#BEKINDLAW MAKE ONLINE ABUSE, TROLLING, AND HARASSMENT A CRIMINAL OFFENCE
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Approximately 800,000 people die from suicide each year. There is increasing evidence that online abuse on social media affects and changes people's lives, especially in teenagers.
From politicians to the media, public figures to the general public, people are exploiting the power of the internet to abuse and harass whom ever they please. This however is ruining lives, affecting many people’s mental health worldwide. Enough is enough and its about time new laws worldwide come into force to combat the high volume of hatred and abuse online.
Sadly, in this modern age more and more people are taking their own lives due to online abuse and harassment. The death toll continues to rise, yet nothing is being done to deter those with malicious intent from attacking others on largely unregulated Social Media platforms. With so many loved ones lost, it is high time for Lawmakers to conduct a thorough assessment of this communication channel and the impact it has on our lives.
After generations of use, the mail and the telephone are regulated by strict anti-harassment laws to help protect our citizens. The need to regulate Social Media is just as urgent if not more so because of its widespread use, the lack of accountability, and the sheer volume of attacks that can be generated in a short period of time. As it stands now, a person can abuse someone online repeatedly with no fear of repercussion. If laws were in place making such activity a criminal offence, incidences of online abuse would fall dramatically and a great deal of anguish would be avoided.
As a victim of online bullying over a number of years, I suffered gravely and had no choice but to turn to the police for help. Unfortunately the police were unable to convict any of the offenders I reported, simply because there is no law for them to enforce in this situation. I find this exceedingly frustrating, because abuse is abuse regardless of how it is delivered. Unsavory individuals are using Social Media in a number of ways to harass, impersonate and abuse others without regard to the torment they are inflicting. Now that it has gotten to the point where people are taking their own lives as a result, Lawmakers need to criminalize such activity and take action against repeat offenders, including the media, and public figures who abuse their power by abusing and harassing people. This has now become a growing concern, and in essence has created a toxic environment for children, who think it's acceptable to abuse others.
We all have Freedom of Speech, but online bullying must never be protected by that liberty. Bullying and harassment are not acceptable in any form. Social Media should be employed for the noble goal of empowering and inspiring others, not to beat a person down so badly that they are driven to suicide.
The road to safe internet for all is a long one and the journey will be challenging. Common-sense solutions to the online bullying problem are easy to implement and available now. One possible answer would be a requirement to upload identification when opening a Social Media account. This simple step would hold people accountable for their actions online, instead of allowing them to be untraceable phantoms hiding behind a fake profile. Another perhaps less intrusive solution would be to require Social Media sites to reveal IP addresses upon demand, thereby enabling investigators to easily track down perpetrators of online misconduct. Either of these requirements make it impossible to remain untraceable online and would send a clear message that certain behaviors will no longer be tolerated. Abusers will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
As it always has in the past, it is time for Great Britain to lead the way forward in this exciting new age and enact legislation restricting certain behavior across all Social Media platforms.
This petition is dedicated to the late Caroline Flack (1979 - 2020), to everyone who has been a victim of online abuse and to all the families who have lost loved ones as a result of this egregious offense. I hope to make a change and that change starts today!
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