back to article Social media flame wars to be illegal, says top Crown prosecutor

Social media users who engage in flame wars or retweet the doxing of others will be treated in the same way as those making fake bomb threats over social media, British prosecutors have announced. Released this morning, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)'s latest “Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The new guidance was released along with a public consultation on what should constitute a hate crime, particularly against the disabled, race and religion, and on sexual orientation and gender identity."

    As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Shut it you old fart!

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        "Those who encourage others to commit a communications offence may be charged with encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007,”

        It looks like Doctor Syntax is in trouble.

        1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          "It looks like Doctor Syntax is in trouble."

          Sued for malpractice, probably.

      2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Joke

        Shut it you old fart!

        That's just funny.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Talking of old farts...

        All your mothers were hamsters and all your fathers smelt of elderberries. I fart in all your general directions.

      4. BillG Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Coming next: "Brain implants for detecting thought crimes".

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
          Joke

          What about size-ism?

          Are lazy fat fucks going to get some protection too?

        2. caradoc

          Was this woman an advisor on Minority Report?

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/

      5. Bibbit

        Legally speaking...

        It says "particularly" which does not implicitly exclude ageism. As the centurion says, "Your f***ing nicked me old beauty!"

      6. NoneSuch
        Big Brother

        And so it begins. The thin end of the wedge where governments tell you what is acceptable to say with jail time for those who don't listen.

        This will, of course, grow in scope until we have Thought Police monitoring your social media in real time ready to kick your door in for any criticism of Her Majesties Government.

        I'm sorry Mr. Orwell. I should have paid more attention to your books in school.

        1. edge_e
          Unhappy

          well that's all double plus ungood

        2. P. Lee Silver badge

          >This will, of course, grow in scope until we have Thought Police monitoring your social media in real time ready to kick your door in for any criticism of Her Majesties Government.

          Now I see where all the "deep machine learning" funding is coming from.

          Having said that, I suspect Her Majesty is mostly horrified at what the Government does in her name.

      7. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        suddenly have the urge.

        To report that comment just to see what would happen.....

        Also not one of you have mentioned Godwins law yet (and how does that work in in relation to this law?)

      8. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. malle-herbert Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

      And religion shouldn't even be on that f*cking list...

      It's not as if people are born with a cross around their neck...

      Religion is a choice YOU make...

      1. Andy Non

        Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

        Does this mean I can't refer to Islam (Christianity etc) as diseases any more?

        1. Flywheel Silver badge

          Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

          > Does this mean I can't refer to Islam (Christianity etc) as diseases any more?

          You'd probably get away with Christianity, turning the other cheek etc, but not so much that other lot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

        "Religion is a choice YOU make..."

        I take it you don't live in a Muslim country.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

          careful, you said something BAD about living in a Muslim country. Islam has special protected "you can never say anything negative about it" political correctness status, at the moment, and the Crown Prosecutor will COME! AFTER! YOU! now. [as for me I'm across the pond and give the 'digitus impudicus' to all of that, ha ha ha ha ha 1st ammendment]

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

            [as for me I'm across the pond and give the 'digitus impudicus' to all of that, ha ha ha ha ha 1st ammendment]

            Don't be so sure. There's a race to bottom betwixt the US and UK so we're probably going to see something like this soon as there's already movements for force laws on bullying, etc.

            FB may even get behind this with the "fake profile" part....

        2. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

          >I take it you don't live in a Muslim country.

          Nor in a Christian country (like Little Britain), in a Hindu country, maybe ?

          >> "Religion is a choice YOU make..."

          In 99% of cases, religion is IMPOSED on you at a time in your life where you are too young to walk or talk ... at least all religions I have heard of operate like this.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Hans 1 Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

            "....Nor in a Christian country...." Standard whataboutism boilerplate, trying to equate Christianity with Islam. You may want to check on "little Britain", it's not been majority Christian for years now.

            "....religion is IMPOSED on you ..." Yes, and when you get an education you can then choose to reject that religion. In Christianity that's really not an issue, but with Islam it usually leads to death threats, both in majority and non-majority Islamic countries.

        3. Potemkine Silver badge

          Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

          Nigel Farage, go out of this body!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re : As ever, age is fair game for discrimination. Kids!!

        "And religion shouldn't even be on that f*cking list..."

        Religion is a mental illness and so is really covered by the Disability category.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Special

      "race"

      racist asshattery against "coloreds" ->NOT OK

      racist asshattery against "whites" -> OK

      "religion"

      racist asshattery against "muslims" ->NOT OK

      racist asshattery against "christians" -> OK

      racist asshattery against "jews" -> OMG, CAPITAL OFFENCE, GET THE MOFO!

      etc.

    4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Young punks! Get off my lawn!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That could be down to the type of vests worn by the offended.

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    John Smith

    Setting up a fake social media account in someone else's name is also said to be a potential crime.

    I wonder how many John Smith's there are in the UK ?

    What happens if one John Smith says something now declared nasty against another John Smith, given that both are using their proper name.

    Could they just plead confusion or irony in that they were taking the Mick of themselves or perhaps just using their ability for free speech, given that we don't live in China.

    Obviously Mick might get upset about the former, but that's another matter all together.

    1. Doc Ock
      Pint

      Re: John Smith

      That John Smith's shit.

      Disclaimer : I'm talking about the pint I've just been served.

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: John Smith

        Surely you mean

        "That John Smith's pale and bitter"

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: John Smith

        You'll want Sam smiths (just over the road). A far better pint. And cheaper too (It was a sad day when I stopped getting change for 3 pints from a fiver only last year.. Sad times)

        1. wikkity

          Re: change for 3 pints from a fiver

          I just get a bit if change from a fiver from three pints at my local Sam Smiths after the last budget, first rise in 5+ years :-) My wife's pint actually went down!

        2. Jan 0

          Re: John Smith

          I guess you're not drinking Sam Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout at those prices.

          Where's the dark beer icon when you need it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: John Smith

      I'm tempted to set up two fake john Smith account's to attack each other. Is it a hate crime when I'm attacking my alter ego?

      1. Andy Non

        Re: John Smith

        Hey how do you know my fake Facebook name?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: John Smith

        I'm tempted to set up two fake john Smith account's to attack each other. Is it a hate crime when I'm attacking my alter ego?

        Yes. That's the point the article picks up that "sending" an offensive message is offensive, even if no one is actually offended, or even reads it. And it will come down to the flabby, lard arsed plods who get put on cyber cop duty to make the initial decision as to whether a message is offensive, and refer on to the Clown Prosecution Service. Now, if it South Yorkshire Constabulary's finest making that choice, what chance do you think you've got of sense prevailing, or you getting justice if the CPS do take the case forward?

      3. Vic

        Re: John Smith

        Is it a hate crime when I'm attacking my alter ego?

        Yes.

        As the article mentions, it is the sending of the message that is the offence; no-one needs read that message or be offended at it.

        I'm just thankful that our Lawmakers have solved all the other more important stuff and have finally got round to such obviously-needed work on how people talk to each other...

        Vic.

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: John Smith

      But... But... But... My name really isn't Spartacus!

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: John Smith

        so Mr Spartacus - you claim you are not Spartacus, and neither is your wife - is that correct?

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: John Smith

      @dwarf

      So long as Mick does not get into a Paddy.

    5. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: John Smith

      Isn't the issue creating an account on tindr or grindr along with someone's phone number. IOW the sort of shite that arseholes do.

    6. PassiveSmoking

      Re: John Smith

      It's not uncommon for creatives (web comic artists and the like) to set up "fake" social media accounts in the name of character(s) from their works and post to them in character. If a character's name happens to clash with a real person would that qualify as a "fake social media account" and therefore constitute a criminal act?

      I know to most people this might sound like a daft question, but a guy went to prison for making an obvious (albeit tasteless) joke about blowing up an airport so better safe than sorry...

  3. james 68

    PWEI

    Fuzz Townshend and his boys said it better than I ever could.

    Therefor my reply to the CPS is via this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05FKtPJO8IQ

    1. theModge

      Re: PWEI

      Have an upvote for the sentiment.

      Ideally I'd like to give you another for a) reminding me of that track and b) reminding me that it wasn't just the prodigy on it.

      1. james 68

        Re: PWEI

        It was written by Liam Howlett (Prodigy) and the members of PWEI as a collaboration, though frankly, as much as I like the Prodigy their version was much much tamer than the PWEI version. IMHO the PWEI version gets the message across better.

        1. nsld

          Re: PWEI

          Given what we have heard from our new home secretary Obersturmbannfuhrer Rudd and her penchance for lists is anyone surprised by this?

          I think this is possibly a more appropriate PWEI track given the current state of the nation:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xef60FAN6Vk

  4. Doc Ock
    Flame

    In the interest of free speech and the more normal members of society who are not snowflakes, please feel free to insult and flame this post as I won't go running like a cry baby to the CPS.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Coat

      aye, but there's the rub: you won't need to. Just calling you a cunt, you moron, will set the alarm bells ringing and have me up before a beak. And who knows, maybe you could be charged as an accomplice for being, well, a moron, you cunt.

      Mine's the one with the signed copy of "Derek & Clive" in the pocket.

      1. Doc Ock

        @Charlie, could I be charged with perjury if I call myself a really nice intelligent person on the stand ?

        I should give my twat, lying, thieving lawyers Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel a call and see what my legal imposition is.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          @Charlie, could I be charged with perjury if I call myself a really nice intelligent person on the stand ?

          Well, almost certainly with wasting the court's time because this is clearly such an open an shut case., even though it's the CPS that put you on that stand in the first place. Best thing to do is to add it to the list of crimes you're probably guilty of like "walking along the cracks in the pavement" or in possession of a "loud and offensive wife". I also bet you shake your tinkle more times than the regulation thrice!

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          "legal imposition" - good one. like calling all Lawyers 'Lyers'.

          /me adds that one to "the list"

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          lawyers Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel

          You're obviously unhappy with your legal representation - May I suggest you change to Dewey, Cheatham and Howe?

    2. John G Imrie Silver badge

      encouraging an offence

      You have encouraged an offence of insulting your self.

      1. nijam

        Re: encouraging an offence

        > ... an offence of insulting ...

        Can it be an insult if it's true? Just asking.

        1. Doc Ock

          Re: encouraging an offence

          > Can it be an insult if it's true? Just asking.

          Never let the facts get in the way of a good lawsuit.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

    so if I post, "anonymously", his home address to encourage people to organize a mass protest, I'm f...?

    Or is it that I'm f... because I post "anonymously" anyway?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

      Don't blame the CPS for enforcing the law, blame the government that proposed the laws and the MPs that voted for them.

      1. teebie

        Re: chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

        And after you have blamed the government and MPs, do blame the CPS. It's their job to not prosecute if there isn't a public interest in doing so.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

          You[all] may want to consider that if there's a law that's "being ignored", it's WORSE than prosecuting it to the fullest extent.

          Reason: a society ruled by LAW (not by 'whim' or 'feel') is more stable, less prone to corruption.

          I mean, just look at Obaka's non-prosecution of IMMIGRATION laws for a clear example. It's almost like "such laws" can and maybe WILL be used at some time to 'get even' with those who don't "play along" like they're supposed to, or to favor those who've contributed funds in some "expected" way... (almost like a tin-horn dictatorship, where 'anger dear leader' is a crime, punishable by whatever 'feel' dictates).

          So it's like: it's a law or it's NOT. It's prosecuted or it's NOT. but make it "grey" and the abuse and corruption is likely to thrive within the 'greyness'.

          [I rarely consider using the 'think of the children' icon, but hey, it fits, in snarky and more realistic ways at the same time]

          1. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

            >Reason: a society ruled by LAW (not by 'whim' or 'feel') is more stable, less prone to corruption.

            True. However, we do want bad laws ignored... until they can be repealed.

            There's a rather good Freakonomics talk on the rise of the "Administrative State" (US focused but applicable to most governments) where Congress has delegated nearly all of its power to the president who delegates it to a bureaucracy, such that the law-making body is largely out of the loop when it comes to "laws you have to follow." I think being largely irrelevant makes the law-makers irresponsible.

            Grey areas, hazy regulations (including plea-bargaining) are the seedbed of corrupt law application and fruit of corrupt law-making.

          2. teebie

            Re: chief prosecutor Alison Saunders boasted

            Enforcing laws selectively is a method of corruption, certainly.

            But uniformly ignoring bad laws is in everyone's interest.

  6. Ru'

    words fail me.

    (or, rather, I have lots to say but now cannot say anything for fear of falling foul of the serious crime act. An act designed to tackle serious crime, you know, like writing something.)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      I can because I live in a terrorist state that started a bloody revolutionary war against being ruled by people like this and so have pretty near absolute freedom of speech.

      1. Alan W. Rateliff, II

        I can because I live in a terrorist state that started a bloody revolutionary war against being ruled by people like this and so have pretty near absolute freedom of speech.

        Yet, here we come full-circle.

      2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
        Big Brother

        what special relationship?

        Will misspellings constitute an offence under the Serious Crimes Act?

  7. b0llchit
    Mushroom

    With intended offence at the target

    So,...saying: "That fat fucktard he is should be molested by a flock of Berserkers of reasonable sexual attitude towards preventing him from procreating in any future event." in an online forum would be considered an actionable and criminal event?

    Well, the establishment is always scared of losing its status. Better protect it while you still can.

    1. moiety

      Re: With intended offence at the target

      would be considered an actionable and criminal event?

      It is here - that's terrible grammar.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: With intended offence at the target

      @b0llchit

      Well, the establishment is always scared of losing its status. Better protect it while you still can.

      "I don't need sex. The Government fucks me everyday"

      Seen on a bumper sticker

  8. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Flame

    And so, a whole new class of crime is created

    ... by administrative diktat.

    Democracy? Freedom? Free Speech? Ship sailed.

    1984 just inched a little closer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      I hate to break it to you, but we've been in 1984 for a while now.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

        Yeah! Since before 1984, although Bliar and his successors made it much clearer for us.

        I encourage you all to hate the gradual erosion and diminition of freedom of speech.

        I was going to post anonimously but they may think I have something to hide, I haven' t and certainly not my disgust at 21 st century PC makers of law by diktat.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: AC Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

        ".....we've been 1984 for a while now." Yes, about 32 years ago, to be precise. Oh, you were trying to imply we are somehow in exactly the levels of monitoring and political control as depicted in 1984? It seems to me the posters making such hysterical and melodramatic claims never read the book.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      Not by diktat at all. The laws are already on the statute book. The CPS is defining when and how it will prosecute. Individual prosecutions may or may not succeed.

      If you think the CPS is talking bollocks, feel free to contravene their guidance and argue your case before a judge. For those of us who have better things to do with our lives, it's good to know where we stand.

    3. james 68

      Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      "And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      ... by administrative diktat.

      Democracy? Freedom? Free Speech? Ship sailed.

      1984 just inched a little closer."

      It's not closer, it's here.

      When UKIP is shocked by how right wing the current government is, stating that even they would not go that far, then you know we're all fucked.

      http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/08/theresa-may-crackdown-foreigners-a-step-too-far-according-to-ukip-6180634/

    4. Bucky 2

      Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      Fun fact.

      Some scholars say that 1984 was intended to be "understood" as a simple transposition of digits. The unending war was supposed to refer to WWII neatly segueing into the cold war.

      So from that perspective, we've been living "1984" before most of us were born.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

      Hmm you see "free speech" doesn't cover being able to send people death and rape threats... Also doesn't cover you for being overtly rude, offensive or vile (notable political classes excluded - though they tend to use fancier words). You wouldn't stand on a table in the middle of the pub infront of someone you don't agree with shouting

      "I'm going to f-----g rape you, I know where you live you piece of shit, I'm going to come to your house kill you and molest your dog! I know where you children go to school!"

      You may go, "You're a dick and I'm going to talk to someone else now" in possibly a slightly raised voice.

      Being horrible to people in public shouldn't really be acceptable behaviour, and that's what a lot of it is, just go read twitch chat or youtube or twitter in response to anything one group of people suddenly dislike or League of Legends team chat. It's just not cricket and people need to be taught how to behave like human beings.

      Sure the law wont work but claiming stopping some of bile directed at people for just disagreeing with some people or having the wrong shirt on or disliking a game other people like is "hurting your freedom" then you defiantly don't understand what people are talking about, and you may be part of the problem.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

        And of course this law is only going to be used against people making terrorist or rape threats.

        It will never be used to enforce injunctions covering up some MPs sex-life or dodgy business dealings.

        It won't be used by a Korean cell phone maker to prevent concerns about their product being spread on social media and it won't be used by local councils to crack down on people who complain about roads.

        Is there a latin phrase for all this that the lawyers can slip in ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

          So we shouldn't create guidance on what is unacceptable and potentially criminal behaviour because the boogieman might misuse it to protect themselves? That would make for a fascinating society.

          "Yes we know sadly there's no basis for doing anything about the people stalking you online, releasing your personal details and threatening to eat your dog if you leave the house, but be happy if Niwel Fabage gets caught in a nazi sex dungeon we'll be able to tell you." CPS person says

          "How do those things even relate to each other?" Victim of sustained online hate campaign responds.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

            >So we shouldn't create guidance on what is unacceptable and potentially criminal behaviour

            No, we shouldn't use technical legislation to criminalise things which would otherwise be legal.

            If it is OK to shout it on a street corner there shouldn't be a separate law making it illegal to shout over 4G. If it is already illegal to shout it on a street corner then we don't need a new law.

        2. Vic

          Re: And so, a whole new class of crime is created

          Is there a latin phrase for all this that the lawyers can slip in ?

          I would like to say that this would be a case of fucti sumus, but I suspect the lawyers will actually declare it fucti estis.

          HTH, HAND< etc.

          Vic.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    El Reg

    Is El Reg considered Social Media? This only applies to comments from now on right?

    Yes, my coat with the escape plan in the pocket...

    1. james 68

      Re: El Reg

      Map sewn into the lining, compass in the top button, concealed rain hood and comfortable yet hard wearing elbow patches?

      Pretty sure I nicked that one last week. :-P

    2. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: El Reg

      Wait if this applies to el reg a crap load of people will need lawyers.

      1. moiety

        Re: El Reg

        Given the readers, (and journos, for that matter), you could make a fairly compelling case that El Reg is antisocial media and thus exempt.

        This ruling is as gormless as the five posters either side of this comment. :)

        I can understand wanting to do something about death threats; and misogyny on the net can get out of hand, but this ruling is a stupidly, stupidly broad brush applied by people who apparently don't know what the fuck they are talking about.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: El Reg

          I can understand wanting to do something about death threats; and misogyny on the net

          Why "on the net" particularly?

          I do not understand people trying to police the internet or create safe spaces. Given the world we live in, a little online abuse is probably the least of anyone's worries. NB. this does not in anyway condone anti-social or mob behaviour but as long people stay behind their keyboards, where's the problem?

          1. moiety

            Re: El Reg

            this does not in anyway condone anti-social or mob behaviour but as long people stay behind their keyboards, where's the problem?

            Getting mobbed, is the problem. Getting doxxed and a sustained gang-bang over a period of time can melt people's heads. We're a social species and people -especially those of us who don't work in the IT industry- can be massively fucked up by constant disapproval from many sources. I've read accounts and it sounds fucking horrible.

            There should be some legal protection there; but the "unless the sender thinks it's funny" clause makes this worse than a waste of time because every single one of the 20,000 people who have told "subject X" to kill themselves will claim that they thought it was funny, so it fucks any effectiveness that it could have had whilst simultaneously creating the conditions for it to bugger up the lives of people who it was never intended for. I mean seriously:

            Category 1

            Communications which may constitute threats of violence to the person or damage to property.

            *May*? There seems to be a lack of context, to this and the rest of it. I'm going to come round to the house of each Reg commentard and batter you to death with my todger. And then damage some property, just to be thorough. Hands up anyone who feels threatened.

            Category 2

            Communications which specifically target an individual or individuals and which may constitute harassment or stalking, controlling or coercive behaviour, disclosing private sexual images without consent, an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, blackmail or another offence.

            Taking as individuals the El Reg commentardariat, I'm watching you. All of you. In the shower. And wake up screaming, you fat bastards, with wisps of harpooning dreams and a compelling urge to hire a crane to drag you back into the sea.

            Category 3

            Communications which may amount to a breach of a court order or a statutory prohibition. This can include:

            Juror misconduct offences under the Juries Act 1974 [sections 20A-G];

            Contempts under the Contempt of Court Act 1981;

            An offence under section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992;

            Breaches of a restraining order; or

            Breaches of bail.

            All charging decisions (whether positive or negative) is cases involving allegations under the Juries Act 1974 must be referred to the Director's Legal Advisor (DLA) for approval (see: section entitled Handling Arrangements at the end of this guidance as to how this should be done). A decision to prosecute such an offence will thereafter require the consent of the Attorney General.

            Offences under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 or section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 also require the consent of the Attorney General and may be sent to the DLA for his consideration if assistance is required.

            Got nothing for this, apart from a great deal of contempt for the court this bollocks issued from. I am an official criminal for telling a traffic warden to fuck off so I suppose I can also instruct the court to go fuck themselves, if that counts.

            Category 4

            Communications which do not fall into any of the categories above fall to be considered separately i.e. those which may be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false.

            Well, you motherfucking, cocksucking sons of syphalytic whore's dog's scabby ringworm; this is a really great piece of legislation. The last bit was false, just to make things clear...the legislation sucks raw donkey prong.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: El Reg

              Getting doxxed and a sustained gang-bang over a period of time can melt people's heads.

              I'm not sure what that means but disclosing private information is already a criminal offence.

              Again: if bullying and mobbing are a problem then it won't just be an online problem.

              1. moiety

                Re: El Reg

                Online makes it easier. If someone who has a twitter account, say, with lots of followers and takes a dislike to someone; it's easy to drop a hint in the feed that such-and-such needs a talking-to and turn on a torrent of abuse that can go on for months. It's the same principle as real-life bullying but there's almost zero effort involved and with the internet there's the numbers...many internet trolls can summon an instant flash crows of thousands+ and that's not even including the likes of 4chan and 8chan who have been doing this sort of thing for years.

                This legislation is all wrong, though, because it assumes that everyone is a banshee-fearing christian, or whatever, and would never do something as gauche as swear on the internet. I've worked at more than one workplace where personal abuse was considered an art form and where routinely breaking all of the laws in this legislation was not only normal behaviour; but probably happened before you'd got outside of your first coffee on Monday morning. IT seems particularly prone to this, for some reason.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: El Reg

        wait, isn't everybody posting from behind 7 proxies??

    3. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: El Reg

      "Is El Reg considered Social Media?"

      Antisocial Media I think...

    4. nijam

      Re: El Reg

      No, I believe El Reg is antisocial media.

    5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: El Reg

      El Reg would be "The antidote to Social Media"

      With a nod to " I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue", "The antidote to panel games"

      Paris - who else, but Samantha

    6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: El Reg

      "Is El Reg considered Social Media?"

      As opposed to antisocial media?

  10. kain preacher Silver badge

    I could see if you set a fake face book page with the person picture as defamation, but just regular old trolls nope. If I say go kill your self that should not land me in hot water.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If I say go kill your self...

      Cry me a river, then go drown yourself in it.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: If I say go kill your self...

        most trolls on the intarweb would cheer you on. plenty of THOSE outside of the UK. So what's the point of an idiotic [unenforcable] anti-speech law?

        "feel good" to the constituency, perhaps?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      If I say go kill your self that should not land me in hot water.

      Depends how you say it, and who you say it to.

      I know someone who sent that message, "everyone hates you go kill yourself" to someone we both worked with who's bipolar. A nice little anoymous email.

      That got him sacked. Would it have been reasonable to prosecute him? What if the guy in question had then tried to kill himself? I don't think I'd have been any more sympathetic had he got prosecuted than I was to him getting the boot.

      On the other hand what if he'd said it just to be nasty and not known the guy was bipolar and had attempted suicide before? Would that still merit prosecution?

      It's a difficult area to legislate for - and there's no way we'll ever get it right. At least we have juries to try and stop the legal process from disappearing up its own fundament.

      I suspect that society is going to spend the next fifty years flailing around before we come up with the a decent balance of laws and etiquette for interacting online where you can feel anonymous and safe from the consequences of being a total arsehole.

      I'm struggling to think of many circumstances when "go kill yourself" is a socially acceptable thing to say though. Particularly to people you don't know.

      1. David Roberts Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Go kill yourself?

        An obvious exception for people who ring up claiming to be "from Microsoft" and there is "a problem with your computer".

        In that specific case it is sage and well merited advice.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Go kill yourself?

          They're not from Microsoft anymore. They're now, "from your internet service provider". And just telling them to kill themselves isn't enough. I need the right to kill them personally. I want some kind of method where you hit them, but there's a two second delay before the pain kicks in - just to punish them for the awful cheap VOIP they always inflict on me.

          And also chuggers. Although I'm willing to commute their death sentence to life imprisoned in Ikea guiding visitors to all the shortcuts, so they can get round in reasonable time.

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Because the courts have nothing better to do?

    Reminds me of Maggie's drive to get everyone into prison in the 1980s. That worked well, didn't it? Court cases are expensive, convictions even more so.

    hm, maybe we'll see the privatisation of the justice system next brought to you by the new CEO of Securicare – Alison Saunders.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok...

    So are we literally going to have Twitter police?

    @troll96324 you are #underarrest #neenawneenaw

    Will they have an easily recognisable avatar? Like the default egg with a coppers helmet on?

    Seriously, Twitter is going to look like an online ghetto soon.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ok...

      Seriously, Twitter is going to look like an online ghetto soon.

      Twitter already looks like an online ghetto.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Ok...

        Hey stopping insulting the ghettos! They're never as bad as Twitter!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ok...

          Oh shit.

          Two commentards mildy disagreeing. This could get out of hand.

          CALL THE COMMENT POLICE NOW! #NEENAWNEENAW

          On the positive side with all this since people will be too afraid to say anything we'll be able to spot spam comments more easily.

          Even better still, since it will be dicey posting comments ill be able to do more work as I wont have to come to this so called website to read the forums.

          We'll all save time as we wont have to formulate our own opinions. Thats what the police will do for us.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Ok...

          "Hey stopping insulting the ghettos! They're never as bad as Twitter!"

          does insulting ghettos AUTOMATICALLY make you a RACIST? What about insulting Tw[a,i]tter? Based on how _I_ usually spell it, would THAT make you a SEXIST?

  13. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Good news everyone

    The Clintons,Trumps, Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan are exempt so you can still call them what you want online. My psychic hamster told me so.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Good news everyone

      No jury in the land is going to convict you for calling Piers Morgan a shiny-faced arse.

      Or is it a shiny-arsed face?

      After all, you've got the defence of truth, as well as provocation.

      1. Vic

        Re: Good news everyone

        No jury in the land is going to convict you for calling Piers Morgan a shiny-faced arse.

        I rather enjoyed Stephen Fry's definition of the word "countryside" as "killing Piers Morgan"...

        Vic.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear....

    Linus may need to get the keyword blockers out....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    these arent designed to solve any actual problem (even if they are the stated intent). they're intentionally left arbitrary and vague to:

    a) sound good

    b) provide enough scope to "get" the people the want to get but cannot get using existing means.

    ac because f*ck you.

    1. moiety

      You starred out "fuck". Pansy. While anonymous. Double pansy.

  16. Shaha Alam

    but i was only joking!

    who'd have thought the troll's copout turns out to be an actual viable defense?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but i was only joking!

      I know, right? These days, you can't even stage prank terror attacks without getting arrested by police! It was only a joke, bro.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3462998/Jalal-brothers-ARRESTED-police-raid.html

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but i was only joking!

        Yep.. "I only did it for the lulz!"

        That being true of ~110% of online trolling, what's the reason for this law again?

  17. Bob Rocket

    Two classes of scum

    Those in Public Office get more protection than those that aren't.

    All Equal Before the Law eh. Alison ?

  18. lukewarmdog

    “Anyone who sends the message only because he or she thought it was funny would not be committing the offence.”

    yes they would, you'd just be letting them off. This makes the least sense of all to me. The kind of person who thought it was funny is exactly the kind of person we need to get off the Internet.

    1. Red Bren
      Joke

      So I could be prosecuted for posting something offensive, even if no one read it to be offended by it, but could successfully defend myself by claiming I thought it was funny?

      Joke icon because everything is a joke now, Your Honour...

      1. Felonmarmer

        Just enclose your comment between "I say, I say" and "Babumtish" and you're golden.

        1. moiety

          My dog's got no nose...

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      A piece of case law involving someone threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport springs to mind. The threat has to be credible.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think normal services should just permaban anyone who says anything my mother would have clipped me around the ear for (metaphorically speaking, she only physically did it once when I called her a fucking punt - never did that again) and in any team game anyone that puts down their own team while playing with them in public user groups (pugs), insulting the opposition is fair game though.

    There's a place for these people, and that place is 4chan/something awful, or their own little private places where they can be mean and toxic together.

    I mean I know this means my mother's gonna be busy, but it'll stop her asking me silly questions about her tablet.

  20. Gordon861

    On the plus side

    It should shut up that damn Katie Hopkins woman for a while, but I doubt they'd try to prosecute here.

    Generally though, bloody stupid idea!

    Edit : Just looked at the CPS Guidance "Communications which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false will usually fall to be considered either under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003." - Doesn't that pretty much describe the whole Brexit Campaign, or anything produced by the Daily Mail.

    There is no way this is going to work.

  21. Red Bren
    Big Brother

    Scope creep

    Interesting how a consultation to address "what should constitute a hate crime, particularly against the disabled, race and religion, and on sexual orientation and gender identity" has been misappropriated to offer “persons serving the public” (i.e. MPs) extra protection (because they're better than us) from “coordinated attacks by different people” (i.e. the electorate)

    Truly some are more equal than others.

    1. Bob Rocket

      Re: Scope creep

      That creep was scoped in long before now and MPs are not the ones to be protected, they are the ones to be manipulated.

    2. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Scope creep

      “...persons serving the public” (i.e. MPs)

      No, if it was MPs they were aiming to protect it would be:

      “Greedy, lying bastards serving themselves” (i.e. MPs)

  22. 404 Silver badge

    If Politicians can't handle a flame war

    WTF are they doing being politicians? Unfit for service, I'd say.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Politicians can't handle a flame war

      Hilary C' is probably going to be one of the most qualified presidents ever then having to deal with Donald Cunt through the US election. I guess we also cant say anything about them now either..... thats it im quiting the internet and going to live under the sea..!

  23. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    Education is generally cheaper than prosecution

    If there was more of a focus on teaching kids two specific things - 1) The world doesn't begin and end with social media - insults can be ignored; and 2) if its not something you would be willing to say to someone's face, then you shouldn't be posting it online.

    Teach kids those two things, and the level of unpleasantness on the internet might just reduce a fraction. Admittedly, it will take a while, as all of the turds currently infecting the internet will still be around and there doesn't seem to be a way to flush them off yet.

    Even though this piece of CPS guidance is overly broad, poorly written, and my god, that part about civil servants getting more protection then regular people is insane, but really the general sentiment that its time to actual start prosecuting some of the more disgusting denizens of the net is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Still prevention is better than a cure, so hopefully the next generation can get some education about how not to be a complete twat on the internet, and then maybe we can all enjoy the internet in the future without the trolls...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Education is generally cheaper than prosecution

      It's a good, sensible, balanced post.

      You're still a wanker though...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Education is generally cheaper than prosecution

        You're still a wanker though...

        But we're all wankers here... some come to abuse, others come to be abused.

  24. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Resignation time

    The head of the CPS should be ashamed to have published such ill-considered rubbish about a subject of which she is clearly ignorant. But it's just another example of ignorant, knee-jerk responses to a complicated issue, completely ignoring most of the basic principles of British law and justice (and often, the laws of physics).

    She should a) withdraw the guidance, b) apologise and c) resign

    1. Red Bren

      Re: Resignation time

      Your abuse of a public servant has been deemed as offensive and intended to incite others to commit similar abuse.

      Please come with us for re-education

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical shite from the UK's top tits.

    And how much time and money are they going to waste tracking down the 3,364,697,852* internutters that aren't actually subject bad UK laws?

    * internetlivestats.com probably wildly inaccurate.

  26. Ed Jackson
    Big Brother

    This is why I do all my shitposting through TOR.

  27. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    "I've yet to see a successful prosecution," noted Twitter baiter Old Holborn told El Reg. "Plenty where the idiots plead guilty but no actual found guilty without rape threats."

    Are you an idiot if you plead guilty to a crime you know you committed and for which the prosecution have the evidence to show you did? The alternative, of course, is to waste the time, resources and (tax-payers) money of the CPS on defending a case you know you are going to lose, and then probably face a stricter sentence / heavier fine that the one you would have got if you'd pleaded guilty right away.

    This probably tells us more about the egotistical attitude of 'Old Holborn' than about the merits (or lack of) of the law as it stands.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flame wars illegal?

    Vi is shit, Emacs rules.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flame wars illegal?

      You are wrong.

      Real programmers use ed and know how to use toggle switches on the front panel to enter their code.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Flame wars illegal?

        No, they're both shit. Microsoft Word is best! And anyone who doesn't prefer the ribbon interface probably has sex with antelopes.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Flame wars illegal?

          I'll see your antelopes and raise you a moose. Real men want mooses...

        2. Esme

          Re: Flame wars illegal?

          Downvoted just for the fun of it, old bean. And, well - Microsoft Word (winces) - a tad declasse, don't you think?

          ...Could I have the padded cuffs, ossifer, please? The unpadded ones chafe so...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Flame wars illegal?

            C rules, C++ blows dead bears.

    2. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Flame wars illegal?

      "Vi is shit, Emacs rules."

      Beat me to it.

      Editor wars were the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline.

      I'll raise you with TECO, the Real Programmer's editor.

      P.S. Where's the volcano erupting icon?

  29. NanoMeter

    Killjoy

    That's what he is.

  30. BobChip
    Unhappy

    That's libellous.....

    Just when I was beginning to think we were getting our archaic libel laws sorted out, this comes along!

    I will absolutely never condone this sort of obnoxious behaviour, but unworkable "legislation" surely can't be the best way to address the issue.

  31. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    I suppose I'm not permitted to say that this law is doubleplusungood?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      It'll make you an unperson

  32. jonfr

    Don't they have anything to do in the UK?

    Don't they have anything to do in the UK? Like capture real criminals that commit crimes. Making flame wars illegal like this is just stupid and waste of everyone times and a lot of money.

  33. RMycroft

    This comment was removed by the Church of Scientology.

  34. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    The establishment protects their own!

    "social media crimes committed against “persons serving the public” more seriously than nasty words directed against their fellow members of the public. Similarly, “coordinated attacks by different people” should also attract greater prosecutorial attention."

    So posting something that offends a public figure is a no-no, and God forbid that the person is such a public figure that multiple people post supporting messages that also offend that person. Eh, I guess its OK to kneecap public accountability, because it always has another knee.

  35. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    "Doxing is the practice of posting home addresses, bank details and so on on public sites, usually to out an anonymous poster or to spur on a ridiculing mob."

    Would that include publishing the names of companies that quite legally employ foreign staff, with the stated intention of drawing the attention of those who think it shouldn't be?

    (In fairness to HMG, that particular piece of insanity does appear to have been squelched as soon as it came to the attention of the grown-ups in the civil service who actually know Jack Shit about the law.)

  36. That_Guy

    What kind of arse hole conflates flame war with aiding doxing.

    1. Chika
      Trollface

      "“The internet's not an anonymous place where people can post without any consequences.”

      As this thread has shown, anonymity is a double edged sword. Users, including myself, use it as a way to protect themselves from the seamier side of social media. Trolls use it to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions. Remove anonymity and you remove one tool from a troll's arse... er, arsenal but you also open users generally to all sorts of possible threats, not all of them troll based. This is just lazy and misinformed guidance from a body that is shown to be less than up to date with the thing they seek to inform on.

      What kind of arse hole conflates flame war with aiding doxing.

      The kind that doesn't have a clue of what they are on about. A bunch of old farts that probably wouldn't touch the Internet at all if they didn't have to, who use Twitter and Facebook only as a means of self advertisement.

      You know.

      Morons.

  37. WibbleMe

    Freedom of speech gives us the right to behave like a vocal tw*t if we want to.

    Clearly, our political leaders are experts at this.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what about the Welsh then?

    Think about it.

  39. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "Don't be a cunt"

    Teasing etc. should be fine - as should the odd argument.

    Common sense tells us how we should be, and it can be summarised as "Don't be a cunt".

    The problem is, you can't legislate something like this. It's too vague a definition, and is too affected by circumstance. Such laws (even if made with good intent) will be abused, and controlled by the best lawyer.

    If you wouldn't do/say it in a pub without feer of being beaten up, don't do it online. This segways into my next point: Even ignoring what I wrote above, all the 'bad' things are covered by existing law anyway.

    We don't need new laws just because "it's the internet" - surely the people in charge know this, so are only pushing them to please the "think of the children" brigade.

  40. moiety

    Flame war, motherfuckers

    My initial position is that I will never get over your mother...I'll just have to get up and go round or hire a sherpa team like everyone else. Her baby photos were taken by satellite and she beeps when she reverses. Bleeds gravy etc.

    Also, the most handsome of you look like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

    Bring it. Bitches.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Flame war, motherfuckers

      Oh, fuck you, you fuckin' fuck.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But but but...

    Who will feed the trolls?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: But but but...

      Who will feed the trolls?

      Newbies, same as since before time immemorial. Despite being offered the ages old knowledge that "if you feed the trolls, you get to keep them".

      Yes, I'm serious, and no, there is absolutely no way of legislating against this fact. Newbies will do what newbies will do. Thus demonstrating why, exactly, the entire concept of prosecuting this kind of drivel is daft.

      No doubt I'll be nicked next time I set foot in Blighty for using the term "newbies".

  42. MrDamage

    CPS in trouble with itself

    > "“Those who encourage others to commit a communications offence may be charged with encouraging an offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007,” warns the guidance."

    So, by publishing this cunting, shitful, arsebrained, donkey-smegma guidance, you have actively encouraged me to commit a communications offence, as nobody with a sane, rational bone in their body could believe their tax dollars are going towards such fuckingly stupid bureautards making up muck-puckering bad "guidelines" to thoughtcrimes, without exploding in righteous, apoplectic rage.

    As such, take yourselves directly to gaol, do not pass go, and do not fucking help your leperous, greedy self to $200.

    Cunts.

  43. jake Silver badge

    "Serious Crime Act"? Really?

    Is there a "Not Very Serious Crime Act"?

    How about "Not Serious At All Crime Act"?

    Or perhaps "Not A Crime, But We've Riled Up The Proles, So Let's Make It A Crime Act".

    Just wondering.

  44. scrubber

    Doxxing

    Theresa May,

    10 Downing Street,

    London

    What now, bitches...

  45. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Saunders has faced repeated and sustained criticism during her tenure as CPS chief, including over the bungled Operation Elveden, which wasted hundreds of millions of pounds hounding more than 60 tabloid journalists for publishing stories that embarrassed the Establishment. Just one was convicted of a criminal offence and is appealing.

    Agenda much?

    I really enjoy El Reg's tabloid-y terrible puns in headlines. But when you try to defend the phone hackers of NI, Trinity Mirror, etc., you're pissing into the wind I'm afraid. Private Eye is evidently a rather more reliable source of information on that scandal.

  46. steward
    Black Helicopters

    I see the Crown is again evincing a design to reduce its subjects under absolute despotism

    Just use TOR networks and a 'murrican server - the 'murrican courts have held this sort of thing to be protected by the US Constitution.

    Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, Inc. v. American Coalition of Life Activists, 290 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2002) (en banc), certiorari refused.

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1375479.html

    NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982) https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/458/886/case.html

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