Cyber abuse = a new offence?

Katie Price has started an online petition calling for cyber abuse to become a criminal offence in its own right, and urging police to keep a register of convicted offenders.

She says it’s after her and her son suffered at the hands of so-called ‘trolls’, claiming “there were no repercussions or penalties for this behaviour”.

The petition was launched on the 18th March and has attracted more than 200,000 signatures so far.  This means that the petition will now be considered for debate in Parliament. You can find the petition here:

Ms Price claims, “This does not affect just high profile people it affects everyone from every walk of life from young children, teenagers, people at work, husbands and wives. This abuse includes racism, homophobia, body shaming and a whole range of other hate speech.

This petition is an important topical issue and I want it to help bring justice to everyone who has ever suffered at the hands of trolls. Help me to hammer home worldwide that bullying is unacceptable whether it’s face to face or in an online space.”

In England and Wales, the Crown Prosecution Service has offered guidance on prosecuting offences committed via social media, which outlines many of the issues that Ms Price has raised.

A number of laws exist to prosecute online communications offences, including:

  • The Malicious Communications Act 1988 and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (grossly offensive, menacing, threatening or malicious messages)
  • Section III of the Public Order Act 1986 (stirring up racial hatred, or hatred on the grounds of religion or sexual orientation)
  • The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (any crimes that aggrevated by race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity)
  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (repeatedly and deliberately causing fear, alarm or distress to an individual through a targeted course of conduct)

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