Katie Price backed by MPs over internet trolling campaign
Katie Price received the backing of MPs Stella Creasy and John Whittingdale as she spoke about her government campaign to take action against internet trolls.
The reality TV star will give evidence to the Commons Petitions Committee on Tuesday about her call to make online abuse a specific criminal offence and to create a register of offenders.
Her 15-year-old son Harvey – who is partially blind, autistic and has Prader-Willi syndrome – was targeted on Twitter last year by an unnamed 19-year-old who received a caution from Sussex Police.
The MPs launched an inquiry into online abuse after a petition Price launched “brought to Parliament an issue that has not been widely discussed”.
Price told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “Harvey was getting racial abuse, they were mocking him, doing sex videos on him, putting him in t-shirts, and he’s got complex special needs – I’ve got five children but they always pick on him.
“I got two people arrested, (the police) seized all their computers, they seized everything, took them quite far, but then it got to the point where they can’t charge them with nothing because there’s nothing in place for it.”
She said she wants to introduce legislation called Harvey’s Law, and criticised a lack of social media security over protecting people from such abuse.
Labour MP Ms Creasy said: “What happened to Katie’s son is horrific and completely unacceptable.
“My frustration as somebody who has always experienced this is all too often it seems an issue about malicious communications, actually there is legislation around harassment.
“The police and the CPS need to be much better at using the harassment legislation and put the victim at the centre of it.”
She said that she is concerned the authorities “see this as about the language used rather than the targeting of somebody” and added: “It’s that legislation that Katie needs.”
Conservative former minister Mr Whittingdale said: “I do think this is something we need to look at.
“When I was chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, we looked at the growth of the internet and the challenges it had brought.”
He supported Price’s campaign and said that existing laws “need to be amended or brought up to date” to take into account the development of online media.
Former glamour model Price also took aim at Channel 4 during her appearance on the politics programme.
She said: “Channel 4, I have to say, were promoting the Paralympics but at the same time had a comedian called Frankie Boyle, who basically said a horrific thing about my son.”
She said the channel “never apologised”, and asked “why should these people to get away with it?”.
“If I said something on the street about someone, you’d get arrested or whatever, but why is it online it doesn’t seem strong enough?
“If you go to buy a car, you need to give your address, you need to have some kind of security, and they need to do that online.”
The Petitions Committee will look at the impact of online abuse – particularly on people with disabilities – responsibility for protection, whether technology companies are doing enough, whether the law needs to be changed, how to define online abuse and what support is given to victims.