UK government looks at harsher sentences for internet trolls

Legislation could change to hit offenders with a maximum of 2 years in prison.

Internet trolls, those who abuse and harrass others online, could face up to 2 years in jail if new laws are passed following the rape threats aimed at TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan's daughter, Chloe Madeley, last week.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that the current maximum 6 month jail sentence is to be quadrupled for internet abuse.

Grayling said: 'These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. 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.

As the terrible case of Chloe Madeley showed last week, people are being abused online in the most crude and degrading fashion.'

He went on to say: 'This is a law to combat cruelty – and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob. We must send out a clear message: if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years.’

If the new changes go through the offenders who are currently prosecuted in the magistrates courts, under the Malicious Communications Act which carries a maximum 6 month sentence, could be passed on to the crown courts in serious cases where a maximum 24 month sentence could be issued.

The current law is 10 years old, and pre-dates social media giants Twitter and Facebook. Chloe Madeley agreed with the update of the law saying: 'The current law obviously needs to be reviewed. It needs to be accepted that physical threats should not fall under the “freedom of speech” umbrella. It should be seen as online terrorism and it should be illegal.’

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