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Manchester's Self-Described 'Internet Troll' Jailed For Offensive Web Posts

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the is-there-an-internet-troll-registry? dept.

Crime 321

noob22 writes "According to BBC Online, 'An "internet troll" who posted obscene messages on Facebook sites set up in memory of dead people has been jailed. Colm Coss, of Ardwick, Manchester, posted on a memorial page for Big Brother star Jade Goody and a tribute site to John Paul Massey, a Liverpool boy mauled to death by a dog. The 36-year-old "preyed on bereaved families" for his "own pleasure," Manchester Magistrates Court heard.'" My favorite line: "Unemployed Coss was only caught when he sent residents on his street photos of himself saying he was an internet 'troll.'"

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321 comments

Only in Manchester. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071602)

Typical type of thing from someone from the 3rd city in England. Full of trolls it is.

They jail for this in Europe now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071614)

I'd sue in Strasbourg and collect from the Court of Human rights.

This guy is a political prisoner.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (1, Informative)

Rijnzael (1294596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071712)

It's a jailable offense to believe the Holocaust didn't occur in many EU countries [wikipedia.org] . As screwed up as the US is sometimes, at least it's not illegal to be ignorant.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (-1, Offtopic)

jianan4115 (1925758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071756)

The road in a car accident - hurt foot turtle nest cattle. Police are investigating the cause of the accident, said Wo Niu: how the turtle hit you? The nest is hanging plaster ground beef recalls panic undecided: I do not remember, when he too quickly! (fiesta gold [fiesta-gold.net] )

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (2, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072102)

Sometimes I wonder if "gold spammers" are not only spamming gold, but a digital version of a Numbers station. [wikipedia.org] .

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071768)

I don't think many people would deny it happened, we just hope they had killed 10 times more jews!

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071786)

> It's a jailable offense to believe the Holocaust didn't occur

Surely, surely, it's only an offence to profess that the Holocaust didn't occur? Still screwed up, of course, but not quite as badly.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (5, Informative)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071788)

Even in Europe, you can believe what you want. Publicly denying the holocaust might result in fines. If you do it to instigate hatred, you might do some jail time, too.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071806)

That's because one of the prerequisites for repeating Holocaust is getting people to forget how bad the previous one was. Your crime when you deny that Holocaust happened is not ignorance, but an attempt at social engineering conditions favorable for another Holocaust.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (3, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071842)

Thing is there was ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and so it doesn't seems like anyone has learned from it.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (3, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072000)

Thing is, Yugoslavia was one of the "victorious" countries, so they were never subjected to strict laws about ethnic cleansing, despite history Serbia has of doing it to neighboring nations, e.g. Bulgaria.

So, you could argue that the seeds for later problems were planted by the policy that excused any and all war crimes, perpetrated by the winning parties.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072090)

So, you could argue that the seeds for later problems were planted by the policy that excused any and all war crimes, perpetrated by the winning parties.

Surely the whole point of war crimes is that they're things that people on the losing side are guilty of. That's key to the whole concept.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (2, Insightful)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072106)

War crimes are violations of the laws of war, regardless of the side, which commits them.

Actually, I should correct my post above -- as ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity, not a war crime.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072108)

Nobody cares about a small country nearly as much as they care about an entire religion.

There's this little matter of scale...

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071900)

Well, patting yourself on the shoulder about the freedom-loving stance of your country is certainly self-gratifying, but don't forget that this particular legislation was forced on Germany as a condition of their surrender. By the US, alongside the other winners of the WWII.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071918)

As screwed up as the US is sometimes, at least it's not illegal to be ignorant.

Probably just as well

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071966)

As screwed up as the US is sometimes, at least it's not illegal to be ignorant.

And you should be glad, because otherwise, you'd be in trouble! ;) Read the Wikipedia page you linked to; heck, just read the title! It's not an offense to not believe in the holocaust anywhere: various places just have laws against publicly denying it happened.

Which, I'll grant, is bad enough. But do check your facts!

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071774)

You think they aren't close to doing this in the states, too?

The 36-year-old "preyed on bereaved families" for his "own pleasure," Manchester Magistrates Court heard.'"

As opposed to the media and politicians, which prey on bereaved families for the pleasure of their viewers and ratings.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (4, Insightful)

Rijnzael (1294596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071870)

I think the fact that the Westboro Baptist Church has been able to continue inflicting emotional pain against grieving families provides a counter example to such implementation in the US.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072032)

I think many people would also use them as a reason to have such laws. No one likes WBC. No one.

Re:They jail for this in Europe now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072128)

I like the WBC. You know why? Because when people react to them stating how they would use legislation to curtail free speech, I am thankful for WBC showing how little it takes to get people upset enough to give away their own freedoms.

Why so few posts? (5, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071620)

Why so few posts?

First they came for the trolls...

Then it was a lot quieter? :)

Re:Why so few posts? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071646)

I'm so reporting you to the Manchester police for trolling trolls on slashdot. You've been backtraced and you'll face what will never be the same.

Re:Why so few posts? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071808)

DEAR GOD! Don't backtrace me bro!

Re:Why so few posts? (0, Offtopic)

Barny (103770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071864)

* looks at the karma score for the grandparent post

Well, looks like "a jury of his peers" finds it inoffensive.

To quote XKCD: "Mission Fucking Accomplished"

Re:Why so few posts? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071898)

best xkcd ever!

Re:Why so few posts? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071982)

It won't work. From the RA: 'The term "Troll" was described in court as someone who creates new identities on Facebook accounts [sic] and then posts numerous offensive comments to upset or provoke a reaction from others.' (My emphasis.) Slashdot isn't Facebook.

Re:Why so few posts? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072112)

... and nothing of value was lost?

So he was done on a technicality? (1)

Bog Standard (743863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071634)

"He was charged under the Communications Act 2003, for sending malicious communications that were grossly offensive." So if he'd used a megaphone and said to their faces they wouldn't have been able to charge him? Crazy laws. What I see here is the fact that it's written rather than verbal is how they got him. Does it make a difference to the offended families involved how the trolling was done? I bet not, it's just another example of how free-speech laws have diverged from today's technology.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071666)

They might not have charged him under that act, but going up to some grieving parent and shouting abuse at them through a megaphone is not something that we could tolerate in the UK. At the very least doing that would be likely to cause a breach of the peace.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0, Flamebait)

RabbitWho (1805112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071738)

Breach of the peace/harassment. But this was neither.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071956)

Quite clearly it was harassment.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071958)

Not harassment? Are you sure?

Now I do have to wonder about the mentality of people who thought putting up a Facebook page was a good memorial (please, I don't have a Facebook page while I'm alive - I sure as hell don't want one after I'm dead) but that's a separate issue. This guy knew exactly what he was doing, exactly the kind of distress he was causing - I think the only surprise for him was that the law would punish him.

As for denying the holocaust, many people died both Jews killed and tortured as well as troops and civilians (on both sides) denying it happened is to disrespect the dead, and an attempt to bring about conditions to repeat the atrocity - should this be punished? I vote "yes".

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (4, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072074)

"Not harassment?"

Who decides what is offensive and what is not? I find it shocking how many people here seem to be against freedom of speech, or at least speech that offends them. In fact, your very post is offensive to me in and of itself. You need to be jailed, and fast!

"denying it happened is to disrespect the dead"

Freedom of speech. The dead can deal with it. Oh, wait, they already have!

"and an attempt to bring about conditions to repeat the atrocity"

Might as well arrest everyone in the world, then. Someone *might* kill another person. Just like this *might* (not a chance) bring about another holocaust!

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (4, Insightful)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071672)

So if he'd used a megaphone and said to their faces they wouldn't have been able to charge him?

No, they would just charge him under a different law, such as disturbing the peace. They have thousands of laws, so in most cases the police can find something with which to charge you if they put their minds to it.

...it's just another example of how free-speech laws have diverged from today's technology.

How do you figure that? He was successfully convicted under the current laws when using new technology. It seems to me that the law coped quite happily with new technology. Your problem appears to be if he had used old technology.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

Bog Standard (743863) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071696)

That's sort of my point. It would have been easy to do him if he'd done it to their face using a megaphone. Instead they've had to resort to the telecoms act to catch him. I guess ultimately it doesn't matter as they rightly got him.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071978)

They have thousands of laws, so in most cases the police can find something with which to charge you if they put their minds to it.

I think this only serves to demonstrate that there are, in general, way, way too many laws on the books.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (2, Insightful)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071684)

A similar thing happened to Lori Drew with the Megan Meier suicide [wikipedia.org] . They charged her under laws meant to stop hacking (unauthorized access - she breached the ToS of myspace), and it was later overturned when it was realised just how ridiculous it was.
Now, I don't agree with what she did, and I don't like the actions of this asshat either. But twisting the law to get a prosecution? Perhaps I'm naive, but the democratic process is screwed when stuff like this happens.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (4, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071734)

What are you smoking? The law in question [legislation.gov.uk] here specifically targets such acts. It could have been written with this spacker in mind.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he--
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

The biggest threat to democracy is wilfully uninformed voters.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071796)

No, the biggest threat to democracy is selfish voters. Vote on principal and employ abstract thinking rather than "is this going to reinforce my beliefs or directly reward me with some goodies". You don't have to be extraordinarily empathetic to think that people like the guy in this story (or Lori Drew) are vile human beings that disgust you and make you feel awful for their "victims". It takes a little effort to step outside yourself and recognize that just because something isn't nice or doesn't directly benefit you doesn't mean it isn't right.

The Lori Drew case is a great example of that. Many people found themselves in the shitty position of wanting to see that bitch punished for being an awful human being to a little kid but also comprehending that sometimes doing the right thing means not being satisfied with some sort of retribution.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071952)

wrong

free market, the system of law and democracy/etc/etc operate on 1 principle: ppl being selfish

Its why it works, afterall human nature is always dependable

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072064)

Except it doesn't, because they're not. Repeated experiments have shown that most people in market economies don't act selfishly (members of some tribes that don't operate any sort of market economy do, and chimpanzees do). So the smart companies don't depend on selfishness. And if you go to the roots of modern democracy you'll find that it was an attempt to determine the general will, not the particular will.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071968)

Cool story, bro.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (4, Insightful)

RabbitWho (1805112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071690)

I don't understand it. It seems much worse to me to go to someones funeral or wake and say nasty things about them and yet that's fine.
The guy is a dick but this is ridiculous. It's not illegal to be a dick, nor should it be. Things like this make me worried for the future.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (2, Interesting)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071736)

Well actually the whole purpose of law is to regulate unwanted behavior, for instance murder and other anti-social behavior that damages the community who formulates laws to protect itself.

Thus it really depends on the threshold of "being a dick" for a law to be established. In my opinion this kind of behavior of the man in the story is atrocious and no one should be allowed to behave in such a manner without some punishment.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071790)

The guy is a dick but this is ridiculous. It's not illegal to be a dick, nor should it be.

Dickery is illegal when you cross a line which moves around a bit, but we call it "harassment" and it's definitely against the law. This is just another form of harassment and there's no moral reason not to convict him for it if that's what it takes to stop him. If you want to manipulate the mental state of others for personal gain, you must use advertising.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071830)

This is just another form of harassment and there's no moral reason not to convict him for it if that's what it takes to stop him. If you want to manipulate the mental state of others for personal gain, you must use advertising.

In other words, he should have included an offer for further abuse for the low low price of $5.99 when he went trollin'.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0, Troll)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071802)

Why shouldn't it be illegal to be a dick, besides the argument that it would chill constructive debate? It's all about finding a reasonably objective definition of "dick", and how much people should tolerate. Like it's always been. In order to truly be free, you must be free from other people - and unfortunately the only current way to enforce this is creating a relatively impersonal system manned by people.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071856)

I don't understand it. It seems much worse to me to go to someones funeral or wake and say nasty things about them and yet that's fine.

The guy is a dick but this is ridiculous. It's not illegal to be a dick, nor should it be. Things like this make me worried for the future.

I do not think that's fine. You could be breaking quite a few laws, starting with trespassing.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072030)

It's not illegal to be a dick

In the UK, it is.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072114)

In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls. -Lenny Bruce

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071698)

Not at all. If he'd used a megaphone he would have been guilty of Breach of The Peace [wikipedia.org] , Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress [wikipedia.org] , or some other equally relevent law. This is a case of the law catching up with modern technology ie. applying the same rules of conduct we have in everyday life to that which occurs online. Now you may disagree with the law and thats another situation all together, but its wrong to claim this is anything but an adaptation of current laws. Heck look at the development of the language used - the Telecommunications Act of 1984 sees alternations in the terminology used from "telecommunication system" to "electronic communications network" along with changes in what those mean. This is the evolution of law to adapt to the new challenges of online communication.

Re:So he was done on a technicality? (1)

Jezza (39441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071926)

Err, no that would just be a different crime.

The Law (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071648)

He was convicted under the Communications Act of 2003 [legislation.gov.uk] , specifically for sending malicious communications. The revised Act [legislation.gov.uk] reads

Any person who sends to another person—
(a)a letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—
(i)a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—
(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b)causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

TFA mentions that his messages included references to having sex with the mentioned corpses.

Re:The Law (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071746)

I know it's in the UK, so we're talking about different laws here, but in the end it all comes down to either supporting free speech or not supporting it. The true test of freedom of speech is not in allowing people who agree with your viewpoints to express them but in allowing those who you disagree with and who say even the most vile and atrocious things the right to say them.

Fred Phelps and his repulsive clan of inbred idiots are some of the most disgusting people on earth who truly put free speech to the test. As much as I would enjoy seeing them struck by a meteor (or a bus) while picketing across the street from some poor kid's funeral or some highschool -- I would never dream of restricting right to say what they like (or the right of countless people to show up and counter their assembly with their own thoughts and expressions).

Libel and slander and serious threats and harassment are one thing. Posting obscene or mean things is another. If you don't like it, don't read it. Or block the user. Or don't use facebook. The world is full of horrible people and there's no karmic point accumulation where if something bad enough happens to you in life, you're therefore protected from those horrible people.

Re:The Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071810)

I know it's in the UK, so we're talking about different laws here, but in the end it all comes down to either supporting free speech or not supporting it. The true test of freedom of speech is not in allowing people who agree with your viewpoints to express them but in allowing those who you disagree with and who say even the most vile and atrocious things the right to say them.

Except that in the UK there is no right to "free speech" but to "free expression" [coe.int] which is "freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority". Colm Coss was not attempting to "express his viewpoint" or explain his ideas or opinions because he didn't have any - he was quite open that he was just trying to upset people to gain pleasure from it. Would it be possible for the authorities to abuse the law or take it too far to suppress unpopular political views? Probably. But I don't really see how this can be said to be the case here.

It's not like the US has unrestricted free speech either - the accumulated caselaw creates various categories of speech, with the expression of political views most highly protected (so you can slander prominent politicians and there is practically nothing they can do about it) and other categories less protected.

Re:The Law (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072014)

"Except that in the UK there is no right to "free speech""

Everyone has a right to free speech, regardless of whether or not a corrupt government wants them to.

"It's not like the US has unrestricted free speech either"

That doesn't make it right.

Re:The Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072078)

No-one has any right to anything. Where do you get this idea of having rights from? You're simply spiralling coils of self replicating D.N.A(ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay)

Re:The Law (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072094)

Of course they do. People are able to talk and act. Their bodies allow them to do these things. It is their freedom to do them. When someone restricts these freedoms for no good reason (such as speech), what we have is this thing called "censorship."

Re:The Law (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071858)

The impression given by various articles is that this wasn't a one off thing, the guy was deliberately targeting multiple sites and submitting multiple messages designed to upset people. He was, in effect, harassing them. It's mentioned that he enjoyed making people upset, and knew the effect he was having. This isn't just a case of some guy posting an annoying comment and moving on. He deliberately went out of his way to engage with these people and caused as much distress as possible. They didn't have the option of merely not reading it, or blocking the user, it was ongoing and apparently rather severe. It would be handy if there were more information available but from what we have, this guy was harassing people.

I know it’s really easy to assume judicial nannying, especially when the UK is mentioned, but sometimes the courts make the right choices. Hell, when you strip out the media sensationalism and throw in the facts I would imagine the court gets it right most of the time.

Re:The Law (0)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072018)

"He was, in effect, harassing them."

So, wait. If I continue posting comments that others find offensive on multiple websites... I'll be jailed? Who decides what is offensive and what is not? I certainly don't find what he did offensive in the least. I don't like that other people are deciding this for me.

Re:The Law (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071938)

While I think 18 weeks is too steep, even here in the US there have been limitations on free speech beyond your examples. I think the key difference in the US and UK here is that it would very difficult to prosecute under the comments being "obscene" in the US, as that particular word has always been considered too subjective for most courts. There would have been a better chance to sue (and win) in a civil court for harassment/mental distress, which has a lower standard. The whole O.J. incident demonstrated that quite well.

And yes, they should have just banned the user and deleted the comments. The situation also begs the question 'should you expect a certain amount of vandalism if you post a memorial in a public place that anyone can comment on anonymously?' Obviously doesn't justify his actions, but it is kinda like painting a giant wall solid white on the bad side of town, and expecting no one will vandalize it because it looks so pretty as a solid shade of white.

Re:The Law (2, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071940)

serious threats and harassment are one thing. Posting obscene or mean things is another.

Can you provide clear guidelines for telling those apart? E.g. in case of this guy, why do you believe that his actions did not constitute harassment?

Why would you think like that? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072056)

There are several reasons why "free speech" is important. One of the primary ones is that it allows people to criticize the society/government/etc. which is very important part of the democratic system. Another common one is that it is a human right to freely express yourself (creating whatever type of art, shouting out your sexual identity, whatever) without being restricted by laws. Actually, in most of Europe the constitutions are based on these two concepts. For example, finnish constitution [finlex.fi] states that you have (among other things): Freedom of religion and conscience (Section 11), Freedom of expression and the right of access to information (Section 12), Freedom of assembly and freedom of assosciation (Section 13) and so on.

Now... Free speech means that people who disagree with you also have free speech. Think that Hitler was a great fellow? Go ahead, blog about that. I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. If you really think that way, nobody should have the right to jail you for your opinions (or for expressing them).

But if you want to go to a funeral of someone you don't even know and shout obscenities simply because you enjoy causing sorrow to other people? With no other motivation (Such as political reasons for protesting outside a public figure's funeral) involved? I am more than happy to let the cops drag you away. I do not think that there is any reason why such activities should have constitutional protection (and on this side of the ocean, they don't). Now, there is always gray area: You think that it is art to mess with the feelings of other people? Well, in those cases I would be fine with everything from stating "Well... Fine, them." to declaring that as a crime against humanity. But in a case like this, there really wasn't any excuse.

Re:The Law (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072006)

"a message which is indecent or grossly offensive"

I'm offended by your comment! Why haven't you been jailed!?

Trolling on facebook (1)

IllusionalForce (1830532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071652)

Isn't that pretty much the most stupid idea you could have? facebook knows too much about you like that already. Go troll somewhere you're more anonymous than on facebook. I guess that guy was partially jailed for massive stupidity.

Why? (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071658)

Why would you do this? I mean what disfunction must you have that you start to think that this is acceptable?

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071728)

Sadism, deriving pleasure from others pain? Normal people have an emotional reaction when they percieve others suffering, so how easy wouldn't it be for a wire to get crossed and delivering pleasant emotions instead of painful?

Re:Why? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071750)

The world is full of vile douchbags. Not really any point to pondering their existence. The only thing we can really consider is why one would support and encourage censorship.

Re:Why? (-1, Troll)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072004)

Oh, but hey. Forget freedom of speech for just a moment! He said mean things to me over the internet! Anyone that posts anything that I find offensive should be jailed immediately!

18 weeks? (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071682)

I love how "computer crimes" are punished on an entirely different scale to regular crimes. You can go bottle someone (break a glass bottle over their head) and you get an average of zero days in jail (suspended for two years). You can go mug someone and get only a week of "hard time" with a year of parole. I mean heck you can go run someone down in your car and still get a lighter sentence than 18 weeks...

There is no level of rationality to computer crime sentences because the "old people" on both sides of the bench are simply too ignorant and out of touch to really know what the crime involved or how serious it was. This case should never have wasted the UK's courts time and public money let alone the cost of keeping him in jail for any period at all.

Frankly I have a VERY low opinion of the police, judge, and state for this one. I want a million pounds spent on arrested serious criminals and keeping them locked away. Give the mugger, violent thug, or drug dealers 18 week sentences instead of saving them for the "omg computer terrurist?! he uses microsoft and word to send deadly communications of doom!"

What's more - he wasn't even punished for threatening people. It is one thing to make threats and to scare people. It is another thing entirely to offend or upset them. While I think the things he said were extremely rude and offensive - nobody felt in fear for their security.

Re:18 weeks? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071718)

This has squat-all to do with "computer crimes".

If he'd gone round claiming that he fucked *my* newly-dead gf's body, he wouldn't last long enough to be charged with anything.

Wouldn't matter what he used -- FB, megaphone, smoke signals, or what have you -- he'd still be one slowly, painfully, and horribly dead bastard.

Those things being said... This has nothing to do with "Your Rights Online" and shouldn't even have been posted on /.

Re:18 weeks? (5, Insightful)

Corbets (169101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071722)

Do you really suppose that young Internet geeks have a better idea of "how serious" such a crime is than "old people" in the courts? This has almost nothing to do with technology, beyond the fact that technology was an enabling medium - the crime was incredibly anti-social behavior in the form of harassment. I'm not convinced this was the right law to try him under, but tossing someone in a cell for 4 months for harassing grieving families - with the sole purpose of that harassment - doesn't seem all that off to me.

Threatening someone would have made it worse, yes, but harassment is a crime itself.

Re:18 weeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071766)

the crime was incredibly anti-social behavior in the form of harassment.

This^^. There are a ton of harassment laws, and they are just as readily applicable to this new fangled "technology" you people think is so different than "IRL". roflulz and whatever.
CAPTCHA: soprano

Re:18 weeks? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072076)

CAPTCHA: soprano

who gives a fucking shit about what your shitting CAPTCHA was you tedious self important cunt

Re:18 weeks? (-1, Troll)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071986)

"the crime was incredibly anti-social behavior in the form of harassment"

I'm highly offended by someone calling me names over the internet and saying things about dead people! In fact, I'm not just offended by that, but I'm offended by your post in general! I demand that you be arrested for offending me!

Re:18 weeks? (1, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071748)

This wasn't a single spur of the moment offence. It was a pattern of deliberate, malicious and wilful repeat offences spanning years. Still, your strawman is very pretty.

Re:18 weeks? (-1, Redundant)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071992)

Yeah, and I'm highly offended that someone would do this! In fact, anyone who posts content that I'm personally offended by should be immediately jailed. Let's begin with you...

Re:18 weeks? (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071762)

IMHO, the law gives the judge / jurors some discretion when they assess the issue. It is not "crime A" --> "punishment A", but "crime A" --> "punishment A" +/- delta.

In this case, Coss accepted the charges but clearly refused to express regret by his actions. To the judge, that may have been sound like "Ok, do what you can, because as soon I get out of here I will do it again" and decided him to impose a harsher sentence. Probably, if you break a glass bottle in someone's head and do the same while being judged (no regrets, no "it was my mistake 'cause I was drunk", etc.), you'll get it a lot worse than two years probation.

Anyway, I also think that is not the right sentence. I would point some mental illness (Depression?) causing him to ask for attention. Dismissed that I would favor a sentence of "stay away from computer for two years", but that's difficult because the judge cannot impose a punishment that is not provided for in the law.

Re:18 weeks? (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071876)

Yup, sentencing guidelines [sentencingcouncil.org.uk] exist and you can browse them to your heart's content. I found one article [menmedia.co.uk] where they broke down the sentence:

sentencing guidelines suggested 12 weeks in prison, the seriousness of the offences meant that he should serve 26 weeks, dropping to 18 weeks because of his early guilty plea.

So there it is, the guidelines wanted 12 weeks but that was more than doubled by the seriousness of the case and the specific fact-pattern. 8 weeks were then lopped off for making a guilty plea. Bit of math to help the geek cred.

Re:18 weeks? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071922)

There was no jury. The BBC describes the 'chairwoman of the bench', which means that this case wasn't even tried by a qualified judge. Just three people virtually plucked off the street and given a couple of weeks training before being handed the power to screw someone's life up. This case seems to demonstrate most of the things wrong with the magistrates court system in the UK.

Re:18 weeks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34072092)

There was no jury. The BBC describes the 'chairwoman of the bench', which means that this case wasn't even tried by a qualified judge. Just three people virtually plucked off the street and given a couple of weeks training before being handed the power to screw someone's life up. This case seems to demonstrate most of the things wrong with the magistrates court system in the UK.

How so? Was the law misapplied? Was it not intended to cover this sort of behavior? Was the sentence handed down out of line?

I think the answer to all these questions is "no". The law was not misapplied; the law was *specifically* written to cover this sort of behavior; and the sentence was justified and reasonable according to the standards set by the law. As such, I'm forced to conclude that when you say "qualified judge", you really mean "judge who'd have agreed with my gut feeling and ruled differently".

Nothing against your gut feeling, of course, but it's not how The Law (with a capital "L") works. Should this kind of behavior be illegal? Probably not; the law is vague and seems ripe for abuse, and outlawing "grossly indecent" communciation seems indefensible on a philosophical/ethical level, anyway. That said, *IS* this kind of behavior illegal? Apparently, yes, it is; so what other ruling could the court have arrived at?

I'm not happy that the guy got 4 months in the slammer, even if he was a troll. But on the other hand, I recognize that the problem is with the law, not the judge, and that the best (and only) way to rectify this is thus to try and get the law changed.

If you're from the UK, be sure to write to your MP. If not... well, be sure to write to your local equivalent (congressmember or whatever) to make sure you won't get this sort of law.

Re:18 weeks? . (1)

ieatcookies (1490517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071920)

They feel they need to make an example of the ones they catch to discourage to acts. How else are people going to fear consequences for something they can easily execute with a feeling of anominity and detachment.

I have met men. (3, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071694)

Slightly OT, but I have met men who are sadists without being narcissists or psychopats (not in the BDSM sense, but "I would be euphoric if I set fire to a baby" sense), but who have moral inhibitions that seem sincere reflexive reactions. I cannot possibly begin to understand how these people's minds work subjectively, but I have a folk-psychological intuition I find useful in understanding some of the finer points of Asperger social deficits - on a deep level, all humans assume others to be like ourselves. So such a person might still find it intuitively acceptable to be cruel to others on a regular basis due to the "reward" afforded them, like a normal person would cut someone off in traffic on a rainy monday when late to work. It's just that the reward is completely unknowable to a person who isn't a sadist. One of these people work in the medical industry, and obviously enjoys (again, not just in the gallows humor sense) discussing gory injuries - but I still would consider him a good man. I suspect this is more common than one'd believe.

Re:I have met men. (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071758)

Asperger's is the new sheik.

A what? (3, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071916)

Asperger's is the new sheik.

Asperger's is the new Arabian tribal elder?

Causes and consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071826)

Out of all the threads here, I think yours is the most insightful and interesting. I agree with you the tendency to cruelty exists in many men, probably the majority; it is likely an evolutionarily adaptive trait from our hunter-gatherer history. The question is why don't we see more actual cruel acts? I would say it is because in normal societies social inhibitions prevail. But when societies break down, e.g. in times of war, acts of the cruelty are everywhere.

I don't get it. (1, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071760)

"Unemployed Coss was only caught when he sent residents on his street photos of himself saying he was an internet 'troll.'"

I'm not sure which is weirder - that his street photos have residents, or that a still photograph could convey him saying something. Was there a speech bubble drawn on the photograph or something?

Re:I don't get it. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071934)

He sent pictures of himself to his neighbours after writing something on the pictures to identify himself as an "internet troll". GNAA must be cringing now. Maybe the shame will push them into paying for a hit.

Oooh the money (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071770)

1. Thinking about trolls on Slashdot
2. Getting degree in law and becoming a lawyer
3. ???
4. Profit!

So he invented a new form of trolling (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071772)

So now whats to stop someone from trolling like this guy then posting a picture of a person he hates claiming it to be a picture of the troller? Getting the innocent person arrested, even if the charges are eventually dropped would be a pretty good troll....

Re:So he invented a new form of trolling (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071882)

Why would anyone believe him?

Re:So he invented a new form of trolling (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071942)

Why would anyone believe him?

I believe that this sets the precedent for the general behavior of internet trolls:

Colm Coss's activities were uncovered when he posted photos of himself to neighbours

That's what they do.
They troll you online, and then they send you photos of themselves. That's their nature and MO. They can't help it cause they are a bit wrong in the head like that.

Ergo, when you get a photo in your mail - it's the person who's been trolling you. Call the police to arrest him/her.

Newspaper website "troll" punished (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071890)

An "internet troll" who posted offensive messages on the World Wide Web has been revealed to be the Daily Mail [newstechnica.com] .

The Mail "preyed on bereaved families" for its "own pleasure", the Press Complaints Council heard.

The paper was charged with sending malicious communications that were grossly offensive. The posts included comments claiming the victims had brought it upon themselves by being asylum-seeking homosexual Poles who caused EU cancer.

it was only caught when it sent residents copies of itself saying "FREE DVD FOR EVERY READER."

The term "troll" was described in court as someone who creates numerous identities, called "columnists," and then posts offensive bollocks to upset or provoke a reaction from others and gain page hits and advertising revenue.

"You preyed on bereaved families who were suffering trauma and anxiety," said chairwoman of the bench Pauline Salisbury. "We know you gained pleasure and you aren't sorry for what you did."

The paper has been convicted of sending "malicious communications" and the editor has been given a knighthood and a rôle as official advisor on government policy.

The defence raised possible mental health issues, but this was dismissed by the bench.

Re:Newspaper website "troll" punished (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071936)

Haha thank you for the smile :-) Someone mod this up please

Re:Newspaper website "troll" punished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071988)

For those outside the UK.. The Daily Mail routinely publishes useless columns with little or no real content, usually about how a celebrity who dares to look human whilst taking out the rubbish bad ect.. and the column header usually has no name, only "by daily mail reporter".

Cut off his SCHLOSEN !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34071892)

Uber macht das gesundheit !!

The Queen owes us this much !!

THe WOrld !!

What!? (-1, Redundant)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071970)

What is this? Freedom of speech? Nope! Jail him for trolling on the internet and hurting someones feelings! I'm highly offended that someone is offended by an internet troll, so I demand that those people be jailed because I find it obscene!

Oh no! (1)

Pokey.Clyde (1322667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34071976)

Watch out Anonymous Coward, you might me next!

Looks like... (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34072136)

He dun goofed. Now consequences will never be the same, since someone obviously backtraced him and sent the information to the cyberpolice. Maybe now you guys will listen.
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