Silenced.Lawmakers in the UK are seeking to beef up an existing law that makes being an internet jerk a criminal act.

Under the existing Malicious Communications Act of 1988, anyone found guilty of internet abuse could face up to 6 months in prison. Some now feel that’s not enough and are pushing to have the maximum sentence increased:

Ms Bray’s plan would give magistrates the ability to send such cases for trial at crown court, where the jail term given could be four times longer and there is more time to bring a case. The change will be discussed by a committee of MPs on Thursday and if approved will be added to laws to be voted on later this year.

While I can understand the desire to police the internet, and cut down on the trolls that cause havoc, it’s also a concern that we’ve moved beyond proving defamation or hate speech, and are now happy to throw someone in jail, just because they’re jerk. Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people are truly harassed–some to the point of suicide–but don’t we have existing measures (restraining orders etc) that prevent this stuff?

There’s no sign that this law is coming to the U.S., but then again our lawmakers seem determined to legislate our freedoms and rights into extinction, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

What are your thoughts? Is this a good law?

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