Fight against Cyber bullying more successful after self-regulatory code?


Cyber bullying might be better prevented as a consequence of the self-regulatory code whose draft version is now subject to a consultation run by the Italian Ministry of the Economic Development.

Bullying and harassments against minors have become more and more frequent because of the usage of electronic means and in particular social networks, emails and user generated content websites. A clear example of such phenomenon was given some years ago by the famous Google Vividown case which saw 3 Google managers first convicted and then discharged because of the publication on Google Video of a video showing an handicapped young guy while he was harassed by some of his classmates.

The draft self-regulatory code, among others, will oblige Internet Service Providers that will decide to join the code to make available a clear mechanism of notification of bullying and harassments on their platforms by the victims and of take down of harmful contents within 2 hours from the delivery of the notification in order to prevent that the challenged conduct is repeated or its effects can be widespread.

The above provision certainly shows a relevant commitment by ISPs, but it is questionable whether they will be really able to assess and remove challenged contents within such a tight time frame. Indeed, this type of issues had been discussed also at the time of the drafting of the new regulations on copyright breaches on the Internet. Indeed, while the initial version of the copyright regulations set out a 2 or 7 days term for the take down of the challenged material, such term has then been completely removed in the final version of the regulations that however provides a very stringent procedure that can lead to a final decision within 35 working days whose breach is sanctioned with fines up to EUR 258,000.

In order to comply with the terms of the self-regulatory code ISPs shall appoint some dedicated personnel. However, we shall also see whether any change to the code will be implemented since up to the 24th of February it will be possible to file comments on the current version.

We will monitor the developments of the matter.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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