Only a quarter of Kiwis know of the Government’s plan to radically overhaul our online content and media regulation regime, and only a similar number know of our current online regulation laws. On these numbers, New Zealand risks walking into a significantly less free internet without realising what is going on, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.
“Polling conducted by Curia Market Research has shown that only 23% of Kiwis are aware of our current laws addressing harmful content online, and only 25% of Kiwis are aware of the DIA’s proposals for a new internet and media “super regulator”.
“With so few Kiwis aware of the current regulations and the far-reaching proposals, we fear Kiwis are blindly stumbling into losing our free press and free internet without even realising it.
“The DIA’s proposals for online content and media regulation set themselves up to effectively be hate speech laws for the internet and press, created by an unelected, unaccountable ‘regulator’ without the legislative scrutiny that Parliament normally provides. It is a worst-case scenario for free speech.
“Of those individuals who have heard of the proposals, 32% view them favourably, with 30% unfavourably. Important to note, however, is the fact that those opposed to the reforms were far more likely to be “strongly opposed” to the reforms than those who favoured them were to be strongly in favour.
“With the same polling showing that 75% of Kiwis see free speech as a dominant Kiwi value, with only 6% disagreeing, New Zealanders need to learn just what these proposed reforms would mean for them. We suspect that the better Kiwis understand what is happening to our free internet and press, the more they will take a stand to oppose them.”