Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Online Defamation and Detection

David Simms, Senior Contributor

In all our experience dealing with cyber offenses, the topic of defamation comes up repeatedly. Although defamation laws vary from country to country, they all have the common thread that you can’t make remarks about someone if it results in damage to them. According to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation and that everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

Cyber harassers have become wise to the fact that what they say online can bring legal action against them. This is a primary reason most go to such great lengths in hiding their identities. In countries such as China where online defamation laws are some of the strictest, it is seen that cyber attacks are not diminished as much as would be expected. Even though a single defamation comment can land a Chinese citizen in jail for up to three years, if they are not traced, nothing is done. It is true that many continue to avoid prosecution because of this.The root of the problem then seems to be in the identification of cyber harassers wherever they originate. Unfortunately, along with the advancement of technology and modes of accessing the internet has come greater difficulty in tracing cyber criminals. Smartphone devices are now used more than any other device to access the internet. However, even smartphone users cannot escape being identified indefinitely. Methods are already available to law enforcement agencies around the world and are becoming less expensive to pursue. 

If cyber criminals would live in fear of being identified immediately for their harassment, we would see a dramatic decrease in their ruinous activity and damage assigned to their victims.