Fake Facebook profiles could send online trolls to jail.

 

Should it be against the law to have a fake Facebook profile?

Lawmakers think it could help stop online abuse and prevent the spread of revenge porn.

As Australia considers whether victims of so-called “revenge porn” should even be allowed to press charges, prosecutors are asking for new powers to penalise those who seek to harass people online anonymously.

In the United Kingdom trolls who set up fake online accounts, for the purpose of harassment or humiliation, could face criminal charges under the guidelines being proposed by the Crown Prosecution Service, the BBC reports.

Fake accounts are often used to spread “revenge porn” – sexually explicit images shared without consent – or in “catfishing”, tricking people into thinking your someone else online.

“Online abuse is cowardly and can be deeply upsetting to the victim,” said director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders, who made it clear the proposal was trying to stop “grossly offensive” behaviour and would not affect things such as light-hearted parody accounts.

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Children would also be safe from prosecution, according to Ms Saunders.

“It is vital that prosecutors consider the bigger picture when looking at evidence and examine both the online and offline behaviour pattern of the defendant,” she said.

Any change will likely fall under a pre-existing law, like the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which already made it legal to prosecute people for posting sexual images of others online without consent.

In Australia, debate continues as to whether or not we need a unified set of laws across all states and territories.

Victoria is the only state where sharing “revenge porn” is currently considered a criminal activity, while others rely on older, non-specific legislation to charge perpetrators of online abuse.

A NSW parliamentary committee unanimously called for a drastic overhaul of laws in a new report released yesterday, arguing that victims should be able to sue for “reckless” or “intentional” invasions of privacy by individuals, according to the ABC.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said he had not had time to consider the reports, but would give an “appropriate response” when he had.

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