15 April 2024

Net widens to track those who shared shooting video

By Gurbir Singh:

The Privacy Commissioner has reportedly asked Facebook to reveal identity of those who shared the 17-minute Christchurch shooting video, and share their account names with police.

“Facebook should be notifying the police of the account names of people who have shared this content,” Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards reportedly told RNZ today.

Those who violate and share this clip can face a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 14 years’ jail under the Films, Videos & Publications Classification Act 1993.

Even mere possession of this ‘objectionable’ (banned) material is punishable. Police and enforcement agencies have already started prosecutions.

One 18-year old teenager was arrested on Monday accused of sharing a live-stream and faces two charges, one of sharing live stream of video. he has been denied bail.

Another Christchurch businessman, Philip Neville Arps, 44, who runs Beneficial Insulation, is also facing two charges of  alleged distribution of video footage on March 16.

One Wairarapa young woman was arrested today under the Human Rights Act, on suspicion of inciting racial disharmony through her comments on her Facebook page. The offence carries a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment, or a $7000 fine.  

Meanwhile, one employee has also been dismissed for watching the video stream at workplace and sharing with colleagues. Some other workers, it appears, are still under scrutiny.

Even though the 15th March video of the fatal shootings was classified as “objectionable” on Monday, 18th March by the Chief Censor, David Shanks, yet it becomes an offence from the time the material is produced and the timing of the official classification does not affect the ability to prosecute offences.

Explaining details, Jared Mullen, Deputy Chief Censor told the Herald.”If you didn’t know the material was objectionable and you were found in possession of it, a maximum fine of $10,000 could apply.”

“If you knew the content was objectionable and were found in possession of it – the legal test here is ‘knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the publication is objectionable’ – a maximum term of 14 years imprisonment could apply,” he added.

Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy, Monika Bickert told the Herald “In the time that it was actually live, fewer than 200 people viewed it.”

Facebook took down the original stream after it had been watched about 4000 times.

However, it went viral quickly through other social media platforms, including YouTube, and in the first 24 hours after the shooting, there were reportedly 1.5 million attempts to upload the video, or its edited variants, to Facebook.

Pressure is now mounting on social media networks to ensure such instances are not repeated in future, and several New Zealand companies have threatened to stop advertising on Facebook.

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