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Online abuse is widespread and can include: 

Existing legislation to deal with harassment, stalking and the improper use of communications networks can be used to tackle some forms of online abuse. However the Westminster and Scottish Governments have both criminalised one form of online abuse:  “revenge pornography”. 

Some charities and campaigners have called for further specific legislation to target online abuse.  However, in February 2016, the Government said that it did “not intend to introduce specific additional legislation to address online harassment and internet trolling”. 

The Government has also been asked about criminalising cyber bullying and replied:

(…) We do not want to make any form of bullying a criminal offence as to do so would risk criminalising young people. In some circumstances that may be justified, but probably only in a limited number of very serious cases, for which there are already laws in place to protect people. Internet providers, schools and parents all have a role to play in keeping children and young people safe online… 

A Recl@im the Internet campaign has recently launched. This is calling for action in the following areas: 

  • the role of the police and prosecutors, and where threats and harassment become crimes
  • the responsibility of social media and publishing platforms
  • the role of organisations and employers
  • the role for individuals – including support for victims and taking on the trolls
  • empowering and educating the next generation

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