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NZ Judge Bans Online Publishing of Accuseds' Names 219

The Master Moose writes "A judge in New Zealand has banned the press from reporting online the names of two men accused of murder. The names of the men will be allowed to be reported in print as well as through Television and Radio broadcast. It would seem he has taken this step to prevent someone 'googling' these peoples names in the future and finding them linked to a crime if found innocent."
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NZ Judge Bans Online Publishing of Accuseds' Names

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  • Should be standard (Score:5, Informative)

    by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @05:07AM (#24734261) Homepage

    In the small part of Europe I live in, it's common practice (even written in a non-binding "codex") not to publish the pictures or names of accused. It's obvious that the "This guy raped a child" headline will stick while "Trial ends, accused absolved" will sometimes not even be published.

    Yes, it should be voluntary, but it's the right thing to do.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2008 @05:12AM (#24734301)
    From TFA:

    Judge Harvey teaches the Law and Information Technology course at the University of Auckland. The course looks at the way technology impacts on evidence, jurisdiction and freedom of information.
    Judge Harvey has also written a textbook on the internet and law called

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @05:42AM (#24734465) Homepage

    I wonder if it's the same corner as me, here's the bit from the Norwegian press ethics:

    4.7. Be cautious in the use of names and photographs and other clear identifiers of persons in referring to contentious or punishable matters. Special caution should be exercised when reporting cases at the early stage of investigation, cases concerning young offenders and cases in which an identifying report may place an unreasonable burden on a third party. Identification must be founded on a legitimate need for information. It may, for instance, be legitimate to identify someone where there is imminent danger of assault on defenceless individuals, in the case of serious and repeated crimes, if the identity or social position of the subject is patently relevant to the case being reported on, or where identification protects the innocent from exposure to unjustified suspicion.

    As an ethical rule, I prefer this default that the press will not report on the accused's identity unless there's good reason to. On the other hand, I'm far from certain I'd like a judge to forcibly suppress the names, as you can see there are legitimate exceptions and from time to time people are identified. If push came to shove, I'd rather trust the press not to publish details out of ethics than trust the government not to suppress details they don't want me to hear.

  • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @05:55AM (#24734513) Homepage Journal

    Bets that this judge is some OAP who was shown by his grandson how you could "google" someone...

    Actually what's particularly interesting about this case is that the judge also teaches Information Technology and has written a text-book on cyber law in New Zealand, and he's made a submission to the NZ government about spam legislation [] which I haven't read, but you could probably look at if you want some guideline idea of his IT competence.

    One of New Zealand's media commentators with a lot of IT experience (Russell Brown [], for whom I have a lot of respect) threw in a few comments over here [], and wasn't immediately condemning of the actions of the judge. Brown commented that he thinks this judge probably has more technical knowledge of the Internet than any other judge in the country, and coming from him it's either quite compelling or very detrimental to every other judge.

    New Zealand's had problems in the past with courts trying to suppress names, particularly in cases when there's been international interest in the case, because the suppression orders only apply in New Zealand. I don't understand what he expects to achieve except possibly hoping that jurors won't be able to hide at home and google the names as easily during critical points in the trial, especially since the details of this trial are unlikely to gather much interest outside NZ. I think Brown's theory that this is an experimental act from the judge to see what happens sounds fairly feasible.

  • by inzy ( 1095415 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @06:20AM (#24734619)

    But he hasn't banned their names from appearing in traditional media and anyone at all who sees those other forms of media can post things on the net.

    having seen this on the news today, it appears that no they can't post it on the net. from what i understand, anyone can be prosecuted for breaching this order, not just the 'press' (whatever that may mean).

    his intention was to stop the spread of 'viral' videos that refer to the killing, and possibly prejudicing the trial

    the killing was allegedly gang-related, and gangs in nz have a habit of recording stuff (either at the time or later) and making videos glorifying some act, that they then post to youtube or wherever. if the judge issues a court order, they can wave that at google or whoever, and get the video taken down/blocked

  • by Domstersch ( 737775 ) <dominics@gma i l . com> on Monday August 25, 2008 @06:24AM (#24734645) Homepage

    I'm living in New Zealand. They were on the 6 o'clock news. Footage of them in court, no less. Damned if I can remember their names, though, and they won't be available in print until tomorrow's newspapers come out. (Damn lack of an evening paper.)

    The 14 year old was having a birthday party for his friend, who had just turned 15. According to police, the accused thought the residence was a tinny house [], staged a robbery that went wrong, and the whole thing ended up with the 14 year old having his head smashed in by a claw hammer.

  • by Domstersch ( 737775 ) <dominics@gma i l . com> on Monday August 25, 2008 @06:32AM (#24734689) Homepage

    You could always listen in to Radio New Zealand [] (Warning: Windows Media, YMMV) on the hour to find out. Then you'd be able to type their names in. I, of course, being a New Zealand, can't.

    Oh, and rather hilariously, their names are available on teletext [].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2008 @06:38AM (#24734715)

    In Norway media are always banned from reporting the name of a suspect until the name is offically released by proper authorities.
    This applies to print, tv and other media.

    This is to protect the suspect until he or she is actually found guilty of a crime. If the case is high profile of course the name will leak out but it is still not printed or reported on through TV.

    I personally think this is a good way to do it as even being a suspect of some crimes can screw your life up quite a bit. In the case of internet sites the problem is made even more problematic as the information will probably linger for a long time but often without any reference to a trial!

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @07:24AM (#24734915)

    I happen to know this particular Judge. You know how I met him? Playing Quake deathmatches back in the nineties. He was handy with a rocket launcher, was great base defence in CTF matches, and trash-talked like a motherfucker. Anyway, the point I'm trying to work my way around to is that this particular Judge is probably the most net-savvy online officer of the court you could ever meet. This Judge had a personal hand in the design and implementation of the in-court computer networks used in the NZ court system. Hell, this is a Judge who goes to LAN PARTIES. So I'm going to assume that he knows EXACTLY what the real-world implications of his ruling are, and he is trying to balance some conflicting principles that he cannot ignore.

    So yeah, comments insinuating that this Judge doesn't know how the Internet works are off-target. This guy has been part of the online scene since before half the script kiddies here were born.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @07:40AM (#24734985)

    just a final layer.
    if my some insanely remote chance it's traced back to the network you used and not enough people have been using it to flush you out of the logs by then there's still nothing that can be tied to you. I know macs can be changed but if your factory default mac address turns up that's ever so sightly worse than some random MAC. A mac address alone is still as close to worthless as it's possible to get but it's best to cover all posibilities.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sophia Ricci ( 1337419 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @07:50AM (#24735051)

    there's no such thing as complete anonymity on the net.

    Why not? It is very easy to spoof packets into net hiding your identity entirely. There are websites [] that allow you to post on any web sites anonymously. There are tools like "IP Address changer" [] to protect your privacy.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Informative)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Monday August 25, 2008 @09:38AM (#24736027) Journal

    Look for ones which claim to not keep any logs.

    LOL That's a good one.

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