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U.K. Looks to Combat Internet Trolls with 4x Expanded Jail Term

Under a new proposed measure, cyber threats in England and Whales could now be punishable by a maximum of two years in prison

Internet trolling has targeted too many people with serious cyber threats. Now, the U.K. government is looking to pass a new amendment to the Malicious Communications Act as a legal response against internet trolls.

The new proposal, referred to as “Chloe’s law” after British celebrity Chloe Madeley's recently received rape threats, includes the measure to quadruple the current six-month jail term for those convicted of cyber bullying in England and Wales.

“These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life,” U.K. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told Mail on Sunday.

His remark came as a response to the rape threats Madeley received on Twitter following her mother’s controversial comments about Sheffield United F.C. forward and convicted rapist Ched Evans, who was released early from his sentence.

While Madeley said she is an advocate for free speech and social networking, she supported the effort to deter cyber harassment by amending an act signed into law 10 years ago.

Cyberthreats in Context

Measures are already in place by private companies to punish offenders. Currently, Twitter’s terms of service states users are subject to having their account banned for “threats against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.”

Because the amendment effects cyber communication, the legislation could impact gamers in England and Whales. The gaming community has already seen threats against females involved in GamerGate controversies such as developer Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian. Those two women have responded to threats by fleeing their homes for safety.

Professional model Kayla DeLancey also said in a recent interview with GameSkinny that she is also a target of insulting remarks from online gamers.

“No-one would permit such venom in person,” Grayling told Mail on Sunday, “so there should be no place for it in social media.”

The amendment will be debated in the House of Lords, the U.K. legislative body, this week.

Published Oct. 20th 2014

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