Submission: Suppression in Criminal Reform Bill

Tech Liberty has made a submission to the Justice and Electoral Committee about the Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill. (See our earlier articles.)

In this we argue that:

  • We are strong supporters of open justice and believe that overuse of suppression risks weakening our justice system. We recommend that discretion around suppression should be tightened and that most suppression orders should be for a limited time.
  • There are tremendous difficulties with defining “identifying information”, particularly when multiple sources may each have a separate piece of information that combine to break suppression.
  • That the nature of “publication” is changing as our personal communications are now conducted in public (Twitter, Facebook). We recommend the offence should be changed to punish those who deliberately breach suppression orders.
  • The nature of the “media” is changing as the Internet has allowed everyone the ability to publish, and that the law should not try to define a privileged class of media. We recommend removing the special standing for traditional news media.
  • That it is unjust to make ISPs responsible for the actions of their customers, and that doing so will lead to false claims. Furthermore that the definition of ISP is unreasonable in that it defines any person who runs a website as an ISP.
  • That ISP-based suppression is technically impractical as ISPs often will not have access to individual pages and would therefore often have to take down the entire website or even a server with multiple sites.
  • We recommend that clause 216 making ISPs liable should be removed in its entirety.

Download the full submission (PDF).