Does the internet really need new laws?

Does the internet really need new laws?

Summary: Why do governments keep wanting to make special new laws for the internet? Surely a crime is a crime, no matter where it's committed?


Over the weekend, a senior British police officer rejected calls for new laws to combat bad behaviour online — in particular, trolling on Twitter. The UK's existing Malicious Communications Act 1998 already bans malicious communications in any medium. Nothing extra was needed to arrest a 17-year-old accused of sending malicious tweets to Olympic diver Tom Daley.

Similarly, false or misleading advertising is an offence no matter where the advertisement appears.

On this week's Patch Monday podcast, we ask if there's anything about the nature of the internet that requires new laws.

The answers come from high-profile geek Pia Waugh, with strong interests in free and open-source software and open government; IT lawyer Kay Lam-McLeod, from Brisbane-based practice Idealaw; and Kate Carruthers, founder of Social Innovation.

You'll also hear Stuart Hyde, the chief constable of the Cumbria Constabulary who also manages e-crime for the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers, as he explains why he thinks Britain doesn't need new Twitter laws.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

Running time: 34 minutes, 40 seconds.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Security, Olympics 2012


Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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