Pilcher on banning Facebook

February 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

writes in the NZ Herald:

Back in the 70′s Cambodia descended into chaos. This was thanks to the Pol Pot regime, whose crackpot ideologies saw some brutal policies put into practice. The upshot is now well known, many died and Cambodia is recovering.

Sometimes political madness starts from a single crazy idea with little thought given to issues such as feasibility or what the impacts are likely to be.

I raise this because of a bizarre policy idea floated by Labour (who’ve also since stomped the policy out of existence). The proposed policy would have involved a Labour government preventing tax avoiding multinationals from accessing the Internet in New Zealand.

, Google, Amazon, Apple – all banned. Maybe even the NZ Herald and Stuff as their owners are arguably tax avoiding multinationals!

Even though the thought of multinationals setting up shop locally and not paying their fair share strikes me being somewhat repugnant, the proposed policies really gave me pause for thought, leaving me wondering if Labour had really thought through just how it’d work or if they’d finally lost the plot completely.

To be fair, it was probably a brain fart. But what is worrying is they defended the policy for a full 24 hours before ruling it out.

Facebook would also continue to operate Facebook.com anyhow, as it is hosted offshore. Because of this, a Labour government would have to block access to Facebook from within New Zealand. Odds are that any such move would be a double-edged sword for Labour in that most voters would take a particularly dim view of any attempt to block sites such as Facebook.

They’d be slaughtered.

If the whole concept strikes you as being just plain wrong, you’re not alone. Internet New Zealand have also strongly objected, saying that “InternetNZ does not support filtering of the Internet in any kind”.

Absolutely. That’s a slippery slope that ends badly.

Should multinationals begin to leave, the number of skilled jobs is guaranteed to shrink pretty darned quickly. The really crazy thing is that under this scenario, that not much more corporate tax would be paid anyhow.

Worse still, the governments of the nations where these multinationals are headquartered are also likely to be lobbied and could in turn react unfavourably, and this would jeopardise trade.

So there you go. Had Labour actually decided to implement this madness and been elected, we could’ve ended up with unworkable Internet censorship, disgruntled voters, corporate flight, unemployment and deteriorating trade. 

As I said, the amazing thing is it took them more than 60 minutes to disown David Clark’s statement.

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17 Responses to “Pilcher on banning Facebook”

  1. NK (1,102 comments) says:

    If the whole concept strikes you as being just plain wrong, you’re not alone. Internet New Zealand have also strongly objected, saying that “InternetNZ does not support filtering of the Internet in any kind”.

    What does long-time Labour activist, blogger and head of Internet NZ CEO, Jordan Carter, say about this? He’s been very silent.

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  2. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    the amazing thing is it took them more than 60 minutes to disown David Clark’s statement.

    Clark stuffed up small, Labour stuffed up big – for not having Clark strictly on message in the first place, and for not dealing with what would obviously become an adverse reaction.

    What’s quote is Clark is well known as a faitful party reciter, which makes one wonder whether he was floating ideas under advice.

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  3. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    I encourage people to compare Pol Pots ideas with those of the Green Party. He wanted the country to revert to a sustainable green economy of socialist organic farmers scattered through out the rural countryside.

    A Cambodian friend suffered the terrible misfortune of living in the city with a Doctor as a father and a business owner as a mother. She explained “soldier come kill kill family, me brother run away Laos, Vietnam, go Thailand refugee camp” She had witnessed socialism first hand. You could see it in her eyes. I have seen the same in Eastern Europe.

    The Greens eventually killed a quarter of the countries population.

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  4. thePeoplesFlag (212 comments) says:

    That’s right, because an elected politician publically speculating on legal avenues to get a gloal corporate to pay tax is just like Pol Pot’s genocide.

    Good grief.

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  5. Psycho Milt (2,339 comments) says:

    I raise this because of a bizarre policy idea floated by Labour (who’ve also since stomped the policy out of existence). The proposed policy would have involved a Labour government preventing tax avoiding multinationals from accessing the Internet in New Zealand.

    Did this writer suffer a serious head injury at some point or were they born stupid?

    1. There was no “proposed policy,” there was a poorly-worded answer from a Labour MP in response to clever questioning by a 3 News reporter (and Tova O’Brien is so cute she could probably get me to promise privatisation of the roads and water supply). It’s perfectly true that a government always has in its back pocket the ability to ban a web site – it’s also perfectly true that no MP should actually come out and say so.

    2. What does “preventing tax avoiding multinationals from accessing the Internet in New Zealand” even mean?

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  6. nickb (3,673 comments) says:

    The answer said it all Milt. No amount of spin will say otherwise.

    Watch for UK-style mandatory internet filters under a Labour/Greens/NZF/Mana/Maori govt…

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  7. queenstfarmer (751 comments) says:

    @Psycho:

    1. yes there was a proposed policy. And it came directly from Labour’s revenue spokesman himself. What other crackpot ideas might Labour try to implement if they get into power?

    2. I don’t know, ask Labour’s revenue spokesman – it’s his policy!

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  8. Yoza (1,653 comments) says:

    Considering the exponential growth of internet businesses operating seamlessly over the borders of multiple nation states we could very well witness a form of the financial transaction tax becoming a primary instrument for governments to gather revenue.

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  9. Kimble (4,393 comments) says:

    “The Government should always have in its back pocket the ability to ban websites,”

    1. If a politician says that an action may be taken, then that is a proposed policy. This is especially true when they are their party’s “revenue spokesman”.

    2. It was merely a poorly worded sentence describing what Labour meant when they said “ban websites”. Unlike a spokesman for a political party, the author’s mis-statement doesnt mean anything more than their lack of familiarity with how the internet technically works.

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  10. Psycho Milt (2,339 comments) says:

    If a politician says that an action may be taken, then that is a proposed policy.

    So, Key really was proposing a policy of going to war with North Korea then? Jesus H Fucking Christ! And I thought it was just reporters making something out of nothing!

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  11. jedmo (31 comments) says:

    David Clark seemed very slippery in what he said – first it was “we’ll use banning as a threat to get Facebook to pay their tax” – clearly you have to be willing to use the threat, for you to have any credibility. Then he backed off and said “well we’d make them sit down and have a talk with us”, which would influence Facebook how? Clearly regards the voters as idiots.

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  12. OTGO (521 comments) says:

    It doesn’t matter that Clark didn’t think it through. What matters is he said it, he owns that statement forever. Politicians whose first reaction to any perception of a problem is to ban something are to be avoided at all costs. And I’m not just taking about the left either.

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  13. burt (7,948 comments) says:

    Typical lefties… Corporate CEO’s earn more than beneficiaries – so ban them !

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  14. Peter (1,653 comments) says:

    To the best of my knowledge, Clark has not said “I said something silly. We will not be banning Facebook. I got my words wrong. I’m sorry”.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, he articulated a policy position and should be taken seriously.

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  15. Kimble (4,393 comments) says:

    So, Key really was proposing a policy of going to war with North Korea then? Jesus H Fucking Christ! And I thought it was just reporters making something out of nothing!

    Should the situation call for it, yes.

    Key talking about future circumstances possibly requiring a specific response is different to Labour talking about future circumstances that are exactly the same as the current situation.

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  16. Ed Snack (1,773 comments) says:

    What I don’t get is why some people seem to think that a “Financial Transaction Tax” is in some way desirable and also think that they won’t be paying it. If they are so deluded as to think that such a tax will somehow come from the banker’s pockets and not those of everyone who uses financial services in any way, then, frankly, they’re deluded. But then, it is a hallmark of governments in general and the left in particular, to want to impose taxes that *seem* to come from someone else so they can collect for their own use more money and power to be disbursed at their favour.

    Get this, all taxes are in the end paid by real people, and mostly by those who work to earn a living as they can’t avoid/evade them like the cronyist rich and the feckless beneficiaries; or the fringe dwelling cash society types like gangs. You don’t tax companies, you tax in some proportion their customers, workers, and owners. And as long as capital is reasonable mobile, the majority of the burden falls on the employees (but not the very top employees) and the customers, aka you.

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  17. jcuk (626 comments) says:

    Now Ed you are horibly biased … Bene’s pay tax every time they use their subsistence allowance to buy food and clothing etc..
    If you believe only the gangs are using cash you are incredibly naive. In a quite legal way people who use the net to make small purchases from overseas and they come from all walks of life RWs and LWs all.
    Though I agree with the thrust of your comment.

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