#public #liability #careneeded
Originally posted on Gigaom:
In online life, how offensive is too offensive? That may be a legally irrelevant question in countries that enjoy strong free speech protections, but it’s a very serious question in England and Wales.
As you may recall, this year saw an extraordinary series of jail sentences for online trolls there, for offences including calling public officials rude names and joking about missing children. The Crown Prosecution Service has apparently had to deal with 60 cases relating to ‘threats’ made over Twitter or Facebook in the last year and a half. The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said in October that he would look at the rules, and now he’s come back with some provisional guidelines (PDF warning) – finalized rules will follow after a public consultation.
“These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law,” Starmer said. “They make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or which breach court orders on the one hand, and other communications sent by social media, e.g. those that are grossly offensive, on the other.”
“A prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.”