False communication offence risks unintended damage to freedom of expression

4 February 2022 | Team Full Fact

The government confirmed today (4 Feb) that it accepts the Law Commission's recommendations on a false communications offence. 

Full Fact is concerned about the Law Commission’s proposed new anti-harassment offence of sending knowingly false communications which intentionally cause non-trivial emotional, psychological, or physical harm.

The false communications offence may work in specific cases of harassment but we cannot see how this vague definition can work at internet scale. Such a definition risks encouraging inappropriate takedowns of content.

We await further details about the new offence, and how the government plans to integrate it with others into the online safety regime through the Online Safety Bill. We continue to urge careful consideration by the Government to avoid unintended consequences damaging to freedom of expression around any new false communication measures.

Read more: Full Fact's evidence to the Law Commission consultation on proposed changes to communication offences.

To arrange an interview or for further comment please contact Full Fact's press team on +44 7950 114013 / press@fullfact.org

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