New guidelines published by the Crown Prosecution service in Scotland have been welcomed across the country, aimed at tightening up of the law around crime, stalking & threats over social media.
BBC Scotland quotes Chief Legal Advisor for Scotland, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland as saying that "If it would be illegal to say it on the street, it is illegal to say it online."
The line will be drawn at what is described as satirical, mildly offensive humour and provocative statements but prosecutors have also been given detailed guidance on how they assess whether or not to raise criminal proceedings.
Similar to the English guidelines, Scotland has identified four key categories of communication when it comes to prosecution cases. The first three are fairly straight forward in definition - if the comment is targeted at a specific individual, providing a credible threat or links to some kind of breach, then the person responsible for the content will find themselves in hot water.
The final category is perhaps open more to context and personal interpretation - communications that are ‘grossly offensive, indecent or obscene’ resulting in ‘adverse consequence’ for the victim; will no doubt be the issue that causes most of the challenge. Critics have been quick to point out that this leaves a large patch of ‘grey’, with respect to the fact that it was defined as humour and mild to one person, may be offensive to another creating challenges in enforcement.
However, the approach has been welcomed by those working in social media in Scotland who understand the power of the communications channel, which can be used for both positive and very gravely negative intentions.
The evening telegraph in Scotland called it a ‘Robust’ approach quoting Lord Mulholland “As prosecutors we will continue to do all in our power to bring those who commit these crimes to justice, and I would encourage anyone who thinks they have been victim of such a crime to report it to the police.”
CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management platform, built for enterprise and welcome the guidelines across Scotland.