`.—(1) In subsection (1) of section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (offence of sending letters and other articles with intent to cause distress or anxiety)—
(a) in paragraph (a), for ``letter or other article'' there shall be substituted ``letter, electronic communication or article of any description''; and
(b) in paragraph (b), for the word ``other article'' there shall be substituted ``article or electronic communication''.
(2) In subsection (2) of that section (defence of making a threat in the belief that it was a proper way of reinforcing a demand and that there were reasonable grounds for making that demand)—
(a) in paragraph (a), for ``which he believed he had reasonable grounds for making'' there shall be substituted ``made by him on reasonable grounds''; and
(b) in paragraph (b), after ``believed'' there shall be inserted ``, and had reasonable grounds for believing,''.
(3) After that subsection there shall be inserted—
``(2A) In this section `electronic communication' includes—
(a) any oral or other communication by means of a telecommunication system (within the meaning of the Telecommunications Act 1984); and
(b) any communication (however sent) that is in electronic form.
(4) In subsection (3) of that section (definition of ``send'')—
(a) after ``delivering'' there shall be inserted ``or transmitting''; and
(b) for ``or delivered'' there shall be substituted ``, delivered or transmitted''.
(5) In subsection (5) of that section (penalty for offence), for ``a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale'' there shall be substituted ``imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both''.
(6) Subsection (5) does not affect the penalty for an offence committed before the day on which this Act is passed.'.—[Mr. Charles Clarke.]
Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.