NRT: National wants to jail people who expose politicians

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, May 2nd, 2015 - 27 comments
Categories: blogs, journalism, law - Tags: , ,

Missed this in the commotion this week – interesting post from I/S at No Right Turn.


National wants to jail people who expose politicians

Today, thanks to a post on The Daily Blog, we learned that Prime Minister John Key is a creep.

The post performed a valuable public service, exposing unacceptable behaviour from a person in a position of power. But the government is currently in the process of passing a law which would make similar posts in future illegal.

The law is the Harmful Digital Communications Bill. Section 19 of the bill creates a crime of “causing harm by posting digital communication”:

A person commits an offence if—

(a) the person posts a digital communication with the intention that it cause harm to a victim; and

(b) posting the communication would cause harm to an ordinary reasonable person in the position of the victim; and

(c) posting the communication causes harm to the victim.

For the purposes of the law, “harm” is defined as “serious emotional distress”. TechLiberty’s pointed out last year that this clause applied perfectly to the exposure of corrupt politicians, something which an ordinary reasonable person would think would cause them serious emotional distress. And it applies equally to exposing creepy ones as well. And no, there’s no public interest defence. The kicker? The National-dominated select committee has increased the penalty for this offence from three months to two years imprisonment.

The message is clear: if in future you expose the Prime Minister as a creep using the internet, you’ll be facing jail. So much for our democracy.

27 comments on “NRT: National wants to jail people who expose politicians”

  1. vto 1

    (b)pulling the ponytail would cause harm to an ordinary reasonable person in the position of the victim; and

    (c) pulling the ponytail causes harm to the victim.

    I have corrected it for the select committee

  2. vto 2

    Why is the current law about mean and harmful communications not sufficient?

    Why is the internet different from newspapers?

    Why is the internet different from the bullshitters in parliaments (Winston peters crap over the years should be prosecuted)

    Why is the internet different from other forms of communication? It is not.

    More zero credibility from the zero government

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      The authoritarians in National and Act are concerned that they can’t control what people say on the net. Concerned that the truth will actually get out and that they won’t be able to defend against it.

    • Sable 2.2

      Because these bottom dwellers are in bed with the shifty MSM. They can’t control what ordinary people say on line however.

      • Sable 2.2.1

        This is the same stunt Abraham Lincoln pulled during the US civil war, only he was less subtle. Little known fact.

    • Tracey 2.3

      Because of the speed of proliferation… compared to say, a letter? I am just guessing.

      I also think this was to do with bullying, so includes texts.

  3. Ron 3

    Wow. If that becomes law I can see whale blubber spending a long time in custody.

  4. Bill 4

    John Key was not and is not the victim in any of this. The waitress was the victim. Was she making a communication intent on causing herself harm?

    Public embarrassment due to a public’s reaction might cause some emotional distress, but that’s a whole big step away from any digital communication.

    • Tracey 5.1

      Interesting. More interesting to me anyway, was the reference to Aristophanes using an extended finger in his play The Clouds….

      I LOVE the phrase The Thinkery.

  5. Sable 6

    Yet more creeping Fascism from the National Anti Socialist party of New Zealand.

  6. red-blooded 7

    While I can see the benefit of a public interest provision, I’m afraid I also see the benefit of this bill as it applies to the general public. I work with teenagers who can be emotionally devastated by bullying, gossip and name-calling on the internet. It is a really significant issue and is the most common kind of bullying. This can lead to more than hurt feelings; the impact on self-image, emotional stability, relationships with others, engagement with learning and even physical health can be enormous. I have known kids who began self-harming as a response to this kind of campaign of nastiness. And why have a bill specifically for digital communications? Because anyone can get on-line and say anything, it’s very public, it can be repeated endlessly rather than dying away, and it’s all too often anonymous. That’s very different from other kinds of publications (which are already governed by libel and other laws, and by professional standards).

    So, sorry to disagree, but I think there should be at least a decent attempt to reign in the power of digital bullies. The bill may well not succeed, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing to try.

    • vto 7.1

      The internet is already governed by same libel and other laws, the problem is one of prosecution and enforcement.

      Bullying can easily be libel but who on earth is going to take court action over it? Nobody, given the total impracticalities of it….
      … so then who would prosecute and enforce under this new legislation??? Exact same ‘total impracticality’ applies doesn’t it? (except for the powerful and rich, surprisingly…)

      So while good intentions may reside in the legislations authors the issue is already governed by laws and the problem is one not addressed by this legislation, namely prosecution and enforcement.

      • red-blooded 7.1.1

        Other forms of publications are also governed by professional standards and bodies like the Press Council. I know the penalties imposed by these bodies are often pretty pathetic, but there is a public renouncement of whatever comments caused offence and were shown to be in breach of agreed standards. At the moment, there’s no equivalent for digital communications and it’s a much tougher issue as so much of what’s published is posted by ordinary people like you and me (as opposed to professionals, governed by agreed standards) and (again like you and me) is anonymous or under a pseudonym.

        I’m not necessarily defending the detail of the new bill, I’m just saying that I do understand why it’s seen as necessary. Plus, unless I’m really missing something, I don’t see how the original post about the PM’s actions would fall under this bill. It could easily be argued that the intention of the publication was to share a personal story, rather than to cause harm to the PM. And the reporting of any attempt to shut down the story by the PM or his office prosecuting a young woman for sharing this story would be even more harmful than the reaction to the original post. Even if there was some kind of court order about reporting the issue directly, the overseas media would have a field day with it, and then our media would report on that.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1

          At the moment, there’s no equivalent for digital communications…

          That’s probably because we don’t actually need anything different for digital communications. Why would we when they’re almost the same rules except for the addition of the word ‘digital’?

          Because anyone can get on-line and say anything, it’s very public, it can be repeated endlessly rather than dying away, and it’s all too often anonymous.

          That’s just it. It’s not anonymous for most people. The ISP has name and billing address which is available to the police via a warrant. The majority of people can be easily tracked on the net.

          The problem isn’t that the rules don’t exist, they do, but that the majority of people can’t afford to hire a lawyer and take action against the bullies which really means that we need another solution. A solution that this government has been reducing even further via it’s changes to “Family Court procedure and the cuts that have occurred to the legal aid budget which might mean more litigants in person are entering a system that was primarily designed for represented litigants.” As VTO points out, the rich won’t have any problems taking people to court about an issue even if they’re in the wrong. Would we know about FJK’s actions around hair pulling if the waitress was in serious danger of being sued into eternal poverty?

          Further we need to consider the effect of ever more precise laws producing ever more loopholes that people can wriggle through. Broad laws that cover anything that resembles the action that we want to regulate will be caught whereas narrow laws tend to let stuff through.

    • Rosemary McDonald 7.2

      “…and it’s all too often anonymous. ”

      Which is why the bullies thrive in the internet environment.

      red blooded.. there is no doubt that the internet has magnified manyfold the ability of the bullies to exert their power. The consequences can be tragic. We allow children almost unfettered access to technology that has the same potential for harm as alchohol, drugs, cars, sex. Perhaps their should be an age limit? Perhaps some sort of licensing system whereby the applicant can prove they have an understanding of the rules of decent behaviour?

      What are the young people you are working with saying? How would they fix/prevent the problem?

      But….I don’t believe for a second this legislation is aimed at protecting teenagers from on line bullying.

      Not for a second.

  7. Tracey 8

    Isn’t this the Law so ironically championed bY Collins to combat cyber-bullying?

  8. ropata 9

    Depressing and dangerous: Global press freedom has reached lowest point in 10 years. via @FreedomHouseDC #WPFD2015 pic.twitter.com/Y7kHOsqp2m— Taryn Wilson (@Teedubbleyou) April 30, 2015

  9. Charles 10

    What about politicians who inadvertently expose themselves?

    Message on Facebook….

    “HI, do you remember me, I served you tea last Spring… you tugged my hair.”

    “O Hai! Yes I remember that little bit of ‘horseplay’ “.

    BAM. Into the dungeon for you, fool.*

    *this wouldn’t happen because NZ law only applies to people below the rank of burgermeister.

    NB: A burgermeister is not someone who runs a BK franchise, although it is possible to be both.

  10. One Anonymous Bloke 11

    I wonder whether the National Party has thought this through. How are they going to win elections if they can’t employ hate speech?

    Edit: Slater, Plunkett, Henry will all be looking for work…

  11. Steve Withers 12

    Time to have another look at TOR.

    • Sable 12.1

      TOR was developed originally for the US military. But if you still think it is safe, give it a go…

  12. Maui 13

    Ok, so there are tons of angry facebook posts/messages directed towards politicians. Does this mean it becomes illegal if said politician takes offence?

    • Sable 13.1

      That would seem to be the case. At the very least it is designed to intimidate people who may have legitimate grievances and have no other medium they can use to express them. Especially given how untrustworthy the MSM keep showing themselves to be. Of course this is all hidden beneath a PC veneer about bullying, designed to misstep the public as to the legislation’s real goal.

  13. esoteric pineapples 14

    It means anything put online that causes “emotional suffering” could be up for two years in prison from a Facebook comment on a friends page to a Fairfax print media story that is also put on Stuff.

  14. linda 15

    ive got felling they will target information that could affect the economy (vested interests ) scientist and researchers could be targeted as economic vandals affecting NZ when the facts differ from the governments (keys bullshit)PR, governments get sensitive about the truth as we approach economic collapse facts become dangerous .

    • Sable 15.1

      You have it in one. An unintended consequence of this may be people coming together face to face and forming opposition groups as used to happen. This is how Labour came about before they sold out to the right.

      All in all letting people blow off steam on the net is far less a threat. So this is not really a smart move but then smart and Tory are not close friends…

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  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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