New bill to counter violent extremism online

Minister for Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti. Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.

A new bill is being introduced to make livestreaming objectionable content a criminal offence.

Tauranga Labour List MP and Minister for Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti says New Zealanders can now have their say on the new Bill which aims to better protect people from inadvertently viewing harmful online content.

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill is part of a wider government programme to address violent extremism.

It was read for the first time in Parliament this week and has been referred to Select Committee for public consultation.

“The bill addresses specific legislative and regulatory gaps in our current online content regulation that were highlighted in the wake of the Christchurch Mosque terrorist attacks on March 15.

“This bill will allow Government to act swiftly in the future if another incident, like the livestreaming of the March 15 terror attacks, were to happen again.”

Objectionable material is already illegal to possess and distribute in New Zealand – it is the highest classification that can be given to a publication under the Classification Act.

This includes child sexual exploitation material and violent extremism or terrorist content.

The bill amends the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 so that:

-The Chief Censor will be able to more quickly notify the public of illegal content that could cause high levels of harm;

-The livestreaming of objectionable content will be a criminal offence;

-Government will be able to issue take down notices, requiring the removal of objectionable content online

-Social media companies will come within the scope of current laws on objectionable content; and

-Legal parameters are established for a potential web filter to block objectionable content in the future, subject to further policy development and consultation.

“We have worked with industry partners to create the Bill, which will ensure law enforcers and industry partners can rapidly prevent and fight harm from illegal online content,” says Tinetti.

“The bill has now been referred to select committee, and I encourage the public to have their say through the select committee process.”

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Classification Act) governs censorship in New Zealand.

Under the Classification Act, it’s an offence to make, possess, supply or distribute an objectionable publication (including digital content).

Such an offence is based on whether the availability of a given publication or digital content is likely to be injurious to the public good.

The Classification Act contains mechanisms to deter people from creating or sharing this illegal content, to allow authorities to investigate those who do and to prosecute them where appropriate.

You can view the Bill at and the relevant Cabinet paper with attachments at


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Posted on 13-02-2021 14:45 | By morepork

We’ve always had it for movies. If it is true that watching "naughty stuff" corrupts you, then wouldn’t the Film censors be the most corrupt people alive? The only hope we have to keep Free Speech is if we educate the kids to be able to look at information and filter it themselves. I was brought up that way and it has served me well. If people are yelling instead of listening, if Nanny says you mustn’t see something, then your right to freedom of expression is being limited. "Hate speech" is words; it cannot harm you physically. If you see it for what it is, you discard it, reject it, or rebut it. Unfortunately, there are so many people in the society who are unable to do that, that the only way to "protect" them is to ban it. And so, evil ideas are never publicly checked or countere

Tom Ranger

Posted on 13-02-2021 09:59 | By

Right again morepork. Balance is always going to be required there between freedom of information/expression and what is abhorent. But who says which is which? The solution really is to encourage self-censorship and ability to discern. If we ignore/don’t educate ourselves to do this effectively. We risk producing a segment of our population that are ripe for exploitation by people like the extreme right Trump supporters.

A bag of worms.

Posted on 12-02-2021 16:28 | By morepork

The same old dilemma: Who decides what’s "objectionable" ? If I were to stumble upon something "objectionable" to me, I’d simply click on the Close gadget. This legislation is designed to "protect" us from ourselves because we are not grown-up enough to either NOT be offended by or NOT look at, something we don’t like. What about things watched "in secret" like pornography? Officially, the "general public" are offended by it, and yet it is the most-watched thing on the Internet; will it now be blocked? Just because there IS objectionable content on the Internet does not mean you HAVE to watch it. Watching helpless people being machine-gunned is not something I’d choose to watch, but if I accidentally glimpsed it, would it persuade me to go and do likewise? (No, definitely not). But I have to diminish my rights because Nanny thinks it might...