Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beached Whale...?

I wouldn't normally waste blogspace on someone like Cameron Slater. I find his "Whale Oil" blog's vicious arrogance reprehensible: who appointed him judge-and-jury?
However, what has arisen from his recent case is important, because it clarifies unequivocally the legal position of bloggers. Many bloggers believe they can write what they like...but the judgement recognises that anything published online is subject to local laws, including name suppression. The ruling also clarifies the legal boundaries for bloggers: that the internet makes everyone a publisher, and with that comes responsibilities, one of which is to abide by the law.
Slater was convicted in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday on eight charges of breaching non-publication orders, as well a charge of revealing information likely to identify a sexual crime victim. He tried to dodge the harpoons, with such creativity as:
(a) the blogsite was not NZ-based so he was not subject to NZ law.
(b) he used binary code/pictures to identify a person, so he had not broken a name suppression order.
(c) he was on medication for depression, so he was not always aware of what he wrote.
(a) and (b) were never going to fly. (c) may have had possibilities, if his blogs hadn't in fact been so cleverly done. One can't produce such in-depth work without being totally aware of one's actions.
Hoisted with one's own petard, methinx!
Whether, as Slater believes, the whole suppression regime should be removed is for another forum. What is important is that bloggers have been told they're not above the law.
And as for Slater's local council election aspirations? Well, a picture paints a thousand words...

PS: 04 Nov.2011 - Ever the trier...give it a rest, Cameron!
PS: 10 Nov.2011 - Slater loses appeal.

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