Boing Boing and the EFF label the HDC as troll-friendly

Boing Boing and the EFF don’t have much good to say about Amy Adams’ Harmful Digital Communications Act.

If you set out to create the platonic ideal of a badly considered anti-trolling bill that made a bunch of ineffectual gestures at ending harassment without regard to the collateral damage on everything else on the Internet, well, you’d be New Zealand’s Parliament, apparently.

The Harmful Digital Communications Act has been under consideration for three years, but despite a long debate, the Parliament elected to create restrictions on all online speech — from private arguments to videos of police brutality — that would never be countenanced in the offline world.

HDC’s takedown regime takes all the worst elements of DMCA takedowns — someone complains to a hosting company or ISP and they remove material nearly automatically, with hardly any consideration of whether the complaint passes the giggle-test — and makes them even worse. Under the new system, trolls who mass-dox or denial-of-service attack a victim could make all of her online presence disappear with impunity, and face no penalties at all for abusing the procedure. If the victim did manage to attempt a counterclaim to keep her online life intact, it would require that she disclose her home address and other details to her attackers.

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The overloaded sense of righteousness

Liam Hehir discusses the findings of author Douglas Preston and his belief in the rise of virtual lynch mobs.

We have just seen Pebbles Hooper become a victim of it, previously John Tamihere, and of course I am still subjected to this lynch mob mentality just because some people who oppose me politically thought it a good idea to break the law and feed my private communications to the media.

In many ways, however, the most interesting part of Trial by Fury comes at the end, when the author discusses the unflinching hatred of Knox evinced by many people he encountered on the internet. No matter what the evidence showed, many had an unshakeable – almost religious – belief in the need for Knox to be punished.

This is what led Preston to the phenomenon of altruistic punishment which, briefly stated, is the manner in which people will punish perceived wrongdoers despite not personally being affected by the wrongdoing. Brain scans show that when we punish somebody for violating a social norm, we are rewarded with feelings of self-satisfaction. This is what drives us to stick up for people being bullied, report shoplifters to store security and castigate people who park in disabled people’s parking spaces.

It goes without saying that this instinct is a good and necessary thing. It is easy to see how altruistic punishment is an essential ingredient of any justice system – and is therefore a big part what allows us to build and live together in civilisations. The desire to punish wrongdoers is therefore part of what makes us human. In fact, this is so much the case that no other animals, including chimpanzees, punish third-party offenders in this way.

What Preston was interested in was the idea that the internet can overload this sense of righteousness, leading users to take leave of their sense of proportion. There’s a lot to be said for the idea.

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If UK figures can be believed there are over 59,300 men who want sex with children in NZ

Graham Capill, convicted sex offender and former leader of Christian Heritage party

Graham Capill, convicted sex offender and former leader of Christian Heritage party

A recent study in the UK of by the National Crime Agency suggests that 1 in 35 men want child sex. If we extrapolate those figures for New Zealand based on the latest census data that means that there are 59,388 potential kiddy fiddlers running around out there.

Up to 750,000 men living in Britain may have an interest in having sex with children, the Government has been warned.

A shocking analysis by the National Crime Agency reveals that about one in 35 adult males poses a potential risk of being a child abuser or of seeking out child sex images online.

Horrifically, as many as 250,000 men may be sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children – defined as those under 12 – according to the findings disclosed exclusively to The Mail on Sunday.

Phil Gormley, the deputy director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said: ‘We are starting to get a real sense of the scale.’

He also warned that paedophiles are so numerous that ‘the reality is that we are all living not far away from one’.

Calling for an urgent new approach to safeguard children from potential abusers before they strike, he said: ‘If all we have is arrest and incarceration that will not help them come forward.’   Read more »

Cry Baby of the Day


While people are experiencing floods and the resulting destruction, loss of power, homes and all that goes with flooding some little cry baby in Howick is having first world problems.

A Howick man is fuming after it took two days for Chorus to sort out an internet outage that affected more than 120 east Auckland residents over the weekend.

The Bleakhouse Rd resident, who did not wish to be named, said he was disappointed it took two days to be told the issue with with Chorus’ fibre network rather than his internet service provider, Spark, which he had contacted repeatedly.

The man said his internet had been working as normal when he left home early on Friday morning.

“I get back – there’s no internet.”

Boo fricken hoo, harden up cup cake, at least your house isn’t under water.    Read more »

Why Porn and Journalism Have the Same Big Problem

There is a great article at The Atlantic that shows why it is that Porn and Journalism have the same big, big problem.

The smut business just isn’t what it used to be.

The early days of the Internet were a bonanza for major pornography studios, as the web transformed adult entertainment into an instant, unlimited, and completely private experience — always just a credit card charge and a cable modem away. But what the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away. As the most recent Bloomberg Businessweek recounts in its feature on the rise of the new and controversial .XXX domain, the big production companies have seen their profits shrink by as much as half since 2007, as audiences have fled to aggregators such as XTube and YouPorn that offer up a never-ending stream of free naked bodies.

Enthusiastic amateurs flipping it up for free have been the death of the porn business for ages. Ever wondered why there are no brothels in small towns? Because the local lasses flip it up for a beer or two at the pub and the locals won’t pay more than that for a tumble in the cot.

And so it is with journalism.   Read more »


Something not right with this story

Apparently, according to OneNews you can’t be charged with death threats issued over the internet.

A student who received death threats and was labelled a terrorist simply for wearing a turban was shocked when police said they couldn’t protect him.

Rajwinder Singh feared for his life after his photograph was posted online, without his knowledge, alongside false criminal accusations.

A vicious backlash followed as the photo was shared around, including threats of violence and publicly listing his workplace.

“Put a bat through his turban and smash his legs to a pulp,” one person said on social media.

Genuinely afraid, the 23-year-old went to the police only to be told nothing could be done because the comments were online and therefore “not public”.

ONE News contacted Canterbury police for comment but despite Mr Singh giving permission for his file to be made public, they refused an interview.

The police could not help Mr Singh because making death threats online is not a crime.

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An email from a reader

A reader emails:

Questions in the House

JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Internal Affairs: How will his decision to cut funding by $392,000 a year to the specialist non-fiction service provided by the National Library affect access to educational resources for rural schools?

When I read this gem I was reminded of the time I had moved to Wellington (about 1987) and was looking for a Branch of the Labour Party to join.  Such was the activism of the Party at the time there was plenty of choice.  I visited several inner city branches, the most memorable of which was the Aro St Branch.  They were preparing remits for Conference, and the question of Nicaragua came up.  The members got all fired up and rummaged around to find the remit they had put in the previous year, and the year before that … and decided to represent it.  The war in Nicaragua was over, there was no reason to go and help the Sandanistas by picking coffee, and there were many more important things at home to worry about.   Read more »

Face of the day


Nicky Hager

Today’s face of the day is the author / journalist who used material stolen from a blogger/ journalist to write a book then was outraged when his ‘ journalistic ‘ privacy was ignored when the Police used a legally obtained warrant to search his home. They were looking for evidence of the identity of the Hacker that he did business with in order to illegally obtain a blogger/journalist’s private correspondence with confidential sources as well as his personal correspondence in order to sell a book and make money.

This is a guy with more cheek than a fat man’s bottom.

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Andrew Sullivan’s last blog post on media and blogging

Andrew Sullivan has quit blogging. He suddenly announced his retirement about 10 days ago and has quickly wound down to yesterday’s last day of blogging.

His last blog post is about one of his first and echoes my thoughts on the medium perfectly.

Thirteen years ago, as I was starting to experiment with this blogging thing, I wrote the following:

[T]he speed with which an idea in your head reaches thousands of other people’s eyes has another deflating effect, this time in reverse: It ensures that you will occasionally blurt out things that are offensive, dumb, brilliant, or in tune with the way people actually think and speak in private. That means bloggers put themselves out there in far more ballsy fashion than many officially sanctioned pundits do, and they make fools of themselves more often, too. The only way to correct your mistakes or foolishness is in public, on the blog, in front of your readers. You are far more naked than when clothed in the protective garments of a media entity.

But, somehow, you’re liberated as well as nude: blogging as a media form of streaking. I notice this when I write my blog, as opposed to when I write for the old media. I take less time, worry less about polish, and care less about the consequences on my blog. That makes for more honest writing. It may not be “serious” in the way, say, a 12-page review of 14th-century Bulgarian poetry in the New Republic is serious. But it’s serious inasmuch as it conveys real ideas and feelings in as unvarnished and honest a form as possible. I think journalism could do with more of that kind of seriousness. It’s democratic in the best sense of the word. It helps expose the wizard behind the media curtain.

I stand by all those words. There are times when people take this or that post or sentence out of a blog and make it seem as if it is the definitive, fully considered position of the blogger. Or they take two sentences from different moments in time and insist that they are a contradiction. That, it seems to me, misses the essential part of blogging as a genuinely new mode of writing: its provisionality, its conversational essence, its essential errors, its ephemeral core, its nature as the mode in which writing comes as close as it can to speaking extemporaneously.

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The ‘unassisted suicide’ of old media

Andrew Sullivan ceases blogging today, and one of his final posts is a discussion of modern media developments by old media companies.

CBC interviewed him about native advertising:

Sullivan’s case against native advertisement is powerful and succinct. “It is advertising that is portraying itself as journalism, simple as that,” he told me recently. “It is an act of deception of the readers and consumers of media who believe they’re reading the work of an independent journalist.”

Advertisers, he says, want to buy the integrity built up over decades by journalists and which, in the past, was kept at arm’s length. Now they will happily pay to imitate it: “The whole goal is you not being able to tell the difference.” Sullivan’s argument is so doctrinaire, so principled, that it makes bourgeois practitioners of the craft, like me, squirm.

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