Closed petition Repeal Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and expunge all convictions

Repeal Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 and expunge all convictions of those whom have been prosecuted under this section of the law. As well as acknowledge that the UK internet also shares our respect for peoples freedoms of speech and expression.

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Over the last decade, people have been convicted [with record] under the pretents of personally/potentially "grossly offensive" matterial (of which no definition is given) over jokes and petty arguements on the internet via social media and other platforms. It is because of the increase of these cases that a growing number of people are concerned for their own online safety and the devistating real world ramifications under this section of law, that this petition has been created and signed

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 May 2021

We are committed to making the UK the safest place to be online while upholding rights to freedom of expression. The Law Commission is currently reviewing harmful and abusive communications online.

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The Government recognises the importance of free speech, particularly in the context of online communications.

Current UK legislation protects the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, this right is qualified and may be restricted in some circumstances, including where there may be a serious intent to cause harm or incite hatred against others.

We are committed to ensuring the criminal law keeps pace with changes in technology, while also taking into account harmful communications online. Against this background, the Government has asked the Law Commission to review existing laws related to harmful and abusive communications online. This review is considering sections 127(1) and 127(2) of the Communications Act 2003 and section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988, determining whether these laws need amending and updating with new offences to account for a range of harms online including pile-on abuse, cyberflashing and self-harm.

Existing communications offences are important for protecting people from criminal activity, including online. However, we recognise that some elements pose problems, including vagueness in terms such as “grossly offensive, “obscene” and “indecent”, which the Law Commission highlights in their consultation paper. The Law Commission’s proposals are therefore an important step towards addressing such limitations.

The Law Commission has now consulted on provisional proposals for reform. They will publish final recommendations by the summer, which the Government will carefully consider. Subject to final proposals, the Government may be minded to take these forward into legislation, where necessary and appropriate to do so. When considering potential reforms, we will guarantee strong protections for citizens from harm while upholding the right to freedom of expression.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport