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Cyber bullying and the Law

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Joined: 16 Aug 2004
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Location: Difflock

PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:28 pm    Post subject: Cyber bullying and the Law Reply with quote

Although bullying is not a specific criminal offence in UK law, there are laws that can apply in terms of harassing or threatening behaviour, or menacing and threatening communications. In fact, some cyber bullying activities could be criminal offences under a range of different laws, including the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (which has both criminal and civil provision), the Malicious Communications Act 1988, section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, and the Public Order Act 1986.

Protection from Harassment Act 1997: This Act is relevant for incidents that have happened repeatedly (i.e. on more that two occasions). Section 1 prohibits behaviour amounting to harassment of another. Section 2 provides a criminal offence and section 3 provides a civil remedy for breach of the prohibition on harassment in section 1. Section 4 provides a more serious offence of someone causing another person to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against them. A civil court may grant an injunction to restrain a person from conduct which amounts to harassment and, following conviction of an offence under section 2 or 4, restraining orders are available to protect the victim of the offence.

Communications Act 2003: Section 127 covers all forms of public communications, and subsection (1) defines an offence of sending a "grossly offensive, obscene, indecent or menacing" communication. Subsection (2) defines a separate offence where for the purposes of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety, a person sends a message which that person knows to be false (or causes it to be sent) or persistently makes use of a public communications system.

Malicious Communications Act 1988: Section 1 makes it an offence to send an indecent, grossly offensive or threatening letter, electronic communication or other article to another person with the intention that it should cause them distress or anxiety.

Obscene Publications Act 1959: It is an offence under this Act to publish an obscene article. Publishing includes circulating, showing, playing or projecting the article or transmitting that data, for example over the internet. An obscene article is one whose effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

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