Vile online trolls will not be deterred by the threat of a two year prison sentence Mary Beard, the TV historian who was subjected to aggressive online abuse, has warned.
She doesn’t elaborate, but her partner in crime does:
Stella Creasy, the shadow Labour minister who received rape and death threats via Twitter when she backed a campaign to keep a women on the
£5 note, said that longer sentences would not help police and prosecutors take online abuse seriously.
Instead, she said, people threatening people in a sustained, aggressive way should be dealt with under harassment laws the same way they would be if they had committed the offences face to face.
In other words, banning orders, ASBOs & conditions & other extra-judicial punishment that far outweighs the ‘harm’ they could be said to have done.
Claire Hardaker, an academic from Lancaster University who studies online aggression, said proving the intent of a threat on the Internet was difficult for police.
She said: “Take the apparently clear-cut case of ‘I’ll kill you when I see you’. This could turn out to be one friend responding to the prank of another.
“Context is crucial when attempting to divine intent, but the online environment, which lacks facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures, is short on precisely this information.”
Civil liberties experts have also warned that the tough sentences could threaten free speech of people who are simply vigorously expressing their opinion.
David Green, the director of right of centre thinktank Civitas, said: “There is a danger that people who have just been vigorous in their criticism of someone could be caught up in it and it will infringe freedom of speech.
“Why do I think that? Because the police have already misapplied the power under the public order act to prosecute people for causing harassment, alarm or distress.”
It’s not like the government didn’t know all this going in.
But we still seem to have laws created to appease those who squawk the loudest, just as we did with the last government.
So…what’s the point of having a General Election again?