A victim of online abuse has welcomed new guidelines for the prosecution of internet “trolls”.
University of Sunderland student Stephen Brunton said he faced false accusations online six years ago and now welcomes the latest move to convict offenders.
New guidelines from the CPS mean online abusers could be prosecuted for any indecent, offensive, or false posts created from profiles or websites imitating their victims.
They focus on new crimes such as revenge pornography, where some cyber bullies have created false accounts of their former partners to share embarrassing photographs that could harm their reputation.
Stephen, an English and creative writing student at the University of Sunderland and musician, said: “Any law that acts as a deterrent for abuse is a positive in my eyes.
The 31-year-old, of Ashbrooke, Sunderland, said: “People wishing for anonymity online have plenty of outlets available to them, assuming their goal is not simply the humiliation of someone they take exception to.”
The Crown Prosecution Service has started a six-week consultation on the planned changes for law in England and Wales.
Director of Public Prosecutions at CPS, Alison Saunders, said: “Offenders can mistakenly think that by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name their offences are untraceable.”
Mrs Saunders also described anonymous online abuse as “cowardly”, stating that the offender always leaves an online footprint for police to follow.
The CPS advises prosecutors to charge under current laws if the online activity results in a credible threat to an individual, a breach of a court order, a false identity used to post upsetting and false messages, harassment, stalking, so-called revenge porn, or intimidating behaviour to former partners or family members.
They also advise that children should rarely be prosecuted because of their lack of adult judgement.
Prosecutions for these online activities could be brought under numerous laws, including the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which contains the new offence of revenge pornography to prosecute those who post sexual material of others online without permission.
Last year, Sunderland star of Channel 4’s The Undateables Steve Carruthers was a victim of internet abuse.
In January this year, internet troll Martin Paul was ordered by magistrates to pay fines and carry out unpaid work after he pleaded guilty to malicious communications regarding offensive comments about 15-year-old former Kenton schoolgirl Caitlin Ruddy, who died after being swept out to sea at Cullercoats.
The Criminal Barrister Association was contacted by SR News and said they could not comment until the consultation period on the guidelines had finished.
Stephen’s music can be found at Btype.bandcamp.com
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