More and more people, especially teens, are seeking seek legal
advice over being called in for questioning by police over cyber
bullying. The law is cracking down on the growing problem of
bullying through social media as recognition grows the consequences
for victims can be just as devastating as in-your-face
As many as fifty children a year are reported to be seeking
legal advice through hotlines set up by Legal Aid over cyber
bullying - and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
It's important not to underestimate the severity of the
problem of cyber bullying. It can be relentless, pursuing victims
outside school or workplace into their home, continuing over
weekends and holidays, chasing them even if they move to escape. It
is cowardly, cruel, vindictive and amounts to mental torture.
It's good news that police are pursuing the perpetrators.
Mostly police are alerted when parents discover abusive and
bullying messages sent to their child. Cyber bullies should be
aware what they are doing is against the law and they can face
court action. Legal action against cyber bullies could start with
apprehended violence orders placed against them or an official
police caution. Cyber bullies could be diverted to a youth justice
conference that brings them face to face with their victim to show
the impact of what they have done.
Under federal law using a carriage service such as a phone or
the Internet in a menacing way carries a maximum penalty of three
years' imprisonment. This includes making threats, harassing,
intimidating, stalking, hacking, defaming or encouraging someone to
commit suicide. Threatening to kill somebody carries a maximum
penalty of ten years in jail.
Encouraging someone else to threaten or intimidate can end in
six months jail.
It's also a crime to publish untrue information about
someone with the intention of causing them serious harm. It can be
costly. A man was recently found guilty in the Supreme Court of
using his own website to publish untrue allegations of corruption
and bribery against a local councillor. He was ordered by the court
to pay $80,000 in damages.
There has been a lot of publicity recently about emails sent by
prominent people to others that became extremely embarrassing when
they appeared in the media. It is a crime to log into a
person's online accounts without permission, and there is a
maximum penalty of two years in jail. That's why the media say
they didn't hack into their accounts but were slipped the
emails by a third person. It will be an interesting test of privacy
laws if this comes to the courts.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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