Britain’s Law Against Internet Trolling: Guilty To Be Jailed For Two Years
Internet trolling has long been a cyber bullying problem, but with social media now taking up most of our Internet surfing, there has been a boost to the number of Internet trolls in recent years.
Internet trolling refers to Internet discourse, and has been categorized as a form of online harassment. A troll is now defined as “a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families.”
Trolls engage in deliberate messages, which may contain hate speech, threatening language, or any form of comment that may trigger an emotional response from the readers, disrupting a blog post, forum or chat.
With the hike in these cyber crimes, governments are now enforcing official laws and policies regarding the Internet trolling and other forms of online abuse. Following the cases of high profile trolling and threats on Twitter, Britain has now passed a law stating any person found in charge of Internet trolling will be sentenced up to two years in jail.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told the Mail on Sunday newspaper: “This is a law to combat cruelty — and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob.”
There has been an increasing concern in Britain about the number of Internet trolls mounting high as they keep on posting hate-filled messages on social media, often threatening their targets. Recent victims include the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann, and a female lawmaker against whom a campaign of hatred was started by a cyber bully. The man has been jailed for 18 weeks now.
“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media,” Grayling said.
“That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”
These victims are not the first people to have experienced such fear and threats, though. Victims have been demanding for a serious look into online abuse for quite some time now, and with Britain’s move against the Internet trolls, lawyers are now expecting an increase in the sentences for trolls.
“It is putting someone in fear of their life and fear of physical harm,” Chris Holder, of London law firm Bristows, told AFP. “I think the law will develop and the sentences will go up and up.”
However, some lawyers and freedom of speech campaigners have raised their voices against this law by claiming that criminal sanctions should be the last resort.
“Do we want to criminalise every social conduct that we find problematic?” Barbora Bukovska, a senior director at campaign group ARTICLE 19, said earlier this month.
(Image: Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Credit: PA Wire)