Cyberbully (2015)

Following the story of Casey Williams shows reminiscence of a bygone error as she is trolled by a hacker, only to discover that she herself has been cyber bullying for a long time and ignorant as to the consequences of her seemingly innocent actions. I am not going to give a play by play of what happens, but rather a commentary on the real life situations this film attributes too including the seemingly forgotten case on Amanda Todd whose name still resonates within certain circles.

During the course of the film it is clear that the ‘younger’ generation seem to be abhorrent towards one another and the online norm is to slate what others attempt including the actions of Jennifer Li, this young woman posts a video of herself singing for pure enjoyment. As innocent as Jennifer’s actions were it opened her up to ridicule from her peers who said she was a ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ who would never be good enough for ‘x-factor’ (which in my opinion is pretty dire in itself) in an attempt to lower her self-esteem and ridicule the poor girl. As you would expect she moved away, changing schools and her life in order to try and live a normal life; after several weeks however her peers discovered the old ridicule and began to jump on the band wagon by even dressing as Jennifer for Halloween and sending the pictures to her family. When Jennifer could take no more she took her own life.

Now Casey was the first person to take Jennifer’s video (along with a few others) and ridicule them for being who they were behind an anonymous name. It has often been said that the facelessness of the internet can cause people to be irrational and say things that they would not dare in person; this is one of the many reasons Facebook and Google+ require you to use a real name in order to make an account, as I have said previously this has caused issues for drag  queens and alike whose accounts have been suspended or removed because they can not prove that they are who they say they are.

Casey herself is made fun of in a public Twitter post, to which you can now report abuse, but it may not be acted upon for a distinct period of time by which point an unlimited number of people may have seen and screen-grabbed the post. Peoples stupidity have been the butt of many a web and television series including RudeTube and Why Would You Put That On The Internet. When she gets the chance to post on the persons account as them she implies they have erectile dysfunction, her actions in themselves are referred to as a frape (originally a Facebook rape, which in itself is a disgusting name, but in this film for some  reason is applied to Twitter (maybe people are getting stupider or I’m just old)) and the onslaught of this innocent boy begins.

Whilst the whole film is going on the hacker is threatening to post images of Casey that she took for her boyfriend, which in itself should tell you their nature. This is always a risky thing to do, and illegal for those under 18 to take, especially with the amount of revenge porn websites in existence (as demonstrated if you take Media Law) and the fact that when you are in a relationship you tend to connect with some of one another’s friends so if they post an inappropriate image it is there for the world to see and can be copied to any number of places.

Casey’s images are never posted but ones of her friends are from her account which can, and presumably did, cause irreversible damage to that persons public image and relationships as a whole. In the film a video was also posted outing one of her friends as homosexual, to which her class mates replied with an onslaught of homophobic posts and personal attacks which should appal. Unfortunately these kinds of responses are common place if you go on YouTube and look up whoever ‘come out to’ whoever you will see these kinds of ugly people are everywhere in the world.

One last point before I summarise, although a far fetched story elements of it alone can apply to most peoples lives, the webcam in your device can be hacked and turned on without your knowledge and if you are on an unsecured or public network it is so easy to take control of your device and steal your content without you knowing.

Here’s the clinch, Amanda Todd. Now if you do not know her story watch the video below but in essence she exposed herself to someone she trusted who threatened to expose her publicly if she didn’t ‘put on a show’. Amanda stood her ground but the image was sent out and she developed depression and got involved with drugs. The guy made a profile with the images of Amanda before proceeding to add people at her school who then alienated her to the point where she self harmed so that she had some sense of control in her life, and as a reminder she was human.

As Jennifer did, she ended up moving schools and everything was working out again so she thought she could reconnect with a friend who said he fancied her even though he had a girlfriend, he invited her over and she regretted it as they ‘hooked up’. Not long after a gang of peers told her no-one liked her and that she should go before getting physically violent and recording the incident.

After years of abuse she drank bleach and tried to kill herself, when she recovered and went home she saw a barrage of abuse on Facebook saying how she should have ‘done it better’ and ‘deserved it’. She moved again but as things were online they just followed where ever she went until finally she committed suicide. Below is one of the many uploads of her story and the start of the trend of the card holding in videos.

The film in itself shows how one small thing can spiral out of control and ruin someone’s life, and although a one room film with essentially one actor and very little overheads, it hits home with its point and although derivative of Amanda Todd and many other similar stories throughout the world it is well executed and will hopefully help make people think before they post.

Protect Child Privacy in the Family Courts!

Over a year ago now I started working with NYAS on stopping the media from having greater access to the family courts, now this is not because we just want something to fight about but rather because there is a whole hot of issues the government have not properly considered including the great potential for jigsaw identification. Rather than reiterate the issues outlined in an earlier post, or what was said in the consultation again, I instead urge you to look back and give it a read.

In 2010 the Government made a commitment to explore the views of young people before implementing Part 2 of the Children Schools and Families Act 2010, now NYAS has carried out this work independently but it has not been properly discussed or considered outside of passionate professionals with an inward view of the situation. The President of the Family Court Division, Sir James Munby, has now published guidance to implement these proposals without exploring the true and damaging effects this could have on children and young people, and all to allow more transparency, and to prove to the public that they have nothing to hide.

I have voiced my concerns over the redaction of information which may be leaked by the media, to which Sir James replied that anyone breaching rules would face a charge of contempt of court [a maximum of two years imprisonment]. Now this is all well and good sanctions being in place but the power to redact this information is far beyond that of the courts; information can be on foreign servers which would require intergovernmental cooperation, it could be disseminated onto other websites, people can save and screenshot information and there is no way in which newspapers can be recalled. Look at my previous post on the power of redaction and consider WikiLeaks and alike.

Although two years imprisonment may be a deterrent information may still be wrongfully disseminated, especially with the media having proposed access to court documents, which can have a lasting and damaging repercussions on a persons future. Regardless of the law it is expensive, upsetting and timely to take a case to court for a breach of privacy, wrongful dissemination or discrimination; it is not only employment which may be affected by these potentially damaging reports but also future relationships with many people admitting to Googling potential partners and friends.

The courts excuse for this greater access is for greater transparency, and yet so far they have negated educating the general public on the information already at hand with sites such as BAILII publishing anonymised cases on a daily basis to which the public [and by proxy the media] have full unfettered access. In this way cases are still able to provide privacy without much of a threat of jigsaw identification or private matters being disseminated beyond what is necessary to provide a fair case.

If we are to give the media full unfettered access we should consider cases such as McKennitt v Ash [2008] EWCA Civ 1714 where a singers friend published discussions in a book which were thought to have been in confidence. It was held that some of the information was disseminated due to the fact that it was thought to have been in confidence and therefore there was a breach of Article 8 [right to respect for family and private life], there is no provision in this article to allow the information to be disseminated via the media, the same is true of the majority of cases which would pass through the Family Courts if the media were permitted greater access. There may be a fear of releasing information to the courts in case it is wider publicised.

In the case of breakdown of relationships there is also X v Persons Unknown [2006] EWCA Civ 2738 where an injunction was sought to stop comment being passed on the state of X’s marriage without actually knowing who would pass this comment. Now this case sought the idea of a contra mundum injunction, [a worldwide injunction,] this is something which would be impossible to enforce but there is the potential for similar injunctions to be sought before a case takes place to ensure the privacy which we currently have come to expect from court proceedings, without which, as I have just said, information may be withheld from the courts, or cases entirely, for fear of publication.

Regardless of the courts idealism it is necessary to consider the knock on effect of dissemination for those seeking judicial intervention. In the case of Re Stedman* [2009] EWHC 935 (Fam) the parents disseminated the information to the papers about a 12 and 13 year old who had a child, a DNA test was sought which revealed that the father was actually a 15 year old. This lead to the mother being shunned in the local community, the original young person finding out that they had been bringing up a child which was not his and the father wanted a relationship with the child. As you can imagine this was a difficult situation having devastating repercussions on the involved parties mental health and well being; the media made things even worse by making their private matters public.

I also have concerns over information the media may acquire outside of the courts. Now I am not going to go into the News of the World and their abuse of technology or Nick Cleggs abhorrent idealism on not prosecuting the media for breaking the law in relation to acquiring stories even with situations such as the outrage resulting from Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked as I have mentioned that in the past, but information is freely available on individuals which may be personal and intimate without them realising which will lead to identification and could be published without permission, just see the video below for a demonstration.

I have outlined some concerns above and in previous posts but now it is your turn to get involved with me and NYAS. We have set up a petition urging the government to deliver on their promises of 2010 to hold a public parliamentary debate on the proposed access of the media to the Family Courts, in total we need at least 100,000 signatures for this to be considered so please sign using the link below:

https://www.change.org/p/president-of-the-family-court-division-please-don-t-put-children-and-young-people-at-risk-to-protect-the-courts

 “They are bound to be harmed by immediate publicity, both because it would undermine the family as a whole and because the playground is a cruel place where bullies feed on personal discomfort and embarrassment.”

Lord Justice Ward in ETK v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 439

*East Sussex County Council, Penelope Stedman, Steve Stedman, Nicola Patten, Denis Patten, News Group Newspapers Limited, Channel Four, Tyler Barker, Maisie Stedman, Chantelle Stedman, Alfie Patten (by their respective guardians)

Digital Insanity

So I saw this video on another site and thought I would give my my thoughts.

 

 

Too long are we distracted by bleeps and bloops, the ignorance of “wait a minute I just have to take this” as we send a message to a face we forget and it’s only as we get older we actually realize all we’ve missed and regret.

I am as guilty as anyone else as I keep hold of my phone and ensure I am connected, but every time we ignore one another or look to our phones it’s each other we have disrespected, and it isn’t helping that in recent years we have to get on line to contact those we have elected.

The blue glow distracts our thoughts at night, as to actually live a life with interactivity we have to put up a fight, all of this technology may eventually lead to our plight as we rely on it all to give us our foresight.

In life now there just seems to be this pageantry of vanity which just leads to dismay and complete insanity as people fight for likes +1’s and general inhumanity, what happened to the days where feeble rantings were just known as the sermons of Christianity.

There was a time when everyone knew who lived on their street and progress was made by people literally voting with their feet, but now these days you struggle to get people of their seat as communities fall and it’s only online where we can start fighting for political defeat.

The only children I see alone are those far too young, all the teens and adolescents now turn to the internet or bedroom for fun, I mean what on earth can we do to empower a change to come and for young people again to go explore and build dens in the sun?

I just want the interaction back we had at one time, and I understand how much easier it can be online as it keeps track of where I am supposed to be and at what time but even as the shy quiet guy I want a social ladder to clime and not for technology to absorb people in their prime.

So close this website and forget the booze because it’s only when we’ve disconnected will we stop and no longer be bemused because if we carry on the way we are we are humanity is destined to lose as we miss out on the things we’ve been too busy to notice or choose.