A more polite internet?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 October 2012, 2:58 am
In the UK a young man was jailed for 12 weeks for making grossly offensive Facebook posts. In Germany a court rules that a company had the right to fire another young man, after he put "slave drivers" in the section who he was working for on Facebook. In short: The law is catching up with the internet, and insults and libel on the internet will be treated like they are treated elsewhere.

Why did these cases all involve Facebook? Not because Facebook is a less polite place than other internet forums, but because Facebook doesn't offer anonymity. Right now you still have a good chance to get away with anything, as long as you post it anonymously. But that won't last. It is just a question of time until law enforcement will be able to find out the real name of everybody on the internet. Blizzard failed with their RealID plan, but increasingly that is what we will get. China is ahead of the west with a Real Name System, but the US has already shown interest in a similar system.

Now on the one side the free speech brigade will cite the dangers to dissidents from totalitarian regimes by this. But is that really a good argument against having such a system in a western democracy? If libel of the US government was a crime, the whole Republican party would be in jail right now. I wouldn't mind a system in which people could still use pseudonyms, but it was guaranteed that law enforcement could always find the real person behind that ID. Because the internet should not offer protection from prosecution of crimes. If the trolls couldn't hide behind their anonymity any more, maybe the internet would become a more polite place.
Tobold's Blog

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