The UK Director of Public Prosecutions has said that too many prosecutions over ‘offensive’ comments on networking sites such as Twitter will have a “chilling effect” on free speech.
In something more reminiscent of soviet era Stalinism, users of social networks who post something considered ‘offensive’ can be arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison.
The excuse used to prosecute the ‘offenders’ is the Communications Act 2003, which states that it is an offence to send messages via a public network that are “grossly offensive”. Another piece of legislation that could also be used is the Malicious Communications Act 1988, which was updated in 2001 to include electronic communications, which makes it illegal to send a message for the purpose of causing “distress and anxiety”.
Both of these pieces of legislation were in place before Twitter (2006) and Facebook (2004) were formed.
Section 127 of the Communications Act was originally intended…
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