Malicious Communications Act 1988

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Malicious Communications Act
Long title An Act to make provision for the punishment of persons who send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety.
Chapter 1988 c.37
Territorial extent England, Wales, Northern Ireland (Section 2 only.)
Dates
Royal Assent 29 July 1988
Status: Unknown
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Malicious Communications Act 1988 (MCA) is a British Act of Parliament that makes it illegal in England and Wales to "send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety". It also applies to electronic communications.

Scope of application[edit]

The original purpose of the MCA was to prevent the sending of printed matter, but the scope of the act has been extended to cover electronic communications.[1] The MCA can be used to charge people for comments made via social networking sites that are “racially motivated” or "religiously motivated."[2] Since the introduction of Facebook, the MCA has been regularly used to penalise many people for 18 weeks in prison.[3]

Criticisms[edit]

The MCA has been criticized for its misuse as a means to censor free speech. In 2012 an individual was arrested under the Act for saying that Olympic diver Ton Daley let his late father down by not winning at medal at the London Olympics.[4]

Highlighted cases[edit]

The MCA was successfully used against Internet troll Sean Duffy who harassed Natasha MacBryde and her family after her death.[5] In the case of DPP v Connolly, the MCA was used to prosecute an anti-abortion campaigner who sent obscene images of fetuses to pharmacists who sold the contraceptive pill.[6][7][8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bishop, J. (2013). The art of trolling law enforcement: a review and model for implementing ‘flame trolling'legislation enacted in Great Britain (1981–2012). International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 27(3), 301-318.
  2. ^ Awan, I. (2014). Islamophobia and Twitter: A Typology of Online Hate Against Muslims on Social Media. Policy & Internet, 6(2), 133-150.
  3. ^ Bishop, J. (2012, July). Tackling Internet abuse in Great Britain: Towards a framework for classifying severities of ‘flame trolling’. In The 11th International Conference on Security and Management (SAM’12) (pp. 16-19).
  4. ^ Gillespie, A. A. (2012). Twitter, Jokes and the Law. The Journal of Criminal Law, 76(5), 364-369.
  5. ^ Bishop, J. (2012). Scope and limitations in the government of wales act 2006 for tackling internet abuses in the form of ‘flame trolling’. Statute Law Review, 33(2), 207-216.
  6. ^ Keane, M., & Long, J. (2011). Health and homelessness: the Simon snapshot study. Drugnet Ireland, 9-10.
  7. ^ Bishop, J. (2013). The effect of de-individuation of the Internet Troller on Criminal Procedure implementation: An interview with a Hater. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 7(1).
  8. ^ Heffernan, L. (2011). Police accountability and the Irish law of evidence. Crime, law and social change, 55(2-3), 185-197.

External links[edit]