August 27, 2014

Why misogynist attacks on the internet affect YOU

And so it begins

So, you may have heard - half of humanity is currently under attack. Again.
Now, we all understand that the wailing and gnashing of teeth is originating from a small, vocal, and spectacularly stupid portion of the male population.
We understand that most guys aren't like that. Usually.
Most men are not threatened by women in games, in blogs, on social media to the point of attacks and threats of violence.
The problem is that the ones that are have been hiding behind the anonymity of the internet to do their dirty work. Anonymous is...yeah. So when they are attacking stuff we think is bad, we cheer and put on our little V for Vendetta masks and high five each other.
But what about when that anonymity is used to commit acts of vandalism, to terrorize individuals, to publish personal details and to threaten individuals with violence, with rape, to kill their families? For the crime of expressing an opinion on the internet.
How often do you see someone walk up to a person in the grocery store and threaten to rape them with a tire iron for the tshirt they are wearing? To threaten to kill their children for their bumper sticker?
And how often do you see those exact same sorts of threats in blog comments? On Twitter?
If you do this stuff in person, people call the cops and you go to jail.
Currently if you do this stuff on the internet - especially in the US - you are pretty safe from being prosecuted.
And lots of folks have been fighting to keep it that way. I have too. We want net neutrality, we don't want our ISPs reporting our information to law enforcement and government, we want privacy.
But the threats, the violence that is being targeted against people like Anita Sarkeesian and other women particularly (the most violent threats are overwhelmingly against women) and individuals in general means that law enforcement will HAVE to be involved. We need it to be involved.
Death threats, rape threats, sexual epithets, DDoS attacks, bomb threats...these are not trivial things. And law enforcement is going to have to be able to access records, use the tools available to track down the people who are doing these things. Which means we all are going to lose more of our privacy.
Even those who aren't terrorists, who aren't gamers, who aren't trolls, who aren't men.


Stereo said...

Actually, I don't think we need to lose more of our privacy. To my understanding, ISPs can give out information - if they are presented with a valid, court-ordered warrant, like any other search for information.

What we do not want is a continuous, general warrant allowing any security group to grab that information without having to convince a judge first. It's still not perfect, mind you. There are judges who will get easily convinced, and other who will dismiss serious threats.

What we truly need is some resounding trial (and conviction) against some of those emitting threats to convince the others 1) it's not acceptable, and 2) they are not safe doing it, even anonymously on the Internet.

We can cross our fingers, but I won't hold my breath, myself.

(And as much as a group of Internet vigilante going after them can be attractive, I, for one, would refuse to stoop to their level.)

Scotty Jonesford said...

The cowardly nature of the trolls, closet-haters, and bullies on the internet is easily seen. What is not seen, until it is experienced, is the suffering and angst caused by their attacks. We all need to condemn, loudly, vigorously, and publicly, such behavior. Well said.