Judges are recommending draconian punishments for social media users who share posts that stir up hatred against racial, religious or sexual minority groups.
Under proposed new rules, ‘internet trolls’ who share or comment on racist or anti-gay postings will face six months in jail.
Critics say that the proposals mean heedless insults could result in prison sentences…..seems like Orwell’s 1984 is truly here
BYPASS THE CENSORS
Sign up to get unfiltered news delivered straight to your inbox.
The Mail Online reports: Anyone who is convicted of orginating hate speech that threatens anyone’s life or which is widely distributed should expect three years.
Even someone whose words or material were judged as hateful, but were not considered to have threatened life or reached a big audience, is likely to be punished with a year in jail.
But critics say the proposals will mean young people who heedlessly throw insults against racial, religious or sexual groups on the internet are at risk of prison sentences.
The recommendations, which will be subject to a three-month consultation, come at a time of deepening sensitivity to racism and abuse about sexuality online.
On top of long-standing concerns about material posted by extremists, accusations have been levelled against those in mainstream politics and other well-known individuals.
Labour Party figures have been accused of anti-Semitism, while veteran feminist Germaine Greer and gay rights and free speech campaigner Peter Tatchell are among those who have been labelled as hate-peddlers for questioning the claims of the transgender lobby.
Stirring up hatred is a crime under the 1986 Public Order Act.
The council’s proposals say the most serious hate offences include speeches given by public figures with the aim of stirring up hatred, online content inciting violence towards racial or religious groups, and websites that publish abusive and insulting material to a worldwide audience over a long period.
Aggravating factors include activity ‘in a particularly sensitive social climate’ or delivered to an impressionable audience.
Using multiple social media platforms also makes an offence more grave.
Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, described the guidelines as bizarre, saying they were ‘not strict enough where they should be strict, too severe where greater leniency is called for’.
‘Only three years for hate speech that leads to people getting killed? Ridiculously soft,’ he said.
‘But six months for “hate trolling”? Are there enough prison places to lock up these hate trolls?’
He said the law needed to distinguish between ‘young and foolish’ individuals who say silly things and ‘really dangerous radicalisers and purveyors of violence who exploit the social media to wreak havoc and death’.