The government wants the definition of a public area to also include the internet, so that people who publish statements of hate online can receive stricter sentences.
Public threats or statements that vilify a group or person based on things like ethnicity, religion, gender or religion are prohibited in Norway, and people can be charged and sentenced. If you publish the same statements on Facebook, however, the situation is very different.
In August this year, the Norwegian Supreme Court concluded that the internet is not a public area. Statements that had been published in e.g. newspapers, would therefore not be treated in the same way if they had been published on a blog.
The Ministry of Justice wants to to change the law, and make it possible to punish people who publish hate speech, regardless of what kind of medium has been used.
The ministry submitted a proposal Thursday where they suggest that the the definition of public space and public action should be changed, which would entail a revision of the criminal code from 1902.
The government already approved a new criminal code in 2005, where the definition of printed text was decided to also include the internet. However, this law has not been put into effect yet.
According to Pål Lønseth of the Labor Party, the delay is due to the fact that present computer systems in the police districts are not able to handle both the old criminal code and the new one in a transition period.