Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: We are all Twitter

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  • Steve Parks, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    We have this law because:

    * politicians can stuff off – today is about us the voters;
    * we want people to be able to vote without being harassed by people outside polling places who might scare them off: can’t be bothered going through all that, etc;
    * we actually like the serenity – it feels like democracy;

    It’s not about twitter. This law covers twitter because it was written broadly enough that it would, back when it was written ages ago.

    I agree with the gist of most of that, but the law obviously needs changing.

    If election day is about us voters, us voters should be able to approach it as we please. I should be able to go to my friends house and join an election day party, where we discuss and argue and joke about the unfolding events without worrying that I may make a comment that transgresses electoral law. And of course I can, just as I could go down the local and do similar. But I can't go on to Facebook and equally freely discuss with my friends there. Not that I want to, but if that's how someone wants to spend their election day, they should be able to do so.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Parks,

    You can't take out an ad in the newspaper either. When you put something out in public, where even you can't control who reads/hears it, you become a publisher. Get over it.

    The problem with allowing exceptions is that people regard them as loopholes and drive trucks through them, then claim them as precedent for next time.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    All this nonsense is a smokescreen, for what I have yet to figure out but you can bet your ass it won't be in the interests of democracy.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4613 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to nzlemming,

    You can’t take out an ad in the newspaper either.

    No, but there seems to be quite a big difference between taking out an ad and joining a discussion forum/joining a group of people at the pub. I'm talking about discussion forums, in particular Facebook, being rather like 'real' discussions.

    When you put something out in public, where even you can’t control who reads/hears it

    Is Facebook public? I can control who reads what I put on it, can't I? Twitter is, admittedly, different and more public in that respect.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Philippa17,

    Speaking of libel, Glenda Hughes is an interesting character. Tony Veitch was one of her clients. Unlike lawyers, PR hacks can and do choose who they represent and she had no qualms about working for a wife beater. I met her at a party once in 2008 and she started telling me all about the debate she'd had with Tony and his father about publicising his suicide bid. Apparently in PR land, attempted suicide is a bigger barrier to future employment, than savagely beating your partner. Turns out in the real world, neither is an impediment to a television career. And quite unprofessional discussing a client's personal life with a complete stranger.

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Well, if it's so clear-cut, what about these tweets:

    "Voted National today. Yum-cha for lunch"

    or

    "Voted National today. Yay for them!"

    Both illegal and threatening democracy as we know it?

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 789 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Is Facebook public? I can control who reads what I put on it, can't I?

    You can, but many don't.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16270 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    Is Facebook public? I can control who reads what I put on it, can’t I?

    You can, but many don’t

    Any control you think you have over material on Facebook is purely illusory.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Twitter is, admittedly, different and more public in that respect.

    Not to teach anyone here how to suck eggs, but this is the nub of the issue. What "public" means has changed since the introduction of the Internet, and it's that bit that's rendered the law outdated.

    Personally I don't think Facebook or Twitter or any website is more "public" than having a conversation with someone in a public place in the real world which we all agree is not (and should not be) threatened. The fact that people can perform simple searches for keywords of things you say on the Internet shouldn't render the act of typing and publishing the words themselves less free.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 846 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Can I seek some commentary on how much the Giggs palaver has to do with the UK’s particular laws and precedents around privacy?

    Is there a sense in which it couldn’t happen here?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    * politicians can stuff off – today is about us the voters;
    * we want people to be able to vote without being harassed by people outside polling places who might scare them off: can’t be bothered going through all that, etc;
    * we actually like the serenity – it feels like democracy

    Whoa that's an aweful lot of "we"s there pardner.

    Just which "we" were you referring to?
    The "we" that voted in the government that passed that law?
    I was probably born then but I'm certain many voters weren't.
    The "we" that goes to the pub on Wednesday afternoon after a hard week of lawyering?

    I really am not sure that all those very strong and meaningful statements apply to many kiwis nowadays.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Any control you think you have over material on Facebook is purely illusory

    Totally. agree.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16270 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Crowd Source Proofreading Dept
    Reporting for duty as requested, Sah!
    Thomas – who has previously been acsused of planning to sell the story of her fling with Giggs...

    also I wondered if you meant to call this post
    We are all a twitter
    - ie: in a state of agitation or excitement
    oh, now I see it is in the "I am Spartacus" vein..

    Still Twitter doesn't have many positive meanings
    Ie - Idle, trivial or ignorant talk
    - Light tremulous sounds
    derived from a Middle English word for imitative
    and all the thesaurus flow-ons are of similar ilk (naturally) prattle, blather, yabber...

    just who was their marketing person?
    still moot point now...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    just who was their marketing person?

    Some genius. If they called it YACR (Yet Another Chat Room), only nerds would be using it. I presume "Hard Yakka" would become the new word for what was "Cyber" in the 90s.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy D, in reply to recordari,

    Twitter is it's own community. It hardly represents the masses, although Twitter users believe that it does.
    Still, in this context I see it as being akin to gossiping over the water cooler - multiplied thousands of times over to be sure, but no more important. To attempt to prosecute it is to risk the law becoming an ass.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jimmy D,

    although Twitter users believe that it does

    Hardly. It's only about 75,000 people in NZ. Bookface on the other hand..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16270 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Price,

    Can I seek some commentary on how much the Giggs palaver has to do with the UK’s particular laws and precedents around privacy?

    Is there a sense in which it couldn’t happen here?

    The UK privacy laws started behind ours and have steamed ahead. 20 years ago UK judges were able to say they had no action for invasion of privacy. Today, because of the effect of the Human Rights Act, and its explicit incorporation of privacy protection into UK law, they plainly do. And it's probably wider than ours: see for example, the different conclusions reached by our Court of Appeal in the Hosking case, and the UK Court of Appeal in Murray, both of which involved fairly innocuous photos of public figures with their babies out in public. More specifically, on current law a plaintiff in NZ has to prove that a particular disclosure would be "highly offensive"; a plaintiff in the UK wouldn't. The threshold for an injunction in NZ also seems to be higher.

    Still, the 18-year-old who alleged that Darren Hughes sexually assaulted him managed to get an injunction in NZ against the publication of his name using the privacy tort. My sense is that many of the UK celebrity cases would be decided the same way under NZ law, if we had celebrities... Whether they would decide it was a strategically smart move to seek such an gagging order is a different question.

    If they did, they'd be running the twitter risk. As in fact does everyone who seeks name suppression. I'm not aware that any NZ name suppression order been breached through twitter yet. Only a handful have been breached online. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before someone twitters a suppressed name or one subject to an injunction. But we're still a far cry from suppression orders being completely useless. Are we really ready to abandon suppression powers for sexually abused children because twitter may defeat the odd suppression order or injunction? And isn't there a difference between having your identity known to thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of people on twitter, and having it published to millions on the front page of The Sun?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steven Price,

    if we had celebrities…

    Brutal.

    Thanks Steven.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18508 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Jimmy D,

    Twitter is it's own community. It hardly represents the masses, although Twitter users believe that it does.

    Hashes to hashes, flunk to flunky
    We know Major Jack's
    a monkey
    Strung out in heaven's thigh
    Hitting an all-time, oh!

    <Characters remaining = 20>

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Steven Price,

    I’m not aware that any NZ name suppression order been breached through twitter yet. Only a handful have been breached online. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone twitters a suppressed name or one subject to an injunction. But we’re still a far cry from suppression orders being completely useless.

    Here's one TVNZ prepared earlier. And here's the New Zealand Herald.

    I thought with Martin Devlin there were a number of facebook updates etc. that randomly mentioned his name, same with the comedian. I'm not on twitter, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the same.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    the 18-year-old who alleged that Darren Hughes sexually assaulted him managed to get an injunction in NZ against the publication of his name using the privacy tort.

    But "they" couldn't injunct Slater to stop revealing suppressed names?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4356 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But “they” couldn’t injunct Slater to stop revealing suppressed names?

    They pretty much did. That’s basically what a suppression order is.

    He just ignored it. As indeed others could have over the identity of the Darren Hughes complainant.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2988 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But “they” couldn’t injunct Slater to stop revealing suppressed names?

    I think that's a case of laws not being able to stop someone being a dick. They're only able to try and deal with them afterwards.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6147 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Steven Price,

    And isn’t there a difference between having your identity known to thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of people on twitter, and having it published to millions on the front page of The Sun?

    Yeah, but it doesn't stay with the tens of thousands of twitterers. They then pass on the information in many other ways: they tell their Facebook friends and spread it through other social media, they email it round work, it goes on websites, even old fashioned person to person gossip. Plus the fact of the Twittering itself becomes mainstream news including in the area covered by the order, and that drives a further bout of people-who-would-otherwise-not-have-cared to look up the person online, just out of curiosity.

    Don't know if that kind of escalation will happen most of the time, though. But I expect celebs and public figures may start to see an attempt at injunctions or suppression orders a bit of a gamble.

    Regards suppression of victims details, yes I think that does largely work and will continue to be worthwhile. There's a lot of goodwill around those kinds of orders.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Steven Price,

    Steve: Sure, I accept that. But that's still different, I think, from the information being on the front page of the tabloids. You're right that whatever residual privacy remains after twitter will vary from case to case.
    As for victim details, my main point was that if we accept the view that technology makes a mockery of all suppression orders (which many are arguing) then we're accepting that victims can't be protected either. If we accept that efforts can and ought to be made to protect victims (some of whom may themselves be celebrities), then plainly technology hasn't swamped the field, and there doesn't seem any good reason not to grant protection to others whose privacy may be illegally invaded.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 20 posts Report Reply

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