A Draconian South Australian law aimed at limiting online comments about the upcoming elections inflamed much of the population, resulting in an apparent repeal of the law.
The law in question came into effect on January 6 and sought to require any online user commenting on the March 20th state elections in South Australia to publish their real name and post code alongside their comments. According to Adelaide Now, a definite target of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson, the law would have applied to comments posted to online news stories, as well any comment made on the election on social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The law was not scheduled to be enforced until writs for the March 20th election were issued. The writs could be issued anytime between now and 25 days before the election. The law was to expire at 6:00 PM on election day. An additional aspect of the law would have forced media companies to store commenter’s names and post codes for six months. They could have faced fines of $5,000AU if the information collected was not handed over to the Electoral Commissioner.
Atkinson said the law was all about “honesty,” adding that, “There is no impinging on freedom of speech, people are free to say what they wish as themselves, not as somebody else.”
Specifically Atkinson also labeled the Adelaide Now website, “…a sewer of criminal defamation, it is a sewer of identity theft and fraud.”
It appears that an outraged populace has forced Atkinson’s hands for once, as new information coming out of South Australia indicates that Atkinson will repeal the law.
Adelaide Now reports that Atkinson stated, “I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively.”
He added, “It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps.”
While repealing the law after the elections would indicate that the law is still in place, Atkinson said it would not be enforced.
It’s important to note, and a little frightening, that the soon-to-be-repealed law was also supported by the Liberal Party, the main opposition to Atkinson’s Labor Party.
Thanks to readers iheartassassinmaid, Ryan and Anders for sending this story in.