The Internet has been a great leveler in terms of the way you can access pretty much any information you want at the touch of your keyboard. Though libraries still have an important place in the life of local communities, the information that could often have been accessed from them, because there was no alternative, has mostly migrated online.
Libraries can still offer access to information online but many people now choose to search for their own info. One problem can be with sites that provide information that is inaccurate, or in certain cases, verifiably false. There are, unfortunately, many people who delight in disseminating so-called facts that are demonstrably untrue.
Another problem, and perhaps the most disturbing in terms of being online, is how to keep safe. The Internet has not only given people access to information they might otherwise have had difficulty in finding, but it has exposed a dark underbelly of human interaction that has always been there but can now too easily be used to abuse people.
How laws can help online safety
Laws are there to protect people. The trouble is that it depends on who is making the laws and who they want to protect. You may know that laws in systems such as North Korea or Saudi Arabia are there to effectively protect the rulers of the countries. And the same is the case in many other countries that have effective dictatorships where the Internet can be, and often is, heavily censored.
In countries that are more democratic, there is much discussion as to what should and should not be available to access online. Of course, one of the main areas of concern is social media and apps such as YouTube, which can easily carry abusive content.
Laws to regulate Internet content can be effective but are hampered by different jurisdictions. If something is illegal in one country, it may not be in another, and experienced cyber operators are well versed in using encryption programs that can bypass a country’s laws and give access to highly objectionable, often illegal material.
Much is made of the concept of free speech, and in the United States, the First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees the right to free speech for Americans. But this not the case in many countries, so many people use a cloak of anonymity to allow their voices, usually political, to be heard.
But the dark side to this is that those who wish to abuse individuals through platforms such as Twitter or Facebook can disguise their identities and feel free to continue their abuse without, they think, fear of discovery.
However, though laws relating to the Internet are not universal in terms of the legislation of what is or is not acceptable, there are laws that can help protect you in certain jurisdictions, but they are not always easy to understand and make use of.
Abusive behavior online
Too many people are subject to abusive online behavior and the stories in the media often deal with these types of cases. If you have a Twitter presence, you may well be aware of attacks by so-called trolls on tweets by people they don’t agree with. In defense of free speech, that can usually be dealt with if it’s a difference of opinion, but when it comes down to death threats, racist, sexist, homophobic or other types of abuse, then it has gone way too far and the recipients are entitled to report it.
Laws exist to bring to book this type of abuse, and it should be reported to the police and the service provider. Unfortunately, service providers are not very proactive in dealing with allegations of abusive behavior, and the police will respond but have many other things to deal with as well.
Revenge porn has also come into view recently and there have been a number of successful prosecutions of people, usually men, who have indulged in this form of abuse.
Understanding the law as it relates to online safety is a growing area of study and with online learning giving opportunities to study at a distance, you could look into how to get an online llm from USC to help protect yourself and others. Understanding motivation of abusers and knowing how to deal with them legally is a growing part of the world of Internet law.
The Internet is both a boon and curse to the world. Abuse has to be rooted out, wherever and however it occurs, and your involvement in studying appropriate law could help make a difference to those who are attacked.