Steps to Take in Response to Online Harms
Module 7: Cybercrimes
This section lays out practical approaches to dealing with various online harms.
- Tell the story and engage in advocacy. While ensuring that the identity of the victim or survivor is fully protected, identify the online harms which were committed and brief the press and start an advocacy campaign. Too often, reporting is limited on online harms, which enables these practices to grow.
- Consider domestic legal challenges. Many cybercrimes laws in Asia arguably breach fundamental rights and freedoms, especially in their vagueness and generality. In such cases, recourse to the courts may provide relief, especially in constitutional democracies.
- Approach UN mechanisms. In cases where cybercrimes legislation is being used to unjustly violate rights and freedoms, and domestic courts have been unwilling to provide an adequate remedy, impacted individuals or groups may consider whether they can file an individual complaint with a competent international treaty body, such as the UN Human Rights Committee. For residents of states which have not recognised a relevant UN treaty body’s jurisdiction over individual complaints, individuals may still seek to raise their concerns through communications to UN special rapporteurs or, in the case of arbitrary detentions under cybersecurity legislation, with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. (For more on UN Mechanisms, see Module 11 of this course.)
- Consider obtaining an interdict/injunction or harassment order. A harassment or protection order can be an inexpensive civil remedy which can be useful in cases where the behaviour may not constitute a crime but may impact negatively on the rights of a person. The order prohibits a person from harassing another person, and breaching it constitutes an offence, which is usually punishable by a fine or a period of imprisonment. Many anti-harassment acts include bullying and cyberstalking. For example, Singapore’s Protection from Harassment Act includes certain cybercrimes, such as ‘doxxing’ (the publication of personal information or images with the intention of harassing or causing violence).(1)