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UK gov changing law to get tough on internet trolling

The worst offenders could now go to jail for two years.

The UK government wants to get tough on internet trolling following the harassment of TV presenter Chloe Madeley - daughter of well-known TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

The maximum prison sentence for the most severe cases could rise from six months to two years, should the amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill - and the Malicious Communications Act - go through. (This doesn't apply to Scotland.)

The new law would also give police more time to collect evidence for their prosecutions.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said this (to the Mail on Sunday): "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence."

Then he said this: "This is a law to combat cruelty - and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob. We must send out a clear message - if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years."

Chloe Madeley said she supported free speech and social networking, but pointed out that the Malicious Communications Act was 10 years old and drawn up before Facebook and Twitter took hold.

"While I agree that spending time and money on trolls is somewhat disagreeable, social networking has become the most influential and powerful voice of the people, and the fact of the matter is it now needs to be regulated," she told the BBC.

The Bill is going through Parliament and is due to be debated in the House of Lords this coming week.