We conclude that of the 29 Internet Freedom indicators in the La Rue Framework New Zealand:
- 14/29 compliant including: basic legal framework; no generic bans / restriction on political content; high levels of access , no State sponsored cyber attacks and strong privacy laws
- 4/29 non-compliant: child sexual abuse images filter has no legal basis; protection of journalists and bloggers is weak; access to legal information needs improving; and the private sector is not transparent on content removal;
- 11/29 unclear: these include access issues for marginalised and vulnerable groups and proposed laws on national security and counter-terrorism (which were not developed at the time this research was completed, but have since become law).
Where we are doing well
- New Zealanders are generally free to express themselves online
- There is no criminal defamation
- New Zealand’s legal structure applies to and supports freedom of expression on the Internet
- Content blocking for solely political reasons does not occur and policies for operation of .nz adhere to rule of law in relation to takedown of online content.
- Government actions generally adhere to the rule of law and due process but there are significant exceptions which raise serious concerns
- The local Internet community is active in promoting human rights in Internet policy
- Internet access rates are high, there is diverse content and infrastructure development and improvements
Where we need to do better:
- There is a high degree of soft censorship and an apparent acceptance of this by many internet users. This is a concern given lack of transparency and few opportunities for input into filtering and content blocking policies of Internet service providers.
- Overall, Internet freedom related public policy is fragmented and contradictory: for example, on the one hand the law on Internet intermediary liability and the lawful basis for filtering of child sexual abuse images are unclear and have not been tested in the Courts. On the other hand there is increasing specificity and control over regulation for some online content and proposed new laws for online communications will set a lower legal standard for removal of online content than would be possible for offline content.
- Privacy laws are strong, but there are increasing concerns about privacy breaches by government agencies and the need to protect whistleblowers.
- The private sector is doing poorly in transparency reporting and is not generally engaged in Internet freedom debates.
- New Zealanders have access to some legal information for free, but access is poor for those who cannot afford premium fee-paying services and for access to secondary legal information, including case law.