Find a way to disarm the internet

Imagine moving into a neighborhood where social interaction is friendly, where people share news and information, call each other when there’s trouble, and watch each other’s children to make sure they’re safe. Imagine being able to communicate with almost anyone in the world at the touch of a key on your computer, and where information on almost any topic is just a few clicks away.

That would be the ideal internet and world wide web. When the Internet was born in 1983 and the Internet was introduced 10 years later, hopes were high that they would make everyone virtual neighbors around the world for greater understanding and peace.

Now imagine the intrusion of bad actors with nefarious intentions, including bullies, scammers, conspirators, and cyber-terrorists who believe that neither laws nor morality apply to them.

Welcome to the internet and the web today.

The Internet has been weaponized by trolls and terrorists. scammers and spammers; sadists and rebels; bullies and blackmailers; hackers and haters. They use it for phishing, fake news, fraud and stalking. Unscrupulous organizations steal and sell trade secrets and personal information. Others hold ransom by shutting down the networks of local governments, hospitals, first responders and other critical networks. Trolls can ruin reputations and careers, expose people to slander and ridicule, and spread lies that can never be remembered or erased. Bullies and sadists use it causing vulnerable victims to harm or even kill themselves.

Mother Jones recently reported on Kiwi Farms, an online group whose members coordinate attacks on vulnerable victims. They use doxing (maliciously publishing personal information about someone), swotting (making fake calls to send SWAT teams to private homes), defamation, stalking, and taunting. They are cyber cowards who hide on websites that allow them to remain anonymous.

“Kiwifruit farm harvests are suffering,” writes Mother Jones reporter Ali Breland. “It thrives on pain and delights in death.” It collects dossiers on vulnerable people and distorts information to torment them with “persistent and perverse harassment campaigns”.

“Most sites aren’t known for having a ‘kill count,'” says Breland. “It’s the Kiwi farmer.” Its users connect, conspire and collaborate for victims of terrorism. He quotes another journalist who found that members of Kiwi Farms were “systematically trying to induce suicide”. In one case, a woman set herself on fire in a public park.

A healthy democracy depends on an informed citizenry. But people use the internet to spread misinformation, misinformation and anti-democratic ideologies. Many politicians inject poison into election campaigns and use the web to anger and activate their constituents. For example, former president Donald Trump regularly spread insults. conspiracy theories and misinformation in many of his 23,858 tweets while in office. By the time Twitter suspended Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, he almost had 89 million followers, received 390 million tweets and received over 1.7 trillion likes,” according to an organization that tracks social media.

Experts say bad actors cannot remain 100 percent anonymous, but there are several ways Internet users can make it almost impossible to identify them. Visitors are so called dark web carry out both legal and illegal transactions; An anonymous online message board Touting itself as “the darkest access to the Internet,” it has reportedly been linked to mass shootings and QAnon conspiracies.

Breland calls the worst abuses of the Internet “the dystopian endgame of those who think that doing anything short of pulling a trigger is ‘freedom of speech.’ Bad actors seem to believe that the anonymity of the Internet allows them to get away with behavior that might be illegal offline.

For example, some participants in the January 6 riots apparently did not realize that free speech and assembly are not absolute constitutional rights. For example, certain speech is not protected, including incitement, defamation, fraud, obscenity, child pornography, fighting speech, and threats.

“Infowars” host Alex Jones was fined about $1 billion For defaming the parents of the 20 children and six teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The court heard that Jones’ text messages showed him spreading rumors that the grieving parents were actors and claiming the massacre was faked to justify the gun confiscation. In another case, a judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter for sending messages to her boyfriend that prompted her to suicide.

Social media reform advocate Christine Bride recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee her 16-year-old son committed suicide After receiving nearly 100 negative, harassing and sexual messages online. She sued the social media company that orchestrated the harassment, but the court dismissed the case, citing the Communications Decency Act of 1966. It says that Internet companies are not responsible for the content that third parties post on their sites.

The president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has testified to Congress about his organization’s tip received over 3.2 million reports Cases of child abuse in the United States over the past year. He said companies are not required to report child sex trafficking or online child solicitation and victims have no recourse unless the company takes steps to stop it.

Government regulation of the Internet is controversial. It’s like inviting Big Brother to the neighborhood. Still, it would be a dereliction of duty for the Senate not to pass legislation to keep the bad guys off the grid this year. At the very least, it should be easier to identify criminals who use guns on what should be one of society’s greatest values.

The House needs to address that as well. Internet criminal corruption is more important than retaliation hearings About Hunter Biden’s laptop or the paranoia that the Justice Department and FBI are biased against conservatives?

William S. Becker is a co-editor and contributor to “Democracy unchained. how to restore government for the people” A collection of over 30 essays by American thought leaders on topics such as the perceived legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Becker has served in several state and federal government positions, including executive assistant to the Wisconsin Attorney General. He is currently the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Plan (PCAP), a nonpartisan climate policy center not affiliated with the White House.

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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