Home News Harassment: what does the law say?

Harassment: what does the law say?

What is known as cyber-bullying is the result of several legislative developments. Originally, harassment of a person was characterized by "Subject or repeated behavior whose object or effect is a deterioration of his living conditions resulting in an impairment of his physical or mental health". Subsequently, the law of August 2014, in its article 41, refers to the acts committed "Through the use of an online public communication service" : Internet.

Nevertheless, only acts repeated by an individual could fall under the law. It is the desire to get around this difficulty and fight against "Digital raids" which presided over another evolution of the law. The law of 3 August 2018 provides that an offense is now constituted "Where such words or conduct are imposed on the same victim by several persons, in concert or at the instigation of one of them, even though each of them has not acted repeatedly". In other words: a single message in a mass operation against a person can serve as a basis for a criminal sanction. The text states that this also applies in "The absence of consultation" when the authors "Know that these words or behaviors characterize a repetition". Participants in a cyber-harassment act are punishable by up to three years' imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros. In the case of the "LOL League", according to the testimony, other offenses could possibly be established such as insults, threats, defamation or identity theft. Among the political figures who reacted, the MEP LREM Laetitia Avia denounced Monday on Twitter: "Anonymity on social networks encourages a feeling of impunity for those who allow themselves to harass, humiliate and insult. The law against hatred on the Internet will better lift this anonymity when these crimes are committed. " Recently, Emmanuel Macron himself has pleaded several times "For a gradual lifting of all forms of anonymity" on the Web. Nevertheless, the question should not pose a problem here: many members of the "League of LOL" spoke under their names. As for the others, the legal arsenal already makes it possible to unmask them. The 2004 law for confidence in the digital economy provides that the judicial authority may require hosts or ISPs to reveal the identity of an anonymous account as part of a procedure.

The main pitfall that may arise in the face of those who decide to complain is rather that of prescription. According to the testimonies that poured on the social networks, the last facts imputed to the members of this "league" would go back to 2012. They thus fall under the prescription, which is six years in tort. "Nothing prevents us from studying the lengthening of the limitation periods, we have just lengthened by ten years for rapes against minors. I will approach the subject with Nicole Belloubet, Immediately tweeted the Secretary of State Marlene Schiappa, prompt to consider rewriting the Code of Criminal Procedure after each media brief. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that these deadlines have already been stretched in 2017: they have gone from three to six years for offenses, and ten to twenty years for crimes. Moreover at this stage, it is impossible to know if other non-prescribed facts because later will not emerge.

Julie Brafman

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