As I casually perused some of my favourite news rags at work this morning I stumbled across a rather alarming little story about a relatively new phenomenon known as ‘cyber crime’. Those bastions of public safety protection, the Daily Telegraph, The Sun and The Metro all stepped up to warn the world of this new trend, and the associated impending doom. Apparently, nearly two million people were victims of computer crime last year. Eeeck.
Now before drowsiness causes you to fall off your chair, I should point out that I’m not going to start talking about ID fraud, credit card fraud, downloading kiddie porn or any of those other boring stories that you read my blog to avoid. I’m talking about something called ‘offences against the person’, which (in normal speak) can include defamation, character assassination, bullying and harassment and my old favourite, stalking – all via the Internet. Phew. Needless to say I felt a bit of a cold sweat developing as I thumbed through the press cuttings this morning…
And not just because of my penchant for Facebook-stalking. One of the findings of this new research was that, “the nature of the internet and its relative anonymity enables individuals to behave in ways that they would consider to be unthinkable in the physical world.” Too right. Had it not been for My Blog over the past year all my ex-girlfriend related angst, hurt, anger and torment would have remained firmly pent up, or even worse, unleashed upon my beloved Homies.
God Bless the Internet – not only has it has revolutionised the way we date, it has also provided a whole new range of coping strategies for dealing with being dumped. Think Gaydargirls for those rapid rebound shags, MySpace for finding out what your ex is up to and Facebook for unearthing that cute girl/guy you knew at school and who you always thought you might hook up with, if all else failed. I think it’s a healthy thing – the relative anonymity of the net makes people ditch their moral boundaries, allowing them to unleash the untold wrath/despair/desperation/whatever that would otherwise never see the light of the three-dimensional day. Better out than in, I say.
Interestingly, it also suggests that computer users don’t consider any such actions to be immoral – and I’m inclined to agree – I see nothing wrong in a bit of light-hearted venom spitting directed at my Evil Ex. Until I read the news this morning, that is. Now I’m questioning my own criminal record! God knows what Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones is going to make of all this – her well-publicised and blatant naming and shaming of her love rat husband is surely a Category-A offence here.
Anyway, back to me. I know that My Blog is all meant in good humour, but does everyone else reading it agree? I sincerely hope so…in particular, the Evil Ex. That is, assuming she has read/reads/ever reads my pearls of angst-ridden wisdom.
Computer geek firm Garlick who did the research that spurned this story, may take a slightly different view to my good self. Their research is firmly bedded down in the Guardian reading PC (see what I did there? PCs are computers too…) tent – everyone’s a victim, if you think long enough and hard enough about it. So much as cough and you’re offending/discriminating against someone. Exercise freedom of speech at your peril.
As I said, the definition of cyber crime includes ‘offences against the person’, which despite sounding horribly serious (in some cases, I don’t doubt it is), could feasibly include such trivialities as the occasional sarky comment aimed at one’s ex. Hence the minor discomfort I’ve experienced since reading about this story. Those who’ve followed My Blog since time, sorry, it began, may have noted a slight underlying current of ex-bashing. All meant in the nicest possible way, of course. A close inspection will reveal that not once have I wished her ill.
However, ‘offences against the person’ includes, and I quote Garlik here, “posting of derogatory information online.” Oh dear. That said, I seriously doubt that my Mac and I have ever, “caused an individual some form of personal harm such as anxiety distress or personal harm.” But, seriously, it does concern me that my blog could be (mis)construed by some as being a vehicle for ‘online defamation’. After all, it’s just a bit of good humoured jesting.
And to be fair, she doesn’t have to read it, does she? And she certainly isn’t invited or proactively encouraged to do so. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that she would need to invest a fair amount online time to enable her to locate My Blog. She’d then have to devote a reasonable amount of time to reading it. Which some might say constitutes Internet Stalking. And I think you’ll find that that also qualifies as an ‘offence against the person’. Ha.
Realistically, I suspect there are far worse crimes out there and there is a strong chance my good-humoured ex-bashing will get lost among the staggering 1,944,000 estimated cases of cyber crime that occurred in 2006 (if it doesn’t there’s always 2007’s efforts). I’m convincing myself that screening My Blog wont be a priority for the PC Police.
That said, it’s a good thing I didn’t post a link to that naked picture of the Evil Ex with her leg over her head and her hand up her arse then, isn’t it…?