Have you ever wondered what it would look like if cyber-bullying were illegal? Wonder no longer...thanks to New Zealand.
Harmful Digital Communications Bill: key provisions
A fine of up to $50,000 for an individual or up to $200,000 for a body corporate, or up to two years’ jail for posting or sending a “harmful digital communication” – aka cyber-bullying with a post likely to cause distress. The bill covers racist, sexist and religiously intolerant comments, plus those about disabilities or sexual orientation;
Up to three years’ jail for the new crime of incitement to suicide;
An “approved agency” will advocate on behalf of complainants. The aim is that the agency will be able to make direct contact with web publishers and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where a member of the public often has trouble getting heard (the Law Commission has recommended NetSafe be the approved agency; the non-profit NetSafe’s backers include InternetNZ, the NZPolice, the Ministry of Education and private companies);
If the approved agency makes no headway, a complaint is escalated to a District Court judge; and
Web publishers can opt in to a safe-harbour provision, protecting them from liability (and arguably also crimping free speech) if they agree to take down allegedly offending material on demand or at least within a grace period of 48 hours.
Whether you're an Atheist arguing with an Christian or anyone criticizing a thin-skinned blogger, you too can find a place in New Zealand's jails.
Former InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar wondered if Sean Plunket (cleared by the Broadcasting Standards Authority over his comments about author Eleanor Catton) would have wound up in jail under the HDC. As with any new law, it will take precedent-setting cases to define its boundaries.
Tech Liberty co-founder Thomas Beagle said he was disappointed the "flawed" law had passed. The Council for Civil Liberties executive committee member has criticised the bill for undermining free speech, and questioned whether many of its measures will prove practical. He has also asked why the online world should have different rules over comments and defamation than the offline one (see more on the debate over the bill here).
It's so vaguely defined that it'll take the courts to sort out what the bill is supposed to cover?!
@_@ Yeah. That has no potential for abuse.