Law commission

Government’s Interim Response to the Law Commission’s Report on Modernizing Communications Offenses

Chris Philp, MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of

State of Tech and Digital

Economy

4th floor

100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

Professor Penney Lewis

Law Commission

Dear Professor Lewis,

I am writing to provide the government’s interim response to the Law Commission’s report entitled “Modernising Communications Offences”, published in July 2021.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the work the Commission has done on this review over the past four years. I welcome the Commission’s detailed report recommending the creation of seven new or replacement offenses to tackle harmful online communications.

I am pleased to say that the government accepts the recommended harm communication offence, the false communication offense and the threat to communicate offense as set out in the report. These new offenses will help ensure that the criminal law focuses on the most harmful behavior while protecting freedom of expression. They will also help achieve the government’s goal of making the UK the safest place to be online. Breaches will be enshrined in law through the Online Safety Bill which we are committed to bringing to Parliament as soon as possible.

In addition, as the Prime Minister has indicated, we welcome the recommended cyberflash offense and are considering it carefully.

The report recommends three other offences. The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and the Department of Justice are carefully reviewing the remaining offenses and accompanying recommendations, including the offense of fraudulent calls, an offense of inducing or assisting in self-harm and a trolling epilepsy offence. We will continue to assess these violations before providing you with a more complete response in due course.

I would like once again to congratulate you on your report.

Best wishes,

Chris Philp, MP
Minister of Technology and Digital Economy