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Прайм Лигал / Публикации в СМИ / Offended – in prison: adopted the world’s first law on Internet trolling

Offended – in prison: adopted the world’s first law on Internet trolling

New Zealand passed a law against Internet trolling. The law, which became the first such initiative in the world, criminalizes trolling, the punishment for which can be up to two years of imprisonment. The initiative received an ambiguous assessment at home. Meanwhile, Russian lawyers also expressed their opinion on the new legislation. For   which actions on the web are threatened with criminal liability and how they deal with insults on the Internet in other countries of the world, including in Russia   – in the material “Right. Ru”.

New Zealand became the first country to enact a separate law against Internet trolling. Now fans of online insults will have to think twice: according to the Law on Harmful Digital Communications Act (Harmful Digital Communications Act), which entered into force on the eve, trolling will become a criminal offense.

Punishment promises to be palpable: the publisher of the page, which contains, for example, an insulting comment, faces a fine of up to 200,000 New Zealand dollars (about $ 167,000), any person who caused harm through digital communication will receive two years in prison and a fine of 50   000   New Zealand dollars (about $ 42,000).

The purpose of the law is to prevent harm caused to a person in the course of virtual communication, as well as to ensure that persons who become victims of malicious virtual communication are a fast and effective means of obtaining compensation.

The law was submitted for consideration after a teenager from Auckland, posted on the Internet scandalous video, in which teenagers have sex with drunken underage girls. The overwhelming majority of parliamentarians supported the bill   – 116   voted " for &quot ;, and only five   – " against &quot ;. It is noteworthy that the initiative was approved after discussion, during which the deputies once again felt the “work” trolls on themselves: they were shown a video with examples of insults they had to face on the Web, “The Times said. So, Winston Peters got the characteristic of “disgusting old reptile”, Peter Dunn came across a post saying that, “although Peter Dunn’s face is serious, his tie gives out a clown in him.”

To study complaints about messages on the Web will be a specially created for these purposes government agency. It is expected that it will work together with Facebook, Google and Twitter in eliminating trolling content content. Companies will ask authors to remove offensive comments or do it themselves within 24 hours.

" 10   communication guidelines " from New Zealand lawmakers

According to the law, the message should not:

– display personal facts about another person;
– contain threats;
– be offensive;
– contain obscenities;

To be used for the purpose of causing trouble to the person;
– contain false statements;
–           encourage someone to send a message to a person that is supposed to harm the recipient;
– contain information that is banned from disclosure;
– induce suicide;
– discredit on the basis of color, race, ethnic and national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability.

Ambiguous reaction

Publishers have already expressed concern about the new rules: regulation can infringe freedom of speech, they believe. According to Green Party spokesman Gareth Hughes, the norms are “excessive” and “create a precedent in which what is legally offline, when caught in the network is outlawed”. So, if there are no problems when publishing a story about a corrupt policy in a printed publication, posting such a story on the Web can entail proceedings.

Do not approve of the law and experts, most of which note the too broad interpretation of the concept of “harm” and the possible negative impact of standards on the work of the media.

The law is a pure symbolism, believes the Berlin expert   Ilya Levin . Firstly, in case of offensive remarks, the victim can apply to the justice bodies for insult. Organs of law and order should consider this case in this case, explains Levin . Secondly, the expert believes, “certain issues raise the issue of bringing to the responsibility of the (larger) provider of the platform, although the latter bears only indirect responsibility for the comments on his page.”

Do not forget about freedom of speech, notes Levin : “The conflict of this fundamental right with the honor and dignity of man has been thoroughly studied by constitutional courts around the world. The introduction of hybrid liability based on the model in New Zealand (ie, the mixture of criminal fines and civil damages) dilutes the doctrines created by constitutionalists and adversely affects legal certainty. “

“Internet trolling, against which the New Zealand law is directed, is in fact a particular manifestation of such unlawful acts as insulting, disseminating information detracting from business reputation, offending the honor and dignity of a person. In   all jurisdictions, such actions receive a proper response, the injured person is entitled to protection,   – says   Denis Arkhipov, partner of the law firm “Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev &Partners” .

In my opinion, the “freedom of the Internet” should not be absolute, " freedom of speech " is limited to the interests of another person participating in the discussion or being its object. Another question is whether it is justified to introduce a special law that provides quite serious responsibility for actions committed on the Internet. The answer to this question lies in the sphere of legal policy, where each state makes its choice. In my opinion, special regulation is not required, since there is general regulation. And I agree with the critics of the law that as a result of its application, such actions can be punished online, which in real life remain without attention of the law enforcement system. In either case, we need to return to evaluating this law in a few years to understand which direction the law enforcement practice has taken,     – comments New Zealand law   Arhipov .

Despite criticism of the New Zealand regulation, several countries are ready to follow suit: the same act (the Harmful Digital Communications Bill) is under discussion in the UK Parliament.

In the meantime, in most countries, regulation in the field of online communications occurs at the expense of other laws.

English trolling

In England and Wales   there is no separate law providing for punishment for Internet trolling. However, this does not mean that insults on the Internet will go unpunished: in fact, the responsibility for this crime is provided under the three existing laws (Malicious Communications Act, Communications Act, Protection from Harassment Act). In   depending on the charges and the law used, the penalty may be from two to five years in prison.

In fact, severe punishment for insults on the Internet in the UK has not been used so far. Thus, to persons up to 18 years of age, there is virtually no liability, and the “threshold of tolerance” for users of social networks is quite high: not every offensive message to the recipient will be perceived as a violation of the law.

According to the British Crown Prosecution Service, the prosecution threatens to leave messages in social networks that are “aimed at a particular individual or group of individuals and may constitute an act of intimidation or harassment.” The police is applying legislation more and more, and the number of trials on unfriendly posts on the Internet is growing, says the lawyer in the field of media Nick Makalinin .

However, the population needs additional explanations about what is punishable in accordance with the laws in force, he believes: even the very concept of “trolling” in British law is not defined. A single law on this issue could somehow clarify the situation, but its development will require too much time and money, the lawyer believes.

On the Internet of Russia

The appearance of a separate law on the Internet   – trolling can certainly be called a novel, but it can hardly be said that the fight against insults and harassment in the “global web” is a new phenomenon in the world practice, notes Evgeny Korchago, chairman of the Bar of Starinsky, Korchago &Partners . The current legislation provides for criminal and administrative liability for harassment, insults and libel on the Internet, he recalls: “For insults in social networks, a person may be brought to administrative responsibility under Article 5.61 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation in the form of a fine in the amount of three thousand to five thousand rubles, and the organization for such actions can be punished by a fine from one hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles. Article   128.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation provides for criminal liability for libel contained in a public statement (where statements can be attributed on the Internet) in the form of a fine of up to one million rubles or other income of the convicted person for a period of up to one year, or the appointment of compulsory works for a term up to two hundred and forty hours. “

Besides this, do not forget about the responsibility provided for in Article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, adds Evgeny Korchago : this article establishes the inadmissibility of actions aimed at inciting hatred or enmity, as well as humiliation of the dignity of a person or a group of persons on the basis of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, attitude to religion, as well as belonging to a social group committed in public or through the use of mass media or information telecommunications ion networks, including network " Internet &quot ;. According to this article, a lawyer reminds that a penalty of imprisonment for up to four years is provided.

However, the prosecution of trolling is still fraught with a number of problems. In   domestic criminal law, the article of the criminal code providing liability for the insult has ceased to be effective from January 1, 2012 to 2012, reminiscent of the managing partner of the law firm “Prime ligue”, to.     н. Arik Shabanov . The current article “hooliganism”, which could be used in this case, presupposes liability (a fine of 300 to 500 thousand rubles, imprisonment for up to five years) only for violation of public order expressing obvious disrespect to the society, committed either with the use of weapons, or if the offender was motivated by motives of political, ideological, racial, national or religious hatred or enmity, he points out. “If there was no such motive, it is believed that the hooligan trick on the Internet is not hooliganism, but the personal business of the offender and the victim. The victim is deprived of the opportunity to use the state mechanism for conducting the investigation and must identify the offender himself and prove his guilt, ”  – explains   Shabans . The situation in the UK, according to the lawyer, is no different: “British Nicola Brooks had to seek a court order obliging Facebook to give her the IP-addresses of people who insulted her. Without a court order, the social network would not be able to meet it without violating the law on the storage of information. Since accounts can be fake, the victim will have to ask the information from Internet providers through the court. “

" Preferably, when for a complex social phenomenon special laws are introduced that regulate legal relations on this issue &quot ;,   – the lawyer concludes.

14.07.2015 Material from the site https://pravo.ru/review/view/120114/

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