Monday, June 14, 2021

NZers to be better protected from harmful content

New Zealanders will be better protected from harmful or illegal content as a result of work to design a modern, flexible and coherent regulatory framework, Minister of Internal Affairs, Jan Tinetti announced today.

New Zealand currently has a content regulatory system that is comprised of six different arrangements covering some – but not all – publicly available video, audio, images and text.

“Reviewing our content regulatory arrangements is one part of the Government’s work to keep New Zealanders safer online – which includes the Christchurch Call, the amendments to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act, and the Keep It Real Online campaign and resources,” Ms Tinetti said.

“Our existing regulatory system was designed in the early 1990s, without the internet, and focused on traditional newspapers, printed material and free-to-air TV. It is not fit for purpose, and does not have the flexibility to respond to the ongoing evolution of digital platforms.

“That’s why the Government is designing a new modern, flexible and coherent regulatory framework; to minimise the likelihood of unintentionally coming across harmful or illegal content – regardless of the way that content is delivered.

“The review will be platform and content neutral in what it covers. This means, I am not reviewing the substance of the content itself – however I am proposing to streamline the regulations to treat content the same way regardless of if it’s posted on a website, shared on Facebook, available on demand, printed in a newspaper, or aired on a TV screen.

“The current system is confusing for content providers and consumers – consumers have no single complaints process, and some content providers are regulated by multiple regimes.”

The Minister said the regulatory framework would balance harm-reduction with protecting democratic freedoms – including freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

“I do not intend to change the threshold for limitations on freedom of expression, and it will remain appropriately high,” she said.

“Communities, content providers and the Government all have a role to play in reducing harm to individuals, society and institutions, so everyone can have their say on the proposed changes.

Initial targeted consultation with key regulatory organisations, media groups, government agencies and specialist interest groups will begin shortly, before wider stakeholder and public consultation in early 2022.

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