Social media and criminal
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
"hope your crying and now you should
be why cannot you even produce for your country your just a diver
anyway a over hyped prick"
"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed.
You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise
I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"
"Go suck muamba's dead black dick then
you aids ridden twat", "you are a silly cunt
your mothers a wog and your dad is a rapist! Bonjour you scruffy
"UnBonJuif est un juif mort xd kc"
"Fuck off and die you worthless piece
of crap", "go kill yourself"; "I will find
you", "rape her nice ass"
Background to this inquiry
1. Which of the above statements are criminal
and which are merely offensive? Which deserve punishment by the
state; which need access only to a private remedy; which require
no remedy because we value freedom of expression more than preventing
2. The House appointed this Committee on 12 June,
to consider the media and the creative industries. We are interested
in how the development of media affects people's behaviour and
how the law and public policy need to respond. In that context
we set out to explore the social media and criminal offences.
3. We wished to operate at some speed, because
this is an issue of current concern, and we were grateful to be
able to hear at short notice from:
(a) The Director of Public Prosecutions;
(b) The Chief Constable of Essex, the Association
of Chief Police Officers' coordinator for the digital intelligence
and investigation environment;
(c) Policy Director, UK, Middle East and Africa,
Facebook, an online social networking service;
(d) Director, Public Policy, EMEA, Twitter, an
online social networking and microblogging service (on which users'
individual publications, "tweets", are limited to 140
(e) Legal Officer, Article 19, a freedom of expression
(f) John Cooper QC of 25 Bedford Row.
We have published the transcript of oral evidence
which, in itself, forms a valuable resource for those interested
in this subject.
4. Our principal objectives in this report are
to offer the House some information about an important area of
public policy and to stimulate discussion. We have also offered
some opinion, but that opinion is tentative because, in the time
available, we have not considered the subject as broadly or in
as much depth as it merits. Our inquiry has raised a number of
further questions, some relatively specific, others which go to
the fundamental dilemmas of the internet.
5. Our overall conclusion is that the criminal
law in this area, almost entirely enacted before the invention
of social media, is generally appropriate for the prosecution
of offences committed using the social media.
6. We make this report for the information of
the House and we do not expect a formal response from the Government.
1 We explicitly thank the Recorder of Manchester for
releasing Mr Cooper from court for the purpose. Back