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

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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.

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. 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.

Source: BBC

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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.

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.

Oh look, Grayling has suggested a slight change in the law that serves no purpose other than to improve his party's public image. Surprise surprise.
Why don't we concentrate on some of the meaningful stuff Grayling is doing, like trying to create a super-prison for children. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/17/super-prison-children-ministry-justice-physical-punishment

Oh and before folks start saying "this is good because you shouldn't be able to make threats without consequence," you might want to have a look at the wording of the malicious communications act, because it's one of those acts that is so generally worded it applies to WAY more than just threats.

Also, "technology related violence against women." LOLOLOLOL
Unless you're referring to using technology to film actual violence against women, that's some pretty dumb stuff.

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.

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.

You will never have enough jail cells.

Will never be enforced, but pretending to be tough on "crime" (lol) is always good for PR.

T-Shirt Turtle:
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.

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

BigTuk:
You will never have enough jail cells.

Phrozenflame500:
Will never be enforced, but pretending to be tough on "crime" (lol) is always good for PR.

^ Also these.

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.

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.

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.

T-Shirt Turtle:
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.

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

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.

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.

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

wooty:
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.

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.

ryukage_sama:
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.

I disagree. Death-threats are ten-a-penny in the seedier parts of the internet. How does one go about separating the legitimate threats from the empty ones.

This law is ripe for abuse.

T-Shirt Turtle:
Still I wish we could get a similar law here in the States, if one hasn't been made already.

Why? It's a stupid law that I guarantee will only ever end up prosecuting the wrong people.

It's gonna be very very difficult to enforce, but I like the intention behind it.

I've always disliked the terms "trolling" and "bullying." If one adult verbally assaults and/or threatens another adult face-to-face, it's called harassment and we take it seriously. If it happens between children, we call it "bullying" and take it less seriously. If it happens online, it's called "trolling" and we take it less seriously.

Again, this will be a difficult thing to enforce, but anything that breaks down the barrier between "trolling" and what it actually is is a good thing.

remnant_phoenix:
If it happens online, it's called "trolling" and we take it less seriously.

Because it's the internet. What part of that is so hard to grasp? Are we gonna start prosecuting all those kids on XBL who send me death threats after I beat them at Halo?

An Ceannaire:

remnant_phoenix:
If it happens online, it's called "trolling" and we take it less seriously.

Because it's the internet. What part of that is so hard to grasp? Are we gonna start prosecuting all those kids on XBL who send me death threats after I beat them at Halo?

Feel free to disagree, but I believe that it's the content of the message that matters, not the medium. Ergo, the words that someone delivers to someone else are what matters; whether it happens face-to-face, on the phone, in voice chat, or in text form doesn't matter (in my opinion); our reaction should be the same.

Now, I conceded twice in my post that the pragmatic limitations (it will be very very difficult to enforce this law) create a pragmatic difference, but anything that discourages people from spewing whatever toxic bile they want and use "I'm just joking/trolling" as a shield against backlash is a win in my book.

An Ceannaire:
Death-threats are ten-a-penny in the seedier parts of the internet. How does one go about separating the legitimate threats from the empty ones?

I concede that certain communities online and otherwise have their on social standards and customs. Smack talk between competitors and all that (yeah know, short of sending cops and SWAT to their homes). However, when somebody has death threats emailed to them because of something they published, it needs to be taken seriously, consistently.

Short answer, if the recipient is scared for his/her life after receiving a threat, punitive measures should follow.

ryukage_sama:

Short answer, if the recipient is scared for his/her life after receiving a threat, punitive measures should follow.

But that's massively subjective. If I say to the cops I'm scared for my life after somebody PM'd me on XBL saying they were going to kill me, should the person who sent the message be arrested? Like, we all know that there are people out there prone to overreacting.

Anyone remember BrawlHall?

I love a good flaming session or trolling idiots that i think are wrong (people who say Alien or The Shining are not Horror films), i reserve the right to make fun of these people in debate or in passing comment. i would never threaten anyone or try to find out more about them to bully. I like to make fun of that persons online persona or make fun things they put online that i have issue with. If i post something contrary to what everyone else thinks on the twilight forum why I'm i going to jail?

It will be interesting to see how it plays out on that side of the Atlantic. I didn't feel the need for a new thread, and State-side:

"Project to scan 'social pollution' on Twitter"
Funded by the US National Science Foundation, the project named "Truthy" will study what researchers call "social epidemics", including how memes (ideas that spread from person to person within a culture) propagate, Washington Post reported.

The targets for researchers to study are 'political smears', 'astroturfing' and other forms of 'misinformation' on social media.
[...]
http://freepressjournal.in/project-to-scan-social-pollution-on-twitter/

How about some peer reviewed longitudinal studies on the affects of trolling before we start abusing a monopoly of force up in here?

As if we're fuckin' immortal and two years is not a big deal. Making people lose two years of their life because they trolled someone on the internet is INSANE!

I don't see why people are arguing over whether or not death threats are a crime or not, regardless of if they're serious. The article explicitly says they're EXTENDING the jail time for an EXISTING law against death threats, not adding any new laws. Read before commenting, people.

That said, I agree with those who think the punishment is now harsher for the sake of scaring people rather than so it's proportionate to the crime. It's like the good old medieval times again: if you can only catch a bare percentage of the criminals, make a damn good example of them.

Increasing the jail time strikes me as exactly the wrong response. What they need to do is get these people in significant numbers. Even a slap on the wrist would be sufficient if you had to deal with the possibility that consequence might actually ensue.

An Ceannaire:
If I say to the cops I'm scared for my life after somebody PM'd me on XBL saying they were going to kill me, should the person who sent the message be arrested?

If someone comes to the police saying that they are afraid for their lives because the received a message directed at them, personally, the police should take the claim seriously, as should prosecutors. I would not support anything like a 2-year MINIMUM sentence, but the law should take action against those who threaten the lives of others. I'd absolutely agree that threatening someone's life over a video game is overreacting, but taking threats to the police is simply prudent. There is something wrong with a community that interprets death threats as casual conversation. We're regularly seeing now in the mainstream media that people are amazed and disgusted that journalists, writers and programmers would receive death threats over their work, and they are right to be disgusted. We will be more respected as a community once we rid ourselves of such behavior, even if takes the police going door-to-door to tell these people that their behavior is unacceptable, hurtful and illegal.

Pyrian:
Increasing the jail time strikes me as exactly the wrong response. What they need to do is get these people in significant numbers. Even a slap on the wrist would be sufficient if you had to deal with the possibility that consequence might actually ensue.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Let them be lenient on those who would plea guilty, and let's avoid anything that would impose a minimum sentence.

The concept is nice, but as others in this thread of already echoed: this law is ripe for abuse. What the difference is between generic assholery and death threats is all in the eye of the beholder, and no one should be sent to jail for two fucking years because someone else took something they said to heart.

Not only that, but I don't trust a bunch of old guys/gals who hardly know a thing about the internet to make laws concerning it. Whenever they do, they display their ignorance and apathy towards the whole concept (remember SOPA?). Letting them have free reign to make laws regulating it is going to only end poorly; when they don't have free reign they always seem to be assisted by people who consider anyone being mean on the internet in any capacity as equal to death threat sending buffoons, which is extremely unfair.

Something needs to happen to stop the flow of death threat sending idiots, but poorly thought out legislation is not the correct way to go about things.

You must be trolling me.

Surely, you are trolling me.

Just looking at how The Escapist's forums work, no discussion could take place in a society that condemns differentiating opinions. Theres a constant presence of moderators on discussions and this leads people and "trolls" alike to bait eachothers to lose their nerves, rather than debating. Its the reason why I don't like this forum. Controversial topics invite these baiters to try to make you 'click'.

You *know* very well what I mean.

An debate where both parties just scream "Fuck you" "No u" is a much better place for discussions than this.

Strick moderation only creates echo chambers anyway.

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