Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Meet the New Bob

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  • Idiot Savant,

    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.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1710 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    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 :)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1710 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Do sane people even take an interest in politics?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10616 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    Ok, thanks for the clarifications, I feel better. Not sure why I cared, seeing as how I am sans blog, but it just all seemed a bit absurd.

    On the whole my position is that I would like to know who is funding and making electoral speech. I have no problem with a law that will make that more transparent. 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 (and I would say it would be a pretty brave political blogger who would slather their private address all over anything, pseudonym or otherwise).

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    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.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1710 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And how on earth do we reconcile the difference?!

    Unleash the dogs of law! And if you don't have the money to keep 'em fed - something I doubt will apply to any politician, political party, union or big corporate, MSM media outlet or lobbyist -, err on the side of caution and STFU. And while I'll still working through the select committee report, that's what I'm more and more worried about: That the status quo ante if you've got the means and the connections to test the limits of a strategically ambiguous piece of legislation, well and good. If, OTOH, you have equal resources and connections to push back, even better. If you have none of the above - or someone doesn't like what you're saying and tries to silence you with the threat of complex and ruinously expensive litigation? Bugger.

    OK, I know all of the above sounds like total wingnut territory and I truly hope I'm wrong. But still, I'm not sure the EFB - whatever form it ultimately takes - isn't going to cause more problems than it solves, and still be wide open to abuse.

    BTW, I share Idiot/Savant's confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Electoral Commission. But, boy, haven't we seen rather blatant evidence that its not really much use without real enforcement powers? And I'm just cynical enough to believe Parliament isn't going to do that any time soon...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    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.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1710 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    Only if you are "commercial".

    Sorry, yes, I probably should have said that (again). Maybe I should also have made it clear that I only meant blogs that say things like "think about child-care when you cast your vote", or something highly political like that, without providing news about child-care.

    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

    Actually, I think Steven Price himself raised the question of blogs with ads, when he spoke on RNZ about this bill at about the time of its first reading. Maybe it was later than that. Before the amendments, anyway. The thing is, though, that there was no amendment to the exception for non-commercial blogs. It wouldn't be that hard to remove the word non-commercial, would it? Surely most genuine campaign websites are non-commercial, anyway.

    By the way, I'm not worried about this personally. I don't currently maintain a blog, and the only stagnant one I have doesn't have any ads, anyway.

    Tim
    <><

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Shep = My English Shepard Doggy when I was 4yrs.
    Cheyenne = The Street I grew up in.

    I'm sure Margaret your last name is merely represented by a letter rather than being B.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So what is written in news media publications and personal blogs is specifically ruled out as an advertisement. And if you're not publishing an advertisement, you don't need to supply name and address.

    I think this clearly applies to comments as well, but Graeme begs to differ.

    I don't believe I differed. I am entirely confident that comments on a 'blog are exempt from the requirement for a name and residential address.

    It's Internet communications other than 'blogs - YouTube and the like - which will preclude anonymity. To fix this, you just delete the bit in parentheses at the end of the 'blog exemption. Simple.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Shep = My English Shepard Doggy when I was 4yrs.
    Cheyenne = The Street I grew up in.

    You're using your Pron Star Name! Tee hee... I'm tempted to do the same, but I rather doubt 'Nigger Ohiro' would last very long, simply on grounds of good taste.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    To fix this, you just delete the bit in parentheses at the end of the 'blog exemption. Simple.

    Brilliant! That'll let us do podcasts, too, and emails that say "pass this on to all your friends", which could be considered to be dissemination "by means of the Internet or any other electronic medium" (section 4, definition of publish, paragraph (g)). What about text messages that say "pass this on to all your friends"? That's not such a biggie, probably, since it's much less common, but it would be nice to know that it's unequivocally safe.

    And would it be safe, as I suggested earlier, to remove the "on a non-commercial basis" bit?

    Tim
    <><

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    There is only one Cheyenne Street in NZ Posts data base.

    Craig did you have another pet as you can't let a name like Ohiro (Oh-Hero) go to waste.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Oh Craig, surely Ohiro lasts longer that anyone.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3121 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    would it be safe, as I suggested earlier, to remove the "on a non-commercial basis" bit

    You could, but I don't think that's going to happen. I expect that advertising does not a commercial 'blog make, and that the Courts, if ever called on to look at the matter would agree (though it would be nice to be sure).

    The best guess is that this is designed to stop political parties buying complimentary blog posts as a way of spending money outside the limit. A 'blog post from someone with the circulation of Russell being complimentary of a new XYZ Party policy is probably worth at least as much as a half page ad in the Herald, and I suspect the Government thinks that just because someone paid for a blog post (as distinct perhaps from an advertisement on a website) doesn't mean that should be excluded from XYZ's party spending limit.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig did you have another pet

    Well, there was Beowulf but I'm just not Aryan enough to work that one with any conviction...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    There is a kind of symmetry between vikings ships & maori waka.

    The decorative prow, incorp of paddels/rowing, and there were sails on waka. Yes.

    Tonight Craig Ranapia will be Beowulf Ohiro.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    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

    Oh goody, does that mean that a Political Party can break the rules, be charged, go to court, drag out the court case, get elected, found guilty, and then pass retrospective legislation to change the rules and validate their action?

    It's a bit like the BSA who rule an ad has broken the standards, but by the time they rule the ad has run its course.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh goody, does that mean that a Political Party can break the rules, be charged, go to court, drag out the court case, get elected, found guilty, and then pass retrospective legislation to change the rules and validate their action?

    Or even better, a Political Party breaks the rules, a pretty compelling case to prosecute is handed to the Police by an electoral agency not know for partisanship or knee-jerk over-reaction, and... nothing. While I do like Annette King's Law of Common Sense in theory, I don't think it's unduly cynical to wonder if Sense of any description (common, garden or speckled) is in particularly plentiful supply around Wellywood...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    Shep, I wasn't having a go at you for your pseudonymous nature at all - just pointing out that what looks like a real name (for the purposes of taking the moral high ground about not being anon, not that you did) may not be, but who really knows in most cases?

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

  • Tim McKenzie,

    Thanks for that explanation, Graeme.

    The best guess is that this is designed to stop political parties buying complimentary blog posts as a way of spending money outside the limit.

    Something in me wants to more specifically target the various methods of astro-turfing, which doesn't always involve money.

    Tim
    <><

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Margaret B,

    Also, does anyone else look at the title of this post and keep thinking "Meet the New Bob, Same as the Old Bob"? I can't get it out of my head.

    Since Oct 2007 • 59 posts Report Reply

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