Anonymous is dead.
Exaggeration, capability and intrusion in forensic linguistic investigation.
Professor Tim Grant, Aston University’s 50th Anniversary Chair in Forensic Linguistics
This talk will show how forensic linguists can help identify anonymous online criminals and also explain where forensic linguists are likely to fail.
I will argue that both the successes and failures can be explained by understanding linguistic identity – who we are, and how we express who we are through our language. I will show how language analysis can assist in the delivery of justice by providing reliable and convincing evidence for the Courts, and also show how—without a good theory of linguistic identity—forensic linguists can overreach in their claims in Court.
Applying a new theory of linguistic identity to the investigation of online child abuse, I will set out a new research challenge for forensic linguists by describing an “author search” problem, and I will show how developments by colleagues from the Centre for Forensic Linguistics are already addressing this issue. Finally I will address the tension between invasion of privacy and the delivery of justice, and explore whether an ethical liability model can create a distinction between justified intrusion and violation of rights in this context.
Professor Tim Grant
Professor Tim Grant is the Director of the Centre for Forensic Linguistics at the university. Tim has extensive experience in providing linguistic evidence in a variety of cases including sexual assault, stalking, murder and terrorism. His work has appeared in featured newspaper articles and on BBC radio programmes such as Word of Mouth, Crimewatch and The One Show.