Being online cannot equal being beyond the law, says Long

Naomi Long justice

Anonymous trolls responsible for fake porn videos and online abuse should face the full rigour of the law, Alliance Justice Minister Naomi Long has said.

Hosting a roundtable discussion with political representatives, the Alliance Justice Minister vowed to look again at legislation locally around the use of fake intimate images; and to continue to liaise with Westminster colleagues as they finalise the Online Safety Bill.

Naomi Long said: “During the election campaign, we witnessed some truly shocking examples of abuse online, of intimidation and indeed physical violence against female candidates. This is not acceptable. Not only does it undermine democracy, it also discourages other women from putting themselves forward for public life. That’s why I wanted to drill down into the detail of these issues with fellow politicians today, with a view to looking at what can be done, either through regular policing and legislation locally or through the Online Safety Bill, which is currently going through Westminster.

“While I am broadly supportive of the Westminster legislation, I do feel there is more that can be done, particularly on the issue of anonymity. I respect the fact that there are good reasons why people want to be anonymous online and those reasons can be very valid but where people are abusing that anonymity, we do need to look at the balance between their rights and the rights of those who are using the forum for other communications and are finding themselves driven off it.

“Being online cannot equate to being beyond the law and I will continue to exert my influence to strengthen the regime as the legislation progresses.

“Sadly, during the election campaign, intimidation of female candidates also involved physical attacks and abuse that was perpetuated online in terms of sharing things like fake porn videos. In the last mandate, I introduced new legislation which covers the threat of using intimate images but where, for example, the images are faked, I want to look again to see if there is more we can do locally to bring these issues under the auspices of the law.”