Racism online may become illegal in NZ

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2011

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Posting racist or xenophobic messages on the internet and Holocaust denial could be illegal if New Zealand signs up to a international cyber-crime agreement.

Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins yesterday announced a three-year plan to crack down on international organised crime. One proposal involves the Government signing the Council of Europe Cyber Crime Convention, also known as the Budapest Convention.

A protocol of the convention requires nations to make "the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through computer systems" a crime. It also makes denial or justification of the Holocaust and other verified genocides illegal.

Almost 30 nations have ratified the convention. However, a number – including US, Ireland and Britain – have refused to sign the protocol.

The organised crime plan proposes to review New Zealand law "with a view to adopting" the convention. A Justice Ministry report notes many laws already conform to the convention. It estimates 70 per cent of adults have been targets of some form of cyber crime.

An organised crime crackdown would also involve anti-money laundering measures, protections against identity theft and steps to prevent bribery and corruption. It would also allow more information to be shared by domestic agencies and across borders.

An omnibus bill would come before Parliament next year, if National is re-elected.

In a bid to tackle white-collar crime, regulations on establishing firms and trusts will be tightened. More than 1000 New Zealand organisations have been implicated in serious offending overseas in the last five years, the report noted.

To reduce money laundering, increased reporting of suspicious transactions and monitoring of international fund transfers and high value cash transactions would occur.

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