Anonymous online political debate banned in SA
South Australian Parliament has pushed through laws requiring all bloggers and contributors wanting to take part in political debate online to include their real name and post code.
Contributors and bloggers details will be kept for six months. Disobeying could cost infringers $5000. The law could have serious ramifications for social media personalities.
“This is an appalling infringement of Australians’ rights to free speech,” said CEO of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Mark Hollands. “A democracy champions individual freedoms so it is not clear what the South Australian Government is trying to achieve. To keep individuals’ details for six months seems unnecessary – what do they possibly want them for, for that period of time?”
In addition to concerns regarding social media platforms, Hollands said he was concerned about the restriction of freedoms in print, radio and television.
There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else, said South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson.
Coming into effect on March 20, the day election writs are issued, the law will lapse at 6pm on polling day. Atkinson confirmed there was no intention of extending the law beyond the election period.
Clearly this is censorship being implemented by a government facing an election,” added Melvin Mansell, editor of Adelaide’s The Advertiser.