Tonga’s new bill countering internet abuse becomes law

A new cyber bullying bill has now become law in Tonga.

King Tupou VI assented to the bill known as the Electronic Communication Abuse Offences Act on 25 February.

In December, the Attorney General, Linda Folaumoetu'i, went on radio and TV at that time to explain that the law aims to address the use of any communication platform to abuse, harass or otherwise harm another.

In the Act the abuse can be by the person who creates, makes or originates an electronic communication as well as anyone who shares, reposts or distributes the material so that it can be seen or heard by the public in Tonga.    

Those found guilty are liable to a fine not exceeding $TP10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, or both.

A person that is convicted of any repeated serious offence will be liable to a fine not exceeding TP $20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.

According to the Electronic Communications Abuse Act, a service provider must prevent communications networks and facilities from being used in, or in relation to, the commission of offences in the Act.

A service provider must assist Tonga Police in inquiries regarding the Act.

A service provider who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply commits an offence punishable to a fine not exceeding TP$20,000.

A person who is allegedly harmed can apply for a court order to remove any information they deemed causing them any harm if the court is satisfied the respondent, service provider or relevant person or party has sent, or caused the electronic communication to be published.


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