UK Twitter users warned

2012-05-12 08:17

London - The Internet is not a law-free zone, the British government's top law officer warned Twitter users on Friday, adding that he would not hesitate to take action over offending posts.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve, the government's chief legal advisor in England and Wales, spoke out following a series of high-profile court cases involving postings made on the micro-blogging site.

"If somebody goes down to the pub with printed sheets of paper and hands it out, that's no different than if somebody goes and does a tweet," Grieve told BBC radio.

"The idea that you have immunity because you're an anonymous tweeter is a big mistake.

"I don't want to take action but if I think it is necessary to prevent crime, such as racially aggravated harassment, then I won't hesitate to do it."

A student who mocked English Premier League footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter after he collapsed on the pitch with a heart attack in March was jailed for 56 days after admitting a racially aggravated public order offence.

Some 17 arrests have been made in connection with the alleged naming on Twitter of the woman that Wales footballer Ched Evans was last month convicted of raping.

In March, former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns won a libel action against ex-Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi in the first libel action heard in England against a post on Twitter.

Judge David Bean dismissed match-fixing allegations levelled against the cricketer, leaving Modi facing a bill of more than $800 000.

Grieve said the government did not need to create new laws as existing ones already make it illegal to "grossly offend" or "cause distress".

  • david.lebethe - 2012-05-12 09:33

    So I can also take action against people who usually post racists comments on this media in the future?

      Sematla - 2012-05-12 12:04

      We won't have any farmers roaming around to be hunted if we attend to your question,Dave.

      Gieljam - 2012-05-12 19:12

      The courts are already full and the majority being the biggest racists how are they going to cope?

      Gieljam - 2012-05-12 19:18

      There is a fine line between being being a racist and realists and it is usually not realized by the unwilling or ill informed . The truth is most instances always seen as racist when it comes from the minority yet when it comes from the majority its seen as strange , odd and negligible or crime driven.

  • LongSword - 2012-05-12 10:46

    Another form of attempted-control, this will fail

      david.lebethe - 2012-05-12 11:18

      There must be control even in democracy. Isn't what are laws/rules for?

      Christopher - 2012-05-12 12:43

      Laws/Rules...what is that? South Africa is lawless and very much undemocratic. This government steals our money and are rewarded with higher positions in government. The democratic process is non existant, as we have BEE BEE EE BBEEE, fukc and to steal more money from the tax man they just add more EEE's on the B's. So after a while we wont have any politicians roaming around to be hunted Sematla.

      Gideon - 2012-05-13 08:30

      This isn't about the rule of law, this is about control. Who determines what is "Grossly Offensive" or not? How far are you willing to go to be offended?

  • George - 2012-05-12 17:10

    Mother of democracy gone starking mad. Pity to see the sun set on the empire. The Queen must be in anguish.

      shooshyu.tu - 2012-05-12 21:17

      @George. No, she is still in England.

  • tom.s.rand - 2012-05-13 08:56


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