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Internet: Harassment

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 112772, tabled on 13 November 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she has taken to address the issues caused by internet trolls.

Answered on

21 November 2017

What is illegal offline is also illegal online. Communications which are grossly offensive, obscene, indecent or false fall under either section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 or under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

As part of the work on the Digital Charter announced in the Queen's Speech, the Government is considering a range of options to counter internet harms. This includes an Internet Safety Strategy, published on 11 October, which will look at how we can support users so that everyone can access the benefits of the Internet safely. The Strategy considers the responsibilities of companies to their users, the use of technical solutions to prevent online harms and government's role in supporting users. The Strategy also considers the role that technology companies can play in awareness and education for users, including children.

The recently enacted Digital Economy Act will help to ensure that online abuse is effectively tackled by requiring a social media code of practice to be established. The code will set out guidance about what social media providers should do in relation to conduct on their platforms and involves bullying or insulting an individual or other behaviour likely to intimidate or humiliate them. It will include guidance on arrangements for notification by users; the process for dealing with notifications; terms and conditions in relation to these arrangements and processes; and, the giving information to the public about the action providers take against harmful behaviour. It also includes questions to determine whether guidance should also be issued on standards for user content and conduct, prevention and identification of abuse and misuse of services, and information about how to identify illegal content.

The consultation on the measures in the Internet Safety Strategy closes on 7th December and Government aims to publish the social media code of practice in 2018.