Parliament debates law against 'trolls'

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Trolls: Increasingly prevalent online.
Trolls: Increasingly prevalent online.

People using Twitter, Facebook or message boards to harass or intimidate other users should be subject to new laws, according to an MP.

Steve Rotheram led a parliamentary debate against internet 'trolls' last night, as he tried to convince the government that legislation like the Malicious Communications Act should be updated and expanded to include social media.

"All the legislation pre-dates things like Facebook and Twitter," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"When our predecessors were putting down these bills they did not envisage that sickos would use these new inventions for these purposes.


"No-one wants to deny anyone the opportunity of freedom of speech, but with that freedom comes responsibility.

"You shouldn’t say things through the anonymity of a computer that you wouldn’t say face to face."

Rotheram seemed particularly upset at the case of Georgia Varley, who died after falling under a train last year. The Facebook memorial commemorating her life was hijacked by abusive internet users.

It is unclear whether any change in the law is needed to cover cases of abuse online, given the existing legislation already bans messages that are "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".

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