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Partner Alexandra Whiston-Dew on Good Morning Britain

Posted on 24 June 2021

Alexandra Whiston Dew

Partner Alexandra Whiston-Dew spoke with Good Morning Britain about a case in which a man had shared a video mocking TV personality Katie Price and her son Harvey.

Saying he had shared the video as 'a joke', the man was found not guilty of sending by public communication network an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message.

Commenting on the issue, Alexandra said:

"The law is trying to catch up with what's happening online. At the moment, there is a patchwork of different legal frameworks to try and deal with this kind of conduct from a civil and criminal perspective.

The Malicious Communications Act has high thresholds which need to be achieved in order for the court to make a decision that someone is guilty. In this case, [for the communication to be considered] grossly offensive, indecent or obscene and there has to be intention behind the publication to cause offence.

It was reported that the content was seen as a joke and that he found it 'mildly amusing'. The court's point of view was that this was not sufficient to breach that threshold."

To address the gaps in the current legal frameworks, the Government published the draft Online Safety Bill in May 2021. The current draft Bill imposes duties of care on user-to-user and search services with links to the UK. Such service providers will have to remove illegal content and some services will have an additional duty to remove "harmful" content. This will go towards meeting the public's expectation of what should be done about harmful content online but will require significant investment by those service providers caught by the Bill to fulfil their new duties.

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