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Title: Posting anti-vaccine propaganda on social media could become criminal offence, Law Commissioner says
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URL Source: ... l-media-could-become-criminal/
Published: May 12, 2020
Author: Mike Wright
Post Date: 2020-05-12 21:48:57 by Anthem
Keywords: None
Views: 162
Comments: 3

New Law Commissioner Penney Lewis is leading wide-ranging review into whether UK's offence and abuse laws are fit for the Social Media age

Posting anti-vaccine propaganda on social media could become a criminal offence - even if those promoting it believe the pseudoscience, the UK’s new criminal Law Commissioner has said.

In her first interview since taking up the role, Penney Lewis, revealed she is considering whether laws should be amended to “lower the threshold” of criminality for posting false information online that endangers lives.

It comes as the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in September he was “looking very seriously” at making vaccinations compulsory for state school pupils after the UK lost its official measles-free country status due to a steady fall in MMR immunisation rates.

Currently, people are protected from prosecution if they sincerely believe the misinformation they publish under laws designed more to tackle bomb hoaxes than internet health conspiracies.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, Prof. Lewis said current legislation also meant people only faced prosecution for publishing information with the purpose of causing “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety”.

However, she cited anti-vaccination posts and people advocating cancer patients treat themselves with the apricot extract laetrile instead of chemotherapy as areas where lives could be endangered.

The former King’s College professor said: “If their purpose is actually not to [cause annoyance or anxiety], but they think they are doing the right thing by posting false information about a vaccine, for example, it is then should there be a recklessness-based fault element or even a lower (criminal) threshold? Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is looking at bring in mandatory vaccinations to combat Britain's falling immunisation rates Credit: AFP

“So where they’ve really not done their homework and they’ve been negligent in the way they have spread this false information or disseminated it.”

“I think we need to look into whether there is a role (for criminal law) in relation to false health information.”

However, Prof Lewis said that criminalisation would be “difficult to justify” in cases where no malicious intent could be proved.

Prof. Lewis became one of the Law Commission’s five commissioners last month, and will lead its work drawing up reforms to modernise swathes of the UK's criminal law over her five-year term, starting a wide-ranging review of how Britain’s communications laws function in the social media age.

To date, over two thirds of the independent statutory body's recommendations for Government to amend or pass new legislation have been implemented wholly or in part.

As part of the review, Prof Lewis said the commission would be considering whether “glorification” of self-harm online should also be made a criminal offence.

The Law Commission is set to release its proposals on modernising communication laws for public consultation later this year. Prof. Lewis will then draw up recommendations, which will be signed off by four other law commissioners, before going to the Government.

The 52-year-old comes to the task with a wealth of experience dealing with contentious legal cases in three different countries, with most of her work to date focusing on historic child sex abuse prosecutions and the medical ethics around assisted dying.

Born and raised in Wembley, north London, Prof. Lewis moved to Canada aged 11 with her family before going on to study maths at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It was an optional ‘introduction to the law’ module that ignited her interest in free speech issues and she then went on to study law as a post-grad in Canada. She later qualified as a barrister and clerked for Mr Justice Iacobucci on the Commonwealth country’s Supreme Court, before returning to the UK and taking a position at King's College London in 1995.

Prof. Lewis said her involvement with emotive issues such as euthanasia meant she keeps a low profile on social media herself, partly due to already receiving correspondence in her email inbox that she “doesn’t want to read”. However, she said she is also keenly aware of the way the disproportionate abuse women face online is hounding them off social media and silencing them.

She said: “If victims are effectively forced offline by the behaviour of potential defendants, then their freedom of expression is being limited in a way that we should worry about.”

One model the new law commissioner is looking at for modernising the UK’s laws is New Zealand’s approach of criminalising online messages based on the harm they cause, with harm largely defined as emotional distress.

She highlighted UK law around battery as a comparative model, whereby any unlawful physical contact is classed as assault but then penalties increase with the severity of actual or grievous bodily harm.

Yet she warned such a system for social media abuse would have to be linked to defined criminal actions so that lawful behavior was not inadvertently criminalised by accusations of harm or offence.

“I would slightly worry that [behaviour] that may not be illegal then becomes illegal because the victim was harmed,” said Prof. Lewis.

Poster Comment:

Remember when Jews were loudly for free speech when it was obscene language, pornography, and religious blasphemy? Dump her head-down in a bucket of piss and call it art.(1 image)

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#1. To: Anthem (#0)

That pic says it all.

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.” ~ H. L. Mencken

Lod  posted on  2020-05-12   23:27:29 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Anthem (#0)

Stupidity. School marm annoying stupidity. When did Britons become so titty-baby stupid that they cannot be trusted to form their own opinions?

"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men." -- Samuel Adams (1722-1803)‡

"Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." -- Thomas Jefferson

ghostdogtxn  posted on  2020-05-13   14:11:59 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: ghostdogtxn (#2)

When did Britons become so titty-baby stupid

Most of the human population could be classified as stupid. If not for the top 5% or so IQ's, humanity would still be living in caves and eating raw meat.

It's not about stupid people needing protection, it's about controlling the narrative to prevent smart people from exposing the scams used to enslave them as well as the semi-smart people who might not go along if they knew enough other people weren't.

Freedom is a social skill.

Anthem  posted on  2020-05-13   16:15:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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