What happened?The government has introduced the Defamation Bill, which aims to make it easier for people who are being bullied or abused online to unmask the identity of their attacker. If passed, the bill will force websites to hand over IP addresses and login names that identify online abusers - or 'trolls' - to the police. The bill will only apply to libelous or defamatory comments, and hate speech, not basic abuse.
In return for revealing personal details, websites will be protected from libel suits brought against them by people who have suffered online abuse.
How will it affect you?Even though this bill won't target everyday online abuse, it will hopefully dissuade trolls from harassing and bullying people, without hampering everyone else's ability to freely speak their mind. This means you'll be less likely to be a victim of online abuse. It also gives you a course of action if you are targeted on Facebook, Twitter, an online forum or any other type of site. This would also force people to have a good reputation online. One can get instant results using reputation management system and find out what someone's reputation on the Internet looks like now.
What do we think?Pressure has to be put on trolls because the few people who hide behind anonymity to be abusive and libelous are ruining the internet for everyone else.
This bill is a good start, but the Government needs to get the balance right before the law is passed. Websites should not be too burdened with identifying users, and people should still be able to share information anonymously without having to give away too much personal data.
It's a tough balance to strike, but something has to be done if we want to prevent the web from descending into a cesspit of bullying, abuse and libel.