Ministers mull prison for online hate crime posts

New laws could see
people jailed for social
media hate crime posts
FIGHTING BACK: New laws could see people jailed for social media hate crime posts

PROPOSAL SUBJECT TO PUBLIC CONSULTATION SHARING social media posts which threaten violent hate crime could become punishable by six months in prison under new proposals. Tougher sentences are being considered for spreading racial, religious or homophobic hatred, with jail terms of up to six years for those who abuse a large online following or other position of influence. People who incite serious violence or persistently spread hateful messages would also fall into the stricter bracket. Use of YouTube and other sites to stir hatred has become more serious, the Sentencing Council said, although the number of prosecutions remain low. “However, given the recent social climate and an en­hanced focus on this type of offending, the council considers it would be useful for sentencers to be equipped with guid­ance on sentencing these offences,” the draft guidelines said. “Among the cases analysed were a number of ‘hate speech’ type offences, where inflammatory speeches were given by influential figures with the intention of stirring up racial hatred. “Other cases involved publication on YouTube of con­tent inciting serious violence towards particular racial or re­ligious groups, websites being published including abusive and insulting content, with some activity continuing over a long period of time and intended to reach global audiences.” It comes after an Eastern Eye investigation in March found videos on the YouTube website mocking Islam, Sikh­ism and Hinduism. Dozens of clips contained racist comments which are available to all ages until someone makes a complaint. YouTube later removed the videos that breached its guide­lines or set an age restriction on the content. Hate crime logged by police rose by 29 per cent in 2016-17 to reach a record 80,393. There were rises across all areas: race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender. Justice minister Rory Stewart said: “We need much clearer rules on how…

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