Today’s Editorial: Compromising freedom of speech

POSTED: 02/14/11 5:43 PM

Gregory Richardson, a local IT-specialist who owns Secure Tech International, revealed at a conference in Trinidad that a website has published hundreds of emails from an advisor to the government of St. Maarten. Richardson warned that the security risks of using free email services are significant and that government officials ought to stay away from them.
If the revelations of the emails Richardson refer to had served an honorable purpose, the web site would deserve at least an honorary cultural ID-card from Leopold James as a just reward. But the case is not that simple, and the blogger who published the emails is in fact an ordinary pain in the neck with a very personal agenda.
The web site Richardson refers to is used by a local blogger called Judith Roumou. This newspaper reported last year about a falling out between the blogger and the secretary general of the Democratic Party, Julian Rollocks. While she told this newspaper that she had “uploaded 160 videos on the Internet to promote St. Maarten, the truth is that the blogger is on the warpath against anybody and everybody. Her goal is to slander Julian Rollocks and everybody who dares to take a critical look at her childish and ridiculous Internet-rants.
When our managing editor suggested in a letter to the editor of his own that Roumou was in the service of former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius, she revealed her true colors on her blog with the statement, “I hate them all.”
If the emails Roumou published on her blog are real (and we doubt that, actually) then she has accessed Rollocks’ Hotmail account without authorization. She will no doubt argue, as she did when we interviewed her more than a year ago, that she set up a Facebook-page and all other Internet-related activities for Rollocks, and that she had access to these accounts with his permission, but that is now irrelevant.
The blogger, who likes to write her slanderous drivel in capital letters (the same format found in the so-called Rollocks-emails), has no permission to pose on the Internet as Julian Rollocks, nor is she entitled to hack his email.
The hacked Facebook page that still features Rollocks’ name shows a picture of Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe. She photo-shopped – how original – a Hitler-moustache on the image, and she is abusing this account to distribute false and hateful information.
Roumou is a typical example of the modern-day Internet-abuser. We have called her activities Internet-terrorism, a qualification the lady did not particularly appreciate for reasons that are unclear to everybody, except to the spiteful blogger.
The Internet is a wonderful tool and a great platform for addicts to freedom of speech. We wholeheartedly agree that the Internet ought to be free, and that there should be no government interference with its content.
That does not mean that there are no rules. Every publisher knows that freedom of speech is not absolute. There are laws everybody has to adhere to. Slander, defamation of character, hacking email-accounts or other online domains, these are all activities internet-users ought to stay clear of unless they serve a greater good. Some of these violations are punishable by law, some are not, or not yet.
Short of locking up Roumou in a mental institution without access to computers and the Internet, we assume that she will continue to spread hatred and insane accusations against whomever she is going to hate next. We take it for granted that her drivel will continue to appear on her blog.
Never before have people had so much freedom to express themselves. Everybody is entitled to her or his opinion, but abusers like Roumou are putting that freedom at risk for everybody else.
The fact that bloggers like Roumou do what they do, ought to alert Internet-users. It does not cost anything to take measures against email-intruders, but it is well worth your time. Spam-attacks on the most ordinary email-addresses have become common practice.
Recently, politician Anthony Godett in Curacao discovered that someone had put up a fake Facebook-page with his picture, suggesting that he was educated at a school for retarded children. Mental Health Foundation director Eileen Healey saw her name appear in the papers when someone used her email address for a scam to steal money from unsuspecting recipients. Then, fake-emails surfaced that urged clients of the Windward Islands Bank to submit their personal information.
The activities of especially Nigerian Internet-scammers are so well-known that it is hard to believe there are still people falling for them. But the criminals that operate there schemes have the law of the big numbers behind them. They do not need a lot of victims to make their crimes profitable. Sending out thousands of scam-emails is cheap and it can be done from locations that are beyond the grasp of local law enforcement.
The weird thing is that our local hateful blogger is known by name. She lives in St. Peters, according to her own blog, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to straighten her head out. The difference between Roumou and the Nigerians is of course that the Nigerians are after money and that Roumou is after revenge.
We pity her and we repeat what we have written before; we wish she’ll get professional help soon.

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