Cyberbullying now a crime in New Zealand

Victor Barreiro Jr.
Cyberbullying now a crime in New Zealand
The Harmful Digital Communications Law includes provisions against harming others – in this case causing 'serious emotional distress' – online or via messaging services or social networks

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

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.