In June 2014, Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select Committee reported back to Parliament on the Harmful Digital Communications Bill introduced last year and recommended amendments to toughen up the legislation.
The recommendations included a higher maximum penalty for the new offence of “causing harm by posting a digital communication” to be raised from three months in jail, or a $2000 fine, to two years in jail. This would bring the sentence in line with other harassment offences.
“…we recommend amending subclause 18(2) to provide for a maximum penalty for an individual of six months’ imprisonment or a $5,000 fine, and $20,000 for a body corporate; and amending subclause 19(3) to increase the maximum penalty for an individual to two years’ imprisonment…. We would like to emphasise that the penalties we propose are maximum penalties; a Judge would impose a sentence proportionate to the nature of the offending in each case.” (Committee Report – Commentary on proposed amendments to the Bill)
University of Canterbury law professor Ursula Cheer said individuals targeted online could pursue civil action on the grounds of defamation. [Read more…]