SA Government back down and admit defeat on banning anonymous political speech

February 3, 2010

The South Australian Attorney General, Michael Atkinson, backed down last night on his plans to ban anonymous political comments during SA’s election period, says the Adelaide Now website.

The Adelaide Now website reports Mr Atkinson as releasing a statement saying the law will be repealed after the election, and that the law will not be enforced during the election.

SA Premier Mike Rann’s Twitter account also made several statements, including:

Attn Gen Mick Atkinson will move after election to repeal retrospectively provision of Electoral Act relating to internet/blog poll comment.

and

AG has listened. So no debate will be stifled. No political censorship of blogs or on-line comments whether named or anon.

Of course, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the Attorney General of a state should have to “listen” to other people to realise what an attack on free speech banning anonymous political comment is. Mr Rann and Mr Atkinson deserve no credit whatsoever for repealing this law – they should never have passed it in the first place. And the Liberal Party in South Australia should never have helped them pass it either.

Coverage of SA ban on anonymous political speech at election time

February 2, 2010

South Australia’s appalling new laws banning anonymous speech at election time have stirred up the Internet today.

The story first exploded on the Adelaide Now website, internet home of the Murdoch Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser.

The story has also been covered by:

Crikey, here, here and here

Adelaide blogger Taryn Hicks who points out the danger to people’s safety in forcing them to publish names and postcodes.

Electronic Frontiers Australia

ZD Net Australia

Lifehacker Australia

Mumbrella

Reddit

4ZZZ-FM Radio News

Grow Up Australia, who have already been challenging SA Attorney-General Michael Atkinson over his resistance to allowing an R18+ category for video games in Australia, and who plan to run against him in his seat of Croydon.

SA laws banning anonymous political speech to be ignored by @andrewbartlett’s blog

February 2, 2010

Andrew Bartlett, former Australian Democrat leader in the Senate, and now Green candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the 2010 Federal election, has announced on his blog that he will NOT be requiring full names, postcodes, or any other personal information before allowing people to comment on the SA election:

Draconian, dumb, futile and foolish are a few descriptions that
spring to mind.  I’d also say it’s unworkable in terms of it’s stated
purpose, but it could none the less snare innocent parties if a bloody
minded government decided to enforce it to the letter.

I don’t
know any more about this then what is published in The Advertiser
piece, so I don’t know if this law will apply to this blog, and if so
in what ways.  However, anyone commenting here can be assured I will
not be seeking their real name or postcode, let alone publishing it.

Interview with @4zzznews re SA banning anonymous political speech at election time

February 2, 2010

The interview here (click on the link above to download it or listen to it at Posterous) has me talking about SA’s ban on anonymous political speech at election time on 4ZZZ News in Brisbane. The interview was played on the 10am news bulletin on 4ZZZ-FM on Tuesday February 2nd 2010.

What exactly have the SA Government done to screw over political speech?

February 2, 2010

The new version of the SA Electoral Act says:

S 116 (1) A person must not, during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the Internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the Internet, unless the material or the programme in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material.

unless

S 2 (c):

(i) the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who
takes responsibility for the publication of the material is provided to
the publisher of the journal and retained by the publisher for a period
of 6 months after the end of the election period; and

(ii) the journal contains a statement of the name and postcode of the person who takes responsibility for the publication of the material

You can check this for yourself – you can download a copy of the new version of the SA Electoral Act from here.

Get that? If you want to comment on the election during the “election period” (that is, after the writs are issued to call the election), you have to give me your name and address and I have to keep it for six months. What a load of rubbish. This blog will allow free, anonymous comments and will require no personal information at all.

Down with SA’s undemocratic political speech laws

February 1, 2010

The South Australian Government has decided to ban all political comment during election time, unless it’s signed with the commenter’s real name and postcode. This is an undemocratic attack on freedom of speech – the right to speak anonymously is very important.

This blog will be reposting news about the SA election, and there will be NO restrictions on commenting. You can post whatever comments you like, you don’t have to use your real name, and you don’t have to leave a postcode.

If you’d like to be a writer for this blog, please email savotes2010uncensored@gmail.com – I suggest you create a fresh email address from gmail or whoever so I won’t know who you are.