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Select Committee conclude criminal law sufficient for social media offences

The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has concluded that the criminal law is “generally appropriate” and sufficient for the prosecution of offences committed using social media and no further legislation is required. 

Following a number of high profile social media incidents such as the McAlpine-Bercow libel case, the trolling of female MPs, the publishing of current photographs of Jon Venables  and the advent of new terminology such as ‘cyber bullying’, ‘trolling’, ‘virtual mobbing’ and ‘revenge porn’, the CPS published interim guidelines in December 2012 which were published in full on 20 June 2013.  The guidelines provide a full list of the statutes under which criminal offences may be committed on social media covering 1) credible threats; 2) communications targeting specific individuals; 3) breach of Court Orders and 4) communications which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.  Thereafter the House of Lords appointed a Select Committee to evaluate the current law and the CPS guidelines and whether the law is sufficient to deal with social media offences or whether new legislation is required. 

The Select Committee published its full report on 29 July 2014.  The approach that social media users are encouraged to take is one of common sense, if you would not say/do something in real life then the same should be for social media.  Therefore, the ignorant few that fail to do so cannot avail themselves of ignorance of the law. 


House of Lords Select Committee Report

CPS Social Media Guidelines



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