Vodafone: New law would force IPs to shut sites

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 13:23, March 20 2014

Internet providers could be forced to shut down entire websites under a proposed law to criminalise cyberbullying, Vodafone says.

Speaking before the justice and electoral select committee today, Vodafone corporate responsibility manager Abbie Reynolds said the proposed law would force internet providers to remove any "harmful digital communication" it hosted.

But for third-party websites not directly controlled by Vodafone, such as the Right-wing blog, Whale Oil, the only way to do this would be shut the site down entirely.

She described this as a "sledgehammer" approach and argued internet providers did not want to get into the habit of shutting down websites.

"It is like throwing the baby out with the bath water," she said.

It would be more appropriate for the owner of the website to be responsible for removing the offending material, she said.

The proposed bill as it stands could also force Vodafone to remove offensive comments in response to complaints that were vexatious or malicious themselves, without an opportunity to check their veracity, she said.

The committee is hearing submissions on the Harmful Digital Communication Bill which would create new criminal offences for sharing harmful information and inciting suicide online.

It would also create a new regulator which could hear complaints and order offending material removed.

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 - © Fairfax NZ News

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