New Zealand police are warning citizens they’ll face 10 years in prison for sharing the Christchurch mosque attack video, and a host of websites have been blocked as censors scrub the shooter’s manifesto from the internet.
Video footage of killer Brenton Tarrant’s shooting spree at a Christchurch mosque on Friday – which left 50 worshippers dead – was pulled from Facebook immediately after the massacre. With the footage proliferating on several hosting platforms afterwards, the Kiwi authorities have already charged an 18-year-old man for sharing the video, as well as for posting other “objectionable” comments days before the shooting.
The teenager faces up to ten years in prison, under New Zealand’s ‘objectionable and restricted material’ laws. Police have meanwhile issued an overt threat to anyone else looking for the video.
“Do not download it. Do not share it. If you are found to have a copy of the video or to have shared it, you face fines & potential imprisonment,” read a statement from the police via local news source Wellington Live.
Under the objectionable material laws, corporations can be fined up to NZ$200,000 (US$173,000) for sharing the video or any related content. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand’s Internet Service Providers rushed to ban websites suspected of sharing the shooting-related materials since the tragedy.
We've started temporarily blocking a number of sites that are hosting footage of Friday’s terrorist attack in Christchurch. We understand this may inconvenience some legitimate users of these sites, but these are extreme circumstances and we feel this is the right thing to do.
— Telstra News (@Telstra_news) March 18, 2019
Reports from internet users across New Zealand say that 8chan – the site on which Tarrant announced his attack and posted links to his white nationalist manifesto – has been banned. Social discussion service Dissenter has also been banned, as has content sharing platform Bitchute. In neighboring Australia, ISPs have reportedly banned “cesspool of the internet,” 4chan.
Trolls and memers attempting to access Bitchute and 4chan were greeted with an Interpol notice warning that the sites in question are “distributing child sexual abuse material.”
I just got this trying to visit 4chan from Australia on a @Kogan (vodaphone reseller) connection.
— Davey G (@Goldsteinm8ty) March 18, 2019
Popular video sharing site LiveLeak has also been reportedly blocked – although its moderators explicitly said in a statement that they would not allow the live video of the shooting to be shared there.
Why did they ban liveleak in new zealand. They won’t even show the christchurch video. Ironically they’re one of the better sites when it comes to deplatforming shit like that pic.twitter.com/oqI8xJIUEk
— thunder katana (@thunderkatana) March 18, 2019
Even the anti-establishment blog and economic news site Zero Hedge was roped in, and has been reportedly banned by some New Zealand ISPs. While the reason was not immediately clear, the popular anonymous news source has extensively covered the Kiwi censorship efforts in wake of the shooting and posted excerpts from Tarrant’s manifesto – but so did a host of other Anglophone media, including the Daily Mail, quoted in several Zero Hedge articles.
Well I just turned on the VPN and Zerohedge is now available. So there we have it – censorship is in full swing here in New Zealand! pic.twitter.com/o2VPDsZNLb
— VOOM (@kylenz99) March 17, 2019
The 80-page manifesto – a violent invective against Muslim immigration littered with internet memes and 4chan insider jokes – has been scrubbed from multiple file-hosting sites, including Scribd and Pastebin.
The crackdown extends beyond New Zealand too. Far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from entering Australia after the shootings, for a Facebook post in which he called Islam a “barbaric, alien” religious culture. Yiannopoulos had already been engaged in a protracted legal battle with the Australian government for almost a year to bring his controversial speaking tour to the country. While in the UK, police arrested a man in Oldham on Saturday for alleged social media posts “making reference and support for the terrible events in New Zealand.”