Croydon South’s MP Chris Philp has successfully managed to get an American-based internet giant to release information which could prove vitally important in a police investigation into “sick” harassment and threats made online against the family of a teenaged murder victim.
Conservative MP Philp was acting on behalf of the family of Breck Bednar, a local 14-year-old boy who was groomed online before being assaulted and murdered in 2014. Lewis Daynes was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2015.
Since the conviction, Bednar’s family, including Breck’s 17-year-old sister, had been receiving messages via Snapchat claiming to be from the convicted murderer.
The messages included violent and sexual details of Breck’s murder, as well as threats to desecrate his grave.
Snapchat refused to provide the police with information to confirm the identity of the person harassing the family, claiming that they were restricted due to American data protection laws.
Philp raised the case at Prime Minster’s Questions, and called for new powers for the police if necessary. He also took Breck’s parents Barry and Lorin to meet the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to raise the issue.
Javid’s intervention with the US Department of Justice has managed to show that Snapchat’s claims that they were unable to co-operate with British police were untrue, and Snapchat has been made to provide the information about who sent the messages, and from which device.
“If this works, it will provide a powerful precedent that will enable UK police to gather evidence from US social media firms much more easily in the future,” Philp said.
“I will keep pressing.”
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