I have long argued that there is enough criminal law to deal with Internet trolling abuses, called flame trolling. I have argued the problem is enforcing it, as it is often not a priority of the police.
Some have proposed mendments to the Defamation Bill to make it easier for flame trollers to be prosecuted for “libel” according to some source. This is not necessary.
Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (link) makes it a criminal offence to send a message via the Internet that is untrue. In effect, the laws around defamation on the Internet is stronger than in the real-world where it is not a criminal offence.
Equally, Section 6 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (link) gives the police powers, on the simple say so of a Chief Constable to request the information that Nicola Brookes went to the High Court for, and which it is suggested will be included in your Bill. In has been used in the West Country to snoop on parents to see they are in the catchment area they say they are in!
The best thing the government could do in my opinion to make it easier for the public to access this data which will in my view make it easier to ‘out’ flame trollers, would be to mirror those amendments made by the Digital Economy Act 2010 to make Ofcom responsible for regulating online harassment,amending the Communications Act 2003 to give powers to OfCom and independent identity theft protection services as follows:
- Section 264A – include online communities and social networks like Facebook as part of OfCom’s Report making. This could give identity theft protection agencies the right to request information on behalf of their clients (I pay £70 for one of these services annually from the Identity Protection Service).
- Replicate sections 3 to 18 of the Digital Economy Act 2010 on ‘Online infringement of copyright’ for ‘Online harassment’, so for instance OfCom would be required to inform identity theft protection agencies on request if one of their clients was being harassed for them to take action under their client’s policy