This petition is a response to the "Questions @jack is yet to answer" as published on p.5 of The Daily Telegraph on 13 September 2012. The Daily Telegraph (web site thetelegraph.com.au) is one of the newspapers published by the News Limited in Sydney, Australia. These are the questions on p.5 of The Daily Telegraph:
Question 1: "Do you believe people should be allowed to anonymously bully and post abuse to others ?"
Question 2: "Do you believe that bullying and abuse can lead to self-harm and even suicide ?"
Question 3: "Do you believe Twitter has an obligation to cooperate with law enforcement authorities when users have broken the law ?"
Question 4: "Do you believe that Twitter has an obligation to behave as a responsible corporate citizen ?"
Question 5: "Do you believe Twitter has behaved responsibly in allowing people to bully and abuse others while protecting their anonymity ?"
My answer to 1: Online anonymity must always be allowed for Twitter users because this will better prevent these users' personal safety from being endangered, or their privacy breached, after being identified, stalked and tracked by other persons unknown to these Twitter users. Those unknown persons may or may not do harm to those Twitter users later but this is irrelevant to the issue of whether anonymity should be allowed or not --- because it should always be allowed in the same way people deal with other strangers in an ordinary face-to-face meeting on the streets (i.e. it is up to them to decide whether they want to disclose their names to other strangers they meet on the streets). Unlawful bullying and abuse on Twitter should of course be dealt with and prosecuted by law (e.g. the law of defamation, the privacy law, the criminal law ...........), not by some self-appointed persons (e.g. cowboys inside The Daily Telegraph). What is unlawful behaviour on Twitter is a question of law to be legislated by the Parliaments and determined by a court. This question of law is not for The Daily Telegraph to decide for Australians, let alone for the world of internet (as different countries have different laws). If still concerned, The Daily Telegraph should petition the relevant Parliaments and governments to legislate a better law than the current law instead of interfering with the business of another company such as Twitter under the disguise of a petition with a goal of just 100 signatures (as of 12 September 2012) or 500 signatures (as of 13 September 2012). Such a petition cannot be said to be a serious petition. It looks more like a harassment of Twitter than a serious concern about the public good. It is in fact unlawful for The Daily Telegraph to appoint itself to become the government of Twitter (as it seems The Daily Telegraph wants to be such a government) and the world of internet because it is not. In case The Daily Telegraph does not know, the Australian Government is located in Canberra and not inside the offices of The Daily Telegraph or the News Limited. The fact that some government leaders have supported The Daily Telegraph in their individual capacity does not mean The Daily Telegraph has become the Australian Government because it is not. People in government are always free to do whatever lawful things they like to do in their individual capacity but that is not an official act and has no official consequence for Australians. Please do not be confused by the private role and the public position held by the same person in government. They are two completely different things in law. If The Daily Telegraph believes the Australian Government is sleeping and needs the assistance of The Daily Telegraph, it should petition Canberra instead of Twitter.
My answer to 2: This is a wrong question. The Daily Telegraph should put this question to the proper person who is professionally trained in this area of knowledge instead of ordinary untrained readers.
My answer to 3: This is a wrong question as The Daily Telegraph does not even seem to know it is necessary before asking this question to state which law enforcement authorities and which offence it is talking about. The short answer is that Twitter has obligations under the law if and only if there is a law. My question for The Daily Telegraph is thus: which offence do you want your reader to discuss and answer ? Name it.
My answer to 4: This is a question of moral standards, not a question of law. What is The Daily Telegraph trying to achieve here ? To make moral standards enforceable (sorry, by what mechanism ?) upon another company ? The Daily Telegraph would need to clarify the objective of this question.
My answer to 5: The answer to this question is similar to that for 1 above. Twitter has no legal obligation whatsoever unless the law says so.
Generally speaking, The Daily Telegraph's petition on Change.org looks more like a covert malicious government campaign to censor Twitter under the cover of a petition operated by The Daily Telegraph than anything else. This is because many powerful government leaders support The Daily Telegraph as though these leaders have no power to legislate a proper law to govern (what ? abuse and bully on) Twitter. If these leaders are indeed powerless to protect Australians (from what ? just minor things like abuse and bully ?), they should call a new election immediately for us Australians to clean up the mess for them with our votes. Australians have more than just "abuse and bully" to worry about. For example, how about the many unsolved murder cases ? Robbery ? Break and enter ? Gun crimes ? Drive-by shooting ? Illicit drug dealers all over Australia ? Gangland wars ? There is more than enough for Australians to worry about. The leaders need to know how to prioritise things for the governments they are leading. Victims of lower priorities (e.g. bully and abuse) should be able to claim compensation on their own from the offenders under the defamation law, the privacy law, etc.. If not, they can petition the government to improve the defamation law,the privacy law,etc,to have better protection. It is not proper for anyone to blame the phone company just because some criminals have used the telephone lines to make an extortion demand to some victims. For the same reason, Twitter is just a business like the phone company and it is not to be blamed for bully and abuse. It is a bad joke for The Daily Telegraph and the governments to criticise Twitter's resistance to subpoenas demanding identification of its customers because The Daily Telegraph and the governments resist subpoenas in the same or similar manner too, sometimes perhaps even much more so than Twitter. The petition of The Daily Telegraph is to some extent like a burglar who is burglarising the same house at the same time as another competing burglar. The Daily Telegraph (by way of the current petition) then calls in the police to arrest the competing burglar in order to keep the assets from being stolen from the house (so that they can be stolen later). Although this is not a very close analogy, The Daily Telegraph and the governments resist subpoenas the same. Why can't Twitter do the same (i.e. why is the competing burglar arrested by the police instead of the other one) ? I hereby petition The Daily Telegraph (and the News Limited) to stop your campaign to censor Twitter. I have also observed that not even some other newspapers of the News Limited support the Change.org petition of The Daily Telegraph, thus showing that its peition is not popular even within the News Limited and is probably initiated by a very small group of staff (perhaps even 1 or 2 staff). I hereby ask you all to petition the governments to legislate better laws (e.g.defamation law, privacy law) to protect Australians if you think current legislation is inadequate.
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