New stalking law in UK ‘does not protect harassed online victims’

London, Nov 25: A new stalking law that has come into force offers no protection to victims being harassed and intimidated online, the British Government has been warned.

For the first time stalking is being treated as a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison.

However, it will not prevent perpetrators from continuing their reign of terror on the Internet by sending obscene and menacing messages via Facebook or Twitter, the Daily Express reports.

According to the Ministry of Justice, 1,286 people were convicted of sending offensive or indecent messages last year.

Online bullying by so-called internet ‘trolls’ is covered by the Communications Act and offenders can be jailed for up to six months and fined a maximum of 5,000 pounds, the report said.

Only a handful, however, have been convicted.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo (National Association of Probation Officers), said that “there is still no code of conduct for social media providers. The new law does not go far enough in terms of stamping out cyber stalking or Twitter trolls”.

“While much is being done to stop stalkers intimidating their victims in the street or at work, little is being done to stop them from doing the same via their computers,” he said.

“At the moment there is no duty for social media providers to co-operate with police investigations, which I find extra ordinary,’ he added.

“Sites such as Facebook or Twitter operate on a self regulatory basis. That needs to change,” he said.

According to the report, earlier this year nine tweeters were made to pay compensation to a woman raped by the Sheffield United player Ched Evans after branding her a “money-grabbing whore”. Evans, 23, was jailed for five years. (ANI)