UK Pushes Harsher Consequences For Online Abuse


Following a vicious verbal attack, including rape threats, on model Chloe Madeley, those who make threats over the Internet or perpetual online abuse in the UK could now face up to two years in prison, The Daily Mail reports.

Currently in the UK, anyone who attacks someone online in a verbally abusive or threatening way can be prosecuted through the magistrate courts under the Malicious Communications Act. The maximum sentence for this offense is up to six months in prison. But changes are planned to move such cases to the crown courts, increasing the maximum sentence to two years, as revealed by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Grayling has stated: “No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media.” He also said that such Internet trolls are “poisoning our national life.”

The legislation has been referred to as “Chloe’s Law,” after Chloe Madeley, a model who was subject to rape threats and verbal abuse after her mother, Judy Finnigan, made controversial remarks about soccer player (there, football player) Ched Evans, who is a convicted rapist. Madeley defended her mother on a TV show.

Such legislation is especially poignant in light of the rise of doxxing, threats, and other wide-scale abuse that has been brought to life in the recent #GamerGate and #StopGamerGate2014 conflict. Outspoken members of both sides have reported having personal information shared on the Internet by trolls and hate groups, and intense rape and death threats being sent via social media and phone. This isn’t a new phenomena, either. As gaming moves more and more to online platforms, it’s becoming a scarier world out there if there isn’t any protection in place against such activity.

Regardless of free speech laws, no one has the right to threaten anyone else, and it is never okay to threaten terrible things and attempt to pass it off as a joke. Hopefully we’ll see other countries stepping up like the UK to recognize that there is a definite line between basic Internet rudeness and serious threats and abuse, and begin to treat them the same way they would treat in-person cases of such behavior. In the meantime, it’s up to us as a society to fight abuse and threats with our words, votes, and community.

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