back to article 'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with two-year sentences for menacing posts

The Tory-led government is hoping to push through amendments to existing legislation in England and Wales to crack down on trolls who post malicious comments online. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told the Mail On Sunday that tougher sentences were to be introduced in an attempt to try to curb such abusive behaviour. It …

  1. i like crisps
    Trollface

    Baldy, Baldy, Bastard...

    ...Do you fuck Chickens Chris? i think you do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      internet trolls to be jailed

      apart from those internet trolls who work for GCHQ and/or NSA and related agencies with acronyms I can't be ar$ed to write.

      So we have manifestly many thousands of local UK sock-puppets, some of whom allegedly attacked JKRowling on Twitter during the first Scottish independence debate, some of whom did DDoS to the folk group "Libations" on YouTube during the first Scottish independence debate (to avoid a viral video)

      What law applies to state owned offensive cyber-operation trolls?, and when another idiotic-but-real troll is entrapped into retorting, how will the court-case handle this GCHQ? This whole area of court, when Reprieve gets involved, it's likely GCHQ that will have to appear in court.

      ....and don't forget the 1200 covert cops http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/oct/14/police-1200-undercover-officers-hmic-covert-family-stephen-lawrence, are they online trolling too?

    2. dogged

      Re: Baldy, Baldy, Bastard...

      Careful, oh liker of crisps.

      That might have been interpreted as sarcasm.

      1. i like crisps
        Trollface

        Re: Baldy, Baldy, Bastard...

        Not sarcasm, but pure unadulterated 'contempt' for these fuckheads....thanks for the heads up though.

    3. jgarbo
      Devil

      Re: Baldy, Baldy, Bastard...

      Only if they talk dirty...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh goodie. A whole new set of Illegal Numbers...

    Certain arrangements of bits being made illegal.

    Random number generators being occasionally hauled off to prison.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: Oh goodie. A whole new set of Illegal Numbers...

      This whole 'illegal numbers' business is reductionist bullshit. "Oh, no, illegal configurations of metallic discs" (coin counterfeiting). "Oh, no, illegal arrangements of printers' ink" (libellous publications). "Oh, no, illegal vibration patterns of air pressure variations" (every proscribed act involving sound, ever).

      The fact that something that happens using digital communications does not make it either (a) immune to the attentions of legislators or (b) especially eligible for that attention.

      Also, please note that you shouldn't think that I necessarily approve of heavy prison sentences for abusive tweeting, just because I'm tired of "illegal numbers".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And here we now have government deciding what is acceptable speech.

    No matter how noble the cause, no government should be able to put you in jail for something you say. The list of what is acceptable will grow smaller over time.

    Orwell was an optimist.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      Nothing to do with "free speech"

      If you don't agree with someone's opinion or something they are campaigning for/against then there is nothing to stop you arguing your point of view.

      What is not acceptable is abusing and making threats to harm/rape/kill someone because you disagree with them.

      In fact, by thinking that it is acceptable to make, for example, threasts to kill against people you disagree with, you are actually showing yourself to be againt the free speech of others.

      1. dogged
        Stop

        Re: Nothing to do with "free speech"

        > What is not acceptable is abusing and making threats to harm/rape/kill someone because you disagree with them.

        Which is why we already have laws against it. No new ones required.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nothing to do with "free speech"

        What about threatening people with 2 years of jail time? Does that count as infringement on free speech? One would think current legislation against death threats and threats of mayhem would be sufficient, apparently not.

        Orwell was a Polyanna.

      3. veeguy

        Re: Nothing to do with "free speech"

        The thing is, there *are* already laws against threatening physical harm to a person. If you are stupid enough (and classless) to threaten someone in a public forum, the existing laws will suffice quite nicely. We do not need yet more laws to broaden the state's powers, which inevitably end up being used for unforeseen reasons having little to do with the original intent.

        1. Vic

          Re: Nothing to do with "free speech"

          which inevitably end up being used for unforeseen reasons having little to do with the original stated intent

          There, FTFY.

          Vic.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      "And here we now have government deciding what is acceptable speech"

      I had that thought too. What makes trolling trolling? Is it causing offence amnd if not what seperates trolling from simply being offensive? If it's repetition, does that mean when the same clueless poster rabbits on with their pet lunacy post after post, you are now be politely dismissive, or can you still respond in a derogatory manner?

      Then I had another idea. The government controlling what you can say is nothing new - they reclassified so many things as "hate speech" now that I'm almost afraid to give an example!

      Maybe one day we'll grow up as a nation and realise that people should be free to express their opinion, no matter how upsetting or retarded it may be, while their audience should be free to ignore them, respond, or choose to be upset by it.

    3. icetrout

      King George

      you simple minded Limies never stop amazing me with your knack for destroying civil liberty .. freedom of speech... where do you put said cyber bullies, the tower of London ? & @ the same time your country is being taken over physically by real bullies... the mooslims ! lol bunch -o-dorks ... :O

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New name needed.

    In the early days of the internet there used to be an actual art to trolling, stringing people along with believable statements/conversations until things got so absurd you had to step back and realise you were being strung along good and proper.

    The online abuse that some degenerates are regularly maliciously throwing at others in order to provoke strong reactions are not what I would consider trolls, the Vermin Scurge of Humanity is a more appropriate title and their actions should have real, negative consequences for them, but those who are merely pulling your leg should be left alone and recognised for what they are - playful trolls who can be ignored as they don't seek to cause distress, just having a bit of fun.

    Futhermore, someone is not automatically a troll because you don't agree with their point of view.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: New name needed.

      "In the early days of the internet there used to be an actual art to trolling"

      Exactly. It's another example of "outsiders" mis-understanding a term, the media picking it up and running with it such that the term ends up with the new and incorrect meaning. Wannabee "cool kids" who don't actually understand what "cool" is, never mind what the "cool kids" are actually saying.

      After all, we who read here all know what a hacker is, but try telling the media that they have it all wrong and see how far you get.

      1. LaeMing Silver badge

        Re: New name needed.

        I assume the origional source of 'Trolling' came from the art of long-line fishing. Not disfigured sub-bridge dwellers of popular folklore.

    2. i like crisps
      Trollface

      Re: New name needed.

      'playful Trolls'........any chance of a 'playfull Troll' icon El Reg....Boris Johnsons head maybe?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem is...

    .... at troll is just a term used to describe someone who disagrees with your comment, or with the article you were commenting on, it'S hardly evers someone trying to abuse someone else... Can't see this working unless those who brand others as trolls are also prosecuted for not being able to defend their point of view in any other way apart from just calling someone a troll... these poeple are "trolls" too as far as I see it.

    Anonymous so I don't get trolled.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem is...

      Anonymous so I don't get trolled.

      Anonymous is a dickhead.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not necessary

    "No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence."

    Where the communication is threatening or menacing such that the recipient is genuinely fearful (ie most reasonable people would agree with the response) then the police already have the power to prosecute and have suitable guidance to ensure that they don't go over the top.

    That being so, I think that for most of the genuine cases a sentence of even a month would be adequate to curb the snakes. Upping the sentence by a factor of four is just unnecessary, and owes more to a hunger for good publicity on the part of the politicians, rather than a genuine desire to solve the problem.

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Not necessary

      Yes, the laws already exist to punish people who threaten and cause genuine fear for a person's life and safety. So why haven't more prosecutions been made at magistrate's court level, with fines and a couple of months in prison for the serious case?

      The government, the courts and the police want more laws and more power, even though they don't use the powers they already have, unless it's convenient for them to do so of course.

      1. mike2R

        Re: Not necessary

        This is very much the computer programmers objection. "We already have a function to do this, modify that one if needed to deal with the new case, but don't just reimplement the same solution elsewhere. You're creating a maintenance nightmare down the road due to your incompetence and laziness."

        I'm not sure how good an objection this is to criminal legislation. I presume a large part of this announcement is the announcement itself - getting the idea into the public consciousness that there is punishment for threats of or incitement to violence, even if its done online. The idea is not only to have legislation to appropriately process crimes, but also to deter some of the crimes from being committed in the first place.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Not necessary

        >Yes, the laws already exist to punish people who threaten and cause genuine fear for a person's life and safety.

        Indeed and rightly so. However, yelling, "You Nazi I'm going to kill you" in a twitter or facebook comment would/could rate as a troll but is not something to be taken seriously. That is the problem here, the government is turning all online interactions into sworn affidavits. I presume the aim is to be able to prosecute anyone they fancy after logging everything.

        People are mean, especially when anonymous. Don't pour out your soul online - these people are not your friends. Your friends will be round at your house making you a cup of tea.

  7. John Deeb

    the war on rudeness

    Wow, the War on Rudeness.

    It might become just as costly and pointless as the War on Terror.

    Plus, it redefines the definition of "troll" to something else altogether. But that's part and parcel of every modern war, redefining words, I suppose.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: the war on rudeness

      And rudeness is so arbitrary. I consider someone trying to convert me to their religion or indoctrinate me into their particular form of brand tribalism to be far more rude than someone insulting me outright. So will I be able to get them tossed in the clink for "trolling"?

      Or is rudeness to be outlawed except when practiced by religions and other "approved entities" that champion the current views of the state? After all, how do you browbeat, chastise and guilt a population into submission if you outlaw rudeness for everyone equally?

      1. CatW

        Re: the war on rudeness

        Not really, rudeness is like racism, its a card that gets pulled out not as much as it used to but racism is causing deliberate offence, not just being unaware or pulling an impression of the Nigerian taxi driver / security man you where talking to, thats just a accent. Else we should arrest every beatboy, trendy and low jean wearing teenager for their terrible efforts at Jamaican accents.

        ...though that would be a start! :o)

        1. tomsk

          Re: the war on rudeness

          You can be racist without meaning to; you can give offence when you think you're only having a laugh. The meaning of your words isn't confined to whatever's in your mind at the moment you said it. In fact, lots of people throughout history have claimed to be only joking around when nowadays we tend to think that they were just being racist tossers.

          Or in other words: cluelessness isn't an excuse.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: the war on rudeness

            "You can be racist without meaning to; you can give offence when you think you're only having a laugh."

            And people who think that there should exist a "right to not be offended" will be the downfall of our civilization.

            People say things you don't like. For $deity's sake, man, sack up.

            1. tomsk

              Re: the war on rudeness

              I’m more saying that if you say racist things, people will conclude you’re a racist and thus also at best an irksome buffoon, and the fact that you yourself didn’t see anything wrong with what you said isn’t really much of a defence.

              Not sure where this hypothetical ‘right not to be offended’ comes into it; certainly I don’t think there’s any such thing. Generally talking about rights tends to spiral quickly off into meaningless blather and therefore seems to me a fairly stupid way of approaching political questions, at least as soon as you get away from those rights that the law actually and objectively provides.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: the war on rudeness

                "I’m more saying that if you say racist things, people will conclude you’re a racist and thus also at best an irksome buffoon, and the fact that you yourself didn’t see anything wrong with what you said isn’t really much of a defence."

                And that's fine, so long as "you say something stupid and then people ostracize you" is where it ends. But here we're talking about "you say something stupid and then you go to jail." That's what's being proposed by UK.gov.

                Laws against trolling amount to a combination of an attempt at a "right to not be offended" and "carte blanche to suppress dissent".

                The concept that you could say anything you want and not have people think you're a dick is the other extreme of "freedom of speech", frequently referred to as "the right not to be criticized". Both the right not to be offended and the right to not be criticized don't exist and both are equally idiotic concepts. Any attempt to seal either in law needs to be resisted.

                1. tomsk

                  Re: the war on rudeness

                  Well yeah, I think saying things that are merely offensive can normally be dealt with by ostracism and not jail time. I was originally responding more narrowly to CaW's silly point.

                  On your wider claims: threats of rape and mutilation aimed at total strangers aren’t just stupid and offensive, and they aren’t comparable to political statements. You don’t need to be in favour of either a right not to be offended nor a right not to be criticised to think that overtly threatening people is out of line.

                  I think it’s fair enough that doing so should carry the risk of some sort of penalty, though I’m unconvinced we needed new laws to accomplish this. Bothering to enforce the old laws seems like it would have been enough. Do you think that would be OK, or is your position that anyone should be able to say anything to anyone online and they should just suck it up because freedom of speech?

                  I think those whose interest in this kind of issue begins and ends with the freedom of expression of the troller aren’t paying enough attention to the effect on the trollee’s freedoms. Ie allowing people to hound and silence those they don’t like using social media is also likely to have a systematic effect on the expression of political views. Doing nothing doesn't necessarily create a level playing field; it can also reinforce the uneven nature of the existing playing field by making it easy for those with popular viewpoints to shout down those with unpopular ones.

                  Like when people suggested there should be some more women on UK banknotes – a valid point of view, whether or not you agree with it – and were then buried under an avalanche of grotesque Twitter threats and abuse. Can't imagine ostracism is going to do much to deter the culprits there.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: the war on rudeness

                    "Do you think that would be OK, or is your position that anyone should be able to say anything to anyone online and they should just suck it up because freedom of speech?"

                    Nope, I'm not an absolutist; but there are extant laws to deal with threats. Even restrictions on their implementation, such as "a rational person would have to believe the threat was genuine, and not some jerk talking out their arse."

                    Legitimately threaten to rape/kill someone and you should get slapped. The other side of that is that hyperbole such as "I am going to deorbit a series of tungsten rods on top of Microsoft licensing" is not a credible threat and should be ignored.

                    No matter how "grotesque" the "abuse", nobody has a right not to be offended. I am all down for finding the people who make legitimate - or concerning enough that a reasonable person would believe was legitimate - threats and punishing them.

                    By the same token, let's say you are Dude A from Westboro Baptist Church and spend your life saying "gays should go to hell". If I respond to every tweet you sent with "your god doesn't exist" or "you're going to hell, not gays", and otherwise express a counter opinion that isn't legally an offense.

                    Where it gets murky is persistence and resourcing behind the message. At some point non threatening speech becomes coercion. But we lived in a fucked up society where certain forms of coercion - namely religious indoctrination - are largely protected by law. If I used the same resources, tactics and techniques to attempt to counter the message of a given religious evangelist I would be thrown in jail for it.

                    The laws and their application around freedom of speech and/or "trolling" are not applied consistently, or even rationally.

                    Yes, there must be limits to speech. Freedom of speech is about your right not to be suppressed by the government. It doesn't mean you get to walk into a gay nightclub and scream "fags are all going to go to hell" over and over at the top of your lungs.

                    But there's the key: Freedom of speech is about your right not to be suppressed by the government.

                    Twitter, as a private entity can implement any censorship on it's service that it likes...but the government should not. It should not step in unless there is an actual threat made.

                    Then the free market will decide which platforms are best: those that suppress "unwanted" speech of various types, those that are completely open, or those that deal with the issues on a case-by-case basis.

                    Personally, I believe that if you are going to make censorship of any kind mandatory - at the level of a private entity censoring their physical or virtual establishment, or at the level of a government making laws - then you absolutely must make that censorship apply to all individuals and topics equally.

                    If it is horrible to troll someone in the name of chauvanism it should be equally horrible to troll someone in the name of feminism. "I am going to rape you" should be treated the same as threats to cut of someone's penis. Telling a woman that they should get back into the kitchen should be treated the same as telling a man he shouldn't be allowed to have the job he has, or attend the school he attends.

                    if you are going to censor people for championing critical thought and telling people not to believe in religion you should also censor people who evangelize religion and attempt to convert others.

                    But the law is not applied equally. Nor is it written in a manner that allows equal application. Therein lies the problem, and therein lies the curse of our generation: an apathy that enables those with an agenda to shape the behavior, culture and legally acceptable thought processes of the generations to come.

                    So I don't find this debate so simple. And I think it is wrapped up in what we want our culture to be. One of morality predefined by tradition, conservatism and a shaping of the very thoughts that will keep established groups in power? Or are we to make a nation of critical thinkers who will learn, and judge and explore for themselves?

                    Political correctness has a dark side. Be wary of it.

                    1. tomsk

                      Re: the war on rudeness

                      Interesting. I'll just note that this kind of issue has historically been a bit of a blind spot for libertarianism, which tends to talk as if oppression only ever comes from the government. When in real life, it often comes from local actors imposing their wishes on those who are weaker. So while sometimes I agree that the way to increase the sum total of human freedom is for the state to step back and get out of the way, in others it's for the state to intervene and deal with these kinds of local bullies.

                      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                        Re: the war on rudeness

                        The pure form of anything is typically deadly. Libertarianism is no exception. Critical thought needs to be applied to all situations. And even - dare I say it - a little bit of faith. Faith that if we structure our laws such that critical thought needs to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and that if we train courts and judges and citizens in critical thinking, that when the time comes that they are called upon to exercise it, they shall be able to do so.

                        Do not attempt to feed the masses by building a massive machine to strain the oceans and hand fish out to people. Teach them to fish and regulate the fishing such that no individual may take more than is reasonable for survival. Monitor fish populations to ensure that overfishing doesn't occur. Develop alternate food sources to fishing to deal with times of plight.

                        Do not attempt to solve douchebaggery by building a massive machine of censorship handing out prescribed thought to the masses. Teach them to think critically and regulate the circumstances under which people may be chastised or censored for exercising free speech. Ensure that education programs exist to teach critical thinking and that your legal system is able to provide trained critical thinkers during times when mob rule overwhelms critical thought.

                        In all things we must seek a balance, but crafting that balance starts with the ability to think for ourselves, and to make judgements free of the moral and ethical constraints others would impose upon us.

                      2. Anonymous Coward
                        Anonymous Coward

                        Re: the war on rudeness

                        And there I was thinking rudeness was farting and getting your willy out. Not necessarily in that order. Of course, it is not unknown to fart when having a poo: one's willy is already out, though it is still rude not to close the bog door. Or not shout "Pardon me!" through said door.

                        To summarize: there I was thinking rudeness was farting, and getting your willy out. It was rude of me to have left out the comma. Though I was taught that you shouldn't use ", and" and I thought it might be rude of me to do so when a teacher said not to. And there won't be any pardons anymore.

                  2. Vic

                    Re: the war on rudeness

                    I think those whose interest in this kind of issue begins and ends with the freedom of expression of the troller aren’t paying enough attention to the effect on the trollee’s freedoms

                    No-one gives a flying fuck about trolls.

                    What we're worried about is how the government will seek to pervert this particular power-grab. History teaches us that such concern is not paranoia...

                    Vic.

      2. kiwimuso
        Headmaster

        Re: the war on rudeness

        @ Trevor_Pott

        Sorry Trev, 'guilt' is NOT a verb.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    if you publish

    Then be prepaired for criticism, the idea that the law only protects one side of an online debate and that is the one which can afford professional representation mean the afluent have a state sponsered right to lie.

    trolls are easy to spot and the informed reader will judge for themselves, ignorant readers are the real danger along with anyone else who seeks publicity in itself

    So as we already have laws for threatening behaviour how about applying the fraud law to polititans and other celebrities when they publish lies

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    A troll is...

    ... whatever the Daily Mail says it is.

    1. Anthony 13

      Re: A troll is...

      I thought you were going to say: A troll is ... the Daily Mail.

  10. jason 7

    If you don't have the guts...

    ...to say something to someone's face then you don't have the right to say it no matter what laws exist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you don't have the guts...

      So you and your mates never talk about someone else whilst at the pub who isn't there... you never voice an opinion on anyone who isn't with you face-to-face? So you never criticse "just call me dave", farage, merkel, putin, zuckerberg... as obviously using your logic, unless you are face-to-face you can't talk about them

      1. Pookietoo

        Re: obviously using your logic

        You don't seem to understand the difference between "would still say it if they were present" and "may only say it if they are present".

        1. jason 7

          Re: obviously using your logic

          Exactly. People can act big and say terrible things to targeted people when hiding behind a keyboard and screen but you put that person in front of them and would they say it?

          Probably not.

          Would you also sit with a group of friends in the pub and say "Cor she really annoys me..I want to rape her so bad and slit her throat!"

          I guess not also.

          Big difference in criticising or calling someone an idiot or a fool, most folks can handle that kind of abuse but not the nasty threatening kind you should just keep in your sick head.

          There are levels and limits.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: obviously using your logic

            "There are levels and limits."

            And who determines these, hmm? I would say online and in person that I believe anyone who attempts to convert another person to their religion should be sent to jail for a very long time.

            I believe that most of what is wrong with mankind is that we allow people to attempt to coerce others, with tactics ranging from subtly (and sometimes no subtle implied threats of social ostracization, job loss, marital interference, "taking away their kids" or more direct applications of force. The worst offenders among us are religions and brand tribalists. Both groups desperately need something larger than themselves to believe in. Both need others to join their cult in order to feel validated. Historically, their quest to force others to do so has been the source of a truly unholy (pardon the pun) amount of angst and suffering.

            Ah...but were I to express this view in today's Britain, would I not be labelled a "troll"? This view goes against the current "official view" and thus would run me a decent chance of getting banged up in prison on any of a dozen different trumped yup charges. Simply for believing that your right to believe ends the moment you try to force me to believe something.

            Thoughtcrime? It depends. I can think it all I want - until they have the tech to scan my thoughts - but I'm not in shit until I give voice - or text - to that opinion. At that point, I've moved from being merely someone whose thought process is "poisonous" to being a dissident. And, ultimately, that's what this is about.

            Dissidence.

            The goal here is not to go after people who talk about hate crimes. It is to suppress anyone and anything who says something that threatens to rally people against those in power. You cannot exercise freedom of assembly if talking about the reasons you might want to assemble - or posting information about where to assemble - is made illegal.

            Some of it will fall under "terrorism" legislation. Some under "trolling" laws. Some of it will come under various other laws but the goal is quite clear: Britain leaders will not be challenged, and there will never be a popular revolution for the hoi polloi of the sceptered isles.

            Call me tinfoil behatted if you must, but please take the time to look at the resultant set of policy from the laws suggested - and ultimately passed - over the past decade. There is an inevitable march towards restricting freedom of assembly, freedom to speak out against established power blocs and even freedom of movement within the nation.

            What matters isn't what you say. It is about whom you say it.

            1. jason 7

              Re: obviously using your logic

              Of course the end game is about cracking down on dissidents and political criticism. Being able to 'deal' with those that rock the boat.

              However, the moron trolls, by not engaging brain and just typing what they think they can get away with has given those in power all the ammo they need to persuade the Daily Mail readers and lovers of herd rage that laws need to be tightened. Played right into their trap.

              My whole point is, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

              Bit too late now. A small minority have ruined it for the rest of us.

              1. M Gale

                Re: obviously using your logic

                Bit too late now. A small minority have ruined it for the rest of us.

                Given some arseholes the excuse to ruin it. Get it right.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: obviously using your logic

              "It comes after Conservative MP Angie Bray demanded changes to the law in March this year, following high-profile celebrity cases that sparked verbal attacks and death threats being posted on sites such as Facebook and Twitter."

              I would dare say Trevor has a point. When the hoi polloi gets subjectively and objectively menaced on a daily basis with increasingly oppressive legislation, no one in governement really seems to care. Very few parliamentarians are braying for reduced state powers and less mass surveillance.

              But just try posting some nude pics of celebs ..... or information that might (will) embarrass powerful politicians / state police organization / deity / religion / official / politically correct viewpoint, you might find yourself in some very hot water indeed. And the volume of braying is quickly raised to an ear-splitting level.

              Good luck with all that, perhaps 4chan can serve some useful purpose after all.

          2. JP19

            Re: obviously using your logic

            "Exactly. People can act big and say terrible things to targeted people when hiding behind a keyboard and screen"

            Which is why things said from hiding behind a keyboard and screen shouldn't be taken seriously.

            If being stupid enough to say something terrible from behind keyboard and screen deserves 2 years in pokey then being stupid enough to believe it deserves 6 months.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    The determination!!

    That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.

    Why only quadruple? Whenever the government "promises" X billions to "rekindle the economy" I would think that 10*X billions to "rekindle the economy" would be better and do a faster rekindling.

    THERE IS NO REASON TO HOLD BACK!

    Decuple the sentence. Hell, go wild, CENTUPLE!!

    1. Steven Roper
      Big Brother

      Re: The determination!!

      Hell, why not just go the whole hog and bring back the guillotine, the gallows and the garrotte. We even could bring back public burnings of the worst ones, just to set the example for others who dare to speak out of line! Or hanging, drawing and quartering for extra spectacle!

      That reminds me, while our governments are busy using Orwell's political diatribes as instruction manuals, there's a scene in the Radford movie our parliamentary do-gooders might like. When Winston and Julia meet in Victory Square to arrange their first excursion, truckloads of prisoners are being brought in and tied up to stakes around the square. One guard goes along machine-gunning them in the legs and letting them hang there in agony for a few minutes until the next guard comes along popping caps in their skulls. I'm sure our modern Moral Guardians and Easily Offended Purveyors Of Political Correctness would revel in this kind of rally, cheering on the public executions of the outspoken and other doubleplusungood crimethinking ownlifers.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Its more like

    <celebrity> Look at me on twitter , are'nt I wonderful

    <alledged troll> No you're not and your last film was the worst piece of shit I've ever had to watch and makes me wish you'd died in a car accident before filming started

    <celebrity> whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa nasty man said bad things.... someone in the govenment make them stop.

    The other sort of troll saying things like they want to rape and kill someone are ALREADY COMMITING AN OFFENCE,,,, fucking well do them under the current laws, we do not need MORE laws

    Damnit I asked the government to something ... guess I'll be in jail for trolling in a minute

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      we do not need MORE laws

      Upvoted for that line alone.

      If it's already an offence, making a new offence to cover the same behaviour is nothing more than political dancing.

      c.f. anything to do with terrorism.

  13. linicks

    And right on queue...

    ... there is some idiot posting a load of crap on the LKML:

    Gregory Smith mails

    more specifically in one of those threads:

    The worst perhaps

    Some pretty damning stuff there. Make it 5 years.

    1. Craigness

      Re: And right on queue...

      5 years, because it's easier than unsubscribing. You imply this law will be used to silence people people don't like so have you considered whether people dislike you?

      For the record I read those messages without phoning the police.

  14. calumg

    Out of proportion

    I agree that specific threats overstep a line and should be illegal, but as usual, online activity is treated way too harshly by people who don't get technology. 2 years in prison is nearly the same tariff as an actual rape, so there's no way these sentences should in any way be of the same order of magnitude.

    1. JP19

      Re: Out of proportion

      "treated way too harshly by people who don't get technology"

      It isn't technology, it is just more politically correct game play.

      It used to be taking offence on behalf of someone else was enough to (dishonestly) demonstrate you were more caring, noble, and deserving of votes than the offender and anyone taking less offence than you.

      Now the players have decided that they can (dishonestly) demonstrate they are even more caring, noble and deserving of votes by further demonizing the offender to the extent that they need to be locked up.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Out of proportion

        @JP19

        Excellent post.

        Those in Australia will likely remember the Bill Henson controversy in 2008*.

        You will remember also the clamours of outrage and disgust professed by politicians, with the leader of the opposition and later Premier, Barry O'Farrell denouncing it as exploitation (despite the subject and her parents being 100% onboard and happy) and the then Premier Morris Iemma coming to the party, calling the images "offensive and disgusting".

        Prime Minister Rudd was probably most outspoken (and subsequently ridiculed), telling everyone who would listen that he found them "absolutely revolting" and offering his <sarcasm>considerable</sarcasm> art critic credentials, opined that "whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff - frankly I don't think there are any - just allow kids to be kids."

        Looking back at The Daily Telegraph (not a great deal above the Daily Mail most of the time . . .) 'article' that really kicked it off, the strength of the condemnation and baldness of the rhetoric is stunning.

        The moral panic and outrage was extraordinary to behold and people were calling for criminal convictions. Ultimately, the censor body reviewed the works and classified them PG - suitable for those 13-16 with parental guidance. Which, was of course what should have happened right from the start.

        Now, this doesn't directly relate to the issue of 'trolls', but is a recollection of exactly the type of thing that JP19 is saying and is evident when people look to win points for taking the moral high ground/tough stance.

        * - For those who don't know, Bill Henson is one of Australia's most prestiguous photographers, having exhibited around the world, including at the Guggenheim. Some of his work involves adolescents and one particular exhibition (at a small gallery in Sydney) included as one of the feature works, a photograph of a naked 13-year old girl. This image was also used on, from memory, the invites. I highly recommend David Marr's excellent book on this affair, which was a particularly low point in Australia's cultural life.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Out of proportion

      Well said, calumg.

    3. dan1980

      Re: Out of proportion

      @calumg

      "2 years in prison is nearly the same tariff as an actual rape, so there's no way these sentences should in any way be of the same order of magnitude."

      The difference being that those who are accused of the nebulous crime of 'trolling' have done something more-or-less in the public eye and therefore ripe for the media to whip up a pretend outrage and for politicians to jump on board, scared as they are to be labelled weak by their opponents but at the same time looking to bolster their image as 'tough'.

      Unfortunately for the victims, rape can be very much out of the public eye and there's not a great deal there for politicians to gain.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Out of proportion

        Some victims kill themselves after an actual rape.

        Some victims kill themselves after extreme cyber-bullying and trolling.

        Seems comparable to me. Both deserve jail.

        But yes, threatening someone is already illegal, so why do we need a new law instead of better enforcement of the old one?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So in theory

    If I was to say "Had the Gunpowder Plot succeeded, Britain would be better off" would get me six years.

    two for "malicious communications", two more for "inciting terrorism" AND to top if off, two for "glorifying terrorism".

    Yeah, sounds like Orwell was right. 2014 = 1984

    (goes to get coat, Vaseline and copy of 1984)

    1. Craigness

      Re: So in theory

      You forgot treason.

  16. Mage Silver badge

    Idiotic

    It's like Poison letters, or malicious adverts in paper. Just cheaper to to do. It doesn't need new legislation.

  17. John Tserkezis

    I wonder if this ruling will apply to the polititians who made it as well? You know, pot kettle black and all that - one day they'll open their mouths and find it full of their boot.

    Oh? so they're immune? Thought so...

  18. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    Whatever next...?

    Threatening to prosecute and jail someone for a joking comment about blowing up Robin Hood airport?

    Nah, that's ridiculous, it would never happen...

    1. Haku

      Re: Whatever next...?

      There's some weird psychology involved whereby if you tell people your goal you're less likely to go ahead and do it. Probably why so many governments are so poor at keeping up their promises to do things that benefit the public...

      TED Talk - Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself (YouTube 3m45s)

  19. dan1980

    "Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told the Mail On Sunday that tougher sentences were to be introduced in an attempt to try to curb such abusive behaviour."

    Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told the Mail On Sunday that tougher sentences were to be introduced in an attempt to try to curb such abusive behaviour shore up support with the baying masses of tut-tutters and tabloid readers.

    Fixed, etc...

    Second, until "troll" has a legal definition, anyone using it is trying to win emotional point from the uninformed public.

    It's very much begging the question to call someone a 'troll' and then use that as justification for 'cracking down' and punishing them. If someone has said something that you think is out of line, they are a 'troll'. If they are a 'troll' then, clearly, what they are doing is unacceptable, because everyone knows that trolls are bad. Essentially, by labelling someone a 'troll' you are pre-judging them, which is simply no way a "Justice Secretary" should proceed.

    We periodically have the same thing in Australia and the format rarely varies:

    1. - Public personality* says or does something unpopular with a group of people.

    2. - Public personality gets one or more crude comments or baseless threats on Twitter/Facebook.

    3. - Public personality gets strong, supportive coverage in tabloids and junk news TV shows.

    4. - Widespread condemnation attested to by same outlets.

    5. - Politicians climb over each other to add their voices, eager to win some points for looking tough.

    * - Usually a minor one - a daytime TV presenter, soap actor, sports person (or sport's person's partner) or some person in the public eye but not really essential to the functioning of this world.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To some...

    ... a troll is simply a person they don't agree with.

    Slippery slope

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. To some...

    One man's troll is another man's political activist.

    I know of a case where a certain group of activists ended up being detained and charged with pseudo-"crimes" ranging from terrorism to sedition for the heinous "crime" of publicly protesting the SDI aka "Star Wars" space weapons system.

    Needless to say after a lot of public protest they were released without charge but they still can't travel anywhere near the US or for that matter many European countries due to their names being on various watch lists.

    I think the simplest solution would be to allow people to declare themselves political activists and voluntarily be added to the No-travel list, but with the proviso that this list be made public just so everyone else can see the sacrifice they have made for our continued freedom.

  22. SolidSquid

    Unrelated to the article, but thanks for clarifying that this is specifically for England and Wales. It can be difficult knowing what's delegated to Scots law, and it's always confusing when news sources do thinks like talk about changes to "the" NHS when they're talking about the NHS for England and Wales.

  23. CatW

    Haha...LOLzer

    And 5 years for BSOFH!!! }:D

  24. Neil B

    Headline-baiting nonsense. Like increasing the penalty is going top IN ANY WAY reduce the number of cretins engaging in this sport.

  25. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Legislation gets abused in 3...2....1.....

    We've already seen people cracking bad taste jokes ending up in pokey.

    How long will it take before the McCanns start using it to silence all those people who've pointed out that had they left their kids alone like that in the UK they would have been charged with child neglect?

    1. i like crisps
      Thumb Up

      Re: Legislation gets abused in 3...2....1.....

      Nice one Alan, nice one.

  26. Tony S

    Old news, not new news

    " ...as Jon Stewart might have observed, two things here. One, this was leaked by Chris Grayling’s mob. And two, it wasn’t news."

    http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/two-years-for-trolling-was-not-news.html

    The party apparatchiks sent out the information to the various news media as "new" items; but failed to mention that all of the items had in fact been included in Bills that had already passed though Parliament. Unfortunately, virtually all of the media just accepted this at face value (no reason not to) and printed the comments.

    Just wondering what they will tell us next?

  27. teebie

    "The new welcome stress on changes to the law to tackle cyber bullies comes from my amendment to the criminal justice bill re malicious comms"

    She should send whichever relative she pays to write her tweets on a writing course

  28. zen1

    pfft!

    unless we're talking realistic death threats, bodily harm or threats to family members, it's sticks n stones, bitches!

  29. dan1980

    Any time there is a politician talking about 'trolls', it is a near-certainty that they are spewing some media-driven rubbish in an effort to court public opinion, both directly, and indirectly, by agreeing with the papers and therefore trying to get favorable coverage.

    This kind of thing happens all the time - the media beats something up and if a politician doesn't express the same sentiments, they are put down in the papers.

    The same goes for the word 'pirate' when talking about copyright violation or 'thugs', or, as has been happening in Australia lately, the term 'king hit'.

    Most causes like these that have wide and very forceful media coverage have their own special lexicon of these loaded yet poorly-defined terms* and when you hear pollies regurgitating them, it's pretty clear what's going on and the result is usually a gross over-reaction.

    * - Which are a favourite of both the media and the MPs, of course.

  30. veeguy

    If there is a law prohibiting possession of dingleberries, there is no need to pass another law prohibiting red dingleberries, blue dingleberries or possessing dingleberries while masturbating. How clueless can lawmakers be to think that a person ignoring one law will obey their new law?

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re. trolls

      I'm more concerned that you appear to be able to determine the probability of an alien invasion from Gliese 581d.

      What do you know of their plans?

  32. andre 2

    RE. Re. Re. trolls

    I tried to post some notes on comparative physiology to Wikipedia but it was summarily deleted for being "Original Research"

    Essentially the Gliese 581d inhabitants are 3 1/2 feet tall, grey and due to the low light conditions and primarily infrared spectra of the star have large eyes with internal lenses to focus the longer light.

    The skin colouration is due to having to absorb energy for metabolism, much as Earth type reptiles do and this makes them highly dependent on temperature for survival.

    As far as communication, the skin is biomimetic much as chameleons are and can indeed change colour and shade VERY quickly which explains a lot of the inconsistencies in witness reports.

    They are able to communicate using this ability and exchange information as skin patterns which allows for massively increased transfer efficiency over speech.

    I have theorized that at the time of the Wow! signal Gliese was in the right position for Jupiter's magnetosphere to act as a deflector and focus enough signal to Earth to be detected.

    This is consistent with observation and as the signal was only focused on the Solar System for a very brief time due to the massive power requirements it was not repeated.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm.

    Has it never occurred to the Govt to simply have a fixed penalty for trolling?

    ie every time someone sees an offensive post they can press a "This is nasty" button, and the OP gets a fixed fine depending on the level of nastiness.

    Enough people do this and nasty people will become poor and thus unable to afford Internet.

    Simplez!!!!

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