Stamping out cyber bullyingBy Hekia Parata, MP Minister of Education
Bullying is no longer confined to the classroom or playground – the digital age has meant tormenters can now harass their target anywhere, at any time, with the trails of abuse remaining in cyberspace forever. It’s not okay.
The Law Commission found that one in ten New Zealanders have experienced harmful communications on the internet. Of the most concern is that this statistic becomes higher as the age of the individual gets lower. It’s not okay.
The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online – time’s up and we won’t stand for it any longer.
There are 17 schools in the Kapiti Coast District. This change in law is to protect children at these schools and nationwide.
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 to enable the issuing of 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.
Cyber bullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, particularly young people. This Bill will protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.
For more information on anything in this column please visit my website www.hekiaparata.co.nz. Alternatively, you can add me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/hekia.parata or sign up for my monthly e-panui by sending an e-mail to email@example.com