Tasmanian cops to world: it's not our job to censor the Internet

The cops in Tasmania, Australia have informed the general public that it's not illegal to call people nasty names on Facebook, and that they don't want any more complaints on those lines: "If this behavior occurred in a public place it would not be a reportable offence. It is not the role of Tasmania Police to censor internet content."


    1. Tas Police, sane? This has more to do with en masse public reports of abuse from Facebook pages set up to offend people. Here is a report from the local newspaper: http://www.examiner.com.au/news/local/news/crime-and-law/abusive-facebook-page-put-on-notice/2032851.aspx
      It was a very petty page when it existed, and no doubt caused a lot of young people serious grief.
      All they are saying is they are sick of being asked to deal with circumstances out of their control, and circumstances that bring in no revenue – which seems to be the main basis on which they act.

  1. This little, offhand post made me furious because, guess what, online harassment, threats, stalking, and controlling behaviour HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FREEDOM OF SPEECH. It’s not that hard to understand: if you say “I’m watching you” on some random forum it’s free speech, but if you send someone dozens of texts, emails and facebook posts saying the same thing, along with their address  just to make it that much scarier, then that is harassment, and it completely fucks peoples’ lives. These days virtually all domestic abuse and/or stalking has an online component – and domestic violence is an epidemic, like suicide it’s never in the news because it happens too frequently to be considered “news”. Police are TERRIBLE at taking domestic violence seriously in real life and they are EVEN WORSE at doing something about it when the harassment is predominantly online. This is nothing to celebrate. It’s not a brave refusal to carry out censorship, it’s just the police refusing to do their jobs and protect women, refusing to treat intimate partner violence as real violence. As usual.

    1. “If this behavior occurred in a public place it would not be a reportable offence.”

      The linked article goes on to say: “If the conduct complained of would not amount to an offence if it occurred off-line, then it is not an offence simply because in a particular instance it was undertaken with the aid of digital technology”

      The problem here would seem to be more that abuse and harassment is apparently okay if it’s in public?

      1. I think your view of the police is… extremely optimistic. Cops often don’t know the law. Cops are often deeply sexist and have a tendency to assume women who have experienced harassment or stalking are “being emotional” or exaggerating. London cops were recently proved to have closed the books on hundreds of rape cases for no good reason http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jun/08/metropolitan-police-rape-victims-detective-arrested .  Cops routinely dismiss  reports of rape and domestic violence because they think the victim isn’t “credible” enough (i.e. white, middle-class, sober, and a virgin) for the case to go to court.  It’s not that surprising when you consider that dozens of cops have been caught out using the POLICE DATABASE to more effectively stalk women – and that’s just the ones who were caught http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/jun/29/guardian-investigation-abuse-power-police . So consider all that, and then consider that the people who complained to the police said the posts were “abusive or harassing”. You don’t say something is abusive and harassing unless you think it’s, well, abusing and harassing. So basically you either think the people who complained were exaggerating or being too emotional (which is the oldest way in the book to dismiss women) or else you have to trust them that they were accurately describing what was happening to them.

        1. I don’t disagree at all. I don’t think I was very clear originally, I was pointing out that they seem to be saying abuse and harassment isn’t illegal in a public space and therefore can’t be policed on the internet.

        2. If someone calls you an idiot – you can consider that abusive.  If someone calls you an idiot after every post you make on facebook or a forum or wherever – you can consider that as harrassing.

          But it ain’t illegal.

  2. Also consider this: governments love to monitor the Internet generally and they love to restrict the Internet in ways that benefit corporations – but have you ever heard of censorship happening at the behest of ordinary people, like the people who complained about abusive facebook posts? Of course not.  Censorship is done to benefit the powerful. That’s not what this is.

  3. I grew up in Tassie. My guess is that the cops aren’t necessarily sticking up for principle here;  its just as likely that they are being lazy, and prefer to spend less time investigating crime, and more time enjoying their confiscated drugs.

    However, they have a good point. If  it doesn’t amount to a crime, don’t call them. What could be wrong with that? Why do we deserve to have authorities intervene simply because our feelings are hurt? Instead of pleading for an extension of state power into new places, why don’t we take it upon ourselves to handle online abuse better. I know, I know, the idea of sucking it up and dealing with it is anathema in this age of militant hypersensitivity, but I prefer to keep scarce police resources deployed in physical space.

    After all, if you generally detest censorship, you wouldn’t want more people engaging in it, and you wouldn’t want to play into the federal government’s current scheme to make ISPs store everyone’s digital records for two years.

      1. Actually, since Tasmania is the founding State of the Greens party, and the Greens vote in Tasmania is the highest in the country, Tasmania would be the home of modern free thinking progressive liberal minded policy attitudes in this country – Melbourne papers are writing that the Greens are set to take the seat of Melbourne as I type, and the Greens policies are currently way more humane than those of Labour or the Libs.  I grew up in Tassie and currently live in Melbourne – I’d argue the attitudes and atmosphere in Hobart right now are more liberal and free thinking than those in Melbourne. Stuff like PISS CHRIST doesn’t get bashed by a hammer in a gallery when it gets displayed down there in Tassie, and they don’t have the usual gang of spoilsports in The Age wringing their hands in favour of censorship any time a controversial movie pops up.  It’s a way more relaxed culture down there than the media in Victoria would suggest, and you can feel the greenie / liberal-minded vibe very strongly when you visit Hobart, check out the markets there, speak to the people and travel around the State.  Tassie has a few idiots and conservative minded people, sure, but on sheer numbers Melbourne would have many, many more.

        1. Generally Australia is very conservative, Victoria included. Tasmania IMHO is a little bit more bipolar. The right is further to the right and the left is further to the left. I hitchhiked around Tassie at the time of the Franklin dam dispute and I got stuck around Bicheno on the east coast in an area where absolutely nobody who owned a car would talk to a person carrying a back pack.

          A couple of years ago my wife and son were buying fuel in Hobart and found themselves on the receiving end of some terrible racism. We haven’t seen anything as bad as that outside of Asia.

          Honestly, where else in the country do people care about the monarchy, apart from David Flint?

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