News of the Week: Cyber-bullying in New Zealand

Brian Pontarelli

New Zealand recently enacted a bill that will make cyber-bullying illegal and punishable for the bully and the company that hosts the application used for the bullying.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11473545

Though there were a few legislators that voted against the bill, the vote was an overwhelming 116 to 5.

Opponents believe that this will impact free speech and that determining if specific user-generated content is in fact cyber-bullying could be difficult or impossible.

From my perspective, I don’t feel this bill impacts free speech. It is similarly illegal to harass or threaten someone in person, so why should it be any different online?

Furthermore, identifying user-generated content that is cyber-bullying shouldn’t be overly difficult. If someone feels cyber-bullied and reports the issue, that should be enough to investigate. Likewise, companies can also use automated solutions like CleanSpeak to help get alerts when conversations look like they contain cyber-bullying. Companies can let moderators make the final judgement and remove the content from their applications and/or kick the bully out as well.

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