The British government recently proposed new legislation to protect against Internet trolls, following a number of high profile incidents on Twitter and Facebook in recent months.
Internet security is not only important in data sharing and storage, but also for protecting both ourselves and our online activity. We must feel safe online, and feel free to express our opinions in a democratic way, without fear of ‘troll’ retribution.
“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life”
“The current law obviously needs to be reviewed”
Previously, internet trolls who subjected others to verbally abusive, sexually offensive or threatening messages or material could only be prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act. The maximum jail sentence that an attacker could receive was six months. This will all change with the enactment of new legislation, dubbed ‘Chloe’s Law.’
Moves towards a change in the law came after a high profile case involving model Chloe Madeley, daughter of TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan. After Finnigan made comments in support of convicted rapist Ched Evans, a footballer, her daughter Chloe was subject to threats of rape and sexual assault via Twitter.
She argues that internet trolls were not exercising their right to free speech, but rather that they were committing acts of online terrorism. Physical threats, she said, were not acceptable and the law surrounding online behaviour needed to be reviewed.
New government legislation, a law change which will introduced as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, will clamp down hard on internet trolling, with perpetrators facing serious jail time. “Chloe’s Law” will allow magistrates to refer serious cases to the Crown Courts. Convictions could secure 24 months in jail for the attackers.
“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.”
The online world and the way we live online is changing all of the time, and legislation to protect our security must keep pace. We must be diligent in all areas of our online life, which includes ensuring that your data, personal information and activity is protected by a robust IT security system.