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Dateline: 11 January 2000 Early Edition
Read The Previous Edition

Government Seemingly Unconcerned By Challenge To Court's Authority
Events of the past few days have proven beyond doubt that any kind of suppression orders issued by our courts are effectively useless -- but the government appears unconcerned.

On the TV One news last night it was reported that despite the fact that information which was the subject of a court suppression order has appeared on Internet computers both here and in the USA, the government's response is simply to say that "if breaches of name suppression on the internet become more common the problem may be reviewed."

This is unbelievable!

What about all the victims or rape or child-abuse who rely on the effectiveness of name suppression orders to protect their identifies from public scrutiny?

What about those people who give evidence on condition that their identity be protected?

Are the rights of these people not worth protecting?

I chose to highlight the power of the Net and the hopelessness of existing enforcement powers by using a case in which there was really only one victim -- the person who committed the offense. I most certainly would not have done what I did if the case involved an innocent third party but I believe that there are those who would -- after all, there are people on the Net who are happy to steal credit card numbers, hack into others' websites and generally cause mayhem "just because they can."

The Justice Minister, Mr Phil Goff claims that enforcing NZ's suppression laws internationally is effectively too hard -- and I agree. He also states that there would need to be some kind of reciprocal treaty or arrangement in place with other countries such as the USA, Australia and the UK -- I also agree with this and tried to make this point to the various news organisations that interviewed me yesterday -- unfortunately all that stuff is on the cutting-room floor.

It's not impossible to forge these treaties -- it has been done in a number of areas already and a perfect example is the Berne Convention that provides for the cross-border enforcement of copyright law.

Instead of sitting on its fat backside and waiting for things to get worse (and for an unknown number of truly innocent people to be hurt) why on earth doesn't the New Zealand government become pro-active and show that it's capable of leading the world in forging new conventions to deal with the problems that cyberspace creates.

With all this talk of creating a knowledge-based economy being tossed around like rice at a wedding -- why not show the rest of the world that we're prepared to be a leader in at least one very important area -- laying the foundations for international agreements to ensure that the rights of individuals are protected within cyberspace.

Instead of crying "it's too hard" and shelving the problem until it simply becomes intolerable -- let's address the issue now.

For the government to dismiss this looming problem so lightly must also be seen as a slap on the face to our court system and if the government has such little respect for the powers of our judges, how can it expect the citizens of the country to have any?

I'd like to thank the masses of people who have sent me comments and even offered to help pay for any legal defense I might have to mount if cited for contempt of court. Your feedback and support is very much appreciated.

Hopefully tomorrow will see a move away from things legal and political as Aardvark returns to focusing on solely Internet related issues.


General News & Current Events:
7am.com | NZL News | AUS News | GBR News | World News


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