GIOVENTU » Legislation to prevent bullying drafted

Legislation to prevent bullying drafted

The Italian Chamber of Deputies has approved a draft legislation to prevent bullying and cyber bullying. It has now to be approved by the Senate. 

 

Its approval comes days after Italy's privacy tsar ruled that an Italian court had not considered the online publication of a sex tape as an illegal breach of privacy. The woman, Tiziana Cantone, had moved from city to city and changed her name in order to escape the humiliation before killing herself.

 

It wasn't the first case of young people killing themselves after being mocked online.

The non-profit organization Telefono Azzurro said it received calls about bullying, including cyber-bullying, on a daily basis in the last school year. The majority of incidents involved young teens aged between 11 and 14.

 

Typical behaviour includes threatening or offensive messages, but more sinister acts like online stalking and digital identity thefts are not uncommon. Istat, the national statistics agency, declares that 5.9 percent of all youngsters are subject to some form of cyberbullying.

 

Cyber bullies and online stalkers could in future face between one to six years in prison. The owners of a website, including blogs and social media accounts, under the proposed law, will have 48 hours to remove offensive contents before legal intervention from Italy's Garante della privacy, the official institution in charge of protecting personal data.

 

There will be a fine for site moderators who fail to remove the offending contents, while those found guilty of cyber stalking or bullying, for example the  posting of offensive contents, such as photos or videos, could be jailed for up to six years.

 

The draft bill was approved with 242 votes in favour, 73 against and 48 abstentions. The majority of the votes against came from the Five Star Movement which criticized amendments to the previous draft bill as a step in the direction of censorship. The argument was that anyone could demand the removal of contents they deem "mocking" or "insulting", without the need for an objective third party judgement.

 

The draft bill foresees also a prevention plan and education in schools with the collaboration of teachers. In every school there will be a person in charge of anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying initiatives. The headmaster will be responsible for informing the families of the students involved in bullying, and if necessary suggest measures for assisting the victims and the re-education of the bullies involved.

Giulia Lombardo

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