Cyberbullying and the law

There is no legal definition of cyberbullying within UK law. However there are a number of existing laws that can be applied to cases of cyberbullying and online harassment, namely:

  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
  • Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • Communications Act 2003
  • Breach of the Peace (Scotland)
  • Defamation Act 2013

Guidelines issued by the Crown Prosecution Service in Dec 2012 explain how cases of cyberbullying will be assessed under the current legislation. Download the ‘CPS Guidelines’ here.

The Defamation Act 2013 came into force on 1st January 2014. To read the act and for more information click here.


European Data Protection Legislation is now being applied to issues of cyberbullying, online harassment and identity theft.

In 2010, Giovanni Buttarelli, the Assistant European Data Protection Supervisor, outlined how EU Data Protection could be implemented to protect individuals from cyberbullying and online harassment.

Conference Report: “Cyber-Harassment in Schools” (2010)

In 2014, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are due to implement reforms to the EU Data Legislation.

The European Commission has also been active in curbing online abuse by forming an agreement with 17 of the world’s leading social networks, including Facebook and Myspace, to ensure young people and children are better protected online.

Visit Bullying and the law for more information relating to bullying and the law in the United Kingdom.

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