The article deals with the description of interrelationship between law and linguistics when language use becomes disputed subject matter in such internet communication crimes as solicitation, threatening, aggressive behavior, terrorist propaganda, distribution of extremist materials, etc. Wrongful acts committed in the Internet by speech or writing that infringe on information (worldview) security are the focus of this paper. The author surveys a number of crimes aimed at eroding traditional Russian spiritual and moral values by promoting permissiveness and violence, racial, national and religious intolerance that are perpetrated primary by means of language. Most of our data comes from Russian jurisdictions, court and forensic expert practice. It is demonstrated that internet online communication involves using language to perform certain types of illegal speech acts in specific circumstances. The essential property that determines any speech act that pose a threat to worldview security is the actor’s intent to compel internet users to accept the imposed views and ideals through propaganda techniques, hidden persuasion, speech manipulation and language violence. The author makes a conclusion that the concept of free speech or freedom of expression is not only a law topic but a linguistic one as well. The boundaries lie between illegal speech act and a protected one depends on forensic linguistic assessment integrating both law and linguistic knowledge. The specially developed forensic metalanguage is essentially needed to formulate in its terms the criteria of a wrongful internet speech discourse.
Nowadays, information technologies have acquired a global character and have become an integral part of all areas of social activity. Their effective use is a factor of the society development that ensures, among other things, the preservation of cultural, historical, spiritual and moral values of the multiethnic people in the Russian Federation. Comprehensive digitalization allows using trans-border information traffic to achieve terrorist, extremist, criminal and other illegal aims causing harm to national worldview security. Sophisticated propaganda technologies are used to establish control over the mentality of the population and transfer the country to external management. Language use becomes disputed subject matter in such internet communication crimes as solicitation, threatening, aggressive behavior, terrorist propaganda, distribution of extremist materials, etc (Coulthard, 1993). Wrongful acts committed in the Internet by speech or writing that infringe on information (worldview) are aimed at eroding traditional Russian spiritual and moral values by promoting permissiveness and violence, racial, national and religious intolerance and are perpetrated primary by means of language. In order to ensure information security, mutually related legal, scientific, technical and other measures are taken to predict, detect, prevent, explicate and restrict information threats and eliminate the consequences of their manifestation. In the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation the national information security is formulated as the state of protection of an individual (Jessen et al., 2003), society and the state from internal and external threats, which ensures the realization of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation, decent quality and standard of living, sovereignty, independence, state and territorial integrity, sustainable socio-economic development of the Russian Federation.
Security threats and worldview challenges
A security threat is generally understood as a set of conditions and factors that create a threat to the vital interests of the individual, society and the state. An individual's worldview is closely related to personal experiences, values, interests, ideals, principles, etc. Ideas, concepts which are elements of the worldview create a personal picture of the worldview. The destruction of the moral foundations of society, traditional values and ideals provokes spread of extremism and other destructive ideologies among internet users. It seems possible to ensure the worldview security of people through countering destructive propaganda, underground culture, and extremist ideology, based on the historically established cultural and moral values of the peoples of the Russian Federation (Kaplan, 1998).
Values, attitudes, and motives in a situation of unstable social relations become the basic factors of individual’s behavior and society as a whole, factors of its resilience and security in a changing world. Modern Russian society is undergoing an obvious transformation of the value system due to the modernization of public life. The processes of globalization in economic, political, and cultural spheres, which involve the population of different countries in migration flows of different types and levels, lead to the complication of structural ties between specific societies and the entire human community as a whole. The above-mentioned factors to a certain extent stimulate tension in interethnic relations and various opposition groups are trying to achieve the desired result through the ideology of extremism and terrorism (Brown & Levinson, 1978).
Extremism in all its manifestations leads to the violation of civil peace and harmony, undermines public security and state integrity of the Russian Federation, creates a real threat to the preservation of the foundations of the constitutional system, interethnic and inter-confessional harmony. The extreme manifestation of extremism is terrorism, which is based on the extremist ideology (McMenamin, 2004).
Extremism as an ideology provides the forced dissemination of its principles and intolerance of opponents, their violent suppression. It is obvious that as long as there are sources and channels for spreading extremist ideology, the threat of terrorism will be relevant. The most dangerous types of extremism are nationalist, religious, and political ones. They are manifested in inciting hatred or enmity on the grounds of gender, race, national, language, religious affiliation or belonging to a social group, including by spreading calls for violent actions, primarily through information and telecommunications networks, including the Internet, involving individuals in the activities of extremist organizations or groups, conducting uncoordinated actions, organizing mass riots and committing terrorist acts. Young people and minors are the most vulnerable. Their worldview is just being formed, while young people are characterized by radicalism in their views and assessments, and maximalism in their rejection of injustice, as they see it. On the other hand, young people are subject to excessive influence from the ideologists of extremist teachings, especially when such an ideology is based on the patriotic moods and religious feelings of young people.
Information and telecommunications networks have clearly become the main means of communication for extremist and terrorist organizations, which they use to recruit supporters, attract new members to their ranks, organize and coordinate the commission of extremist crimes, spread extremist ideology, and influence the individual and mass consciousness of the Internet users. Speech acts that infringe on worldview security in the Internet environment can form various types of offenses, including crimes. In the present circumstances, it seems necessary to develop an innovative multidisciplinary concept of information (ideological) security in the digital environment on the basis of a comprehensive legal and linguistic approach, covering issues of substantive, procedural, forensic support.
Wrongful speech acts in the aspect of law
Wrongful speech acts in the aspect of law are: defamations; insult; contempt of the court; dissemination of expressing obvious disrespect to the society, desecration of symbols of Russia's military glory, violation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion; insulting a representative of authorities; the insult of a serviceman; public appeals to implementation of terrorist activities, public justification of terrorism or promotion of terrorism; public calls to extremist activities. Public appeals to implementation of actions aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation; inciting hatred or hostility, and humiliation of human dignity; propaganda or public demonstration of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols or paraphernalia or symbolism confusingly similar to Nazi paraphernalia or symbols or paraphernalia or symbols of extremist organization; threat by murder or causing of heavy harm to health; propaganda or illicit advertisement of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or their precursors, plants containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or their precursors and their parts containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances or their precursors, as well as new, potentially dangerous psychoactive substances, etc.
Criminal speech act from the linguistic point of view
Speech act theory (initially developed by Austin, 1962) and elaborated by Searle (1969) suggests that illegal (criminal) speech acts are characterised by the intent of the actor (illocutionary force) to solicit a crime and by effect that the speech act has on the recipient (perlocutionary effect). For example, the crime of solicitation via the Internet involves inducing the addressee to commit a crime or suicide. The solicitor endeavours to persuade the recipient to act under the command or speech manipulation. Another criminal speech act is threatening. Threats committed via internet media are involved in the crimes of extortion and blackmail.
The existing variability of approaches to legal and linguistic information (worldview) security is reflected in the inconsistency of research methods for the same speech acts and ultimately – to the vulnerability of users of the Internet environment from malicious and criminal information that provokes criminal and destructive behaviour. Currently, specialists of law enforcement agencies and institutions of the prevention system have to determine at their own discretion whether freely distributed information products have a destructive impact on users of social networks and other internet resources. The presence of the appropriate criteria for identifying destructive features of information products will allow them to respond quickly, preventing extremist speech actions for its distribution and public use.
A question of integrated approach to legal and linguistic knowledge
Data distributed in the digital environment has the properties of materiality, consistency, inexhaustibility, singularity and virtuality. The study assumes, first, a comprehensive approach, due to the integration of legal and linguistic knowledge for the study of criminal, malicious and destructive features of information distributed in the virtual space.
A question of a new form of language behaviour on the Internet
Online speech communication via the Internet poses major challenges to law regulation. New kinds of speech discourse are being created, blending formats of oral dialogue, print publication, broadcasting, etc. with variable participants and overhear groups.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose is to develop a concept of ensuring information (worldview) security in the Internet environment based on a comprehensive legal and linguistic approach that allows one, on the one hand, to respect and observe freedom of speech and pluralism of opinions, but on the other hand, to protect human rights (especially children) from the destructive impact of fake, malicious and criminal information.
The tasks of the study:
collection, analysis and generalization of empirical material for research;
implementation of an analytical review of publications on the use of special knowledge in order to ensure information (worldview) security in the Internet environment;
analysis of language functioning in the conditions of internet communication and monitoring of social communication via the Internet environment in order to identify, fix, describe and systematize the signs of harmfulness in criminal information materials;
implementation (on the basis of special linguistic knowledge) in the forensic analysis factors that determine the negative impact on the recipient's worldview (changes in their value and emotional assessments, will), through information materials distributed in the Internet environment;
development of forensic diagnostic complexes of criminal speech acts that infringe on worldview security in the Internet environment;
analysis of the legal norms regulating the dissemination of information in the Internet environment and development of proposals for the regulating the Internet language phenomena, based on the developed forensic diagnostic complexes of criminal speech acts;
elaboration of criteria for the use of special knowledge in order to ensure a "golden balance" between the human right to freely seek and receive information, the right to freedom of expression, pluralism of opinions, and the right to secure communication in the Internet environment on the basis of a comprehensive legal and linguistic approach;
development of theoretical bases of the interdisciplinary theory of worldview security in the Internet environment.
In the study the products of destructive and criminal speech communication are considered methodologically in three aspects: from the point of view of the legal categories in which they are involved as corpus delicti in the digital environment; as a result of language and communication activities; as a source of criminal information having diagnostic or identification properties associated with an illegal speech act (Shuy, 1993). The third aspect, which presupposes the establishment of linguistic facts of legal significance, dictates specific tasks that are solved by combining special legal knowledge with special linguistic one. The research also includes the following methods and methodology.
Method of conceptual analysis
The conceptual analysis of legal institutions from the point of view of political and other interests: these phenomena will be considered as legal and linguistic entities, based on their socio-political conditionality; the concept of ensuring information (worldview) security is proposed to be considered as a factor in ensuring socio-political stability.
Extrapolation methods are related to the explosive nature of the constant transformation of information computer technologies (information, hardware and software).
National law approach
Countering the phenomena of verbal extremism, defamation, and other above-mentioned phenomena in the digital environment is associated with the risk of restricting the right to freedom of thought, speech, and expression. Therefore, it must be considered in conjunction with the rights of others to equality, freedom of religion, protection from discrimination, protection of honour, dignity, and other fundamental human and civil rights.
Based on the results of a forensic analysis of factors that determine the negative impact on the recipient's worldview (changes in his value and emotional assessments, will), through information materials distributed in the Internet environment, it is possible to determine the signs of destructiveness (for the recipient) of a criminal and / or malicious information product (illocutionary force of the utterance and the perlocutionary effect), as well as the regularities of forming a methodology for preventing and countering its spread. On the basis of special speech knowledge, forensic diagnostic complexes of criminal speech actions that infringe on worldview security in the Internet environment can be developed, as well as criteria for their detection. As we can see, the crimes that are perpetrated primarily by means of language can be classified according to the characteristics of a speech act phenomena including both explicit performative verbs and illocutionary acts).
Defined law and language problems
Generalization of the empirical material permitted us to define the main gaps in the system of existing legal institutions that create risks of occurrence and distribution of criminal, fake and malicious information in the Internet. An analytical review of publications on the use of special knowledge in order to ensure information (worldview) security in the Internet environment determined the prospect of integrating various branches of scientific knowledge to obtain a synergistic effect. For example, defamation law protects citizens and companies against untrue statements which publication can cause serious harm to somebody’s reputation and good name. The problem is to define the single meaning of the disputed words or utterances that is conveyed to ordinary people as context specific utterance meaning that might differ seriously from the dictionary meaning. Another problem is bound with interpretation of online messaging that leads to major challenges created by rapid evolution of online styles and expectations. That is, any particular utterance – a tweet, web post, blog, etc., might be judged to convey.
The specificity of criminal speech act in the Internet
The specificity of speech act that encroach on worldview security is due to a high degree of propaganda and manipulation potential.
According to their genre speech acts that infringe on worldview security can be presented in the form of information (written, written-visual, audio and visual, etc.) messages posted on various sites on the Internet, including video hosting, news aggregators, blogs, social networks, search engines, etc.
Common to speech acts that pose a threat to the worldview security of internet users is their content and author’s intention to force recipients to accept the imposed views and ideals through propaganda techniques, hidden persuasion, speech manipulation or language violence.
The most dangerous, taking into account the impact on the recipient and inducing him to criminal actions, is the combination of negativity, verbal aggression and the hate speech.
Speech manipulation in Internet discourse manifests itself at the level of microtext (graphic, phonetic, lexical and syntactic techniques) and macrotext (fragmentary presentation of information, special selection and arrangement of topics, repetitions, pulling out of context, etc.). Speech manipulation techniques can use such tactics as intimatization, depersonalization, quasi- argumentation, hyperbolization, compromising, discrediting, etc.
The examples of manipulative techniques are:
overload of the recipient's perception with excessively plentiful messages in " raw "and / or unsystematic form in order to "overflow" the recipient with negative information. Thus, the mental sorting process, which normally contributes to the understanding of information, is not able to perform this function. The brain turns into a sieve, into which an hourly pile of sometimes important, but mostly empty information messages falls out;
splitting (localization, fragmentation) of information, which consists in submitting information in small portions and interspersing it with advertising, which reduces the discussed social phenomena to the level of meaningless events. The division of a problem into separate fragments so that the reader or viewer cannot link them together and comprehend it is one of the important aspects of sampling. By breaking pieces of information about an important, perhaps even tragic event, the meaning of the message is reduced or deprived;
giving the message extra ordinal urgency creating the illusion of the importance of the subject of information;
giving information the character of sensationalism, extreme importance in order to concentrate and keep the reader's attention on it;
arrangement of information by mixing information about facts and opinions so that a certain opinion is suggested to the reader along with the facts, so a quote taken out of context, accompanied by a tendentious comment (with hints) can be misinterpreted.
The product of aggressive and criminal speech acts communicated via the Internet being recorded on a material medium becomes the object of a special legal and linguistic research. It is investigated with the involvement of special knowledge of forensic speech science, linguistics, expert science and other areas of scientific knowledge to answer questions about the presence or absence in the disputed text any diagnostically significant signs according to which the law enforcement agent qualifies a speech act as a crime or delict. We deal with the description of interrelationship between law and linguistics when language use becomes disputed subject matter in such internet communication crimes as solicitation, threatening, aggressive behaviour, terrorist propaganda, distribution of extremist materials, etc.
Wrongful acts committed in the Internet by speech or writing that infringe on information (worldview) security result in a number of crimes aimed at eroding traditional Russian spiritual and moral values by promoting permissiveness and violence, racial, national and religious intolerance that are perpetrated primary by means of language. Russian forensic expert practice demonstrates that internet online communication involves using language to perform certain types of illegal speech acts in specific circumstances. The essential property that determines any speech act that pose a threat to worldview security is the actor’s intent to compel internet users to accept the imposed views and ideals through propaganda techniques, hidden persuasion, speech manipulation and language violence. So the concept of freedom of expression is not only a law topic but a linguistic one as well. The boundaries lie between illegal speech act and a protected one depends on forensic linguistic assessment integrating both law and linguistic knowledge. The specially developed forensic metalanguage is essentially needed to formulate in its terms the criteria of a wrongful internet speech discourse.
The exaltation and pejorative functions of criminal speech acts
The propaganda nature of criminal speech acts that maliciously influence worldviews of the internet users fulfil two main functions:
The exaltation function is aimed at a positive characteristic of an ideology, doctrine, views, positions, person, company, social group, etc. and is implemented in two semantic varieties:
apologetic variety: the purpose of the statement is to embellish, praise the subject of the message with the help of socio-ideological mythologies, language stamps that have vague semantics and allow multiple interpretations;
euphemistic variety: statements are used to conceal, disguise, justify unseemly or questionable facts, actions, positions, etc.
The pejorative function is aimed at a negative characteristic of an ideology, doctrine, views, positions, person, company, social group, etc. and is implemented in many semantic varieties:
defaming, denigrating, vilifying, directly insulting any public institution, ideology, etc. using abusive, obscene vocabulary and phraseology of a token style;
formation of a negative image (image), demonization of someone or something by stamping labels (verbal bumpers);
using trolling or ironic context as a means of manipulative tactic;
creating a presupposition that contains a discrediting statement (judgment) about the object, etc.
The reported study was funded by RFBR, project number 20-011-00190.
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27 February 2021
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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview
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Galyashina, E. I. (2021). Law And Linguistics In The Aspect Of Worldview Internet Security. In & I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 290-298). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.02.02.37