Trolls alert too little, too late, Mr Bryant

December 22nd, 2015 by

I was disgusted to read the comments by Rhondda MP Chris Bryant criticising internet trolls for trolling him and other MPs (‘Don’t listen to Twitter trolls, says MP Bryant,’ December 11).

Where was Chris Bryant when RCT resident Georgia Davis was hospitalised for being the victim of trolls mocking her weight? Chris Bryant also only became interested in the phone-hacking scandal when he realised he was personally affected.

Chris Bryant said to me once that the reason he went into politics was to change the world. I am assuming that, like most politicians, he is at the centre of his own universe.

No-fly-zone guarded refugee camps right option

October 19th, 2015 by

It is my view that the UK Government’s policy on creating refugee camps in Syria is the right one, even if it is being done for political and not ethical reasons.

Working with the UN to create safe and well supplied refugee camps, protected with RAF and Royal Navy no-fly zones, will do a lot more to help refugees than encouraging them to take risky journeys to Europe.

The picture the media showed of just one Syrian boy is eclipsed by the 100s that die on the way to Europe each day. Once this image ceases to have effect, the xenophobia that arose from the first Tory government’s cuts to welfare will be eclipsed by those refugees receiving aid from the UK government that its own home-born citizens are being denied even more so following the election.

I prefer to call Europe’s problem the “migration crisis” rather than the “refugee” or “migrant” crisis. It is the war in Syria that is causing the need for migration, not the people who are the victims of that war. If there were safe refugee camps in Syria, which parents would seriously risk their children’s lives to cross into Europe?

E-learning statistics are not that unusual

January 13th, 2015 by

As one of the most recognised researchers on lurking and e-learning, and a co-editor of the book Didactic Strategies and Technologies for Education: Incorporating Advancements, I must question Plaid Cymru’s logic on the use of the Hwb e-learning platform by school-based learners (Western Mail, January 3).

On the internet lurkers, who don’t use a service, make up 90% of people signed up. Usually 9% will be occasional users, with 1% contributing towards most of the activity. So the fact that only 529,481 young people use the platform is not surprising.

I do, however, agree that there is a problem with teacher take up of new technologies. Many teacher training courses in Wales still think of teaching as involving a teacher standing up in front of a board and blabbing off a series of facts to people they think should listen.

As I found when I was a governor at Parc Lewis Primary School in Pontypridd, there are forces of conservativism at work who are all too happy to hold back children by not adopting methods more suited to their way of learning, which are outside teachers’ capabilities.
It is time to realise that times have changed, and for today’s digital teens, learning is something they are always doing, and more often than not the things relevant to them are not learned at school.

Misandrist and sexist article

November 22nd, 2014 by

I found the article in the Echo about man flu offensive (“Man flu epidemic hits Wales“, November 18).

No doubt it was an attempt to be humorous. However, being a workaholic man always stocked with cold and flu remedies so my productivity doesn’t slip, I saw the article as misandrist. It was sexist, portraying men as malingerers, but I am not going to call for the author to be prosecuted, as some would likely demand if it was a misogynistic tweet sent by a 20-year-old man.

From my point of view sexist jokes like this are free speech and no one has the right not to be offended. The only time sexism should be a problem is if it denies a person the right to an opportunity they are entitled to on the grounds of their sex. There is no democracy without freedom of expression.

Don’t VProud – VAshamed

November 4th, 2014 by

VProud has been touted as a social networking service for women says The Cut. For me it is better named VAshamed.

The idea of creating a social networking for women as an alternative to a mainstream site like Facebook is disgraceful.

Throughout history, women have given their lives to get equal rights for men and women onto the statute books. To say it is a good thing not to enforce these rights shows they don’t make women like they used to. It seems today’s feminists want to have the rights that were hard won, but none of the responsibilities that go with them. They seem to want to fight with their mouth but let their brain to a runner.

My grandmother is what I call Rhondda Woman – whilst it was Rhondda Man who thought he was the head of the household, it was Rhondda Woman who actually was, ensuring that the children were fed before the money had a chance to get peed away at the pub. My grandmother was a political activist, knocking on doors to further her political beliefs.

When people were abusive to my grandmother, she wouldn’t roll on the floor crying like Caroline Criado-Perez and Stealla Creasy MP have over a few trolls, she would continue to argue for what she believed in.

It is one thing to have websites like Cafe Mom, where women who are mothers can meet like-minded people to share experiences with, but for women to leave a mainstream website like Facebook or Twitter because of trolls shows they do not deserve the hard-fought rights they are all too easily giving up.

How the law of proportionality can be used against Internet trolling and sexting

October 25th, 2014 by
The NSPCC has started a campaign saying that the law as it stands is not able to prosecute people who send sexual messages to children on all occasions – I disagree. The law of proportionality can always be used.
Essentially, if a law is interpreted on the basis of proportionality, as discussed in my LLM thesis, rather than literality as is usually the case, then the law could always be used for what it was intended to be used for not simply what it says or doesn’t say. However, the laws I have suggested below can work with literality also.

Revenge porn

The voyeurism parts of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 can be used for revenge porn because it was intended to protect people who had a realistic expectation of privacy from being monitored with a technology without their consent. The same part was intended to prevent people from getting gratification from monitoring others in a sexual context who didn’t consent to them doing so.

Sending indecent, obscene or menacing messages

The Communications Act 2003 was made in the wake of cyberbullying via text messages on mobile phones and when Friendster and Yahoo!Chat were the most popular social networking platforms where people were being abused. Facebook is essential a more user-friendly version of Friendster, and Twitter is a more accessible and popular version of Yahoo!Chat. Twitter originally started as a way to share text messages with friends, and has since with its asynchronous communication become more like a chatroom. If the findings of my 2009 paper on genre are applied to Twitter now, it fits in the Chat Group genre and not the Weblog genre it did when it started.

Encouraging or inciting the sending of illegal messages

The provisions of the Communications Act, such as section 127, were intended to prevent the sending of any message via a public communications network such as the Internet or mobile phone that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character. This means children can theoretically be prosecuted for sending sexts. Taking this with the Serious Crimes Act 2007, already used in the wake of the 2011 UK riots against trolls, anyone inciting a child to send such messages is guilty of an offence.
People have been saying that the various trolling laws predate social media. Social media is simply a buzzword for ‘user generated content’ which has existed since Usenet, BBS and the Web. There is no problem today with social networking services that did not exist back then. My mother took my CB radio from me when she noticed a potential sex pest was talking to me in the 1990s – he could have been prosecuted under section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and the inchoate offence of incitement, which is a virtually identical process to section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 being used with sections 44 to 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Harassment and malicious communications

Statutory amendments by New Labour and the one by the Coalition Government have both updated the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and indeed the proposed two-year jail term and allowing trolling to be heard in a Crown Court is being made to the Malicious Communications Act 1988, which New Labour updated to apply to electronic messages. This means technically in 5 or 10 years time when a new buzzword is out, people will still be able to say these Acts predate for instance quantum computing!

Vanessa Feltz rape comments disappointing

October 20th, 2014 by

I was interviewed this morning on BBC London 94.9 and it was one of the most disappointing interviews I’ve done.

I was being interviewed by Vanessa Feltz, who as many people know, and as she stated on the show, she had been sexually assaulted by Rolf Harris.

Instead of how I expected – that she would have empathy for the victims of rape who find the lack of control that comes from being the target of abuse on Twitter difficult to deal with – Vanessa Feltz was siding with the trolls saying that because she was not affected by not reading it, then others should be the same.

I’m wondering if this is the case of Stockholm syndrome, where because she has not properly come to terms with the sexual assault against her, that Vanessa Feltz is avoiding hearing points of view like mine – that victims of rape should be treated as having lower fortitude than people who are not – because it means she doesn’t have to accept how what happened changed her life.

Venessa Feltz was asking me whether I thought that trolls should go to jail for two years. She cut me off when I was trying to explain to her than in the case of Caroline Criado-Perez – a feminist never out of the news – then no, because she should have the fortitude to do it. But in the case of a victim of rape, who is being made to relive the experience, and is out of the public eye, then there is certainly less of a case for being lenient as they know the traumatic effects their comments are having.

In my research I call a physical or mental injury a “bleasure,” which I translated through the French word “blessure.” People who have been raped and thus suffered a bleasure are more prone to be harmed. Vanessa Feltz as a victim of sexual assault should be able to appreciate this.

A matter of priorities

October 5th, 2014 by

Can I ask why the police took nearly a year having Peter Nunn convicted for trolling feminists (The Yorkshire Post Post, October 1), yet they can’t find time to prosecute the 25,000 paedophiles perpetuating organised child abuse online?

The technologies and experts used to collect and present computer forensics for both is the same. And the laws used to prosecute online sex predators are often the same used to prosecute trolls. Are the authorities seriously saying that cry-baby feminists are a higher priority than the protection of children?

I might support UK’s exit from EU

September 9th, 2014 by

I am for the first time in my life considering supporting the exit of the UK from the EU. This is not because they want me to have to wait longer for a cup of tea, but because a new law goes against the very reason I believe in the EU’s existence.

The EU started as and should simply be a single customs union that exists to break down barriers to free trade. But its recent change of rules on VATinstead creates barriers.

The Welsh Government says how IT businesses like mine are essential to the economy, but now the EU want it so that if I sell digital services to customers in other EU countries I should have to register for VAT in each country!

If I were to sell digital services via my US company then it would be no different to now – I would register it for VAT in the UK and pay all my VAT to the UK Government no matter where in the EU I sell to.

It seems to enjoy the benefits the EU was set up for in terms of a single customs union, digital firms in Wales are faced with the choice of either voting for the UK to leave the EU or voting with their feet and moving their business out of the EU.

Important you realise this…

August 6th, 2014 by

Being an internet trolling expert, I read the article on the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales clearing councillor Keith Jones of unfounded allegations arising out of “liking” photographs on the social media platform Instagram (Echo, August 5).

The article states that Councillor Jones is still under investigation by his party – the Labour Party, which is as techno-phobic as when I was one of its youngest councillors aged 23. I left the party in 2011 aged 31 when New Labour came to an end, and I wish it were possible for each member to realise something very important about the party they support.

There is no loyalty in the Labour Party – there is always someone ready to jump into your shoes. The party is narcissistic, and any member, however established, should accept that if they are accused of something that makes the party less electable then no matter how many years of service they have given, they will be out on their ears.

So based on my experience as a Labour Party branch and constituency officer, who provided reports to support potential election candidates, whether Councillor Jones is cleared by the party will unlikely be based on whether he is guilty or innocent, but whether or not they see him as an electoral liability or not.