While new technology and increased use of social media provide convenience and the ability for people to stay connected, there have also been detrimental impacts to society such as the increased prevalence of cyber bullying.
This issue was recently addressed by President of the Law Council of Australia, Arthur Moses SC, at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s hearing on the adequacy of existing laws to capture cyber bullying.
“Ensuring that the criminal justice system includes adequate offences to combat cyber bullying is one important tool for society. There are also other equally important tools, including: education, victim support, early intervention and prevention, including civil avenues”, Mr Moses said.
In reference to the proposed introduction of a new federal offence for the broadcasting of assaults and other crimes on social media platforms, Mr Moses stated that the position of the Law Council was that this was unnecessary.
“This is because the existing Commonwealth Criminal Code offences must also be seen in the context of broader state and territory offences which may also be used to prosecute cyberbullying conduct,” Mr Moses said.
“The one thing I want to emphasise is in relation to when you enact laws which in effect overlap with existing laws there becomes a degree of ambiguity, or a lack of understanding in the community as to the type of conduct that is prohibited or that would be caught by various provisions of the Criminal Code.”
Mr Moses discussed concerns that the proposed offence would put a number of school age children at great risk of being subject to criminal charges, for actions that could have been prevented through avenues such as better parenting or training at school.
The full opening statement to the Senate References Committee can be viewed here