Websites to be forced to name trolls

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ralphchadkirk

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18404621

Websites will soon to be forced to identify people who have posted defamatory messages online.

New government proposals say victims have a right to know who is behind malicious messages without the need for costly legal battles.

The powers will be balanced by measures to prevent false claims in order to get material removed.

Last week, a British woman won a court order forcing Facebook to identify users who had harassed her.

Nicola Brookes had been falsely branded a paedophile and drug dealer by users - known as trolls - on Facebook.

Facebook, which did not contest the order, will now reveal the IP addresses of people who had abused her so she can prosecute them.

The new powers, to be added to the Defamation Bill, will make this process far less time-consuming and costly, the government said.

Complying with requests would afford the website greater protection from being sued in the event of a defamation claim.

End to 'scurrilous rumour'
Currently, in legal terms, every website "hit" - visit - on a defamatory article can be counted as a separate offence.

This means many websites remove articles as soon as a defamation claim is made - either rightly or wrongly.

"Website operators are in principle liable as publishers for everything that appears on their sites, even though the content is often determined by users," said Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

"But most operators are not in a position to know whether the material posted is defamatory or not and very often - faced with a complaint - they will immediately remove material.

"Our proposed approach will mean that website operators have a defence against libel as long as they identify the authors of allegedly defamatory material when requested to do so by a complainant."

Mr Clarke said the measures would mean an end to "scurrilous rumour and allegation" being posted online without fear of adequate punishment.

"The government wants a libel regime for the internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can't be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.

"It will be very important to ensure that these measures do not inadvertently expose genuine whistleblowers, and we are committed to getting the detail right to minimise this risk."
An interesting development. Ken Clarke's quote is particularly interesting as it appears to provide a defence to libel to website owners as long as they give the names and IPs of the users who posted it.
 
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Badger

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Do they not realise IP addresses can be spoofed (major issue there) or just bypassed with proxies (and are often dynamic anyway)?

All these new laws they're making amount to about the same as making laws based on pseudoscience.
 

SS4

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Do they not realise IP addresses can be spoofed (major issue there) or just bypassed with proxies (and are often dynamic anyway)?

All these new laws they're making amount to about the same as making laws based on pseudoscience.
Don't be silly :p

Why the BBC didn't just say defamatory statements is beyond me...
 

Oswyntail

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Yes, we all know that there will be some too clever by half experts who can get round anything. But I guess the main aim of this approach is to deter, particularly the mindless trolls who think nothing of putting "Oswyntail is a moron" or the like in posts. Which, perhaps we can agree, is a good thing, rather than a step towards restricting the Utopian freedom of the internet.
 

GB

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Yes, we all know that there will be some too clever by half experts who can get round anything. But I guess the main aim of this approach is to deter, particularly the mindless trolls who think nothing of putting "Oswyntail is a moron" or the like in posts. Which, perhaps we can agree, is a good thing, rather than a step towards restricting the Utopian freedom of the internet.
I'm not for one moment saying or suggesting you are a moron, but does that really count as defamation if its taken within the context of any previous posts?...ie an argument.
 

Statto

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Yes, we all know that there will be some too clever by half experts who can get round anything. But I guess the main aim of this approach is to deter, particularly the mindless trolls who think nothing of putting "Oswyntail is a moron" or the like in posts. Which, perhaps we can agree, is a good thing, rather than a step towards restricting the Utopian freedom of the internet.
I don't think it'll be used when an FM replies to a post with "so so is a moron ecc", if an FM keeps posting that type of abuse just contact the Mods, more like the Trolls on tribute pages, on sites like Facebook, where i believe Trolls there weren't posting "so so is a moron" but more spiteful things.
 

Badger

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Yes, we all know that there will be some too clever by half experts who can get round anything. But I guess the main aim of this approach is to deter, particularly the mindless trolls who think nothing of putting "Oswyntail is a moron" or the like in posts. Which, perhaps we can agree, is a good thing, rather than a step towards restricting the Utopian freedom of the internet.
My point is that since IP addresses can be spoofed, shared by more than one person due to being dynamic, and other things, they are not a suitable thing for any law or even guideline to use. Imagine if a "half expert who can get around anything" went to a website, posted some serious allegations, using somebody else's IP address. When it comes down to it there is no measurable idea of "identity" on the Internet. I do not mean to say the Internet should have a utopian freedom, but rather that it already has - whether they like it or not. Yes, this would be useful for catching most people, but it is a law with a massive loophole and that's never good. You can't convict on an IP address any more than you can convict someone based on a letter saying "love from Badger", even if it did probably come from Badger.
 

Wath Yard

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My point is that since IP addresses can be spoofed, shared by more than one person due to being dynamic, and other things, they are not a suitable thing for any law or even guideline to use.
Burglars can wear gloves to ensure they don't leave finger prints so does that mean burglaries shouldn't be investigated?

I doubt that someone with the mentality to launch a vicious hate campaign against someone because a singer got voted off a TV talent contest has the intelligence to hide their identity that well.
 

Badger

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Burglars can wear gloves to ensure they don't leave finger prints so does that mean burglaries shouldn't be investigated?

I doubt that someone with the mentality to launch a vicious hate campaign against someone because a singer got voted off a TV talent contest has the intelligence to hide their identity that well.
It's highly unlikely a burglar can purposefully leave somebody else's prints though, or that their prints are shared by more than one person due to how their ISP works.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address_spoofing

As for how easily it can be done, there are free plugins for it for most web browsers. I myself use it for testing how my websites display to different web browsers (spoofing the web browser code not the IP address).
 
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Oswyntail

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My point is that since IP addresses can be spoofed, shared by more than one person due to being dynamic, and other things, they are not a suitable thing for any law or even guideline to use. Imagine if a "half expert who can get around anything" went to a website, posted some serious allegations, using somebody else's IP address. When it comes down to it there is no measurable idea of "identity" on the Internet. I do not mean to say the Internet should have a utopian freedom, but rather that it already has - whether they like it or not. Yes, this would be useful for catching most people, but it is a law with a massive loophole and that's never good. You can't convict on an IP address any more than you can convict someone based on a letter saying "love from Badger", even if it did probably come from Badger.
Sadly, I tend to agree. But society does seem to be edging towards a workable way of policing the internet - which, IMHO, is a good thing. As you say, it is impracticable to legislate for everything, but the types of poster who run hate campaigns do not seem to be the ones who could a) understand or b) take advantage of the loopholes with the necessary legal acumen. If they can be deterred, then that leaves the way clearer to address the more serious problems out there

I wonder what piece of more sinister legislation this is a smokescreen for?
Now you are just getting paranoid! Or, if you sincerely wonder that, which is more sinister - having attempts to control the internet, or having the ability for people to publish untruths about an individual anonymously, worldwide without any hope of stopping them?
 

SS4

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Now you are just getting paranoid! Or, if you sincerely wonder that, which is more sinister - having attempts to control the internet, or having the ability for people to publish untruths about an individual anonymously, worldwide without any hope of stopping them?
True, that is probably paranoia although r/technology on reddit makes me look positively trusting :lol:

It just seems unusual to me that it would be proposed without consulting an expert.
 

WestCoast

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Facebook trolls can be absolutely horrific in their behaviour. I remember reading a vandalised a tribute page dedicated to a friend of a friend who sadly died in a tragic accident. The posts and pictures were absolutely disgusting that they put on the wall under names like "Madeleine McCann", many people tried to argue with them but there was so many of them. I don't know why they get a sick pleasure out of insulting the dead. I've never seen anything near that bad on a forum, so I'd definitely support anything to oust those responsible.
 

Lampshade

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Facebook trolls can be absolutely horrific in their behaviour. I remember reading a vandalised a tribute page dedicated to a friend of a friend who sadly died in a tragic accident. The posts and pictures were absolutely disgusting that they put on the wall under names like "Madeleine McCann", many people tried to argue with them but there was so many of them. I don't know why they get a sick pleasure out of insulting the dead. I've never seen anything near that bad on a forum, so I'd definitely support anything to oust those responsible.
You've clearly never been on The Student Room :lol:

I'm of the opinion that if you say/do something in real life that would get you arrested, the same should apply to the internet.

EDIT: 3000th post :shock:
 

Smudger105e

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I agree but how would you positively identify the suspect online?

Are most of these trolls clever enough to hide their IP address, or do they just think they won't be caught?

If it's something like facebook or here even, you have to use an email address to register, and when creating the email account you have to enter an address, and that also logs the IP address, surely?
 

SS4

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Are most of these trolls clever enough to hide their IP address, or do they just think they won't be caught?

If it's something like facebook or here even, you have to use an email address to register, and when creating the email account you have to enter an address, and that also logs the IP address, surely?
A bit of both I'd imagine. I support the proposals insofar as they will stop the idiot trolls and the bandwagon lot which is definitely a good thing. It won't stop the hardcore trolls (not to be confused with most vulgar).
My earlier posts were more with respect to the latter group, it's easy enough to hide your IP each and every time and there are disposable email addresses available.

An interesting precedent may be what happened in the case of The Pirate Bay after getting banned from various ISPs and what happened to its traffic
 

LexyBoy

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So who would be wielding the power to force website owners to hand over users data? Would it still go via the courts?

... or just bypassed with proxies (and are often dynamic anyway)?
7 of them preferably ;) But by and large trolls are insecure morons who don't know how to internet.

Posted from 192.168.0.1
 

swj99

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Facebook, which did not contest the order, will now reveal the IP addresses of people who had abused her so she can prosecute them.
I'm not sure how that would work in practice.

For example, how would a prosecution solicitor prove whether the defendant had abused someone, or whether it was someone else with access to their wireless internet network (some wierdo hiding in the bushes at the bottom of the garden), or access (illegally of course) to their landline from up the road at the junction box ? Or like someone else quite rightly said, someone who has spoofed the IP address of another completely innocent internet user ?
 

MattRobinson

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The first thought I had was to suggest that you should secure your WiFi, but then I remembered this, which I think is quite funny. Which reminds me to try to do this as an April Fools joke at some point.
 

Badger

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If it's something like facebook or here even, you have to use an email address to register, and when creating the email account you have to enter an address, and that also logs the IP address, surely?
It's a bit of a safeguard but even then you can easily set up an e-mail account without credentials (one site even lets you generate a temporary one for registering on accounts), registered with a proxy or spoofed IP, and then you're no more traceable than before.

Facebook, which did not contest the order, will now reveal the IP addresses of people who had abused her so she can prosecute them.
Indeed they have no grounds for prosecution without searching the computer in question, and I'm not sure they should be given a warrant to search the computer based purely on IP address.

For one thing, multiple people in one household will be on the same IP address. Even worse for University halls of residence.

On top of that, wireless hotspots are again a major problem as the IP will be different each connection, etc. That's traceable as they'd record your details but still IP can be spoofed for this.

* "royal You", not speaking to anyone in particular

I am totally not saying Internet trolling isn't wrong or that the Internet can't be policed, but this is not the way to do it, and laws with massive loopholes like this shouldn't exist.

And yeah there are some very nasty people out there who would do this stuff. Facebook trolling, even these hate campaigns, are nothing compared to some of the people out there - private forums, IRC networks, etc. From coolcat "hackers" who do this sort of thing for reputation and fame, to genuine malicious nutcases who just like destroying people. I upset one of these people and well, I had to cancel my cards and everything and still don't have access to my former main e-mail account.
 

NSEFAN

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Surely this legislation is largely redundant if sites have a moderation team, like this one? If a particular user is being a pratt, others can report him/her and appropriate action can be taken.

For sites which aren't well moderated, it seems like a waste of time to try and track people for the reasons mentioned by other posters. I wonder how legislation like this would go down in the USA, given that freedom of speech is more important than being offended over there.
 

SS4

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Surely this legislation is largely redundant if sites have a moderation team, like this one? If a particular user is being a pratt, others can report him/her and appropriate action can be taken.

For sites which aren't well moderated, it seems like a waste of time to try and track people for the reasons mentioned by other posters. I wonder how legislation like this would go down in the USA, given that freedom of speech is more important than being offended over there.
It would probably work like the DMCA works for copyright. A holder makes a complaint and the site must either challenge it in court or take it down. It's never the former because of lawyer fees and for websites based abroad it means having to go to the relevant US state and fight it
 

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I think the question here is 'how can the enforcers enforce the unenforceable?', followed by 'who are the enforcers?' and 'what should they enforce?'. Really, I think we need to answer the second and third before we decide on the first. It also requires international standards, since the Internet is an international thing. How do we do that? Can a website base its servers in (the fictional) Buranda and then claim it is outside UK jurisdiction?

Really, I think someone has set himself an impossible task.
 

NY Yankee

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Surely this legislation is largely redundant if sites have a moderation team, like this one? If a particular user is being a pratt, others can report him/her and appropriate action can be taken.

For sites which aren't well moderated, it seems like a waste of time to try and track people for the reasons mentioned by other posters. I wonder how legislation like this would go down in the USA, given that freedom of speech is more important than being offended over there.
I wish they had something like this for Subchat or NYC Transit Forums. At those sites people post profanity and bigoted remarks. Guys flame other guys and get away with it. I think in Arizona they tried to pass a law against cyberbullying, but it went nowhere.
 

NSEFAN

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NY Yankee said:
I wish they had something like this for Subchat or NYC Transit Forums. At those sites people post profanity and bigoted remarks. Guys flame other guys and get away with it. I think in Arizona they tried to pass a law against cyberbullying, but it went nowhere.
If a website is unpleasant then don't use it. If Subchat or any other website for that matter wants to drive away members then that's their problem. Whilst it is somewhat possible to stop casual trolls, if someone has set their heart on being hateful to somebody, it is very hard to stop them. Enforcing UK libel laws is almost impossible on an international platform like the internet. LE Greys has pretty much summed up my view on the matter:

LE Greys said:
I think the question here is 'how can the enforcers enforce the unenforceable?', followed by 'who are the enforcers?' and 'what should they enforce?'. Really, I think we need to answer the second and third before we decide on the first. It also requires international standards, since the Internet is an international thing. How do we do that? Can a website base its servers in (the fictional) Buranda and then claim it is outside UK jurisdiction?

Really, I think someone has set himself an impossible task.
 

LexyBoy

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That's your private IP address used only within your network rather than your public IP address that is used on the internet itself. Google will tell you your public IP address if you search for a relevant search term (such as 'public IP address).
I know... it was a joke (of sorts). How exactly an IP address is supposed to be any use I don't know - it's not rocket science to get yourself a new IP (protip: turn it off and on again) - so unless ISPs keep a record of which IP was assigned to which account holder (via their router's MAC address perhaps) at any given time then it's pretty meaningless. Plus, shared IPs as mentioned above.
 

swj99

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As with a lot of things, it's not so much providing a solution to the problem, but giving the appearance of providing a solution to the problem.

Do you remember during the first round of the gulf war, when Iraq had invaded Kuwait ? Iraq was also firing what were called scud missiles towards Israel. In an effort to placate Israel and persuade it not to retaliate, the US provided Patriot surface to air missiles to Israel, which were supposed to intercept the scud missiles before they got to the Israeli border. But because the scud missiles were actually adapted for longer range (and thus being fired higher into the sky), they were breaking up on their way down. Consequently, what the Patriot missile actually locked onto was not the main part of the missile, but the remains of the fuel tank, in flames as it descended to earth. The point is, even though it didn't actually provide the claimed solution, it worked in that it helped to avoid a bad situation being made worse.
Maybe this legislation is the internet equivalent of a patriot missile, in that it won't really work but because of it, people will feel a lot safer.
 

LE Greys

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As with a lot of things, it's not so much providing a solution to the problem, but giving the appearance of providing a solution to the problem.

Do you remember during the first round of the gulf war, when Iraq had invaded Kuwait ? Iraq was also firing what were called scud missiles towards Israel. In an effort to placate Israel and persuade it not to retaliate, the US provided Patriot surface to air missiles to Israel, which were supposed to intercept the scud missiles before they got to the Israeli border. But because the scud missiles were actually adapted for longer range (and thus being fired higher into the sky), they were breaking up on their way down. Consequently, what the Patriot missile actually locked onto was not the main part of the missile, but the remains of the fuel tank, in flames as it descended to earth. The point is, even though it didn't actually provide the claimed solution, it worked in that it helped to avoid a bad situation being made worse.
Maybe this legislation is the internet equivalent of a patriot missile, in that it won't really work but because of it, people will feel a lot safer.
That is a good point (and some interesting information, I always wondered what happened with the Patriots, why they seemed so successful on the news, yet we often hear they did not work). Making people feel more secure is a very old tactic. The same effect as 'Bobbies on the beat', which might not be the best way to prevent crime, but reduces the fear of it.
 
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