In an attempt to keep a check on online trolling the UK government has quadrupled the maximum sentence for online abuse convicts.
As per the new law, people found guilty of Internet ‘trolling’ could face a maximum custodial sentence of up to 24 months as compared to the current sentence set at six months. Also Internet trolling cases, which are normally dealt with in Magistrates’ Courts, can now be passed up to the Crown Court, which has increased power to hand out tougher judgments.
The announcement come days after TV presenter Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley’s daughter Chloe Madeley revealed that she had been receiving end of rape threats following her mother’s comments on the case of convicted rapist footballer Ched Evans.
“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life,” said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in an interview with the Mail on Sunday.
“No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”
Mr Grayling described the case of Chloe Madeley as quite “crude and degrading”.
“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,” Mr Grayling added.
Ms Madeley welcomed the government’s take on online trolling and said that the law “obviously needs to be reviewed”.
She said that being able to send malicious messages should not be considered freedom of speech, but that it should be viewed as “online terrorism” and should be considered as illegal.