UK Lawmakers Intend To Jail Internet Trolls For Hurting Feelings

Groups of British legislators have started considering making it illegal to post or speak about certain content online that could cause “emotional, psychological, or physical harm to the likely audience.” This new provision, which would be tacked on to the new so-called Online Safety Bill, would impart added jail time for any who think to defy the requirements.

“Trolls could face two years in prison for sending messages or posting content that causes psychological harm under legislation targeting online hate,” stated The Times. “Ministers will overhaul communication laws by creating new offenses in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, the flagship legislation to combat abuse and hatred on the internet.”

“The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has accepted recommendations from the Law Commission for crimes to be based on ‘likely psychological harm,’” continued the story. “The proposed law change will shift the focus on to the ‘harmful effect’ of a message rather than if it contains ‘indecent’ or ‘grossly offensive’ content, which is the present basis for assessing its criminality.”

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As reported by The Times, the new bill would seek to ban “threatening communications” and “knowingly false communications.”

“We are making our laws fit for the digital age,” stated a spokesperson for the government. “Our comprehensive Online Safety Bill will make tech companies responsible for people’s safety and we are carefully considering the Law Commission’s recommendations on strengthening criminal offenses.”

The new Online Safety Bill would also seek to impose stronger standards on Big Tech platforms, up to and including that they remove any content that could be considered harmful to its users, even if the content itself is entirely legal. Katy Minshall, with Twitter, stated that the draft bill entirely failed to give answers to some key questions about how they are to define legal but harmful material, as reported by the BBC.

The Culture Secretary for the UK stated that this plan would end up making the United Kingdom “the safest place in the world to be online.”

Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport while writing for The Daily Mail, made reference to the terrorism-motivated stabbing of Sir David Amess back in October, along with the “online abuse” that she has suffered, as the main motivators behind this legislative move.

“David was just doing his job and his death was an attack on democracy. While our efforts to introduce legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online might not have changed what happened last week, the heinous events have highlighted two awful facts. The online arena remains the home of disgusting, often anonymous abuse, and a place where people are radicalised,” wrote Dorries in the piece.

“Online hate has poisoned public life. It’s often unbearable. And it has to end,” she continued. “We have the legislation to do it. Our Online Safety Bill is one of the most ambitious pieces of legislation in the internet age. No other country has published a Bill that will go so far to make big tech accountable for the content on their platforms, and for the way they promote it.”

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