Cyber-bullies to be targeted by legislation after state election

The opposition believes the state government is “playing catch-up” with the announcement that Premier Will Hodgman is planning legislation to target cyber-bullies. 

Opposition digital economy spokeswoman Madeleine Ogilvie said Labor’s Civil Digital Communication Bill has been ready to go since last year.

However, the Liberals said Labor’s bill would not make cyber-bullying a criminal act.

Premier Will Hodgman said if re-elected, the Liberal Government will move to make “serious” cyberbullying a criminal offence. 

“Bullying is the action of a coward but it can have devastating impacts on its victims,” Mr Hodgman said.

“We propose the laws will target those who use the internet with the intention to cause serious, physical or mental harm to others.

“It will send a clear message that this behaviour is not only unacceptable, it is a criminal act.”

Ms Ogilvie said the opposition had been leading this debate by “putting forward practical suggestions to protect Tasmanians from harm online”.

Labor has been leading this debate by putting forward practical suggestions to protect Tasmanians from harm online.

Opposition digital economy spokeswoman Madeleine Ogilvie

“It’s an important part of Labors strategy to address cyber-bullying,” she said.

The bill, introduced by Ms Ogilvie back in October 2017, aimed to address the issues that arise from those who send or deliver electronic communications, letters, or other articles for the purpose of causing stress or anxiety.

The bill addresses inappropriate or offensive messages or images, threats, “revenge porn”, electronic stalking, and instilling fears of violence into people online.

The state government implemented the anti-cyberbullying program eSmart Schools Cyber Safety in all government schools in partnership with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

“With many children now owning their own devices, they can be targeted without others, including their parents, even knowing about it,” Mr Hodgman said.

“We will draw on best practice to ensure that Tasmanians are provided with the best possible protection and that the perpetrators of this sort of shameful behaviour are held to account.”

If you or someone you know is affected by cyber-bullying, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.