Police called to investigate trolls behind Twitter tirade against Charlotte Dawson
POLICE have been called in to investigate the "trolls" behind the Twitter tirade against TV host Charlotte Dawson that led to the celebrity being admitted to hospital yesterday.
With the Federal Coalition calling for tougher laws on online abuse , NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher called for trolls to be "dragged out of their mother's basement and put before a court".
Any trolls caught would be prosecuted under the relevant state legislation.
Dawson's case, which saw more than 100 messages of hate aimed at her after she named a Monash University employee who had told her to "go hang yourself" , has been referred to NSW police by Mr Gallacher.
Mr Gallacher said "even a cursory examination of the comments made to Ms Dawson overnight reveals they are clearly offensive to a reasonable person which is the test for any prosecution under Section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act".
That section punishes use of a "carriage service" to menace, harass or offend with a maximum three-year jail term.
University of Technology Sydney communications law expert Michael Fraser said those who attacked Dawson had committed criminal acts.
"The online world is not above the law," he said.
Still, the Coalition (the Opposition) wants reforms that would better protect people from cyber-bullying and harassment.
The chairman of its online safety working group, Paul Fletcher, said the "online hate campaign" against Dawson was "shocking" and that "no Australian should ever have to go through something like this".
"The Coalition has been consulting extensively on whether changes to laws are required, with a particular focus on cyber bullying in children and young people," he said. "The sad experience of Charlotte Dawson is another indicator of the importance of a close look at the laws in this area."
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy declined to comment.
A spokesman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the trolls' behaviour was reprehensible and had no place in the community.
Many Twitter users set up fake accounts for the purpose of joining the campaign against Dawson.
Her Wikipedia page was edited 44 times yesterday as users with Dawson's best interests at heart fought to remove the cruel and hurtful edits trolls had added to her bio including renaming her as "Charlotte the Harlotte".
Karalee Evans, APAC digital media strategist for creative agency Text 100, said social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook needed to address their operating procedures in dealing with online abuse.