We’ve already discussed why disconnecting the Internet to punish someone is an inappropriate response. We don’t cut off people’s power or water if they commit a crime using them, and the Internet is becoming as important as those infrastructural services. We need the Internet to communicate with family, to perform our jobs, to deal with the government, for education and for entertainment. The Internet is becoming increasingly vital to participating in modern society.
But, ignoring this important point for now, there are also a number of practical reasons why Internet disconnection doesn’t work as a punishment for downloading unauthorised material.
Continue reading Internet disconnection is impractical
Even so! Look! We live in a computerized world. I can’t do a thing anywhere – I can’t get information – I can’t be fed – I can’t amuse myself – I can’t pay for anything, or check on anything, or just plain do anything – without using a computer.
– A Perfect Fit, Isaac Asimov, 1981
Why are we so interested in civil liberties? Surely they’re a luxury that we can’t afford in these economically depressed times, with war and terrorism on the international horizon?
Continue reading Internet disconnection is not an option
Statistics New Zealand recently released the results of their latest survey of ISPs (Internet Survey Providers). This included data on how many ISPs offered an Internet content filtering service.
Continue reading Internet Filtering Offered by ISPs
Stuff is running a poll about Internet censorship next to an article about the Australian plans to censor the Internet. While online polls aren’t very statistically valid, I was still heartened to see the results:
Should New Zealand censor the internet?
- 13% – Yes, just like we censor films & TV.
- 61% – No, it’s against free speech.
- 26% – No, it’s a waste of money.
A total of 87% of the 1964 people who voted were opposed to Internet censorship.
Why New Zealand should withdraw from the secret and anti-democratic process around the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty negotiations.
- New technology is creating challenges to copyright and therefore the content industry.
- Our copyright laws will need to change in a way that meets the requirements of everyone.
- The ACTA process is trying to use a secretive and undemocratic process to change our copyright laws to satisfy one sector.
- The New Zealand government should withdraw from the ACTA negotiations and keep to treaties that can be publicly discussed.
Continue reading ACTA and the New Copyright Deal
The Law Commission is continuing its run of reviewing significant laws (Search and Surveillance Bill, Suppression of Evidence report). This time it’s the turn of the Official Information Act 1982. Their work is at a very early stage – they’re canvassing views in an attempt to come up with an issues paper to guide further discussion.
Continue reading Law Commission to Review Official Information Act
In our recent article, Law Commission Demands ISPs Filter the Internet, we wrote that the Law Commission’s report Suppressing Names and Evidence required internet service providers (ISPs) to be able to block access to information hosted on overseas websites.
At the R v Internet seminar in Wellington, Warren Young, Deputy Head of the Law Commission, stated that this was not their intention (while admitting it was badly worded). Rather they only intended for local ISPs to have to take down locally hosted information. While this is somewhat of a relief as it means that we can avoid the necessity of implementing a China-style Internet censorship system, there are still a number of problems with this position.
- It puts the burden on ISPs to remove material when the onus should be on the people who have published the material (i.e. the individual blogger or the site that allowed the comment in their forum). Putting the liability on the ISP is like blaming the local dairy owner for the content of the newspapers they sell.
- Many websites that are popular in New Zealand, such as Facebook and Twitter, are not hosted in New Zealand. While it might be possible to make requests to the individuals discussing suppressed information (and even act against them if they are in NZ and can be identified), this is going to be as successful as King Canute was at stopping the tide.
- While ‘responsible’ bloggers and media companies may take down material suppressed by the NZ courts, this just means that anyone searching for information will find the myriad of ‘irresponsible’ sources who probably don’t even realise they’re in contempt of court.
A summary of the main links to articles about the R v Internet seminar held in Wellington on December the 3rd.
Tech Liberty summary of events:
- Session 1 – Chris Finlayson (Attorney General), Tony Smith (law professor, VUW), David Collins (Solicitor General)
- Session 2 – Panel discussion with Steven Price (media law expert), Robert Lithgow QC, Brent Edwards (journalist)
- Session 3 – Warren Young (Law Commission) and Judge David Harvey
- Session 4 – Panel discussion with Sinead Boucher (Fairfax), Ursula Cheer (associate professor, Canterbury), David Farrar (blogger)
Kiwiblog (David Farrar) summary of events:
Sinead Boucher – Group Online Editor, Fairfax
Everything’s changing very, very fast, no sooner do they get a handle on something then they have to rethink it. What we discuss today might be obsolete in another year.
Last year they had a talk about social media and didn’t even mention Twitter in their meeting. Now Twitter is changing everything, news goes out instantly – and then half an hour later the judge suppresses the information.
Continue reading R v Internet – Final Panel
Law Commission Review of Suppression
Warren Young, Deputy President of the Law Commission, started off the afternoon sessions by talking about the Law Commission’s Suppressing Names and Evidence report (PDF).
- Open justice unless this would result in injustice.
- Bill of Rights Act – freedom of expression. But reasonable limits as can be justified in a free and democratic society.
Continue reading R v Internet – Third Session