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New Bill To Counter Violent Extremism Online Heads To Select Committee

Hon Jan Tinetti

Minister for Internal Affairs

“New Zealanders can now have their say on a new Bill to make livestreaming objectionable content a criminal offence and better protect all of us from inadvertently viewing harmful online content,” says Minister for Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti.

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill is part of a wider government programme to address violent extremism. It was read for the first time in Parliament today and has been referred to Select Committee for public consultation.

“The Bill addresses specific legislative and regulatory gaps in our current online content regulation that were highlighted in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque terrorist attacks on March 15.

“This Bill will allow Government to act swiftly in the future if another incident, like the livestreaming of the March 15 terror attacks, were to happen again.”

Objectionable material is already illegal to possess and distribute in New Zealand – it is the highest classification that can be given to a publication under the Classification Act. This includes child sexual exploitation material and violent extremism or terrorist content.

The Bill amends the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 so that:

• The Chief Censor will be able to more quickly notify the public of illegal content that could cause high levels of harm;

• The livestreaming of objectionable content will be a criminal offence;

• Government will be able to issue take down notices, requiring the removal of objectionable content online

• Social media companies will come within the scope of current laws on objectionable content; and

• Legal parameters are established for a potential web filter to block objectionable content in the future, subject to further policy development and consultation.

“We have worked with industry partners to create the Bill, which will ensure law enforcers and industry partners can rapidly prevent and fight harm from illegal online content.

“The Bill has now been referred to select committee, and I encourage the public to have their say through the select committee process,” Jan Tinetti says.

Notes for editors

• The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Classification Act) governs censorship in New Zealand. Under the Classification Act, it is an offence to make, possess, supply or distribute an objectionable publication (including digital content). Such an offence is based on whether the availability of a given publication or digital content is likely to be injurious to the public good.

• The Classification Act contains mechanisms to deter people from creating or sharing this illegal content, to allow authorities to investigate those who do and to prosecute them where appropriate.

• You can view the Bill at http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2020/0268/latest/LMS294551.html and the relevant Cabinet paper with attachments at https://www.dia.govt.nz/Proactive-Releases#Min

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