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This article was published on July 5, 2015


Kiwi cyberbullies face jail as New Zealand criminalizes trolling

Kiwi cyberbullies face jail as New Zealand criminalizes trolling
Amanda Connolly
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Amanda Connolly

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Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and ed Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and editorial at the Web Summit. She’s interested in all things tech, with a particular fondness for lifestyle and creative tech and the spaces where these intersect. Twitter

New Zealand’s government has passed the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, which declares that cyberbullying is a criminal offence.

Anyone using digital communications like Facebook, Twitter or even WhatsApp in a way that causes “serious emotional distress” is considered to be breaking the law and could face a number of punishments.

Posts that are deemed to be racist, sexist, speaking badly of someone’s sexual orientation or a disability, or showing religious intolerance are all covered by the bill.

Ramifications of committing the newly-declared crimes include mediation, fines of up to $33,900 (US) or even a jail sentence for individuals. If business are found guilty of infringing, fines of up to $134,000 (US) can be imposed.

It has also been made an offence to incite suicide in any way, and doing so could land you with a three-year jail 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.

Companies like Facebook and Twitter can make safe harbor deals on the basis of committing to delete offending posts within 48 hours, something both companies have struggled with in the past.

Harmful Digital Communications Bill [via Engadget]

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