MANILA, Philippines – New Zealand recently passed a law that classifies cyberbullying a crime.
The Harmful Digital Communications Law, enacted on June 30, includes provisions against harming others – in this case causing “serious emotional distress” – online or via messaging services or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Considered illegal activities are racist or sexist remarks, speaking ill of another’s sexual orientation or disabilities, or showing religious intolerance.
How serious is the law? According to the subsection, “Causing Harm by Posting Digital Communication,” a person guilty of the offense in this section can suffer a two-year jail term or a fine of up to $50,000 (US$33,000). Companies doing the same should expect a fine of up to $200,000 (US$134,000).
Inciting someone to commit or attempt to commit suicide, even if that other person does not do so, is now a crime punishable with up to 3 years in jail.
The Next Web also noted that the law, by itself, may also appear to criminalize children.
The government will set up an agency to handle the gargantuan task of policing New Zealand’s Internet users.
Engadget added that publishers like Facebook and Twitter will be able “to sign safe harbor deals with the new agency, as long as they promise to delete allegedly offending messages within 48 hours of discovery.” – Rappler.com
Cyberbullying image by Shutterstock