Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Paperback)Danielle Keats Citron (author)
Most Internet users are familiar with trolling—aggressive, foul-mouthed posts designed to elicit angry responses in a site’s comments. Less familiar but far more serious is the way some use networked technologies to target real people, subjecting them, by name and address, to vicious, often terrifying, online abuse. In an in-depth investigation of a problem that is too often trivialized by lawmakers and the media, Danielle Keats Citron exposes the startling extent of personal cyber-attacks and proposes practical, lawful ways to prevent and punish online harassment. A refutation of those who claim that these attacks are legal, or at least impossible to stop, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace reveals the serious emotional, professional, and financial harms incurred by victims.
Persistent online attacks disproportionately target women and frequently include detailed fantasies of rape as well as reputation-ruining lies and sexually explicit photographs. And if dealing with a single attacker’s “revenge porn” were not enough, harassing posts that make their way onto social media sites often feed on one another, turning lone instigators into cyber-mobs.
Hate Crimes in Cyberspace rejects the view of the Internet as an anarchic Wild West, where those who venture online must be thick-skinned enough to endure all manner of verbal assault in the name of free speech protection, no matter how distasteful or abusive. Cyber-harassment is a matter of civil rights law, Citron contends, and legal precedents as well as social norms of decency and civility must be leveraged to stop it.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 352
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Vividly written and carefully argued, the book is a fine account of law in this area… We should, as Citron argues, reject the facile romanticization of the Internet as the last frontier of true freedom. We should acknowledge that the Internet both facilitates expression and silences, both allows speech and muzzles it… The major contribution of Citron’s book is its lucid summary of the vast network of laws, both state and federal, that are pertinent to cyberabuse. As she shows, we can do quite a lot for victims of cyberabuse without chilling expression… Citron confronts the perpetual free-speech/First Amendment problems attendant to her family of proposals head-on, and the case she makes is persuasive… Citron makes a number of useful proposals for legal reform while convincing readers of the seriousness of the problem. - Martha C. Nussbaum, The Nation
With the amount of research, detail, and sharp, straightforward suggestions in this book, you can almost hear Citron daring her readers to attempt any kind of counterargument, because one simply doesn’t exist… Hate Crimes fully delivers on its promise to elucidate the possible legal responses to online harassment and revenge porn, and policymakers—Citron’s intended audience—will be well served by its clarity… The author derives a lot of firing power from comparing the modern-day fight against online harassment to the 1970s-era fights for the criminalization of sexual harassment in the workplace, and, to a lesser extent, to the fight for the acknowledgement of (and due punishment for) domestic violence. Her comparisons with other feminist fights for equality are both apt and poignant, and the economic injustice of online harassment is certainly deserving of swift and meaningful solutions. - Jordan Larson, The Baffler
Citron…focuses on how online hate speech ruins lives, most often women’s lives. She cites surveys that show that 60 to 70 percent of cyberstalking victims are women, and she details cases in which women have been targeted, defamed, and threatened with rape and murder… The very same things that make the Internet such a uniquely powerful medium for freedom of speech make it a uniquely powerful medium for hate crimes… The difficult question—as always in First Amendment and most constitutional litigation—is where to draw the line. In grappling with that and offering provisional answers, Citron [does] a great service. - Erwin Chemerinsky, Chronicle of Higher Education
This book sets forth a compelling argument that the internet should not be allowed to maintain its ‘Wild West’ anarchic status, because its ability to facilitate cyber-bullying outweighs the virtues of maintaining that status… Hate Crimes in Cyberspace’s main strength lies in its sustained and detailed exploration of the bizarrely convoluted, sustained and extremely hurtful nature of online abuse of individuals… Its pioneering research could and should be used to support the case for introducing a criminal offence of gender-based hate speech in various countries. - Helen Fenwick, Times Higher Education
Danielle Citron’s Hate Crimes in Cyberspace is a breakthrough book… Citron does a thorough and admirable service of clearly delineating the avenues for legal relief that already exist, thus belying the widely held belief that this behavior is totally unregulated and therefore beyond the law’s reach. Cyberspace is not a completely unregulated wild west, and perpetrators of hate crimes as well as their victims need to know that. Citron calls for greater enforcement of all of these laws that already target hate crimes in cyberspace… The book thus serves as a blueprint for what Citron insightfully calls a new civil rights movement. It gives legal representatives and victims a roadmap for charting out legal actions that can be taken to halt the abuse being currently suffered, and to compensate for past harms. It gives state and federal legislators a menu of options for strengthening the law in this area, so that cyberspace can be a safe as well as robust domain for the expression of views on all subjects. It responds to First Amendment worries about the possibility that her proposed reforms might chill valuable speech, and it suggests paths for interested private parties who want to affect the trajectory here outside the law. It’s a tour de force and I believe it will succeed. It will change the law, change the conversation, and change attitudes toward and regarding this extraordinarily abusive and harmful behavior. It will strengthen women’s civil rights, and thus strengthen women’s equality and at core, it will be a significant step toward ensuring women’s safety in the public space of employment and education, as well as in cyberspace and the home. This is a book to celebrate, to study, to argue over, and, mostly, to use… This book makes a powerful case that we must do something about this conduct, and that we must use law to do it. There simply must be a more robust legal response to harmful, hateful, and misogynistic behavior, in cyberspace, no less than in workplaces and the home. That is a huge contribution, to women’s equality, to the quality of our social and civic life, and to the justice of our law. - Robin West, Jotwell
[Citron’s] book comprehensively catalogs the many forms of online harassment—from revenge porn to anonymous cyber mobs—arguing that we need more robust laws to criminalize it and that law enforcement needs to take the cases more seriously… Her book attempts to persuade readers of the real damage wrought by digital attacks with examples of some of the worst harassment that’s happened online… Citron hopes her book convinces readers that harassment online should be taken seriously, and that a robust legal and enforcement framework is created to make the Internet a less chilling place for women. - Kashmir Hill, Forbes
There sometimes seems to be a river of hate on the internet, flowing steadily through different social media; people are often hurt, and there is no obvious end to it. In this book, Danielle Citron, an American law professor, proposes, with quiet authority, how we, as digital citizens, lawmakers, internet intermediaries and educators, can make a change. - Katharine Quarmby, The Guardian
To be sure, police and prosecutors regularly fail to enforce existing laws when it comes to online abuse, either because they don’t take the abuse seriously or because they lack the technological skills to find the perpetrators. But while better training and more resources are certainly necessary, Citron argues persuasively that the law itself needs to evolve as well. - Michelle Goldberg, The Nation
It is the first systematic account of the problem, and how to counter it. Citron proposes practical and lawful ways in which to punish online harassment and also demonstrates the emotional, professional and financial damage incurred by victims. - Katharine Quarmby, Newsweek
[An] excellent new book…which dives into the negative consequences of connectivity and suggests legal and ethical remedies that may help people who are the targets of abuse and harassment… I think the book deserves to get a wide audience, particularly as legislatures and tech companies struggle to grapple with the consequences of connectivity. While [Citron] writes from the informed perspective of a legal scholar and researcher, the prose is clear and her approach should be accessible to lay audiences… Citron connects the experiences of women and minorities in the 20th century and the civil rights laws that were enacted to prevent or penalize discrimination against people on the basis of race or gender, with the challenges that confront people in the 21st century. - Alex Howard, TechRepublic.com
A very important book…that addresses the dark and dangerous side of the Internet. Hate Crimes in Cyberspace by Danielle Keats Citron delves into myriad stories that swing from unfortunate to horrific, highlighting the negative experiences people have suffered as a result of behavior made possible by the anonymity the Internet provides, and/or made exponentially more severe due to the medium’s vast and instant reach… It’s enough to make you want to go offline for a very, very long time. - Bridg-iT blog
An impassioned call for equal rights for women on the Internet… Citron introduces three women and describes how their personal, educational and professional prospects were wantonly destroyed by cybermobs attacking them through posts on social networking sites and emails sent to prospective schools and employers, messages containing scurrilous lies and graphically detailed threats to rape and murder them. Their efforts to stop or punish these activities were frustrated by the posters’ anonymity, indifference on the part of law enforcement and legal loopholes protecting the websites hosting the attacks. Central to their predicaments is a widespread attitude that considers the Internet a lawless playground with no effect on the real world and that belittles the concerns of women and minorities facing a torrent of mindless hate when they attempt to use the Internet to advance their interests and careers. Citron compares this to the dismissive attitudes about sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic violence prevalent 40 years ago, and she argues that driving this vicious behavior from the Internet should be a major 21st-century civil rights initiative. The author has given careful thought to how the standards of civilized conduct expected everywhere else in our culture can be brought to bear on the Internet consistent with First Amendment concerns and without damaging the Internet’s capacity for robust debate, activism and innovation. Along with proposals for reducing the social acceptability of Internet abuse, Citron offers well-considered and modest changes to communications law and judicial procedure that could go a long way toward opening the Internet to safer and wider use by currently victimized groups. Her suggestion that anonymity online should be treated as a privilege that can be lost by violations of a site’s terms of service is particularly constructive… Frightening and infuriating, this demand for legal accountability for Internet barbarism deserves widespread exposure and serious consideration. - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Citron addresses a significant, timely topic in this impressively comprehensive, expertly researched book. Drawing upon leading legal and sociological works, the author explores the nature and consequences of cyber harassment and cyber stalking. Citron’s approach is particularly effective because she introduces a series of actual cases in which victims’ lives and livelihoods have been damaged by deliberate, malicious invasions of privacy over the Internet. In addressing legal remedies for digital hate attacks, Citron invokes lessons from the civil, women’s, and employee rights movements. Moreover, she emphasizes ways in which victims can employ civil and criminal legal means of catching and punishing perpetrators of these crimes. Still, the law is dilatory in recognizing and addressing the challenges presented by digital hate; thus, law enforcement agencies and the courts have much to learn about protecting rights in the digital age… An excellent analysis of the social impact of Internet hate crimes. - Lynne Maxwell, Library Journal (starred review)
Citron brings clarity and rigor to a difficult area of law and policy—dealing with cyber harassment and stalking—that is in desperate need of both. Her book is a must-read for anyone interested in balancing free speech and privacy, and finding protection from the damage that online trolls can do. Citron masterfully guides us toward much needed solutions. - Emily Bazelon, Senior Editor, Slate
In this important book, Danielle Citron proposes a civil rights agenda for the digital age—new legal tools that will protect equal opportunity and human dignity in digital spaces. She explains how we can protect individuals from online harassment and abuse without undermining freedom of expression. This is pioneering legal scholarship. - Jack M. Balkin, Yale University
The free flow of information and expression facilitated by the Internet can bring out the best in people—and also the worst. Hate Crimes in Cyberspace is a call to action and thought-provoking roadmap to realizing the Internet’s full potential as a place of discourse and engagement for all. - Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It
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