• Austria's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Austria cracks down on cyber abuse

The Local · 4 Jan 2016, 12:59

Published: 04 Jan 2016 12:59 GMT+01:00

Austria has been named as the worst country in Europe for bullying, with a recent OECD study showing that every second school child suffers from the effects of bullying - not just in the form of physical and verbal abuse but also from derogatory comments and intimate photos posted on social media sites such as Facebook.

Since the beginning of January online bullying is now a criminal offence. Previously police used other legislation - such as anti-stalking and defamation laws - to prosecute serious cases of cyber abuse.

Thorsten Behrens from the Austrian Institute for Applied Telecommunications (ÖIAT) told the Kurier newspaper that police will now have to change their approach to such cases. “Police may find it difficult to assess individual cases, not every dispute will be a case of bullying.”

Another issue will be identifying the ringleader in cases where a large group of people are all bullying the same victim online. “Probably we will see cases where more than one person is charged, and only a longer investigation will determine who started the bullying,” Behrens said.

Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said that as soon as a death threat is posted online, the case will be passed onto IT experts at the State Office of Criminal Investigations.

Cyberbullying can affect any age groups but is a particular problem among teenagers and children. “Where insults and abuse used to stop at the school gates, victims are now being tormented at home on social networks. Even when a young victim changes schools the bullying can continue as all the information about them is easily available online,” Behrens said.

The recent report from the OECD showed that a staggering 30 percent of teenage girls in Austria claim to have been bullied via the Internet or their mobile phone. Under Austrian law teenagers under the age of 14 cannot be prosecuted - meaning that many cases of cyberbullying may go unpunished. Police spokesman Hahslinger said that cases where underage children are involved will be handed over to the Youth Welfare Office.

Punishments handed out under the new law will depend on the intensity of the bullying. If death threats are posted, or the victim is driven to attempt suicide or does take their own life this could result in a jail sentence of up to three years for anyone over the age of 14.

Story continues below…

Earlier this year a 15-year-old girl in France killed herself after an intimate film featuring her and her boyfriend was shared online.

Many perpetrators are able to cover their tracks quickly online and police advise victims to take screenshots of any offensive and upsetting postings made by bullies - and urge not to ignore the cyber abuse.

The United States has more extensive legislation on cyberbullying than the European Union, but Sweden was the first EU country to introduce a law against cyberbullying and has the least amount of school bullying in the western world, according to the OECD report.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
First poll predicts Austrian far-right to win election re-run
Photo: Norbert Hofer/Instagram

The first poll taken ahead of the repeat of the Austrian presidential election in October has put the previously defeated far-right candidate a few percentages ahead of his rival.

12 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Andrew Kuznetsov/Creative Commons

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Austrian police assess risks in refugee homes
Caritas Wien

Austrian police are going into asylum centres to encourage friendly relations with locals and to try to spot and prevent radicalisation of refugees.

FBI hack 50 computers in Austria in criminal operation
Photo: @matylda/hackNY/CreativeCommons

A mass hacking carried out by the American FBI in 2015 as part of an international child pornography investigation affected 50 computers in Austria with a virus.

Salzburg Festival: 'soul food in troubled times'
The festivla director Helga Rabl-Stadler and president Sven-Eric Bechtolf. Photo: Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

The Salzburg Festival kicked off on Thursday, with organisers hoping the classical arts extravaganza would give visitors some respite from the "troubled times" Europe is facing.

Austrian festival ups security in wake of attacks
Photo: Lake Festival

Organisers of a festival in Austria expected to see hundreds of thousands of visitors say they have tightened security at the site following recent terror attacks around Europe.

Mystery priest skull and hat discovered in Austria
Photo: ORF screengrab

A priest carrying out renovation work on a church in Austria was surprised to discover a skull that could be up to 900 years old buried in a hidden wall cavity.

Opinion
Austrian case offers British expats hope after Brexit
Jose Manuel Mota/Creative Commons

A legal case concerning an Austrian who gained then lost German citizenship might offer hope to British expats concerned about residency rights following Brexit.

Linz ordered to pay €9 million for lost Klimt and Schiele art
One of Egon Schiele’s paintings in his Tote Stadt series. Image: Wikimedia

The city of Linz has been ordered by Austria’s highest court to pay nearly €9 million to the heirs of an art collector after losing four pieces of artwork she owned by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Terror conspiracy suspects to be extradited
Linz High Court. Photo: www.justiz.gv.at

Austria is to hand over to France two suspected members of the same Islamic State group unit who massacred 130 people in Paris last November, officials and media reports said Wednesday.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Politics
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Gallery
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
National
Another 10 million Euros for fresh elections
Society
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Gallery
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
National
It's gonna be hot... here's how to cope
National
Europe's ice cream capital
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Best Austrian beauty spots
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
National
How to make friends in Austria
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Don't hesitate - break the window
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Sport
Ready to watch some football? Here's how!
National
Cake rules
Politics
Austria's choice for a new president
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Profile on Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party Presidential Candidate
Politics
Austrian politics explained. TL;DR: worry not.
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Features
Refugees need practical help
Lifestyle
All you need to know about Austrian Faschingskrapfen
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Why looking good on the ski slopes has never been easier
Lifestyle
Live in Austria? You might develop some of these weird habits
National
How 'Silent Night' rules the carol world
2,503
jobs available