The Italian parlament has approved long-awaited legislation to address cyberbullying, in a move to prevent users of the Internet and social platforms from abusing a minor. The law, definitively voted on May 17 by the Chamber of Deputies with only one abstention, came after nearly three years of parliamentary debate in response to several cases of suicide of victims of online bullying.
The piece of legislation, which broadly defines cyberbullying as any use of the Internet to offend, threaten, abuse, blackmail, denigrate, and steal the identity of minors, was welcomed by the families of victims as the first step in a long battle.
The Italian law follows similar legislative initiatives in other countries. In the United States, only 23 countries have included cyber abuse in their bullying laws and 18 states punish it with criminal sanctions, according tocyberbullying.org.
School policy is required by all but one US state. In Italy, schools will have to appoint a teacher to lead initiatives against cyberbullying. Moreover, minors above 14 years of age who have been victims of online abuse, as well as their parents, can ask website hosts and social platforms to remove and block abusive content within 48 hours. Access providers and research engines however are excluded.