Otago Daily Times
Internet Bill opposed as ‘invasive’
WELLINGTON: The Government wants to make livestreaming objectionable material a crime and punishable by up to 14 years in prison or a fine up to $200,000.
And platforms that do not comply with takedown orders could also receive a $200,000 fine.
But the Bill has been opposed by National, Act, the Maori Party and the Greens, who called it an ``overly invasive regime''.
National MP Simon Bridges said it was an extension of the ``cancel culture'' which led to Magic Talk radio host Sean Plunket losing his job.
``Whatever people think about Sean Plunket, the reality is in the last week or so he's been taken off his radio show by large corporates . . . who are scared. They're scared of identity politics and cancel culture.
``The easy thing to do is to get rid of him. That's insidious to our culture of freedom of expression.''
Mr Bridges said the Bill was an internet filter which ``fundamentally, arbitrarily'' reduced the freedoms of New Zealanders and which would drive content underground.
The legislation passed its first reading yesterday afternoon and will now go through a select committee process.
The Bill follows the March 15 Christchurch mosque attacks, which the terrorist livestreamed on Facebook for 15 minutes.
The video was then shared on sites like YouTube and Twitter.
Minister for Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti on Wednesday introduced an amendment to the
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, as part of a wider Government programme to address violent extremism.
Ms Tinetti said bringing livestreaming into the Act meant the Government could act more swiftly if another incident were to ever happen again.
What is considered ``objectionable material'' is already defined under the Classification Act and usually relates to any publication that deals with subjects like sex, horror, crime, cruelty and violence.
National and Act are opposing the Bill on the grounds of defending free speech and the Greens opposed it because, at present, the legislation would allow the Government to implement a web filter.
Ms Tinetti said she expected the Bill to be changed after putting it through a full select committee process — particularly around internet filters.
The Bill amends the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 so that. —
The Chief Censor will be able to more quickly notify the public of illegal content that could cause high levels of harm.
The livestreaming of objectionable content will be a criminal offence.
The Government will be able to issue takedown notices, requiring the removal of objectionable content online.
Social media companies will come within the scope of current laws on objectionable content.
Legal parameters are established for a potential web filter to block objectionable content in the future, subject to further policy development and consultation. — The New Zealand Herald