New Zealand criminalizes cyberbullying through new law

By Scorpus
Jul 6, 2015
Post New Reply
  1. New Zealand's government has decided to take a strong stance against online trolls and bullies, passing the Harmful Digital Communications Bill that gives authorities the right to fine or even imprison people who have posted harmful content online.

    The bill labels a wide range of language as harmful, including anything that's "threatening, intimidating, or menacing", "indecent or obscene", or intolerant of a person's race, religion, gender, sexuality, or disability. The bill also criminalizes online communications that are seen as harassment or encouraging another to commit suicide.

    Once an online message is deemed by an "Approved Agency" to be harmful, the Agency will work with online services including Google, Twitter and Facebook to remove the offending content, either by asking the author to remove it or by getting the company to remove the material themselves.

    The bill includes a range of punishments for posting harmful material online. Individuals may be fined up to NZ$50,000 (US$33,000) for breaching the law, while companies face fines of up to NZ$200,000 (US$134,000). In some circumstances offenders will be jailed up to two years, or up to three years if the offender has encouraged suicide.

    Although there will be a very high threshold for criminal prosecutions, according to Justice Minister Amy Adams, the bill has been labeled as controversial by many. Opponents to the law have warned that the way the bill classifies digital communications as harmful is quite vague, and could be used to limit free speech.

    Flag image courtesy of Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    Ahh, someone can't handle the truth/lies being told!

    This is what happens when people believe what they hear, without knowing the accused. If you don't know the accused, keep an open mind. There is no telling what is being told or how true it is. And no amount of laws will correct this phenomenon.
  3. treeski

    treeski TS Evangelist Posts: 954   +193

    A slippery slope...
  4. Too many people in front of screens ... the internet is a piece of crap I get that, if only people had of left it alone, and filled it with porn, but no, businesses wanted to make use of it, schools, etc. Every adult wanted it. Now all the kids are babysat by it... and kids... parented by google, are *****s, and say mean things on n offline... but saying stuff online is easier to do, and so this crap comes along where law gets involved...

    Why ?

    Addiction. The retard child thinks its new parent is google / internet and can not be apart from it anymore, so they can not turn off their pc / tablet / phone / social bullsh1t sites....

    I have no sympathy.
  5. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,079   +331

    Sadly this is how police nanny states work.

    Instead of making your children grow some balls to the reality of what the real world is like, some people just aren't going to like you and vice versa you won't get along with everyone. You need some thick skin to survive in this world.

    All these modern conveniences and everyone has forgot one of the universal laws of nature which we as humans are not above.

    The strong survive and the weak die!
  6. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +70

    It's time for people to realize that "online" and "real life" aren't separate anymore. If someone is being ridiculed and even threatened before all their friends, it's a serious matter whether it's on facebook or at school. The effect it has on the victim is exactly the same, so why should the laws be different?

    Imagine if your neighbor started some **** that turned your entire town (or local community) against you, and then random people just piled on simply because they think it's fun being on the winning team. In "real life" there are laws that keep such behavior in check, making people think twice before going all out. Add to that, people are infinitely less likely to behave so badly in a face to face situation.

    Just knowing there are actual laws against it will deter most people from engaging in cyber-bullying. After all, what you say is there to stay. You might just behave a little better in real life as well if you knew your every word was being recorded/stored and could be used against you in a court of law, no?

    I think this is a step in the right direction, but the punishment needs to fit the crime. That's usually where all fails regarding "cyber-crimes." Real prison time for cyber-bullying sounds extreme, but then again... there are extreme situations. I'd think fines would be more than enough to deter people in most cases.
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,372   +2,164

    That's all fine and well until the legal bar of harassment is lowered to current social justice standards, and people start getting fines for little more than "muh feelzzz."

    Was bullied as a kid by "friendlies," out of the blue. Didn't understand it, didn't like it. My mother gave me the feels speech, my father told me to toughen up. Guess which approach solved the problem.

    If I know my speech is being monitored, I'll make extra sure whoever's listening -- and whoever supports the surveillance -- knows exactly what I think, and I won't be "micro aggressive" about it either.

    Except it isn't. A step in the right direction is teaching people how to deal with bullies and preventing them from being exposed to hazardous environments, if they lack the psychological fortitude to brush off a jackwagon. Adopting legal policies that open the door for even greater abuse is knee-jerk and naive.
  8. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +70

    In a perfect world, every kid has parents that care about them, teach them how to walk tall and punch back, but this is not a perfect world! Bullying is a serious problem, and it's not going away simply because people like yourself thump your chests and tell everyone to toughen up.

    I've experienced bullying myself, from both sides of the fence. First I got bullied, then I became a bully. Thankfully, all that happened in a world where the internet didn't exist yet. I can only imagine what despicable things I would have done if we had facebook back then.
  9. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,372   +2,164

    It is not the role of the government to play nanny. Problems like cyber bullying will not go away merely because a law is passed criminalizing online *******ery. It will stop a handful of actors, force a change in tactics by most of them, and put everyone who dare commit badthink on the open web in the crosshairs of the law industry.

    New Zealand's approach to addressing cyber bullying is to stop bad guys by carpet bombing the countryside. The principles on which the bill is based (read here cast such a wide net that it is literally a few modifications (to the definitions) shy of criminalizing rudeness.

    Thumping chests doesn't solve problems. Neither does playing Internet hall monitor.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  10. WangDangDoodle

    WangDangDoodle TS Addict Posts: 199   +70

    I do agree with some of your points. I'd probably go to prison based on a random conversation with my friends, if I lived in New Zealand. We don't exactly communicate like normal people, but there's a difference between rudeness and malicious targeted bullying. One makes people frown, the other has kids offing themselves (apparently). The latter should be dealt with.

    All governments do is play nanny, as far as I'm concerned. Cyber-bullying won't go away no matter what, that's the pure and simple truth. I think this law is a step in the right direction, but it is perhaps too big a step, as is typical with all "cyber-crime" related matters. Instead of approaching the situation with a leveled head, it seems more like the beginning of another with hunt, much like the early copyright infringement cases.

Similar Topics

Add New Comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...