News for Youse: U.K. House of Commons moves to criminalize Internet trolls, Internet giggles
Whether you hate them or, well, hate them, trolls are a seemingly unconquerable force on the Internet, constantly popping up to tell us how shitty we are at everything we do. But do we have a right to know who these jerkoffs are?
That is what's being debated in the U.K. House of Commons right now. The Defamation Bill came about in response to anonymous online commenting, and came to a head after a May 30 ruling in favour of Nicola Brookes, a Brighton woman who was subjected to online bullying after she posted a comment about an X Factor contestant. The ruling will force Facebook to hand over the names, email addresses, and IP addresses of individuals who abused Brookes online, falsely referring to her as a drug dealer and pedophile.
We here at News for Youse are of two minds on this issue. On the one hand, we realize this is a dangerous erosion of privacy rights and we shudder to think how a ruling like this could be misapplied, especially by those sorts of people who truly believe that the Internet should have "rules" and "protocol" and "civility".
However, we also can't help but feel a twinge of glee over Internet bullies getting any kind of comeuppance, especially considering how extreme Brookes's case was: her tormenters set up fake Facebook pages to harass her, as well as posting her personal information online, including her home address and pictures of her daughter. It's all well and good to put up an insulting macro of someone's face and a hilarious caption, but threatening children is way over the line.
What we do know for sure: nobody should be on Facebook.
Okay, hands up anyone who shared a textbook in college. You, my friend, are now a criminal, as an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico–Río Piedras has been granted a patent that would pretty much make it illegal for students to share information in textbooks.
Joseph Henry Vogel—who believes lending and reselling books is eroding the very fabric of our society—has created a system that requires students to participate in an online discussion board, which is only accessible via a pass code that must be bought from the publishers of the course's textbooks. Students who don't purchase the code would automatically receive a lower grade.
So, let's break it down: you pay thousands of dollars to a postsecondary school to take a class. You then have to pony up hundreds more for the textbooks for your classes, which goes to an outside publisher or into your professor's pocket, considering how many of them make the book they just wrote mandatory reading for the class. You can't split the cost of the book with a classmate, take the textbook out of the library, or borrow your buddy's book just to take some notes without incurring an academic penalty.
Put like that, we realize that Vogel hasn't actually come up with a way of preventing piracy so much as found a way for publishing companies to further exploit and profit off of postsecondary students. And what's with academically penalizing a student if they refuse to spend money with an outside company? We're not sure of the correct legal term for such practices but the words kickbacks and criminalizing the poor keep floating around in our head.
It's okay, though; this information overhaul hardly matters considering scientists are weaponizing badgers now. That's a lot more terrifying than a failing grade could ever be.
Follow Miranda Nelson on Twitter..