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UK Man Jailed For Being a Jerk On the Internet

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the glad-we-don't-have-any-of-that-here dept.

The Courts 898

Xest writes "A man in the UK has been jailed for 18 weeks for 'trolling,' and has also been given an order banning him from using social networking sites for five years. 25-year-old Sean Duffy mocked a dead teenager who had jumped in front a train by posting offensive remarks on a page dedicated to her memory, and creating a YouTube parody of Thomas the Tank with the deceased girl's face in place of Thomas. Is it about time trolling to this extent saw this kind of punishment, or is this punishment simply too harsh for someone who perhaps didn't realize how seriously his actions would be taken by the authorities?" Coverage from the Guardian explains that Duffy pleaded guilty to "two counts of sending malicious communications," and added that he must tell police about any phones he buys that can provide internet access.

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Propaganda or Bad reporting? (4, Insightful)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395302)

From the article (video)

You will always be found, it's always possibly to trace back to the individual, everything leads a trail, data can always be captured; so we will inevitably get to the bottom of who they are, what they've done, on a site or on a system and be able to prove that in a court of law.

Even if they can prove a particular machine was used to commit the offence, how will they prove who used it? That isn't even taking into account things such as TOR. I'd go as far as to say he is downright lying.

Why would they do that?

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (4, Insightful)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395360)

If they get enough evidence to justify questioning someone as a suspect or person if interest and that person isn't smart enough to shut the fuck up until they have a lawyer to do the talking for them, the authorities will probably get all they need to continue prosecution from there. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law" is not a concept unique to the United States.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (4, Interesting)

srjh (1316705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395390)

If they get enough evidence to justify questioning someone as a suspect or person if interest and that person isn't smart enough to shut the fuck up until they have a lawyer to do the talking for them, the authorities will probably get all they need to continue prosecution from there. "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law" is not a concept unique to the United States.

However in the UK, it's more a case of "Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law, and anything you don't say may harm your defence".

The right to remain silent can be used to make "adverse inferences", unlike the US. So unfortunately "shut the fuck up" doesn't always work too well.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (2)

Suferick (2438038) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395510)

There is a difference between keeping quiet when questioned, which can cause inferences to be drawn in court, and refusing to be questioned without your legal rep being present, which cannot.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395372)

Why would they do that?

because they are ignorant fools

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (2)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395374)

From the article (video)

You will always be found, it's always possibly to trace back to the individual, everything leads a trail, data can always be captured; so we will inevitably get to the bottom of who they are, what they've done, on a site or on a system and be able to prove that in a court of law.

Even if they can prove a particular machine was used to commit the offence, how will they prove who used it? That isn't even taking into account things such as TOR. I'd go as far as to say he is downright lying.

Why would they do that?

Obviously that's not true, rather probably somebody trying to scare people from even starting such idiocy. Unfortunately it will probably just cause people wanting to troll to look into methods for hiding their traces.

However for trolling on something like facebook, using tor would probably not be sufficient. They will probably be using a lot of fingerprinting techniques to identify the computer the user is connecting from, not just the IP address. It would probably not be very hard to link a fake account connecting via tor to any other regular accounts connecting from that same physical computer...

That still leaves the question of who used the computer, but I would imagine most trolls are not actually hard boiled criminals who will stand up to a lot of interrogation, or even demand a lawyer to be present when they are questioned..

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395386)

by him admitting that it was him sending the messages. But more important than just that HE PLEADED GUILTY TO THE COMMUNICATION BEING _MALICIOUS_, so there was no proving necessary. you could very well say that the prosecutor in this case took advantage of a retard with mental problems( because you could easily argue that one has some problems if he bothers to create such videos, cyclic escape reasoning maybe but still true).

but with lulzsec, wikileaks etc having happened recently, this seems like a propaganda slap on the face.

That sentence also claims that they're always capturing everything. if they they're doing that, why the fuck there's tax evasion going on then.

(I'll admit that this particular guys trolling was kinda lame, it didn't hurt the dead girl obviously since he was already dead, but reminding people of dead friends(?) is offensive anyhow, unless they were celebrities??). in previous cases where someone has gone to jail for trolling on the internet it has usually involved them impersonating living people for _years_.

Obligatory (0)

Nialin (570647) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395504)

Because trolls trolling trolls.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395616)

Even if they can prove a particular machine was used to commit the offence, how will they prove who used it? That isn't even taking into account things such as TOR. I'd go as far as to say he is downright lying.

They just have to prove it "beyond reasonable doubt". Enough proof to convince a jury that he should be convicted. If there is a particular computer, and he's the only person living there, that is beyond reasonable doubt. If there are other people, and they make witness statements about computer use and things he said, that is beyond reasonable doubt. And believe me, if I knew that anyone in my household had done this kind of thing, I would say that a few weeks in jail will serve them an important lesson.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395624)

Textual analysis?

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (5, Insightful)

igb (28052) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395636)

They don't need to prove anything: he pleaded guilty. The chances of an alcoholic with Asberger's being a master cyber-criminal are approximately zero, especially as he had been suspected of being a long-term troll elsewhere http://forums.readingfestival.com/m995896-print.aspx [readingfestival.com] .

To those that ask whether in UK law the same behaviour would have had the same reaction were a computer not involved, the likelihood is "yes". There was a recent case in which a very stupid woman decided that shouting "bang! bang!" to a policeman who had been blinded in a high-profile shoot-out was amusing http://www.capitalfm.com/northeast/on-air/news-travel/local-news/sunderland-woman-faces-jail-shouting-abuse-moat-vi/ [capitalfm.com] . She was extremely lucky not to get a substantial jail sentence, but there was no suggestion that it was part of a long-term or deliberate scheme (she hadn't, for example, travelled to find him with the intent of shouting "bang!"). In this case, it clearly was not the spur of the moment or impulse: you can't make a custom video for the purpose of being obnoxious in a moment of madness. And the chances are the Duffy would have been too much of a coward to do it face to face anyway: it was precisely because he thought he was untouchable that he did it.

The argument that people who leave open tribute pages should expect to be trolled is the sort of sociopathic nonsense we can expect from geeks. People had front gardens without barbed wire fences, but don't expect people to shit on the middle of the lawn. In fact, one reason why a heavy cluestick needs to be wielded at tossers like Duffy is precisely that they are willing to behave with a computer in a way they (probably) wouldn't in real life, and the idea that somehow things done online aren't real --- which was part of his "oh, it's my Asberger's" plea in mitigation --- needs to be stamped on.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395752)

Honestly, it isn't "sociopathic nonsense". What it is, is the notion of free speech combined with the notion that being an asshole shouldn't be illegal.

As to the "they are willing to behave with a computer in a way they (probably) wouldn't in real life" thing. Well, the same could be said for people be assholes to telemarketers or anything said over the phone. Or how about by fax. Or how about if a little guy has the protection of a group IRL and spouts horrible stuff because he know he'll not suffer any repercussions.

I mean seriously, how far do you want this slope to slip?

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (4, Insightful)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395756)

> The argument that people who leave open tribute pages should expect to be trolled is the sort of sociopathic nonsense we can expect from geeks.

No, it's the sort of sociopathic nonsense we can expect from borderline or actual sociopaths, or those people who lack the maturity and social awareness to think through the drivel that issues from any available orifice.

Before issuing said drivel...

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (3, Insightful)

smisle (1640863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395862)

People might not usually shit on their neighbor's lawns, but they sure as hell let their dogs do it, which amounts to the same thing.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395774)

The argument that people who leave open tribute pages should expect to be trolled is the sort of sociopathic nonsense we can expect from geeks. People had front gardens without barbed wire fences, but don't expect people to shit on the middle of the lawn.

Is it only geeks that can see that the emperor has no clothes? Your analogy completely falls apart for at least two reasons:

1) Fences with barb wire aren't feasible for front gardens, it makes the neighborhood ugly, barb wire violates safety codes in practically every city in every 1st world country. But moderation online is easily feasible.

2) Online culture is different from real-world culture. Moderation in one form or another is the norm, not the exception online. Just like open front gardens are the norm, not the exception in the real world.

As an example of cultural norms varying by location, look at back yards. In the New England area of the USA fencing in back yards is pretty rare. But in the desert southwest walled in back-yards are pretty much standard and the difference is for no other reason than the cultures of the two areas are different. Same thing goes here - moderation is just the way people who care about how their websites look do things online. It's no more "sociopathic nonsense" to expect moderation online than it is to build a concert wall around your back-yard in Arizona.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (3, Insightful)

Cederic (9623) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395840)

She was extremely lucky not to get a substantial jail sentence

It may just be me, but jailing someone for shouting "bang! bang!" would be more offensive than the acting of shouting it at a blinded policeman.

Similarly, in this case, 18 weeks in prison (or even 9, with good behaviour) for "posting messages on Facebook and Youtube"? He could have assaulted the parents and got less. He could have burgled their homes during the funeral and got less. 18 weeks for merely upsetting someone is excessive, particularly for a first conviction.

Shit, I must be due a few decades, I piss people off online all the time. Freedom of expression has to include the freedom to offend people, or it's no freedom at all.

Re:Propaganda or Bad reporting? (3, Insightful)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395712)

It's a lot easier than you think. Every once in a while, a multinational task force will take down a child porn, warez, or credit card fraud group that is renowned for their paranoia and skill, just to remind people that they can do it. In many cases, encryption and tunneling don't actually increase the difficulty of the investigation but end up merely creating more paperwork, as the necessary court orders are acquired. You're a fool if you think that the VPN, anonymous proxy, or TOR node won't turn over their log files when the government comes knocking, with a warrant. What if they don't keep any logs? Yeah, that's a possibility, which does make everything quite a bit more difficult, but that's outright illegal in some jurisdictions, and even in libertarian utopias, the authorities take a very dim view of that. If I were the government, I'd even set up a few honeypots like that (which is probably how they catch some of the more paranoid types). Even if you know that you can trust the founder, can you trust every single employee who has physical access to the hardware? It's 2011 -- I wouldn't be surprised if the government had some moles in such places, though maybe I'm the one who's on the paranoid side now.

No matter how secure or anonymous you think you are, it's only a matter of time before you're hacked or tracked. I think history has proven this. The best you can do is make use of best practices and hope that your opponents are incompetent. In most cases, people are incompetent, on both sides of the law.

And... please. While an IP address doesn't resolve to a person, it's pretty damning evidence that your hardware was used for the crime. I know about the cases where someone hacks into a wireless AP and leeches child porn, but the people who are hacked generally are not leet haxors with the skill to engage in online crime. Running a completely open AP (or TOR exit node), in order to give yourself plausible deniability, is not generally accepted as a defense in court. Jurors don't respond well to arrogant, obvious plans like that, even if you truly are a saint who runs a free and open wireless AP (hint: don't do that, unless you're a fine, upstanding corporation who contributes to the community).

I'm not saying whether the government should have the power to track people so easily, but, in most cases, they do. It's not like the government has no clue about TOR, anonymous proxies, VPNs, etc. This isn't 1990, when the cops didn't have a single computer in their station, and there was one person at the FBI who had an AOL account. Really, they know about this stuff, and it's a part of their investigation. Thinking that you're the one mastermind criminal who's never going to be caught, despite his daring string of crimes, is a bit of a cliche...

Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395730)

If you can get a judge to believe it. And pass judgement or laws in your favor.

It's as good as the truth. Better in fact.

Impersonating a dead person (4, Funny)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395314)

That's just despicable...

Re:Impersonating a dead person (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395440)

And I thought I was a jerk! You fucking faggot! GNAA! Penis in my anus on channel 3!

Re:Impersonating a dead person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395492)

Oh noes! I'm offended!

Q: How many Jerks does it take... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395704)

Q: How many Jerks does it take...to screw in a lightbulb?

A: why not help Professor Hawking test-out this theory that he himself wouldn't voice any objection over (then again neither would Thomas Edison) ?

Re:Impersonating a dead person (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395664)

That's just despicable...

The issue is if it should mean jail time.

Re:Impersonating a dead person (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395784)

They have lots of "antisocial behavior" laws these days in the UK...

ok (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395324)

if they are going to start to arrest people for trolling, then they just need to build a wall around the country and monitor it form outside Escape from new york style.

yes its in bad taste, but fuck, so is most of humanity, or did we forget that over the last 30 years?

Re:ok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395630)

yes its in bad taste, but fuck, so is most of humanity, or did we forget that over the last 30 years?

YES. We did forget.

Not in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395336)

If he lived in the U.S. it wouldn't be an issue.

Get the basic facts right at least (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395344)

mocked a dead teenager who had jumped in front a train by posting offensive remarks on a page dedicated to her memory, and creating a YouTube parody of Thomas the Tank with the deceased girl's face in place of Thomas

It's Thomas the Tank Engine, not Thomas the Tank. How would it make any sense it make a parody of her as a tank?

Re:Get the basic facts right at least (1)

nfc_Death (915751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395524)

Wow I'm glad someone said something. That was seriously irking me.
Why even use that example of his 'trolling' and then fail to provide the terminology of an item correctly so that a correlation could be made by the reader.

I figure A: The contributor expects everyone to know what they're talking about when it comes to Thomas the Tank Engine lore
or B: It's just a stinkin' random omission (wow an irritating one though)

Solving this problem (3, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395346)

This is a problem best solved with a severe (but non-fatal and non-permanently injurious) beating by one of the family members of the victim. That punishment is both less harsh and likely much more effective than having your activity on the Internet be severely restricted and monitored for years on end.

I've encountered people willing to do this kind of thing before. They seem to think that everything that happens on the Internet is just a harmless game and that anybody who's feelings are hurt is just being overly sensitive and deserves the pain caused. Some in-person exposure to the raw emotions this kind of nastiness creates is probably the surest antidote.

Re:Solving this problem (5, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395406)

Exactly. If anyone disagrees with what you say, they should be beaten until they understand! That'll prove that you're not being overly sensitive!

Re:Solving this problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395442)

Exactly. If anyone disagrees with what you say, they should be beaten until they understand! That'll prove that you're not being overly sensitive!

You miss the GP's point, what he's saying is that the great and powerful curse of the internet is that it allows anyone to interact with anyone while actually increasing the distance between people.

The jerk in question was able to interact with the victim's family without actually having to interact with or be near them. It's a bit like shouting at someone from afar with a megaphone, you don't hear anything back from them if you don't want to, and the other party would have a hard time shutting out the megaphone.

Re:Solving this problem (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395480)

The jerk in question was able to interact with the victim's family without actually having to interact with or be near them.

But I don't consider that a bad thing. In fact, I think that works nicely. If you don't want to read or listen to something, then just don't do it. Likewise, they needn't be offended (as far as I know).

Re:Solving this problem (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395560)

One of the interesting things about living in a culture (or microculture) where physical response is absolutely forbidden, (say, certain college campuses) is that the inhabitants tend to be really rude and emotionally abusive. Because they know they can get away with it.

Re:Solving this problem (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395622)

I'd rather have that (assuming that it's even true) than people getting into fist fights because of a mere disagreement.

Re:Solving this problem (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395682)

One of the interesting things about living in a culture (or microculture) where physical response is absolutely forbidden, (say, certain college campuses) is that the inhabitants tend to be really rude and emotionally abusive. Because they know they can get away with it.

Does this "finding" hold when you are talking about, say, a monastery? After all, if you need some physical action, getting out of campus to get it is easier than getting out of the monastery.

It sounds more likely than the issue "human teens are more aggressive as a way to get influence in their group. When they are conditionated not to resort to physical violence, they use emotional abuse (or just break social rules to show they are beyond them).".

Re:Solving this problem (1)

CarbonShell (1313583) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395850)

Sady you are spot on. People want freedom of speach, but only as it offends someone else.

Besides that I find the laws in the UK increasingly a joke.

IMHO the guy is a royal jerk. Was it offensive what he did? Yes! Rude? Yes! Immoral? Yes! But it is his right.
In this case I say it us up to you and I to decide not to listen to him. As long as people like this think there are other people willing to listen to his drivel, they will do it.
It is like a child that cries wolf. As long as it gets attention, it will continue to cry wolf.

If someone were to reply offensively, physical or not, he will win! A$$h0les live on provoking people to the point where they lash back. Let's not give them the satisfaction.
And this laughable jail term is exactly what we should not do.

Sometimes it is the person making the statement that is offensive, sometimes it is the message that is offensive. Sometimes it is even the agenda that is offensive.

I personally draw the line at those who use their freedoms as a goal to restrict the freedoms of others. Maybe I am a hypocrit (and would not shy a discussion about it), but that is just the way I am.

Re:Solving this problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395430)

I have to agree. But setting limits to verbal output and your freedom of speech is what this is about and your words merit a beating from me for the fact that you suggest limiting my freedoms as well, and this causes me much grief. Would you please state your name and address and a convenient time for me to administer your punishment to you?

Re:Solving this problem (1)

Adayse (1983650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395516)

Here you are advocating violent crime in response to somebody showing disrespect for the dead on the internet. Is that civilized? Being asbergers is a mitigating factor but his lousy lawyer said there were none.

Re:Solving this problem (4, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395528)

It looks like that may be meant partly in jest, but it's actually brilliant.

I was having a conversation just tonight at dinner with my daughter that relates somewhat. One of her classmates is struggling with an almost complete lack of empathy, but hasn't yet become a full blown sociopath, although on the verge of adulthood. When he does something that hurts others, he often doesn't mean it, he truly doesn't understand (in her opinion) the hurt he's caused. (Geeks often share this affliction to a lesser degree.) Her solution, when he hurts someone, is to hurt him back. Hurt his feelings if that's called for, or hurt him physically if it's appropriate. Then she talks to him about it, drawing out how he felt about the experience, and drawing parallels with the damage he caused. I'm not a psychologist, dunno if this could possibly do any good, but she insists that he hesitates now before committing an action, and you can see him thinking through possible consequences. I'm really not sure what conclusions to draw from this. I think in the case of the article outright over-the-top intent to cause emotional harm should be met with some action, but I'm not sure simply confining him in a cage for a given amount of time does any good. That might be a different conversation, though.

Re:Solving this problem (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395810)

It's an interesting idea. The sticking point is the fact that it requires someone with a great deal of emotional insight and patience to administer the feedback. If it were translated into a mass-market counselling context, it could get a little ugly. I think it's the right solution, given the right circumstances and the right people, but the prospect of it being incorporated into someone's grab-bag of shamanistic panaceas is kind of frightening.

Re:Solving this problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395562)

The person in question would sensibly be fearing for his life and could justifiably defend himself in any available way, including shooting the family member to death. Besides, your post impinges on my sensibilities. Please post your address, full name and a picture in order that I can come around and administer a "severe (but non-fatal and non-permanently injurious) beating". If I'm reading your post correctly, it should be acceptable to you that insane perfect strangers evaluate your need for a beating and then administer it based on whatever insane criteria they choose. So get to it. Lucky for you I have no actual intention of beating you despite your impinging on my sensibilities. Lucky for me too, as then I don't have to go to jail. Perhaps at this point you are realizing a few problems with your stance on vigilante beat downs.

Re:Solving this problem (1)

nfc_Death (915751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395640)

Unfortunately this is a little bit of a Honey-pot situation. Using the logic given above, you could effectively lure someone into making a stupid remark in an inappropriate forum, then beat them silly for it (and maybe with good moral cause) and then claim emotional excitement of some kind.
Or, such as in this case, sue them for 'trolling'.

The reality of this situation is, poor emotional and scholastic education created an individual who would step to the level required here, to make light of another's loss.

Take a lesson from 'The Little Prince' though, do not expect more of others then they are capable of giving. Or translated for this situation 'If you give an Ass-hat an opening...'
How many years would you give a homeless person for bursting into a funeral parlor and doing something heinous, such as acting out the death of the deceased?

trolling vs free speech (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395350)

There are issues of free speech here. But having said that though I think that anyone behaving like that gets all they deserve. Making flippant or inflamatory comments on forums is one thing, being offensive and posting 'hate-speech' needs to be punished. It'd be the same if he'd sprayed grafitti on a gravestone.

Re:trolling vs free speech (3, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395414)

I'm highly offended by your comment. You need to be put in jail!

It'd be the same if he'd sprayed grafitti on a gravestone.

Except that he didn't actually vandalize anyone's property...

Re:trolling vs free speech (2, Interesting)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395494)

Exactly. I'm not a UK law expert, but if he said offensive things to the person's face, what would the punishment be? I'm tired of punishments being much worse due to the fact that a computer was involved.

Also, they need to learn a bit more about the internet. I didn't RTFA, but it appears that the memorial page had an open comment section and they expected it to not get trolled. It doesn't matter who is in the right here, but that's an unreasonable expectation. If they don't want bad comments, then moderate them before letting them appear on the page.

Car analogy: pedestrians have the right of way. That doesn't mean you should try to walk across a 6 lane road with heavy traffic.

Re:trolling vs free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395708)

Exactly. I'm not a UK law expert, but if he said offensive things to the person's face, what would the punishment be?

A well-deserved punch in the throat, hopefully.

Re:trolling vs free speech (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395780)

that's an unreasonable expectation

No, respect for the dead is not an unreasonable expectation, but in a world full of arseholes it is a naive one.

Re:trolling vs free speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395798)

Exactly. I'm not a UK law expert, but if he said offensive things to the person's face, what would the punishment be?

I'm not sure about any legal punishment, but I'm pretty sure he'd find himself on the wrong end of a beating.

Re:trolling vs free speech (1)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395498)

Agreed. It's more like these guys [godhatesfags.com] , except not bat-shit crazy.

Re:trolling vs free speech (5, Insightful)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395464)

being offensive and posting 'hate-speech' needs to be punished

Really? Offensive to whom? Who decides what is 'hate-speech'? You should have a right to hate someone, and have the right to proclaim your hatred.

Re:trolling vs free speech (1)

chepati (220147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395642)

> There are issues of free speech here.

????

Don't confuse free speech with hate speech. I'm as big proponent of free speech and freedom of expression (be it verbal, written, etc) as the next guy, but I'm pretty hard on cowards who hide behind the faceless anonymity of the internet to spout awful hatred. This is emotional bullying and just because it's impersonal (as opposed to physical) doesn't make it any less damaging and devastating to a person. As it has been shown lately, bullying (or hate speech) can and will sometimes destroy a person psychologically and lead some people to suicide at worst, or great anguish at best. And don't give me none of that crap that the target of this particular bully is already dead and thus beyond any real harm.

People should be responsible for their deeds *and* their words, regardless of technology used. Desirable behavior should be rewarded, while an undesirable one should be punished so it doesn't repeat. It's called raising a child. Looks like someone didn't do a particularly good job at raising this "child".

Pair of Dies (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395362)

> he must tell police about any phones he buys that can provide internet access.

Duffy called the local constabulary: "Sure it looks like an iPhone, but on the inside the Galaxy S is a web-browsing, media-playing beast of a smartphone, and one of the best Android phones available!"
The constable listened with interest, thanked Duffy, hung up then hopped on to Google to order one. He mused "I didn't really understand the point of that court order, but it's certainly useful!"

In other news CuteSteveJobs was arrested for posting a mocking parody of Sean Duffy who was jailed for ... etc ...

Now he will know how it feels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395370)

Cause he is gonna be somebody's whore. Justice is served.

I like it... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395384)

Trolling, racist, hateful bullshit is all around the internet and it's time for it to stop. People are assholes, give them anonymity and they are double super assholes. Is being an asshole illegal? Soon enough I hope.

Re:I like it... (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395856)

Funny coming from an AC.

non-recidivist (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395420)

> or is this punishment simply too harsh for someone who perhaps didn't realize how seriously his actions would be taken by the authorities?"

Well, he does NOW.

In other news, 42,000 Slashdotters were jailed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395432)

for hurting the feelings of the dicks who work for the MAFIAA, then another 42,000 were jailed for hurting the feelings of the dick cops given the power to trample free speech by making such judgments, then one Anonymous Coward.....wait.

Morally wrong vs Criminally wrong? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395444)

I can see how this is morally wrong. But how is it criminal?

Re:Morally wrong vs Criminally wrong? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395534)

In the UK, we have two classes of offence, civil offences and criminal offences. Now, civil offences are generally not terribly serious things; a speeding ticket won't get you a criminal record, it'll get you a £60 fine and an endorsement on your licence for four years. However, 30mph over the posted speed limit is frequently prosecuted as "dangerous driving" which is a criminal offence.

TL;DR - it's all a matter of degree. It's perfectly legal in the UK to be a dick to someone, but not to the extent that this guy took it.

Re:Morally wrong vs Criminally wrong? (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395568)

Morality has always been embodied in law. We just usually distinguish between the kinds of morality we can safely disagree about and still run a society, and the kinds of morality that, in practice at least, are not really up for discussion. I have to say, his behavior, for me, veers to the latter. I feel freer knowing that someone who trolls a tribute page for a deceased loved one will be punished than I would knowing that I was free to troll tribute pages for other peoples' deceased loved ones.

Re:Morally wrong vs Criminally wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395696)

Because it happened on the Internet. People have to be made afraid to post anything that could be remotely objectionable, to keep them in check.

Re:Morally wrong vs Criminally wrong? (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395702)

Can you see why death threats and mock executions are criminal? If the US jailors in Abu Ghraib doctored pictures of the prisoners' families to show their children being executed, then presented them to the prisoners as real photos, would that be criminal, in your eyes?

Really? (1, Interesting)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395476)

Prison time for trolling?

Now, trolling takes many forms, of which cyberbullying is just one (small one actually). Most trolling is harmless and fun - FTA's example of Apple-bashing in an Apple forum is typical. It harms nobody except filling up the forum with off-topic messages. Good moderators can curb this quickly and no harm is done.

Going after people though... Doesn't have to be cyberbullying and when it isn't, it also can be fun and mostly harmless. But the border between deeply hurtful and just fun is rather thin, and some trolls cross without realizing it. I'm actually fairly convinced that Sean Duffy didn't intend to make what happened happen. It was just fun going too far. I think prison is too harsh here. He should just be punished financially by being forced to pay an insane restitution to the victims family - at least in the two-digit millions. Then he could go to prison for failing to pay, but that's a different thing.

Re:Really? (1)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395538)

Your comment offends me. Please pay me restitution.

Does the UK not have an equivalent of the first amendment or something?

Re:Really? (5, Insightful)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395546)

I'm always surprised that in these discussion someone always turns up to find excuses for twits like Sean Duffy.

What he did was harassment, and that's a crime everywhere. That it's happening via the Internet is irrelevant here.

And as for intent: if you go as far as he did, to deny that there was intent to harass becomes just plain silly.

Mart

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395600)

Thank you! You are the first commenter to even comment on the fact that "... on the Internet" is completely irrelevant to the crime and punishment.

Re:Really? (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395828)

Internet is a harsh mistress. If you can't be thick-skinned, go find different way to spend your time. And posting on-line, to world at large, "look how miserable we are" is just whoring.

Re:Really? (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395558)

That really comes down to whether or not prison is an adequate deterrent for a wide variety of crimes. I'm finding it hard to muster up any sympathy for this genius though, I mean if he was calling them up on the phone with caller ID blocked, making nasty comments about the dead kid, nobody would have any doubts about whether or not he should be imprisoned. He comes across as a vicious, sadistic coward. Just because it's the internet doesn't make it different.

Re:Really? (5, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395576)

Prison time for trolling?

First off, he didn't get time for simple anonymous trolling as happens everyday here on trolldot. He targeted the families and friends of the deceased specifically, that demonstrates a clear malicious intent. Lets remove the Internet from the current scenario, say he mailed hateful letters to the family, played that YouTube video on TV et al. It's the same thing minus the Internet and we'd call that stalking.

Secondly, this is the UK govt over-reacting. Since the recent riots they've been taking every oportunity to prove they are "tough on crime" in an attempt to make it look like they aren't letting the real perpetrators of the riot get away (because finding evidence and trying them would be hard and going after people who post stupid things on facebook is easy). Yes this guy is a dick, a complete dick who deserves some jail time and community service but that's it.

So dearest Australians and Americans, read the above paragraph and remember in 2012, conservatives don't fix problems, at best they don't create new ones.

Harrasing the family of a dead teenager (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395598)

Your idea of fun is pretty weird.

I suppose this debate will always be split amongst those who think this kind of stuff is fun and those who don't.

Maybe we should examine your history and see if we can have some fun with that. If you are not just full of shit you will post your full personal details here or even better on 4chan.

Oh, not fun when it is happening to you? Then it ain't just fun.

Re:Harrasing the family of a dead teenager (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395750)

Ok, then do not see it in as a comic expression but a moral one.

What about making a point against suicide? Certain cultures did have actions against suicides (cancelling the deceased's last will, burial in "shameful" parts of the cementery -or not burial at all-, etc.)

While I respect anyone's meditated, reasoned decision to end theirs life, and I understand the relatives'feelings, I do not find giving suicides (or crimes) too much notoriety of good taste. In the bottom line, it may even encourage "attention seeker" suicide attempts (and successes).

Granted, there are softer ways of expressing them. I just want to make a point that someone may find these

pages dedicated to the suicide memory

something worth to oppose to.

A LITTLE too harsh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395496)

4 and a half months in jail for offending some people? What he did was no good and just plain stupid, but this is going a little too far. It was a 'joke' after all, a fine and maybe a week in jail would be more than enought, that would have teached him, and that is the whole point of going to jail.

This should not be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395522)

Sometimes free speech means putting up with ass*****.

Re:This should not be a crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395738)

Free speech does not protect sadism (or if it does, I posit that it shouldn't). Here in The Netherlands, some immigrant kids started disrupting funeral services just for the fun of it (and yes, I said 'immigrant' instead of Moroccan or Muslim, I don't intend to be minority insensitive). Would you say that should be equally protected by free speech doctrines? And before you start: protesting during a military funeral is equally insensitive but is a political act. "For the lulz" is not a political rationale.

Re:This should not be a crime (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395770)

Shrug. Sounds like it's just a difference in opinion between authoritarian Europe and the US. 75/100 people in the US would say someone should be allowed to do all that shit.

We'll see if your tight control over thought in the EU helps when some minor government cutback triggers the next mass riots.

Just ignore it if you don't like it (2, Insightful)

pentadecagon (1926186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395532)

It's similar to the Muhammad cartoons: Somebody makes fun about a dead guy, offending people who care deeply about that guy. So if those cartoons are considered Free Speech the same should apply here. Even more so because here we hurt maybe a few dozen people, with Muhammad it was many millions.

Re:Just ignore it if you don't like it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395776)

Putting the Muhammed cartoons in a newspaper or on a general website is free speech. Projecting it on a mosque is harassment.

Re:Just ignore it if you don't like it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395796)

This is insane. It is nowhere comparable. The Mohammed cartoons were a direct confrontation with an idealogy. This was spite aimed at hurting the recently bereaved.

Re:Just ignore it if you don't like it (1)

pentadecagon (1926186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395860)

This was spite aimed at hurting the recently bereaved.

Not aimed at hurting. He wanted to make fun or maybe just draw attention. There is no reason to assume he intended to hurt those people. He didn't even know them.

Hardly just trolling... (5, Informative)

radio4fan (304271) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395536)

...or is this punishment simply too harsh for someone who perhaps didn't realize how seriously his actions would be taken by the authorities?

Considering that he was a serial offender, and had received an official caution from the police in 2009 for a similar offence, it seems unlikely that he didn't realize how seriously his actions would be taken.

If he'd done a similar thing by post [legislation.gov.uk] , he'd still be going to prison.

Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd... (5, Insightful)

F69631 (2421974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395552)

I can't wait for the people who'll come howling about censorship... which this wasn't.

If the guy would have punched the dead child's father, we would all be happy with throwing him to jail... for a good reason. We, as a society, have decided something along these lines: "If you cause other people harm and pain for no other reason than your personal amusement, you should be punished". We've then coded that principle to a more formal set of laws as well as we can. If you can cause other people just as much harm by impersonating their dead daughter as you could by punching them in the face, why treat it differently? Just because it's "on the internet" doesn't mean that the same principles and laws shouldn't apply.

I know that in USA there is a concept of "Free speech!" and some people are willing to chant about that like a mantra. In most of Europe, we don't think that everything that comes out of your mouth is sacred. For example, the constitution of my country doesn't contain anything about "Free speech" but instead states that people have the "freedom of opinion, expression and assembly". That is because we think that we want to punish pricks like in this story but we still want to prevent government from squashing unwanted political movements, etc... So, our constitution protects civil rights in a way that doesn't much apply to cases like this. Sure, you can use the slippery slope fallacy, but history shows that it hasn't realized here any more than it has in the USA (despite the "free speech" law).

It's even more complex than that. In USA, there is some sort of a mentality of "Government vs. the People". Even your constitution is designed to limit the government's authority. In Europe, government is seen as a tool of the people. For example, our constitution doesn't say that government can't prevent us from expressing our opinions... it says that government must protect our right to express our opinions if other people try to prevent us from doing so. So I can see why many americans might be saying "Ah! This is a private affair! Government isn't required to interfere in stuff like this so it shouldn't" while mindset of the population (though not necessarily the SlashDot population) on this side of the pond is "This is just the kind of stuff that we designed our government for". So it's a different philosophy between different cultures.

Ah... Why do I even try. We all know that roughly 25% of the comments will be nothing more than "But fascists are squashing FREE SPEECH here!"...

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (5, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395604)

I can't wait for the people who'll come howling about censorship... which this wasn't.

Just because the speech was illegal or "offensive" in some peoples' opinions, that does not mean it isn't censorship to censor and/or punish him for saying it.

We, as a society

Certainly not me. Perhaps most people.

If you can cause other people just as much harm by impersonating their dead daughter as you could by punching them in the face, why treat it differently?

In my opinion, it's because whether it harms them or not is completely up to them. You don't have to be "overly sensitive" or be offended by anything you see.

That said, I'm highly offended by your entire post. It harmed me as much as it would have if you would have punched me! Therefore, you should be thrown in jail.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395646)

That said, I'm highly offended by your entire post. It harmed me as much as it would have if you would have punched me! Therefore, you should be thrown in jail.

Indeed. As a member of the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd, his denigration of that ethnic group was both personally injurious and socially destructive. I will not be able to recover for days if not weeks. F69631 needs to pay for the harm he's done.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395734)

Respect for the dead, especially loved ones, and the sensitivity that comes with that, is essential to human societies. The kind of thick-skinnedness you're calling for is neither desirable nor realistic, and I believe most people - those who aren't so alienated and misanthropic to not recognize it - would much rather prosecute people like the troll than have such an absolutist doctrine of "speech."

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395754)

Respect for the dead, especially loved ones, and the sensitivity that comes with that, is essential to human societies.

I disagree. These people are dead. I needn't respect them at all. Nor do I think you need sensitivity for society to function.

The kind of thick-skinnedness you're calling for is neither desirable nor realistic

It's both desirable and realistic to me.

and I believe most people

What most people want is irrelevant to me. I only care if I think they (or something) has a point.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395786)

You don't need to respect the dead. But, to a certain point, you need to respect other peoples' respect for the dead.

You don't understand, at all, the role of affect in human society and social cohesion. You may be autistic, in which case, I pity you,

Essentially, you will lose this cultural war in almost any arena you fight it. And I think that's a good thing.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395858)

But, to a certain point, you need to respect other peoples' respect for the dead.

Whether I need to do that or not depends on who you ask. In any case, they can respect the dead if they want, but that does not require me to agree with them.

You don't understand, at all, the role of affect in human society and social cohesion.

I don't see where sensitivity is needed. People get together to accomplish things that they probably couldn't do alone. As long as everyone isn't killing each other, I don't see how a lack of sensitivity in some areas would make society crumble.

Essentially, you will lose this cultural war in almost any arena you fight it.

Perhaps now. But that might not be true in the future.

I suppose I should just say it. Your comments are beginning to offend me. Don't think for a minute that I won't take action against you.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (0)

lattyware (934246) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395724)

I completely disagree. The only thing I can see here that could be a reason is him using the girl's face without her permission, which could be grounds for something, but not this. Why should people have a right not to be offended? They don't have to pay attention to the stuff this guy posts - that's their choice. This is bad because the government has stepped in and stopped this guy speaking. Sure, for now it's some guy being a jackass, then it'll be some racists, then pirates, then just anyone who doesn't support the government's stance on anything. Yes, I'm talking about a slippery slope, and just because it's possible doesn't mean someone will do it, but my point is not that because they have jailed this asshole they will later go on to jail the rest, I'm saying, because it's possible they can jail this asshole, it's possible they can jail the rest, and that is wrong.

The government shouldn't be able to stop people talking about anything, because potentially the thing they are talking about could be something that the people want made legal. By stopping them talking about it, you make it impossible to vote for that idea, destroying the basis of democracy. Freedom of speech is important because without it you can't have democracy. You just have a government that lets you vote so long as you are voting for stuff they don't really hate. It's not the same thing. True democracy means allowing the Nazi party, allowing the paedophile party, and letting them talk about it all day long. It also includes letting this guy be an asshole, as long as he doesn't infringe on the other people's freedoms (punching them, for example, would be injuring them, and that would be wrong under the law).

Yes. The government is a tool for the people - that's the point of a democracy. That said, we have to constantly watch it to ensure it stays that way, as we are giving people the power to tell people what to do, and that power can be abused. One can not presume the government will do the right thing, which is why freedom of speech is important.

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395790)

That's all very grand. You're very civilized, your system is just so practical I really envy it.

Now when are you going to go out and riot and throw Molotov cocktails at the police? Do you know yet, or should I just wait for the next minor cut to welfare/"the dole"?

Re:Can't wait for the "NOOOO! Censorship!" crowd.. (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395852)

You don't really know much about the US. The first amendment of the US constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In other words, congress itself shall not set any rules abridging speech, but the individual states may. However we have judicial review and case law which has altered this a bit. In summary, it has been generally applied as a rule throughout the states, but with certain limitations. In Schenck v. United States, it was established that certain speech that has no conceivable useful purpose and is inherently dangerous is not protected, such as the famously cited example, shouting fire in a crowded theater.

Now we also recognize that chiseling away at free speech is a very slippery slope, so we make every effort to curb it. There is a very strong concept of the tyranny of the mob. This means that just because the majority want something there way out of a strong moral sentiment, doesn't mean that they are right. We also recognize that every time we give up any rights, we will probably never get them back.

And IMO that system works pretty well. Hell don't take my word for it, it has lasted for a good 223 years now, and we remain the worlds strongest nation in terms of culture, military, economy, and global influence.

really?! (2, Interesting)

CobaltBlueDW (899284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395588)

Is this really a criminal offense?! It seems to fly in the face a free speech. I know the UK and the US don't see completely eye-to-eye on free speech issues, and the UK is more likely to have these kind of pandering laws, but still... I could understand a lawsuit for defamation of character or some such thing, but not a criminal charge. If "sending malicious communications" is really a legal matter, than almost everyone posting in this thread is breaking the law. Is our society really in favor of such nonsense, or is this just another one of those 'the police don't like getting video taped, and no one prevented them from making-up laws yet' kind of things.

Don't get me wrong, I think that guy was an incredible jackass and deserves his just reward, but I certainly don't think he committed a criminal offense, and I likewise don't think I committed a criminal offense by calling him a jackass just now!

Re:really?! (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395668)

Why? If someone speaks with the intent to harm, why should that be allowed? It wasn't opinion. It wasn't censoring expression. It was stopping a person who knew he was causing harm from continuing to cause harm. What, everyone should be a Vulcan? We should aspire to be uninsultable and inhuman.

He's a recidivist (1)

lemur666 (313121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395594)

Some repeated behaviors are a bell-weather of behaviors to come.

Torturing small animals seems to be a common gateway behavior for serial killers.

Bullying and/or narcissistic behavior is a common thread among criminals.

In this case severe trolling is an indicator of... what?

I'm guessing something in the sales department, politics or mass-media news show.

Sorry. "Opinion" show.

Well they're still a KINGDOM (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395726)

they never really had a Thomas Jefferson or George Washington or Ben Franklin or that "Give me liberty of give me death" guy, afaik

United States came as far as it did and became as great it is/was largely due to the heritage of the magnificent Founders. Although the recent leadership of Dubya/Cheney/Billary/Obama have been doing their damned hardest to erase all traces of their legacy....

"Founders" with a capital "F"? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395804)

I am interested that you represent the men who wrote the first constitution / laws of your country with a capital F, suggesting a degree of worship as great, if not more than the reverence given to the queen / Queen in the UK. In the UK some people really worship the queen, other people don't like her at all and think that the structure of monarchy should be pulled down. Are there people in the USA who think the worship of the "Founders" should be pulled down?

Your capitalising of the term 'founders' suggests you treat them as legendary heroes rather than normal, fallible men? Closer to a Soviet /Chineses model of history with heroic past figures that are greater than people can be today?

Not trolling (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37395762)

Trolling is when you provoke a large group of people with general offensive behaviour and/or opinions.

This is something entirely different, this is a methodical psychological attack on someone who just lost a relative.

I believe that 18 weeks of jail is not unreasonable in the states for doing the equivalent of kicking someone in the nuts when they have fallen over.
While laughing.
And filming it.
And showing it to their friends.

This is what was done here.

Shit just got real, y'all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37395814)

I believe I speak for all my Anonymous Coward brethren when I say "OH SHIT".

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