I have to be honest with you all, when the Harmful Digital Communications Act passed, I didn’t take a hell of a lot of notice of the fine print.
On the surface, the Act seemed reasonable. Human beings have a terrible ability to be cruel to one another and when they can be anonymous online that ability manages to become infinite, so I like many NZers probably nodded in agreement at legislation to combat online bullying in a cultural landscape that includes social media.
Oh how wrong was I.
Two days ago I was contacted by Netsafe who requested that under the powers given them from the Harmful Digital Communications Act that I censor The Daily Blog.
It gets so much worse than that though.
Not only am I not allowed to tell you, the readership of The Daily Blog, that I have been contacted by Netsafe to censor the blog, I am not allowed to tell you the content they wish to censor and I am not allowed to tell you if the blog has been censored.
Over the last 48 hours I have been shocked to learn the huge powers that have been handed over to a jumped up NGO who is merely deputised by the Ministry of Justice to manage the Harmful Digital Communications Act.
This law was effectively set up to stop teenagers bullying each other on bloody Facebook, what the hell are they doing trying to censor a political blog?
If The Daily Blog has published something that is a falsehood about you as an individual you have the right to contact me as the editor and request a right of reply and if we have over stepped the mark, an apology from the blog – failing that, you can always sue us for defamation.
I’ve been in this game since 1995, and in my 23 years (despite being banned from Radio NZ for life for supposedly defaming John Key), I’ve never been sued for defamation. I know the law, I sail pretty close to it at times, but I don’t over step it and I’ve got almost a quarter of a century of experience to back that up.
We have reviewed the blogs that Netsafe have asked to be censored and there is NOTHING defamatory in those blogs. If NZers knew what blogs Netsafe wanted censored, there would be outrage at the obvious political influences at work here.
Netsafe demanded that I respond within 48 hours as to whether or not I would comply with their requests for censorship, so let me respond publicly to Netsafe.
You can censor The Daily Blog the day you take the keyboard from my cold dead hands. The content you have asked to be censored is not defamatory and allowing secret censorship of political blogs is the most dangerous and disturbing part of your powers.
This blog ain’t for turning
My advice to Netsafe is that they pause, take a long deep breath and consider the Public backlash at this type of censorship. You were given these powers to stop cyber bullying, you sure as Christ weren’t given them to censor political blogs. This is an outrageous abuse of power and I won’t acquiesce to it.
Any incoming new Government in September has to urgently check the powers that have been given Netsafe, because I can’t imagine anyone who voted for the Harmful Digital Communications Act thought for one second it would be used against legitimate political comment online.
If Netsafe continue this action against The Daily Blog, I will ensure you our readers know about it.