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Social Media: Harassment

Question for Home Office

UIN 67255, tabled on 9 March 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to require operators of social media platforms to report communications sent via their service which could reasonably be interpreted as containing content which would constitute an offence under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 to a relevant police force.

Answered on

15 March 2017

We expect social media companies, and internet platforms, to have robust processes in place and to act promptly when abuse is reported. The Government continues to work closely with social media companies and other relevant actors and experts to make sure they are committed to protecting those who use their platforms.

The Government is absolutely clear that harassment and abuse in whatever form and whoever the target is totally unacceptable, and that this should be reported to the police. This includes harassment committed in person, or using phones or the internet. The Crown Prosecution Service published guidance to prosecutors in October on crimes involving social media.

The Criminal Justice Act 2015 strengthened two existing communications offences: section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988, and section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 which can now be used to prosecute misuse of social media. The police now have longer to investigate either offence, and the maximum penalty for the former has been increased to two years imprisonment.

In addition, the Home Office has allocated £4.6m of the Police Transformation Fund specifically to begin the critical work of setting up a comprehensive and joined up programme of digital transformation across policing. This money will help provide a step-change in digital capability, funding police led programmes that will work to equip forces with the tools to effectively police a digital age and protect victims of digital crime.

Answered by

Home Office
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