Internet Law: Cyberbullying and revenge porn

Cyberbullying and revenge porn

Bullying has long been a problem in all areas of life, in school, the workplace, and amongst friendship groups, however you would of had your head buried in the sand for the past few years not to have recognised the sharp rise in the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and the associated abuse of cyber-bullying and revenge porn that has become part and parcel of everyday life.

Too often news

 breaks of another person who has suffered online abuse; from previously anonymous members of society such as 14 year old Hannah Smith and 17 year old Daniel Perry both teenage victims of cyberbullies who ended their own lives, to celebrity names such a Chloe Madeley who wa

s targeted after her mother Judy Finnigan commented about the footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans, to the infamous Monica Lewinski who claims to be the first cyberbullying victim of all time. The victims are endless and from all walks of life. Anyone can be subjected to cyber bullying as the amenity of the internet empowers the perpetrators and exposes vulnerable victims.

The cruel nature of cyberbullying allows perpetrators to remain anonymous and disconnected with the real world and hide behind their screens. This anonymity from the web entices people to behave in a way that they may not in the real world. Some 

people are of the belief that it is OK to bully people online, but would not have the intention of doing so in real life – they are distanced from their victim and so they care less.

The main motives for cyberbullying are either amusement or revenge which is clearly evident with the increase in revenge porn cases. This week in the news a 14-year-old schoolboy was found to be the youngest person to be convicted of a revenge porn offence when he was found guilty of selling nude pictures of his ex-girlfriend after they split up. He had retained 170 images of his ex-girlfriend which he was intending to distribute to his school friends via social networking websites and exchanged the explicit images of the girl, to a male friend for £10 via Facebook.

So what is the answer? Should school children be educated on the effects of their online presence? Should social media sites become regulated? Should the law change? Well Justice Secretary Chris Grayling proposes that it is time to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”. The proposals intend to allow the police further time to gather evidence as well as extend the current 6 month sentence to two years for both cyberbullying and revenge porn cases. This may act as a deterrent to some, but with the internet being as expansive and as global as it is, can the real abuse inflicted by material proliferating online really be stopped?

Our own Rupinder Bains is a guest speaker at the Commonwealth Parliamentarians Conference this weekend in Gibraltar, focussing on the very real and serious issue of abuse on Social Media.

 

Simone Barton