Kiwi cyberbullies, you better watch your back: New Zealand has cracked down on sexist, racist, ableist, and generally prejudiced language directed specifically at someone, as well as sharing nude photos without the subject's consent, by passing a digital communications bill which makes it a punishable offense.

Once effective, the Harmful Digital Communications Bill will more or less serve as a de facto rubric for defining the characteristics of an Internet troll. As the piece of legislation defines it, one is guilty of cyberbullying if:

the person posts a digital communication with the intention that it cause harm to a victim; and (b) posting the communication would cause harm to an ordinary reasonable person in the position of the victim; and (c) posting the communication causes harm to the victim 

Factors considered in punitive measures taken against the perpetrator include the magnitude and vehemence of the language used, how many times said language was used, and how viral it went, all considered within the context of the situation at hand. Perpetrators can serve up to two years of jail time as a maximum penalty - three years if there is proof of an attempt to incite suicide - as well as incur walloping fines.

However, there is a caveat: offenders may receive no penalty if their flagged content is removed within a span of 48 hours after notice.

If you're worried about the restriction of free speech despite the obvious optimism and goodwill regarding the bill, rest easy: written into the bill is a specific order to uphold the New Zealand Bill of Rights act before the bill, which means that "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" as well as "freedom of expression" come first and foremost. 

New Zealand now joins the ranks of its former colonizer the United Kingdom, which also has a set of similar laws prohibiting the sharing of private and/or sexual photographs without the consent of the owner or subject.

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