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May 21, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Government Tackles Troll Problem

Internet still a cruel place

The Government is taking rapid action to stop cyber-bullying as concerns have been rising over its potentially fatal effects on New Zealand youth. As current legislation fails to cover the digital age, The Law Commission have been asked to develop new rules to fight growing problem.

Minister of Justice Judith Collins last week told the Commision to look at possible measures to reduce the harm of cyber- bullying, as part of its wider report into new media, asking them to treat it “as a priority.”

“The bullying issue … is an extremely fast- moving issue, and as we know, 10 years ago, who had Facebook and Twitter?” Collins said.

“It has got to the stage for young people —they in particular are most prone to it—where people can put things on the internet, and it’s there forever.”

The report’s initial recommendations said that a tough stance should be taken, with incitement to suicide being treated as a criminal offence. New offences of malicious online impersonation and the online publishing of intimate photos were also recommended.

Also included was the amendment of the Harassment, Telecommunications and Humans Rights Act, to apply to cyberspace, and the introduction of a new media regulator to replace the Press Council and the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

Collins said the Government is currently speeding up efforts to make these propositions a legal reality and expects the report to be completed next month.

“I think it’s very important that we do get on to this because, as we know, youth suicide is a major issue,” she said.

Connections have been made by coroners between cyber-bullying and New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide, the world’s highest for males aged 15-24.

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