In 2015, New Zealand’s parliament passed the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, setting the ball rolling in dealing with online trolls. The bill seeks to fine or imprison anyone found to deliberately use harmful, threatening or offensive language. The new legislation implicitly prohibits the sending of messages to other users of the internet that are racist, sexist, critical of their religion, sexuality or disability. To determine culpability, the communications sent out must have caused serious emotional distress to the intended individual. If a party is found guilty, they could face up to two years in jail.
In Kenya, cases of cyber bullying continue to increase by the day especially on social media sites. Kenya was set to pass a similar law in 2014 called the Cyber crime and Computer related Crimes Bill in Kenya or Cyber crime bill. An initiative of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the bill sought to equip law enforcement agencies with the necessary legal and forensic tools to tackle cyber crime. The law proposed a five-year jail term for persons convicted of the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words to stir up ethnic hatred through a computer system or a fine not exceeding Kshs. 1 million. The law is yet to take effect.
During the international Women’s day this week, The African Development Bank (AfDB), Facebook, the Kenya ICT Authority, Judiciary and the Kenya Police launched a partnership aimed to tackling cyber violence through increased awareness. The partnership will build capacity of the Kenya Police and Judiciary to handle gender-based cyber violence, who currently cannot fully tackle this issue owing to lack of data. Cyber-violence includes Cyber-stalking, hate speech as well as wrongful use of personal information. Some countries such as Uganda and DR Congo are taking measures to deal with the menace. The partnership will empower police and judiciary on how to handle cyber crimes; reprimanding perpetrators and protecting victims, drawing from existing and new legislation.