New Zealand Strips Free Speech From the Internet

Posted in News
Thu, Jul 2 - 5:40 pm EDT | 3 years ago by
Comments: 12
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Tweet
Use Arrow Keys (← →) to Browse

The Morse Code - New Zealand

Fewer places on this planet are freer than New Zealand, I’m told. In fact, it’s currently ranked 3rd in the world behind Hong Kong and Singapore…no, you read that correctly.

But Frodo’s backyard has now put free speech on the chopping block in order to protect online denizens from any hurt feelings they might succumb to due to someone being mean on the internet, with the passage of the “Harmful Digital Communications Bill.”

In a 116-5 vote, the Kiwis have now passed a bill that essentially makes it a crime to speak ill of anyone on the internet.

“The Harmful Digital Communications Bill seeks to mitigate the harm caused to individuals by electronic communications and to provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and effective means of redress,” it says.

So what counts as harmful communication? The bill defines it as such:

  1. A disclosure of sensitive personal facts
  2. Threatening, intimidating, or menacing communication
  3. Grossly offensive communication
  4. False allegations
  5. Breaches of confidence
  6. Encouraging anyone to send a message to send a message to someone else to cause harm
  7. Causing or encouraging someone to commit suicide
  8. Being racist, sexist, bigoted, phobic, ableist, etc.

What’s just as worrying about this Big Brother-esque bill itself is how broad the rules are. “Grossly offensive communication” has no specificity to it. “Menacing communication” can mean any number of things depending on who you talk to, and racism and sexism are proven to have varying degrees of offensiveness depending on where the racism or sexism is coming from, or going to.

The rules change from source to source and recipient to recipient. Just ask “anti-online abuse activist” and top tier bully, Randi Harper.

This didn’t escape the lawmakers either as it even says in the bill: “In determining whether a post would cause harm, the court may take into account any factors it considers relevant, including (a) the extremity of the language used; (b) age and characteristics of the victim.”

So what kind of action will the New Zealand government take?

According to the bill, reports will be handed over to a government organization – one that they will create in the future – that handles online abuse. Yes, an entire bureaucracy to handle mean comments on websites.

This government agency will receive the complaints, investigate them, then use mediation or “persuasion (as appropriate)” to resolve the problem, which doesn’t sound like 1920s Chicago mafia talk at all.

In the event that this agency cannot resolve the matter, then it goes to court where the court may force the offending party to:

  • Take down or disable material
  • Order that the defendant stop communication with the complainant
  • Order that a right of reply be given
  • Order that a correction be published
  • Order that an apology be published
  • Order that a correction be published
  • Order that the identity of an anonymous author be released to the court

Failing to comply with any of this could result in “imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding $5,000.”

In other words, you can be thrown in jail for someone taking offense to what you said on the internet, and the sentences go up the more “harm” you cause.

The law doesn’t stop at individuals either, as websites that host the offensive material are themselves liable, and may be subject to up to $20,000 in fines if they do not force the offender to remove the offending material, or the host doesn’t remove it themselves within 48 hours.

We’re entering a world where hurt feelings rule the day with legal force. Speaking your mind may get you on the bad side of the wrong person, and soon you’ll find yourself being ordered to take it back and apologize… or else.

It might not even matter if your intent wasn’t remotely harmful, or even just lightheartedly funny. If it hurt feelings, it’s going to hurt you. In an age of “microaggressions” and self-proclaimed victimhood, New Zealand may find itself a little less Shire and a little more Mordor.

My heart goes out to New Zealanders, who soon will only be able to practice free speech behind a closed door, under a blanket, with the radio on.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Brandon Morse has been writing about politics and culture across many websites for the last six years, with a heavy emphasis on anti-authoritarianism. Aside from writing articles, he is also known for voice acting and authoring scripts. He is an avid gamer, dog person, and has a bad habit of making vague references to things no one has heard about or seen. Follow him at @TheBrandonMorse on Twitter.

Click through the gallery below to read more from Morse in his previous EveryJoe columns:


Freedom

We all want safety, but freedom isn't safe.

Photo by Roman Slavik/Getty Images

Cologne Attacks

When it comes to the horrific attacks in Cologne, where are the feminists with their outrage?

Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

College Protests

Shame these social justice obsessed students, shame their professors more.

Photo: “Bauer sanbernardino”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikipedia

Political Leanings

The political spectrum is a line not a graph.

Photo by Pablographix / Getty Images

Free Speech

Free speech will win, whether you like it or not.

Photo by benjaminec/Getty Images

Gun Control

There are many things that we can take away from this buried Harvard gun control study.

Photo by Bytmonas/Getty Images

Note to Internet Feminists

There’s always some third-waver going on about how she’s the victim of the worst kinds of behavior from the denizens of the world wild web. Take note -- the internet isn't always nice.

Photo by Volkan Analan / Getty Images

Don't Ignore Them

Conservatives need to stop ignoring famous dumb people.

Photo by Jacob Wackerhausen / Getty Images

Feminine vs Feminism

Many strong women are rejecting the weak ideas of today's feminists.

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/Getty Images

Hillary is Not Rand Paul’s Problem, Bernie Is

To get his campaign back on track, Rand Paul needs to put a message out to those libertarians who are currently being fooled by Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Consent Contracts

“Yes Means Yes” is actually “Yes Means You’re At Her Mercy”.

Planned Parenthood Scandal

Every organization or person who endorses or defends Planned Parenthood is implicit in helping to facilitate this business, and they need to be made to own it.

19th Amendment

One common myth is that prior to 1920 no women in America were able to vote. That simply isn't true

Jesus

Leftists need to stop saying that Jesus was a socialist, because he's not.

Election 2016

She's officially thrown her hat in the ring. Read Brandon Morse's opinions on Clinton -- Hillary: A Rant for the Rest of Us.

How Low Can They Go?

Read Brandon Morse's The Ballad of Rolling Stone.

A Sheepdog In Wolf’s Clothing

Morse takes on Benevolent Sexism.

Right in the Childhood

These days, there's a Pill for Every Ill -- even for our youngest kids.
Use Arrow Keys (← →) to Browse

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Tweet

Related Posts