The Strategist

British police to fight against online trolls

08/16/2016 - 16:02

According to the British press, the Metropolitan Police has established a special unit that will deal with aggressive behavior of users on the Internet and social networks. Police officials said that the unit’s main purpose is to fight against kindling national and religious hatred. However, human rights activists fear that such an initiative could restrict freedom of speech on the Internet.

Terry Waller
Terry Waller
The Daily Mail was first to report that Scotland Yard is going to establish a special unit to combat rousing hatred and aggression on the Internet. The publication referred to relevant documents obtained from unnamed sources. Thereafter, representatives of the Metropolitan Police confirmed discussions of such plans to The Guardian, saying: "The purpose of our service is to fight against all kinds of crimes relating to hate speech, including those that occur on the Internet. Creation of such a unit should give a strong signal to those who use online forums to incite hatred, - these actions will not be tolerated". 
According to British media, establishment of the unit will cost £ 1.7 million. It is reported that the department will employ only a few people who will respond to complaints of users in case of aggression, bullying and other forms of intolerance and incitement on social networks and on the Internet forums. Need to combat such behavior on the internet has been discussed for a while in the UK, particularly against background of frequent cases of threats to members of the Parliament, as well as insults to ordinary users on the basis of their racial, ethnic or religious affiliation. British human rights activists and politicians believe that the fight against such behavior on the Internet should continue since each user has the right to be protected from aggressive behavior. At the same time, they warn that the police activity on the Internet should not in any way infringe upon such basic values as freedom of speech.

"Attacks on the internet are really a serious problem, which is growing every day. However, the police should not turn into the moderators. Such measures, even with good intentions, pose a serious threat to our precious freedom of speech "- said leader of the British Liberal Democratic Party, Tim Farron to The Daily Mail. "There is always a risk of vigilante justice. If someone gets hurt even on the most insignificant occasion, he will immediately rush to complain to the police," - adds Andrew Allison from a libertarian group The Freedom Association.