'Drunk' Twitter users to avoid criminal prosecution under new guidelines in UK

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 20, 2012 07:30 hrs

People in Britain, who post offensive messages on websites such as Twitter and Facebook while drunk, are unlikely to face criminal prosecution, a UK official has said.

The director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer said he was concerned that prosecuting people for writing "offensive, shocking or disturbing" messages would have a "chilling effect" on free speech.

According to the Telegraph, he urged social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to support the guidelines and encouraged them to take "swift and effective" action to remove offensive posts from the Internet.

But he also said that prosecutors should still take "robust" action if people threatened violence, harassed individuals or breached court orders.

According to the paper, under the new guidelines, prosecutors must demonstrate that messages on the Internet are "grossly offensive", that prosecution in the public interest and that they have caused the victim "distress or anxiety".

Prosecution is likely to be unnecessary if the offending message is removed, by either the individual or service provider, and if it was not intended for a wider audience, the paper added. (ANI)

More from Sify: