Criminalising legitimate expression

Defamation is not a criminal offence

Yes, defamation is not a criminal offence.28

Journalists and bloggers are properly protected

Doubt exists about the extent of protection for online journalists and bloggers. Proposals for law reform in this area are proposed and will strengthen protections for online bloggers and citizen journalists. However, these strengthened protections may also contain significant limitations on Internet based freedom of expression (see below). The rationale behind the proposals was that bloggers could sign up to a code of conduct and the related supervision of a New Media Standards Authority as a trade-off for the privileges that attach to journalists such as the ability to report proceedings of Parliament and courts, access to special defences for defamation, and confidentiality of sources. At the time of completing this research the proposals were not yet law.

National security or counter-terrorism laws restrict expression only where:

a the expression is intended to incite imminent violence;
b it is likely to incite such violence; and
c there is a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.

New Zealand has national security and counter terrorism laws, but their application to online expression is unclear. New and very invasive proposals which would allow the Government Communications and Security Bureau to carry out surveillance were being developed just as this research period was closing, but had not yet been announced. These new proposals should be analysed in subsequent Internet Freedom reports.

28 Offences relating to defamation and crimes against reputation were repealed by the Defamation Act 1992.

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