The Director of Public Prosecutions recently introduced Interim Guidelines for the prosecution of cases that involve communications through social media. The guidelines will help prosecutors in making correct decisions on cases involving alleged criminal offenses charged as a result of communications via social media.
Offenses which are the most commonly committed due to communications sent via social media will be covered under the guidelines, and include communications that are resent (or retweeted).
However, prosecution of the cases will be subject to the context in which the communications were sent.
These guidelines essentially will cover those offenses which are committed by reason of the nature or content of the communications sent through social media. Anytime the social media platform is used for committing any substantive offence, criminal proceedings in accordance to the substantive offense should be carried out by the prosecutors.
The issued interim guidelines will have immediate effect and will be reviewed at the end of the public consultation period, based on the kind of responses they generate. Once this is over, the Final guidelines will be published.
Initial assessment of the guidelines provides the following understanding:
- Any communication sent via social media can amount to criminal offence and prosecutors are required to make an initial assessment with respect to content of the communication and the proceedings to demarcate between --
- Communications that might include credible threats of violence against a person or to indicate damage to property
- Communication directed toward a specific individual or individuals and constitutes harassment or stalking as directed under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and or constitutes other offences such as blackmail
- Communications that are a breach of a court order and include offenses under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 or section 5 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992
- Communications that do not fall into any of the above categories above and fall to be considered separately and can be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false
The general approach in prosecuting the cases that fall within paragraphs 12 (1), (2) or (3) should be carried out such that they address the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. However, cases which fall within paragraph 12(4) will be subject to a high threshold and might not include prosecution in light of public interest.
Looking to grow your channel opportunities? Then be sure to attend Channel Vision Expo (CVx), collocated with ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at Channel Vision Expo. Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Braden Becker