Craig: violating spending limits and disclosure requirements is a crime, not a tort. That means that those wanting to shut down speech will need to make a complaint to the Electoral Commission or the police, rather than just being able to sue you directly. And both will hopefully see a meritless, politically motivated complaint for what it is and laugh it out of court.
And while I'm at it, hopefully people will unite against any political party or stooge wiling to use such tactics.
What I was worried about was little Jo Blogger who really is just acting as an individual, even if they are a party member, and had good reasons for keeping their name to themselves.
IMHO, said Jo Blogger has absolutely nothing to worry about, even if they're a party member. But remember, IANAL. Wait for the Electoral Commission to issue some guidelines to be sure.
The above also means I could run actual political advertisements (which i'd consider on a case by case basis) if they are properly constituted, with the name and address of the promoter.
Of course. But sane people will use AdBlock and not see them :)
Russell: That's 5 (2).
Margaret: Tim is worried solely about blogs which carry advertising, and which could therefore be classified as "commercial". I'd argue that most blogs which carry advertising aren't commercial in any sense of the word - those ads don't produce any real revenue, and the blog isn't a business or a commercial enterprise. But even if it is, almost all blogs will be able to fall back on the news media exemption in 5 (2) (da), just as they did last election.
Only those blogs which can't credibly claim to fall under either category will have to disclose. And only those blogs which "cost" more than $12,000 a year to host (including the commercial value of any donated hosting sevice) will be forced to register. But if you're running a commercial blog which is so political it can't credibly claim to be a "news media website", and you're spending that much money on it, you arguably should anyway.
And legal arguments aside, the vast majority of blogs are run by private individuals on a non-commercial basis. They are firmly covered by s 5 (2) (g), and therefore won't have to do a thing. The sky is not falling, and you will not be affected by this law.
Again: not true. How many times do I have to say it? Section 53(1) requires disclosure of your name and address even if you don't spend a cent on your blog.
Only if you are "commercial". And I think that anyone arguing that a freehosted blog which earns next to nothing through AdSense is "commercial" will be laughed out of court (and if they're not, you can always fall back on being a "news media website").
But look, if you want to play it safe, disclose. If you're that sure you're not covered by the news and comment exemption, you'd have to do it anyway under existing law, so the EFB changes nothing.
Kiwiblog comes to mind as a blog that is totally open about it's bias towards National
Reading between the lines on all of the above, Kiwiblog may very well be affected by the law, depending onhis hosting costs. Though IIRC he simply disclosed last election.
Public Address shouldn't have any problems - it's a "news media website", and thus exempt.
I'm still interested in the answer to the EVEN IF question though. What is the real ramification if some blogs got covered?
So, if they're not covered by the blog exemption, and are insufficiently independent to slip in as a "news media website"?
They would have to disclose the name and address of their "promoter". And, if their total expenses (basically hosting) are more than $12,000 a year, would need to register and do some paperwork.
Keep in mind that the commerical value of Blogger or Wordpress hosting is nil. It's not a special deal you're getting - everyone gets it free. So only very large blogs will be affected.
However, I could forsee some wrangling about what is a "personal blog" as opposed to one that is affiliated with a party, due to the author being a member of a particular party.
That is indeed going to be an issue as the web becomes more of a feature in campaigns. And I expect the Electoral Commission to issue some guidance. As for your example, I think its a fairly hard and fast rule that a candidate's blog is advertising for them, and must be disclosed and declared as an expense. Party members, officials, pollsters etc will depend on the nature of their blog. But I'd think that someone's campaign officials running an online party political broadcast should probably disclose, and depending on the position, may very well have to declare it as a campaign expense as well. Mere party members, OTOH, won't face any real restrictions.
What if a blog has advertisements?
Don't. It's ugly, and it pisses off your readers, particularly if its one of those irritating flash ones that eats your CPU. And while they can be blocked (I use AdBlock, for example, so I just don't see them most of the time), it's still a hassle having to download and install just to screen out your crap.
But seriously, if you have ads, and they're intended to make actual money rather than just be a way of pissing off your readers, you may be "commercial". But then you may also be a "news media website", and also excluded. During the last election, I took the position that I was covered by s221A (4) of the Electoral Act 1993 (which exempts "news or comments" - basically to allow the media to report the news). The Electoral Commission seemed happy with this. OTOH, some other sites, with explicit party links thought they were safer having a disclosure statement.
Again, your average dinky Blogger or Wordpress site with some irritating crap placed by AdSense is highly unlikely to be affected. It's only really a problem if you're blowing thousands a year on hosting. And if you're doing that, essentially to run a party political broadcast, disclosure seems entirely justified.
I'm curious. Why do you use a pseudonym?
Because I like to keep my private life private. Also, I place a high value on infruiating Craig Ranapia :)
(The fact that I've been using this name for nigh-on 15 years is also a factor).
Why don't you think someone who has ads on their blog might also want to use a pseudonym?
Indeed they might. But if they're basically running a party political broadcast, they have no more right to do so than they would on a hardcopy political pamphlet under existing law.
So pretty much only the anonymous political blogger gets affected?
No. As I've already said several times, personal blogs are not "election advertisements", therefore there is no requirement for disclosure. If you're just running a blog, you're completely unaffected by the law.
That may be so, but I don't think every blogger can be so sure---not without legal advice, anyway.
Sure. If, for example, you are a party contractor and your blog is just a mouthpiece for a party spin machine, then you should probably consider your position. But ordinary citizens seeking to participate in the democratic conversation have nothing to be concerned about.
Not true. I've already quoted section 53(1), which makes it clear that you have to disclose your name and address even if you spend absolutely nothing
In case you missed it, I was talking fairly specifically about blogs.
s53 (1) applies only to "election advertisements". And a personal blog is, by definition, not an election advertisement.
As for applying it to non-blogs, such disclosure has always been the case. The Brethren, for example, were required to disclose (and this is how they were uncovered, despite the fact that they'd falsified their addresses).
While you raise fears around political revenge as a result of disclosure, I don't recall any stories about it last election, or the election beforehand.