The judge who granted name suppression to the billionaire caught bringing cannabis into the country last week was - perhaps ironically - in a better position than most to understand the futility of such an order in the Internet era.
Judge David Harvey has been a longtime Internet user and maintains both the Auckland District Court Web site and his own pages. He is also a regular contributor to the nz.general newsgroup, where, during the weekend, at least two Internet users posted copies of an Associated Press story naming the billionaire.
Internet commentator Bruce Simpson also thumbed his nose at the suppression order over the weekend, providing a link to a US newspaper's site where the AP story was carried.
Simpson, whose Aardvark site is hosted in the US - and, hence, arguably not subject to a suppression order granted under New Zealand law - said he doubted that "even the most bumbling prosecutor would attempt" to charge him with contempt of court for providing the hyperlink.
"Were I to be prosecuted for such then the courts had better be prepared to take on the entire Internet community -- both at home and abroad."
Judge Harvey created a stir last year when he slapped a five year sentence on a man who bought $60,000 worth of goods and services over the Internet, using stolen credit card numbers. He said a message must be sent to those who engaged in computer fraud over the Internet that such offending would be dealt with "most severely". The term was subsequently cut back to three years on appeal.