15 August 2012
The Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff has welcomed the Law Commission's latest recommendations to help combat cyber-bullying and the harmful use of social media. "Our laws need to be updated to tackle the digital age," she said.
"Our UMR survey earlier this year showed that the digital revolution is driving concerns amongst New Zealanders. It also shows how much we're living online. A massive 88% of people under 30 are now using Facebook and the number of other users is also going up. The read-write Web has huge benefits, but it also creates the potential for greater misuses of the technology. This includes people posting information about others that causes severe distress, including cyber-bullying and online impersonation," said Ms Shroff.
"We already receive complaints involving social media, for example where someone has created a fake Facebook profile and used it to cause distress to the victim. But as the law currently stands, it's more difficult than it should be to combat these situations. The Law Commission's recommendations propose easily accessible mechanisms to resolve the very real concerns that people have," said Ms Shroff.
"Netsafe already does an excellent job responding to the issues and helping people where it can, and promoting responsible digital citizenship. We support the proposal to expand Netsafe's role and see this as a practical and effective response," said Ms Shroff.
The Privacy Commissioner also supports the Law Commission's proposals to amend the Privacy Act to ensure that it can be readily applied to digital communications. For example, providing the Commissioner with an ability to issue compliance notices would enable quick fixes of serious problems. Current exemptions would be narrowed, so that people could no longer escape liability for highly offensive internet postings by claiming they were acting in their personal capacity. It would also be illegal to impersonate or intentionally mislead someone in order to gather personal information.
For more information call Cathy Henry 021 509 735