These days, the internet is not only a source of information. It is also a space for work or making friends and keeping in touch with friends, family and contacts. However, besides all of these benefits, the dangers the Internet brings should also be mentioned. Using the Internet one may feel anonymous, which very often leads to lack of control over one’s emotions and sometimes the outpouring of one’s anger at other people. As practice shows, this leads to slander, offending other people and incitement to hatred.
Despite the fact that by monitoring cyberspace it is possible to find and punish people spreading hatred – in the majority of cases they are adult men (we have written about it in our previous articles) – research has shown that raising awareness about Internet crimes should begin as early as primary school level. Along with children, parents should also be made aware of the fact that they may be held legally responsible for inappropriate care over their underage children if they are engaged in committing acts on the Internet.
One example could be the case of a teenager offended on a site that is very popular among youngsters: the social networking site Facebook. In the summer of 2014 a Facebook profile was created in which the full name of a teenager was used with the added information “(…) is an idiot” (“(…) Yra Debile”). On the profile a photo was also used, and this was taken from the private account of the victim.
During the investigation it turned out that the profile was created by one of the girl’s classmates. According to p. 1 art. 155 of the Lithuanian Penal code (LR Baudžiamasis kodeksas) a responsible person is one who in public, in word or in deed or in writing, has humiliated or affronted a person. A person who has reached the age of 14 before the day of committing the crime can be held to account. In the given case, the person was under 14 on the day of committing the crime, so the investigation was discontinued. However, the case was handed over to the Police Station of the Kupiski region in order to call the girl’s parents to account for lack of control over their child. The parents may receive an official admonishment and if the situation occurs again they could receive a fine of €115.
This case shows that it is becoming more and more difficult to get away with unlawful deeds committed in cyberspace. At the same time, it reveals society’s lack of knowledge on the limits of freedom of speech. EFHR thus encourages society to raise the topic of hate speech in families, communities and schools. We also remind all that we provide free lectures on the dangers brought by hate speech and the necessity to take responsibility for content put in cyberspace. You can contact us by phone (+370 691 50 822) or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the training organized by us can be found on our website in the tab “Trainings and conferences”.