Scotland lays down law on social media crime and revenge porn (Wired UK)


Woman online
Woman onlineShutterstock


The Crown Office in Scotland has today released a set of social media prosecution guidelines to provide clarity about
what kinds of online communication amount to criminal offences. It
said that online crime would and should be treated as seriously as
crimes committed in the offline world.

The Crown Office is keen to make it clear that it doesn’t want
to be perceived as curbing freedom of speech. It will not be
prosecuting people for satirical comments, offensive humour or
provocative statements. Previous complaints made against online
abuse have shown that it is hard to determine what constitutes a
crime and what constitutes a provocative statement is not always
clear cut.

“The rule of thumb is simple — if it would be illegal to say it
on the street, it is illegal to say it online,” said Lord Advocate
Frank Mulholland QC, clarifying the guidelines. Primarily
prosecutors will need to ensure that communications fits into one
of four categories in order to instigate criminal proceedings.
These are as follows:

  • Communications that target an individual or group in a
    way that constitutes hate crime, domestic abuse or
    stalking
  • Communications that are considered to be credible
    threats. These could relate to violence towards a person, damage to
    property or inciting public disorder
  • Communications that breach a court order or contain
    information that is illegal to publish
  • Communications that don’t fall into the first three
    categories, but are otherwise deemed to be “grossly offensive,
    indecent or obscene or involve the communication of false
    information” in a way that “results in adverse consequences” for
    the person or people it pertains to

This last category is the one that treads the line most thinly
between the criminal and non-criminal — expression and free speech
versus illegal behaviour. In England, the Crown Prosecution Service
has a similar set of guidelines, also with four categories.
This is the first time Scotland has issued guidance on social media
prosecution.

Delving into the guidelines reveals that both England and
Scotland ask for context to be considered by prosecutors when they
are making decisions about what fits into the final “other”
category.

England also references revenge porn under this heading, whereas
Scotland believes it is category-one offence. This is because it
sees revenge porn as a form of domestic abuse, as it is usually
perpetrated by a current or ex-partner. The guidelines also
recognise that revenge porn can arise from more casual
encounters.

Mulholland seems determined to come down hard on those that
commit criminal acts on social media.

“Those who use the internet to peddle hate or abuse, to harass,
to blackmail, or any other number of crimes, need to know that they
cannot evade justice simply by hiding behind their computers or
mobile phones,” he said.

“I hope this serves as a wake up call to them.”

If the article suppose to have a video or a photo gallery and it does not appear on your screen, please Click Here

4 December 2014 | 12:49 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

[ad_2]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.