LESS than an hour before the Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah continued his public crusade against cyber trolls yesterday, officials from his club received a phone call from the office of the Prime Minister pledging support for the NRL star.
Farah said he had been ''shocked'' and ''absolutely disgusted'' by a message directed to him via the social networking site Twitter referring to his late mother. But he also said he had been ''overwhelmed'' by the support he had received since. That included an offer from the highest office in the country to meet with the Tigers captain.
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''The Prime Minister's office has been in touch to say they're keen to do whatever they can to help,'' the Wests Tigers chief executive, Stephen Humphreys, said. ''That's a real positive.''
Farah wants the anonymous cyber bully punished for the vile message, which was sent to him on Sunday evening, and said he had spoken to police. But the broader goal for the NSW representative, who is believed to have spoken to other sportsmen about the issue, is for tougher laws to be introduced around abuse from ''cowards'' on social media.
''I'm pretty thick-skinned,'' Farah said. ''It upset me, but there are other people who probably won't handle it too well if it happened to them. It's going to get to a point one day where someone's going to really hurt themselves over some comments that people make, and I'd hate to see that happen. I think something needs to be done now before we go down that path.''
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, yesterday agreed to talk about the issue with her state counterparts after the NSW Premier, Barry O'Farrell, wrote to the acting Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, seeking a review of telecommunications laws.
A spokeswoman for Ms Roxon said this behaviour was ''reprehensible'' and called on Twitter to identify users who broke the law. ''Twitter should reveal the identities of the anonymous trolls who are breaking the law by abusing others online and co-operate with any police investigation to help reveal who these trolls are,'' the spokeswoman said.
''The government is considering what other action, if any, can be taken to improve the law in this area. We will also discuss this matter with state and territory attorneys-general.''
Mr O'Farrell told Mr Swan any loopholes between state and federal legislation should be closed, while the Police Minister, Michael Gallacher, said the state's police needed support from the federal government in making the legislation tougher.
A Twitter user, or troll, found to ''menace, harass or cause offence'' using social media could be jailed for up to three years. Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth), Part 10.6, provides the relevant legislation for the activity by ''trolls''.
A person can be prosecuted for using a ''carriage service'' - a communication device - to pressure someone in a way in that the conduct would be seen by ''reasonable persons'' as being ''menacing, harassing, or offensive''. Twitter could not be contacted for comment.