Things that caught our eye

The Perils of Cyberbullying Legislation

11 Mar, 2015   | by:

Cyberbullying is a term that is commonly used in the media to denote cases that would not necessarily be classified by academics as “cyberbullying.” And “cyberbullying” laws are sometimes enacted in the wake of  “moral panic” around children’s use of technology.  The reach of these laws can extend far beyond addressing child conflict, and has implications for civil liberties. Such comments have been made before in reference to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia’s cyberbullying law. This article by a Canadian privacy and technology lawyer explains why.

Nova Scotia’s cyber bullying law is a disaster.

Things that caught our eye

Controversy around Cyberbullying Law in Illinois

26 Jan, 2015   | by:

A by now much discussed piece of state legislation in the US has made it to European news. The Guardian reports that the new controversial law in Illinois would ask children to reveal their Facebook passwords if the school has reasonable cause to believe that a student has broken the school’s social media policy. Under the legislation the school has the right to this request even if an incident took place outside of school premises and after school hours. Some school officials report that the media has largely exaggerated the controversy around the law, as Illinois schools had some of these powers already. You can read more here and here.



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Things that caught our eye

This Holiday Season – A New App for your Memories

21 Dec, 2014   | by:

You may be familiar with Timehop, an app that draws from information on your social media accounts to remind you of your fondest memories from the past year (or at least what its algorithms think those memories may be). Now another app is out, called Memoir, which, in addition to this algorithmic curation, also allows you to label your memories, organize them and search for memories based on your current location.

The New York Times reporter summarizes the main concern around such apps much better than I would:

“This is perhaps the time to note that these apps remind us that we are putting a lot of information about ourselves out into the world. That information is easier for a third party to retrieve and organize than we might have imagined. Happy holidays!”

You can read the NYT review here.




Things that caught our eye

The Role of Companies in Addressing Online Threats

4 Dec, 2014   | by:

Tackling a perhaps less addressed aspect of Elonis case, Danielle Keats Citron raises the question of social media companies’ role in addressing threats on their platforms.  Citron’s new book “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” analyzes key issues around how law could move forward in handling free speech challenges and distributing responsibility between schools, parents and Silicon Valley.  You can read more on the aftermath of Supreme Court’s December 1st hearing on NYT’s Room for Debate.

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Things that caught our eye

The Elonis Case: Online Death Threats and Free Speech

25 Nov, 2014   | by:

On December 1st, the US Supreme Court will hear Elonis’ First Amendment challenge to his conviction. Elonis had spent three years in prison after posting death threats to his wife on Facebook. While “true threats” are an exception to the rule against criminalizing speech, Elonis argues his posts do not constitute “true threats” because he did not intend to hurt his wife: the aggressive lyrics he posted had a cathartic function for him. Emily Bazelon, senior research fellow at Yale Law School and well-known writer on the topic of online harassment, discusses what is at stake with this decision in her post on the New York Times Magazine.


Things that caught our eye

Parenting in The Digital Age

20 Nov, 2014   | by:

At its Annual Conference in Washington DC, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) presented findings of its research on digital parenting, which reveal how parents perceive potential benefits and harms of their children’s use of technology. You can find the main take-aways here. EU Kids Online also presented the results of their study on children’s online behavior. The goal of the Conference was to attempt to redefine online safety, which seems to be moving away from focus on harm only and towards understanding the contextualized nature of risks, based on research.

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A Less Discussed Take on Cyberbullying: Building the Culture of Empathy

31 Oct, 2014   | by:

October was the national bullying prevention month in the United States and the media paid significant attention to the issue, with even Monica Lewinsky joining the anti-bullying campaign in an effort to end the culture of humiliation. Some anti-bullying campaigners criticized her involvement saying it would set back their cause because of Lewinsky’s tainted background. The latest results of the Pew Research Study on online harassment indicate the pervasiveness of this phenomenon: 60% of internet users said they witnessed someone being called offensive names; 53% have seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone; and 24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time (“sustained” usually being one of the requirements for researchers to label behavior as bullying). More…


Things that caught our eye

Internet Usage Tax Creates Turmoil in Hungary

30 Oct, 2014   | by:

Here’s some important news from Eastern Europe that finally reached the US media: according to NPR, about 100,000 anti-government protesters gathered in Budapest on Tuesday to oppose a proposed plan to tax the use of internet. The Hungarian government says the tax is only extending an existing tax on telephones in order to address the growing share of communication that is taking place on the internet. However, the move is perceived as the government’s attempt to stifle voices from the opposition.

Read more on The New York Times. 

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Things that caught our eye

Facebook removes photos of childbirth

22 Oct, 2014   | by:

We’ve seen this before with breastfeeding images, and now the issue is back with childbirth photos. Whether you like it or not, Facebook is exercising its curating powers by removing photos of childbirth. Milli Hill, who heads the organization called the Positive Birth Movement, had her photos removed and her page temporarily banned after posting such images, which violated Community Guidelines. She observes:

“You could argue that this is simply about nudity, but I think there’s more to it. Social media reflects our wider culture’s issue, not with naked women, but with naked women who look real and active as opposed to air-brushed and passive. It also reflects millennia of attempts to suppress women’s power, of which childbirth is perhaps the ultimate expression.”

You can read more about it here: By removing photos of childbirth, Facebook is censoring powerful female images | Milli Hill | Comment is free |

Things that caught our eye

Cyberbullying bill inches closer to law despite privacy concerns

14 Oct, 2014   | by:

On October 20th, the Canadian House of Commons will vote on the cyberbullying bill (C-13), which is widely seen as controversial because of its privacy implications. The C-13 makes it illegal to post an “intimate image” of another person without that person’s consent. It also gives the police easier access to metadata from online service providers and phone companies, the provision that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner was particularly concerned about. The Bill gives immunity to companies that hand over information. With the support from the majority Conservatives, the bill is expected to pass.

You can read more about it here: Cyberbullying bill inches closer to law despite privacy concerns – Politics – CBC News.


Photo of the Canadian Parliament Made By Maria Azzurra Mugnai

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Things that caught our eye

MobileForceField: UK Startup Launches World’s First Child Cyberbullying Interception App

6 Oct, 2014   | by:

In search of tech solutions to behavioral problems, a group of fathers with an IT background from the UK developed an Android app that controls which apps children download on their smartphones, in an effort to prevent cyberbullying. Perhaps more controversially, the app filters out “inappropriate and offensive phrases” that a child might receive in text messages. Wondering about free speech and privacy implications? You can read more about it here.

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Things that caught our eye

Mysterious Social Network ‘Ello’ Explodes In Popularity For People Fleeing Facebook

26 Sep, 2014   | by:

If you care about privacy and are looking for an alternative to Facebook, Ello might be an interesting option. The network’s popularity seems to have grown exponentially in the past few days, particularly in the LGBTQ community, coders and visual artists. The network is self-described as “ad free that does not sell data about its users to third parties.” Joining is free but for the time being by invitation only. If you enter your email and ask to join, like I did, Ello will send you a note saying “we will invite you as soon as we can.” I look forward to observing how their cyberbullying/abuse/harassment policy will evolve. You can read more about Ello here.

Also see this recent blog post by Luke Heemsbergen about Ello.