Justice Minister Judith Collins has today welcomed a Law Commission report with recommendations for reducing the harm caused by cyber-bullying.
Earlier this year, Ms Collins asked the Law Commission to fast-track its recommendations as part of the report on new media: The News Media meets ‘New Media’: Rights, responsibilities and regulation in the digital age.
“Bullying has long been a problem, but its reach and impact has increased considerably in our digital age,” Ms Collins said.
“Bullying is no longer confined to the classroom or playground – bullies are targeting their victims by cellphone, instant messaging devices and social networking websites.
“We must not underestimate the devastating impact this new form of bullying has particularly on young people – it is contributing to increased truancy, failure at school and emotional problems such as depression, self-harm and suicide.”
The Law Commission’s recommendations include:
• Creating a new offence targeting digital communication that is grossly offensive or indecent, obscene or menacing, and which causes harm.
• Amending existing laws to ensure their provisions apply to digital communications. This would include making it an offence to incite a person to commit suicide, whether the person does or not.
• Establishing a communications tribunal to provide speedy, efficient and cheap access to remedies such as take-down orders and cease-and-desist notices.
• Requiring schools to implement effective anti-bullying programmes.
Ms Collins said taking further action to reduce the impact of cyber-bullying is a priority and she looks forward to working through the report’s recommendations with her colleagues.
“I would like to thank the Law Commission for its prompt consideration of these issues,” Ms Collins said
“It’s time to stand up and send a clear message to cyber-bullies: your behaviour is not acceptable.”
For Ms Collins’ Video Media Release (VMR) http://youtu.be/uz_x3Exm2Ec