The UK Law Commission, which is responsible for reviewing legislation, is calling for more specific laws to regulate online flicker and “stackable” harassment.
Inside something report The Legal Committee, released today, says that while the Sexual Offenses Act of 2003 criminalizes genital exposure, it needs to be amended to include photographs and videos.
It would apply if the accused intends to cause alarm, anxiety or humiliation, acts for sexual purposes or is reckless as to whether the victim is causing alarm, anxiety or humiliation.
According to the Commission, current wordings, such as “grossly offensive” and “ruthless”, set the crime threshold too low and at the same time potentially criminalize lawful activities such as sexual sequence in a relationship.
“Online abuse can cause countless harm to those targeted, and changes are needed to ensure that we protect victims from abuse, such as online flickering and stacking harassment,” says Professor Penney Lewis, commissioner for criminal justice.
“At the same time, our reforms would better protect freedom of expression by narrowing the scope of criminal law, so it criminalizes only the most harmful behavior.”
With regard to harassment, the Legal Affairs Committee would like to see a new, specific offense against communications involving a threat of serious harm, defined as serious harm, rape and serious financial harm.
And a new crime based on probable psychological harm shifts attention away from the actual content of the communication and its potentially significant detrimental effects. It would apply if the communication is likely to harm the public, is intended to cause harm and has been or has been transmitted without reasonable excuse.
“This new crime can also capture cumulative harassment – when several different individuals send harassing communications to the victim,” the law committee says. “The fact that a crime is context-specific means that it can be applied when a person intentionally joins a pile that intends to cause harm.”
The changes would also make it a crime to intentionally encourage or help self-harm, to send flashing images to epileptic patients to cause seizures.
However, the threshold for sending false communications has been raised from the current need to cause “irritation, inconvenience, or unnecessary anxiety.” A person would only be liable if he or she knowingly sends or sends a message that he or she feels is false and intends to cause unreasonable excuses for non-trivial emotional, psychological, or physical harm to a likely audience.
According to the Alan Turing Institute, about a third of people have been exposed to cyberbullying, while Ditch the Label’s annual bullying survey has found that 63 percent had a moderate to extreme impact on their mental health over the past 12 months.
However, some are concerned about the impact of the proposals on freedom of expression. The Article 19 weighting group has already criticized the proposals, arguing that “probability of harm” and “likely public” are too broad terms and that the phrase “without reasonable excuse” holds the defendant liable, while international law frees a fundamental right that can only be .