Online Abuse Could Result in Two Years Imprisonment in UK

Tougher new laws outlined by Justice Secretary; "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life."

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Feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian has been subjected to online abuse for months
Feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian has been subjected to online abuse for months

People who abuse and harass others online could face up to two years in prison, if tough new measures are introduced in the UK.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling proposed the new laws in a Mail on Sunday article, claiming he would "take a stand against a baying cyber-mob."

If enacted, the changes would allow sentencing of internet trolls to be taken to crown court, where the maximum penalty would be two years imprisonment. Under existing law, the maximum sentence for internet trolling is six months.

The proposals were outlined amid regular attacks on celebrities and public figures via social media. Though Mr Grayling was speaking generally about online abuse, his comments also come in the wake of a protracted two-month abuse campaign against female game critics and developers.

"These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life," Mr Grayling wrote.

"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."

Rape threats were made against the model Chloe Madeley last week, apparently in response to comments by her mother, Judy Finnigan, who spoke out against about the convicted rapist Ched Evans.

"As the terrible case of Chloe Madeley showed last week, people are being abused online in the most crude and degrading fashion," Grayling added.

‘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."

Within the games community, the feminist essayist Anita Sarkeesian has been subject of sustained abuse from her detractors. She has previously had to vacate her home following death threats, and on at least two occasions there have been threats of bombings and massacres made against event organisers who have advertised her attendance.

Other female games industry figures, such as Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn, have also been subjected to death threats.

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