Thursday, 17 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages
I too support this amendment. As Deputy Pringle, it is very disturbing and distressing for people to be beset by or have harmful or menacing messages sent to them, or to be harassed all the time in terms of one-way traffic. Legislation needs to deal with this.
As Deputy Pringle said, perhaps we are rushing this Bill. We all wanted it and spoke here a month ago when the crisis hit. Deputy Howlin has been championing this issue for years. Perhaps we might make haste slowly and get it right because we are rushing it. As Deputy Pringle said also, reviews do not always happen in as timely fashion as we would like them. I have seen that to be the case with legislation and it is very seldom it is repealed, properly reviewed or returned for debate. We get one chance at it. This is so serious that perhaps we should go through it line by line because we are dealing with sophisticated criminals who have the money and the wherewithal to challenge legislation. It needs to be robust, effective and transparent and send out a message that this kind of behaviour of following, intimidating or sending messages with spyware is not acceptable. Electronic surveillance is worse and there must be a mechanism to deal with that to ensure there are proper penalties which will act as a deterrent because we need them.