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Crime Government The Internet

Trolls No Longer Welcome In New Zealand 270

An anonymous reader writes: Legislation designed to prevent cyber-bullying has passed its final hurdle in the New Zealand Parliament, making it a crime to send harmful messages or put damaging images online. The Harmful Digital Communications Bill passed 116 to 5. The Register reports: "The bill creates a regime under which digital communications causing 'serious emotional distress' are subject to an escalating regime that starts as 'negotiation, mediation or persuasion' but reaches up to creating the offenses of not complying with an order, and 'causing harm by posting digital communication.' The bill covers posts that are racist, sexist, or show religious intolerance, along with hassling people over disability or sexual orientation. There's also a new offense of incitement to suicide (three years' jail).
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Trolls No Longer Welcome In New Zealand

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  • Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:03AM (#50037713)

    I'm offended by this bill and request the politicians be imprisoned.

    • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gyepi ( 891047 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:05AM (#50037717) Homepage
      Indeed, who is going to tell what constitutes "serious emotional distress"? Are we simply witnessing the creation of "a right to be offended", or a new era of psychologist judges?
      • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:10AM (#50037731)

        Indeed, who is going to tell what constitutes "serious emotional distress"? Are we simply witnessing the creation of "a right to be offended", or a new era of psychologist judges?

        I'm just wondering how the hell they plan to enforce it. From what I understand, it's already basically obligatory to use a VPN in NZ (e.g. to torrent or watch US netflix) so somebody using their VPN for trolling purposes doesn't seem far fetched.

        • Good luck with your VPN. I've been in Australia for the past 2 months and VPN connections have been blocked nearly everywhere I have gone. NZ is the Canada of Australia, I have no doubt that they try to follow the leader and prevent the use of VPNs as well.

          • Re: Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:48AM (#50037887)
            In fact some ISPs have been providing the VPN for netflix etc. They are currently getting into a legal dispute over it.
          • Cheap, reliable, VPN's are everywhere, ya wanker!

            I use a VPN daily, as do many people I know here in Melbourne. Malcolm Turnbull (the federal communications minister and first heir to the Aussie throne) recently stood on the steps of parliament and strongly recommended their use as a privacy tool, his words were broadcast and dissected ad-nauseam all over the national MSM for days on end. I'm in my 50's, and sure, our current far-right government is the worst pack of amoral bullshitters I have ever seen
        • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by davydagger ( 2566757 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @10:18AM (#50039443)
          You see, thats the thing with stuff like this is:

          They don't

          There is no intent for uniform of equal enforcement. It simply allows them to arrest who they want. Lets say two derps get into an argument on forums, about some politically relivant topic and it gets heated and words are exchanged that shouldn't have been. They can now pick and choose which one of them gets arrested, and who gets prosecuted.

      • No, because NZ isn't nearly as full of scum lawyers as U.S. there SHOULD hopefully be sense applied here.

        • People from the USA are always amazed when they hear anybody would try to enforce the spirit of the law, not the letter.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Karmashock ( 2415832 )

          We have the first amendment... so... actually we're fine thanks.

          Our government is constitutionally forbidden from passing such laws. *kiss kiss*

          • And thank God for that. As much as people bitch about the US, and the Supreme Court...they are fucking serious about free speech. You really, really, really have to fuck up to have the government punish you for something you said. God bless America.
      • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:28AM (#50037801)

        NZ is a common law country so over time case history will begin to determine what the courts will see as problem material and what doesn't. I also suspect they will start near the bar of what would cause a problem if it was published in newspapers or on billboards. Something I'm sure there is existing case law about.

      • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo.world3@net> on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:35AM (#50037845) Homepage

        This sort of subjective law is actually quite common in Common Law countries, and seems to work reasonably well in practice. There are typically certain requirements, such as having to show actual harm took place (psychologist's report etc.) which means mere offence isn't enough. The prosecution would have to show, for example, that someone deliberately set out to harm a vulnerable individual.

        There have been cases were people with existing mental illnesses have been driven to suicide. The people harassing them knew what they were doing. Society has an interest in protecting people from that kind of thing, because it's not a free speech issue. Harassment isn't free speech, it isn't necessary to allow it in order to allow full freedom to express unpopular ideas.

        • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @04:02AM (#50038097)

          In this case it won't work against trolls, though. They should have spent some time on Usenet to actually get a clue what trolling is.

          There have been cases were people with existing mental illnesses have been driven to suicide. The people harassing them knew what they were doing.

          If the law was motivated by this, then why do they not restrict the law to not allow knowingly trolling people with mental illnesses? A "do not drive mentally ill people into suicide" law might make sense, provided such cases are not yet covered by existing laws.

          But that is not their motivation. The primary motivation is to get additional means for wealthy people (including, of course, politicians) to sue bloggers and critiques. Another motivation is to cover the politicians' asses under extremely rare circumstances when bullying creates some public outrage, which usually happens in the form of a witch hunt that blown out of proportions by the medias.

          • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @04:12AM (#50038115)

            You are looking at this from the wrong perspective, which is understandable given the US and NZ have completely different structures for how their laws are built.

            Firstly laws in common law countries tend to be much much broader than laws in a legislative country such as the US. The expectation is that the courts will take the laws and interpret them and them implement those laws in accordance with precedents set in related laws. If the government or another party doesn't feel that the laws were applied correctly then the outcome will be appealed, potentially all the way to the high court.

            As for your assertion that the laws will be abused by the wealthy it just wont happen. The courts in NZ and Australia are fiercely independent and has no qualms attacking political appointments or positions. To get some idea on the level of backlash that can occur have a look at the recent appointment of Michael Carmody to the position of Chief Justice in Queensland, He lasted 7 months. So if a wealth person or politician were to try to abuse these laws I think you would see them come unstuck real fast.

            • by jbolden ( 176878 )

              The USA is also a common law country.

              • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @06:53AM (#50038545)

                The US started as a common law country and its basis was the UK system however it has diverged significantly and is recognised as having significant components of civil law.

                At the federal level there is no plenary statute which means courts at a federal level are unable to create precedent without that precedent being challenged. Although federal courts can create federal common law in the form of case law, such law must be linked one way or another to the interpretation of a particular federal constitutional provision, statute, or regulation.

                This came to a head in the 1930s in Erie Railroad vs Tompkims. It also had the effect of showing federal courts had no authority over states if there was no federal impact.

                In essence the US operates two types of legal systems. At a state level it is common law and at the federal level it is civil law.

            • by xdor ( 1218206 )

              All this changed when they gave the Obama the authority to enter into the TPP [wikipedia.org] last week.

              NZ law is now US law: and US law is now NZ law

          • It's actually relatively rare for Aussie politicians to sue people for what they say, Sir Humphrey would call it a "very courageous decision". There was however the recent case of our Federal treasurer who sued a major newspaper for printing the headline "Treasurer for sale". He won a partial victory, the article and headline together were deemed ok because a "reasonable person" would not conclude he was corrupt if they read it in toto. However, using the same logic, promotional posters that just displayed
      • The claim is that it won't create "a right to be offended", because the term "Serious emotional distress" is supposed to exclude mere outrage. Nor embarrassment, anxiety or worry.

        (See paragraph 10 on page 3 of the ministry of Justice's briefing on the bill [parliament.nz]).
        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The claim is that it won't create "a right to be offended", because the term "Serious emotional distress" is supposed to exclude mere outrage. Nor embarrassment, anxiety or worry.

          It always starts that way, and usually ends at "say anything that offends the ruling party and they throw your ass in jail". On the internet this seems to happen at internet speed, to. Most countries that forced ISPs to block a list of "child abuse/exploitation" IP addresses or site, which of course were not made public, only took 3 years or so before opposition party's material mysteriously was being blocked. Funny how that works.

          The only real way to protect speech critical of the ruling party is to pro

          • Rubbish. Australia has a blocklist for illegal material and that has never been extended to political material.

            • The funniest part was when the only (ex) senator to propose putting political sites on the current blocklist found his own anti-abortion websites were the only political sites on a "leaked" draft list.
          • by dave420 ( 699308 )
            Slippery slope fallacy detected! I guess we should get rid of laws, too, as eventually there could be a really bad one. Yay for no logic at all! It's so easy!
          • by jbolden ( 176878 )

            Which countries did that happen in? I know of lots of countries (pretty much all of them) that have anti-child porn laws. I know of very few that have anything remotely like an open internet and don't have a healthy opposition on it. So I'd like more than say 1 example, certainly something rising to most.

            As for your general comment. Anarchy scares people do to violence. Attacks and harms they or friends suffer upsets people. It quickly creates situations where the environment is seen as unsafe and the

            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              There have been 3 Slashdot stories about specific cases that I remember. (This isn't about "anti-child porn laws", but about very specific "block this list of sites at all ISPs" laws). I remember the UK for sure, the other 2 my memory fades on the details: it had become "oh, this shit again" by then. Give a crooked politician a tool like a blocklist and it will be abused.

              Anarchy scares people

              WTF is wrong with people these days? Any comments about "maybe a tiny bit less overwhelming government power" are always met with this

        • The claim is that it won't create "a right to be offended", because the term "Serious emotional distress" is supposed to exclude mere outrage. Nor embarrassment, anxiety or worry. (See paragraph 10 on page 3 of the ministry of Justice's briefing on the bill [parliament.nz]).

          Courts in the US award damages for serious emotional distress (or whatever you call it) over and above actual physical damages, so it can't be that difficult to work out the difference..

      • by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )

        A judge. They's what the word means. They make judgements, it's their job.

      • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @05:17AM (#50038287) Homepage

        We do this with physical pain and damage for centuries. Choke someone for 15 seconds is treated differently than choking them to unconsciousness. If someone starts to show deep outward signs that they are harmed an it is clear the harmer knows this and continues they got prosecuted. The degree of prosecution depends on the degree of harm.

      • Is there any compensation for "serious emotional distress"? Because I have a phobia of fluffy kittens :)
      • Re:Fee Fees Hurt? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @08:25AM (#50038889) Homepage Journal

        Well, it may interest you to know that courts judging "emotional distress" is not some new Internet fad. In the year 1348 an innkeeper brought suit against a man who had been banging on his tavern door demanding wine. When the innkeeper stuck his head out the doorway to tell the man to stop, the man buried the hatchet he was carrying into the door by the innkeeper's head. The defendant argued that since there was no physical harm inflicted no assault had taken place, but the judged ruled against him [ de S et Ux. v. W de S (1348)]. Ever since then non-physical, non-financial harm has been considered both an essential element of a number of of crimes, a potential aggravating factor in others, and an element weighed in establishing civil damages.

        This does *not*, however, mean that hurt feelings in themselves constitute a crime. It's a difficult and sometimes ambiguous area of the law, but the law doesn't have the luxury of addressing easy and clear-cut cases only.

        As to why a new law is need now, when the infliction of emotional distress has been something the law has been working on for 667 years, I'd say that the power of technology to uncouple interactions from space and time has to be addressed. Hundreds of years ago if someone was obnoxious to you at your favorite coffeehouse, you could go at a different time or choose a different coffeehouse. Now someone intent on spoiling your interactions with other people doesn't have to coordinate physical location and schedule with you to be a persistent, practically inescapable nuisance.

        Does this mean every interaction that hurts your feelings on the Internet is a crime? No, no more than everything that happens in your physical presence you take offense at is a crime.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        It's about as meaningful a term as the one they use in the UK public family law as a threshold to steal children - "risk of future emotional harm". If you can define "serious emotional distress" in clear legal terms, you should also be capable of defining "risk of future emotional harm" - something no legal entity in the UK has EVER managed to do.

  • by magusxxx ( 751600 ) <magusxxx_2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:16AM (#50037761)
    Translation: "I make more money than you do, so take it down or I'll ruin your life."
  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @02:20AM (#50037775)

    While I welcome the spirit of the legislation I am concerned about the enforcement.

    You will be quick to note the rather dubious "serious emotional distress" and "causing harm by posting digital communication." -who determines this?

    While I can absolutely understand making sure no racist, sexist etc posts are discouraged if not eliminated what's this "religious intolerance" nonsense? -If enough people claimed to believe in someone, no matter how absurd it can officially be recognised as religion. Why does this deserve special rights?

    If you think about it, when someone says something and another person is offended it's not clear cut who has it wrong. Did the person intend to offend? was it that you disagreed or are of a gentler nature? did he speak in anger or while intoxicated? -factors that need consideration.

    I really hope this bill will be implemented in a measured manner. I can see any number of groups pursuing lawsuits due to some of these items.
    • A judge determines it by assessing the evidence.

    • As I posted above the bar for where something is deemed to be an issue will be determined by case law. Given NZ is a common law country they will build precedents around what is ok and what is not. The tricky period is now when legislation has been passed but there are not enough cases tried to know where things will sit.

    • You will be quick to note the rather dubious "serious emotional distress" and "causing harm by posting digital communication." -who determines this?

      I guess it willbe determined in a similar way to how different grades of physical assult are determines.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      what's this "religious intolerance" nonsense? -If enough people claimed to believe in someone, no matter how absurd it can officially be recognised as religion. Why does this deserve special rights?

      One can question beliefs in ways that are respectful, humane and polite. There is no need for "i disagree and here is why" to involve rudeness. Religious beliefs are deeply held beliefs that people are going to have a lot of trouble questioning. For example in this post you immediately held a belief that ra


      • OK. I find the belief in unfounded god/s is one of the leading causes of murder, rape and mutilation etc throughout history. It has also repeatedly held humanity's progress back and tend to be non-democratic and unreasonable in nature having no place in schools or modern life in general.

        I argue that if there was a god he/she/it would not need any believers nor would he need them to be offended to defend his/her/its name or honour.

        Furthermore as the very nature of a supreme being/entity is knowledgeable
        • by jbolden ( 176878 )

          I find your first 3 paragraphs uninformed and full of fallacies. But they were expressed politely and inoffensively. Proving that it is quite possible to do.

          ___

          Paragraph 4 isn't true, you don't believe in pink unicorns. The pink unicorn was always an atheist analogy.

          Paragraph 5 I'm not clear what that even means. There is a fallacy of equivocation regarding the meaning of "denying the holy spirit". blasphemia cannot be translated the way you are using it.

          It is high time that much like homoeopathy th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is a terrible law. The left and feminists in particular are infamous for instantly branding any disagreement, no matter how justified and rational, as hate. They'll damsel like crazy, weep crocodile tears and fire up a twitter mob, and next thing you know any objections to their brand of vicious insanity are stamped out. This law needs to be repealed immediately.

      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        You might have a case. You're clearly suffering from serious emotional distress. The only question, of course, is if the bogeymen causing you such harm are real or imaginary.

  • Will the evening news be illegal? Wishing someone a happy 30th birthday? Mentioning that Christmas is over 'til next year?

    Though, apparently it's legal if you do it in analog.

  • Does "religious intolerance" include anything promoting religion?
    Because that is quite insulting to me as an atheïst.

    Or does this protection only apply to people who believe in deities?
    Do these people somehow deserve more protection?
    And if so, why?

    • Religious intolerance is already defined in other pieces of legislation and it would not stop you telling someone you thought they were brain dead for believing in a god. And they have every right to say you should convert to their faith.

      Religious intolerance, rather, is when a group (e.g., a society, religious group, non-religious group) specifically refuses to tolerate practices, persons or beliefs on religious grounds (i.e., intolerance in practice). So this would be where you are attacking someone for

    • Does "religious intolerance" include anything promoting religion?

      Short answer, no. Longer answer. Promoting does nothing against other religions while intolerance does. Inviting people to service to hear a sermon is promoting. Not allowing a mosque to be built because you don't like the religion is intolerance. Sorry but promoting a religion is not an insult.

      Or does this protection only apply to people who believe in deities?

      I doubt it. I bet religions like Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism would qualify.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Religious intolerance and promoting a religion are not the same thing.

      Let's do this for atheist.

      X posts anti-atheism arguments based on Hume and presents apologetics for Christianity over atheism. He debates atheism strongly but politely. X is promoting religion.

      Y posts false and inflammatory things against the Humanist society in his town. After publishing these things he publishes people's home addresses. He encourages harassment of their children at school. People feel harassed and quit the humanist

  • Congratulations Kiwi's, you've created a regime under which all speech is now subject to state approval.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Umm, no. You are free to post/say whatever you want - the 'State' doesn't approve anything.
      You just need to be aware that if it causes 'Severe emotional stress' and a judge (and possibly jury depending on the incident involved) decide you had malicious intent you will be punished.

      I'm a Kiwi living abroad. I'm always amazed at the way that some countries decry things like this....in New Zealand this would be looked at as a common sense type of thing. i.e. If you are stupid enough to try and convince someone

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        If you are stupid enough to try and convince someone to suicide and they do (as an example), you are an idiot and will get the book thrown at you.

        Sorry, but you're the fucking idiot who thinks that censoring some speech isn't inevitably going to lead to censoring of other speech, or for that matter, that your WORDS should get you into criminal trouble because it hurts somebody else's feels. You guys wanna do away with free speech? Then you're idiots, and I'll fight it where I live for as long as I live an

  • by Skylinux ( 942824 ) on Friday July 03, 2015 @03:32AM (#50038021) Homepage

    Why does religion get lumped in with race and sex. Religion is a choice and does not deserve to be put next to things that you are.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Religion has a strong serial correlation between parent / child like most inherited cultural traits. There is no evidence it acts like a choice. Stop letting your biases cause you to ignore evidence because it disagrees with your ideology.

    • Why does religion get lumped in with race and sex.

      Because it was in fact the whole point of this action.

    • Some might claim that's true of sexual preference as well, so do we lump homophobia with racism or religious-intolerance?

      FWIW I know language is mutable and maybe I'm just behind the curve, but does "troll" now officially mean "anyone who says anything I don't like on the internet"?

      It used to be a far more subtle definition, of someone who would post something (occasionally hurtful yes, but frequently the better trolls would use a sort of straw-man sympathic post) *specifically* to draw out a reaction, thus

  • Guess he'll have to film it in Australia. They've certainly got enough hairy footed types to fill in for hobbits.

  • "The bill covers posts that are racist, sexist, or show religious intolerance, along with hassling people over disability or sexual orientation."

    That doesn't go far enough. Some trolls harass over other things. Trolling and stalking need to be clamped down on.

  • Do you want to live in a world where you can't call some fuckwit a cocktoddler?

    I don't.

    'MERICA! :P
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • political dissenters.

    Let's face it, no Government likes it when informed people share their information (that more often than not pulls back the curtain on the blatant criminality perpetrated by Agents of State), backed up with evidence, when all the State has is spin, distraction and empty rhetoric, which very quickly devolves into threats of imprisonment and other deprivations and superinjunctions - which, like Fight Club, I'm not allowed to talk about...

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