ANONYMITY AND RAPE

Google is back in the limelight, for all the wrong reasons, and by all accounts they are struggling with even the most basic form of protection for their many users.  Their latest problem is the ease with which surfers can discover the identity of rape ‘victims’, aka complainants, if they choose to do so, thereby circumventing the protection afforded to them by the courts.

Anonymity for rape victims, whether their complaints are real or fabricated, remains a lively topic as it has been for many years.  The arguments are well rehearsed, the main one being that rape victims are less likely to report the offence if their identity is known.

For my part, I have never been persuaded of the wisdom of this approach.  The ordeal of reliving the dastardly act in court is the main reason why victims do not come forward, it’s got nothing to do with identity, and on that score, I doubt if the ordeal is made any easier if the jury know the victim as Miss ‘A’ rather than Dolores del Rio.

Men and women regardless of their sexual proclivities are supposed to be equal, and this applies at all levels of life, whether in the workplace or out and about. But in relation to rape allegations, this equality does not apply, as the accused is routinely named and shamed, and has no protection from exposure in the Press, or Social Media, or in a court of law.

The recent cases where wholly innocent men were falsely accused of rape have been fully documented.  The Clown Prosecution Service has, as always, come up with wholly implausible reasons for charging these men in the first place, and I have already commented on this in an earlier blog.  But until these men were formally acquitted, they were paraded in public as rapists, a classic case of guilty until proven innocent.  This public parade was permitted because these men were not afforded the same anonymity as their accusers.  In one case, the young man in question abandoned his university career because of the unbearable strain of being falsely accused and having to wait an eternity before the injustice was righted.

I therefore fully support the lobby which advocates equality in allegations of rape between the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator until the legal process has run its course.

The other thing I find uncomfortable is the fact that in most cases where the complainant admits lying, nothing is done about it, despite the fact that on any view, she is guilty of attempting to pervert the course of public justice. And to make matters worse, her anonymity runs for the rest of her miserable life, pace such help as Google can unwittingly provide.

This approach cannot be right, it certainly cannot be fair, and it brings the criminal justice system into disrepute.  I therefore propose that a senior judge should consider the question of continuing anonymity, and it will be for the ‘victim’ to show cause why this protection should remain.  Were I in loco judiciaris, I would need a lot of persuading.

LOG OFF

I read with interest the recent visit by the Queen and Prince Philip to the London HQ of Google, location unknown, and hooted with laughter at the very funny spoof on the Today programme of Her Majesty surfing the Net.

But the more I read of Google’s domination of the Internet, the more I am reminded of section 15 of the Theft Act 1968. That section tells me that it is a criminal offence to dishonestly obtain property by deception, carrying with it a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

I refer, of course, to spam emails flooding the inboxes of onliners, and whilst Google is not the only supplier of internet access, as the market leader they must bear a heavy responsibility.

We all get spam, it goes with the territory, with the most popular questioning the size of my ‘love tool’ [aka ‘Johnson’] and the joys of Viagra. Quite how my deficiencies on the marital couch are known to these spammers is beyond me, but more disturbing is the fact that my email address is being used without my consent.

Which brings me back to section 15. I am getting an increasing number of spam emails telling me about untold riches waiting for me if I reply. The three most popular are:

  1. Nigeria, the Internet black hole of Africa, telling me that somebody has died leaving an enormous fortune, and if I ‘pay’ for the transfer of this fortune to a bank of dubious provenance, I will receive 30% of the total proceeds;

  1. Running Nigeria a close second is Hong Kong, with an identical scam;

  1. The Lottery, anywhere in the world, telling me I’ve won a fortune, and all I have to do is pay a ‘fee’ to a shipping agent to receive a certified cheque.

Given the frequency of these scams, I am getting on average 2 – 3 a day, I assume these scammers are making money out of a lot of people motivated by greed and pig ignorance. For my part, I get no sense whatsoever that Google and the other Internet Service Providers are doing anything to stop them. From time to time, when I make the effort to report the scammers, I might get a reply, but no action is taken, jointly or severally, to put an end to this evil practice.

Scammers can only scam if they have an ISP, and ‘gmail’ is the biggest provider on the Net. So why don’t they check? If the People’s Republic of China, that paragon of democracy, can shut down internet sites at the click of a mouse, as they did during the Olympics, then why can’t Google police their own illegal activities? With all their wealth and power, it should be reasonably straightforward. And forget all this nonsense about extra territorial jurisdiction, the power of the Internet is global, and should be policed accordingly.

At the end of the day, I suspect it’s all about money without responsibility. Spams and scams are reaching epidemic proportions, and if the ISPs won’t act to prevent them, then they should be closed down. It may seem like a sledgehammer approach, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

 

POSTSCRIPT

 

I read with disbelief [18th October] that the YouTube page set up by the Exeter restaurant bomber Nicky Reilly, also known as Mohammed Abdulaziz Rashid Saeed Alim, was still online even after he had pleaded guilty to attempted murder and terrorist offences, and was only removed after intervention by The Times. His ‘page’ included videos of the 11th September attacks on the World Trade centre, together with a propaganda video made by al-Qaeda praising the atrocity. In addition, he had highlights of an ambush on a US convoy in Iraq, material from Somalia and the Beslen school seige in Russia. YouTube is owned by Google!