Using an anti-bullying law to bully someone lawfully

A Bill to curb the growing incidence of cyberbullying and its devastating effects passed its second reading in Parliament last night.

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill introduces a range of measures to address damaging online communications and ensure perpetrators are held to account for their actions.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says the Bill will prevent and reduce the harm caused by cyberbullying and harassment.

?Harmful digital communications include emails, texts and social media posts that people use to intimidate others, spread damaging or degrading rumours and publish invasive and distressing photographs,? says Ms Adams.

?This Bill has the potential to stop cyberbullies and reduce the devastating impact their actions can have. Importantly, our proposals also empower victims, by providing a quick, low-cost and effective way to right the wrongs done to them.

Ms Adams said recent events, such as the Roast Busters case, highlighted the need for legislation to help prevent victims from being re-traumatised on the internet and hold perpetrators to account.

?The suggestion that existing laws are adequate and effective for a young person trying to remove abusive material from a website is wrong. Current processes can be costly and lengthy, and even then gaps still exist. This Bill tackles cyberbullying head on and simplifies the process for getting abusive material off the internet in a quick and proportionate way.?

I wonder who will have the first shot at using this bill to try and restrict free and frank discussion and honestly held opinion on this blog.

And it won’t ?just be Whaleoil. ?Can you imagine? ?The same people that sit in privately owned Kauri trees and think they are above the law will think nothing of trying to tie people and companies into knots.

Cyberbullying is something that needs to be dealt to, but I can see how this bill will be used as a weapon by those who will employ it to harass people and organisations simply for holding a different opinion.

And you, dear commenters, you won’t be immune. ?Leave a strongly worded comment, and the next thing you know is that you’re a cyberbully.

I hope the bar for what constitutes an actionable offence is set extremely high, otherwise vexatious litigants and fringe campaigners will simply get another weapon in their arsenal.

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