The Government of New Zealand has passed the Harmful Digital Communications Bill that would implement the Government’s decisions on addressing harmful digital communications. The Bill establishes serious penalties against cyberbullying considering it as a serious criminal offense.
The Bill states that any abuse of technological instruments and digital communications in a way that causes “serious emotional distress” is considered to be breaking the law.
Particular attention is reserved for the social media that could be considered a privileged vector of cyberbullying, posts and messages that are deemed to be sexist, racist and that offend any other individual are condemned by the law.
The Bill wants to pursue any illegal behavior through digital communications, including sexual and religious orientation, and disability.
“A person commits an offence who incites, counsels, or procures another person to commit suicide, if that other person does not commit or attempt to commit suicide in consequence of that conduct.” states the Section 179 amended (Aiding and abetting suicide).
The Bill plans to punish offenses by the crimes with penalties up to $33,900 or even a the jail.
“It has also been made an offence to incite suicide in any way, and doing so could land you with a three year jails sentence. The new regime will be handled by an agency that is yet to be formally established by the government in New Zealand. Of course, they will face a backlash of people claiming these laws infringe on their freedom of speech, and interestingly, they also appear to criminalize children.” reported the TheNextWeb.
The Bill also requests a significant effort for companies like Facebook and Twitter to promptly react against any abuse of digital communications. The Process for obtaining protection against liability for specific content requests the deletion of offending posts within 48 hours, something both companies have struggled with in the past.
(Security Affairs – Harmful Digital Communications Bill, law)