Police Scotland has come under fire on social media after posting a message threatening to hunt down anonymous Twitter users in the wake of the ‘Nazi Pug’ controversy.
“You may think online you are anonymous, you can create fake profiles and no-one can trace you. That’s wrong!” the force tweeted, not without an apparent dose of menace.
“The messages you type and send can be traced back to you. The same laws apply to online messages, images and videos. What you post now can affect you later in life.”
The terse warning was posted after police and prosecutors received heavy criticism for pursuing YouTube comic Mark Meechan — better known as Count Dankula — through the courts for a comedy skit deemed “grossly offensive”.
Causing “gross offence” is a crime under Tony Blair’s 2003 Communications Act — the right to Freedom of Expression in Europe being largely nominal and subject to a very wide range of caveats.
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) March 21, 2018
But the message simply triggered an even more furious backlash against the Scottish police force, with a deluge of almost 7,000 almost universally negative replies pouring in.
“Police have lost all respect. I’ve been burgled once, had four cars stolen, police did nothing other than issue a crime number,” wrote one user. “Police do nothing regarding FGM & have actively covered up grooming gangs.”
“Sex-related crimes in Scotland are at their highest since 1971, I thought you might be trying to deal with that rather than worrying about online feelings, but you do you,” observed another sarcastically.
“Feels nice living in a country where I can say, ‘Fuck you, you Orwellian douchebags,’ without getting fined or arrested,” chimed in a user from the United States, where the First Amendment prevents the authorities from imposing many restrictions on free speech.
You may think online you are anonymous, you can create fake profiles and
no-one can trace you. That’s wrong! The messages you type and send can be traced back to you.
The same laws apply to online messages, images and videos. What you post now can affect you later in life.
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) March 21, 2018
Comparisons between Police Scotland and Hitler’s Gestapo, the East German Stasi, and the infamous ‘Thought Police’ of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four were a common theme throughout the thread, as were suggestions that British police forces have their priorities badly wrong and are turning the United Kingdom into an international laughing stock.
The enthusiasm of senior police officers for enforcing so-called “hate speech” laws seems unlikely to abate any time soon, however, with thousands of people being arrested under the Communications Act for being “offensive” online in 2016, and the number of arrests in one force area rising by an astonishing 877 per cent.
The agenda is being driven in part by politicians such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who used a recent visit to the U.S. to threaten expanded “hate speech” legislation, and investing almost two million pounds in an “online hate crime hub”.