Body launches public consultation on laws that need updating including online abuse legislation, which predates digital age

Legislation criminalising indecent or grossly offensive communications should be clarified to help tackle abuse and “trolling” on the internet, the Law Commission has suggested.
Launching a public consultation on laws that may need reform, the body that identifies legal flaws also proposed reviewing ineffective or outdated parliamentary acts governing weddings, surrogacy, the “Maxwellisation” process – in which individuals facing criticism are given an opportunity to respond during public inquiries – codification of the law in Wales and confiscation of the proceeds of crime.

Many of the laws used to prosecute online abuse predate the digital age. Part 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 makes it an offence to send a communication which is “indecent or grossly offensive” with the intention of causing “distress or anxiety” while section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 applies to threats and statements known to be false.

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