Politicians Still Trying To Outlaw Being A Jerk

from the it's-not-going-to-work dept

Reader eoinmonty writes in to let us know that Irish politicians are pressuring mobile phone companies to stop mobile phone bullying, and saying that if the companies can’t do so, they’ll be forced to put in place laws that require them to stop bullying. The whole thing is rather ridiculous, and, as one phone company rep accurately pointed out: “It is unrealistic and unfair to expect mobile phone operators to solve what is a broader societal problem.” Indeed. It seems as if politicians think that somehow the mobile operators can just snap their fingers and stop undesired activity. They can’t. And, to let them in on a little secret: even passing a law won’t do much to help. People are going to be bullies — and passing a law or asking the mobile phone companies to hold back the tide won’t do much to stop them.

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Comments on “Politicians Still Trying To Outlaw Being A Jerk”

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Evil Mike (user link) says:


The “Law” is that person with a badge, and a gun, and the authority to beat or imprison you.

The job of the “Law” is to take money from you (the people) and give it to the city/state/county/socialist-state (whatever) that said person works for.

No matter how stupid the legislation is which gets passed, if it provides realistic opportunities for the “Law” to take more of your money, then it will be enforced.

Pat (user link) says:

Re: Re: bullying is a crime.

Lets put this in the context of adults shall we?

A bigger guy comes up to you on the street corner and surrounds you with his friends. He demands the money that you were going to use to go buy yourself a Starbucks double-mocha. If you don’t give it to him he is going to beat you up?

He then says that unless you meet him here every day and give him the $5 he and his friends are going to hang out near where you work and then threaten to beat you up.

Guess it must not be a crime because the equivalent isn’t a crime if everyone is under age.

Lets say that you are at work and you are walking in the hallway. No doubt thinking of something highly laizze-faire, and suddenly a person walks by and slams you into the wall.

Not a crime?

Ooooook? Whatever you say.

How about this? You start getting threatening text messages that say that the texter is going to “Teach you a lesson”?

Not a crime.

Personally, I call this intimidation, and extortion no matter the age of the perps.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: bullying is a crime.

what do you know, your example is extortion! Now if only we had a law against extortion we wouldn’t need these laws…
There is no reason to make additional laws for breaking laws “with a cellphone” Should we also make a new law for gambling with a cell phone? How about a law making it illegal to sell drugs via cell phone? No it’s stupid and ridiculous.

sean (user link) says:

Proud to be Irish!

It’s great to be Irish. What with the economy being the first in the industrialised world to go into recession, funds for the education system being slashed to pieces, and reposessions on the rise, you can always trust some 3rd rate backbench politician to worry about the children…

Let’s see – Simon Coveney, a singularly underachieving example of Irish political life whose only distinction is being the son of the late Hugh Coveney, a former minister.

And there’s Michael d’Arcy, similarly following in his father’s footsteps of mediocrity. As a farmer, he is of course completely qualified to serve on the Communications committee!

And here’s yet another scion of a former minister, MJ Nolan, who at least had the balls to challenge Haughey, so he’s due a teeny bit of respect.

All highly qualified to know about the technical aspects of mobile phone systems.

Don’t expect this to go anywhere soon!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Proud to be Irish!

I don’t. Working in the industry, I’m still wondering what scifi he saw this magical technology on. Sure, it could technically be done (on a SIM card), but I do not believe it is possible to retrofit most existing phones and even then, you may have to get people to replace their SIM cards to do so.
Generally speaking however, content filtering is quite possible, though not cheap.

KB says:

Content filtering is possible, yes. Not cheap as you pointed out. Why though has no-one pointed out that this is a horrific step toward yet more personal freedom being taken away. If you can filter out “indecent” (what’s the criteria for that by the way?) images, you could also filter and process a lot of other information. It’s no wonder us privacy freaks get upset and start drawing Orwellian conclusions from almost every piece of legislation that goes across governments. When they are as stupid as this, it’s no bloody wonder.

How about DON’T LET YOU KID HAVE A CELL PHONE. Morons. I know the Irish are stereotyped as a bit thick, but there’s really no need to live up to that stereotype!

Anonymous Coward says:

Why not just make sure the customer has the tools to block incoming communications from specific numbers? You know, kinda like your spam filter for email? Let the customer add numbers to this “blocked” list, that way the phone company doesn’t have to get involved, no law is needed and “phone bullying” has less of an impact. It’s called common sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

I Dont think Bullying is really at the heart of this:

From Irish Times: Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney said mobile phone companies must be willing to install filtering and limiting systems in their products to protect children.

He said Irish children were among the heaviest users of mobile phones in the world and had sent three billion texts in the past three months alone.

This is almost the exact same arguement that has been argued here about TV censorship. More people take it seriously when they put Bullying as the core subject. While it may seem like their main concern is to stop bullying the real attempt here is to force the mobile phone company to police the kids of parents. I always find it absurd when parents to do this. They dont want to parent their kids but expect the corporate world to do this. If your kid is not responsible or mature enough to use a mobile phone. DO NOT PURCHASE ONE FOR THEM!!! Dont expect the world to raise your children. Thats the job of the parents, NOT VERIZON!!!

JustMe says:


I’m all for the opt-in idea of blocking content – that would seem a reasonable feature even without a “bullying problem”.

But if this is to be a global block what then if I, as a mature adult, want to send “indecent” things to say my wife??

Naturally if she had a problem with that I’d get a “Knock it off” and a slap upside the head after the first one. If she started receiving them from say strangers then she could simply block the sender and be done with it.

tracker1 (user link) says:

Allow blocking numbers at least..

On my land line, I can call the phone company and request that certain numbers be blocked… I can’t do the same with my mobile carrier. I know, I’ve requested/tried.

I don’t know the specifics about these instances where the request is being made. But being able to request that certain numbers be blocked is not excessive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Allow blocking numbers at least..

This is actually something I’ve worked on (personal SMS blacklisting). Now, if people could push for this instead, then… my company could make a load of money 😀

The problem is trying to automatically block bullying. Having each user manually blacklist numbers is something I’d actually like to see (and not just because I stand to gain from it, but because I actually think it would be useful)

Tamara Denshire says:

I agree with the law

The law isn’t about being a jerk, it’s about bullying. If you bully someone in real life, you get charged with a crime(if the other person presses charges). If you send a text message saying that you’re going to beat them up, that should be no different than walking up to someone in the street and telling that to their face. Similar laws were introduced into Australia after a 15-year old committed suicide that was linked to bullying via mobile phone and email.

Another Anonymous says:


first of all, how do you know what quantifies as bullying? you’d have to screen for text patterns, which could be taken out of context anyway, irish people spend most of their days casually insulting each other anyway (seriously, it confuses foreigners no end) so how do you sort the vicious messages from those that are just friendly jeering?

secondly, how do you do this without breaking, um, all the personal privacy laws ever?

@Pat: you just compared mugging to being pushed around in school.

Dan says:

Re: seriously....

Thats my problem with this – what I count as bullying may not be what you count as bullying. Also, bullying in one situation may not be bullying in another situation. Theres no way of an automated system to know the context. Or the relationship between the sender and receiver (eg, If I call my best friend “A stupid fucking cunt” that shouldn’t be flagged as bullying, if I send the same message to the neighbours 10 year old kid, then that probably IS bullying).

Also, I have yet to find any information on this mythical technology. The only references that google finds me is.. this article and related. I have a reasonable idea as to how SMS messaging works (I work in telecommunications) and I don’t see any practical way of accomplishing this without a major time/money investment and even then, its effectiveness would be highly debatable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Seeing as actually filtering the messages probably won’t work, or will be too ineffective or heavy handed, i propose a new approach:

We get retired old ladies who love to pry, and get them to pick text messages at random. If any of the messages are deemed inappropriate, the offender is traced to their home, dragged out back, and then beaten by the old ladies with handbags full of bricks until they’re very sorry for what they’ve done.

The person who was bullied is similarly traced, except is given an apple tart or knitted a jumper instead.

I personally believe this is less retarded than what our technologically stunted government of muck-saveages is proposing.

Dan says:

Re: Re:

Ah now, leave our farmer politicians alone. Not their fault they know about cows and sheep instead of the technology they’re supposed to be the government official over.. err wait a minute…

Actually, I like this solution. It gets the old ladies out of the house, means we don’t have to pay them pensions (instead pay them wages for their work, the wages would be paid by money the government would have used to implement SMS blocking anyway). And it will cut down on bullying! Hell, if I thought a retired old lady would beat me with a handbag and give whoever I bullied a knitted sweater…

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