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Censoring cyber-bullies: Is the Harmful Digital Communications Bill a justified limitation on the right to freedom of expression?

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posted on 2021-11-15, 08:11 authored by O'Connor, Annie

Harmful Digital Communications have become a pervasive and serious problem in New Zealand. The Harmful Digital Communications Bill aims to address this problem in a number of ways. This paper focuses on the civil enforcement regime and the criminal offence of causing harm by posting a digital communication established by the Bill. It considers these aspects of the Bill in light of the right to freedom of expression, and analyses whether they constitute a justified limitation on that right. By applying the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 section 5 analysis from Hansen v R, the paper discovers that the civil enforcement regime is a justified limitation, but the new criminal offence is not. The paper concludes that the inclusion of a public interest defence in the offence would allow it to effectively ameliorate the harm caused by online abuse without impinging on freedom of expression more than is reasonably necessary.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Name

LL.B. (Honours)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Hastings, Bill