Trolling Could Result in Two-Year Jail Time In England and Wales

roseofbattle

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Apr 18, 2011
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Trolling Could Result in Two-Year Jail Time In England and Wales

A change to the Malicious Communications Act in England and Wales may increase jail time for abusive or threatening material from a maximum sentence of six months to two years.

Law enforcement has not kept up with the changing nature and behavior of online communication and online abuse. New laws in England and Wales - Scotland not included - may increase the penalty of jail time for harassment and threats sent online from a maximum of six months to two years.

The current UK law in use for online harassment is the Communications Act from 2003, making it a decade old before many of present day social media had launched. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced his plans to make an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to "take a stand against a baying cybermob."

Grayling's comments come after TV presenter Chloe Madeley received online abuse and threats after she defended remarks her mother, Judy Finnigan, made about convicted rapist Ched Evans. [http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29679563]

Madeley said while she is "an avid supporter of free speech and social networking...threats of any kind must not be interpreted as freedom of speech. Threatening to harm others is extreme and crosses the line of personal opinion into criminal behavior."

She added social networking must be regulated. The Association for Progressive Communications gave Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube an F in taking a stand violence against women [http://www.apc.org/en/press/profits-f-womens-rights-take-back-tech-campaign-in]. All three platforms are reluctant to address technology-related violence against women until it becomes a public relations issue, lack transparency around the reporting process, fail to engage with perspectives of women outside of North America and Europe, and have no public commitment to human rights standards.

"We must send out a clear message - if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years," Grayling said.

Police have not had the training to effectively deal with harassment online because proving intent is difficult. Police need to prove the person sending threats has the means to carry them out.

Grayling's proposed changes would increase jail time and treat harassment more seriously. Some cases would go to the crown court instead of the magistrates' courts. [https://www.gov.uk/courts/magistrates-courts]

Source: BBC [http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29678989]

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Alfredo Jones

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Jul 1, 2013
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Two years seems a little too harsh, maybe one year would be better imho. Still I wish we could get a similar law here in the States, if one hasn't been made already.
 

Shadow-Phoenix

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Mar 22, 2010
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Good, people should learn that making threats doesn't mean you get away scot free and why troll if you're only goal is to piss off people?, got nothing good to say don't say anything at all.

I hope it works out well because then hopefully it will put some people away long enough for them to buck up and be less of a douche within society.
 

SonOfVoorhees

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Aug 3, 2011
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Free speech is fine, by all means debate and give opinion and disagree all you want. But what these trolls do is not free speech, its abuse, rape/death threats and its disgusting. Hopefully more countries with have a similar law.
 

Leonardo Huizar

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Jul 1, 2012
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In the US we do & will actually charge criminals with menacing, harrasment, stalking, & intimidation.

Of all the GGvAGG fiascos specifically those impotent death threats made to people on both sides, it doesnt bother me so much knowing full well that the internet does not nor has ever made anyone invisible to the dozens online who have to watch what you download and for a living search for specific key words. Then afterward those harrassed can sue the tar out of the "internet tough guys" at their leisure.
 

Ferisar

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Oct 2, 2010
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T-Shirt Turtle said:
Two years seems a little too harsh, maybe one year would be better imho. Still I wish we could get a similar law here in the States, if one hasn't been made already.
The States doesn't need this law. Our prisons are already stuffed with people that are in for minor offenses. This legislature would never be enforced and be a docile reminder that "we're watching you, darn kids!" rather than anything useful.

Thinking about it, this is just stupid.
 

Doom972

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Dec 25, 2008
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Threatening people counts as trolling? I thought trolling was just doing annoying stuff like starting Anita Sarkeesian threads and getting everybody enraged.

BigTuk said:
You will never have enough jail cells.
Phrozenflame500 said:
Will never be enforced, but pretending to be tough on "crime" (lol) is always good for PR.
^ Also these.
 

Booklover13

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Mar 10, 2014
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This is where I am very glad to live in the US. Governments have really bad track records with these kinds of laws. I believe there is another thread right now about a 5 year having to sign a contract to commit suicide or homicide because of a crayon. That is a results of a similar mind set to this.

I have looked into Britain's record on Free Speech, it does not give me confidence that this will be properly used against harassment. It will likely be used to suppress speech. Limiting speech can make an issue harder to solve, not easier.
 

Thaluikhain

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Apr 4, 2020
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Not technically trolling, but anyway.

No evidence for this, but I suspect the harsh sentences is because they can't catch the majority of people doing it, so they'll punish the ones they can harder. Common reaction, not very helpful.
 

Baresark

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Dec 19, 2010
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I love how they think that trolling consists of threats of violence. Trolling is pretty much any online harassment, not just threats of violence. Also, they say the maximum is 6 months to 2 years, meaning they will make an example of some idiot and no one will go to jail for it again (probably).

On the other hand, not against this idea. The funny thing about freedom of speech (speaking from an American perspective) is that that you have the right to say what you want about whatever you want, but you do not have a right to be heard. Also, rights only extend so far as you are not taking away or compromising anyone's else rights. And I would say that threats of violence towards someone is definitely violating their rights, so freedom of speech does not apply. Once again, from an American perspective.
 

Mikeybb

Nunc est Durandum
Aug 19, 2014
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T-Shirt Turtle said:
Two years seems a little too harsh, maybe one year would be better imho. Still I wish we could get a similar law here in the States, if one hasn't been made already.
They have to start high like that as it's easy to slice that sentence up with pleas and subsequent good behavior in prison.

I still say it's a step in the right direction though.

I just hope they're focusing on harassment/hate message trolls, not just chasing anyone who says something sarcastic.
 

wooty

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Aug 1, 2009
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The Tories are the biggest trolls in the country, so does that mean we can lock them up for 2 years as well?
 

ryukage_sama

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Mar 12, 2009
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Death threats =/= Trolling

Death threats are and have long been illegal. I thought this would have been something around pranks or hacktivist activities, but online death threats need to be treated any death threat. I understand room to interpret for sarcasm, but death threats as a form protest necessitate punitive action.
 

Savryc

NAPs, Spooks and Poz. Oh my!
Aug 4, 2011
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This is so ripe for abuse it's not even funny, I have to shake my head at this country sometimes. When can we expect some kid to be thrown away because he critiqued an article a bit to harshly and the author didn't like it? Shit, the amount of time the word gets thrown around here half the Escapist would be locked up before long.
 

Kuro Serpentina

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Dec 10, 2012
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This is stupid
We're barely able to handle our prisons and their budging as they are at the moment, if we were to throw everyone in for just making threats the whole system would overload and collapse in no time
Its honestly better to focus on dealing with those who actually go through with such threats rather than pursuing the many who make idiotic idle comments a such
 

Me55enger

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Dec 16, 2008
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wooty said:
The Tories are the biggest trolls in the country, so does that mean we can lock them up for 2 years as well?
None of the mainstream parties know how to deal with the online world. Tories are being unabashedly ham-fisted about it all.

For those outside the UK: It is highly unlikely anyone convicted under this new law will see anywhere near two years in jail. With our current prison system as it stands, there is standing room only, and as such those convicted of a crime in the virtual world will likely be the first to be let out.

Extreme events notwithstanding, of course.
 

An Ceannaire

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Mar 5, 2012
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Ha, good luck enforcing it! They'll only catch the idiots who don't take steps to conceal their identity. Everybody knows the more threatening trolls will never get caught like this. My stance on the decision is that if you're stupid enough to get caught, you deserve the punishment.

I guarantee they'll never catch anybody from the likes of 4chan with this stupid law. Once again it's just an example of a tech-illiterate government trying to impose real-life behavioral laws on the internet.