Harmful Online Speech: An Analysis of New Zealand’s Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 to Combat Cyberbullying

Kuwait International Law School Journal, Special Supplement 3(1), pp65-140, 1 May 2018

45 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020

See all articles by Myra Williamson

Myra Williamson

University of Waikato; Kuwait International Law School

Date Written: May 1, 2018

Abstract

The emotional harm caused by cyberbullying/online harassment is a relatively new problem brought about by almost universal access to the Internet and to all forms of information and computer technology. Its increasing prevalence forces schools, universities, non-governmental organizations and governments to find effective ways to combat it. This paper outlines New Zealand’s experience with harmful digital communications and the legislative solutions that New Zealand has adopted. Part 1 explains the nature of the problem, definitional issues, and the NZ Law Commission’s work. Part 2 describes NZ’s main legal response, the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 (HDCA 2015). It also discusses the fear that a new law would stifle freedom of expression. Part 3 discusses some of the most important criminal cases decided in New Zealand under the HDCA 2015. Part 4 contains a comparative analysis of legal responses in some other jurisdictions. Part 5 concludes with a summary of trends and a set of recommendations.

Keywords: cyberbullying, cyber-bullying,cyber-crime, harmful digital communications, online harassment, revenge porn, online harm, Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, New Zealand, legislatory response, Law Commission, law reform, criminalisation of online behaviour

JEL Classification: I100, I18, I120, I124, I129, K00, K10, K14, K19, K30, K32, K36, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Williamson, Myra, Harmful Online Speech: An Analysis of New Zealand’s Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 to Combat Cyberbullying (May 1, 2018). Kuwait International Law School Journal, Special Supplement 3(1), pp65-140, 1 May 2018 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3621718

Myra Williamson (Contact Author)

University of Waikato ( email )

New Zealand

Kuwait International Law School ( email )

Block 4, Building 800005
Doha City, Jahra 93151
Kuwait

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