Malicious Communications Act 1988
|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.|
|Territorial extent||England, Wales, Northern Ireland (Section 2 only.)|
|Royal assent||29 July 1988|
Status: Current legislation
|Text of statute as originally enacted|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. Critics claim its passing constituted a severe violation of the ancient English right to free expression.
Scope of application
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. The MCA can be used to charge people for comments made via social networking sites that are “racially motivated” or "religiously motivated."
The MCA has been criticised for its misuse as a means to censor free speech. In 2012 an individual was arrested under the Act for saying that Olympic diver Tom Daley let his late father down by not winning a medal at the London Olympics.
The MCA was successfully used against Internet troll Sean Duffy who harassed the family of Natasha MacBryde after her death. 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.
- Awan, I. (2014). Islamophobia and Twitter: A Typology of Online Hate Against Muslims on Social Media. Policy & Internet, 6(2), 133-150.
- Gillespie, A. A. (2012). Twitter, Jokes and the Law. The Journal of Criminal Law, 76(5), 364-369.
- Keane, M., & Long, J. (2011). Health and homelessness: the Simon snapshot study. Drugnet Ireland, 9-10.
- Heffernan, L. (2011). Police accountability and the Irish law of evidence. Crime, law and social change, 55(2-3), 185-197.
- Full text of Malicious Communications Act 1988 (c. 27) Text of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.
- Man jailed over tsunami e-mails
- Quinn, Ben (11 November 2012). "Kent man arrested after picture of burning poppy posted on internet". The Guardian.
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