Making online ‘trolling’ illegal?

Making online ‘trolling’ illegal? July 13, 2015

New Zealand has passed a law that would punish “harmful digital communication”–harassing, bullying, or indecent internet postings–by up to two years in prison, plus a $50,000 (NZ) fine.  It’s being described as a law against trolling.  It passed parliament by a margin of 116 to 5.

From New Zealand makes internet ‘trolling’ illegal – Telegraph:

Internet trolls face up to two years’ jail in New Zealand under a controversial new law which bans “harmful digital communications”.

And under a parallel amendment to New Zealand’s Crimes Act, a person who tells another to kill themselves faces up to three years in prison.

The law will help mitigate the harm caused by cyber-bulling and give victims a quick and effective means of redress, supporters said.

But critics said the law harms free speech and its fine print could threaten public interest journalism in the country.

Under the Harmful Digital Communications Act in effect from this week, anyone convicted of “causing harm by posting digital communication” faces two years in prison and a $50,000 (NZ) (£6,500) fine, while businesses face fines of up to $200,000 (NZ).

Harmful communications can include truthful as well as false information, and “intimate visual recordings” such as nude or seminude pictures or video shared without permission. . . .

Noting it effectively bans online communications judged “indecent”, “false” or “used to harass an individual”, the Post asked if reports on political expense scandals, or cartoons that mock religious figures, may also be banned under the legislation.

The bill passed the New Zealand parliament with an overwhelming 116 to 5 majority.

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