Section: 6.0 Government responses

Government responses

Government responses

In this section, we're highlighting how governments from around the world have responded to various forms of online misogyny. These responses include things like proposed laws, projects, or policies. We've organised each country's response into three main areas: online misogyny, gendered hate, and misogynistic extremism. This section doesn’t aim to be exhaustive, and it is not our role or intention to recommend the adoption of particular policy settings for New Zealand


Many governments around the world are responding to the challenges posed by harmful content in general, including various forms of misogynistic content such as deepfakes, and image-based sexual abuse. Some are introducing new laws and policies, and some are successfully using existing settings to tackle new challenges.

We looked at responses from the UK, Scotland, Ireland, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, including proposed laws, projects, or policies. Some countries such as the UK, Ireland and Australia have already enacted online safety laws while others such as Canada and New Zealand are in the process of reviewing their current legislation.

Some key themes in these responses include:

Establishing online safety regulatory frameworks and systems

A number of countries and jurisdictions have introduced, amended or enacted online safety legislation to address harms including online misogyny. For example, the UK’s Online Safety Act 2023, Ireland’s Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022 and the EU’s Digital Services Act.

The creation of regulatory bodies or frameworks to oversee online platforms is becoming a standard approach in various countries. This may involve creating new regulatory bodies and roles like Ireland’s Media Commission and Online Safety Commissioner. Alternatively, some countries have granted new powers to existing media regulators such as the Australian eSafety Commissioner and Ofcom in the UK.

New Zealand is currently in the process of considering media regulatory reform; the Department of Internal Affairs consulted the public in 2023 on proposals in the Safer Online Services and Media Platforms.

Changes to hate offences

Several countries are considering or have enacted hate speech or hate crime laws that specifically recognise gender or sex as protected characteristics. For instance, Ireland’s proposed Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 includes crimes motivated by misogyny. The new legislation encompasses both hate crime and hate speech, including online.

In contrast, the UK does not consider sex or gender as protected characteristics under hate crime laws and has instead implemented alternative policies designed to address violence against women and girls such as the Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and the Violence Against Women and Girls National Statement of Expectations.

Other countries are expanding their definitions of hate crime to include gender and gender identity, as seen in the expanded federal hate crime laws in the United States.

Classifying misogynistic extremist ideologies as violent extremist ideologies

More countries are recognising misogynistic-motivated violence as a form of violent extremism. In Canada, misogynistic extremism (or gender-driven violence) is acknowledged as a part of broader extremist ideologies and is categorised accordingly for better law enforcement and countermeasures.

In the UK, the Prevent programme previously categorised incel ideology under a broad group labelled as ‘mixed, unstable or unclear’. Recent updates to the Prevent programme in England and Wales, however, have expanded the number of high-level concern categories from four to 10. This expansion specifically includes categories that were once considered 'mixed, unstable or unclear’. As a result, incel ideology is now recognised as one of the 10 high-level concern categories.

In the United States, the government has used five threat categories since 2019 to understand the domestic terrorism threat. Incel ideology is categorised under the All Other Domestic Terrorism Threats (DVEs) category.