The relevance of technology neutrality to the design of laws to criminalise cyberbullying

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Abstract

Despite widespread agreement that cyberbullying is a serious societal problem, there is little consensus on the laws and policies that should be developed to address this issue. Whilst some scholars frame cyberbullying primarily as a psychosocial problem that should be addressed through education and public health initiatives others view it as a legal issue that requires legislative reform. Further, whilst some commentators call for the creation of a specific new offence of cyberbullying others advance the importance of technology neutrality and recommend prosecuting online and offline bullying behaviour within a single coherent framework. In such a context, the purpose of the present article is to examine the adequacy of Australia’s present law and policy on cyberbullying, and consider the merits of creating a dedicated offence of cyberbullying. In this regard, special consideration will be given to the government’s 2018 report entitled Adequacy of existing offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code and of State and Territory criminal laws to capture cyberbullying. After considering relevant legislation, case law, scholarship and reform discourse, the paper supports the Senate Committee’s decision to not recommend the creation of a new offence of cyberbullying and suggests that such a course supports technology neutrality and enhances the consistency and longevity of laws in this area. As nations grapple with this challenging issue, the extensive Australian law reform discourse on this topic is likely to be of interest to law makers and public policy administrators around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Public Administration
Volume1
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Technology Law
  • Telecommunications Law
  • Internet law
  • cyberbullying
  • public administration

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