The Gamers4Croydon candidate taking on South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson in his own electorate this year has slammed government legislation banning anonymous online comments about the upcoming state election during the campaign.
“Obviously we’re pretty amazed,” said Kat Nicholson (pictured), describing the legislation as “another example of unnecessary censorship” on the part of South Australia’s reigning Labor Party, which she said was exerting a draconian influence over the democratic process.
Gamers4Croydon is primarily campaigning to push the issue of a R18+ rating for computer games in Australia, but also has outlined policies in a variety of other areas, such as opposing mandatory internet filtering and introducing an independent commission against corruption.
The legislation, which came into force on January 6, requires all online commenters to list their real name and postcode during an election campaign. News Limited’s AdelaideNow website, which hosts online commentary, has quoted Atkinson as describing the site as “not just a sewer of criminal defamation” but also “a sewer of identity theft and fraud”.
Atkinson has denied the move impinges on free speech, saying residents are free to say what they wish under their own name, and there was no intent to broaden the law past the electoral period.
The legislation has attracted considerable condemnation from around Australia. For example, digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia has described the legislation as “completely unenforceable” and said that it remains unclear how it will apply.
In an interview today, Nicholson said the legislation was “Orwellian” and she imagined many people would deliberately ignore it. “How are they going to enforce it anyway?” she asked. “If someone wrote something on Twitter, what are they going to do — fine them?”
Earlier today, Gamers4Croydon candidate for the state’s Legislative Council Chris Prior also attacked the legislation in a statement, saying the State Government was “spitting in the face of South Australia’s proud history as a democratic trailblazer”.
“Already this state lacks an independent corruption watchdog to oversee its elected officials, and now those same officials want personal information from members of the public who disagree with them,” said Prior.
Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has already publicly stated he will not seek the real name of anyone commenting on his popular blog, “let alone publishing it”, although he’s not sure if the law will apply to his blog.
Look out for our full interview with Nicholson — coming up shortly.
Image credit: Kat Nicholson