Maria Miller, the Conservative former culture secretary and equalities minister has claimed that Britain needs better internet laws to stop online abuse that may be creating a nightmare for society in future.Now the chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, she said the government needed to wake up to some of the problems the internet was creating, from vile abuse on social media to easy sharing of violent explicit images among young people.
In 2014, ministers quadrupled the maximum six-month prison term for internet insults to two years. The time limit for prosecutions has also been extended to three years.
Miller now says that the laws around insult and harm on the internet could be updated further and internet companies could do more to act against threatening and abusive material online. She claimed:
We need better laws and we need better enforcement. Government needs to stop allowing internet providers from hiding behind arguments about the protection of free speech.
The problem is rooted in the fact that many internet companies won’t acknowledge that they can challenge, and should stop, criminal behaviour, saying they are just like the postal service and can’t help that people use their services for criminal activity, that it’s not their problem. It is their problem and we need to sit up, take notice and realise that we are creating a nightmare future.
People are unleashing their inner venom in a way I just do not think is healthy for society. We have got to have an honest debate about this. Too many people in government are saying it is all about freedom of speech and it is not.