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


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)


OAG staff consists of writers creating content about video game and digital culture.

22 thoughts on “#GamerGate: Stricter ISP Terms Sought Regarding Harassment Before Heading To Congress

  1. The more you strengthen your hold, the more of the internet will slip through your fingers.

    I miss the internet before 2000 sometimes.

      1. Yeah and that makes no sense what-so-ever. The difference between then and now are: Less numbskulls(oh yes eternal september I’m talking about you). Boolean searches were the norm, you had to actually have some technical knowledge on how to use other software instead of it being handed to you.

        Then again, I do remember when “play online games” meant a BBS.

      2. So how exactly do any of those things make it better? Less accessible, a smaller community, more complicated to use, wow so much better.

      3. It was a more pleasant place to be. Anything you have to work for is appreciated far more than something just handed to you. Sure there were assholes but at least they were people you could understand or respect.

        It is the difference between a members-only club and a normal bar. The bar may be bigger but you have to deal with so much more crap.

      4. I don’t see it man, the internet offers a great way to keep the filter bubble that small communities offer, just isolate contact to communities that share interest with you, like a sub Reddit or whatever.

        There’s so much more that it can offer and be useful these days beyond communication with others, something that I don’t find hard to do. There a lot of douches, more than before sure, but I don’t find it difficult to settle with a niche community and have a good time.

        I can now watch movies through it, listen to music, play games with great friends that live so far away from me, it’s incredible stuff, honestly I feel like I take it for granted most of the time, talking to you really made me realize what an amazing tool it is to all of us, something that all of humanity should share together.

      5. twas a joke along the lines of “You younguns don’t understand how hard work makes things better”

        But still, there was a good time period of gaming (especially PC gaming) right before Guitar Hero went mainstream with pop songs where gaming was fun, inclusive, and had no idiots. (And still had fast internet)

      6. And I still like nowadays’ gaming and internet better. It’s fine, my type of opinion is never the popular one. Optimism isn’t a thing for most, people always think everything is always getting worse, I don’t, I always look at the bright side. It’s fine, I’ll stop commenting now to cease from bothering you.

      7. lol, no bothers at all man – I’m here talking with SJWs online mostly, so our conversation was refreshing, lol. Throwback to the days where nerds and gamers argued vehemently about things like which marvel character was best, what the golden age of games is/was, etc.

        The only way you’d be bothering me is if you are or aspired to be a troll or SJW.

      8. If we could jump back to ’93 the easiest solution would have been to ensure that eternal september never happened. Where this went wrong was taking a bunch of technologically illiterate people and dumping them on the internet, and them believing it was their closed world bubble still. That’s where the internet actually went down hill.

    1. At this point it would be anything that causes a reasonable person to fear for their safety. In the past you had to prove serious intent on the part of the harasser but the new case would toss that part out and it would just be about the reaction of the victim.

      It is not reasonable to assume some unknown person on the internet intends to carry out threats of physical violence. While it might be scary and unsettling to have nasty tweets sent that does not rise to the level of a crime. And to be honest even having your address tossed out does not prove intent. It is generally quite easy to find information about people and doing so just shows a little more anger not real intent.

      1. Unless Congress can wrap their own motivations into something like this it’s unlikely to happen. Emotionally blackmailing Service Providers is much easier to do in the Public Sphere.

        One thing for sure though, Service Providers will likely push back on this pretty hard simply because that level of human management is hugely expensive, and that’s without considering the liabilities this would open them up to (they would certainly want waivers).

      2. Major sites will resist as well. They don’t want to do anything that will drive people away. The more rules you have in place about conduct the fewer people who wish to deal with them. The trend for quite a while has been the exact opposite.

        For example using Disqus as I am now you used to be able to downvote people who expressed hostile opinions or ones you did not like. Then they took it away. Because people who got heavily downvoted on a regular basis tended to stop commenting. So to keep the assholes around they took away our simplist way to keep them in check. All that matters to them are the page views.

        Real threats are covered by existing laws. What they are looking at here is protecting the feelings of sensitive people who lack the thickness of skin needed to participate in an open public setting. Really can’t see that happening.

      3. I was supposed to be responding to this sooner…

        But I don’t understand the getting rid of downvotes. I much preferred that than just deleting someone’s comment. Because deleting a comment, in my opinion, is worse than letting people decide if they don’t like a comment. A pretty stupid choice on Disqus end. It would have been nice if they also gave admins the option to better utilize the downvote from the backend.

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