Dec 172018
 December 17, 2018  Posted by  Online, U.S.

The Editorial Board of the New York Times writes:

In 2017, an internet troll named Tyler Barriss called a SWAT team to what he thought was the home address of another gamer who had insulted him online in Wichita, Kan. It was the wrong address. In the confused confrontation that followed, a police officer shot and killed Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two.

“Swatting” is a form of online harassment in which the perpetrator makes a fake emergency call intended to send a SWAT team to the home of a target. There aren’t good statistics on the frequency of this type of mayhem, but one F.B.I. agent estimated that it has happened hundreds of times each year. 

The ease with which online squabbles can escalate to swatting is made possible by the vast amount of personal information organized by search engines. But just because information is public doesn’t mean it has to be so easy for so many people to get. There are small steps that tech companies and regulators can take to claw back some privacy that Americans have lost to technology. They can begin with the home address.

Read the full editorial on the New York Times.

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