November 5, 2021

OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND: UK Considering Legislation That Would Imprison Internet Trolls.

If you ever need a reminder of how important freedom of speech is, all you need to do is look across the pond. The United Kingdom, which doesn’t have a First Amendment, has slowly seen citizens’ free speech rights eroded—and now may soon start imprisoning people for being trolls on the internet.

At question is pending legislation called the “Online Safety Bill,” which ostensibly punishes social media companies that allow harassment. Yet it may be expanded to include new criminal penalties for individuals who engage in mean speech online.

“Trolls could face two years in prison for sending messages or posting content that causes psychological harm under legislation targeting online hate,” the Times of London reports. “The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has accepted recommendations from the Law Commission for crimes to be based on ‘likely psychological harm.’ The proposed law change will shift the focus on to the ‘harmful effect’ of a message rather than if it contains ‘indecent’ or ‘grossly offensive’ content, which is the present basis for assessing its criminality.”

In 2018, when British cops were threatening social media critics after the NHS banished 23-month-old Alfie Evans to the Spartan hillside, British ex-pat Charles C.W. Cooke tweeted, “Michael Brendan Dougherty pointed out to me that police in the U.K. spend all their time on Twitter threatening people with jail time for frivolous things, and now I can’t stop seeing it.”

As a wise woman once wrote, “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them.”

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