Monday, 29 June 2009

Should words be obscene and not heard?

BBC NEWS | UK | Obscene stories or free speech?

An interesting tale from the blogosphere that should make us reflect on what is public and what is private when posting online.

British civil servant Darryn Walker has escaped prosecution for a story he published online, that described the kidnap and torture of pop group Girls Aloud.

His 12 page story was seen by the Internet Watch Foundation last year and a prosecution brought under the Obscene Publications Act.

However, Mr Walker's defence team argued successfully that the act of reading his material on its own would not cause someone to replicate what they had read, and they argued that although it was in the public domain, his article could not be found unless someone was searching specifically for it.

You can read more here but it's a timely reminder that we should never assume anything we place online is 100% private and secure.

The sense of power provided by anonymity, sitting at a PC in the comfort of one's home, can't protect us from the hurt and offence our postings may cause; as Darryn Walker found out to his cost.


Nikki Bayley said...

I read about this and was fascinated too. The blurring of the boundaries of what is private and what is public has become immensely tricky with the advent of social media - remember that wannabe tory youngster who, with a single Bad Taste Party chat on his facebook account, effectively ruined his career before it had even begun thanks to the Daily Mail?
I'm not sure that it counts as any kind of 'journalism' or 'public interest' to dig up people's personal chats - it's not our business and its clearly not meant for public consumption... however - not hermetically sealing your social networking could cause serious problems...

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