People caught sending abusive messages across the internet and social networks now face up to two years imprisonment under new laws.
As reported by The Telegraph, the measures introduced to the Criminal Justice and Court Act came into effect yesterday, raising the maximum penalty from six months to 24.
The Government announced its intention to raise the prison penalty for internet trolls in October last year. It relates to “the offence of sending certain items with the intent to cause distress or anxiety”.
“The sending of abusive messages or material online can cause absolute misery for victims and we need to make sure that people who commit these awful crimes are properly punished,” said Justice Minister Chris Grayling last October.
“We already have offences in place to deal with this appalling behaviour, but we’ve toughened up the law to make sure these crimes can be properly investigated and those who commit the most serious offences face a longer prison sentence.”
Numerous game industry professionals have received abuse and death threats during the past couple years in particular, and these tougher laws aim to curtail abuse like this occurring on social media. It is not clear however what powers police will have to obtain personal information of social media users – though they are expected to have more time to investigate cases – and it is unlikely they will be able to persecute non-UK residents.
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