InternetNZ acknowledges that Māori are a targeted group in online harm. In recent years, there has been a notable increase in online abuse of Māori people, both individuals and groups. InternetNZ encourages Māori to have their whakaaro heard during this process, particularly concerning questions 23 and 24, but also on the entire Safer Online Services and Media Platforms (SOSMP) discussion document.
Māori are mentioned several times in the document. The DIA acknowledges that Māori experience specific discrimination and harm online. They also recognise the historical context of that harm (p. 17).
The ‘Role for Māori’
The DIA proposes a “role for Māori in the governance and decision-making of the regulator, as well as in developing the codes and delivering education” (page 24). There is no discussion of equal co-governance with Māori. However, there could be a role for Māori and iwi to be involved in the governance of the regulator and have significant input in developing the codes proposed (p. 60).
It also proposes that the regulator:
- Could be required to have a significant Māori presence on its Board and a formal Māori advisory structure (p. 67).
- Includes a component that could fund education for Māori and use tikanga processes (p. 67).
It’s worth clarifying that Tikanga processes are not defined in this document, so we are not sure what DIA’s interpretation of Tikanga processes is.
Te Tiriti o Waitangi and SOSMP
The document states that the regulator will meet the government’s obligations under Te Tiriti with a focus on ensuring Māori participation. This is not the only obligation under Te Tiriti, and Internet NZ supports iwi Māori having both co-design and co-governance of the regulation of media. The platforms (social media etc) will not be required to meet any Tiriti obligations (p. 39).
Online harm for Māori
Currently, it is difficult to remove content like racial discrimination because the existing ‘takedown powers’ (the ability to remove illegal content online held by DIA) only apply to ‘objectionable material.’ The current legal definition of ‘objectionable material’ excludes racial superiority, hatred, and discrimination.
One of the regulator's objectives will be to ensure ‘freedom from discrimination’ (page 9). The regulator would have no power, or obligation, to moderate or require platforms to remove legal content (p.7).
There is, however, a proposal to expand ‘takedown powers’ to all laws. This includes online death threats and harassment, which are included in the harmful digital Communications Act (p. 55). Should other laws be added to the ‘takedown powers’ of the DIA, Chief Censor, and regulator, racially motivated harassment would then have to be removed by regulated platforms.
Feedback questions aimed directly at Māori:
Here are some questions from within the SOSMP discussion doc to get us thinking about the rights of Māori in a regulated Internet (p. 13) .
Question 23: What do you think about how we’re proposing to provide for Te Tiriti o Waitangi through this mahi? Can you think of a more effective way of doing so?
Question 24: Do you think that our proposals will sufficiently address the harms experienced by Māori?
InternetNZ’s support for affected communities
Decisions about these new regulations should be influenced by listening to communities most impacted by harmful content online. If you’d like to make a submission to the Department of Internal Affairs responding to the SOSMP discussion doc, check out our page, ‘Make a submission’.