15 October, 2010
Story By: Jerome Doraisamy
In an age of friendships born through a single click, we now have the freedom to broadcast our every droll, witty thought (or lack thereof) online to social networks spanning Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the latest online media arrival, FourSquare.
But is all this freedom a good thing? Have we reached the point of overshare?
‘Social media has facilitated the personal and social relationships which we enter into, and it has facilitated an exchange of views, opinions and ideas in a way that never existed before’, says Geoff Holland, a lecturer in both the Law and Communications at UTS. ‘It allows for more convenience; you can find people with similar interests, no matter how outrageous’.
Despite the obvious advantages of being socially connected, debate rages about defamation and privacy (or lack thereof) online. Instances of cyber-bullying and online stalking have increased dramatically over the past few years, anti-social behaviours facilitated by the internet. ‘People have got to learn that Facebook is online and it doesn’t take away liability for defamation. Australia has no privacy legislation, so there is very little you can do to protect yourself’.
Cybercrime is also a major problem in Australia. In a survey conducted by software security vendor AVG, over 39% of Australians have found themselves victims of of various forms of cybercrime, including fraudulent emails, phishing and credit card fraud. Cyberbullying is also on the rise, though remains low compared to the United States and Britain. Most recently, exclusive inner-city girls’ school experienced cyberbullying firsthand via MySpace. Year 9 students emulating hit American TV series ‘Gossip Girl’ posted an online list detailing sexual exploits, illicit drug abuse and the scaling of in-school social hierarchy of 31 Ascham students – many of whom were daughters of prominent Sydney families.
The law, with its evolution rooted in precedents and legislative reform, has laboured to keep pace with the ethical and legal challenges posed by these swiftly developing technologies and communication mediums.
‘There is a gap in education and professional qualifications,” observed Holland. “There are people who understand communication technologies and people who understand law, but they never met, which has led to delays in the way the law has developed. The law is dragging behind not because it can’t adapt, but because of a deafness here’, Geoff concludes.
To address this knowledge gap, UTS:LAW has introduced a Master and Graduate Certificate in Communications Law. Intended for communications, media, intellectual property and legal professionals, these courses run the gambit of key issues defining the local and global media debate. Broadband regulatory issues, media and entertainment law and legal perspectives on the internet are just some subjects to be covered in this courses.
For more information on these courses, click here.