What do Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Gabi Grecko and the UNAA Young Professionals all have in common? They’re all talking about how the internet interplays with human rights.
These women were just a few of the 101 celebrities whose naked photographs were hacked and posted online.
A spokesperson for Lawrence confirmed the photos were real and said it was a "flagrant violation of privacy", while Gabi Grecko (partner of Melbourne businessman Geoffrey Edelstein) went so far as to call the nude photo theft a "sex crime".
Lawrence’s spokesperson stated they had contacted the authorities and “anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence," and no doubt, someone will be prosecuted.
And while this may be a clear-cut case of rights violation, the internet is often a more difficult environment to navigate when it comes to behaviour, rights, and prosecution.
At a recent UNAA Young Professionals event, Freedom of the Internet as a 21st century human right: what does it mean and what good can it do?, an expert panel and Gen Y discussed an individual’s right to unrestricted internet content, how to ensure children are protected when using the internet, and whose role is it to police this environment.
What was interesting was the lack of a consensus among both experts and the audience.
That’s because it’s a complex issue at the best of times. For example, content is sometimes just not available to Australians in a timely or affordable manner. One only need look at our record-breaking illegal downloading of Game of Thrones (GoT) to see that.
GoT, along with other popular programs like House of Cards, are difficult to obtain quickly, with fans having to wait until Australian TV networks deign show them – and even then they may not be shown by free-to-air networks. In that case people need to have some form of pay TV and even then episodes can be weeks behind. Some people, short of engaging in internet piracy, resort to using Netflix, which means while paying for the service they must trick Netflix into believing they are accessing the streaming service from within the US.
When piracy offers no-cost, quick solutions, it is just obvious that people will choose to illegally download. Just one problem - at the end of the day, it is theft and that is wrong.
The ABC has attempted to combat this with airing the latest season of Doctor Who in real-time on its online platform iView – at least it’s an innovative solution and not simply trying to regulate the problem out of existence (which will not work anyway as the internet-savvy will quickly find loopholes).
The issues around the internet and human rights are vast, from issues around big data (how to store it, who can access it and what information can be gained from collecting such data) to services sites (freelancing, outsourcing, and crowdsourcing) like Freelancer (ensuring fair payment for work done) and absolutely everything in between and much yet to come.
All in all, it’s a highly contentious, unresolved environment that will continue transform over the years. It’s something that not even the experts have perfect solutions for.
It’s easy to look at how these women’s bodies have been plastered all over the internet against their consent and know that it is undoubtedly wrong.
Most everything else, shades of grey.
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