Internet troll convictions on the rise (VIDEO)
According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), there were 1,209 cases of internet trolls found guilty under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 last year, compared with just 143 in 2004.
Section 27, relatively unused until recently, has been deployed to prosecute people sending “grossly offensive” messages “of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, by means of a public electronic communications network.”
It can also be used to charge people sending messages via telephone or email.
The MoJ figures show that as well as prosecuting over 1,000 online trolls, a further 685 were cautioned under the act.
Trolls have also been prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act, which prohibits sending threatening messages via letter, email or within articles.
The statistics showed that 694 individuals were charged with offences under the act – almost 10 times as many as were found guilty in 2004.
Political analyst Richard Soencer told RT the government could use the anti-troll law for its own means.
He said it was "very difficult" to draw the line between hate-speech and trolling, adding that the government could find people preaching sentiment that it "doesn't like" and subsequently use the laws to silence them.
Vocal women, particularly advocates of feminism, have found themselves bearing the brunt of online abuse for airing their views.
A number of high-profile cases have seen anti-feminist trolls charged over the past year, including Isabella Sorley, 23, and John Nimmo, 25, who were found guilty of targeting Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned for novelist Jane Austen to appear on the £10 note.
Sorley told the campaigner to “go kill yourself,” adding that “rape was the last of your worries” and called her a “worthless piece of crap.”
Nimmo told Criado-Perez to “shut up b*tch,” adding “ya not that gd [good] looking to rape u be fine.”
They were sentenced to 12 weeks and eight weeks respectively.