Both Sky News and the Guardian come this Sunday with stories on how Prime Minister David Cameron is calling on web companies to block certain sexual child abuse searches.
That sounds nice in theory and I am all for hunting down these groups. Yet, that request is at least 10 years late and in all honesty, I reckon it is a massive waste of time and resources. How long until these perverts come up with ‘other’ search terms? We would even be allowing for some to get away scot free as they searched for “yummier candy” or whatever other code they would be using. The Judge would have to let these people go as they were truly looking for a place to dunk their bagels in jelly?
As stated, I am all for hunting these people down. Yet perhaps other means should be (should have been is a lot better) employed. Google had been so innovative in avoiding corporate taxation, are they not aiding the police (not just in the UK) hunting down these people? They have the hardware, the software, the expertise and more options on their shelves. In addition the PM should actually stop that gap which allows Google to only pay 0.0025% in taxation (but that is a story for another time).
No matter how quick we stop this gap of non-taxation. Google has in my view and strong belief a moral duty to train the police and other units in search and track knowledge (perhaps they are). They have no issues in teaching/aiding bosses to track their employees. Yet, hunting down criminals is not in their scope? (At http://business.time.com/2012/06/27/google-maps-now-helping-your-boss-track-your-every-move/). It was stated in the article that “the cost to workplace privacy would be serious“. Is that true? If you get paid by the hour, should you not be working? In the office, one is supposed to sit at their desk. There are always reasons why we need to go somewhere, yet we should be at our desks for a certain time. So it is easy and perfectly OK to track employees and we cannot track criminals? I get the issue that there might be some level of privacy in play for an employee (for example, his lunch break is his and his alone), but finding those hurting children are allowed protection so that they can hurt children? Such methods could aid the authorities in actually getting some protection to the children that needed it for a long time.
If we relate the options to track these child abusers to the boss tracking actions, we definitely have the technology to find these people, so what Is stopping us?
In addition, the legal side is also in play. If we consider the “Protection of Children Act 1978”
If we consider: “Section 1 (c) to have in his possession such indecent photographs [or pseudo-photographs], with a view to their being distributed or transferred digitally or shown by himself or others; or”
By adding three words we now let the issue no longer fall into the issue where the responsibility was, we now give pressure on the ISP to report this immediately. If not, they become part of the chain. Now, if we look at the defamation act, then we know there are issues, especially when we consider operators of content.
In Australia the Defamation Act 2005 (NSW) states:
32 Defence of innocent dissemination
(1) It is a defence to the publication of defamatory matter if the defendant proves that:
(a) the defendant published the matter merely in the capacity, or as an employee or agent, of a subordinate distributor, or a facilitator [or ISP] and
(b) the defendant neither knew, nor ought reasonably to have known, that the matter was defamatory, and
(c) the defendant’s lack of knowledge was not due to any negligence on the part of the defendant.
Here I added 5 words (those in bold), which could give additional levels of options to the claimants. It is nice to give certain services out for free, yet in that case, the facilitators will need to adjust their ‘terms of service’ to protect themselves and give aid in finding those using their services to further certain criminal goals. The reason to mention this is because when we look at the UK “Defamation Act 2013“, as narrated by Forbes we see the following (please read Forbes article as linked below).
The next part was in progress, when I detected this Forbes article (who had pretty much done what I was trying, at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericgoldman/2013/05/09/uks-new-defamation-law-may-accelerate-the-death-of-anonymous-user-generated-content-internationally/)
It seems that the known issues of the ISP had been avoided here as well (an issue that had been in play for at least 8 years). There is a valid defence that an ISP cannot monitor the massive flow of content, which is indeed a valid defence in my book, yet the cooperation required by the police to do their jobs is too often too slow or at times likely even completely lacking.
When we add ISP in the Australian case, then their lack of negligence would overturn their defence in court. So when we consider 32.1.d, then they will need to get active, creative and corrective really fast.
This translates to the UK defamation act by changing “5 Operators and/or facilitators of websites and/or virtual locations“; this would change the game immediately. Of course, prosecuting an ISP is not productive in the end, yet this part will give them the ‘negligence‘ label and as such, serious headway might be made in hunting down these child abusing criminals as the ISP is now seriously motivated to aid the police and find these criminals. The change would go further than those seeking materials. It would also give way to look at providers and mapping out these people far beyond the UK national borders. So as the map, with names, locations and acts will visibly grow, we might actually get the information the police needs.
I personally believe that law changes will get us a lot further then just blocking a search term.