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back to article Flirty texting could land Scots in jail for 10 years

Scots face up to 10 years in jail for sending text messages or emails with sexual content. Scotland's just-published Sexual Offences Bill contains stiff penalties for any sexual messages whose intent is to humiliate the recipient. The Bill is a radical revision of sex crime law in Scotland and broadly follows last December's …

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Alert

It must sound like a good idea...

but it sounds like the ideal weapon for the 'bunny boiler' ex girlfriend / boyfriend /wife / husband / civil partner to use in cases of acrimonious break-ups.

"If you leave me now, I'll show them all the smutty texts you sent. Ooooh No, off to jail you'll go!"

Hearts in the right place, heads up arses when it comes to understanding human nature. Slight improvement to one problem, massive new one caused.

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Paris Hilton

Dodgy ground

This seems to be VERY open to interpretation, surely? As what is considered normal to one person might be considered perverted and filthy to another.

What are we to do.... send a text first saying "Warning, I'm about to send you some smut! please don't read if easily offended!"?

And will this law only apply to text sent internally in Scotland? or from and to as well?

Paris- Because we ALL know about the smut on her phone!!!

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Coat

Gilbert and Sullivan come to town

In "The Mikado" the only crime punishable by death was flirting. Sounds like life north of the border is now a comic opera.

Mines the coat with the opera glasses in the pocket.

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Heart

Congrats Scotland...

Congrats Scotland,

you have officially managed to make a law which is so stupid that even the english government couldnt make it.

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Keep a Lawyer on retainer...

Between this, copyright laws etc you start wondering whether you should start letting a lawyer vet all your interactions...

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...AND...

"That person could be found guilty of another new offence, that of coercing a person into looking at an image of a sexual activity."

So "Oi, mate, look at the knockers on her" could land you in the clink too???

Arrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!

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Linux

All hail the PC culture of the US

I use to work for a US company and one of my colleagues while out for a smoke was talking to another colleague about a site he owns which sells sex aids. An older lady heard this conversation by eavsdropping and he got fired.

Problem with all these things it common sense is out the window and the lunacy parties take place.

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Stop

Being offensive is natural, not a crime

More garbage legislation. Offending people is not a crime. Hurting or damaging them or their property is. These do-gooders need to be told where to stick their daft laws.

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Proving Consent?

Cue the entrance of a bunch of bitter ex's saying "He harassed me! Look! I never asked for him to send me this filthy knock-knock joke and it's humiliated me!"

Stupidity...

<--mine's the one with consent forms from everyone I text, just in case this spreads to England with a retrospective clause.

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Heart

Fair enough piss-take headline

Fair enough piss-take headline, but if you get past the tabloid level for a moment this new bill is actually pretty good. It removes the criminalisation of young people for exploring their sexualities, it removes gender-based discrimination from the law, and it is generally a pragmatic and proportionate response to social changes. Speaking as someone who loathes the SNP, they have done well here.

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What are you arguing here?

If your "flirty" texts cannot be legally distinguished from those "clearly intended to humiliate", then frankly I'm glad not to know you.

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Paris Hilton

Scottland outlaws making love in a semi detached house!

> "Causing a person to see or hear an indecent communication is also an offence. It can be committed by reading "a passage in a book or magazine" or by communicating the sounds of actual or simulated sexual activity or by communicating in sign language."

So if the neighbours can hear you, you go to jail for 10 years!

Great

And I thought our government were insane

Paris, because I understand she gets noisy in hotel rooms

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Bronze badge

And all those late-night TV adverts for Text-dating...

The key point is that the person receiving the message didn't ask for it.

There's going to be edge cases--arguments about the timing of the "stop that" message.

And argument over just what is going to fall within the potentially illegal category. It'll be interesting if some advertising posters got caught.

My friends in Scotland already keep their work email addresses private: "Human Resources" sometimes seems to lack a sense of humour and proportion. But I can't see this changing how I relate to friends.

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Paris Hilton

You cannot be serious.... :-)

"The offence will be committed if someone sends an unsolicited text message to someone else which a court finds was designed to give the sender sexual gratification" ..... What offence when always successful?

And Ms Hilton because Her Modus Operandi/Vivendi could easily be Cited for Naked Incitement.

In the War on Drugs is the Answer always to say No Thanks, but Thanks for Asking. And so is it with every Sweet Temptation/Rabid Desire ..... for there is Always So Much More Elsewhere when you are Virtually Aware. In some Sects would that be a State of QuITe Immaculate Grace.

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Coat

dirty

I guess that means flirting and dirty talk via text, phone, msn, e-mail, letter etc is out. What next, erotic works of fiction? What about if we say things in person, is that going to soon be illegal too? If they want to go that far, how about making it illegal to wear short shirts or show cleavage and take us back to the dark ages repressing us.

If someone is offended, they should speak up and explain and any people should communicate. There is no substitute for good communication in a relationship, of any sort. Lack of communication leads to asumptions, doubt and bad decisions.

I'm glad I live across the border... even though it is not much better off this side.

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:c

Bye bye, freedom.

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Gates Horns

I reckon they're just not getting any...

But seriously,

"Causing a person to see or hear an indecent communication is also an offence. It can be committed by reading "a passage in a book or magazine" or by communicating the sounds of actual or simulated sexual activity or by communicating in sign language." ?!

So any book that contains sexual description, any song that contains orgasm-like noises, any innocent I'm-not-sex-deprived-honest pen flicking between thumb and forefinger can be cause for arrest? Are they trying to become the deep south of Americaland? Perhaps we should all just never learn about anything sexual?

Ok, so sexual harassment is and should be a crime, if someone's targeting someone and the feeling ain't mutual then fair enough, but under that wording, simply writing a mildly sexually suggestive book (or even your own diary, for that matter) could land you in the nick.

Oversensitive gits.

Oh, and Evil Bill, just to give you all nightmares after thinking about sex and seeing that picture in the same moment.

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Paris Hilton

I do not understand...

...why these sorts of 'sexual crimes' are treated so seriously.

Something that would have seemed romantic 50 years ago is enough to land you in gaol these days.

We really are a nation of prudes.

Compare to a country such as Greece, where hardcore pornography (i.e. playing cards) are frequently sold on public display at toddler height.

Why are the British so sexually repressed as to treat anything remotely connected to sex as a Cardinal Sin?

Paris Hilton, because she would enjoy a few flirty texts... probably...

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Paris Hilton

Timely law

Remembering the story earlier this week about the guy sending a video of his meeting with Mrs Palm.

Odd idea of flirting being the same thing as humiliating the recipient though - and presumably if the flirting has got that far you've got received messages as defence

Paris because my post feels too serious for a friday.

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BJ
Paris Hilton

Did he really say...

..."stiff penalties"?

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Stop

Hummm

Does this mean porn spammers are going to jail, or the sys admin who did not block the porn email or worse still labelled it offensive or redirected it?

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BONKERS!!!!!

So now you can't even tell someone to fuck off without getting nicked!?

And using a well known masturbation hand gesture to express your displeasure and contempt for someone after they run a red light and crash into your car is well out of order!

eBay's new "positive-only" feedback policy is just the tip of the iceberg - now if someone mugs or rapes you, are you supposed to apologise for getting in your assailants way? Offer them compensation for troubling them, perhaps? Offer them a cup of tea while they get their breath back, maybe?

What the f&$%* $£&(^%^@ #~*$%&* hell is this country coming to???

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Spam, spam, spam, spam

"The Bill also bans the sending of images of a person or an "imaginary person" engaging in sexual activity without the receiver's permission"

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Al
Black Helicopters

More crimes on the statute books - hoorah!

Surely there's already adequate legislation to cover the worst excesses that this new legislation is meant to prevent?

This is just another example of lawmakers going for easy targets. Of course it's a good idea to prevent 'sex pests' (TM Daily Mail) making people's lives miserable, but this iffy legislation seems to have been cobbled together so a bunch of politicians can say they've been tough on sex offenders - while not actually making anyone any safer. No-one's going to want to risk their political career by saying 'This is daft', but who's the law going to protect who isn't already covered? One or two idiots will be cautioned for sending ill-advised texts, and maybe some drunk will end up on page 22 of The Sun for sending a text to the wrong person, but that's likely to be it.

Black helicopter because this is all happening since Alec Salmond found out about my photoshops of him and me at it like pistons.... (i stll <3 u, Alec)

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Hadrian's Wall

So if I send a dirty text from England to my (ex-)friend in Scotland - where would the action - hence offence been committed?

If the sassenachs don't follow the touch jocks in legislating this south of the border does this make us a haven for text sending? Will the scots be putting up border controls to nab us if we stray too far north?

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And yet...

Actually raping someone gets you eight years...

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2008/03/11/pole-gets-eight-year-jail-term-for-rape-86908-20347218/

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Boffin

No more...

goatse-ing ppl... or spend a spell at HMs pleasure.

(Protective eye-wear, preferably a blindfold.)

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Jebus H. McCorbett --- bit harsh innit

From Pinsent Masons LLP write up:

"The offence will be committed if someone sends an unsolicited text message to someone else which a court finds was designed to give the sender sexual gratification..."

That's me in chokey for "up to 10 years" for exchanging texts with a certain lady-friend, should I cross the border to the land of deep-fried Mars bars. My bestest chum is a relocated Dundonian and still has exes back home who get jiggy via the mobular phonotron, the whole lot of them will be doing porridge. Heaven only knows what will happen if you remoatse* someone via Bluetooth.

Has American conservativism taken over the world or something?

* = remote Goatse

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Stop

Madness

In a few years time it will be illegal to have a sense of humour! we''ll have to ask our friend's permission before telling them a joke just in case you end up in jail for 10 years! Why not ban other things that might cause offence? - reality tv shows, marmite, politicians with nothing better to do than come up with stupid laws, ugly people, dogs in handbags, irritating adverts....

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Joke

Simulated orgasm?

"or by communicating the sounds of actual or simulated sexual activity"

Meg Ryan's fucked then.

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Anonymous Coward

Sticks and stones may break my bones

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never harm me"....It's what we tell kids to remind them they're just words and words can't do harm unless you choose to let them.

Likewise if a person sends a text (at time t1) and the person who receives that text is offended (at time t2), you can't rewind time and undo that, the sender won't know till t2 that their message has caused offence, but can't jump in the tardis to t1 and undo this.

This is why they put 'designed to' in the law, is shifts the burden onto the sender to try to predict whether the person will be offended or not. But apparently the person claiming to be offended, can't predict that this person will offend them and perhaps they shouldn't give out their telephone number to them.

It also creates an attack vector, since there is medical test for 'being offended', 'claiming to be offended' will count the same, if the person wants to get back at the sender, they'll pretend to have victorian morals when it suits them.

Another badly conceived nanny law.

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Joke

Jeeeesus!

Has the sense of responsibility and just dealing with shit that gets thrown at you at life completely dissipated from Scotland since I left five years ago?

Isn't this what laws regarding harrasment are supposed to control? Sexual content or not, harrasment is harrasment, so whats the use of this?

Steven R

Joke icon - because this *must* be what this is?

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Anonymous Coward

Catch a spammer!

Do you suppose this applies to all those adverts that try to make you feel so sexually inadequate (and humiliated) you need to buy some dodgy chemical?

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Paris Hilton

P0r_n?

While this law, as described, could be misused extensively, it would apply to porn banners / adverts served up by non-porn ad-supported websites.

Paris, 'cos her video would apparently get you some serious hard time.

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Stop

Best not publish

... any erotic literature north of the border then...

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Paris Hilton

Wonderful!

Like ice dancing or gymnastics, another jury sport: determining someone's intent :-/

I had honestly thought that they would be more sensible in Scotland, but I fear they too have been bitten by the will-something-please-think-of-the-children bug

/Paris because this is probably the last opportunity to use it before it is deemed too explicit

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It won't just land Scots in jail for 10 years...!

... because of the following provision:

S.47(7) Any act of incitement by means of a message (however communicated) is to be treated as done in Scotland if the message is sent or received in Scotland.

So you flirty Sassenachs had better behave, as well!

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Flame

Yet another erosion of the crumbling cliff of free society....

... in fact, more like big chunk of the cliff has just fallen off and landed in the sea.

So can I be banged up for making the wanker signal at a mate on a bus? I'm sure that communication could be intercepted by a fellow passenger.

I hate all this legislation based on the 'perspective of the recipient'. I honestly dont see what the big deal is about offending people. Its like offending people (a legitimate activity) is now the new racism (an illigitimate activity).

Whats this trying to stop exactly? And why cant those activities be stopped with existing legislation?

If its in the workplace then that will already be covered by sex discrimination et al. If its outside the work place, then surely harassment laws are in place. If someone sends another person they dont know a one off sexually explicit text message, im quite sure the harm to the recipient doesnt merit a 10 year jail sentence. I mean good god, im sure convicted paedophiles get less time than that.... and the acts they committ are arguably the worst damaging of all, including murder (at least the suffering of the victim ends at death).

Perhaps this is one for David Davis to add to his list?

I once wrote to my MP and asked when it was a worse crime for a person to beat me up based on that fact I was black, gay, or muslim... but not so bad if it was because I was posh, a Liverpool fan, or a goth. All I got back was nonsensical derision of my legitimate points. When did we allow idiots to start making laws based on political correctness (which by definition ISNT what is right, its what is politically least damaging to say), and not sound legal arguments, principles, and ethics? Im out of here!...

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Paris Hilton

Seriously?

"communicating the sounds of actual or simulated sexual activity"

We have thin walls and neighbours.

So how is prison food?

Paris. Because you know theres not going to be a video set in Scotland!

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Anonymous Coward

Whatever next!

In a country where the men don't where anything under their kilts it's hard to imagine what would constitute going to far :-)

It seems that this is another foolish idea from the powers that be. When will they learn that you can't legislate common morality? The law is a reflection of the lowest common denominator of morality, not a weapon to create a new morality.

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Silver badge

Yes, but...

... Having just read through the Scottish Bill, it's a shame that this article focuses on only one small area of what is actually an eminently sensible proposed set of laws.

Unlike the English Government's usual "sledgehammer to crack a nut" approach, the Scottish have engaged in some joined up thinking such that it's much clearer what actually would or wouldn't be an offence including, for instance, not criminalising children for "underage sex" if they are between 13 and 16 but the difference between their ages is less than two years.

Admittedly the possible maximum of 10 years for a text seems excessive, especially since they only have a maximum of 5 years for offences such as indecent exposure or "administering a substance for sexual purposes" (ie a date rape drug) and it's 10 years for causing a child to be present during sexual activity or "communicating indecently with a young child", but hopefully this anomaly would be sorted out during debate of a Bill that the English Government could learn a lot from.

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Unhappy

Damn

There goes my SMS based Hooker ring ....Ehhh Escort institution

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Three words...

Oh. My. God.

Enforcement is clearly going to be difficult and the justification for 10 years imprisonment isn't going to be easy to come by I'm sure but I am certain that some politically correct council is going to try this to make an example of some poor soul...

Watch out Scotland!

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Paris Hilton

I'm offended

This law is ripe for abuse.

-Paris, since she offends almost everyone.

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Anonymous Coward

10yrs 4 a txt?

R U Kdng?

I really, really, really, really want to know what text message they've got in mind for a 10 year sentence...

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Anonymous Coward

So....

what if the sender doesn't know it's inappropriate? For example if the recipient changes phone numbers and gives the old phone + sim to a friend or relative?

Alternatively, what if you answer the phone using speakerphone (or just have a loud handset) for what turns out to be a personal call?

"another new offence, that of coercing a person into looking at an image of a sexual activity" uh-huh... you can just imagine the Daily Heils' take on this: MindRape- Stop this sick filth!

Seriously, though it does seem like it could be useful some times. I mean being able to call the police on someone loudly and graphically discussing their sex life on the bus would be a Godsend some days! Especially if you've got young kids with you. (That's discussing it on the bus, not their sex life on the bus. Which you'd hope was pretty minimal.)

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images of a person or an "imaginary person" engaging in sexual activity

How do u send images of an imaginary person doing anything?

Or do really have a Friday head on today

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Paris Hilton

how do you

..take a picture of an imaginary person?

paris, because she knows more than her fair share about indecent material!

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Paris Hilton

And there was me....

thinking that Scots law was generally a cut above the rest of UK law in terms of sanity and pragmatism.

This looks to be so subjective as to be unworkable, what's offensive to one person may not be to another, and anyone want to bet everything will me more offensive to the justice system than ever it would be to the individuals.

"I put it to you members of the jury, that you would agree with me that this image of Paris naked is offensive in the extreme."

It's funny how often we can be prudish when put like this m'lud.

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Stop

Change of mind

I was going to post on how stupid this is, but then I got far more pissed off with all the bloody Paris icon messages. Everyone, please, just quit it, it's getting really, really old. I don't want to see Paris Hilton and all the suggestive messages about her. Mr Salmond, I want all these people arrested! lol

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