Sunday, April 24, 2011

Secrets, lies, the law and the internets.

Way back in the dark ages, while I was at Uni, I did a year-long course about the law and media.

One of the hot topics for discussion was how the law continually fails to keep up with technology - and this was WAY before the internets.

It seems the law is still struggling, as envisaged by events in State politics this week.

A State parliamentarian was arrested and charged with possessing kiddie porn. He can't be named here due to a 1976 amendment to the the Evidence Act (1929).

Basically, the media may not publish any evidence tendered, or submission made, in the Magistrates Court relating to an alleged sex offence. This includes naming any person charged with an offence until they have entered a plea.

The crazy thing is that this law only applies in this state, so media elsewhere has taken a risk and named the MP in editions not sold here, and anyone with access to a computer can read all about it on various blogs (not to mention that Derryn Hinch himself has outed the alleged culprit.)

Now, as  an former journo - and one that has spent more than a few hours reporting from criminal courts - I have a big problem with blanket suppression orders, but I do understand the notion of innocent until proven guilty and realise that being accused of kiddy porn can destroy a person's life- even if they are later found not guilty.

But the point of this blog is not to argue the rights and wrongs of suppression orders, but to point out that the internet makes this particular law a farce.

The man's identity is the worst kept secret of the State, and it's time that the law recognised that in the age of Web 2.0 and the rise of social media that suppresion orders are not worth the paper they are written on. And if any over-eager sub-judice lawyers are reading this, please note I did not break any ridiculous law.

(Now we will return you to your regular programming of mummy-juggle whinging!)

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