30th Annual Conference 2015

Conference theme: Sustainability: Securing Regulation, Education and Technology for the Future

9th and 10th of April 2015

Mistaken Hate – Securing Regulation for the Future?
Barker, Kim
University of Wolverhampton Law School, UK

Keywords: Gamergate, control, users, regulation.

August 2014: The rise of the meaningless gamer and the Internet police. Tackling sexism. Tackling violence against women. The destruction of a genre and an industry by complaints. Or, as described by Valenti, Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men. Ironic then that the very thing that Gamergate grew into was that which it objected to. But whilst there are issues surrounding the attitudes of gamers & game developers towards women and sexism, there are bigger, more significant considerations for an industry that in recent years has seen several iterations of the same challenge. What are the regulatory challenges for the games industry in light of violence against women and Gamergate? What role should the law play in these spaces? Is classification of games sufficient? Or should there be some form of hybrid regulation of gaming and the gaming industry? Is it time that the industry moves beyond stereotypical attitudes, denials and fiascos, and considers sustainable and effective regulation? What should this regulation consist of? Should it extend to learning lessons from other game-related issues such as the Saarkesian episode from 2012, or should it stretch further than that and look at targeted abuse of women more broadly? Can gaming learn from social-media style prosecutions? Can a tech-industry learn from other tech- regulation? How should this industry be controlled? Can control be sustain able?

This paper will argue that one of the largest challenges facing multi-user platforms is that of control and as such regulation. The vast numbers of users and the multitude of opinions is something to be celebrated, yet this very diversity poses its own unique challenges. This paper will ad vocate for specific, sustainable regulation considering specific avenues of control. Fina lly, this paper will suggest that whilst gaming has proved to be a sustainable and adaptable industry, the controlling paradigms and framework within which it operates have failed to take into account shifting social paradigms. It is time for gaming regulation to change, and for that change to be a sustainable mode of control. Multi-user platforms are no longer the preserve of online fringes; but the fringe-control of such platforms appears to no longer be sustainable. Can multi-user platforms move beyond meaningless hate?

A new battlefront: the social media environment and insurance fraud investigation
Bates, John
Northumbria University, UK

Undetected fraudulent insurance claims in the United Kingdom are estimated to cost society some £2.1 billion annually, and, some say, add some £50 to each policyholder’s average annual insurance costs. The problem is manifest in several aspects: exaggerated ‘first-party’ insurance claims by an individual comprehensive insurance policyholder on their insurer, ‘malingering’ by a ‘third-party’ making a personal injury damages claim following a policyholder’s alleged negligence, through to organised networks of criminal enterprises fabricating complex, intricate interconnected webs of fraudulent activities.

The social media environment has given liability insurers a new, and increasingly potent, investigative weapon: a forensic analysis of an insurance claimant’s social media footprint. Increasingly, evidence is acquired from a public social media space inhabited by a claimant in a much more cost-effective way than intrusive, expensive, video-based surveillance evidence. Investigators probe into a space where a claimant may expect a degree of privacy, and connected friends and contacts within social networks are increasingly targeted to identify networks and potential co-conspirators. The ethical parameters are often tested: such as where investigators ‘friend’ a claimant or a member of their network to acquire evidence for use in defending claims and civil proceedings by the claimant.

This investigative, evidence-gathering process is situated in dealing with the private law civil litigation claims process, initiated by the allegedly fraudulent claimant. The private law regulation of the acquisition, deployment and purpose of this evidence differs from the conventional public regulatory and enforcement context, but shares some objectives, and engages issues of data sharing with law enforcement agencies. A recent trend has seen insurers increasingly ask civil courts in compensation litigation to visit sanctions, including imprisonment and fines, for civil contempt of court established against litigants proved to be dishonest using social media evidence, contrasted with their ‘statements of truth’ in documents filed by claimants in cases. This has implications beyond the insurance claims process – the scope for use in commercial litigation is yet to be explored.

What are the tensions existing between private law and public law processes here? How well does the civil litigation process cope with this phenomenon? How do aspects of the Jackson reforms to the funding and costs of civil litigation affect behaviours? Do these investigation techniques sit well with domestic professional regulation and ethical behaviours? How do other jurisdictions deal with the issues? This paper aims to explore some of these topical issues.

Turned on, Tuned In, but not Dropped Out: Enhancing the student experience with popular social media platforms
Berger, Dan and Wild, Charles
University of East Anglia, UK

Introduction: The days of the static school noticeboard are over. Th ere is no longer a need or desire for small groups of students to hover around a central location , discussing past happenings and future advertised events printed onto dog-eared paper flyers, posted onto a framed set of wall- mounted cork floor tiles in the lobby of the admin office. However, the need and desire to stay plugged into the student social community has not disappeared, but has been transformed by modern developments in the way students interact with each other. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and non-proprietary online blogs, are an inherent part of the modern student’s life, and the apps which provide the link between these parent sites and the student’s mobile phones, tablets and laptops create an unprecedented immediacy in the way that messages are communicated between users.

Until now, social media has been primarily used as a sepa rate entity, albeit importantly, to the “at university/offline” student experience – perhaps as a means of promoting special events, such as social activities or extra-curricular lectures, or to raise general awareness for a type of regular practice such as creating specialist groups for online discussions of certain aspects of university life, but we see this as a missed opportunity. The problem is that university branded and run online social media groups have tended to be seen by students as a sort of sub-class of online social interaction, with many students either opting -out of receiving regular notifications from these groups–thereby negating the benefits of compiling a seemingly large membership–or allowing regular notifications, but having their effect minimised as students become inured to the constant stream of information which education providers deem potentially useful, but which the student acknowledges is not personally targeted and therefore easy and beneficial to mentally filter-out completely. However, with some modification to the way that educational online communities are created and administered, it has been proved that the grey area between total immersion and total denial of university-led social media can be achieved, to enhance learning, improve social interaction between students in all programmes and years of study, and create healthy, largely unregulated communities aimed at improving the student experience.

The authors intend to explore the issues outlined above and to seek to address the issue of whether the student experience may be enhanced through the directed use of popular social media platforms. The proposed presentation, and paper, for BILETA will draw on both empirical data charting student engagement across a rang e of activities and social media platforms, and will also make use of student feedback via a number of video clips from interviews undertaken during the academic year. Recommendations will be proposed in terms of: (a) the role which popular social media platforms may play in the student experience; (b) whether University managed learning platforms in general (dra wing on the experience at this University) should seek to evolve beyond a function al educational tool to encompass aspects of community engagement for students; and (c) the inherent parameters encountered with such social media based activities.