DIA’s Report On Safer Online Platforms Overwhelmingly In Favour Of Free Expression: Submitters ‘No’ To Online Censorship

Published: Wed 1 May 2024 03:01 PM
The Department of Internal Affairs has released its summary report on the public submissions to 'Safer Online Services and Media Platforms'. With over 20,000 submissions, this was an overwhelming rejection of these proposals and online censorship, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“Of the 20,000 submissions on proposed online content regulations, almost 19,000 were from Free Speech Union supporters. Kiwis have spoken up. It's clear that censoring the internet would be dangerous for New Zealand and our democracy.
“This is one of the largest-ever responses to a public policy consultation in New Zealand (ahead of the proposed hate speech laws in July 2021).
“Submitters felt it necessary to distinguish between ‘harmful’ content and illegal content to ensure guidelines don’t limit freedom of expression. Others raised that ‘harm’, ‘unsafe’, and ‘misinformation’ are necessarily subjective terms, not easily defined and easily abused.
“The proposed censorship for online content was just ‘hate’ speech laws for the internet. With most media consumed online, and social media being the new ‘public square’, it’s important for our democracy that opinions are freely shared on the internet.
“Many had concerns that a regulator would lead to less public discourse and more self-censorship. Submitters said the proposals were an unnecessary addition to the laws we already had in place.
“If we put censorial powers in the hands of a few, it will easily be used to silence dissenting views. Likewise, this is why the proposed hate speech laws were abandoned.
“Kiwis believe in free speech and a free internet. The Government must respect that.”

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