No Right Turn has a post The blogosphere is not above the law.
Since the beginning, there’s been a meme on the internet that the law doesn’t really apply here, and that we can get away with anything. But while there may be practical difficulties (particularly if people are smart and careful), it certainly does, and if the government can track you down, they can certainly hold you to account for any misdeeds.
The New Zealand blogosphere is about to be reminded of this. Earlier in the month, a well-known sewerblogger published the name of an accused rapist, in violation of a suppression order. He is now being prosecuted, and if convicted he could be fined up to $1,000. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy…
Yeah it was bound to happen eventually. I find the suppression orders mildly pointless for some cases myself – it usually takes minutes to find any high profile one about the net. But we do obey them because the judge has more information than we do, and we generally respect their decisions. Some of the sewerbloggers, like this one, do not. They seem to not pick cases with any actual public interest considerations either, preferring to concentrate on personal dog-whistles without regard to the integrity of the court process or the other people involved.
There are few suppression orders that are somewhat irksome. For instance, the suppression orders around the October 15th 2007 ‘terrorism’ raid decisions to date seem unnecessarily stifling in the context of the Search and Surveillance bill going through parliament at present. I had to censor 7 words from rockys post “Suppression Orders & The Internet” last month for referring to those decisions in her post. I find it difficult to understand who would not benefit by releasing those decisions apart from the people being given more powers to abuse in the SS bill. But I haven’t read Judge Helen Winkelmanns decision to find the grounds for the suppression.
However this is a discussion that will happen when the now 2 year old case finally goes to trial. To date the court has only been sitting on questions of what evidence may be admitted after submissions from both the police and the defendants. From what I know, I would suspect that the public interest questions of the current decisions far outweigh other considerations.
But unlike the sewerbloggers, we adhere to current law. It isn’t that onerous. I haven’t mentioned the sewerblogger in question at all through here despite making my points. I’d strongly prefer (ie moderate) that it isn’t mentioned in the comments…. It makes it easier if he does go for name suppression.