Cyberlaw deals with the legal issues related to almost everything that happens in cyberspace.
The term social media encompasses many different types of internet applications that allow user-generated content and multi-directional exchange of information (eg: Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube). In many areas of law, there are no specific or different laws or rules in place for social media. This means:
Be careful about what you say about yourself and others. Posting something rude, offensive or derogatory can have consequences. For instance, your comments and/or the photos you post may be considered defamatory, hurtful, threatening, or image-abuse by others. Even after you’ve “deleted” them, there’s no guarantee that your content disappears – copies of it could exist on backups, or might already have been downloaded by others. This content could later be presented as legal evidence against you at university, your job, or another setting, or even in court.
Cyber abuse is online behaviour which is reasonably likely to have a seriously threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating effect on a person. It is behaviour that threatens to hurt a person socially, psychologically or even physically. Cyber abuse includes behaviour such as cyberbullying and image based abuse. It can take place in various online spaces, like chat rooms and social networking sites, or through emails, messaging apps or on message boards.
For more information on cyber abuse generally: esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyber-abuse
Cyberbullying is behaviour carried out online or through mobile phones that is meant to be hurtful, targets a certain person or group of people, happens more than once, and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied.
For more information on what cyberbullying is and how to get help: humanrights.gov.au/cyberbullying-what-it-and-how-get-help-violence-harassment-and-bullying-fact-sheet
Cyberbullying may be a crime under either NSW or federal law when it involves:
You can report cyberbullying to your local police on 131 444 or by going to your local station, or you can make a report to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) agency for referral to the appropriate law enforcement agency: acorn.gov.au/learn-about-cybercrime/cyber-bullying
If you’re questioned or arrested by the police in relation to cyberbullying, you should give your correct name and address, but exercise your right to remain silent for any other questions. Try to stay calm, and politely ask to get legal advice before you give them any other information.
In NSW, it’s illegal to record, distribute or threaten to distribute an intimate image without consent. If this happens to you, you can report it to the police on 131 444 or by going to your local station.
For more information about image-based abuse: 1800respect.org.au/violence-and-abuse/image-based-abuse
For confidential information, referral and counselling 24 hours a day/7 days a week you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or live chat at: chat.1800respect.org.au/webmodules/chat/initialinformation.aspx
For information about the law in this area in other states: esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/legal/whats-the-law-in-my-state-territory
If you have experienced image-based abuse, there are number of actions you can take to have your images removed or deleted. For more information: esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/action
Scammers are getting increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to get your money or personal details. Be alert and protect yourself from being scammed by following these tips: scamwatch.gov.au/get-help/protect-yourself-from-scams
For more information on the types of scams out there and those that are currently trending: scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams
If you need further assistance with any area of cyberlaw, the SUPRA Legal Service can help you.
This information is current as at December 2018 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.