New Zealand to sneak in Internet disconnection copyright law with Christchurch quake emergency legislation

The government of New Zealand is sneaking in its controversial "3-strikes" Internet disconnection law tonight as part of its emergency legislation dealing with the Christchurch earthquke. Bill 92A was passed once before and then rescinded after massive popular demonstrations, letter writing campaigns and outrage. It provided for the disconnection of entire families from the Internet after being accused -- without proof or due process -- of copyright infringement. The new law only comes into effect if copyright infringement somehow magically declines over the next two years (that is, if the Internet somehow gets worse at copying data). When it comes into effect, it means that the livelihoods, civic engagement, education, social mobility, political engagement, and other online activities will be subject to suspension without trial or evidence for anyone accused of copyright infringement.

Using the tragedy in Christchurch as a means to advance the corporate agenda of offshore entertainment giants is shameful, to say the least. It's hard to imagine the depravity at work in the mind of the big content lobbyist who decided that hitching a ride on emergency legislation to address the horrific consequences of the Christchurch quake was a good idea.

The House is currently in urgency to pass Christchurch earthquake recovery measures. But a spokesman for Simon Power, who sponsors the bill, confirmed other legislation would also be rushed through.

Green MP Gareth Hughes is opposed to any restriction of access to the web.

He was unaware the bill was coming up today and will move an amendment calling for the clause to be removed.

''It really surprised me because we haven't debated it since November,'' he said.

After a select committee heard overwhelming opposition to cutting off the internet the legislation was revised.

The penalty remains but can only be brought into force by the minister by an order in council.

The Government will oppose Hughes amendment, Power said.

Law to fight internet piracy rushed through


  1. Its exciting news for computer criminals. A whole new class of denial of service attacks. Hilarity is sure to ensue.

    I’ll enjoy spelling my name across New Zealand in blacked out homes with my fake copyright violation notices, by accusing innocent people of downloading “Tub Girl vs Godzilla”.

  2. Please change your profile pictures to black, check out the hash tag #blackout for updates via twitter, and email the NZ Parliament to let them know your disgust; let them know they will be getting a bad reputation abroad, as they don’t seem to care what New Zealanders think of them.

  3. Like the Patriot Act and the Freedom for Puppies and Kittens Act in the US – Put on your corporate scumbag thinking-cap; the idea is almost too obvious. No crisis should ever goes unused.

  4. “The new law only comes into effect if copyright infringement somehow magically declines over the next two years”

    So the law won’t go into effect. There is nothing to worry about.

  5. For those of you who don’t have time to write your own:


    Mr Key,

    This email is to register my objection to the pushing through under urgency of Bill 92A, specifically the re-introduction of the hugely unpopular ‘3-strikes’ law.

    Besides the sheer outrageousness of the law itself, I believe the successful implementation of the law is completely infeasible and will cause New Zealand to become the subject of international ridicule.
    How will the New Zealand government protect it’s citizens from malicious copyright notices being distributed by computer criminals if there is no due process or requirement of proof?

    I must also convey my absolute disgust that this government would use a tragedy to forward it’s political agenda. By intentionally attempting to side-step the proper political process for this matter, you are alienating not only the general public, but also the very people who were affected by the Christchurch earthquake, and potentially removing what turned out to be a valuable lifeline to Cantabrians during the hours, days and weeks following the event.

    Furthermore, I strongly object to the current government’s placing the desires of overseas corporate interest above the needs and sentiment of the New Zealand public. New Zealand has a history of standing up to bullies, and this should be no exception.


    1. Probably worth proof reading it if it’s to be used as a template :)

      And yes, this is wrong on many levels – but if I’ve learnt anything, it’s that there’s little democracy in a democratic government.

  6. New Zealand is currently in the grips of horrendous free-market ideologues, as it has been periodically since the “Rogernomics” period of the 80s.

    During Rogernomics, almost century old, well run, profitable state run services/infrastructures were sold off at fire-sale prices, The telecommunications service, the rail system, the power services, the forest service. Even the education system was “restructured” (read; mauled) to mimmic that of corporations, schools were to compete, principles were to act as CEOs.
    We went from a very high level of self-sufficiency to having our national services almost completely absorbed by “overseas investment”.
    Things have, predictably, descended into the all too familiar pattern of grossly inefficient/unresponsive/irresponsible companies with a stranglehold on their markets. With the trademark overpaid CEOs. ( )

    Our PM John Key, made his fortune as a ravenous forex trader during the radical free-market deregulatory period of the 80s.
    He is now re-inflicting the same horrors of our past; essentially subjugating out population to the will of the wealthiest. To the enormous detriment of what future this small country has left.

    Sadly we have no viable opposition, complicit “soft” media, and an unhealthy culture of respect for stuffy “experts” and “authority”.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, we must stand up and fight these bastards.

  7. Typical government corruption. Are we really surprised by this? Worse, why aren’t we shocked and appalled by this? Shows just how long this crap has been going on. The governments of the world are so corrupted by corporations. When did they stop serving the people? Did they ever serve the people?

  8. Best comment I’ve read on the whole sorry event was on twitter:

    Thanks to ClareCullen & NickSmith All of NewZealand has just been #NickRolled “Never Gonna Cut You Off”. Yeah Right. Time to #Blackout again

    Nick Smith is the National party Government MP who shepherd the bill though under urgency. Clare Cullen is the Labour Party Opposition MP who despite “misgivings” still voted for the bill.

  9. So if the law only goes into effect if copyright infringement goes down… doesn’t that mean there’s an incentive for people to infringe on copyright to keep the law from going into effect? Seems kind of counterproductive.

  10. It’s like being back in the school yard.
    Teacher:”Who pushed the little girl over?”
    Bully who did it:*Points at Sparky* “He did”
    Sparky:”What? No I didn’t, he did!”
    Teacher:”Come with me Sparky, and don’t say you didn’t do it I know you did. You are in a lot of trouble.”

  11. Corporations learned much from the Bush Admin’s use of the 9/11 attacks to push ever greater government intrusion into our lives, didn’t they!

    The greater issue is why so many Western Democracies, specifically the US’, the UK’s, the EU’s, Canada’s, Australia’s and now New Zealand are attacking the rights of their citizens.

    It appear democracy is back to being an experiment that has outlived the needs of Governments and Corporations.

  12. I know this sort of thing happens all the time in the States, tacking unrelated laws on as riders to huge pieces of legislation in the hopes that they will stealth through, but how is this conscionable? How has it become commonplace? All it proves is that there are too many lawyers in politics. Back in the day MPs used to come from all walks of life, now they are mostly lawyers.

  13. No one is really for these laws but the big corporations who make money from copyrighted material. Since probably 99% of people hate them, that means that governments are going against their people’s wills. So why? It has to be that they are being bribed. There can be no other explanation.

  14. I’m still trying to work out how anything like this could be legal, in any country. Adding unrelated rider clauses should be cause for immediately suspension, if not dismissal of the MP/ Congressman/ Senator who does it, since it’s a clear violation of the democratic process these men and women all claim to believe in. “What does this have to do with disaster relief?” “uhhh” “good day, sir”

  15. Speaking of fake copyright violation notices, what do you think the odds are that every single minister that votes for this thing will be accused of illegal downloading at least three times on Day One? A fine plan, frankly. While their internet is down, the rest of New Zealand can coordinate online the effort to repeal the law, as well as the effort to recall those ministers with no interference. By the time their service is back on, they can read all about how fired they are.

  16. The problem we face is not that the Government will use questionable tactics to pass contentious bills – all Governments do whatever they can get away with. We as a people allow them to do so by not speaking up. We are a country that has more rules than Germany and we accept more rules and regulations passed on a daily basis with little comment.

    While searching for news on the copyright issue I saw an article about a Cage Shark Diving operation in Stewart Island that wants regulation and the reason for this was to stop so-called cowboy operators coming in and being ‘unsafe.’ This whole article was a shallowly disguised effort to thwart competition and not about safety at all. THe so-called Cowboy Operators were big business interests in South Africa making diving widely available to over 100 000 people per year. Given our nations preoccupation with creating rules, there will be a whole raft of them coming for Shark Diving shortly – probably passed under urgency!

  17. Baldhead, it’s not exactly a rider, it’s a gross abuse of process. Generally all laws have to go through a select commitee (where the public get to make submissions on potential impacts to a generally multipartisan group of MPs).

    The only time that doesn’t happen is when parliment sits under urgency, for things like wars or natural disasters when urgent law changes are required.

    They took advantage of parliament sitting under urgency for Earthquake related stuff to pass a completely unrelated bill which was hugely unpopular the first time it went through select commitee.

    This was sneaky and underhanded and I hope it really comes back to bite them come election time.

    Really hope the Greens get votes out of this, they’re the only ones who come out looking good and if they clear 10% this election then they could make a huge difference

  18. While it’s true this is a silly law that will be ineffective and was shamefully forced through using urgency under cover of other shameful legislation regarding my cities troubles (I live in Christchurch) it isn’t as bad as commentators here are presuming.

    It does have provision for disconnection after three strikes, BUT it does involve a court process rather than simple accusation and corporations will not be free to spam complaints willy nilly because there is a charge attached to each complaint to recompense ISPs for the expense of handling them.

    It is a bit of a sheep in wolves clothing for people in NZ while also unfortunately also being an example of a ‘Three Strikes’ law corporations will hawk as an example of them in action.

    And that ‘will only become active if online infringement decreases’ should read ‘will only become active if online infringement does not decrease over two years OR the minister decides to activate it’.

  19. While I am totally anti this bill and the way it is being pushed through, I throw this wee comment in to foment discussion.

    Isn’t the reason this is being discussed under urgency because parliament has been focusing a lot of its time on earthquake related issues and has to move a little speedier on some other issues? I didn’t think they were tying this issue of so-called copyright protection to the earthquake as such.

    Let me say again though: I don’t believe this bill is ready to be made into law, and I believe the issue merits wider discussion. I just think our objections (to content and process) should be informed, and not knee jerks. Not that I am calling any of my esteemed fellow commenters knee jerks, or any other kind of jerk.

    What I guess I wonder is how do they decide which bits of regular business need to be put into rush mode? This seems like the wrong bit. Does it perhaps have something to do with the free trade agreement New Zealand and the USA are trying to hammer out?

  20. It’s not being tagged onto the Christchurch Bill, that’s not possible in New Zealand (see Standing Order 256(a), “Except as otherwise permitted by Standing Orders, a bill must relate to one subject area only”).

    What the government has done is (ab)use the process of urgency, whereby Parliament sits for longer hours than usual, and legislation doesn’t receive the same level of scrutiny as normal. I don’t see any reason for the government to use urgency to pass this particular Bill (there’s obviously more reason to pass the Christchurch Bill under urgency).

    And obviously it’s a dumb law, but y’all knew that anyway…

    Minor pedantry as well: the name of the Bill is the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill; 92(a) is the ‘three strikes’ section of the Bill.

  21. This is hilarious cause does the NZ gov’t realize this makes watching Youtube or Veoh or Dailymotion illegal under this bill in a sense? So if i make an Anime Music Video and upload it so people can see it – i’m gonna get my net cut off eventually? woooooooow. XD

    92a is the most retarded thing ever, frankly you’ll never get people to stop. As someone said on STUFF : WHAT take drivers liscences away because of drunk driving and buglary nobody committed?

    (apologies for my bad spelling i’m in a bad mood about this :P)

    Someone needs to get their heads smacked together.

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