A 42 years old man's Internet messages inviting others to join him in a “flash mob rape” has resulted in Hong Kong's first conviction for outraging public decency through expressions on the world wide Web on September 20 and sentenced to 160 hours of community service yesterday (October 4).
Another case “disney bomb threat” is on the line. The 21 years old netizen was arrested on September 21.
In the internet, the opinions are very extreme. Some suggest harsh punishment, some say that the case is against freedom of expression, some try to differentiate between two cases.
Destiny expresses his opinion towards internet behavior:
“Internet” is not virtual and unreal, and it doesn't have unlimited freedom. “Internet” is part of the real world, people have to be responsible of their behavior and restrict by the law.
Jackykit urges more restriction to save the morality in Hong Kong
Look at the flash mob rape, the disney bomb threat, why such thing would happen? Because others couldn't see, and morality and responsibility could be ignored. All these are just tips of the iceberg. It seems that not so many netizens would care about these issues. Fortunately, we still have space to restrict these people…
Amanda believes that there is a direct relation between speech act and actual sex crime
I don't care whether you criticize that i am against freedom of speech, the fact is some people lose their minds and lead to so many sex crime.
Ben ng thinks that the case opens the Pandora box of speech prosecution:
“flash mob rape” kind of internet trash comments isn't scary, prosecution because of speech is more threatening. In the past, the victims of death threat, privacy intrusion would report the case to the police; and usually the police wouldn't take them very seriously. This time, the nature of the case is very different. The government takes up active role in the prosecution in a high sounding manner, in order to make a show case for other netizens. Many citizens clap their hands towards the government's attitude in crushing the crime. However, I am worried that once the case been established, the official role of “internet police” would be strengthened. We should know that the vulgar speech in the internet is minor crime, but prosecution because of speech and thinking is much serious crime.
Ben Ng's worries has some grounds because the “disney bomb threat” case is on the queue to be prosecuted. Diuman park tries to differentiate the two cases:
The Disney bomb threat case is different, the charge is not “outraging public decency” but “intention to blow up”, this is very ridiculous. In order to prove a person's intention, we could not base on speech like: “who can make a bomb here… I want to blow up Didiney… thanks”. We need other evidence: whether he indeed has contacted friends who know how to make a bomb, whether he has bought materials for making the bomb…
Charles mok urges a balance between society's morality standard and internet culture. And he is against harsh punishment:
Society needs to understand more about internet culture and netizens have to reflect upon their behaviors and their impacts on others.
Some people suggest legislation to regulate the Internet, the suggestion is pure reactive. I don't think new legislation can do any help to improve the situation. To impose legal restriction on the Internet in such manner is misleading the public that there is a easy way out, and it will bring more disappointment. Legislation would also restrict the development and operation of the Internet; it would affect freedom of speech as well. Not to mention that it won't be effective because the Internet is borderless. The existing law should be applicable to the internet as it doesn't have any specific reference on the media of the crime case.
Our society needs more in-depth researches with grounded theories in order to have better understanding of the social impact rather than economic significance of the development of the Internet on our society. We shouldn't depend on the Hong Kong style opinion survey; it would lead to domination of simple morality while neglecting the long term effect. The price would be the loss of direction in society's development.