Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Cyber-bullying’

Cyber-sexual harassment – a shocking story

June 19, 2011 1 comment

This post is actually somewhat personal, but it actually happened to a friend of mine in Singapore.  It is a shocking story about how a man hijacked a woman’s identity, abused it, and how the Singaporean legal system appears to be utterly impotent in protecting its own citizen.

Cyber Harassment and Women’s Rights

[Excerpt]

My life has not quite been the same since 2nd Nov 2010. A person whom I helped in real life decided to destroy my life by posting my personal details bearing my name, age, ethnic group, work and mobile phone numbers, workplace and home address in an online ad as a teacher in Singapore advertising for sexual services.

This person (for the sake of convenience, I shall call him the impersonator) also stole pictures of me from a friend’s Facebook photo album and posted it along with my personal particulars these online ads which were placed in local classified online ad websites as well as on international pornographic sites. He also created a fake Facebook profile on me bearing my name.

He impersonated me online and chatted with men and had them to call and visit my school where I teach and my residence to “indulge in rape fantasies in my school toilets.” He also incited men “catch me by surprise at my home and school.”

What has been rather shocking is the attitude of the Singaporean law enforcement authorities to her complaints.

From my experience with cyber harassment, it is very frustrating when ever I articulated my fears to the authorities about me (or my female pupils) being sexually attacked as these fears were dismissed as “just talk by cowards hiding behind the cloak of the internet” , or when they dismissed the perpetrator as “ a juvenile delinquent or mischief-maker”. I was made to feel that I was making a mountain out of a molehill despite receiving numerous rape threats bordering on the hundreds and visitation by men at my home for “sexual services’ who wanted to “catch me by surprise” by either “hid[ing] in my school toilet to rape me and my female students as instructed by [me]” or “wait[ing] at my flat’s void deck to rape me.”

So the cavalier attitude adopted by the law enforcement agencies in regards to my case of cyber harassment only demonstrated to me this: Cyber harassment is gender discrimination as women in my country need to tolerate these cyber “pranks”. Despite the identity of the perpetrator known to the authorities and the fact that he admitted to creating the ad and impersonating me, he is still out there and free to send even more men to my home and workplace to “indulge in [my] rape fantasies.”

I get the impression that the authorities will only take action when I do eventually get raped by one of these men sent by the perpetrator or when one of my female pupils gets raped. Even then, the perpetrator might walk free as the rape might be committed by the “minions of sexually frustrated men or perverts” whom he incited to visit me.

The law enforcement officer in charge of cybercrime have also advised her that “law in Singapore has not evolved to deal with cases like this.”  This turns out to be a rather strange statement, because as my friend found out, there are actually quite a few laws in Singapore that appear to deal with cyber-sexual harassment, such as the Indian Penal Code and the Computer Misuse Act.  Infringement of the latter legislation in Singapore carries a maximum of two years imprisonment.

Perhaps it is closer to the truth to suggest that law enforcement authorities in Singapore have not quite caught up with the law.  Not an unusual situation in many developing countries, but one would have expected better from Singapore.  If this has happened in Australia, the media would have pounced on it, and the relevant minster would front out to the camera and face some tough questions.  I am not familiar with the role of the Singaporean media in Singaporean society, but this is where a robust media can play a vital role in a civil society.

Advertisements

‘Parents could ‘spy’ on kids’ mobile phones’ (ABC, 2 June 2009)

June 10, 2009 Leave a comment

cell_phone2Not only does this media report raise interesting legal and ethical questions, it will raise the eyebrows of many students!

‘Parents could ‘spy’ on kids’ mobile phones’ (ABC, 2 June 2009)

Parents may soon be able to read their children’s text messages as part of a plan to give them more control over rapidly developing technologies…

Rapid advance in telecommunication technology has been the hallmark of the late twentieth century.  However it brings never ending new challenges that stretch the boundaries of law.  Just recently, for instance, there have been news about cyber-bullying in elite schools.  Use of mobile phones in gang violence have also been noted during the Cronulla riot.  There has also been continuing public concerns about children being exposed to ‘sexting’ or sexual predators.  

It seems for every problems that technology creates, there is a technological solution.

American company My Mobile Watchdog says it has responded to this community concern by launching software that allows parents to see the text messages, calls, picture messages and emails sent to and from their children’s phones.
Geoff Sondergeld is the managing director of Device Connections, the exclusive Australian agent for the software, and he says parents have to face the reality of modern communication.
“The child is notified every time they power their device that their phone is being monitored and they must accept that notification before they can move on to use the phone in any normal use,” he said.
“The screen will say ‘your phone is being monitored by mobile watchdog, press any key to continue’.”
He insists the product is not spyware, because the child will know every time their parents access the records of their phone.

American company My Mobile Watchdog says it has responded to this community concern by launching software that allows parents to see the text messages, calls, picture messages and emails sent to and from their children’s phones.

Geoff Sondergeld is the managing director of Device Connections, the exclusive Australian agent for the software, and he says parents have to face the reality of modern communication.

“The child is notified every time they power their device that their phone is being monitored and they must accept that notification before they can move on to use the phone in any normal use,” he said.

“The screen will say ‘your phone is being monitored by mobile watchdog, press any key to continue’.”

He insists the product is not spyware, because the child will know every time their parents access the records of their phone.

It should not be surprising that civil libertarian lobby groups have raised concerns about this.  Their main argument is that if parents have to rely on this form of technology to monitor their children’s usage of mobile phones, they have to reevaluate their parenting techniques.  They also raise concerns that this constitutes questionable intrusion of one’s privacy.  According to the head of Civil Liberties Council, Terry O’Gorman,

If this technology allows a parent at any time to in effect go and read any communication that is going to or from their child’s mobile phone, that is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Children have certain rights of privacy, including certain rights of privacy in their communication, that their parents should not know about.”

He says parents should not rely on technology such as this to keep aware of what their children are doing.

Those parents that argue they need that software ignore the reality,” he said.

“The best way of finding out what’s happening with your child is to talk to them and not access their phone communications behind their back.

In fact, this technology is yet to be introduced in Australia due to privacy concerns.  

However, parents interviewed for this article are not so convinced by that line of argument.  

Susan Hetherington has an 11-year-old son and she is also a media commentator on children’s issues.

I think it is pandering a little bit to parent hysteria about issues like paedophilia and cyber-bullying but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for parents to be able to make some basic checks on who their children are talking to, depending on the ages of the kids,” she said.

As long as you’re still paying the bills, you have rights to know how that phone is being used.

“In days gone by if someone wanted to talk to their child they’d call the family home, you’d answer it and you’d decide if they could speak to them. I don’t see how this is very different from that.