Public workshops to narrow lens on Cyberbullying Bill

Wednesday 5 September 2012, 4:41AM
By Internet NZ

Later this month, InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) will convene free public workshops in Wellington and Auckland to examine the Law Commission’s draft Communications (New Media) Bill – also known as the ‘Cyberbullying Bill’.

The vexed issue of cyberbullying has been given prominence in recent days, with a series of inflammatory Twitter posts targeting Australian television identity Charlotte Dawson. InternetNZ Policy Lead Susan Chalmers says the workshops are intended to encourage a healthy debate on harmful digital communications such as these, with a particular focus on the content of the draft Bill.

A copy of the workshop agenda is available at

The Wellington workshop will be held on 17 September at the Town Hall, from 1 – 5pm. The Auckland workshop will be held on 18 September at the Aotea Centre, from 1 – 5pm.

Those interested in attending are asked to email

Chalmers describes the Cyberbullying Bill as “controversial”. It proposes that a new Communications Tribunal be established to handle disputes arising from harmful digital communications. If the Bill were implemented as drafted, the Tribunal would have the power to order takedowns of harmful communications on the Internet, she says.

“Some view the Bill as an important step in addressing the scourge of cyberbullying that has upset the lives of many. Others view the Bill as posing a serious threat to freedom of expression online.

“Attendees can expect discussion on policy issues including the obligations of Internet intermediaries in enforcing takedown orders, the technical implications of doing so, freedom of speech online, and whether law should treat the Internet as a special case.

“The workshop will also examine the wording of the Bill, with the aim to identify and discuss areas that necessitate further attention. Attendees are strongly encouraged to read both the Bill and the Ministerial Briefing Paper in advance of the workshop. These are available on the Law Commission’s website, at”