Italy passes law to fight cyberbullying

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian parliament on Wednesday passed a long-awaited law intended to tackle online bullying of children after several high-profile cases in which victims have committed suicide.

In a rare show of unity, the Chamber of Deputies passed the law with 432 votes in favour and just one abstention after a three-year passage through parliament.

“We dedicate this law to Carolina Picchio and all the other victims of cyberbullying,” Chamber speaker Laura Boldrini said after the vote.

Picchio, 14, threw herself from a third-floor window after cyber bullies circulated a sexually explicit video of her that they had filmed with their mobile telephones at a party.

The legislation provides a specific legal definition of cyberbullying for the first time in Italy, and requires all schools to educate pupils to use the Internet responsibly and to have a member of staff responsible for tackling the problem.

It makes it illegal to use the Internet to offend, slander, threaten or steal the identity of a minor, and allows the victim or their parent to demand that websites hosting abusive content remove it within 48 hours.

Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Kevin Liffey