Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gagging Kim Dotcom

Since their botched raid on Kim Dotcom's mansion last year, the New Zealand government has faced a PR problem over their handling of the case. And that has been hammered home at every opportunity by Dotcom himself, who turns out to be quite good at winning the hearts of ordinary kiwis. But now the government has a solution: gag him:

Crown lawyers have suggested Kim Dotcom should be gagged from commenting publicly on the legal action against him.

At a hearing at the High Court in Auckland on Monday, Crown lawyer Kristy McDonald took issue with comments the internet businessman had made on the social media site Twitter.

She told the court many of the tweets were scurrilous and risked undermining the court process.

That's our government's view of how the justice system should work: they get to persecute you, and you don't get to complain about it to anyone.

But while it would be undoubtedly convenient for Crown Law, its hard to see how a gag order on Dotcom would be consistent with the Bill of Rights Act's affirmation of freedom of expression. And while that right can be limited to protect the judicial process, with no jury involved, its hard to see how that could apply. The only "benefit" to such a gag-order would be to reduce public scrutiny of the government and reduce their bad PR. And that doesn't seem to be "demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society" at all.