There can be no doubt of the whirlwind speed in which new technologies have shaped and changed our lives on both as individuals and as a society, the question remains: are our governing bodies in the physical realm capable of governing our virtual selves?
According to Hua Chen and Lirn Duh, “Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) allows a large number of players to cooperate, compete and interact meaningfully in the online environment” (2011,p145), but when virtual interactions shift into less lawful behaviours, do the same laws that govern us “IRL” apply? As grace-kcb206 states, “a governing and law policy is yet to be established” (2012), which leaves the individual victims of virtual rape and assault in a somewhat powerless position.
There are two very different schools of thought on cyberrape, one being that the act of virtual rape is harmless, as no physical contact is made (Barry, 2009.p20), the second stating the virtual event can have real world ramifications. Sander asserts that “more often than not the experience can potentially serve to alienate victims, driving them out of their virtual communities” (2009,p1). It is the author’s assertion that this debate will continue to rage until there are regulations in place which stem acts of virtual violence.
“Humans, through culture, are the creators of their own destiny, and law and technology are equal partners in this self-creation” (Tranter.2010, p20) and it is this idea of autonomy partnered with issues of legality which need to be addressed. Jordan believes that “The power and paradox of cyberspace is its ability to liberate and dominate simultaneously.” (1999,p2), and until we discern the difference between online freedom and virtual crimes, cyberspace will continue to be a domain dogged by sordid stories and misinformation.
Barry, Maggie. 2009. “Fury over cyber site rape hell”, The Daily Mirror, pp. 20. Accessed 6th May 2012 http://search.proquest.com/docview/340506296?accountid=13380
Dibbell, J. 1998. “A Rape in Cyberspace”, My Tiny Life. Accessed 5th May 2012 http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/
Grace-kcb206. 2012. “New Media Law, Policy & Regulation”,KCB206 Learning Blog. Accessed 7th May 2012 http://grace-kcb206.tumblr.com/
Hua Chen, V. H., & Lirn Duh, H. B. 2011. Socializing in the Online Gaming Community: Social Interaction in World of Warcraft. In I. Management Association, USA (Ed.), Virtual Communities: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 145-160). doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch111
Jordan, Tim. 1999. Cyberpower : The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and the Internet. London: Routledge. E book Accessed 5th May 2012 http://site.ebrary.com/lib/qut/Doc?id=10054868&ppg=13
Sander, Melissa. 2009. Questions about accountability and illegality of virtual rape, Master of Science Thesis, Iowa State University, Accessed 7th May 2012 http://search.proquest.com/docview/304907840?accountid=13380
Tranter, Keiran. 2010. “Stories of Human Autonomy, Law, and Technology”, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, pp18-21, Accessed 5th May 2012 http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_81726_1%26url%3D
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