Friday, 24 September 2010

Hard Cases, Bad Law, And Deja Bloody Vu….

The grieving father of a truck driver who killed himself in a gas-filled car in a pact with a woman he met on the internet has called on the government to ban online suicide discussion forums.
Well, of course he has. He’s grieving. Which is why no-one should be taking any notice of him with regards to policy!
"They should be banned," said Lumb, who shared a house with his son. "Why do they have such things? How can people talk other people into how to take their lives? These websites are terrible. I think they should be illegal because they are very dangerous for people. I had no idea he was using this website."
I feel for him, I really do.

He wants answers, and someone/something to blame, rather than blame his son for his bad choices. It’s human nature. But it's led to lousy, illiberal legislation before, so no need to add more to the pile...
Users of suicide forums are encouraged to employ pseudonyms and the source of the discussion forums is difficult to trace. The threads relating to Lumb and Lee are aggregated on numerous websites which gather discussions on the topic of suicide, one of which is hosted in Germany, but the original forums are hosted elsewhere.
And there’s the rub. We could set up a quango dedicated to ‘combating’ this, we could instruct the over-burdened police to take on illegal UK-based forums, and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference.
Thomas Strohe, the founder of the site's internet service provider, Intergenia, said he would ask Langenbeck to remove the suicide threads, but stressed there was no way ISPs could police this area because the discussion forums are hosted on multiple servers across the internet.

"We are fighting a war we have no way of winning," he said. "But why should people not be able to discuss suicide? I think some of this stuff is disgusting, but it comes down to a different point of view."
Precisely. And until they find a way of outlawing points of view (and believe me, they are trying!) this will always happen.

The problem isn’t the Internet; the problem is that a man decided to take his own life, and met up with a woman who desired the same end. The Internet simply made it easier to do so, not made it possible where it wasn’t so before…

But knee-jerk ‘something must be done!’ outcries like this one are meat and drink to the people who really do long to control the web, and stifle it. And they will, sure as eggs is eggs, be used to ensure that legislation is drafted that does nothing to resolve the issue, and everything to erode further our free speech and right to live our lives without the state poking its nose it.

In fact, I see they are already planning yet more attacks on the 'dangerous' Internet:

* Communicating with the victim by email
* Damaging the victim's reputation online
* Identity theft
* Using the internet for surveillance of the victim
* Tricking other internet users into harassing or threatening the victim
Check out the wrong person's Facebook account? Decide to follow them on Twitter? You're (potentially) going to jail...

Today, of all days, is not the time to be considering new, potentially useless legislation, is it?

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