouraged to disallow anonymous postings on their websites. This process is likely to dramatically reduce the level of cyber-bullying in the United Kingdom and to ease the process of facilitating the removal of offensive posts. It will almost certainly make the internet a safer place for our children.
“User information and IP addresses of internet ‘trolls’ should be made available to victims, directly from the website host or by a newly created designated body who will be able to force internet companies to disclose user’s ID. This will avoid the need to initiate costly legal proceedings to achieve the same aim.
To avoid undue hardship to the internet companies they should be invited to disallow anonymous postings on their website. This process is likely to dramatically reduce the level of cyber-bullying in the United Kingdom and to ease the process of facilitating the removal of offensive posts.
I believe that legislation of this nature will also have a global effect on the way the internet is being used, often to harm vulnerable people, and that such legislation will lead the way to much a desired changes to the way internet chat rooms, social networking and blogs operate. This could be done without restricting freedom of speech”
Interestingly, support for the idea that anonymous posting should be phased out has come from an unexpected source. Back in 2011 Facebook’s former marketing director Randi Zuckerberg and Google head Eric Schmidt have both been quoted to suggest that anonymous posting should be made a thing of the past. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14898564.
Yair Cohen is the first lawyer in the UK to obtain an injunction requiring social media companies to disclose anonymous user’s information to a victim of online harassment. Yair’s law firm Cohen Davis, works exclusively on internet law cases and has been campaigning for many years to make disclosure of internet users’ identification cheaper and quicker for victims of online harassment, defamation and abuse. Get in touch by calling free on 0800 612 7211