The internet is a boundless, borderless phenomenon that is both a force for good and bad. A reality that law enforcement agencies around the world have had to confront. We've looked at the situation as it is in the UK and Ireland before; but what about the other countries.
Well in Australia, they're coming alive to the difficulties. In an article here, Adelaide Now discusses the challenge that social media posses to the trial by jury model and the criminal justice system as a whole. Here's what the paper said:
"The right to a fair trial is considered one of the fundamental rights of a defendant in a criminal case.
However, traditional measures such as suppression orders, designed to protect that right, are proving ineffective in the face of prejudicial material uploaded in real time on social media.
The culprit is not the traditional media, but jurors, witnesses and members of the public who become instant mass-media publishers with every post and tweet.
In addition, well-meaning jurors using the internet to conduct their own research about issues in trials threaten the court's ability to ensure that cases are decided only on the admissible evidence presented to the court."The state of Indianna are also confronting the problem. Here Indiana prosecutor said to Indiana newspaper Wane.com said:
"Modern technology and social media make it much easier for the public to quickly and strongly apply pressure," Schumm said. "Facebook and Twitter have largely rendered obsolete the old avenues of expressing dissatisfaction through handwritten letters, picketing or letter to the editor.
Public pressure sometimes works to the benefit of someone charged with a crime," Schumm said. "In other cases, police and prosecutors may be pressured by a strong public reaction to pursue a matter that would normally be resolved short of criminal charges."Indiana news publisher Fox28 commented on the new state law here:
The use of social media is forcing changes in Indiana law as police and prosecutors deal with comments on sites like Facebook.
A law taking effect July 1 makes it a crime to use social media sites to post threats.
David Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council says that lawmakers expanded the intimidation statute to include social media after a person posted plans to shoot up a Hancock County hospital. Prosecutors couldn't make a case because an individual wasn't threatened.
The new law makes it a class D felony if a social media threat targets a school, hospital or church employee and a class C felony if it targets prosecutors or court officials or interferes with the occupancy of a public building.