Cyberbullies face jail under new law

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill creates a new criminal offence of intentionally causing harm by posting a digital communication. Serious offences can be punished by up to two years in jail or fines of up to $50,000.

The wide-reaching law means it will now be an offence to send a message or post material online that is intended to cause harm, and does so. It will also be an offence to incite suicide.

It introduces a range of measures, including setting up an agency to investigate and address damaging electronic communications spread through emails, texts and social media posts.

The law was drafted after the Roast Busters case in Auckland in which teenage boys boasted online about sex with drunk and underage girls, leading to the girls being further victimised.