Pilcher on banning Facebook

Pat Pilcher 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.

Facebook, 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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