New South Australian Law Forbids Anonymous Political Commentary During Election Season
from the freedom-of-speech-also-includes-anonymous-speech dept
"A person must not during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the internet, unless the material or the program in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of that material."Apparently, things like The Federalist Papers would not have been welcome in South Australia. It's clearly a method of censorship, though, of course, the guy behind it, Michael Atkinson, is spinning it as the opposite of censorship: "The real point of this legislation is not blocking or censoring freedom of speech -- it's just making sure freedom of speech is attributed to the right person."
Reader cofiem points out that Atkinson has a bit of a history as being technologically reactionary, such as his strong support for banning video games that he feels are too violent even for adults. Cofiem also points to some of the legislative history behind this, which includes Atkinson making it clear that this law should apply to "blog sites, Wikipedia and internet newspapers" but thankfully he does "not want to go into twittering because that is too much like individual communication over a mobile phone. So, that is where we are putting the boundary." Phew. Each political Twitter won't need to be accompanied by your address.
That same report suggests that Atikinson has aimed this legislation at a particular online publication that he does not like:
It is being supported by Atkinson in the most appalling way -- the news reports quote him apparently frothing at the mouth about 'Adelaidenow', which the law seems implicitly to target;Nice use of elected office to try to stifle the ability of your critics to speak freely.