Cyber bullying is now officially a crime in New Zealand. Going forward, causing serious emotional distress to another person via social media or messaging services like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp will carry significant penalties, including hefty fines or even jail time.
The Harmful Digital Communications Bill makes it so that most forms of bigotry like homophobia, sexism, racism, and ableism are punishable offenses, carrying with them jail sentences of up to three years.
Compelling a person to commit suicide is also now considered to be a crime that can lead to a perpetrator paying tens of thousands of dollars in mediation fines. The bill also calls for the creation of a new governmental body dedicated to the investigation of these specific crimes.
Only five members of the New Zealand parliament voted against the bill, mostly over concerns that young people would be put at risk of being unfairly penalized for immature…
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