Australian Anti-Trolling Law Put To The Test After Guy Broadcasts Having Sex Via Skype

from the it's-illegal-to-be-a-jerk-online? dept

We’ve seen plenty of governments over the past few years trying to pass laws that effectively outlaw being a jerk online. You can recognize the emotional thinking behind this. People who are jerks are annoying. And, certainly, at some level trolling can get ridiculous. But having very broad laws with vague definitions about “causing offense,” seems to open up a Pandora’s box of potential problems. Reader charliebrown alerts us to the news of an “anti-trolling law” in Australia that is being put to the test in a case against two (male) cadets from the Australian Defense Academy, after one broadcast his consensual sexual encounter with a third (female) cadet to the second male cadet. The law being used is one that is apparently designed to punish “online conduct that a reasonable person would find to be menacing, harassing or causing offence.”

If that seems insanely broad, you’ve noticed the problem. This certainly isn’t to suggest that what the guy did was right or even legal. But it’s dangerous to use such a broad law. The fact is, any law should be pretty specific. When it’s as broad as causing offense on the internet, you’ve pretty much outlawed almost everything. Anyone can be offended pretty easily at almost anything they find online. The simple fact is that there are some serious jerks online (and these two guys seem to fit into that category easily). But we shouldn’t outlaw being a jerk just for the sake of being a jerk.

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Comments on “Australian Anti-Trolling Law Put To The Test After Guy Broadcasts Having Sex Via Skype”

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Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: A little clairity.

F’n enter key. I was going to say:

The wrong part about this is the fact that the female cadet didn’t consent to the broadcast. Should that be illegal? You know, I don’t know. If it’s in the male’s room then he can record anything he wants. If it was in the female’s room then it’s illegal recording. Though, I don’t know the laws in Australia. Ether way, there doesn’t need to be an anti-jerk law.

hobo says:

Re: Re: A little clairity.

Could simply require consent to be filmed regardless of location. While that seems a bit steep (what about home videos at the zoo with people around or news reports with a wide shot), something to that effect would handle this situation. And would be similar to laws in many states here (U.S.) that don’t allow recorded conversation without consent of both parties.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: A little clairity.

Personally, I feel that you just shouldn’t go into the area where you can be recorded if you don’t like the possibility of being recorded.

The fact is that I do not think that recording ANYONE should be illegal, whether you are recording them in a sexual act or not, as long as you are on of the people who are a party to the sexual act or it is your home they are doing the sexual act in.

Uploading it, in my opinion, also shouldn’t be illegal. No one has the right to not be embarrassed, though if someone uploaded one of my sexual encounters I wouldn’t be embarrassed…. I would be proud that someone found it attractive enough to put online.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 A little clairity.

I think that this one falls under the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ definition. I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a malls public bathroom stall for example and recording me there without my permission is not legal. However, in the rest of the mall where said bathroom exists there is NO reasonable expectation of privacy so I have no say over if I am recorded taking a crap in a potted plant. I saw an actual video of a guy doing that on YouTube…damned friends >_

Anonymous Coward says:


I can’t believe you idiots and your stupid defense of these utter jerks. Its like you want everybody to be jerks to each other. You bunch of jerktards! Clearly they should rot in prison for their clear violation of this most excelent law. And you Mazznick, your the worst jerk of them all. I hope you get arrested the next time you go to Australia for being Supreme Jerk.

//Am I doing it right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Revised Jerktards

I cant believe you f*cking idiots and your dumb a$$ defense of these utter jerks. Its like you want EVERYBODY to be jerks to each other. You bunch of jerktards! Clearly they should rot in jail for there breaking this awesome law. And you Mazznick your the WORST jerk of them all! I hope you get arrested the next time you go to australia for being SUIPREME JERK!!!!!1!


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Revised Jerktards

No no, you used capitals on the wrong words, try this:

I cant BELEVE you fuken idiots and your dumb a$$ DEFENCE off these utter jerks. Its like you want EVERYBODY to be jerks to each other you Bunch of jerktards! CLEARLY they should rot in jail for BREAKING this awesome law. And you Mazznick you the WORST jerk of them ALL! I hope you get ARRESTED the next time you go to australia for being SUIPREME JERK!!!!!1!eleven

//:D (first time I went through it, I accidentally corrected all the grammar errors, then realised that they were deliberate. :S

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Revised Jerktards

anonymous coward is clearly infringing the intellectual property rights of the other anonymous coward.

The original anonymous cowards queries “//Am I doing it right?” and “//Better?” were requests for feedback not permission to reuse with minor alterations their own original text.

AC can expect AC lawyers to contact his lawyers to arrange for payment of royalties and damages and serves him right for being a jerktard(c)(tm) him/her/itself.

JT (profile) says:


If people are getting offended by stuff on the internet then they shouldn’t be so easily offended…

…and guess what, you can always press the little red cross in the corner and it magically goes away! w00t ^^

I’m sick to death of hearing people complaining about something they saw on tv/internets/video game offending them… you have a choice to watch it so choose not to instead of kicking up a massive fuss about it all 🙂

It is for this reason that legislation such as this has no place in a society full of rational human beings

Anonymous Coward says:

You’ve got it wrong, mike. Just outlawing jerks is too specific. We need a strong law against the use of carbon in molecules. No more will criminals be able to talk their way out of their rightful sentences.

Please write your congressman and tell him to support this new law. Feel free to remind him that anyone who doesn’t might be seen as ‘soft on crime’.

Matt says:

Right to privacy

The facts are the idiot had sex with a fellow cadet in a private room (not in public) and shared via Skype with six other cadets. Surely the female cadet should be entitled to a right to privacy. If this was the government recording your US readers would be bashing the doors down. Why shouldn’t the cadet expect the law to offer the same protection from an individual as we do from the government.

There have been several cases in Aust where people have gone to jail for setting up illegal cameras (normal AV equipment) in their roommate’s roof and bathrooms. The video wasn’t shared. I’m not sure whether they have charged the cadets under the correct laws, but I believe the cadet who knowingly setup the recording should go to jail.

I think that sharing the video with others via the internet, DVD or otherwise is even worse. Just because this terrible breach of privacy involved the internet does not make it ok to not apply the law. Alternatively maybe they should let the cadets serve in combat together, attach a web cam to the females rifle and let her shoot the wanker in the back of the head at the first opportunity.

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