A licence to tweet

Insisting on a licence to get online might not stop offensive tweeting, but it might help authorities track genuine evil-doers. But could it ever really work?

Former Australian model Charlotte Dawson was hospitalised recently because of a relentless attack against her on Twitter . Then there was NRL player Robbie Farah, who received an unkind tweet about his late mother. Farah, it seems, is no stranger to offensive tweeting, having previously suggested that the prime minister get a noose for her birthday.

Offensive tweets, all of a sudden, have become newsworthy, chewing up time on commercial TV news and talkback radio. It's now deemed as being such a big issue that Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper has launched a "Stop the Trolls" campaign. I know it's a big issue, because yesterday Stephen Conroy's office issued a press release saying that the communications minister and attorney-general are in full support of the campaign. The Daily Telegraph and the Labor government rarely agree on anything, but they're united on this issue.

Is it a coincidence that this support comes at a time when the government is running an inquiry into changes to national security legislation? The proposal is to give authorities access to a broader range of data stored by telecommunications companies. The intent is to fight terrorism and serious crime, but could it also be used to hunt out Twitter trolls?

One of the submissions to the government inquiry came from Brunel University. Andrew Brunatti wrote about the need for a National Digital Identification (NDI) regime. The argument is that as people use multiple devices, it becomes impossible to track suspects online — the digital identity deficit. Under his proposal, any device, email address, or social media account would be linked to the NDI. It sounds a little far-fetched, but Andrew Brunatti suggests on this week's Twisted Wire that it has to happen sometime.

What do you think? Should anonymity online be protected at all costs, or is there a need for more control? Call the Twisted Wire feedback line on 02 9304 5198 and leave a message.

Running time: 26 minutes, 57 seconds