Managing sysop prerogative in Europe through fabris dualism: An agenda for reform of the European Union and Council of Europe into international organisations
The European Union referendum on the 23 June 2016 in the United Kingdom was reported as being the most significant plebiscite for over a generation. Its impacts may only become most apparent when the citizens of the United Kingdom start to demand the same rights that those in the countries that have remained a member of the European Union enjoy. This paper looks at the impact leaving the European Union will have for the United Kingdom in terms of ‘sysop prerogative’ – the right or lack of for information society service providers to do what they want when administering their websites as systems operators, or sysops. The paper argues that a lack of harmonization of laws across Europe will make enforcing sysop prerogative and indeed the very nature of it, more difficult. Even with the outcome of the EU referendum affecting only the United Kingdom, this paper argues that in order to secure a cyberspace free from crime that global cooperation is still needed, but that the European Union in its current form might not be the appropriate vehicle at all, with a combination of the United Nations, Nato and the Council of Europe being more suitable.
Scope and Limitations in the Government of Wales Act 2006 for Tackling Internet Abuses in the Form of ‘Flame Trolling’
Devolution has had a significant impact on the differences between the way legislation is constructed and implemented in the nations and regions of the British Isles that form part of the United Kingdom. It is known that the ever-increasing divergence of such legislation is leading to new legislative regimes that will mean that policies on talking ‘mis-behaviour’ will differ significantly over time.1 A search of the news archives of one of these nations in particular, Wales, including The Western Mail, South Wales Echo, South Wales Evening Post, found over 700 articles that could be linked to internet abuse. Of these articles, there were 36 instances of the Welsh Assembly being mentioned and none of these related to tackling Internet abuse. One of the few references to information technology specifically was when the then education Minister, Jane Davidson, was reported as saying that Welsh Government (WG)’s decision to spend £24m on IT equipment for schools over three years would ensure all pupils had a chance to develop skills needed. This clearly shows the lack of priority of tackling Internet abuse as distinct from other forms of offline bullying. In fact, it is known that its drive to ensure schools have effective anti-bullying policies affects the extent to which traditional forms of bullying occur at those schools in Wales.2 Indeed, it is argued that whilst clear evidence shows that school non-attendance is liked to cyberbullying, this is an ever-increasing problem that policymakers have not kept up with the ‘hardly standing still’ topic.
All’s WELL that Ends WELL: A Comparative Analysis of the Constitutional and Administrative Frameworks of Cyberspace and the United Kingdom
Constitutional and Administrative Law is a core component of legal studies throughout the world, but to date little has been written about how this might exist on the Internet, which is like a world without frontiers. John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” served to start the debate about the legitimacy of nation-states to impose laws on such a virtual space. It has been argued that the nation-states won as there are now a significant number of laws regulating the Internet on national and international levels. It can however be seen that there are commonalities between the two entities. For example, there are commonalities in the way they function. There are also commonalities in the way civil rights exist, and the existence of civil remedies and law enforcement. These are all explored in the chapter, which also presents two concepts about the authority of the state in regulating behaviour in online communities. One of them, “sysop prerogative,” says that owners of website can do whatever they want so long as they have not had it taken away by law or given it away by contract. The second, ‘The Preece Gap’, says that there is a distance between the ideal usable and sociable website that the users want and that which the owners of the website provide in practice. Two other concepts are also introduced, “the Figallo effect” and the “Jimbo effect.” The former describes an online community where users use their actual identities and sysop prerogative is delegated to them. The latter describes those where sysop prerogative is exercised by one or more enforcers to control users who use pseudonyms. The chapter concludes that less anonymity and a more professionalised society are needed to bridge the gap between online and offline regulation of behavior.