la times article examines cyber bullying in south korea

apparently, i’m not the only one having to confront issues of cyber harassment.

internet crime continues to be a growing problem worldwide. in addition to hacking, internet scams, and online theft, issues of cyber libel, defamation, and online harassment are also a growing concern. as many know, i suffered from online harassment for nearly two years. fortunately (or unfortunately), raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, crossed the line and expanded his smear campaign from the civil to the criminal to include acts of forgery, identity theft, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment – crimes for which he has been arrested and is being prosecuted by the new york district attorney’s office. (details are available at who-is-charles-gadda.com.)

john m. glionna wrote a jan 2, 2010 article for the los angeles times entitled, ‘Cyber bullies reign in South Korea.’ in the story, he speaks to the growing concern of cyber bullies, noting that because

99% of citizens between the ages of 10 and 39 use the Internet, cyber thugs carry inordinate social weight.

In recent years, celebrities, authors and ordinary South Koreans have been subjected to relentless online assaults — at times with disastrous, or even lethal, effects.

the article focuses mostly upon legislative efforts to quell online ‘insults’ made anonymously, but these efforts rightly raise questions of free speech. but make no mistake: the practice of cyber bullying, online intimidation, libel, de facto accusations in the form of baseless hypothetical questions, and outright defamation (or whatever you want to call it) against individuals from beneath the presumed cloak of anonymity is growing. and while everyone wants to preserve the right to free speech, repeated, targeted attacks on individuals (anonymous or not) with the intent of harming their professional development or otherwise causing them fiscal damage is still illegal.

cowards that hide in the shadowy recesses of the internet for fear of being sued for saying things they would otherwise never say in their own name is growing to absurd proportions, and defamation, libel, and cyber bullying laws are just now beginning to catch up with the various technologies like blogging, message boards, distribution lists, and discussion groups that are used to commit these crimes on the internet. and, much like at the outset of the internet, when many claimed that pesky, traditional laws like sales tax and copyright were no longer valid, new defamation rulings are beginning to make their way into the legal system.

however, in the end, cyber libel is still libel, and is remedied in civil court, whether it is done under an attempted internet anonymity or not. indeed, the very purpose of using aliases is to duck libel and defamation accusations in the first place. if you can’t get caught, you can’t get sued (or so the thinking goes). how much more are one’s motives laid bare when one opts for using an alias to make criticisms of another?

of course, for raphael golb, civil suits concerning defamation, harassment, and libel are merely secondary at this point. for when defamation and libel cross from the civil realm into the criminal, and smear campaigns evolve from repeated targeted criticism and harassment to identity theft, impersonation, aggravated harassment, and forgery, then one has committed serious crime, for these are still very illegal, whether they take place online or not.

One Response

  1. From the article: “The bill, to punish those who “insult” others on the Internet with up to three years in jail or a $30,000 fine, was proposed after a popular actress committed suicide last year.”

    That’s a terrible idea, given how Demi Moore’s lawyers are currently threatening bloggers over discussion of a photoshopped image, and given that some celebrities are morbidly over-sensitive.

    However, on-line harassment is a real problem that needs to be tackled. I’ve had some, and a friend of mine has had to endure a vicious campaign in the UK. Given that it’s easy to get away with it, it seems to me that the answer has to be stiff penalties for those who are are caught, to serve as a deterrent.

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