Suzie Dawson and the Whistle-blower

Suzie Dawson

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

It all came to a head for in March of 2019 when I wrote a post called Who is Suzie Dawson: Exile or Fraud? In it I questioned her claims, her history, warned people about her conduct, asked more questions and published a, then unanswered, complaint to the Secretary of the Internet Party saying I believed she had;

When the Internet Party Secretary replied, almost a month after the initial complaint, he refused to escalate the complaint and dismissed it as personal attack, not in the interests of the Party and because I had already published it online. Nothing was heard from Suzie during this time and she continued to ask for donations using the name and imagery of the Internet Party.

Then, in May, I received an email.

Netsafe is a New Zealand online safety organisation that manages complaints about digital communications that may be causing harm to someone under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015).

We want to let you know about a complaint we have received about online content that someone feels is harming them. Sometimes Netsafe will contact a person who has allegedly distributed this type of content to see if we can assist in resolving the issue. In this complaint it has been alleged that you may have been involved in the distribution of such content.

We’d like to have a chat with you to discuss the complaint and to understand from your perspective what is happening. Netsafe are impartial and we do not work on behalf of either party involved in the complaint. We can provide you with information to help you understand the situation.

Netsafe email 10/05/2019

At first I was absolutely sure it could not be Suzie Dawson. There was no way that a public figure who purports to fight for whistleblowers and journalist’s could be stupid enough to try and invoke a law made to protect teenagers from online bullying in order to silence criticism against her.

It turned out I was wrong. Suzie Dawson, in an act of lawfare, used New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) to try and get me to remove statements from my website and to stop me writing about her in the future. She used a cyberbullying law to try and remove my right to Freedom of Expression.

I doubt there is a more perfect example of how she really feels about whistle-blowers or journalists.

Eventually, out of ten complaints, I voluntarily changed the number of Executive in a sentence by two. Something that I would have been quite happy to do at the behest of a simple comment. How she was seriously emotionally distressed by the number of Executive being wrong is unknown.

There was no justified reason to change any of my other accusations, comments, opinions, or statements. And, within a day of sending my reply, I received a email saying the complaint was now closed.

If I had not been in a position where I had access to legal advice it is likely I would have been forced to alter or withdraw my posts, possibly even take down my website, in fear of litigation. As it stands, Ms. Dawson misjudged me badly, filed an apparently vexatious complaint, contradicted herself in her own complaint and then breached the privacy of the Internet Party forums in order to attack me.

In my experience, people tend to show their true colours when they think they have power over others and this makes me wonder just how many others she has used lawfare or legal threats on, and to what effect. I know of at least one other case since she joined the Internet Party. There may be many more.

Again, I would like to ask that Ms. Dawson resign from the Internet Party. She has led the Party to the worst Election defeat of 2017, being de-registered in 2018 and in 2019 she has shown, in my view, massive incompetence, failure of character and a lack of understanding of the values that the Party stands for. To understand why I believe this is true, please read my response’s to her complaints,

Masonbee


My Response’s to Suzie Dawson’s Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints

I refer to your email of 20 May 2019 concerning the above-referenced complaint. Please see my responses, below, to each of Ms. Dawson’s points regarding (1) my post “Who is Suzie Dawson? Exile or Fraud” and (2) comments I made on the private Internet Party (“Party”) forum.

In sum, and except as otherwise provided, I do not intend to amend my posts (unless they are reasonably shown to contravene the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA)), nor to cease expressing my opinions about politicians, such as Ms. Dawson. I believe that Ms. Dawson’s attempts to censor views with which she disagrees goes against the purpose and spirit of the HDCA and infringes freedom of expression under the Bill of Rights.

In the light of my submission, I respectfully request that Netsafe cease investigating Ms. Dawson’s complaint on any of the grounds listed in Section 8(3) HDCA. As shown below, not only is Ms. Dawson’s complaint vexatious, but none of my posts contravene a “communication principle,” nor do they meet the level of “harm” (serious emotional distress) required of the HDCA.

Regarding the latter, I note Ms. Dawson’s own words of 8 February 2016:

While in the beginning of my activism I would have been shocked and mortified that lies were being circulated about me, after so many years of being targeted, such attempts to smear me hold little weight now, and bother me less than ever.” (emphasis added)

Or more recently, her post of 11 February 2019 in response to a critic:

It is a bizarre experience becoming the focus of a complete stranger’s conspiracy theorising, and watching how easily otherwise-intelligent people can be influenced by it, though I’ve increasingly had to build up an immunity to this over the years and I’ve too often seen the same done to other activists, journalists and whistleblowers, like clockwork.” (emphasis
added)

How a politician and public figure who has built up an immunity over the years to being questioned or criticized can in good faith claim serious emotional distress caused by my posts defies belief.

But this is not the first time Ms. Dawson has used the menace of law to suppress her many critics both inside and outside of the Party. That a purported activist, journalist and leader of a political party that stands for “freedom of access, use, and delivery” of digital communications should misappropriate a cyberbullying law to try to censor my comments reinforces my belief that she is unfit to lead the Party. I am hopeful that the Netsafe process will not facilitate her aims, given the agency’s duty under section 6(2)(b) HDCA to act consistently with the Bill of Rights. Indeed, the HDCA has no part to play in censoring political debate or suppressing public criticism and accountability of our politicians.

Finally, I reserve my right to continue sharing my views about Ms. Dawson’s conduct and unsuitability for political office.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.

Yours sincerely,

XXXX XXXXX

(1) Ms. Dawson takes issue with my comment: “she is a fraudster gathering money under the guise of the Party whilst promoting the Suzie Dawson brand by association.” She states “This is completely false. I have never gathered any funds whatsoever on behalf of Internet Party as can be confirmed by the Party Secretary. All Internet Party funding channels go directly to our Secretary and are periodically audited by our Accountant.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as:

  • Her point does not address my comment; I do not suggest that she has raised funds for the Party, but rather that the person or entity for whom she is collecting funds is blurred.
  • The full post provides a factual basis for my opinion. For example, it includes an image from Ms. Dawson’s personal Twitter account in which she co-mingles her personal fund-raising pleas with her position as Internet Party President while using the Party’s graphics and colour scheme. That a reasonable financial donor could be confused by this co-mingling of roles (journalist, activist, politicians, etc.) is a legitimate concern.
  • My comment has been misquoted. The full sentence is written in the conditional tense and underscores that this is an opinion (as opposed to a fact); as such, it is permitted speech
  • The post expresses the possibility that I could be wrong (again, that these are my opinions).
  • The post also expressly invites Ms. Dawson’s rebuttal, comments and corrections, and states my willingness to correct any factual errors, upon proof.

(2) Ms. Dawson takes issue with my comment: “There were rumours of Suzie offering people money when there was none.” She states “This is likewise false. All hiring decisions were made by the Exec in minuted meetings – as Party Leader I was appointed by and constitutionally subordinate to the exec, not in control of it.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement.

Again, Ms Dawson skirts the point. My comment is that there were “rumours” regarding her hiring practices; it takes no position as to the veracity of those rumours. That there were indeed rumours see, for example, the first comment below my post in which the former Party Secretary writes that Ms. Dawson was “raising contracts that were unauthorized and for which the party did not have funds to cover;” see also the 7th comment. The existence of these rumours cannot be reasonably denied.


(3)Ms. Dawson takes issue with my comment “Eventually, there was only Suzie Dawson, Kim Dotcom (?) and the two other people, Jo Booth (secretary) and Daymond Goulder-Horobin who were elected out of ten possible positions.” She states that “This is also provably false.”

I agree to and have already amended this statement.

I understand from the Party Secretary’s AGM letter to members that the executive committee includes three additional executive officers and that Dotcom is no longer a member. I have also requested that the Party Secretary provide me a current list of elected executive members. My post has been corrected.


(4)Ms. Dawson takes issue with my comment that “Over the next year Suzie took the Party in a new direction which was the fight for Julian Assange via Unity4J. Probably a marvellous idea for her. She is paid by donations and writing. Not good for the IPNZ though. Not good at all.”

She states that “A review of the totals received via my personal donations channel show that contributions are sporadic, minimal and the total I have received is exponentially less than subsistence level. I have also been very careful to neither mention Unity4J (a movement I founded) or Internet Party in any personal appeals for donations. I have repeatedly asked others to not mention either when amplifying my calls, and expressed displeasure to anyone who has mistakenly done so. Furthermore, Internet Party and particularly its founder Kim Dotcom have made repeated public statements in support of Julian Assange for years prior to my involvement. Indeed Julian Assange appeared at the highly publicised 2014 campaign event ‘Moment of Truth’. Supporting Assange/WikiLeaks was not a new direction for the Party, as XXXXX claims.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement:

  • Again, this is an opinion (rather than a fact) – I believe that Ms. Dawson took the Party in a new direction, which was not in the Party’s best interest.
  • Ms. Dawson became Party leader in mid-2017, while Unity4J was created the following year; as such, the “fight for Julian Assange via Unity4J” was a new direction for the Party.
  • See my comment at point number (1), above, concerning Ms. Dawson’s personal appeals for funds and the confusion arising from her co-mingling of roles, which contradicts her statement above wherein she claims to have “been very careful to [not] mention … Internet Party in any personal appeals for donations.”
  • She also appears to understate her Bitcoin donations. These donations, to the exclusion of other donations, total approximately NZ $59,000 based on a three year average value for Bitcoin; this amount can hardly be equated to “subsistence” living, and certainly not in Russia (her residence). See also. Perhaps coincidentally, she received most these donations after joining the Party.

(5) Ms. Dawson contests the comment: “For instance, she has pointed to her journalism as proof of how she is working for the Party.” She states that “This is also untrue. XXXXX made the allegation that I am not focused on New Zealand-related issues. I pointed out that all my recently published work has been on New Zealand-centric issues. He has now spun my answer to be about Internet Party, rather than me personally.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as Ms. Dawson’s point is unclear.

Is her position that she is not using her journalism to work for the Party? She goes on in her comment to state that she writes about NZ specific issues, presumably in support of the Party? Again, this underscores the confusion of her co-mingling various roles. Clarification on this point is welcome.

(6) Ms. Dawson contests the comment that: “[her journalism] isn’t officially endorsed Party material. It is just her getting clicks to her website.” She states that “My work is published by Consortium News in the US. A Marsha-Gellhorn award-winning publication. My personal websites to which my work are copied, contain no advertising and do not generate any income. The allegation that I benefit from page hits to those sites is false.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as it is correct.

Dawson’s writing is not officially endorsed Party material; such material requires the Party Secretary’s authorization. My comment was not that she benefits from advertising on her sites, but rather that she wants more website traffic (the goal of most websites). In any case, her websites (and articles) are used to generate income, specifically petitioning for donations. See, for example, https://suzi3d.com with a link to her Bitcoin account or her article here (“If you respect and value this work, please consider supporting Suzie’s efforts via Bitcoin donation at this link. Thank you! Twitter: @Suzi3D Official Website: Suzi3d.com.”)

(7)Dawson states that “XXXXX copies a complaint he wrote to the Party Secretary and claims he has not been responded to. In fact, the Party Secretary informs me that he responded and told XXXXX that his allegations were without merit.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as at the time this post was written, I had not received a response from the Party Secretary.

Once a response was received, I promptly updated the post to this effect. Finally, I was never told by the Party Secretary that my complaint was “without merit.

(8) Dawson takes issues with my comment “I believe that Miss Dawson is intentionally perverting the truth when she talks about her past and I think she is outright lying about at least some of it in order to gain reputation.” She states “I have not lied about my past. XXXXX seeks to isolate me and
my history by failing to acknowledge that half a dozen activists and journalists including the very well known media figure Martyn Bradbury have publicly ratified my claims. Additionally, the State Services Commission report into TCIL published in December of 2018 lists multiple groups I was associated with as having been confirmed victims of spying. Kim Dotcom has also ratified my claims and he is a known target of the GCSB and NSA.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as my comment begins with the words “I believe.”

This is an opinion, and not a “fact.” My comment pertains to the lack of proof behind her allegation that the New Zealand Government tried to assassinate her. After repeated calls from multiple critics, she has yet to prove this allegation. Indeed, her reputation is based in part on allegations of persecution.

Finally, Ms. Dawson complains about two comments that I posted on the closed-network/private Internet Party forum (not on the my public website sd.masonbee.nz.):

(9) Ms. Dawson contests my comment that she has “collected over $40,000 in donations using Party regalia.” Again, she states that the “Party Secretary has confirmed, no Bitcoin was ever donated to me because of or in the capacity of Internet Party, nor solicited in that capacity, nor was it donated through Internet Party channels – it was donated by readers of my journalism and supporters of my activism and donated to me privately across a 3 year period. To infer otherwise is a complete falsehood. Additionally, my bitcoin account hasn’t collected anywhere near
$40,000. Not even close. To arrive at that number, he must be calculating the total collected (in mostly small increments over a 3 year period) at today’s value, when in reality, the majority of the donations were when the value of Bitcoin was a fraction of its present value.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, as already explained in points (1) and (4), above, concerning Ms. Dawson’s fundraising schemes.

Moreover, this comment is only partially quoted; it was an answer to the Party Secretary’s question to me made in a closed Party-controlled forum with circulation limited essentially to active Party members. Ms. Dawson’s request that I delete this comment, again, underscores her effort to curb criticism within her own Party. Indeed, in the past, the Party (presumably the executive) has removed unfavourable posts and threads.

(10)Ms. Dawson takes issue with my comment on the forum that she is “[using] lawfare against me to cover up her lack of proof. Bad idea.” She acknowledges that this “seems to be a reference to my complaints to Netsafe.”

There is no justified reason to change this statement, because I believe it is correct.

It appears that she is using this mediation process to silence my criticism of her, both now and in the future, notwithstanding the fact that she could have instead (i) rebutted, commented or issued corrections to my website post (as she was invited to do), or (ii) used the disciplinary/complaints process set out in the Party Constitution. In any case, her conduct appears consistent with her past threats of lawsuits/legal actions against her critics.


Afterword

A lot of thought went into releasing this. There is obviously a privacy concern when releasing the accusations of somebody in a mediation process. I have struggled with these questions for weeks now. I know I don’t like Suzie Dawson, but how does that made me biased? I have also requested clarification from Netsafe on the confidentiality of the process but with little result.

What it has really come down too is public interest. Suzie Dawson is a public figure. She has run for election in New Zealand and is the President of Internet Party New Zealand. That she publicly states her support for whistle-blowing and journalism and then uses the law behind the scenes to try and silence criticism is in the public interest too know and, as such, I think it should be in the public arena.

This is also of importance as Suzie Dawson has been working very hard to embed herself in the activist community, especially around Julian Assange. I have little doubt that if Julian Assange were to read this post he wouldn’t want her within a mile of his defence.


Further reading

From myself,

From others,

Image use

The image used in the header of this post is from the IPNZ website and is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.

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