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Just showing posts from February 2016

Are Virtual Currencies being accepted as risk and could be regulated? 

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments
25Feb2016

Dr Clare Chambers-Jones

 https://cyberlawandregulation.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/are-virtual-currencies-being-accepted-as-risk-and-could-be-regulated/

Virtual Currencies (VC) are unregulated and generally speaking they have not fallen under the watchful eye of government or regulatory authorities with much legislative gusto. However, the tide is changing and the European Union has started to acknowledge that VC can pose financial risks and threats and that there may now be the possibility of regulating them. This is big news which has fallen under the radar of most news outlets.

In September 2013 the European Banking Authority (EBA) undertook a consultation to examine VC and in December 2013 they published an opinion paper on VCdue to their obligation to monitor new and existing financial activities. They saw VC as a new innovative in finance that they should be mindful of.  The findings were that VC were unregulated and their risks unmitigated. In 2014 the question that the EBA was asking was whether VC should be regulated or not.

The EBA identified some 70 risks spanning several categories, yet also acknowledged that VC offer benefits to the user as well, such as speed, reduction of costs in transactions and financial inclusion.

In February 2015 the EBA published a further warning to consumers on VC. The EBA outlined several risks associated with VC for consumers, these being:

•         Loss of money on exchange platform
•         Money stolen from digital wallets
•         Unprotected when using VC as a means of payment
•         Fluctuating values of the VC
•         Cab be misused for criminal purposes
•         Maybe subject to tax liabilities

Guidance as to how to protect yourself was briefly offered in the form of ‘use carefully’, ‘do not use money which you cannot afford to lose’ and be ‘aware of the risks’. This not so useful guidance demonstrated the EBA’s lack of understanding of the issues that VC can offer, whether they are positive or negative.

More sound guidance came in February 2016 with the European Commission providing a clear indication that VC could soon be regulated under the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive 2015 (AML). The European Commission openly acknowledged that VC can be used “by terrorists to conceal financial transactions, as they can be carried out more anonymously”. The Commission has indicated that they wish to bring in VC exchange platforms under the 4th AML Directive. This would enable exchange platforms to carry out Know Your Customer (KYC) due diligence checks. The commission is also considering whether to bring in licences for VC exchange platforms and VC wallet provider. This requirement would then fall under the licencing and supervision rules of the Payment Service Directive (PSD2) 2015.

The Commission consider the proposal to ban all VC yet they have said that unlike some other jurisdictions globally and indeed some within the European Union, the EBA has not issued an outright ban on VC. This is because of the perceived benefits which are offered by the ease, speed and low cost of the financial transaction. The risk the EBA and Commission, have concluded is minimal and does not pose a financial stability risk.

The tide in oversight, acceptance and regulatory possibility has therefore changed within the European Union. VC are not banned but the possibility of them falling under some of the AML regulation is now a distinct possibility because regulators now accept the feasible risks of terrorist financing.

European Central Bank (2014) EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’. July. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank (2014) EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’. July. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank (2014) EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’. July. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank (2014) EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’. July. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank (2014) EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’. July. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/657547/EBA-Op-2014-08+Opinion+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank, (2015) Warning to consumers on virtual currencies. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/598344/EBA+Warning+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
European Central Bank, (2015) Warning to consumers on virtual currencies. https://www.eba.europa.eu/documents/10180/598344/EBA+Warning+on+Virtual+Currencies.pdf accessed 25 February 2016.
Fourth Anti Money Laundering Directive 2015. http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32015L0849 date accessed 25 February 2016.
European Commission, (2016) Press Release, Questions and Answers: Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing. 2 February http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-209_en.htm accessed 25 February 2016.
European Commission, (2016) Press Release, Questions and Answers: Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing. 2 February http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-209_en.htm accessed 25 February 2016.
Payment Services Directive 2015 (amended)  http://ec.europa.eu/finance/payments/framework/index_en.htm accessed 25 February 2016.
European Commission, (2016) Press Release, Questions and Answers: Action Plan to strengthen the fight against terrorist financing. 2 February http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-209_en.htm accessed 25 February 2016.

 

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Sexual Harm in Virtual Worlds 

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments
09Feb2016

Virtual world and virtual communities are an increasing social phenomenon. To say that they are without law is false, but also it is illogical to believe that virtual worlds are free from criminal acts even through these offences and their perpetrators may differ from offline, as well as other on-line, offending behaviour. Individuals who use the on-line environment to commit or orchestrate sexual harm  can use technology to assist them in committing physical sexual abuse as well as use of the internet to commit non-contact, virtual sexual violence (i.e., through the use of sexually abusive language, imagery, etc). Virtual sexual harm can be multifaceted ranging from inappropriate conversations, the grooming of potential victims for either a contact offence or the production of sexual abuse imagery, or to an on-line, virtual community, sexual offence (i.e., raping a character in game or in a virtual community) (Taylor and Qualye, 2003; Sheldon & Howitt, 2007). Global variations in the development of policies, practices, education, understanding and policing of online sexual harm are pertinent given its growing impact and prevalence (online grooming, online offending, online stalking and trolling). One area where the prevalence, policies, impact and criminal justice responses are still developing is that of sexual harm in virtual worlds.

Since the advent of the internet in 1950’s with the development of computers and the growth and use of technology has challenged the ways and means of communicating with others. Virtual worlds are one such avenue where people communicate on a social educational or business level with others via on-line virtual worlds.  There is no real agreement as to what virtual world means, but Bell (2008) argues that a virtual is a place where real people can enter via a computer and communicate with others. A virtual world is often seen as something that it unreal and which does not reflect the traditional approaches to life, but upon closer examination a virtual world does, more often than not, form close synergies with the real world. In the modern world many social interactions and milestones in peoples lives now take place on-line and in virtual worlds or on social networking sites such as FaceBook, Second Life, World of Warcraft; therefore these social interactions often provide perpetrators the opportunity to meet and gain the trust of a potential victim (Klimmt and Hartmann 2008).

Research shows that most users of virtual worlds are of a young adolescent male who are attracted to the hyper-masculine (macho) arena that can be found within these virtual worlds (Klimmit, 2011). Furthermore these young often males lack the socially honed personal interactions within social spheres with the hyper-masculine attributes they display leading to behaviours that would not normally be tried out in the real world being carried out in the virtual worlds (Klimmt 2011); therefore boundary testing free from social consequences. This reinforces the experimental, boundary pushing aspects of risk taking behaviour often found in youths as a consequence of their development rather than an indication of an ongoing, life course persistent pattern of offending behaviour. Therefore begging the question; are virtual worlds and live action gaming testing grounds for future offline offending or merely an exploratory arena for risk taking behaviour?

Individuals acting within virtual worlds can see their actions as being quasi-real and therefore believe that said actions do not fully adhere to the moral and ethical norms learnt, as well as reinforced, through normal social behaviour in the real world. Deviant behaviour (sexual and non-sexual) can often be justified and perceived as acceptable in this instance with perpetrators using cognitive distortions to justify their deviant behaviours arguing that “it’s not real”, “that people on these sites should know better and not take comments at face value” and “there are no real victims”. However, when these online offences (especially virtual offences in online environments against avatars or via comment boards) take place they are   consciously acknowledged by the victim who feels and believes that they are a real crime (Klimmt 2011). Although, there may not always be  a fear of physical violence in these cases the victim may have be psychologically traumatised by the event which could have result in a negative psychological reaction (anxiety, fear, distrust) and adverse behavioural response (isolation, withdrawal or aggression). Hence, the virtual world/on-line offence could affect their offline behaviour, especially if they believe their on-line and offline lives are firmly tied together and co-dependent.

As we known responding to sexual offending, in general, is a difficult line for the government and the Criminal Justice System agencies to tread, but this difficulty increase exponentially in respect to on -line sexual harm with a multitude of countries, corporations, laws and red tape involved. This begs the question of, how virtual worlds are regulated both inside and outside the virtual world.  General guidance and criteria relating to what constitutes a virtual world crime should be considered in the first instance before any legislation or regulation is handed down to regulate virtual words. Having said this, although regulating virtual world and communities is a difficult and complex task does not mean that the virtual world should be a place where criminal acts are condoned or go unpunished (especially those related to sexual harm), rather the laws must be considered in terms of the best fit for the environment in which it finds itself in.

Kieran McCartan,PhD, & Clare Jones, PhD (Associate Professor in Law - UWE, Bristol)
First posted at: http://sajrt.blogspot.co.uk/
References:

Bell, M. W. (2008). Towards a definition of virtual worlds. Journal of Virtual World Research, 1:1.

Klimmt, C., & Hartmann, T. (2011). Mediated interpersonal communication in multiplayer video games: implications for entertainment and relationship management. In Konijn, E. Tanis, M. Utz, S. Barns, S. (eds) Mediated interpersonal communication. Routledge, New York, pp.309-330.

Klimmt, C. (2011). Virtual Worlds as a regulatory challenge, a user perspective. In Cornelius, K., & Hermann, D. (eds) Virtual Worlds and Criminality. Springer. Pp. 1-19.
 
Sheldon, K., & Howitt, D. (2007). Sex Offenders & the internet. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Taylor, M., and Quayle, E. (2003). Child Pornography; an Internet Crime. Hove and New York; Brunner-Routledge.

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Justice, Inequality and Gender Based Violence  

Posted by Lauren Rees | 0 comments
01Feb2016
This project is led by Professor Marianne Hester at the University of Bristol and involves a collaboration with researchers from UWE (Prof. Phil Rumney, Duncan McPhee and Dr Rachel Fenton) and Cardiff University. The aim of the project is to address how “justice” – in its wider sense – is understood, sought and experienced by victims/survivors of gender-based violence (which includes sexual and domestic violence, forced marriage and “honour-based” violence) as well as by key practitioners. Incidents of such violence consistently drop out of the justice system. To explore this “justice gap”, the team will ask questions including: how do victims/survivors and others experience and perceive “justice”, and how does inequality affect access to support pathways and trajectories through the formal and informal justice systems? The researchers will also ask how are notions of empowerment linked to notions of justice and access to justice, how do practitioners themselves perceive notions of “justice”, whether enacted through formal or informal routes, and what would a truly victim-focused justice agenda for gender-based violence look like? The project is funded by the ESRC. For more information see here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sps/news/2015/esrc-grant-success-for-professor-marianne-hester.html
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