Hyped enough to be the subject of its own schlocky TV movie, cyberbullying hasn’t gotten much attention from the law, which, like parents, is always lagging behind in the newest technologies. There’s online drama and there’s outright illegal hate speech, harassment, and incitement to harm, the latter of which are too often met with a shrug or an eye roll from authorities when they happen on Twitter versus out in the meatspace. Unless you’re in New Zealand: the country’s parliament recently passed the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, aimed at the assholes who incite people to suicide, disclose personal facts, harass, and generally do other horrible stuff online.
The bill creates a new agency that will work with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, basically holding them responsible for actually responding to complaints of cyberbullying on their sites. The law requires those companies to ask the author of a harmful comment to delete it after receiving a complaint; if the author doesn’t remove it within 48 hours, the companies can remove it themselves. New Zealanders found of intentionally causing harm online may be charged with up to two years in jail, or three for encouraging suicide.
Meanwhile, everyone’s as free as they’ve ever been to make snarky remarks in the comments below.