A huge victory! Proposed internet regulation abandoned!

We have huge news to share with you! Today, there's been a massive free speech victory. 

In June last year, we broke the story that the Department of Internal Affairs was planning to release a discussion document called 'Safer Online Services and Media Platforms'.

This proposed an online content regulator to censor 'harmful' content online: essentially 'hate speech' laws for the internet (I wrote about the proposals at the time in an op-ed).

One of the things it meant was that anyone with a distribution list larger than 25,000 (like the Free Speech Union), would be regulated in what we could say.

Um, no thanks. 🙅‍♀️

We kicked off the campaign as soon as we heard about these proposals (which was actually before they were announced: we leaked the policy document to the press the day before the announcement and gave DIA a blood nose straight out of the gates).  

We asked you to join us in pushing back against these proposals. And in the end, over 18,000 FSU supporters submitted to the DIA telling them 'NO!'

That made it the largest public policy consultation ever at the time. 

I'm am so thrilled to tell you that, today, we can announce these proposals have been abandoned.


This is a huge victory for free speech, and it's thanks to you!!!

Just last week, we saw the summary report on the discussion paper, 'Safer Online Services and Media Platforms'; over 93% of submissions were from FSU supporters opposing this proposal. 

These were ambiguous, subjective proposals, like 'hate' speech laws always are. They wouldn't have reduced the harm they intended to, and would have been abused to simply silence 'unpopular' speech.

Kiwis around the country shared our concerns, and together, we spoke up. And that made all the difference. Today, we wrote to Minister Brooke Van Veldon, thanking her for listening to your response, and abandoning these Orwellian proposals.

When these proposals were first released, a staff member in our legal team came to me and said 'people won't realise it, but these are worse than the 'Hate Speech' laws. I'm actually scared for what happens if we don't win.'

Well, together, we did. 💪

If you need any evidence that censorial powers to block 'harmful' content very quickly expand to 'unpopular' ideas, we just need to look at the Christchurch Call.

The Call was established to combat violent, extremist content, and now includes 'gender ideology' within the scope of its work. If you're interested in reading more about online regulation, Nick Hanne from our team has written more on this here.

He says:

"Determining the limits of free speech in cases of online extremism is an exercise fraught with moral and legal complexities, and past attempts to solve this particular Gordian knot in a single democracy alone have literally kept legislatures and courts busy for centuries.

To do so everywhere all at once in a way that honours a range of civil liberties' regimes while keeping people safe from terrorism would have been quite simply beyond even Alexander the Great. Or even Dame Jacinda, for that matter."

I know that you care about keeping speech free, whether online or in person. So here's a simple message. Thank you for adding your voice to ours and making our work, and this victory, possible. 

Without you, we could very easily have 'hate speech' laws censoring speech and regulators controlling online opinions. All based on what bureaucrats deem 'hateful' and 'harmful'. 

We've still got our work cut out for us: we're fighting for a culture that values free speech and open dialogue. But with your continued help, I believe we can do it


Jonathan Ayling
Chief Executive
Free Speech Union

Too long, didn't read?

The DIA's proposed 'online content regulator' has been abandoned. It's a major win, thanks to you. And we need to keep the fight up. 👍

If you want to listen to a podcast discussion on this, check it out here. 

Showing 5 reactions

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  • Peter Fitzsimons
    commented 2024-05-24 10:43:48 +1200
    We, the silent majority, who don’t have the ability to voice our concerns need and appreciate what the Free Speech Union are doing to give us a voice. Reminding our elected officials, who were elected on free speech and equality issues, about the need to stay the course is our only outlet at peaceful dialog. The elected officials should not need reminding but like all politicians they become insular in their offices with their official briefs and surrounded by self interested public servants pushing their own agendas, as can be seen by the likes of the Local Government New Zealand and the Waitangi Tribunal. Keep up the work you are doing. It keeps us sane with some hope that future generations will be as free as us.
  • Richard Munford
    commented 2024-05-23 19:32:46 +1200
    Much thanks to you Jonathan and all the other hardworking folk at the FSU its easy for us just to submit a submission but folk like you people are the reason that democracy will hopefully continue in its present form in the free world
    For too long these evil and insidious little moves by Marxists to subvert our freedom .
    Please keep up the good work
  • Noel Noble
    commented 2024-05-21 13:04:41 +1200
    Great stuff, keep up the good work.
  • John Watson
    commented 2024-05-14 21:16:26 +1200
    Go for it Jonathan and team. We’re 💯per cent with you.
  • Nadia Braddon-Parsons
    published this page in Blog 2024-05-13 10:47:36 +1200

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