4.4.1 A sampling of cyberbullying laws around the world

Several countries across the globe have already developed seemingly effective cyberbullying laws. The strictest cyberbullying laws in the world are reported to be those found in Canada where under the Education Act individuals who engage in cyberbullying face suspension from school, and repeat offenders may also face expulsion from school and possible jail time. In United Kingdom, cyberbullying could result in six months or more in prison and a fine under the Malicious Communications Act. Certain states of the USA are also considered to have strict legislation with legal consequences ranging from monetary fines, charges of misdemeanour or imprisonment; whereas other US states have looser or no specific cyberbullying laws. Effective legislature is also reported to be in place in the Philippines and Australia.2

In Europe, most countries do not have specific cyberbullying laws, but there are a number of existing laws that can be applied in cases of cyberbullying. Some countries have specific measures for certain online behaviours (for example, cyber stalking is illegal in Poland). International law covers some of the problematic areas: Convention on Cybercrime and European Data Protection Legislation is now being applied to issues of cyberbullying, online harassment and identity theft. The European Commission has also formed agreements with 17 of the world’s leading social networks, including Facebook and MySpace, to stop online abuse and to better protect young people online.3