Dear Mr. Power
It seems that you believe that the internet is a “Wild West” of unlawful activity that needs regulation. MacDoc Halliday thinks you are full of nonsense. Apparently, you believe this:
“Bloggers and online publishers are not subject to any form of regulation or professional or ethical standards, Mr Power told Parliament.
““I’ve ordered this review because it’s imperative the law keeps pace with technology and that we have one set of rules for all news media,” Mr Power said”
While I have no objection to the law being updated to keep pace with technology, the reason it needs updating is because much of it is not particularly applicable to bloggers. Cameron Slater has already demonstrated perfectly adequately to your how name suppression laws are meaningless in an internet environment. The current legal response of putting him on trial more than verifies that bloggers are beholden to current laws. It also demonstrates, quite clearly, how absurdly unjust that law is. If anything, bloggers, and particularly Cam Slater, have done you a favour by providing the perfect opportunity to make name suppression laws something that only protects victims rather than provides secrecy for the accused.
There are other laws such as our libel and privacy laws which are being used daily to suppress opinion and dissent. It is hard to see how this situation needs more regulation.
The blogosphere thrives because it is a "wild west".”
The central error that you make, Mr. Power, is contained in your second sentence. You call bloggers “news media”. News Media? Very few bloggers actually deliver much in the way of news. We do not have the resources for this. What we deliver is opinion. And I am afraid, Mr. Power, that if you don’t like my opinion, then tough bikkies…
There is a word for regulation of opinion: censorship. New Zealand is a free society precisely because I can call you an idiot, Mr Power, and not be shot at dawn by your goons. If I wish to call you stronger words than that, I may bump up against a law or two, and that is sufficient to maintain the distinction between free speech and decent speech. You do not need artificial standards except perhaps to cushion certain soft politician egos.
Talking about “professional and ethical standards” and bloggers in the same breath is laughable. Sure, we already follow a set of unwritten and un-enforcable rules, but these will never be “standards” in any bureaucratic, measurable way. And the outrageous, unethical behaviour of some bloggers is what makes them entertaining. Bit like Paul Henry, really – oh, wait…
The point being is that the blogosphere thrives because it is a “wild west”. All you will get with regulation is that the wilder ones will clash with your regulations or, much more likely, will go quite feral. By this, I mean that they will use software that hides their ID (easily obtainable from Warez sites) and move their sites to countries with less restriction. They will then proceed to snipe at you from inaccessible places with information that, at best, will be embarrassing and, at worst, horribly destructive.
Recall what happened to the US marshals that tried to tame the West, Mr. Power – they were shot down in large numbers. Recall that the West was not subdued by the application of law but by the maturation of the society. Be patient and wait. Bloggers come and go. The Fail Whale reigns supreme. Facebook seems to be sliding into a black hole of flash applications. Eventually this will all sort itself out into a new society. I doubt if it will be as polite as you wish, Mr Power, but at least there will be less cowboys…