Internet no wild west – lawyer

Lowndes Jordon partner Rick Shera has taken issue with Justice Minister’s description of the internet, and specifically bloggers and Tweeters, as “the Wild West.”

Earlier today, Simon Power asked the Law Commission to review so-called “new media,” whose role in the news cycle has been highlighted by instant reporting of events, and a more freewheeling approach to issues such as name suppression – as demonstrated by the Whale Oil case.

“I don’t agree internet is the Wild West,” Mr Shera told NBR.

“Laws that have always applied to any form of discourse – copyright and trademarks, defamation, privacy, harassment, suppression as was seen in the Whaleoil case, prohibition on objectionable material, privacy – all apply equally online.”

Mr Shera described the Whale Oil case – in which blogger Cameron Slater was fined for breaching name suppression orders – a paradox.

“On the one hand it makes it clear that existing laws apply equally online. On the other, many would say that it highlights how inadequate those laws are in the face of the reach, permanence and jurisdictional collapse that is the internet.”

Mr Shera said the added dimension of a global internet also plays havoc with traditional jurisdictional boundaries, so any move to restrain freedom of speech in the public interest also has to be balanced against its effectiveness.

He also suggested that agencies such as the BSA and ASA regulate professions whose members sign up to a code – “[But] how that would be extended to the internet generally and where the line would be drawn will prove very difficult questions.”

The Law Commission review is useful as a vehicle for discussing the issues raised by the rise of the internet, Mr Shera said.

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The impression I get from Simon Power's first year in office if I have my facts right is that he thinks his job is to change the entire NZ judicial system because everytime I look at the news websites, I see another article about the new law that Simon Power is going to change.

Before he changes the entire judicial system, I would like him to raise to the Law Commission the recommendations that were made in 2003 about changing the statutory management law which included that the decision to put a company into statutory management should be made by a judge and not by the government.

Those recommendations from 2003 have never been put into practice. Why is that?

Meanwhile the Hon Power has tried to change just about every other law in existence. Why is that?

How can he change all the laws in the country if their is a backlog of recommendations from 2003 that haven't been properly dealt with.

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We must not forget that because of these people, with their tweets and blogs, they helped us see the world as it is and not as what they want us to see. All those protests, shooting from Egypt, Libya, and we could hear news only from tweets and blogs. I trust people from internet with whom I had to deal with and was pleased, like <a rel="follow" href="http://www.localpages.com/">Internet Yellow Pages</a>, where I find good things, even in my neighborhood. This is no wild west. This is the new era that we must get used to.

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Internet users are fiercely protective of their privacy and freedom of speech on the internet. The recent cases of SOPA and PIPA showed just how much the internet hates any move that tries to regulate or restrict their rights. Therefore, before any law is passed, they have to first take into account individual countries' own stand on freedom of speech and individual rights. That itself is already a daunting task.

Mariov - <a href="http://www.starrausten.com">Investment Fraud Lawyer</a>

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