John Hapeta, and the accused

John Hapeta, and the accused

What's wrong with banning the publication of names from the internet, but not other forms of media? Well, if it works, nothing. It's a good step to take, for all the reasons Judge Harvey outlines, and for all the reasons outlined in other commentary.

But here's the thing: it won't work. It can't work. Perhaps it might have had a chance ten years ago, but now? Nope.

  • Anyone who isn't bound by New Zealand law can publish the names. And the internet has a large enough population of technically minded libertarians, anarchists, and anti-authoritarians to see that publication happens.
  • How do they get the names then? Well, radio steaming isn't covered by the suppression order, so it's very trivial. All it takes is one overseas internet user, listening in to Radio New Zealand during the hourly news broadcast.
  • And once they've gone and written their blog post telling the world? New Zealand commentary on the case will continue. The victim's name is enough for any jurors to pull up any discussion out there. And anybody curious enough will be able to find the dozens of international sites that do list the names of the accused.

That his idea won't work should be reason enough to condemn Judge Harvey's actions. But it's worse than that. Judge Harvey has shown that he's aware of the viral nature of the internet. Surely, then, he would have realised that a suppression order like the one he issued would draw more attention, more discussion than one that didn't relegate online expression to second-class status. It actively hurts the accused, and has the opposite effect than that stated.