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  Technology   In Other news  22 Mar 2017  Animated GIF is being considered as a 'deadly weapon'

Animated GIF is being considered as a 'deadly weapon'

THE ASIAN AGE
Published : Mar 22, 2017, 1:02 pm IST
Updated : Mar 22, 2017, 1:03 pm IST

Flashing images and lights have strong implications on people with photosensitive epilepsy.

A Dallas County court recently had a hearing on a case which was slapped against an individual who allegedly sent a strobing GIF image, last year, to a writer from Newsweek who suffers from photosensitive epilepsy.
 A Dallas County court recently had a hearing on a case which was slapped against an individual who allegedly sent a strobing GIF image, last year, to a writer from Newsweek who suffers from photosensitive epilepsy.

Yes, a GIF image could be considered as a ‘deadly weapon’ for one basic reason — causing seizures in people with epilepsy. A strobe light and a similar animated GIF image can cause health issues with people who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy.

A Dallas County court recently had a hearing on a case which was slapped against an individual who allegedly sent a strobing GIF image, last year, to a writer from Newsweek who suffers from photosensitive epilepsy. The case of light-induced seizures is not new and has being fought with lawsuits and TV bans in the past. As reported by Motherboard, the new case has a vast similarity with previous complaints over videos that often have bright, flashing lights that triggered seizures. As an example, a Pokemon episode from 1997 witnessed Pikachu launching a lightening attack which had reportedly hospitalised more than 650 children who watched it. The episode, “Electric Soldier Porygon,” was banned later. The animators of the episode created the scene by rapidly flashing red and blue lights on the screen to make it look like an explosion. This scene had an impact over the affected children. While some passed out, others felt dizzy and some even witnessed blurred vision. While most children recovered after treatment, a small number were diagnosed with epilepsy, which is triggered by rapidly-blinking displays. The incident, which became known in Japan as “Pokémon Shock,” after which Nintendo and Pokemon stocks took a massive hit.

 

In the recent case, the writer, Kurt Eichenwald, who has been vocal about his epilepsy issue, claims to have suffered an eight-minute seizure in December 2016 after he opened a tweet that contained a flashing FIG image with a message that read "you deserve a seizure for your posts." Eichenwald was found by his wife, who later called 911. Soon the FBI managed to intercept and arrest a guy names John Rivello, who was charged with cyberstalking and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

"The implications I think are very simple, that several law enforcement authorities will not tolerate people attacking journalists even if they're using new technological tools like a Twitter message," Eichenwald's lawyer, Steven Lieberman, told Motherboard.

 

Around 10,000 people in the US suffer with photosensitive epilepsy and innocent-seeming everyday activities can pose danger to these individuals. "There are potential environmental threats everywhere: theatres, dance clubs, rock concerts, the Internet, the street and at home," warns the non-profit Epilepsy Foundation.

There are a few countries that have implicated special protections against the issue. 18 people reported seizures from an animation of the 2012 London Olympics logo, prompting UK to adopt TV guidelines, while Japan created similar guidelines following the Pokemon incident.

For now, on Monday, a grand jury referral increased Rivello's charges, accusing him of assault with "a deadly weapon, to wit: a tweet and a graphics interchange format (GIF) and an electronic device and hands during the commission of the assault."

 

(source)

Tags: gif, animation, deadly, weapon