****ing censorship? Harmful Digital Communications Bill

DU [deactivated account] Public Seen by 205


Does censorship have to be imposed online just because someone said some mean or naughty words ?
Or should "Crusher" Collins MP **** off and read Voltaire ?
[I disapprove of what you have to say, but I will defend to the death to say it.]

It would be good to come up with a statement on the pros and cons of this Bill from the Pirate POV. The TechLiberty analysis might be a good starting point:

Both NetSafe and Judith Collins seems to be pumping out media releases to justify this bill:


David Peterson Thu 5 Dec 2013 3:18PM

Agreed, we should strongly oppose this. Free speech online is core to us.


Craig Magee Thu 5 Dec 2013 8:00PM

What parts of the Bill will the party be opposing?

Many amendments, such as extending places where racial or sexual harassment take place (the are actually digitally ambiguous), make a lot of sense.
The orders that the District Court can make to the defendant include taking down offending material, cease the conduct concerned, and make a public correction or apology.

It's personal accountability for behaviour online. Not censorship in that you can't say what you like or that ISPs and service hosts are forced to police their users; it removes their responsibility and accountability for an individual's actions.


Danyl Strype Fri 6 Dec 2013 9:31AM

It would be good to come up with a statement on the pros and cons of this Bill from the Pirate POV. The TechLiberty analysis might be a good starting point:


Craig Magee Fri 6 Dec 2013 10:02AM

I hadn't noticed that bit (20). I was focused on the definition of an 'Approved Agency', which needs to be detailed more.
Some sites don't allow user removal of content (or removal after a period of time). A provision for the Approved Agency (assuming what that is can be clarified) to make a takedown request isn't out of the question, even if it would be largely ineffective.


Danyl Strype Fri 6 Dec 2013 10:35PM

My first question would be, is there anything special about "digital communications" (as opposed to say printed ones) that justifies targeted legislation. Why are all the existing laws against libel, defamation, harassment, stalking etc etc inadequate?


Danyl Strype Fri 6 Dec 2013 10:37PM

(just amended the title to make it clear what we're discussing here to any member rocking up to check out the Policy group)


Craig Magee Sun 8 Dec 2013 7:45AM

Is there any development on this besides disliking Judith Collins and the use of the word 'digital' in the title?


Danyl Strype Sun 8 Dec 2013 7:54AM

"the use of the word ‘digital’ in the title?"

This oversimplifies both TechLiberty's concerns and my own. Have another look.

Renaming the bill will not fix the weighting against digital publishers - particularly small and self-publishers - at a significant relative benefit to state and corporate publishers who also own print and/or broadcast media.


Danyl Strype Sun 8 Dec 2013 8:05AM

Surely Pirates oppose laws against “harmful information” - as judged by the state - which could be used to muzzle any citizen journalists who self-publish on the internet?


Craig Magee Sun 8 Dec 2013 10:16AM

I'm asking for detail.

If the party is just going to say it doesn't like the Bill and tell Collins to fuck off then that's fine. It won't have as much effect as specifying what needs changing and what doesn't though.
TechLiberty are doing it right.


Hubat McJuhes Sun 8 Dec 2013 11:46AM

I don't think that the bill needs changing. The bill doesn't need to exist in the first place.

What we need is freedom of speech.
But as with all things: with great power (and freedom of speech is a great power) comes great responsibilities. The rights of individuals must be protected and freedom of speech has and always had its limitations. These limitations need to be clearly defined and enforced.

The above is true, independent of the media used. If you yell across the school yard or post something on the school's blackboard, if you publish an article in a newspaper or express yourself in a tv show, if you write a blog or post a comment in facebook: if you express yourself so that the public can recognise it, you re responsible for the expression. It's all the same, regardless of the media.

It may be tasteless, it may be ugly; but it is covered by the freedom of speech unless certain limits are not violated. If these limits are unclear, they must be defined more clearly, but certainly these limits again apply to all expressions regardless of the media. Why, for heavens sake, would they need to be media specific?

This is only done to react to a vague feeling of unease of many for a new media, badly understood by many. This is populism. Because as a matter of fact there is nothing special about the internet. The laws apply as with any other media. For some people it might not feel that way, but that is a misconception.

Let's try out what happens if we want to make the same kind of media specific regulations for another
transport layer of expression, one that is old-school enough to be well known by the elderlies as well. Here comes the 'Harmful graffiti Bill':

a toilet wall comment should not disclose sensitive personal facts about an individual (Principle 1);

a toilet wall comment should not be threatening, intimidating, or menacing (Principle 2);

a toilet wall comment should not be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the complainant's position (Principle 3);

a toilet wall comment should not be indecent or obscene (Principle 4);

a toilet wall comment should not be part of a pattern of conduct that constitutes harassment (Principle 5);

a toilet wall comment should not make a false allegation (Principle 6);

a toilet wall comment should not contain a matter that is published in breach of confidence (Principle 7);

a toilet wall comment should not incite or encourage anyone to send a message to a person with the intention of causing harm to that person (Principle 8);

a toilet wall comment should not incite or encourage another person to commit suicide (Principle 9);

a toilet wall comment should not denigrate a person by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability (Principle 10) (Part 1, Subpart 1, Clause 6).

All of the above is very well and I can agree with all of it. It should just never have been written, even more so with the intent of making it part of a law. It's just too specific and contained.

It all makes more sense if you replace 'a toilet wall comment' with 'any public expression of opinion'. But if you do that and read again, you will immediately recognise a bad smell, don't you? It just sounds a little harsh if your gossiping in the pub is in the realm. But that is very similar to what a facebook timeline is for many, too.

It is that smell of over-protective sentiment that we respond to that is not to be applied to the same degree in general.


Craig Magee Sun 8 Dec 2013 8:14PM

That's really well laid out.

Comments and publication on the Internet are different from natter in the pub and scribbles on the toilet wall though because it's persistent, exposed to a wider audience, and often can't be scrubbed off by anyone but the author.
There's a marked difference between talking about someone at the local pub with a few people and publishing on Facebook for anyone and everyone to see for years to come.


Danyl Strype Sun 8 Dec 2013 11:50PM

That's why I made the comparison between internet publishing and print publishing. Anything published in a newspaper is persistent, exposed to a wider audience, and can't be scrubbed off, period. Worse, the contents of popular newspapers are generally assumed by their readers to be established fact, unlike a person's FB or Twitter feed, blog etc. Yet the powers that be have never seen the need for a Harmful Printed Communications Bill.

I agree with Hubat. If freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, and the ability to publish online gives everyone the equivalent of a press, then this bill is an attack on the freedom of the press.


Craig Magee Tue 10 Dec 2013 5:15AM


Poll Created Wed 5 Feb 2014 2:26AM

Make a Statement Opposing the Harmful Digital Communications Bill Closed Wed 12 Feb 2014 10:08AM

by Danyl Strype Wed 26 Apr 2017 8:47AM

There was unanimous consensus (who says it's impossible ;) that the NZ Pirates oppose the Harmful Digital Communications Bill, because it gives the state unjustified power to police free speech and free expression.

The consensus seems to be that we just don't think the Bill is necessary. We would reject a Harmful Print Communications Bill as an attack on freedom of the press, and this is the same principle. If there are components of the Bill which are necessary, they should be made as amendments to the appropriate laws on libel, slander, stalking etc. These would be the key messages of a press release giving our position on this bill.


Results Option % of points Voters
Agree 100.0% 9 DS AR DU TF TJ DP HM BK RU
Abstain 0.0% 0  
Disagree 0.0% 0  
Block 0.0% 0  
Undecided 0% 11 AJ KT CM BV M PA AB DU RF CW MD

9 of 20 people have voted (45%)


Danyl Strype
Wed 5 Feb 2014 2:29AM

Maybe also make a reference to the TechLiberty analysis and any other relevant critique.


David Peterson
Wed 5 Feb 2014 7:04AM

We should allow these limits on our free speech to happen, they're intrusions in our privacy and restrictions on the internet.


Hubat McJuhes
Fri 7 Feb 2014 8:53AM

The bill is Participation -1, so opposing this is good :-)


[deactivated account]
Sat 8 Feb 2014 6:20PM

The only part of the bill I am in favour of is criminalising the incitement to suicide, however there should be an exemption for politicians. I would not wish to ban people from telling an MP that they should stop ruining the country, die already...


David Peterson
Tue 11 Feb 2014 11:30AM

We shouldn't allow these limits on our free speech to happen, they're intrusions in our privacy and restrictions on the internet.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 7 Feb 2014 8:51AM

@David: I disagree that we should allow e.g. any actions performed with the intention of causing harm to a person.
This is illegal and should be illegal.
And I would very much agree to the text in question if it would be announced as an appendix to the nettiquete.

I am opposing a law that explicitly expresses that some common laws also apply to online media as if they wouldn't already, together with all other legislation that applies to Aotearoa/New Zealand.


Craig Magee Fri 7 Feb 2014 7:34PM

As an example of one of those changes to common laws, the pirate party doesn't want 'A person commits an offence who incites, counsels, or procures another person to commit suicide' to be culpable for manslaughter under the Crimes Act?


Tommy Fergusson Fri 7 Feb 2014 9:27PM

Craig: What is that in reply to? I wouldn't oppose that, given intent is still required.


Craig Magee Fri 7 Feb 2014 9:46PM

I don't think Hubat McJuhes opposes that either, nor do I.
Simply opposing the Bill isn't constructive. Expressing points of concern, compromises to address them, and areas the Party does support would be.

I will be personally dissatisfied if there is nothing more than generalised opposition to the Bill, which will be interpreted as the Party opposing everything in it.
I'm not opposed to the Party making releases, even if I disagree with the content.


Danyl Strype Sun 9 Feb 2014 10:47PM

Laws against inciting suicide are legitimate, but should apply to any media, including spoken word, and thus do not belong in a Harmful DIGITAL Communications Bill. I feel I included these concerns with the statement, "If there are components of the Bill which are necessary, they should be made as amendments to the appropriate laws on libel, slander, stalking etc."

Just to clarify, what I've proposed here is position. If @craigmagee of anyone else has the time or inclination to analyse the bill in detail, and come up with a more nuanced policy, go for it.


David Peterson Tue 11 Feb 2014 11:38AM

Laws against inciting suicide are legitimate

I'm sceptical that is wise, it would severely limit free speech if it got out of hand.

Not to mention, is way out of line with norms for society (where it is quite usual for people to say "go fuck yourself", which while it is highly impolite, we certainly don't think it should be illegal)


Craig Magee Wed 12 Feb 2014 7:10PM

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill is a little complicated. Not only is there the text in part one which is a lot to take in at once, part two has a raft of amendments to four significantly important Acts.

It's too much for a single Loomio thread, creating a sub-group to work in and breaking up the points is the most practical way I can think of to approach it.


Danyl Strype Wed 26 Feb 2014 11:10PM

Creating a subgroup for every piece of legislation we might want to examine can only result in a plethora of dead subgroups. What about creating a new discussion thread with the text of the Bill in the Context Box, so we can cut it up and comment the legal code? Then this thread can be used to continue with a more general discussion of the Bill and our position on it.

BTW Charlotte Dawson's corpse is being hauled through the mass media streets as a spokesmodel for laws against "cyberbullying" (ie allowing censorship).

Now would be an excellent time for us to make a carefully worded media release against the HDCB.


Danyl Strype Wed 26 Feb 2014 11:13PM

BTW Did you guys know the Bill would create a Censorship... erm... Communications Tribunal where the state decides what online speech is acceptable?!?


Danyl Strype Sat 4 Jul 2015 2:37AM

The Harmful Digital Censorship Bill just became law. Who has time to write up and put out a press release pointing out how dangerous it is to pass an Act which makes "harmful" speech a criminal offence, punishable by jail time!?!


[deactivated account] Sat 4 Jul 2015 11:45PM

I think that there is an appropriate classical vocals track by Mozart called "Lech mich im Arsch." Which I will be linking in response to the act.


Danyl Strype Fri 10 Jul 2015 3:43AM

I just had a thought. All online advertising is "harmful digital communication":
* It's presence distracts people from the information they're actually looking for
* It presents exaggerated (if not entirely false) claims for the product or service being marketed
* It confuses producers, who find themselves responding to what the marketers demands, rather than what the market demands
* It's a form of propaganda intended to manipulate people into making decisions which are not in their best interests
* it's often wrapped up in software designed to track people, collect information about them without their permission etc

When the Harmful Digital Censorship Bill comes into effect, one form of protest could be a mass campaign of flooding their complaints systems with complaints about online advertising.


Danyl Strype Sun 12 Jul 2015 2:06PM

The EFF published a detailed critique of the government's new Censorship Act:


Hubat McJuhes Tue 14 Jul 2015 12:09PM

Targeting advertisements sounds attractive. But if successful would only prove that the law would be useful at least in some ways :-0

What I would find more interesting would be to try to prove that you can silence unwanted speech indeed. Certainly there is a lot of politicians' talk that doesn't comply with the defined principles.

Let's image you could take down an interview of the NZ Herald with the Minister of Denial Tim Grosser where he once again said that in 2100 water levels will be risen by 28 cm and we will deal with that then.
Surely does such a statement of denial do harm to all the people who choose to believe this non-sense and stick happily with their bad habits as most of us do. This then harms the life expectation of our youngest.
So if that interview happens to be published online, it should be taken down, shouldn't it?


Hubat McJuhes Tue 14 Jul 2015 12:17PM

Would that be a nice campaign?
"Didn't like it? And Online? - TAKE IT DOWN!"

Standing on the street, asking people if they can recall something that they have recently read online and didn't like. If so, advise them right at the street on a laptop how to send a take-down notice. nothing to loose, no costs or consequences to worry about - but a chance of vengeance to gain, just for the fun of it.

DDOS 2.0


Danyl Strype Wed 29 Jul 2015 3:53PM

We need to make it clear though, in either case, that we are doing it in jest, and that our point is that the state must not have the power to censor unpopular or even inaccurate speech. Unpopular speech needs the right to "freedom of speech" more than the popular, and the way to deal with inaccurate speech is to use your own right to free speech to reply, not to censor things we may think are "wrong". The Censorship Act is dangerous, and must be repealed, see the EFF link for how it could be used by bullies instead of against them.


Hubat McJuhes Wed 29 Jul 2015 8:34PM

For me the most harmful aspect of this act is that it establish different legal situations for online and afk communication. Something that is legal outside of the computer becomes criminalised once put into digital form.

This is playing with the unease that some people feel in regards with all things computer - and trying turning it into fear. Cyber, cyber. Populism.


[deactivated account] Tue 11 Aug 2015 11:10AM