Secretary of Justice, Chris Grayling, is spearheading a new set of laws that could mean jail sentences of up to two years for so-called internet trolls.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Grayling vowed to quadruple the current jail term of six months as part of a bid to hit back at what he calls the “baying cyber mob”.
Social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, have come under repeated attack from trolls; users who spread venomous comments, attacking groups or persons with threatening language, slurs, and, in some worrying instances, threats of sexual abuse. The new law will mean that those who torment others with threats of abuse, violence or offensive material could end up in front of a crown court judge and land themselves in prison for a maximum of two years.
The act, which will not come into effect in Scotland, will make it a prosecutable offence to knowingly send another person material deemed as extremely upsetting or indecent via internet communication channels.
Stella Creasy, a labour MP who has come under fire from internet trolls, has requested better training for law enforcement services, making it easier for them to tackle instances of online harassment.
“We need the police and the CPS to have better training in what stalking is and what harassment is to understand that if somebody is sending messages and escalating their fixation on somebody… to be able to assess the risk the person faces,” said Creasy.
“It’s no good saying we’ll extend sentences if we’re still reaching that barrier where people say, ‘Well someone sent you a message online, don’t be offended by it’.”
Grayling also outlined plans earlier this month to crack down on “revenge porn” sites, drafting a bill that will mean people posting such images on the net could face serious jail time.