More misuse of Harmful Digital Publications Act?

The Harmful Digital Publications Act was promoted as a way to address online bullying, especially of young people, but here is another claim that it has been used to try to suppress critical information. ‘Mason Bee’:

There is a flaw in New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act that is being exploited to take down content on the Internet. Because most allegations have to go through the Approved Agency (NetSafe) before going to the courts anyone can start a trivial, frivolous, or vexatious case with them without having to prove that they had suffered the level of serious emotional harm that is required by the law.

I don’t know whether the HDCA is effective at addressing online bullying and abuse, but it has been misused be vexatious online bullies since 2015. A year before the HDCA came into force some of the worst online abusers in New Zealand duped a judge in trying to prosecute me and shut this site down because I kept exposing there attacks here. See:

I was notified again recently be Netsafe of a complaint from the same person, Marc Spring, who didn’t like being exposed here or in the Whale Oil book, along with co-online bully Cameron Slater.  Once again Spring appears to have not followed procedures defined in the act properly.

Mason Bee:

To make matters worse, NetSafe doesn’t appear to be keeping any records of the numbers of these cases. When asked how many public figures had sought to use the process they refused the OAI request on the grounds that they would have to search over 7000 records. With almost 3000 of those records coming from 2018 this is a hidden problem that is only going to get worse.

Netsafe have a job to do, and have to try to deal with both legitimate and frivolous or vexatious complaints.  I found them ok to deal with, but they didn’t provide me with any details about the complaint. They can only liaise and moderate, and if that doesn’t resolve issues it can become a police or court matter if there is merit in the complaint (although as I have found out, cases without merit resulted in lengthy and costly court proceedings).

Mason Bee:

How do I know this? Because I was targetted by a minor politician who decided to use the NetSafe process and demand that I change a post and cease writing about her in the future.

That post is titled Suzie Dawson and the Whistle-blower

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

It all came to a head for in March of 2019 when I wrote a post called Who is Suzie Dawson: Exile or Fraud? In it I questioned her claims, her history, warned people about her conduct, asked more questions and published a, then unanswered, complaint to the Secretary of the Internet Party saying I believed she had;

When the Internet Party Secretary replied, almost a month after the initial complaint, he refused to escalate the complaint and dismissed it as personal attack, not in the interests of the Party and because I had already published it online. Nothing was heard from Suzie during this time and she continued to ask for donations using the name and imagery of the Internet Party.

Then, in May, I received an email.

The same standard email I received from Netsafe saying they wanted to chat about a complaint that had been made.

At first I was absolutely sure it could not be Suzie Dawson. There was no way that a public figure who purports to fight for whistleblowers and journalist’s could be stupid enough to try and invoke a law made to protect teenagers from online bullying in order to silence criticism against her.

It turned out I was wrong. Suzie Dawson, in an act of lawfare, used New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) to try and get me to remove statements from my website and to stop me writing about her in the future. She used a cyberbullying law to try and remove my right to Freedom of Expression.

I doubt there is a more perfect example of how she really feels about whistle-blowers or journalists.

If I had not been in a position where I had access to legal advice it is likely I would have been forced to alter or withdraw my posts, possibly even take down my website, in fear of litigation.

I’m not going to make any judgment on this specific issue, I’m merely giving it more of an airing because both online abuse and misuse of the HDCA and the courts as a weapon by online bullies, or of attempts to suppress information by people involved in politics is of  public interest.

If Suzie Dawson wants to put her side of the story forward in response here in a reasonable manner I offer her a right of reply.

I presume that legitimate complaints of online bullying are being dealt with by Netsafe, and some of them surface as prosecutions in the courts.

But I think that more information about misuse and abuse of the HDCA is needed. This is an important public online issue.

I think that it is important that Netsafe deal with valid complaints of online bullying, but also that people are aware their rights when subject to frivolous or vexatious complaints. The more extreme examples will be obvious, but there is likely to be a more murky middle.

Leave a comment

19 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  11th July 2019

    Just reflecting back over the previous court order that was made in error. District Court Judges dont have personal ‘Judges Clerks’ to assist them in checking legislation and what they can and cant do. But the order of the court is signed by one Tariq Aziz, a deputy register, so Im wondering if this court clerk was acting as a sort of judges clerk with administrative detail and prepared the court order which the judge approved without much thought.
    linkedin for this person says this
    Ministry of Justice Case Manager
    April 2015 – Present 4 years 4 months
    Auckland, New Zealand

    • Liaise with case parties, case officer and judiciary in order to manage the smooth operations of the courtroom and any issues that arise on the day
    • Perform Court Rituals and ensure hearing is conducted to existing protocol
    • Support judicial officers through the provision of up-to-date information on the progress of the hearing
    • Maintain awareness of the effective use of Judicial time, available resources, courtrooms and other facilities when scheduling events
    • Maintain knowledge of Court Rules, legislation, case law, available services, business processes applicable to the role
    • Be responsive to changes in rules, legislation and case law in the

    Also runs a business on the side as a Process Server ?
    https://nz.linkedin.com/in/tariq-aziz-913901102

    Reply
    • That might not be the same one; there are quite a few people called that.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  12th July 2019

        It says he works in the courts in Auckland….are you saying many people in Auckland Court are called Tariq Aziz

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  12th July 2019

          No, I did NOT say that. I said a FEW, not MANY. For some reason, my replies didn’t go through and I redid them…then they suddenly did.

          But in none of them did I say that MANY PEOPLE WORKING IN THE AUCKLAND COURT ARE CALLED TARIQ AZIZ.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  13th July 2019

            Grow up, PDTs. You’re pathetic in the way that you downtick every reply that some of us make, regardless of what it is. I am sorry for you having such small, spiteful minds.

            I suspect that an announcement that one had won the big Lotto prize and was offering a cruise to everyone on YNZ would be greeted with downticks.

            Reply
    • That may not be the same Tariq Aziz, there are a few people called that.

      Reply
    • That may not be the same person. There are quite a few people called that.

      Reply
    • Judges and courts are very busy. Comments from Kiwiblog by lawyers suggest that judges rely on lawyers getting any legal actions right.

      The problem here was lay litigants who are either ignorant of laws and legal processes, or deliberately try to flout and abuse them (I think it was a bit of both).

      As soon as I got my lawyer on to it he pointed out to the court that a law was trying to be used that wouldn’t come into affect for another year, and incorrect procedures had been used.

      As soon as that got to the judge he threw out the court order, but it was very embarrassing for him. He didn’t to allow the court to provide me with the legal documents used to obtain the order (Spring was legally required to serve them but had refused to do so). My impression was that he wanted the mess buried.

      A lawyer said that if a lawyer had bungled something so badly as the lay litigants they may have been struck off for such gross incompetence.

      Judges and the court system failed to stop vexatious and malicious lay litigants from abusing court processes. There are signs that they have toughened up on abusers, but more could be done to reduce deliberate abuses of process. For a start they could require anyone to comply with laws and court rules, and not let them away with blatant breaches repeatedly.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  12th July 2019

        Good luck with that one…led by the Court of Appeal, the judges rules and requirements even though they are part of legislation are easily brushed aside

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  13th July 2019

          I hope I’m not tempting fate, but Graham McCredy’s teeth as a nuisance litigant seem to have been drawn. Let’s hope that other nuisance litigants go the same way.

          Reply
  2. That may not be the same Tariq Aziz, there are quite a few people called that.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  11th July 2019

      Bugger again.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  14th July 2019

        It should be obvious that this wouldn’t go through then suddenly did multiple times as sometimes happens.

        Reply
  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  11th July 2019

    I wish that it (HDPA)could be extended to the endless fake phonecalls that I am one of the unlucky people chosen to receive.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  11th July 2019

      HDCA.

      What’s lawfare ?

      Reply
      • Slater and Atkins keep claiming that people have waged lawfare against them – meaning unfairly attacked them through the courts.

        As usual for them this is whining because a number of people have held them account for some of their excesses in running attack campaigns, some of which have already found by courts to be defamatory.

        In the Matt Blomfield case the court ruled that Slater and Social Media Consultants had no legal defence – this was in part due to them trying to use the trial to continue to attack Blomfield, but most of that was found to be inadmissible, and they neglected to come up with any credible defence.

        And also as usual for Slater and co it is the opposite of what they claim – Slater, Spring, Nottingham et al have run aa number of ‘lawfare’; attacks on others, trying to shut them up, shut them down (as they tried here) and wear them down through legal and financiaal attrition. That has turned out to be major own goals.

        Reply
  1. More misuse of Harmful Digital Publications Act? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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