The Privacy Commissioner: an oxymoron

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards Photo / John Stone.

Accepting that freedom and rights are temporarily suspended in times of emergency, global, national or local, either on an individual basis or collectively, is part of the social contract we must keep.

The reasons for such suspensions are as obvious as myriad.

Accepting that non-public bodies have domain over use of their products and services may be an irritant, but to disavow that right is to infringe on their rights as owners and operators to determine how their products and services are portrayed; provided they are not a monopoly supplier, users are free to use a competitor.

Thus when our major internet providers colluded within 48 hours of the dreadful massacre to suspend access to websites they deemed as ?actively hosting? video of the awful event, they were within their rights as owners of the mechanism to publish or access those shocking images. We may argue inconsistency or make claims of corporate censorship and bullying, but at the end of the day, they may exercise their proprietary rights this way, regardless of the argument that relatively inoffensive sites such as zerohedge may be caught in the ?ban?.

For the Privacy Commissioner, though, to encourage private providers to ?hand over? personal information to law enforcement for the purposes of prosecution of some of their users is a mockery of the man?s position, an abuse of his power, and a disgrace to his office.

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No respect for the truth

Green list MP Golriz Ghahraman

Guest Post:

Our lazy-eyed lawyer Golriz Ghahraman has news for you kaffirs about the ‘Real Islam’ and what a deep, sophisticated and respectful culture it is.

‘Not a Muslim? then don?t make assumptions about?Islamic culture.’?

Nothing warms my heart more than a foreign interloper lecturing the country that she begged to be let into about how to behave.

‘Whether or not we agree with these rules, whether they are paternalistic or unduly restrictive and need ‘modernising’, is a question for practicing Muslims.’

-?Golriz Ghahraman

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The journalistic sin that festers in open sight

Guest Post: Lushington D. Brady
Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. After working as a freelance music journalist, auto worker, railway worker, taxi driver, small business owner, volunteer firefighter and graphic designer, Lushington Dalrymple Brady decided he finally had an interesting enough resume to be a writer. Miraculously, he survived university Humanities departments with both his critical faculties intact and a healthy disdain for Marxism. He blogs at A Devil?s Curmudgeon. Lushington D. Brady is a pseudonym, obviously.

When I was studying journalism, it was drummed into us that mixing opinion and reporting was a cardinal sin. Journalism academic Stephen Lamble ruled that, ?journalists should clearly distinguish between news, comment and opinion?.

Yet one flagrant example of this journalistic sin occurs almost daily in media right across the ideological spectrum. That this particular and glaring breach of journalistic good practice is allowed to fester in open sight is, I suspect, because almost everyone – journalists and audiences alike – has been conditioned to simply accept it as a received truth.

News is what journalists commonly call ?hard news? – the ?just the facts? of who, what, when, where, why and how. In print, hard news is usually the front pages of the paper. News reporting is supposed to strictly report the facts without inserting the reporter?s opinions. ?There should be no clues in a journalist?s work,? says Lamble, ?about her or his political leaning?

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NZ Advertising Watchdog says maps are just opinion


The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority ?appears to have incredibly low standards as they are defending blatant propaganda that is not factual. Unbelievably the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority appeals board has reaffirmed its original ruling that maps are just opinion.

Screenshot-whaleoil.co.nz www.asa.co.nz/codes/codes/advertising-code-of-ethics/


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Think you are entitled to your opinion? Think again.

Did you ever think you would see the day when Social Media would label disagreement with someone else’s opinion ?as abusive and harassing behaviour?

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 10.11.46 am


…The chilling language was discovered just days after top feminists went before the United Nations and called on the global body to pressure governments to censor content critical of radical feminism.

Twitter?s official page for reporting harassment and abuse gives users a number of options that characterize the nature of the ?abuse?.

One of the options is Twitter posts that are, ?Offensive, disrespectful or in disagreement with my opinion.?

Users are then invited to provide the user ID of the account holder they are reporting, as well as further evidence of such ?abuse?.

Obviously, the notion that merely disagreeing with someone?s opinion constitutes an act of ?abuse? or ?harassment? is completely anathema to free speech. The mere fact that this option exists should set alarm bells ringing for those who have warned of an authoritarian purge that threatens to silence voices of dissent on social media.


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One man’s Hate Tweet is another man’s Opinion

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Screen shot 2015-07-09 at 4.01.17 PM-Whaleoil.co.nz

The song says that it is a fine line between love and hate. I would add that it is a fine line between what some see as a joke or opinion on twitter and what others see as a hateful tweet. This is one of the big problems when you make a law that seeks to limit people’s freedom of speech.

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DANGER Will Robinson


In my Charter Schools Investigation series I tried to present the information I had gained in a factual and balanced way. I did not want my articles to become opinion pieces so I avoided using these common journalistic techniques.

Slant a sentence of fact by adding in an adjective.

a) The student slouched in his chair as he told me how much he enjoyed P.E

b) The student was relaxed as he told me how much he enjoyed P.E

Omit information that will not support my opinion.

a) I spoke to a student who had been bullied at the school and was not happy with how long it took to resolve the issue.

b) I spoke to a number of students who all said that they have never seen any bullying at the school and that there are severe consequences for anyone who is a bully.

Ask questions that are likely to get an answer that will back up my opinion and avoid asking questions that may get answers detrimental to my opinion.

a) Tell me about your school’s NCEA results and how they compare to School X.

Seek out people for comment who will discredit any positive facts revealed by your investigation.

“Over time those results wither away and in many unfortunate circumstances the Government is forced to pick up the pieces? and re-integrate those kids back into the state system,” says New Zealand Education Institute national secretary Paul Goulter.

-3 News

So now that you are aware of the many ways in which a journalist can attempt to slant an article here is my Opinion piece on Charter Schools.


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So Whaleoil is Number One Blog. But where does it rank as an opinion maker?

via psu.edu

via psu.edu

Alexa has been ranking web sites world-wide for many years using actual traffic statistics.

I decided to have a peek to see where Whaleoil ranks among?the current top 500 visited web sites by New Zealanders.

Whaleoil is the 83rd most visited site word-wide by New Zealanders according to Alexa.

Google holds the top spot, followed by Facebook. ?No surprises there. ?But if we take out the overseas web sites and just rank true NZ ones, the following picture emerges.

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The Bias of the Media

James Falk discusses media bias and finds that it is the undeclared bias of many journalists and reporters that is the?problem?rather?than the declared bias of commentators:

[T]here is nothing wrong with media outlets having a strong policy view and publishing biased material – if it is identified as opinion. Media consumers clearly like the biases of opinionated commentators. The Press Council?(http://www.presscouncil.org.au/statements-of-principles/) recognises that and sets a framework for it:

Publications are free to advocate their own views and publish the bylined opinions of others, as long as readers can recognise what is fact and what is opinion.

Where bias becomes an issue is in material delivered by people designated as reporters, journalists, correspondents and editors.?Those job titles have traditionally implied a rigorous attempt to set aside personal biases and to report as neutrally as possible.

While they may quibble over the size and direction of bias, people of all political persuasions would agree that reporters in our media do not live up to that standard.

One of the problems is that too many opinion writers describe themselves as journalists or carry the bland title of editor or correspondent when a more accurate job description might be that of pundit or advocate. The other key problem is conflict of interest. ?Journalists are the gatekeepers of debate and shapers of perception, and infinitely more powerful than the average elected backbencher. It?s more than overt support or opposition for a policy view.? How journalists choose words, shape questions, select quotes, edit stories, co-locate images, or even respond through body language can all shape voters? perceptions of politicians and their policies.

Voters never get the chance to hold journalists accountable for how they exercise this power. Journalists never face election. Voters can only choose to consume media output or not. That consumer choice should be as informed as possible about journalists? conflicts of interest.

Perhaps it is time that like the US, we have journalists and reporters register their political allegiance.

In any other industry that last statement would be unremarkable. Yet in journalism it has never been taken seriously.

For example, there has been no formal disclosure of political journalists ? not commentators – who may be former staffers for Ministers, married to the party funtionaries, or living with a Minister whose portfolio they write about. There is no formal disclosure that a journalist mediating debate is a paid campaigner for a signature political issue. There is no disclosure that an environmental editor used to work for an advocacy group promoting one side of an environmental debate. There was no disclosure that a journalist drove a damaging story about a political enemy of a former girlfriend.

Only insiders know this type of information. Ordinary media consumers find out by accident.

It is obvious where my bias lies. Some people however do not like that I wear my bias on my sleeve, but then no reader of mine will ever die wondering where my loyalties lie.


ANZAC Memorial Post

For my mate Skippy.

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