In a speech on standards in public life, the Prime Minister today announced a review of the law relating to social media.  She announced that the Law Commission conduct a review of current legislation on offensive online communications to ensure that laws are up to date with technology.

The Government has asked the Law Commission to conduct a review of the current laws around offensive online communications. The Law Commission has said that it will analyse:

  • How the Malicious Communications Act 1988 deals with offensive online communications
  • How the Communications Act 2003 deals with online communications
  • What “grossly offensive” means and whether that poses difficulties in legal certainty
  • Whether the law means you need to prove fault or prove intention to prosecute offensive online communications
  • The need to update definitions in the law which technology has rendered obsolete or confused, such as the meaning of “sender”
  • How other parts of the criminal law overlap with online communications laws

The Prime Minister also announced that the Government will introduce a comprehensive new social media code of practice this year, setting out clearly the minimum expectations on social media companies and an annual internet safety transparency report – providing UK data on offensive online content and what action is being taken to remove it.

This announcement follows last year’s consultation on the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper [pdf].

In a press release the government said that it was outlining the steps to “make the UK the safest place to be online”.