Collins calls time on cyber bulliesJustice
Justice Minister Judith Collins says the introduction of a new Bill to Parliament today aims to stop cyber bullies in their tracks.
“No longer is bullying confined to the classroom or playground – the digital age has meant tormenters can harass their target anywhere, at any time and the trails of abuse remain in cyberspace forever,” Ms Collins says.
“The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online – time’s up.”
Research shows one in five New Zealand high school students has experienced some sort of cyber bullying or harassment.
“Cyber bullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, particularly young people. This Bill will protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.”
Proposals in the Bill include:
- Creating a new civil enforcement regime that includes setting up or appointing an approved agency as the first port of call for complaints.
- Allowing people to take serious complaints to the District Court, which will be able to issue remedies such as take-down orders and cease-and-desist notices.
- Providing a legislative mechanism for people to easily and quickly request the removal of harmful content from websites, which also clarifies the law relating to website hosts (called a “safe harbour” provision).
- Making it an offence to send messages and post material online with intent to cause harm, punishable by up to three months imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.
- Creating a new offence of incitement to commit suicide, even in situations when a person does not attempt to take their own life, punishable by up to three years imprisonment.
The Bill includes changes to relevant criminal and civil law to ensure they cover all forms of harmful communications, regardless of whether tormentors use “online” or “offline” means. It also future-proofs the laws against technological advances, to ensure they remain relevant.