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Harcèlement numérique05/02/2009 - par Mark Tungate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am being hassled by a census-taker. She keeps leaving chiding little notes outside my door. It's because I can't face filling in those forms. I have a rational fear of bureaucracy. The appendix attached to the census forms says that none of the information about me will be passed on to the government. I believe that. Just like I believe in Father Christmas and fairies at the bottom of the garden.
Harassment is the theme of the week. In the United States, the government wants to introduce a law against «digital harassment». That's when people bombard you with text messages, especially insulting or sexually explicit ones. Apparently, teenage boys in the US often digitally bully girls they want to date, texting improper suggestions or urging them to send nude photos. Then there are the schoolgirls who victimise a particular pupil by texting bitchy remarks about her to the rest of the class. Nasty. Advertisers are anxiously monitoring the progress of the law, which may prevent them from sending promotional messages. But maybe that's a good thing: SMS advertising annoys the hell out of me. You think that buzz in your pocket is a note from your loved one. But no, it's Orange telling you about tariffs. I'd prefer a bitchy remark.
The census-taker will be back today. She's lucky I'm not Hannibal Lecter, who told Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs: «A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.»