I just saw this piece on The Advertiser’s site about a new law which has come into force in South Australia
The law “requires internet bloggers, and anyone making a comment on next month’s state election, to publish their real name and postcode when commenting on the poll.”
The law will affect anyone posting a comment on an election story on mainstream news websites. It reportedly also applies to social networking sites, and presumably also to personal blogs.
The report states that the law “also requires media organisations to keep a person’s real name and full address on file for six months, and they face fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.”
This is the first I’d heard of this, although presumably it came up when the relevant legislation was passed last year. It is hard to believe a measure like this got through the Upper House, but apparently the Opposition Liberals also supported it.
This sort of idea was considered at federal level by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters some years ago but was rejected as unworkable and not necessarily desirable in any case.
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. (People are, of course, free to use their real name if they wish, but I decided long ago not to go down that path with comments on this blog and I’ve never seen any reason to change that approach)
(cross posted at The Stump)
UPDATE (3/2): A follow-up report the next day quotes the South Australian Attorney-General saying the new law will not be enforced and the government will move after the election to retrospectively repeal it. Which means no impact on online expressions of opinion.