Scottish legal chief to rule on social prosecution

Posted on December 9, 2014


Scotland’s Lord Advocate is to set out guidelines to state what should be considered a crime on social media.

In an area that many countries have struggled with, the northern nation is hoping to make the issue of what can be said on social news feeds simple. According to its chief legal officer, Frank Mulholland QC:

“If it would be illegal to say it on the street, it is illegal to say it online.”

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has promised to be “robust” when it comes to stalking, hate crimes, and credible threats of violence. However, it claims that it will not pursue social media users who post mildly offensive or satirical humour, as well as generally provocative statements.

The Lord Advocate, who is considered one of Scotland’s Great Officers of State, hopes that the new guidelines will help to untangle the confusion surrounding social media posts. However, Mulholland maintained that the new rules will not be used to restrict free speech online, but rather to target internet trolls. This would especially be in regards to violent, sectarian or homophobic pictures and messages.

Scotland’s chief prosecutor commented that those who go online to harass other social users, or to commit crimes such as blackmail and fraud, would not be able to hide behind their computer screens.

Hateful and abusive comments aimed at specific groups or individuals will be targeted north of the border, as well as confidential information relating to court proceedings.

When he’s not editing web copy and news articles at work, Web Content Editor Tom sates his love for the written word by losing himself in a good book.
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