New guidelines have been introduced to interpret existing law better in the UK today sets new limits and guidelines on acceptable behaviour online.
The guidelines look at trolling, abuse, bullying and doxxing which are all now protected under new laws and may see offenders being prosecuted.
The guidelines laws mean that there is ground now for prosecuting a suspect who behaves in such a way online if a Tweet, Facebook post, Snap Chat is grossly offences. Better enabling the police to deal with these
These could now lead to serious repercussions for those posting such content.
Trolling everyone has heard the saying ‘Don’t feed the trolls’ but trolling someone online is now seen as a criminal offence. Trolling involves multiple accounts targeting someone online from fake accounts. A number of people have suffered serious trolling and abuse online in this way from people they have never met.
You may have never heard of the term, but it is now a criminal offence to commit ‘Doxxing’ which is basically publishing someone’s home address online, bank details or other sensitive personal information.
Doxxing includes making or creating a derogatory hashtag to encourage harassment of victims.
Posting images of someone who has been photoshopped in a “disturbing or sinister” context now also a criminal offence. Any images of this type created and shared online including Snapchat will face criminal charges.
This includes ‘baiting’, the practice of humiliating a person online by labelling them as sexually promiscuous.
It has been ruled that sexting between two consenting minors is not a criminal offence unless the case involves “exploitation, grooming or bullying”. Finally some clear advice on how the criminal justice system should deal with such incidents that have seen minors sent through the court systems.
These case would not usually be in the public interest to prosecute those involved in sharing of an image between two children of a similar age in a relationship.
Those who encourage other to take part in online harassment campaigns will also face charges of encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007.
Some would argue that these news rules are a sign of a censorship within the UK, however, these are a legal preemptive move that will aim to prevent such abuse online. The true fact is that these crimes need to end because one in four teenagers have suffered abuse.
However, once someone has been targeting the consequences of their crimes are very hard to remove from the internet once it is out there. It has a massive impact on the victims.
Alison Saunders Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)
The DPP said: “Social media can be used to educate, entertain and enlighten but there are also people who use it to bully, intimidate and harass.
“Ignorance is not a defence and perceived anonymity is not an escape. Those who commit these acts, or encourage others to do the same, can and will be prosecuted.”
“This month marks the 30th anniversary of the CPS and this latest guidance shows how much the nature of our prosecutions has changed in that time. We are constantly working to ensure that our guidance stays relevant to modern crime and consultations are a crucial part of that process.
“We welcome the comments and opinions of communities and those affected by hate crimes to help us inform the way we deal with such cases in the future.
“Our latest Hate Crime Report showed that in 2015-16 more hate crime prosecutions were completed than ever before. More than four in five prosecuted hate crimes result in a conviction; with over 73 per cent guilty pleas, which is good news for victims. We have undertaken considerable steps to improve our prosecution of hate crime and we are committed to sustaining these efforts.”