Wednesday, July 21, 2021

English Law Commission Report on Protecting Victims from Online Abuse

 The Law Commission of England and Wales has published its final report on Modernising Communications Offences.

According to a summary on the Commission website:

"The laws that govern online abusive behaviour are not working as well as they should. The existing offences are ineffective at criminalising genuinely harmful behaviour and in some instances disproportionately interfere with freedom of expression."

"Reliance on vague terms like 'grossly offensive' and 'indecent' sets the threshold for criminality too low and potentially criminalises some forms of free expression that ought to be protected. For example, consensual sexting between adults could be 'indecent', but is not worthy of criminalisation."

"Other behaviours such as taking part in pile-on harassment, which can be genuinely harmful and distressing are not adequately criminalised. Additionally, the law does not effectively deal with behaviours such as cyberflashing and encouraging serious self-harm."

"The result is that the law as it currently stands over-criminalises in some situations and under-criminalises in others. This is what the Commission’s recommendations aim to correct."

"The Commission is recommending a new offence based on likely psychological harm. This will shift the focus away from the content of a communication (and whether it is indecent or grossly offensive) toward its potentially significant harmful effects. "

In November 2018, the Commission had issued a scoping report which, among other things, examined laws governing abusive and offensive communication in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:47 pm


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