Malicious Communications Act 1988

Are you up to speed with the law covering trolling and posting online attacks?  

Malicious Communications Act 1988  makes it illegal in England and Wales to "send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety".

This also applies to electronic communications, including Twitter, meaning that internet trolls can be arrested and charged.

Penalties the courts can hand down under the Malicious Communications Act are:

  • Prison for six months or
  • A fine of up to £5,000

Specifically, the Act "deals with the sending to another of any article which is indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient".

The more severe the message,  the more serious the charge can be - for example, threats to kill.

And the message doesn't have to reach the recipient to be an offence. 

Read the act in full or see more on the Crown Prosecution Website.

Last updated: almost 5 years ago