Communications Act 2003

Count Dankula was prosecuted under the Communications Act 2003, Section 127, which reads:

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character;

There is no objective definition of “grossly offensive” or “indecent” or “obscene” or “menacing”.

Almost anything you say will be grossly offensive to somebody. For example, any Jew who communicates online will offend Nazis by the fact of his existence. So all Jews are guilty under this act. Everyone who is in favour of people being able to deal with one another by voluntary transactions in capital markets will offend communists. Many left wing people will be offended by anyone criticising the welfare state. Some right wing people may be offended by people advocating the welfare state.

The word “obscene” is in a similar position. What you consider “obscene” depends on your standards. It’s also not clear what “menacing” means. Making threats of physical violence was illegal before this law was passed. So presumably menacing means something else, but this hasn’t been spelled out.

The section continues:

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

(a)sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,

(b)causes such a message to be sent; or

(c)persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

So if you try to annoy or inconvenience anybody using the internet “persistently”, then you’re guilty. People often have misunderstandings about whether an action was intended to be annoying. Also, people go out of their way to pretend not to be annoyed, so it’s often difficult to tell whether you’re annoying somebody.

So it is impossible to tell whether you’re obeying this law. And that means the government can prosecute anyone for anything they say online. I don’t think a mistake like this can be made innocently. Perhaps the government wanted to be able to destroy anybody they like. Or perhaps they are so sloppy that they passed this law without thinking about what it means. In either case, the government that passed this law, and all the governments since then that didn’t repeal it, are evil or negligent or both

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

3 Responses to Communications Act 2003

  1. Click to access OWLRulebook.pdf

    6.3 on page 13 says overwatch league players/managers/owners can’t do anything that brings public disrepute, scandal or ridicule, or shocks or offends a *portion or group* of the public.

    it’s against their rules to shock or offend 2 or more ppl, or to get yourself ridiculed publicly. (how can you know, at the time you take actions, whether they violate these rules? you can’t. and everyone is guilty and they will enforce it selectively.)

  2. Pingback: Contempt of court act 1981 | Conjectures and Refutations

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