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House of Commons Could Force Social Networks To Identify Trolls

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the we've-found-a-troll-may-we-burn-her? dept.

Facebook 216

concertina226 writes with this news snipped from Techworld UK: "Websites such as Facebook and Twitter could be forced to unmask so-called internet trolls, under new government proposals in the Defamation Bill. The move comes after a British woman won a landmark case to force Facebook to reveal the identities of internet trolls. On 30 May, Nicola Brookes from Brighton was granted a High Court order after receiving 'vicious and depraved' taunts on Facebook. The bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons [Tuesday], will allow victims of online abuse to discover the identity of their persecutors and bring a case against them. The move also aims to protect websites from threats of litigation for inadvertently displaying defamatory comments."

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I don't think this will ever work (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295757)

Sure you can get IP addresses, trace them back but anyone trolling professionally will do so in such a way that they'll be anonymous still. Internet cafes, 3G broadband, open wifi in the middle of times square.

It's not as if they're going to be able to use the intertubes to locate which Starbucks you're in instantly and send in the black helecopters so you are cut of mid sen

Re:I don't think this will ever work (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295885)

What if they use a GUI interface in Visual Basic to track your IP address?

Re:I don't think this will ever work (5, Funny)

Fixer40000 (1921598) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295979)

Don't worry. That's what Norton Internet Security is for.

Re:I don't think this will ever work (-1, Troll)

otaku244 (1804244) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296257)

Sorry, it only works if your trolling in real time.

Re:I don't think this will ever work (3, Funny)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296367)

Sure you can get IP addresses, trace them back but anyone trolling professionally will do so in such a way that they'll be anonymous still. Internet cafes, 3G broadband, open wifi in the middle of times square.

It's not as if they're going to be able to use the intertubes to locate which Starbucks you're in instantly and send in the black helecopters so you are cut of mid sen

Damn. Those bastards. They got him before he even had a chance to check his post for spelling and grammar.

Re:I don't think this will ever work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296531)

Trolling professionally? We're not talking about criminal masterminds for the most part, we're talking about people who decide to be douchebags to other people on Facebook. The majority of them are idiots.

Re:I don't think this will ever work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296545)

Or even simpler, bounce TOR through your neighbours unprotected wifi...

Troll is in the eye of the beholder (5, Interesting)

hessian (467078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295805)

The problem is that "troll" is a term used to mean anyone who says something unpopular, as well as anyone who deliberately provokes other people into tantrums.

The better question is whether we will have anonymity at all. I know from looking at the comments on CNN and other newspapers that a lot of sites would rather dispense with anonymity entirely.

The problem with this is that it is de facto censorship of important opinions. Racial information (the ultimate taboo), anti-democratic thought, anti-mainstream culture and even occult religions all need protection.

When we call declare someone with unpopular opinions a "troll" and look up their IP, these ideas won't get expressed on the big sites, leaving only small dissident blogs that 99% of the internet audience will never see.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (5, Interesting)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295871)

I found someone on youtube who has the right idea about cyberbullies.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ZiRT8Nwkk [youtube.com]

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295949)

The problem is that "troll" is a term used to mean anyone who says something unpopular, as well as anyone who deliberately provokes other people into tantrums.

No. That's what dummies have come to imply it means. They are using the world wrong. Sadly, many of these dummies are also slashdot moderators.

A troll is someone who attempts to elicit an emotional response by using a seemingly sincere platform. As such, many see this as merely "unpopular" but they completely miss the entire point of the discourse. Some trolling is done to lead the ignorant and stubborn by the nose to an obvious conclusion to which the audience is seemingly too dense, ignorant, or stubborn to find on their own. This is pretty rare these days. In other cases, trolling is done by pathetic people who enjoy sucking the life out of beneficial dialogs. Meanings, its a sad, sad cry for attention. Usually the later are people who are seriously emotionally damaged and trolling is their primary source of social interaction.

Which basically means, those who believe trolling means someone disagrees or finds a post unpopular are themselves likely a troll. Trolling does NOT simply you they have a different point of view or that an opinion is unpopular - ignoring the fact that most slashdot moderators these days are far too dense to comprehend the distinction.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (3, Interesting)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296073)

...someone who attempts to elicit an emotional response by using a seemingly sincere platform.

This sounds like a definition of "art" I heard once.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296173)

This sounds like a definition of "art" I heard once.

Well, modern art is a lot like trolling, and trolling is pretty much an art.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (2, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296409)

Yes. Trolling is a art.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296669)

AN art

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296317)

I would argue that you are both correct - yes, the classical (that being a relative term. . . .) definition of troll is what you have stated, AC, but hessian points to the current and popular definition of 'troll'.

As the English language is a fluid language, the American version especially, we really only have rules that are based on current, popular usage.

For example, define 'cool' -- I can think of two ways off-hand, both are correct.

So, while you may not want 'troll' to be defined as an unpopular opinion, that's where we are today.

Mobys (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296445)

Aren't the Web thread denizens who engage in demeaning remarks and personal attacks called Mobys?

The other thing about trolls, is that suppose you have a Wingnut Web site where the host is "for the war" and then you have someone who is Liberal and anti-war posting and getting into a flame war. Is that person a troll? Suppose they were sincere in their belief as many people are sincerely anti-war, and that they get into an argument on the Wingnut Web site because they genuinely believe that the Wingnuts shouldn't live comfortably in their "echo chamber?"

Suppose the person posting is a Conservative but has genuine reservations "about the war" (such as the late Bill Buckley expressing doubts)? Is that person trolling if they get into a heated discussion, maybe more so because they believe themselves to be proper Conservatives and that the folks on the Wingnut Site have it wrong?

I agree with you that a genuine troll is someone who doesn't necessarily believe in the position they are taking, but they are posting, often anonymously or under a handle so as to get satisfaction from disrupting a serious discussion and getting responses out of people. Hence, "don't feed the trolls."

I think we need different names for different types of troublemakers (or perceived troublemakers).

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296589)

No. That's what dummies have come to imply it means.

Infer. "That's what dummies have come to infer it means."

Note that calling other people dummies is a bad thing when you show your illiteracy in the same sentence. They might decide that YOU are the dummy.

Oh, and this was (almost certainly) a troll....

Or not.

Saying that someone was wrong on the internet isn't necessarily trolling, according to you...

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295971)

Actually they specify people that are targeting others and harassing them not just people being obnoxious.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296217)

Regarding actual trolls, it's not that difficult to find them, because they typically spew the same rhetoric , on the same sites.
Even if they change their names, after a number of posts, it's easy to find out.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

cjc25 (1961486) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296331)

As an interesting semi-related question, where does this logic lead when applied to disclosure of political donors?

It's interesting when something "obvious" in one sphere is much more complex in another because someone else's money is involved.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296421)

I'm an internet contrarion, it's simply "what I do" - it's how I function.
Be it for entertainment, debate or genuine opinion - more often than not it's simply because I'm different and dislike things most like and like things most dislike, it works out kind of bad for me.

At a recent family function I realised all the males on my side of the family are the same, we're ALL smartasses but in a hysterical ridiculous humour kind of way, frequently exaggerating what we say for comedy effect, not because we mean it. This too gets me the troll label, even if the underlying message was my real and valid opinion.

I certainly dislike the idea of being singled out more than I already am online because people don't like it when we have an internet debate.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296491)

The problem with this is that it is de facto censorship of important opinions

You come into my house, or local pub, and start laughing and mocking someone who has just lost a relative and if you're lucky you'll be asked to leave and not return. That's not censorship, and transferring the situation to a virtual venue like a forum doesn't make it censorship either.

There's always the risk of the slipperly slope, and personally I think that the vast majority of what people can say should be legal. I think Voltaire had it right; but that doesn't mean that you should be able to go wherever you like and say anything no matter how hurtful or depraved and expect to be welcome. Even Slashdot uses moderation to hide 'troll' views. A lot of shit still gets through but I doubt it'd be usable if they refused to allow filtering by moderation.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296515)

Sorry, what you write is nonsense.

If the person in question is in fact a troll will be determined by the Jury/Judge when he is brought to court.

Very likely you will need a court order before you even can get his IP, for that you need to provide convincing evidence.

I don't call this "censorship".

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (4, Insightful)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296547)

You should probably respond less to the headline and more to the article - this isn't a bill "to identify trolls", it's a bill about harassment and defamation. The very first thing in the bill, which is an amendment to existing defamation law, is that the statement has to have cause or be able to likely cause serious harm. And that's followed by exceptions for just what you're concerned about - matters of public interest, honest opinions, truthful statements. Even those of us who strongly advocate the freedom of speech don't deny that it can be abused, and that things like threats and slander should be legally actionable.

Re:Troll is in the eye of the beholder (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296653)

Since the beginning of the Internet is has been the right and privilege of the masses to annoy, pester, defame and even drive to suicide anyone at all. Nobody is immune to this today and a lot of people are just beginning to figure out they have this power. When the Internet was populated exclusively by academic types and the military, it really didn't mean very much. Turning the average Joe loose has been quite an adventure, hasn't it?

This is kind of a joke because as others have pointed out the maximum tracking that can be done externally is getting an IP address and anybody could be at the other end of that IP address. Of course it would be possible to pass a law saying that the account holder for an IP address is responsible for whatever happens using that IP address - but until that happens it could be Sam next door, it could be little Suzy or it could be the dog.

Now the other way this makes sense is to have some sort of required secure identity required for use of the Internet. Remove the anonyminity and you have a whole different environment. Suddenly, you can't annoy, pester, defame or even drive to suicide anyone else while being safely shielded by supposed anonyminity and the good graces of your ISP. So far we have been pretty well isolated from the ravages of what might be possible in today's environment and I'd call that lucky. Should more people figure out their power to do harm and actually start doing it I would expect a pretty swift response that eliminates anonyminity permanently.

You know it has to come and it is just a matter of time before a few lives are ruined... while the perpetrators are shielded from any consequences. I think it will be interesting to see just how this plays out and how many high school girls kill themselves over this sort of thing. My guess is you could probably drive your average housewife to either leave the country or kill herself based on enough volume of lies and viral spreading of vicious rumors. That might be fun to watch also.

That's not going to do much good. (3, Interesting)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295817)

People will just start trolling behind proxies/on public networks.

Or they'll use multiple accounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296629)

Like /.'s own barbara.hudson@unjava.com from http://slashdot.org/~Barbara%2C+not+Barbie [slashdot.org] = barbara.hudson@barbara-hudson.com from http://slashdot.org/~tomhudson [slashdot.org] who disappeared since 05/21/2012 he/she was exposed for her crap!

(Those are only a couple of the registered accounts he/she has, for upmodding herself and downmodding her opponents - others are gmhowell, countertrolling, webmistressrachel and more).

Yes, she uses TOR onion routers (which she spilled while posting as webmistressrachel) to do her "dirty work".

Even hairyfeet, a respected enough member here, knows about it and has fro year -> http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2872677&cid=40123423 [slashdot.org]

So small wonder THAT particular troll has not shown his/her face here in weeks (I've been getting trolled by AC posts for it now for roughly that same period, so it doesn't take a "big brain" to realize WHO is doing that to myself either).

APK

P.S.=> All you can REALLY do is expose them for it, as I & hairyfeet have to her:

She/He's a troll who has multiple accounts for trolling others, modding herself up and her opponents down, and stalking them by ac posts which she admits to here and told others to join her in doing which is breaking the rules of this forum as well as laws.

"Wait until he starts on another kick, then reply to him as an AC. It's the new meme." - by tomhudson (43916) on Sunday May 09 2010, @08:29PM (#32150544) Journal

from http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1646272&cid=32150544 [slashdot.org]

I've dealt with that particular KNOWN TROLL around here for more than a year now, & know EXACTLY how the scumbag operates, as do others (hairyfeet) above.

Still, like other online scum does? They'll just change to yet another alternate registered 'luser' account and do the same... Old trolls NEVER change their stripes, in other words! apk

House of Commons (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295827)

House of Commons? The august body that allows heckling during speeches? Cracking down on trolling?

Hmmm...

Re:House of Commons (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296117)

Not only that, but Members of Parliament have unlimited freedom of speech within the chambers. They can troll anyone they so please and no statute can be brought against them.

Hypocrisy, thy name is a Member of Parliament.

Re:House of Commons (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296625)

Not exactly. There are rules on what can and can't be said in the House of Commons, and although they're enforced by parliamentary procedure, not by statute, they are enforced.

Re:House of Commons (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296171)

Of course the parliamentary hecklers aren't anonymous, and there are rules about "unparliamentary language", which can be punished by a suspension from the house for some days.

So there's no argument by analogy there against unmasking internet trolls and making them subject punishment where they overstep the legal line on harassment.

Re:House of Commons (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296335)

Yes, the Speaker can moderate language and can certainly expel any MP for unparliamentary language or conduct. But an MP cannot be sued for what he says in the House, which is how Trafigura's dumping of toxic waste was fully outed even though a super injunction banned any mention of it. MPs enjoy a pretty much unlimited degree of freedom of speech, with only the rulings of the Speaker as the moderating force.

Re:House of Commons (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296415)

Absolutely. But that's the point. They have freedom of speech for use in whistleblowing etc. But using it for trollish purposes is punished.

No they are not forced.... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295831)

They can also simply block all users FROM the UK and solve it that way as well....

Companies always have the option to ignore laws from other countries and block the freedom hating country as a whole.

Re:No they are not forced.... (3, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295923)

Your freedom to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose.

Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

Re:No they are not forced.... (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296049)

I know you guys love your cameras everywhere, but a lot of other places people prefer EXISTING laws to catch criminals. If it's Harassment, then get off your arse and do detective work, Should we install cameras outside of your hose if someone sneaks up and sticks "WANKER" notes on your door?

it's the same thing. Hire someone to find the jerk that is harassing, or the police can get off their butts and stop eating doughnuts long enough to do their job. It is not hard to locate someone who is doing this online without making new laws to force a company to roll over and do the cops job for them.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296361)

If it's Harassment, then get off your arse and do detective work

That's what this law is allowing. Police to do detective work to find out who those indulging in harassment on the internet are. Gathering information from an individual or company that has incriminating evidence IS detective work. It's not wandering round with a magnifying glass looking for clues you know. Well not for the most part - that's for forensic and SOCO specialists.

Should we install cameras outside of your hose if someone sneaks up and sticks "WANKER" notes on your door?

Clearly not. This isn't about the occasional robust insult. It's about dealing with people who for example seek out Facebook tribute sites for people that have died, and post offensive comments about the person they never met, for no better reason than to get a reaction from grieving relatives.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296431)

Isn't that what the whole thing is about? Some idiots harass a woman, she wants to sue them, but doesn't know who they are. Has the options to either drop it, go to the police and demand an investigation (yes mam, of course we'll do that first thing in the morning *cough*) or contact facebook to get the info on the guys. Fb declines to answer without a court order, so she sues them in order to get one.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296567)

it's the same thing. Hire someone to find the jerk that is harassing, or the police can get off their butts and stop eating doughnuts long enough to do their job. It is not hard to locate someone who is doing this online without making new laws to force a company to roll over and do the cops job for them.

Ah, ha, so you can easy figure from which IP I'm posting this? And you know who am in real live (besides my signature gives it away, ofc.), so how would you figure who am I if I had not my sig?
Or how would a professional detective be able to do it?
Sorry, you simply write nonsense.

Re:No they are not forced.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296161)

Where do we stop with prohibiting people from causing harm? Do we demand that borderline people be outed and arrested?

Where does it stop? Do we ball-gag and handcuff the entire UK populace so that libel is impossible?

Libel and slander have their own laws, and in the UK, truth is not a defense. Those laws have "worked" for centuries.

Why add new laws? Even on the Internet, it still doesn't matter -- records can still be obtained by the courts.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296241)

The fact that truth is not a defense is the single most fucked up thing I have ever heard and pretty much destroys any faith I have in the legal system.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296481)

It's dangerous and irresponsible -- like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater! People could get hurt! There may well be a fire, but that's completely immaterial. The responsible thing to do is to assume that the authorities are already aware of it and are working on the situation in a way that best serves the interests of the state. Don't go playing hero, trying to encourage the good-eared and strong to escape by trampling the deaf and the weak.

(The above paragraph, BTW, may accurately called "trolling." It is insincere. Insincerity is a necessary ingredient of trolling. Take note, mods! If you think someone is actually moronic enough to hate whatever they're hating on (blacks, gays, linux, whatever) then you need to mod "flamebait".)

Re:No they are not forced.... (3, Informative)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296577)

The fact that truth is not a defense is the single most fucked up thing I have ever heard and pretty much destroys any faith I have in the legal system.

It's also shenanigans, because the very first defense listed in the bill is truthful statements:

(1) It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

SandorZoo (2318398) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296683)

I've heard this factoid of "truth is not always a defence" about English libel law before before. I have no idea how true it is (IANAL), but the proposed bill says this:

It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true.

The reports on the bill suggest this is already the case. It might

The courts have for many years recognised the common law defence of "justification" which protects publications that are substantially true.

See AC's comment downthread for links to PDFs of both.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296277)

Your freedom to swing your fists ends at the tip of my nose.

Nice to see this cliche used in the proper context, for once.

Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

You mean there aren't already laws on the books which criminalize slander and libel?

Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

Re:No they are not forced.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296475)

Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

If it's enough for a new patent, it's enough for a new law.

I plan to be the first to outlaw libel by way of holograms.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296635)

Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

There isn't. This bill is an amendment to the current law.

Re:No they are not forced.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296701)

You mean there aren't already laws on the books which criminalize slander and libel?

Sure, I agree there should be laws, but what I don't agree to is that there should be new laws just because the old ones don't specify "on a computer."

I had the same reaction as many people here when I read the headline, but the detail is actually considerably better. At the moment websites that allow user comments can be sued as the "publisher" of libellous comments from users. If the proposed law is drafted as it has been described, it will give immunity to websites provided they provide information to victims on users who have made libellous allegations.

This is also about civil defamation, not criminal defamation, BTW.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296519)

Harrassment and libel have real victims and even if you do not agree with how easy libel actions are brought to the courts in England and Wales, you would agree with the need for some sort of law prohibiting people from causing harm in these ways.

There are already laws prohibiting that.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296707)

Sorry, but the way the Internet is constructed right now everyone has the right to cause harm - it is just that they aren't exercising that right very much. Sure, people get hurt. People get hurt in bar fights also, but you don't see anyone making those illegal, do you? Well, maybe in some places but not everywhere. Think of the Internet as a way to have a bar fight with the lights out.

No, sorry, today you can't pass laws saying that nearly untracable people and unprovable identities are responsible for anything at all. The best you can get is catching people when they brag about the harm they have caused. This means the smart ones - the ones that do not brag - are untouchable.

Re:No they are not forced.... (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296309)

They can also simply block all users FROM the UK and solve it that way as well....

Companies always have the option to ignore laws from other countries and block the freedom hating country as a whole.

Like Hulu does with the non US parts of the world?

The process (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295853)

I think that this is an early draft text of the bill in question: http://inforrm.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/defamation-bill.pdf

Reports on the bill are quite informative. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201012/jtselect/jtdefam/203/203.pdf

These documents are reasonably short.

Foiled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295857)

Now Facebook will have to reveal that my alter ego Simon McMonkeypants is actually.....simon.mcmonkeypants@yahoo.com. He'll have to start connecting through a proxy I guess, though.

Where is the news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295881)

Saying something defamatory online is every bit as prosecutable as saying something defamatory offline, and has always been so. The idea that internet users are entirely anonymous and somehow immune from all legal consequences of their actions is nonsense and has always been so.

Re:Where is the news? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296159)

If you're not giving sites like Facebook real contact info and you're going through proxies or other anonymizers, then they won't be able to find you. As such, the most a court can ever hope to nail are the low-hanging fruit. What you might call the professional troll is so difficult to catch that in many cases you might as well call it impossible.

Re:Where is the news? (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296495)

Of course it is possible to hide your identity, but in my experience many of the guys harassing women aren't exactly that sophisticated. Some even use real email addresses and think a false name will do.

Re:Where is the news? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296529)

I doubt these are the 'l33t hack3r' type of troll. Most of them are probably at school still. The biggest problem in prosecution might be just finding one over the age of sixteen.

Re:Where is the news? (1)

a90Tj2P7 (1533853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296657)

I'd wager to guess the "low-hanging fruit" are actually the overwhelming majority, not "professional" trolls.

Does this mean... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295887)

... that bridge authorities are now liable for the trolls that might delve under their edifices? That bridges may be closed during rush hour, if police discovers a troll just that moment? Or torn down if trolls keep coming back?

Was not just trolling.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295889)

This lady didn't just get trolled on some random anonymous forum. She was stalked and harassed in a manner that is almost certainly criminal, and without a doubt would be considered criminal if it happened in any other non-internet related forum. There really isn't any need for any special legislation as existing laws undoubtedly cover what happened here.

Of course, this doesn't explain why Facebook dug their heels in. Nowadays I just expect Facebook to do the wrong thing in all cases, so I probably should not be suprised.

Re:Was not just trolling.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296299)

How is this "the wrong thing" for Facebook to do? It's not in the best interests of anyone. Let the lady or the cops get a subpoena and prosecute under existing laws. The alternative is either Facebook rolls over for ALL such requests or is forced to be the arbiter (which is a TERRIBLE role for them - leave that to judges).

Re:Was not just trolling.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296413)

Maybe she should take things less seriously. The internet is in fact different from the real world. "stalking" and "harrassing" are completely different when it's words on a website as opposed to the real potential threat of bodily harm.

Re:Was not just trolling.. (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296535)

Simple answer: Never give out any information, unless ordered by a court to do so (or in facebook's case being properly paid).

I misread that title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295903)

House of Commons Could Force Social Networks To Indemnify [merriam-webster.com] Trolls

*trollface* lol u cnat sue me.

whas wrong with Trols byotches? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295907)

Can someone on Echo Isles Realm run me through Dead Mines? I'm a lvl 10 Paladin.

I support this (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295913)

(instant -1 from slashdot crowd)

For those of you willing to listen to my reason and not knee jerk hate me, you have to understand that there are certain people who very carefully hide IN ORDER to hate on their neighbors in SMALL TOWN forums. If you live in a big city, consider yourself immune. Otherwise please hear me out:

Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria. Anonymity is important, for example, with Wikileaks and Anonymous and any whistle blowers, because of the power imbalance involved. Anonymity is basically besides the fact on national or international level comment boards, such as Slashdot: you might as well be anonymous, since only the force of your ideas matter, not your name.

But in SMALL TOWN forums, among a couple hundred or thousand people who are neighbors, hiding and hating is a serious problem, and should be fought.

Only in that context, a small town forum, do I agree anonymity need to be unmasked.

There are people out there with serious problems, and they ruin small community forums with their abusive attitude by constantly steering all discussions to their strife. And it's always from careful hiding with these characters. You are talking about one troll who can basically sit on a forum and utterly destroy it, for a small community.

Please understand that this is a real problem before you form an opinion on the matter:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/small-town-gossip-moves-to-the-web-anonymous-and-vicious.html [nytimes.com]

Re:I support this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295969)

Wah, boo hoo baby. This will never happen since the government is a big source of a lot of trolling.

Re:I support this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296141)

If someone living in a small town can't withstand hateful, ignorant, erroneous gossip being said about them, especially if it comes from anonymous people, then they should fricking move out of town. Merely because it's "on the internet" doesn't make it a magically new problem. It may be stupid and wrong, but gossip is still going to happen with new technology or old, and assholes can still mess up a public forum if that is their goal. Deal with it. Learn to recognize trolls and not feed them what they want. Provide a decent moderation system and shut them down. It's not *so* difficult that you have to bring in legislation that will inevitably be abused and used to chill *valid* criticisms too.

Re:I support this (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296183)

yeah. and if you are bullied at school, you should switch schools. and if you are harassed at work, you should get another job. and if you are the victim of road rage, you should take another route to work. etc, etc.

it's not actually the better choice to go after the bully, right?

Re:I support this (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296191)

Yes Anonymity is important... for when it's appropiate.

Re:I support this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296287)

exactly. anonymity is all about a power imbalance

if one feels safe and secure there is no reason to hide your identity on line

plenty of environments you are not safe and not secure in your choice of words, therefore, your anonymity is important and should be preserved

however, there is a subset of forums and a subset of behaviors for which anonymity is chosen in order to CREATE a power imbalance and be the source of insecurity and menace. this is only true in forums for small communities, where one or two such individuals can completely destroy the forum

life is complicated. no dictum about any right or freedom is absolute, simply because there is always an edge condition. take any single right you can imagine, and there is ALWAYS an exception where this right is no longer a right. the right to life, for example: you give up your right to life when you threaten the life another, for example

true wisdom understands there are no absolutes, and every right or freedom you propose has completely logically valid exceptions

Re:I support this (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296285)

The problem here is where do you draw the line? If we all agree that creating technical means for citizens of dictatorial regimes to communicate with each other and the rest of the world is important, perhaps even critical, then at what level do you say "Okay, this is no longer desirable..." I agree that this sort of functionality can be abused, but I'm just not sure you can create this sort of line in the sand, and one side the ability to post information and claims anonymously is sacrosanct, and on the other side it is not.

And it's not as if this just began with the Internet Age. Anonymous speech has been critical to the envisioning and spread of liberty. At the same time, there is a dark side, in that anonymity has also been used to slander people. But is that different than any other form of speech, or indeed any other liberty? And does the fact that someone can use anonymity for malevolent reasons mean we have to create some sort of artificial barrier that we can never fully rationalize?

You take the good with the bad, I think. If someone is libeling someone on forums anonymously, then obviously a court is going to have the power to demand that troll's identifying information (indeed, I can't quite figure out why any new law is necessary, since courts have had the right to demand anonymous sources be identified for a long time). But there are going to be cases when the trolls are going to be use the same technology that we feel is so valuable in places like Syria, and at that point, I guess the only thing we can do is to rely upon the forum owners themselves to remove libelous posts. At some point there is going to be an identifiable person, whether it's the domain owner or the hosting company, that can be reached and forced to take down sites that are libelous in nature.

Of course, England has absolute horrible libel laws, which is why Congress has gone out of its way to make sure that clearly abusive judgments from English courts cannot be enforced in the United States to at least stop US citizens from libel shopping.

Re:I support this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296321)

my answer is simple: life isn't simple

there are grey areas. always. everywhere. pick the most complicated set of rules capturing all conditions you can possibly imagine, and there are still exceptions you haven't taken into consideration

this is the nature of the world you live in. the wisest person knows they don't know everything. the moron believes they know the answer to everything with a few simple absolutes

Re:I support this (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296393)

In which case, a court issuing an order to provide the identity of the poster, where possible, and where it is not, at least requiring the forum owner, the domain owner and/or the hosting company to remove the offending material is the best we can hope for, because a clever enough troll is going to be all but uncatchable, no matter how severe the laws may be made, and they don't get much more severe than places like Iran, where if you say things the government doesn't like, you go to jail... or worse.

Re:I support this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296469)

yes, but you are confusing issues. in iran everyone should be anonymous because the source of the abuse is the government. the topic of this discussion is when the abuse comes form the carefully hiding abuser. finally, it should be easier to unmask such abusers, it shouldn't be a difficult legal process. it's easy to make a hateful anonymous comment. it should be just as easy to unmask the hater. otherwise, the power imbalance is in favor of the abuser

Re:I support this (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296293)

>>>Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria

It's just as important in the UK or EU or US. It worries me that more and more forums are forcing me to use my real name. I do not want the last ~20 years of my posts to be hanging-around on the internet, easily searchable by my employer or the government, just by typing my name. I want anonymity.

Re:I support this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296427)

but you do understand the right you want is abused? you do understand that this abuse is the source of the problem? it's not about jack booted thugs taking away your rights just because they are controlling assholes, but because there is a logical, credible reason for the limitations?

examples:

http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/small-town-gossip-moves-to-the-web-anonymous-and-vicious.html?sort=recommended [nytimes.com]

9.
Laura
Cleveland, OH
September 20th, 2011
8:58 am

I share Mrs. James' sentiments about negative posting on social media sites. My husband and I were harshly spoken about by Columbia Local School District (District 4705 Lorain County Ohio) teachers and parents because we spearheaded a campaign against the school levy and revealed facts in the newspaper which the school district would rather not be exposed. Persons, both teachers and parents, who posted on Columbia Station Chalik and Columbia P.T.A. through Facebook were downright vicious. We took that viciousness and published it in the local tattletale newspaper, The Rural-Urban Record. When people know they are being watched, they tend to check their behaviour. We made what people thought was anonymous public. Remember, if it's on a web site, it's public because it can be found. If what Mrs. James is experiencing is slander, all of what is out there can be discovered through tracing URLs; she will then find out who is making the comments and they will no longer be anonymous. They have damaged her. Those people need to be stopped. We found our way--we published their stupidity in the newspaper and we had the material to back up our statements. I hope she finds her way.

good one:

12.
Mark
Indianapolis
September 20th, 2011
9:52 am

The flip side of freedom is personal responsibility. But we don't teach that in our schools. It is all about our precious first amendment rights. When these rights are taken to their extreme, we have tyranny and abuse of others, which is what we are seeing in this town and in cities and towns all across the country. We could always pass more law to punish those who post false or misleading information, but the real problem lies in the angry, fearful small minded people who would post these malicious lies just to have a moment's reprieve from their own miserable existence. The earlier commenter quoting Jesus's "love one another as you love yourself is on target, but it makes the assumption that these people love themselves. They don't. Until these people can look in the mirror and like what they see, they will continue to spew their hateful message...because that is who they are.

and my favorite:

Zack Worrell
charlottesville, va
September 20th, 2011
1:12 pm

I'm no hater, but I truly dislike many opinions and attitudes of Americans today. I'm certain that I am not alone here. I feel that the internet, and all of the ways in which it is a wonderful tool, fails to be a vehicle for changing opposing attitudes and helping to resolve disagreements.

As I write this there is somebody sitting there saying" this guy is a loser" or "he has no idea about what he is talking about." But that is fine and perfectly healthy, that is why living in a free country is so amazing. We should be always be grateful for this even when our dialogues turn into debate.

The problem I see comes with some specific aspects of how we use the Internet. Specifically our identity and
the desire to use anonymity to shield ourselves from critics. The sad fact is that our American Bill of Rights was created to protect freedom of speech. But the problem now stems from the fact that we abuse this right when we disguise our identity to say harmful things that infringe upon the rights of others. If you look at the comments on this very page you will see that less than half of the posters use their real names. This is the problem. There is no sense of responsibility. Anyone can say virtually anything with no accountability for their actions. This is turn also has created a trend, that as we use the internet to have dialogue and debate, we are actually undermining the need for a First Amendment. You may say what?

What is happening is that as we hide our identities, but continue to be an active part of dialogue and exchange over the internet, we are making the Freedom of Speech irrelevant because we have already shown that we are afraid to speak our minds freely without retribution. In other words when you hide your identity you have given away the need to protect your voice because in essence your voice has no identity to protect.

Another more simple reason is that most people who make insulting comments with no identity are simply cowards plain and simple.

Re:I support this (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296719)

"Checking... hmm. According to this comment, he sometimes looks at porn, and he once said something insulting about a religion. Too much of a legal risk to hire. Next."

No, not sarcasm. That's fully how I expect employers to make their decisions. They are currently swamped for applicants, they can afford to be picky.

Re:I support this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296337)

Grow up.

"Only in that context, a small town forum, do I agree anonymity need to be unmasked."

That's not the way it works. If it did, you would have the sheriff always cracking down on robinhood. Your reason isn't logical because there could be a rotten fish market, but everyone is too scared to complain. If you can unmask the complainer, then you have complete control over people's lives, might as well feed them shit, or nuclear fallout instead of fish. Oh that's right we already are eating shit and nuclear fallout.

You quote the NY Times. Fuck the NY Times, they are the problem.

Here is where you should start your news.
http://blacklistednews.com/ [blacklistednews.com]

some of it is crap some is real, you have to discern the truth.

If the world don't get a grip on Agenda 21, the banksters, the Constitution (or the house of criminals fucking the uk residents) your small town won't matter anymore.

That's the reality, reality is different than reason, while reason is far from logic

The house of criminals isn't going to help you with social networking they have control over all the rules of that game, the best thing you could do is run your own website, but even that is under their rules, the only true way to get away from them is to not be dependent on them for anything at all. That's a tall order, but either when the crash or are forced out it's one that will have to be filled. Otherwise you end up with utter fucking lunatics doing the cleanup on Fukushima.

If you control your own server, you can clean or moderate it yourself. Yes you might be up for three days at a time, or up at 2-3 in the morning fucking with databases. But If you can't deal with that, and can't find someone to deal with it for you, the truth is you really have no business staying on the web. I ain't saying you can't be there, but your kind of like a deer in the headlights waiting to be ran over. Don't delude yourself

Re:I support this (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296339)

Ha ha, and our local control freak, gov't sock puppet has spoken, like the true tyrant of free individuals that he is.

There is no gov't intervention in this matters that is justified under any conditions, any and all conditions. If somebody wants to fight this privately, hire a private investigator, etc., it's their business. Allowing gov't ANY freedom on the matters of speech at all.... well, what else is new from this jerkofsqure.

Re:I support this (2)

Loughla (2531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296459)

I agree with you. In the small towns near where I live (populations of ~ 650, 140, 40, 20), we have a local newspaper. This paper has a relatively lively comments section related to the print stories. The comments are always hijacked by someone who has a personal vendetta against the schools.

It could be an article about how the sidewalks in the park have to be replaced, or about how the Johnson's have taken a 5 generation picture (both actual examples), and the same Anonymous poster leads the discussion with something about how the school board and teachers are bastards, and that the mayor of the largest of the four towns is out to destroy the world, etc. etc.

In this instance, you have to remove the anonymity, because it kills any and all rational discourse. - A quote from the discussions on an article related to longer hours for a church secretary and daycare staff (again, small towns, not a lot going on):

-----Loughla: Well, it's great that Sara will be there most of the day now, that means we don't have to rush to pick our kids up from daycare anymore. -----Anonymous: Yeah, well if the school board would get off its fat ass and make the teachers work we wouldnt have this porblem [sic]. -----Loughla: Okay, then, not sure how that applies in July. -----Anonymous: Fuck off socialist.

TA DA!!

Re:I support this (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296527)

exactly. only in CERTAIN CONDITIONS should anonymity be removed. where a certain character USES the anonymity to be an abusive asshole, where the size of the forum is small, and the venom can have terrible real life consequences (the reputation of a real person in a small town, for example)

otherwise, anonymity is important to FIGHT abusers, such as certain governments, or with power imbalances, such as a whistleblower against a corporation

it is more important to fight abusive power imbalances. anonymity is just a tool

sometimes anonymity is used by the abusers, sometimes anonymity is used to fight the abuse. it depends upon the context

Re:I support this (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296523)

For those of you willing to listen to my reason and not knee jerk hate me, you have to understand that there are certain people who very carefully hide IN ORDER to hate on their neighbors in SMALL TOWN forums. If you live in a big city, consider yourself immune. Otherwise please hear me out:

Judging from your username and the source you linked to, I seriously doubt you have much experience with small, midwestern communities, and definitely know less about them than those of us who actually live there, but sure, I'll hear you out.

But in SMALL TOWN forums, among a couple hundred or thousand people who are neighbors, hiding and hating is a serious problem, and should be fought.

And you know this how? Membership in "SMALL TOWN forums" on the internet are not necessarily limited to people who actually live there, you know. For all we know, the prick calling Jim's wife a methwhore is some 13 year old in his mother's Orange County, CA basement.

Even it it wasn't, who gives a fuck? Sticks and stones, man, sticks and stones.

Only in that context, a small town forum, do I agree anonymity need to be unmasked.

Why? So you can hunt down the individual who said something you don't like and harass them for it?

Have you ever even been to a small midwestern community, let alone lived in one? I have and do, and let me tell you, if you're different in any way (like, say, being a "nerd" or homosexual), anonymity is a survival necessity. Matthew Shepard's story is a perfect example of what happens when rednecks find out that you're something they don't like. Or maybe that's what you're gunning for?

There are people out there with serious problems, and they ruin small community forums with their abusive attitude by constantly steering all discussions to their strife.

No, what 'ruins' small communities is coastal assholes who insist they know how we middle Americans think. You don't. Piss off.

You are talking about one troll who can basically sit on a forum and utterly destroy it, for a small community.

No. See, around these parts, there's a saying - "If I took every bad thing some idiot said about me to heart, I'd never get any sleep." That wisdom applies to internet forums as well.

Please understand that this is a real problem before you form an opinion on the matter:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/small-town-gossip-moves-to-the-web-anonymous-and-vicious.html [nytimes.com]

So, to back your assumptions about the effect of online negativity in rural America, you link to... a New York Times article? Really dude? Right, because the asshats that refer to this entire region as "flyover country" are going to be the experts on heartland psychology. And I'm a flying golden panda bear.

Re:I support this (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296615)


Anonymity is important, for example, in Syria. Anonymity is important, for example, with Wikileaks and Anonymous and any whistle blowers, because of the power imbalance involved.
In states like that you are not anonymous, regardless of the law.
The only way to be that would be that theb service provider definitely does not save your IP.

Re:I support this (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296631)

Why not abolish anonymity for such forums. If you now your members, give them personalized accounts and only allow account holders to post. That also stops external posters and spammers. If you trust your operator, you can reintroduce some form of pseudo anonymity where a posters name is not shown, but recorded by the system. Make sure everybody knows how it works and enjoy a decent discussion for once.

Those are two separate problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296699)

Yes, the problem you described is real. Anonymity, just like most things, can be misused.

But the other problem here is that people want government to address the first problem, instead of dealing with it themselves.

IMNSHO, learning how to deal with the Internet is just like growing up: much of the work depends on the individual, not the state.

FU FF 13! (-1, Offtopic)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295925)

1. about:config
2. browser.newtab.url = about:blank

FF doesn't need to show every goddamned shoulder-surfer in the coffehouse my top 13 pr0n sites.

Re:FU FF 13! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296599)

1. about:config

2. browser.newtab.url = about:blank

FF doesn't need to show every goddamned shoulder-surfer in the coffehouse my top 13 pr0n sites.

Perhaps you shouldn't be surfing pr0n in the coffeehouse? Or on your run-from-USB-stick browser?

Wait, hold on a tick, you surf pr0n on your primary browser profile? And you don't even turn on private/incognito mode? AND you bring a computer or USB stick with that profile on it out in public? Dude, seriously, in that case you're just getting what's coming to you if you're THAT fucking retarded about it.

Sure, set the newtab URL to blank, that can just be personal taste, but don't blame the browser if you're an idiot. Idiot.

Re:FU FF 13! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296703)

FIRESUX CAN LICK MY BALLS. Amen to that, dude. This is beyond gay. So I don't remember "upgrading" from v. 3 to v. 12. But evidently I'm at v. 12 now. So much for security.

Wow, the UK just became king of trolls (1)

BMOC (2478408) | more than 2 years ago | (#40295939)

They're going to get a lot of replies on this, they win.

The English: Obsessed With Public Opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40295965)

From the country with the strictest libel and defamation laws in the world and the "super-injunction" which is a court order preventing you from talking about someone, or even talking about the existence of the order, comes this latest effort to control speech. Now you won't be able to even say something negative about someone else online without being tracked down and sued.

Re:The English: Obsessed With Public Opinion (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296675)

If you don't dare to insult people face to face, you probably should just shut up.

Alternative title for the story (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296057)

Here is an alternative title for the story 'House of Commons Uncommonly stupid'

Only in Britain... (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296089)

Only in Britain, with their extreme libel, defamation, and slander laws, can a random and potentially anonymous "taunt" be considered vicious and/or depraved.

AnonCoward045: You're an idiot and lick goats daily!
Lawyer: This vicious and depraved comment has ruined the reputation of "Dougaliscious81" amongst his 16 followers. Expect to be sued for eleventy billion pounds!

Re:Only in Britain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296259)

And even if AnonCoward045's statement is 100% factually true, that is NO DEFENSE under UK law. How fucked up is that?

Re:Only in Britain... (1)

shippers (1100005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296559)

And even if AnonCoward045's statement is 100% factually true, that is NO DEFENSE under UK law. How fucked up is that?

Yes there is. [bbc.co.uk]

jurisdiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40296091)

i didn't know facebook and twitter were uk-based sites or companies.

what are they gonna do, threaten to add them to the growing uk firewall if they don't give in (to a foreign government's demands).

Key point (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296229)

"allow victims of online abuse to discover the identity of their persecutors and bring a case against them"

You know what? I can get behind this.

There are already laws against this sort of thing - libel, slander laws. They work fine, except when the victim is anonymous.

IF the law requires there to be an actual lawsuit in order to uncover someone's identity, that's fine. If it's serious enough for the victim to be suing, and serious enough for a judge to not immediately laugh the victim out of court, then it's serious enough that the speaker should be forced to defend himself.

Another useful key point: "aims to protect websites from threats of litigation for inadvertently displaying defamatory comments".

Wow (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296245)

With the economy in the crap, the government so unpopular that the Labour Party, who destroyed said economy with a decade of easy credit, look set to win a majority at the next election and the EU falling apart all around them, I'm glad to see that Parliament have found time to pass a law about something so unimportant.

Re:Wow (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40296359)

Tune in next week when they waste even more time on Lords Reform. The Coalition has become rather deft at doing anything but what it's supposed to be doing. They almost seem to view winning government the same way a Calvin viewed his sandbox.

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