UK Government Would Like To Put Internet Trolls In Jail For Two Years

from the and-you-just-got-yourself-some-trolling dept

The war on free speech continues. Andy Przybylski points us to the news that the UK's Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, is apparently really upset about internet trolls, and thinks they should be jailed for up to two years. He's pushing to extend an existing law -- which we've ridiculed in the past -- which allows for jailing trolls up to six months. Grayling thinks the threat of even longer sentences would suddenly make people nice online.
"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."
The article also quotes a lawyer claiming -- apparently with total seriousness -- "There is a public interest in having people put away for a long time. It is putting someone in fear of their life and fear of physical harm."

No one denies that trolls can be abusive and harassing -- to the point of seriously upsetting some people's lives. But putting people in jail for being assholes? That crosses over a line. Grayling also has an interesting definition of cruelty:
"This is a law to combat cruelty – and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob. We must send out a clear message: if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years."
Of course, some people would argue that jailing people for two years for being jerks is actually pretty damn cruel as well. Perhaps the response should be to put Grayling in jail for his own cruelty...

Filed Under: chris grayling, free speech, harassment, trolls, uk


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  1. icon
    Lord_Unseen (profile), 22 Oct 2014 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I assume you're talking about the story in the last link of this story. As I understand it, rape threats were the biggest problem with that situation. This would fall under threat of bodily harm. If they feel threatened they can go to the authorities, the same way they can in real life. If the authorities are able to find the perpetrators to punish them with this law, they are able to punish them with the laws against threats as well. Yes, if it's a he-said-she-said kind of thing, that's rather difficult to punish, but new laws don't fix that. You still need evidence to convict using this law (or any other they come up with) so that still doesn't solve the subtle harassment.

    For standard trolling, if it's a single person or small group, there is an "ignore" or "block" or "report" button on most sites you can use. If it's a large, organized group and things start getting serious, then you have anti-harassment laws and anti-stalking laws. Additionally, in most countries, you can tack on "conspiracy to" when the crime was organized to get anyone involved but not directly committing the crime.

    As for my previous post, I was just trolling... Guess I should go to jail.

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