This article will briefly discuss some of the legal grounds on which a business or individual can challenge online content, particularly on social media. If you find objectionable content online, you need to consider what legal reason you may have to object. You may have a criminal cause for action such as:
As well as being a civil action, harassment is also a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. It is pursuing a course of conduct that in the eyes of a reasonable person amounts to harassment or, to harass two or more people with the intention of persuading a person to do or not to do something. Cyber-bullying and online trolling can be criminal offences.
The Malicious Communications Act 1988 prohibits the sending of communications (including online) that express a threat, grossly offensive or indecent message, or false information if the intention of the sender is to cause anxiety or distress to the reader. There is no legal obligation for the communication to reach the intended recipient as it is the act of publishing or sending the communication with the intention to cause distress that matters.
The Computer Misuse Act 1990 prevents the unauthorised access, modification and use of computer material, or the use of a computer to assist in a criminal offence. It is primarily aimed at preventing computer crime such as hacking and breaches to computer security. However, it can be relevant when the use of computer has allowed the offender to access confidential information which has let the offender impersonate another through social media.
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