Cyberviolence at a glance
Cyberviolence comprises a broad range of conduct that most directly affects the dignity and rights of individuals. States have a positive obligation to protect individuals from the potential harms of the internet while ensuring human rights are protected (K.U. v. Finland). It is therefore essential that states manage to strike a fine balance between sufficiently interfering in order to protect persons from cyberviolence and harassment on one hand, and respecting the freedom of expression and right to privacy on the other hand.
While prevention is essential and should be given priority, criminal justice is part of the response.
Better training and awareness raising of criminal justice authorities regarding cyberviolence should be provided (including its investigation, prosecution and sanctioning, where it constitutes a criminal offence).
Use should be made of the tools available under the Budapest, Lanzarote and Istanbul Conventions of the Council of Europe, as well as the Protocol on Xenophobia and Racism to the Budapest Convention, but also Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, whether or not States are Parties to those instruments.
These Council of Europe international standards offer valuable guidance and tools to states in tackling cyberviolence.
Existing domestic legislation may in some circumstances be adequate to capture cyberviolence, or specific cyber offences may need to be introduced. Drafters should consider making offences technologically neutral so as to ensure they can be applied to emerging technologies and forms of cyberviolence. The success of international co-operation for emerging crime types can be influenced by the level of adequate criminalisation of cyberviolence domestically.
Service providers play crucial role in detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of cyberviolence.
They also play a key role in combatting forms of cyberviolence that involve illegal content, by providing mechanisms for reporting and removing illegal content from platforms. The Council of Europe Committee of Minister’s recommendation on the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries calls on all states to provide a human rights and rule of law-based framework that lays out the main obligations of the states with respect to the protection and promotion of human rights in the digital environment, and the respective responsibilities of intermediaries.