Those found guilty of sending abuse and threats over the internet could face up to two years imprisonment under new laws, says Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
Current laws permit a maximum sentence of six months. But speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Grayling said he wanted to send out a clear message to internet trolls and take a stand against “a baying cyber-mob”.
"These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life," he said.
"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."
The comments come after a number of high-profile cases in the UK that included rape threats against model Chloe Madeley last week. Numerous women developers in the game industry have recently been subjected to internet abuse and death threats in recent months.
Giant Spacekat co-founder Brianna Wu was forced to leave her home last week following a spate of threats on Twitter. Wu has also received abuse from pro-GamerGate site 8chan after speaking out against the campaign.
Tropes vs Women create Anita Sarkeesian has also faced repeated abuse and threats. Most recently she was forced to cancel a talk at the Utah State University’s Center for Women and Gender after organisers received an email threatening a massacre if she was allowed to speak.
Following the threats, Sarkeesian hit out at the GamerGate campaign and stated “At this point supporting #GamerGate is implicitly supporting the harassment of women in the gaming industry”. She said one threat against her and USU had claimed affiliation with GamerGate.