In Britain, proposals have been made to make internet trolling punishable by up to two years in jail. Internet trolling is an act that seems to have become engrained in cyber culture. Internet trolls are mean and persistent, and if you’re found lacking, they will proceed to ruin your self esteem.
According to the Tribune, Britain’s big announcement to make internet trolling a federal offense comes after the parents of Madeleine McCann, a young girl who went missing while on vacation in May 2007 became victims of cyber bullying.
“These internet trolls are cowards poisoning our national life. No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media, ” Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said.
Some may believe a punishment of two years in prison being meted out for something as common as internet trolling may be going overboard. Should it even be labeled as a crime?
In July 2013, CNN released an article titled, “Internet trolls: What to do about the scourge of the Web?,” in which the issue of internet trolling was explored. Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at New York University, touched on the difficulties that come with addressing internet trolling, especially since the term now encapsulates a wide range of behavior. The members of 4Chan, popularly known for the release of nude photos of celebs dubbed The Fappening, which was covered by the Inquisitr, have referred to themselves as trolls in the past.
“You can’t easily taxonomize trolling behavior… A lot of trolling is about mischief and harmless, silly pranks. But really extreme behavior — attacking friends and families of kids who have died, for example — that seems to be a behavior with a different motivation.”
This move to make internet trolling punishable by law is not the first time interest has been shown in addressing these hate “crimes.”
In an article posted in August, Newsweek described the cyber atmosphere in the UK in 2013 and 2014 as “a febrile, angry place, with cyber harassment rife on many fronts.” They reported that there was a call for the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime to include cyber stalking as a punishable offense.
The Tribune reports that lawyers in Britain anticipate that the sentences for internet trolling will keep increasing when the law is passed. But for victims of internet trolling this move is not only necessary but long overdue.
“There is a public interest in having people put away for a long time. It is putting someone in fear of their life and fear of physical harm,” said Chris Holder of the London law firm Bristows.