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Hong Kong: Flash mob rape and disney bomb threat

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:

「網路」並非虛擬不實,也不是完全自由,「網路」是切切實實的現實世界,也
要為自己的所作所為負上應有的責任,同樣也有法律的束縛。

“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

什麼強姦快閃黨?什麼炸彈襲擊尼樂園?為何如此?因為別人看不到我,那麼什麼道德、什麼責任可以完全不理會,其實這只是冰山一角而已,但看來真正會理會此問題的網民不多,但幸好,社會還有一定空間去規管這一些人…

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

你話我阻礙言論自由都係咁話, 就係依d人諗嘢諗歪左,搞到咁多風化案

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:

「快閃強姦黨」之類的網上吹水討論不可怕,以網上留言入罪相當可怕。以往只有死亡威脅或涉及中傷、私隱,苦主才會報警,不過警方一般都不會太重視,不了了之者多。這次性質不同,由政府積極提控,而且高調進行,以收殺一儆百之效。不少市民認為特區政府果斷打擊犯罪而拍手稱快之際,我卻擔心惡例一立,官方「網上警察」角色不斷加強。應知網上低俗言論是小惡,以言論及思想入罪是大惡。

“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:

但迪迪尼主角不同,拘捕他的理由不是「違反公德」而是「企爆」,這就十分荒謬。要證明一個人犯了「企爆」,不能單憑一句「在座有冇人識整炸彈…..我想炸迪迪尼……唔該」就叫證據確鑿,還要有其他有力證據,例如他跟懂製炸彈的朋友聯絡、購買材料…

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:

社會人士需要多了解網絡文化,網民也有必要反思自己言論行為對他人的影響。

Society needs to understand more about internet culture and netizens have to reflect upon their behaviors and their impacts on others.

雖然有人提議立法規管網絡言論,但這只屬反彈性質,其實有何可行之法可立?胡亂制定特別法例管制互聯網,反而會誤導市民問題已被他人解決,失望更大,而立法有可能箝制網絡發展和運作,也真的更有可能會妨礙言論自由,在執行上對全球化的互聯網也不會有效。現時法律並無分犯事的媒介,本身應已可以適用於互聯網。

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.

我們社會急需更多更深入和具理論基礎的研究,了解網絡應用和發展除了在經濟活動以外對社會各方面全方位的影響,而非簡單港式民意調查,結果多數以簡單道德主導,忽略長遠及更深層影響,令社會發展失去方向。

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.

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