Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Friday, July 30, 2010


Last night at its annual general meeting InternetNZ made me a Fellow of the Society. This puts me in a very small group with people who have done amazing things, such as Internet pioneer Professor John Hine, Liz Butterfield who founded NetSafe and Hector’s World and Peter Dengate Thrush who is the chair of ICANN. I am deeply honoured.

posted by colin at 8:35 am  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Disconnection is wrong

That’s the key message I gave to the Commerce Select Committee when I spoke to it today. You don’t get your Internet disconnected if you use it to commit fraud. You don’t get your Internet disconnected if you use it to make threats of violence. Why should copyright infringement, of all things, be such a special offence? And why should it attract a fine of up to $16,000, well above the fines levied on drink-drivers? Are we saying that driving drunk is less of a crime than unlawfully downloading a movie?

I gave the Committee some suggestions on how this law should work – if we have to have it at all. They are all in my submission to the Committee.

posted by colin at 3:41 pm  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making law the good way

Yesterday I saw two popular quotes being disproved: the old saw about a committee having many stomachs and no brain, and the one about law being like sausage because you wouldn’t want to watch either being made.

I went to observe the Commerce Select Committee hearing submissions on the Copyright Amendment (Infringing Filesharing) Bill, which is the law designed to replace the failed S92A of the Copyright Act. I saw the first three submissions, and I’ll write a little about them below.

But first I want to say that the select committee process really does seem to work. It’s a really important part of New Zealand democracy that bills (that is, draft acts of Parliament) get looked at by small teams of MPs who call for public submissions. Anyone can have their say. And the committees generally listen and do their best to balance the interests and concerns of the people submitting. As a nation, we are blessed by having such an open government process.

posted by colin at 8:27 pm  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Broadband as a Human Right (updated)

One year ago Finland passed a law declaring access to a broadband Internet connection to be a legal right. What does that mean? There’s a discussion of this over on Red Alert, after Jonathon Penney delivered a really interesting talk at Victoria University entitled “Open Connectivity, Open Data”.

Incidentally, it’s really good to see a major political party actually trying to develop policy in the open on the Internet. I’d love to see them both doing it. Where are you, National?

I wrote a comment on the Red Alert blog trying to explain what I think statements like “Broadband is a Human Right” mean. Here’s an expanded and tidied up version.


posted by colin at 2:32 pm  

Powered by WordPress