#GamerGate: Stricter ISP Terms Sought Regarding Harassment Before Heading To Congress


GamerGate

The issue of online harassment has ratcheted up a few levels since interest groups took notice following “The Fappening” (also known as “Celebgate”) and the consumer revolt called #GamerGate, which surrounds the scandal of journalistic malpractice. Mainstream media has taken #GamerGate and turned it into a topic of harassment, even going as far as to spin the issue away from the corruption currently taking place within the media. Nevertheless, said interest groups have utilized the media’s platform to discuss how to combat online harassment on a multilateral front.

The issue first arose when a discussion in Washington, D.C., popped up on the media circuit called “Celebgate And Gamergate: A New Culture War”. It featured members of the press and those within special interests organizations discussing how to thwart the rise of online harassment.

I originally reached out to the media organization that had promoted the event and asked if the topic of legislation would be part of the discussions, and I was informed that yes, there would be discussions about taking the issue to the senate.

However, upon further asking questions to those who participated in the panel, it was discovered that there will first be a push to get internet service providers and social media organizations within the United States to first amend their terms of service. Stefan Hankin from Lincoln Park Strategies explained that…

“[It's] just discussions right now. That being said my take is that it is actually more in the interests of internet providers, social media sites etc to step up their efforts to try to avoid legislation.”

It was actually outlined in a recent poll conducted by the RAD Campaign and Lincoln Park Strategies that a large percentage of those they surveyed, regarding online harassment, wanted stiffer penalties handed out by ISPs and social media outlets against users labeled as harasser.

According to Hankin, getting Washington involved would be a secondary option to ISPs and sites like Twitter or Facebook clamping down on harassment claims, stating…

“Basically the companies and users can address the issue, while not watering down the experience of use. Once Washington gets their hands on things it tends to not work as well.”

The involvement of Washington actually has a lot of internet users worried about what it would mean for grassroot revolts such as #GamerGate that get mislabeled in mainstream media as “harassment campaigns”. Some fear that this could lead down the route of the U.K.’s “Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill” that enables ISPs to better track user IPs across different devices. As noted in the article on PC Pro

“The home secretary, Theresa May, says the proposed legislation won't allow the security services to fully identify all suspects - linking the IP address merely reveals which connection was used, not which individual was using it. To be able to fully identify individuals, the security services would also need access to the communications data, which was proposed in the Communications Data Bill (the so-called "Snooper's Charter") that was rejected by parliament earlier this year.”

ISPA chariman Jane Massey made an interesting statement to the BBC about this bill, which seems to fit in line with what the interest groups want here in the U.S., saying…

"The devil will be in the detail but it's going to be difficult no matter how they do it," … "It looks like it could catch people who post annoying things on Twitter or not very nice things on social media - but not those who know how to hide their online activities. It's not a sensible thing to have decided to do without consulting us first."

As for the U.S.-based sites getting more proactive against identifying and stopping those labeled as “harassers”, Hankin stated…

“I am not aware of any of the sites taking much action. Apparently Twitter now allows you to report multiple tweets at once, but I would put that in the small potatoes category.”

Some who are opposed to #GamerGate hade their own makeshift blocklist made to compensate for what they believed was a lack of initiative by Twitter; the tool is called the “GGAutoBlocker”. However, the tool and those who used it came under fire when the IGDA chairman in the U.S., endorsed it briefly on the official website of the organization, and the list of people blocked via the tool included many developers and even the IGDA’s own Puerto Rico chairman, Roberto Rosario.

Nevertheless, most people are concerned about when the interest groups will take the issue to Congress. According to Hankin…

“Congress seems incapable of passing anything these days, but the [Elonis vs United States] case [in front] of the [Supreme Court of the United States] could move this along quickly (in theory)”

According to the SCOTUS blog, the Elonis vs United States is due for argument next week on December 1st, 2014. An opinion and vote will follow thereafter.

(Featured image courtesy of Political Blindspot)



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