Cyber-bullying Law Set To Pass

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 — 10:35 AM

A controversial bill on cyber-bullying is set to pass into law this afternoon.

After Question Time today MPs are scheduled to return to the third reading of the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, which implements various sanctions and remedies to address harmful digital communications.

Labour, NZ First and the Greens all opposed the bill after it emerged from select committee mostly over concerns about the penalties and criminalisation of some behaviour.

However negotiations with Communications Minister Amy Adams led to a number of of changes in the committee stage which were backed by those parties. They then indicated support for the bill despite misgivings.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said then it was a new regime, but it was dealing with new technology and a new threat. She had been guided by the Law Commission report on the issue. The majority of the new regime was education and civil action, there was a last option for criminal action, but this was not to the extent critics of the bill claimed. She said the changes to the bill should alleviate most of these concerns.

Tracey Martin said NZ First would now support the bill as the minister had been constructive in addressing the issues over criminalisation of children which had been at the heart of her party’s concerns.

ACT MP David Seymour indicated he would be voting against a Government bill for the first time because it has egregious features and would become a case study in bad law making. The bill would not achieve what it promised it would create a “star chamber” which would be used to abuse free speech.

The third reading debate will be followed by the committee stages of the Environmental Reporting Bill, Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill and the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill.

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