Navigating the internet can be a perilous task at the best of times thanks to the possibility of anonymous strangers giving you grief for even the most innocent of interactions. And that’s exactly why New Zealand has decided to make it even harder for online trolls to harass people.
In an 116 to 5 vote, the country’s parliament passed the Harmful Digital Communications Bill on Friday, and it will come into effect today after it’s given Royal assent.
As expected, people will open themselves up to be being fined or even thrown in jail for “harmful digital communication”.
The ten principles of the bill (as set out below) are there to “guide the court and the Approved Agency in assessing whether a digital communication has caused or is likely to cause someone harm.”
As such, a digital communication should not…
* disclose sensitive personal facts about another individual.
* be threatening, intimidating, or menacing.
* be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual.
* be indecent or obscene.
* be used to harass an individual.
* make a false allegation.
* contain a matter that is published in breach of confidence.
* incite or encourage anyone to send a message to an individual for the purpose of causing harm to the individual.
* incite or encourage another individual to commit suicide.
* denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
“We consider that the principles would provide a useful reference to help infer a common set of values when assessing whether behaviour was acceptable,” the New Zealand government said in a statement.
But what sort of fine can people expect should they be found guilty? Well, individuals can be fined a maximum of US$33 500, and corporations face penalties of up to US$134 000. And if you encourage suicide, you can face up to three years in jail.
Should you be New Zealand-based and you’ve done this sort of thing in the past, you might want to reconsider your comments before clicking Post.