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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hate her? Saboh her online!

Yesterday's Digital Life supplement in the ST ran an interesting article on the dangers of online sabotage. Did you guys realise that it's NOT illegal for someone to post your personal details online?

I remember a Xiaxue post where she wrote about the revenge she wrought on a girl who had [unfairly, she judged] stolen a cab from her. If I remember correctly, I think she even jumped into the cab to confront the girl and even took photos of her on her handphone camera.

So ok, whatever. Then later on, she realised that the girl had been giving a highly-biased picture of her through some online forums. [Well, simply put, the girl was talking bad about her lah] In a fit of righteous indignation, she went on to post the photos of the girl and the boyfriend online, linked the girl's blog, the friendster profile, and any other online paraphernalia the girl had online. She even gave instructions on how to bypass the Javascript password prompt the girl had on her blog.

Considering the daily visitor statistics to Xiaxue's site average in the 1000s, you can imagine what happened to that girl's blog. :p

But you can already see from this that it's not difficult to find and put information about a person online. Even for a person who retains an anonymous facade like I do, a truly determined person could probably hunt out clues on my blog to find hints to my identity. [good luck trying. I have over 2 years of archives]

Worse still, someone who knows me in real life, should he/she have a sudden flash of hatred towards me, can post as many personal details as they know online. For my close friends, this would include my real name, my handphone no, my address, and, if you want, you could probably steal my underwear and sell online. [not that any of u would want to do so....... right?]

And you know the best part? NONE OF THIS IS ILLEGAL.

That's right. If I type on my blog now "Ah Neow lives in Jalan Anak Kambing Blk 123 #12-345 and her phone number is 98765432. She's a damn sexy chio bu so call her now!" it's NOT illegal. Even if Ah Neow gets 1000s of phone calls from that one stupid post, she cannot even sue me for harassment.

Scary huh? So moral is: Don't totally piss off your friends.

There is a little clause in the law: The law in Singapore can only make an arrest, if it can be proved that the information I posted led to a crime being committed.

So if I type: "My friend Ah Kow is living in [insert district 10 name] house no 124. You can't miss it! It's the big white house with lots of begonias in front! He's going on holiday from this friday to monday. I told him better change that rusty lock for his gate, or at least buy more than one lock for the house, but he don wan. Scally his house kena rob ah! So much jewellery he leave in his brown cupboard in his bedroom!" it's still considered legal.

ONLY if some stupid burglar decides to rob the house BASED solely on the information above, bungles up the job, gets caught by the police, and admits that "Yah lah, I read the boredslacker blog then I know that guy going on holiday mah! How I know I so xia suay you will be taking kopi break there at that time??"

THEN can I be charged under the law.

Luckily for me, I do NOT post much personal information online. I've seen blogs where they put photos of themselves, their house, their friends, their boyfriends, their dogs, their mother's underwear, [ok, I've never seen the last one. Heh.] and can't help but think: If people recognise you on the streets, talk about you, express many unfair opinions about you ["Wah lau, her mother wear so obiang panty ah?"]

Whose fault is it? Haven't you sort of invited the comments by posting all this up?

Thankfully for me, I've never encountered too much of this kind of thing from my humble little blog. There's something to be said about being one of the xiao ren, as the song goes.

Oh, and remember my previous post on defamation? Digital Life also posted some more information.

"Ah Kow is a bastard" implies Ah Kow was illegitimate. If he wasn't, he can sue.

Then how about "Ah Kow is a f**king bastard"? Will the law sue me for using f**king? After all, he is a normal, functional human male is it? That's not defamatory is it?

"Ah kow is an incompetent idiot" implies he cannot do his job. This damages his reputation, so he can sue. But he can't sue you for using "idiot"

"idiot" and the like are common expletives, so "no matter how vulgar, are generally not considered defamatory." according to the article.

"Slut" and the like implies that the woman sleeps around, but it's an expletive too, so the judge would probably determine whether it's defamatory by looking at the rest of the message.

So in other words, that means that I cannot sue people for the following statement:

"boredslacker that BITCH! What a f**king fool! Always writing a bunch of f**king crap on her blog! Why doesn't that SLUT just go f**k her IDIOT boyfriend already?"

But if they write:

"boredslacker is clearly unfit to teach at any level. You can see how irresponsible she is, from the casual use of foul language on her online web log. She is clearly very incompetent at her job"

THEN you will receive the letters from my lawyers. :)

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