Senior Tory calls for a change in online abuse law in Britain

Better internet laws are in need to put a stop to the “significantly increasing” issue of online abuse that can create a nightmare for British society in the future.

Maria Miller, conservative senior Tory MP, chair of the  Women and Equalities Committee in the Commons successfully pushed the government to create a new offence of revenge pornography two years ago and feels its time for the government to further update the laws around online abuse and harm. Miller noted that cracking down on social media networks would be helpful, as the networks treat cyber-space as the “Wild West”.

Stephen Kavanagh of the Essex Police has similar views to Miller since he is the chief constable leading the fight against digital crime, having called for new legislation to tackle an “unimagined scale of online abuse” threatening to overwhelm police services. He said there had been an explosion of different types of online crime such as sexting, trolling, racial homophobic abuse and revenge pornography. He noted that more officer training was needed across the board. 

The MP said that internet companies could do more to act against threatening and abusive material online. “The problem is rooted in the fact that many internet companies won't acknowledge that they can challenge, and should stop, criminal behaviour, saying they are just like the postal service and can't help that people use their services for criminal activity, that it's not their problem. It is their problem and we need to sit up, take notice and realise that we are creating a nightmare future,” Miller said.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are in talks with organisations worldwide to organise a global counter-speech movement against the violent misogyny, racism, threats, intimidation and abuse that take over social media. Facebook and Google are currently hosting the first joint EU child safety summit in Dublin.

The Guardian's newspaper series, The Web We Want, which explores the darker side of online comments and efforts to foster better conversations online brought the call for a review of the law.