Campaign groups and experts at Oxford University have criticised the hardline stance against abusive posters on websites like Twitter and Facebook, pointing out that other countries tackle the issue in a less "heavy-handed" fashion.
There have been numerous arrests relating to such offences in the UK. Three weeks ago, a 17-year-old was arrested for an offensive message posted on the Twitter page of Olympic diver Tom Daley. He received a harassment warning and had his computer seized.
Liam Stacey, 21, was sentenced to 56 days in prison for racially abusing former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba on the microblogging site.
In another high-profile case, 28-year-old Paul Chambers was fined £1,000 for posting a "joke" about blowing up an airport in Sheffield. The verdict was later overturned following an appeal and lengthy review.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) stood by Britain's zero tolerance policy against online abuse in a statement issued earlier this month.
"People have a right to publish their views but when these views become indecent, threatening or offensive then the individuals they affect also have the right to report them," the group said. "The police will assist with any prosecution."
Critics of ACPO's stance point out that jokes and sarcasm are often misinterpreted, and freedom of speech could be at risk if the internet continues to be policed so stringently, BBC News reports.