Push for internet bullies to be charged
Wed, 15 Aug 2012 6:11a.m.
By Laura McQuillan
Bullies could face charges while schools will be required by law to address bullying issues if the Government adopts new law changes proposed the Law Commission.
Following a review of the laws governing digital communications - including websites, social media, emails and text messages, the commission on Wednesday released a summary of its briefing paper to Justice Minister Judith Collins.
The review was sparked by concerns about the bullying of young people using new communication tools, including schoolyard violence captured on cellphone cameras.
The Law Commission's report, lead by media law expert Professor John Burrows, says unprecedented abuse has accompanied the rise of new technology.
"Citizens, including teenagers and younger, with no specialist expertise or technical assistance can, in effect, cause irreparable harm to one another's reputations and inflict enduring psychological and emotional damage," the report says.
It recommends introducing a new criminal offence targeting digital communications which are "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" and which cause harm.
Offenders as young as 14 could be charged over comments on websites, message boards, blogs, social media, along with emails and texts.
The commission also recommends creating an offence of inciting a person to commit suicide, regardless of whether it results in a death.
Schools should face new legal requirements to combat bullying, while the Ministry of Education should consider collecting data around bullying and using school safety as a performance indicator, the commission says.
Other recommendations include:
* amending existing acts, including the Crimes Act, Privacy Act and Human Rights Act, so they can apply to digital communications and cover behaviours like publishing intimate photos online;
* establishing a Communications Tribunal, headed by a District Court judge, where complainants could seek redress - like takedowns and cease and desist orders - if they had suffered harm from digital communications;
* expanding the role of non-governmental organisation NetSafe to act as a mediator before complaints reach the tribunal.
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22/08/2012 9:07:21 a.m.
I beleive whoever pays the phone/internet bill, should have rights to see exactly whats going on on their network. You need to roll out more free applications like remote pc (it would even be better if the phone company leased a free smartphone with the application to the customer) because not all members of a phone/internet company are aware of what their families are doing on their own network. Spying on what sites they've visited isn't going to help, we need to teach the young ones how to use the internet properly and whats better than their own families seeing what they do. They might think they need their privacy but the internet is no privacy..
19/08/2012 9:42:58 a.m.
There Goes The Standard,
18/08/2012 4:26:05 p.m.
Lots of bullies on the net that should be stopped..Business should be business with excellent customers along with the staffs good attitute to removed the bullies with bad attitues from the scene or follow the bullies footed..
16/08/2012 8:31:38 p.m.
Robert J wrote:
I think bullies should be fined for what they say to other people on chatting sites and the other computer chatting systems!
16/08/2012 9:50:59 a.m.
@WILLS no one forces you to go onto those sites that is your free choice! If you read something you do not like either toughen up or STOP looking? Bullying is not a cyber problem it is people problem. The person(s) have to know you, have met you, interacted with you in REAL life. Face the true source of the problem instead of blaming technology? You only stop bullying by changing the person, you can take all tools off of them but they will just find other ways.
15/08/2012 10:06:44 p.m.
So what we try and stamp out physical bullying but verbal and cyber bullying is ok because its freedom of speech?? What about people's freedom from harassment or judgement? Cyber bullying is probably the worst of its kind nowadays because its anonymous and cowards hide behind the safety of their computers. I never thought I say this but congrats Collins.
15/08/2012 4:44:37 p.m.
Cyber bullying is bad news, especially for teenagers. Teenagers are inherently conservative and see others' comments about themselves differently to adults. They need to be protected from all types of bullying including cyber bullying.They also have to see adults dealing with bullying effectively. I applaud Judith Collins' initiative and I hope she implements other findings by the Law Commission including schools having to face new legal requirements to combat bullying. This is a significant and effective stance by government to curb this appalling problem.
15/08/2012 3:42:12 p.m.
Just name and shame them as we did growing up. Requires schools to have some balls, thats' all. Different technologies, same effect, same end result. Bullies love to be anonymous. Expose them.
15/08/2012 2:04:48 p.m.
We appear to have gone Cyber Silly! This is like throwing a few buckets of water onto a forest fire, looks like the right thing to do and will let off some steam but will do little to address the real problem! We point the finger at technology and try and create all these new laws around it but it is the user of the technology that creates the problem. Unless you address the real core issues you do nothing but create a mass of legislation, paperwork and many other head scratching situations! The only real outcome I see from this is to turn the Police into freedom of speech Bullies! I have no idea how you will control this or even prove it? Also what do you define as "Cyber Bullying". There has always been bullies but you learned to stand up to them. Maybe if someone is so insecure and vulnerable that they should not use such sites? We need to teach and promote tolerance and love, acceptance of others views and opinions but we live in a world full of hate and rage where even governments send troops to other countries to KILL. Violent movies and video games aggression and violence surround us so what do we expect??
15/08/2012 1:37:22 p.m.
While I'm not normally on the side of Crusher Collins, I have to say that in this case it all sounds fairly sensible. As far as I can see it doesn't actually seem to give the state or anybody else power to spy on us or control what we do with our electronic media - it merely gives those who have had unpleasant things happen to them an effective and legal method of redress.
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