New Zealand media outlets concerned over newly-proposed social media regulations, raise questions over freedom

New Zealand media outlets are concerned about the impacts on their freedom after the Government announced a proposal to reduce harmful content online.

Earlier this week, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) proposed new reforms for safer media and online platforms. It would mean social media platforms would be forced to abide by a mandatory code of conduct.

The proposals would also change the way traditional media outlets are regulated.

NZME/NZ Herald editor-at-large Shayne Currie said current regulations are a "little messy" with lots of different regulatory bodies, but what the Government is proposing over and above those industry bodies is a "superpower".

Currie, who made the comments on Newshub Nation's political panel, said he has spoken to New Zealand news outlets and the general reaction goes from "very cautious" to "deep concern" about freedom of the press.

"It's important that there's nothing preemptive or prescriptive in this new superpower that can sort of dictate where the media is going," Currie said.

While the DIA said it doesn't have any editorial control, Currie said where the concern may come in is around the principals themselves and how 'harm' is defined - which previously caused problems for New Zealand's hate speech laws.

The Spinoff's head of audience and former social media consultant Anna Rawhiti-Connell agreed with Currie, telling the panel trying to work out what the threshold for harm is will be one of the biggest challenges the proposal raises.

Watch the full panel above.

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