TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Australia Outlaws Using Internet to Incite Suicide

Australia Outlaws Using Internet to Incite Suicide

Lisa Minter (
Fri, 24 Jun 2005 12:54:01 -0500

People who use the Internet to incite others to commit suicide or
teach them how to kill themselves face fines of up to A$550,000
($430,000) under tough new laws passed in Australia on Friday.

Using the Internet to counsel or incite others to commit suicide or to
promote and provide instruction on ways to do it has been outlawed but
the new laws were not designed to stifle debate about euthanasia,
Justice Minister Chris Ellison said.

"These offences are designed to protect the young and the vulnerable,
those at greatest risk of suicide, from people who use the Internet
with destructive intent to counsel or incite others to kill
themselves," Ellison said in a statement. Individuals convicted of
such offences face a fine of up to A$110,000, while corporations face
a fine of up to A$550,000.

Use of the Internet to organize suicide pacts emerged as a grim
problem for Japan last year, with dozens of Japanese killing
themselves in Internet-linked group suicides.

Helping someone to commit suicide is illegal in Australia but there
has been a long-simmering debate about euthanasia.

Dr Philip Nitschke shot to fame in 1997 when he helped four people die
in the Northern Territory, where the practice was briefly legal before
the national government stepped in to overturn local laws.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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