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IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: I’m with police, but …


ROY R. MORRIS

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST:  I’m with police, but …

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YOU CAN’T USE a typewriter to send text messages. I’m sure no reader will disagree with me on that.

And you cannot use the Computer Misuse Act to stop inconsiderate people from taking and sharing gruesome photographs of scenes of accidents and violent crime.

I’m no lawyer, but when the police say they will use this act to combat this growing problem, I can’t help but think they are well intentioned but on the wrong road.

The act speaks to sending electronic communication of indecent, obscene or menacing images in a reckless manner that causes annoyance, inconvenience, distress or anxiety to the receiver being a criminal offence.

Based on this reading, cops may catch the odd idiot, but the real problem is that those who take and send these photos do so for the benefit of their “friends” who are of the same mind and are therefore hardly likely to suffer distress, anxiety or any of the other conditions mentioned.

Additionally, an individual takes or receives a photograph and posts it on his Facebook page. Technically he has not sent it to anyone. If you want to see it, you have to seek out that page and look for the item.

Under such circumstances it would be hard to argue that the individual caused someone else’s distress. Cold as it may sound, they caused their own distress.

My point here is that our system of making and updating laws in the current environment has to be nimble. It can’t take years to write legislation as we are accustomed, when the conditions informing that legislation are changing daily, because when it is finally piloted through Parliament and gets the nod of the Governor General, it will be time for new laws again.

This electronic world is ever changing and those who make and enforce laws have to be quick on their feet, rather than trying to massage existing laws to serve purposes never intended or envisioned.

For the record though, I fully support the police on this matter in that if individuals are not prepared to use common sense and reasonableness when they come across these scenes, then the laws have to be imposed and enforced to curtail their actions.

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