back to article Offensive, iconoclastic internet trolls will not be prosecuted, says DPP

Cases involving trolling on social media sites should now be easier to deal with after the Director of Public Prosecutions published definitive guidelines on the tabloid-fodder phenomenon this morning. Keir Starmer, who will leave his post as DPP in the autumn, said that the interim guidelines the Crown Prosecution Service …

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  1. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    More than offensive comments start here:

    No. Don't.

  2. El Presidente
    Facepalm

    I think the CPS

    Ought to make the guidelines more clear or I'll blow the place sky high (innocent face)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll blow the place sky high

      Did you ever want to get on a plane again? You just blew it.

  3. ukgnome
    Trollface

    Keir Starmer is in fact Spartacus!

  4. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Unhappy

    But, but...

    Someone countered an argument of mine in a forum with a point I don't agree with, and it really hurt my feelings!

    1. wowfood
      Trollface

      Re: But, but...

      Boo freakin' who, go suck an egg and then go cry to your mother whom I slept with last night. And she liked it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Boo who?"

        Boo Radley, of course.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some examples of what is and is not prosecutable might help

    So would the famous Nottingham Airport tweet* case now never reach the trial stage?

    * - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter_Joke_Trial

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some examples of what is and is not prosecutable might help

      Probably not, as the police didn't get their act together the CPS would of blown it out of court.

      1. Francis Boyle

        "Would have"

        I find you're pour grammer* deeply offensive.

        *Mruphry rules!

    2. Dave Lawton
      Headmaster

      Re: Some examples of what is and is not prosecutable might help

      Nottingham Airport - where's that please ?

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Some examples of what is and is not prosecutable might help

      Robin Hood Airport is nominally Doncaster (the ex-RAF Finningley, a Vulcan base), not Nottingham. I do seem to recall that at some point in its inception it was referred to as "Doncaster Nottingham Airport", but that thankfully got lost. According to the airport's website, it is now "Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield", presumably to cover up the fact that Sheffield no longer has an airport (though some would argue that that the one it did have was little more than a tarmac landing strip).*

      *However, I understand that Boeing are a bit pissed off that the airport closed just before they finished their tech centre at the side of it - I wonder why (innocent face).

  6. Captain Hogwash
    WTF?

    Re: "...about serious trivial matters"

    Huh?

    1. VinceH

      Re: "...about serious trivial matters"

      Serious trivial matters are clearly more important than trivial serious matters.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    where's the line?

    So a message can be more than simply offensive but not actually grossly offensive.

    So we need a scale to measure the level of offensiveness and a test to see where 'grossly' starts?

    May i suggest we measure it in Politicians?

    Although I am trying to work out whether an Osborne would be better or worse than a Miliband or whether the scale bifurcates ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: where's the line?

      I find your face grossly offensive, can we start with that?

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: where's the line?

        "I find your face grossly offensive, can we start with that?"

        Ha ha - you have the same face as he does!

      2. chrisf1

        Re: where's the line?

        my face as the origin, presumably your mum is higher up the scale then.

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: where's the line?

          About 30kg higher.

      3. El Presidente
        Thumb Up

        Re: where's the line?

        @ AC

        "I find your face grossly offensive, can we start with that?"

        Comments like that have been levelled at Jeremy Clarkson many times and we can all thank his indifference to such plebeian outbursts for the iconoclastic clause in the guidelines.

    2. Steve Knox

      Re: where's the line?

      <i.May i suggest we measure it [offensiveness] in Politicians?</i>

      Shurely we should use a scale in which 1 is a meaningful amount, rather than the highest possible end of the scale? Most posts would have to be rated at fractions of a femto-Politician.

      Let's not go down the whole gram/kilogram road again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: where's the line?

        Good point but the requirement is a fine distinction at the point where offensive becomes grossly offensive.

        Unless of course we have two axes - one of grossness and one of offensiveness? We then need only examine the upper right quadrant for the point were legal becomes illegal ...which always seemed a line densely populated by politicians .

        1. kvsm
          Coat

          Re: where's the line?

          Your mum looks like she's been hit with two axes.

  8. Sir Barry
    Joke

    So, does this mean Eadon has got start being nice to Microsoft?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, but you have to start being nice to Eadon.

  9. Justicesays
    Alert

    As these are just guidelines

    It still means the law is fundamentally flawed.

    We only have free speech so long as someone in power doesn't decide to lean on the CPS / swap some favours and get a court case through anyway, in which case it gets prosecuted according to the law as it currently is, regardless of what some guidelines say.

    So people who might not be liked for other reasons (protesters against the governments pet policies etc.) can be unfairly targeted by this law as its all down to "guidelines" and "interpretation" whether to actually prosecute, and the law itself has little protection built in.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John 156
      Big Brother

      Re: As these are just guidelines

      I do not see how we can have a proper police state complete with gulags full of English people unless we have draconian and fully enforced thoughcrime laws. This has to be a retrograde step, surely?

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: As these are just guidelines

        We only have free speech so long as someone in power doesn't decide to lean on the CPS / swap some favours and get a court case through anyway, in which case it gets prosecuted according to the law as it currently is, regardless of what some guidelines say.

        So people who might not be liked for other reasons (protesters against the governments pet policies etc.) can be unfairly targeted by this law as its all down to "guidelines" and "interpretation" whether to actually prosecute, and the law itself has little protection built in.

        No mate, you see the protection of the law is that a jury of your peers has to choose to find you guilty. The vast majority of the population think politicians are thieving, lying, cowardly scum and so the chances of getting convicted for saying something along those lines or criticising said thieving, lying, cowardly scum for wasting more of our money is about as close to zero as said chances can get.

        1. Justicesays
          FAIL

          Re: As these are just guidelines

          Unfortunate that Magistrates courts don't have Jury's then ....

          Not much protection there.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Justice says: "UUUUUHHHHH"

            Apparently, "justice" can't work out how to spell 'juries'.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find footballers paychecks offensive; why are we not carting them off to jail?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. VinceH

      Optional

      I'm not sure that would achieve much. The pay cheques are inanimate, so wouldn't suffer as a result of being in jail.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was going to send a tweet containing only the word 'prick' to Piers Morgan, is that still allowed?

    1. ukgnome
      Trollface

      This is not only allowed but this is positively encouraged.

      In fact they are debating in parliament on whether this should be rule 1 of the twitter EULA

    2. Dan Paul
      Devil

      What should be said about Piers Morgan?

      I would prefer to call him a simpering, snotnosed, douchebag. Is that acceptable?

      If not can a call him a twat?

  12. Maharg
    Thumb Up

    Does this mean ...

    Does this mean I can report the Daily Mail Website for their offensive comments on travellers, gays, teachers, Muslims, the French, brown people, the poor, people from the North, people on disability benefits, the Irish, people who play video games, Americans, women, people with more than 3 children, the jobless, people who go to music festivals, eastern Europeans, “chav’s” and “foreigners”?

    1. JimmyPage
      Joke

      Re: Does this mean ...

      only if you like queueing ....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does this mean ...

      I wish you could....

      But unfortunately a TINY percentage of each of those groups of people destroy it for the rest, and I am sure the Daily Fail is careful to only attack specific people not the whole group...

    3. wowfood

      Re: Does this mean ...

      I find the fact you refered to one of those groups as "brown people" highly offensive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does this mean ...

        I find the fact that you found the fact (s)he referred to one of those groups as "brown people" highly offensive highly offensive.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The People vs. Eadon (2013)...?

    Not being funny.... I've seen some nasty stuff on here from and to the above mentioned... So who will have a case to answer....?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find the way the law is implemented interesting, the student who said something along the lines of "people who do collections on the street for Help the Heroes deserve to have their heads cut off" was charged and made to do community service.

    Meanwhile the people threatening to rape and murder her suffered no such punishment.

    What I find particularly interesting is one was an opinion, the other was a distinct threat against a single individual.

    Curious.

    Personally I hate chuggers (charity muggers for the unaccustomed) and always hope for the day I see someone just rage out and punch one in the face. Murders a bit extreme though.

    1. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      I've never encountered 'Chuggers' with the help for heros guys, they usually stand with their collection box, and I pretty much always put £10-£20 in the bucket anyway, supporting our troops is something I really believe in... And where I go, these are either ex forces or active forces guys!

      I agree with your point though, an opinion vs threat is the key difference..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In my opinion Blacks Gays Jews Muslims Asians Indians Americans people who do collections on the street for Help the Heroes anonymous cowards deserve to have their heads cut off.

      Nothing whatsoever offensive with that. Or is there?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Unfortunately it isn't always what you say, but the context people put it in.

        Text is a very poor medium for conveying tone, context etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Nothing whatsoever offensive with that. Or is there?"

        But that's just your opinion, you're welcome to that, even if it's moronic. That's the supposed bonus of being in a free democratic nation.

        If in response to your comment I went "I'm going to come round your house, rape you then burn it down with you still inside" That's a direct threat . I would expect me to do time, and you to not have to fear for your life. Where as the law at the moment means that the person stating an opinion does time and the person that threatens to rape and murder them doesn't.

        Alternatively if I went "You're a dick head, I hope you get run over by a bus" that again is just a hope and as such no punishment is warranted.

        As someone once said (George Carlin maybe?) "You have every right to feel offended, and I have every right not to give a fuck."

  15. Colonel Panic
    Boffin

    No need for publically funded sledge-hammers

    If a communication is an incitement to commit an offence, an incitement to racial hatred, or likely to lead to a breach of the peace, then arguably the interests of the wider community are at stake, and prosecution at public expense may be warranted.

    If the offensive message is defamatory or offensive to the person concerned, why does the public interest require the state to intervene? The courts have ample powers to settle disputes between parties - and the party affected can bring a lawsuit, and if successful, recover their costs.

    There is simply no need to waster taxpayers money enforcing manners through criminal sanctions.

    1. Corinne

      Re: No need for publically funded sledge-hammers

      "If the offensive message is defamatory or offensive to the person concerned..." There's a big difference between defamation and being offensive.

      Defamation can destroy someone's life in extreme cases e.g. lose them their job and any chance of finding another one, or having their spouse leave them. Whether someone finds something offensive or not can be down to personal views; what's offensive to people of one religion isn't to those of another or none, a remark that a man may think is casual could be deeply offensive to the woman he made it to.

      Your point about public interest raises the question of when do deeply offensive comments (to some people) or defamation (about a group of people) change from being personal and therefore to be dealt with in a private lawsuit, and when does it become racial hatred or incitement?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of bollocks.

    Having tried (three times) to get the plod to pay attention to a "a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual" only to be told they couldn't be bothered to even look at it, I shouldn't bother my arse even trying reporting the nasty little cnuts. Just bide your time and then go take a knife to them, that's what I'm planning to do on the nasty little fuckwit who fucked around with my life. Those who don't want to end up in blood feuds shouldn't go starting them.

    1. h3

      Re: What a load of bollocks.

      They seemed to care when there was targeted harassment of most of central London.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: "go take a knife to them, that's what I'm planning to do"

      So, where does the law stand on making empty threats?

    3. The Jase

      Re: What a load of bollocks.

      Good luck with that mate. tell us how it goes.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a load of bollocks.

      Go to the PCA, if the Police refuse to deal with a complaint. don't take the law into your own hands, because you'll be the one who ends up on the wrong side of it.

      Those who maintain blood feuds shouldn't be surprised when everyone the know and love end up dead.

    5. NomNomNom

      Re: What a load of bollocks.

      what is a cnut? is that some kind of british insult like "bloke" and "wanker"?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What a load of bollocks.

        what is a cnut? is that some kind of british insult like "bloke" and "wanker"?

        Not quite. It's more like "bolke" and "wnaker".

      2. Gazareth

        Re: What a load of bollocks.

        Since when has bloke been an insult?

        Cnut was a King of England, Denmark and others way back when. He was succeeded by Harthacnut, who was only 50% as nasty.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cunning plan

    Step 1: false identity

    Step 2: VPN

    Step 3: ???

    Step 4: profit

    1. 8Ace
      Big Brother

      Re: Cunning plan

      Provided you can find a VPN provider who isn't going to pass on your connection history at the drop of a hat/brown envelope/court order.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Cunning plan

        Tracing the connection back to a compromised wifi point on the far side of town?

        Awesome.

  18. Nigel 11
    Unhappy

    Apologies?

    Apologies seem to be completely out of fashion. Especially prompt and sincere ones.

    I would have hoped that the guidelines would suggest there's a major difference between someone who apologises once it becomes clear he's caused offense, or who retracts something that's both hurtful and inaccurate, and someone who refuses to and instead reiterates or reinforces his original post.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apologies?

      I think (hope) it does :

      44.A prosecution is unlikely to be both necessary and proportionate where:

      a.The suspect has expressed genuine remorse;

      b.Swift and effective action has been taken by the suspect and/or others for example, service providers, to remove the communication in question or otherwise block access to it;

      c.The communication was not intended for a wide audience, nor was that the obvious consequence of sending the communication; particularly where the intended audience did not include the victim or target of the communication in question; or

      d.The content of the communication did not obviously go beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in an open and diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.

  19. RcR

    Ha! Fookin Brits are thin-skinned, eh? And this from the land of the Flame of the Week...

  20. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I just bathe people like that in the intimidating wash of my very best 12-b (Hurts Born Manfully) with a dash of my masterful 23-z (Stern Refusal to Bend to Criticism).

  21. JP19

    NOT be prosecuted

    So are they going to un-prosecute the ones that already have?

    I read this as the law is vague and stupid, judges can't be trusted to interpret it sensibly, but, we can work around the problem by not putting cases in front of judges.

    1. Sooty

      Re: NOT be prosecuted

      nope, as laws generally don't apply retrospectively. This is generally a good thing, as it means you can't be arrested for doing something perfectly legal, if in future it becomes illegal.

      Alan Turing hasn't been pardoned yet.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silver-core ethernet cables for audio media servers

    I've been expressing my opinions about this on a hifi forum.

    The police are gathering in the street. Don't expect me back for a long time. Can someone feed my cat please?

  23. MJI Silver badge

    I knew of a

    Hard case who was trolled, obtained the trolls name address and phone number.

    It was hilarious

    1. Probe
      Flame

      Re: I knew of a

      Did it give you a stiffy? Tosser!

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: I knew of a

        I didn't know them but I read of what happened.

        Internet troll picked on a person repeatedly, so he phoned them up to rip them a new arse, but spoke to trolls wife, trolls wife gave troll a good earbashing, troll stopped trolling.

        His next stage would have been a visit.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A victory for common sense

    Trolling is a art.

  25. simonangel
    Unhappy

    When the police can't/won't help - who do you turn to?

    Something similar happened to a friend of mine recently. A vile individual on Facebook has launched a hateful vendetta saying that he'd have my friend's legs broken, and then, when someone stuck up for him, that samaritan was labelled "a child molester." The police won't do anything, Facebook are uncontactable and have stifled my friend's attempts to clear his name. Some have written the whole thing off as a joke, but say you wanted to apply for a job or wanted to adopt a child, and an internet search threw up "child molester." It wouldn't be so funny then.

    If you want to know more, have a read of slashdot - my UserID is NoNotTheMindProbe.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/06/14/1636231/facebooks-complaint-process-is-arbitrary-but-so-is-campaigning

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: When the police can't/won't help - who do you turn to?

      Find a hard case who wants some fun!

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