Scottish Daily Mail

Online trolling could be a criminal offence

- By Daniel Martin Policy Editor

‘Stop harassment and abuse’

ONLINE trolling could be made a criminal offence, the UK Justice Secretary said yesterday.

david Gauke suggested he was prepared to act after Katie Price launched a campaign for tougher penalties for web abuse.

The TV personalit­y’s son harvey, 15 – who is partially blind, autistic and has a range of other health problems – suffers constant abuse on social media, but last year a 19-yearold who targeted him on Twitter only received a caution from police. Miss Price set up a petition demanding a new criminal offence to make online trolling a specific crime. It has received 220,000 signatures – and led to an appearance in front of the commons petitions committee.

Miss Price told the committee last week that a line should be drawn between ‘banter’ and criminal abuse – and said the law had failed to keep up with the changing use of technology.

asked about Miss Price’s campaign, Mr Gauke told ITV’s Peston On Sunday: ‘I think we have to consider that. I mean what we see is some appalling behaviour on social media.’

The interventi­on comes a week after Theresa May warned social media giants they were underminin­g Britshe ish democracy by allowing ‘intimidati­on and aggression’ to run riot online.

Firms such as Facebook and Twitter will face an official assessment of whether they are cracking down on abuse, said. There will also be an annual transparen­cy report to expose the worst companies which fail to tackle the scourge of web hatred.

Officials will publish data on the scale of harmful content reported to different internet firms, how much is removed and how quickly.

Speaking to MPs last week, Miss Price said police were powerless to act in many cases of online abuse. The former glamour model said she wanted to see the creation of a register of offenders.

Speaking about her son’s case, she said: ‘Even the police were really embarrasse­d because it got to the point where they couldn’t take it any further because they couldn’t charge them with anything because there is nothing in place ... since then it has just continued.

‘If it was a criminal offence I do not believe there would be so much of would stop so many deaths, harassment and abuse. Some of you MPs have even had it as well. It happens to everyone – so it’s a no-brainer really.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom