It is no secret that Resisting Hate and many other anti Hate or Antifascist organisations use the information we uncover to pass details of racists to their employers andlaw enforcement. Basically we name and shame individuals who use covert and anonymous accounts to spread hate.
To be clear – although we do support flagging up problematic and racist individuals we do not support publicly posting the details of individuals to put them at risk. We will pass details to police, law enforcement bodies, other hate groups and individuals associated with the hater but we do NOT post their details and call for vigilante justice or violence. We do not put people at risk, we do not share their private information publicly and we do not post their addresses or pictures of their families.
Exposing fascists can be undertaken using both legal and illegal methods. The methods our group use are all currently legal under UK law. Naive users of the internet have little idea how to keep their identity secret and (although I’m not going to give away the tricks of the trade that have painstakenly been explained to me) even more sophisticated internet users often leave some trace to their real identity. Even down to the prats who email abuse to our website without twigging that it will ping us their IP address…
However I am deeply concerned that the proposed laws described in this article will make it harder for groups like ours to legitimately go about the business of fighting hate. If the tracing processes we use become criminal activity many haters may potentially go undetected and unexposed.
It could be argued that people have the right to privacy on the internet and to an extent I would agree with that. But the people we are committed to exposing are people not using but abusing that right to anonymity. We are talking about troll accounts deliberately created with no other purpose other than to hassle, abuse and threaten innocent people. Or Neo Nazi accounts publicly calling for genocide. We traced one account where the account holder was filming himself in acts of sexual abuse against a child. We passed those details to the police. Under these new proposed laws we would be unable to legally obtain and pass on the information that we often send to law enforcement channels.
Not just exposure itself but the threat of exposure acts as a deterrent on the internet. If people know their personal details can be legally obtained and passed on they they will in many cases self censor and not post the views and images that currently would cost them their jobs.
We have seen people hounded to suicide by evil minded trolling on the internet. This behaviour is not the “hurty feels” the far right dismiss them as, it is consistent targeted bullying of the worst kind. The perpetrators of this hate and harassment will face no sanctions if the ability to out them is restricted by the law. If organisations like Resisting Hate are going to be arrested for screenshotting fascist hate then the only people who will gain from this change in legislation will be the extremist rightwing trolls who still won’t be arrested for posting incitement to hate and violence toward others.
The naming and shaming tactics may sound unfair but remember these are individuals who have chosen to post hate. We do not photoshop or alter images, we send only genuine examples of hate to relevant third parties. Anybody who worries about being exposed or would prefer not to lose their job through calling for genocide on an open social platform knows exactly what actions they need to take to prevent it – Don’t post hate in the first place!