Trolls not going away as PM writes to suicide victim’s father
David Cameron has told the father of 14-year-old Hannah Smith, who committed suicide two weeks ago, he is "grateful" for having the issue of online bullying raised once again.
David Smith complained the Conservative party was "doing nothing" on the issue of cyberbullying after his daughter's suicide, which was triggered by trolling posts targeting her on the website Ask.fm.
Staff at the site have insisted the vast bulk of the messages were posted by Hannah herself, but Cameron chose to ignore the controversy in a personal letter to her father.
"I want to reassure you that the government takes this issue very seriously," Cameron wrote.
"There is already legislation in this area.
"Bullies mistakenly believe that because the abuse they inflict is happening online, it is beyond the reach of the law.
"I am very clear that it is not and the police should investigate it as they would any other crime."
Ask.fm has faced a backlash in the wake of the suicide, with a number of corporate advertisers including Save The Children withdrawing their advertising.
Cameron has called for a boycott of "vile" websites where trolling takes place, but both online businesses and politicians are struggling to control it.
A Facebook tribute page for Hannah had to be shut down after offensive messages were posted on it.
In his letter the prime minister said the government was working with the industry to help parents block unwanted websites in their homes.
Smith told the Mirror newspaper he remained frustrated with the Tory leader's approach, however.
"We need the law to change so sites can't operate if they don't have correct measures in place," he said.
The Liverpool MP told the Commons he wanted to see people using Twitter, Facebook or message boards to harass or intimidate other users to be subject to new laws or an updated Malicious Communications Act.
But existing legislation already bans messages that are "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".