Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Chromebooks

July 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Pati Suailua looked at buying a laptop for his six children to share – now, thanks to a school lease system, he has four Chromebooks in the house.

The Porirua father said some families were too proud to sign up to the $4-a-week lease system but he jumped at the opportunity to invest in his children’s education.

Te Mana o Kupe Trust has already leased Chromebooks to 400 families and, by the end of next year, more than 2000 children from 13 schools in Porirua East are expected to have a device.

One-third of Porirua East households don’t have access to the internet, so the next step was to get community wi-fi set up, trust founder Antony Royal said.

“Ideally, in the next few months, we’ll start building and installing wi-fi so that households with our Chromebooks can connect to it.”

Schoolwork could be completed offline at home, but Royal said online learning should not stop at the school gate for those families that could not afford broadband.

Suailua has internet access but said the big difference with Chromebooks was that his Corinna School children could do their homework online at a price that didn’t break the budget.

A great initiative. The cost of Internet capable devices is dropping. Kids don’t need full computers or iPads.

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The Comcast service rep who won’t take no for an answer

July 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This is incredible. I would have told the service rep to go copulate himself long before the call actually concluded.

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.nz names will be available on the 30th of September

July 21st, 2014 at 11:26 am by David Farrar

The .nz Domain Name Commission Ltd has announced:

The Domain Name Commission Limited (DNCL) is pleased to announce that from 1pm, 30 September 2014 a significantly amended .nz policy will come into effect – ushering in a new era of choice in .nz domain names. 

From that date, people will be able to register shorter, simpler, more representative names immediately before the .nz – as well as the more familiar-looking options like ‘.co.nz’ and ‘.org.nz’. 

All existing options like .co.nz, .org.nz and .govt.nz will continue to work as they always have and people will still be able to get names with them. The change simply means that from 1pm, 30 September 2014 people will be able to get names with them, without them, or both.

A lot of people will have questions about what names can they get, based on their existing registrations. There is a new website to tell you the status of a name:

A website at anyname.nz has been created by the Domain Name Commission for holders of .nz domain names to check out their options and learn more about what the change might mean for them. Anyname.nz also shows what the shorter .nz domain names will look like in a web browser from 1pm, 30 September 2014.

Monahan describes the policy change allowing registrations directly at the second level as a boon for choice – one that opens up an exciting new .nz registration possibility. She encourages all those with an existing .nz domain name to visit anyname.nz or contact their Registrar to check their options and learn more about what’s happening.

The site is very easy to use. I’ve just checked and found (had not checked up until now) that:

  • I have preferential registration status for curia.nz
  • I have preferential registration status for kiwiblog.nz
  • That some one else (in fact two people) has preferential registration status for farrar.nz
  • That dpf.nz will be available on a first in first served basis on 30 September

“The change keeps all the advantages of the current system while expanding choice. Other countries have already made a similar change and now New Zealand is too.”

Holders of .nz domain names wanting to find out more about this exciting, watershed change to the .nz domain name space should contact their Registrar or domain name provider or visit anyname.nz.

Note that I am the current Board Chair of DNCL. The decision to allow registrations at the second level was made last year by InternetNZ on a recommendation from the DNCL Board.

 

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Netflix for NZ

July 19th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Netflix is declining to comment on an Australian report that it plans to launch an online television service in New Zealand and Australia by the middle of next year.

Netflix’ California-based corporate communications director Joris Evers told Fairfax Media today Netflix had no comment on rumours it was coming to New Zealand. It had not made any announcements regarding the market.

Australian film-industry website  Inside Film reported that Netflix had made firm offers to major United States studios for the Australian and New Zealand streaming rights for “a wide range of first release and library movies and television content”.

Inside Film quoted two unnamed Netflix executives as saying a launch in the middle of 2015 was on the cards. However, the initial offers Netflix had made to studios for local content rights had not been viewed as “the most desirable”, it said.

About 30,000 New Zealanders and at least 100,000 Australians are estimated to have found workarounds that have let them subscribe to Netflix’ North American service.

I’m a subscriber to Netflix. It took a bit of effort, but I wanted to do everything I could to pay for the overseas content I want to view. It would be nice if I could subscribe without having to alter my IP address and zip code.

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Google on the right to be forgotten

July 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An op ed by the Chief Legal Office for Google at the Guardian:

When you search online there’s an unwritten assumption that you’ll get an instant answer, as well as additional information if you need to dig deeper. This is all possible because of two decades’ worth of investment and innovation by many different companies. Today, however, search engines across Europe face a new challenge – one we’ve had just two months to get our heads around. That challenge is figuring out what information we must deliberately omit from our results, following a ruling from the European Union’s court of justice.

In the past we’ve restricted the removals we make from search to a very short list. It includes information deemed illegal by a court (such as defamation), pirated content (once we’re notified by the right’s holder), malware, personal information such as bank details, child sexual abuse imagery and other things prohibited by local law (such as material that glorifies Nazism in Germany).

All reasonable – stuff where a court has made a decision, or things specifically prohibited by a statute.

We’ve taken this approach because, as article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

But the European court found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive”. In deciding what to remove search engines must also have regard to the public interest. These are, of course, very vague and subjective tests.

The result being that Google has to decide what information on people we are allowed to find!

It’s for these reasons that we disagree with the ruling. That said, we obviously respect the court’s authority and are doing our very best to comply quickly and responsibly. It’s a huge task, as we’ve had over 70,000 take-down requests covering 250,000 web pages since May. So we now have a team of people reviewing each application individually, in most cases with limited information and almost no context.

The examples we’ve seen so far highlight the difficult value judgments search engines and European society now face: former politicians wanting posts removed that criticise their policies in office; serious, violent criminals asking for articles about their crimes to be deleted; bad reviews for professionals like architects and teachers; comments that people have written themselves (and now regret). In each case someone wants the information hidden, while others might argue that it should be out in the open.

None of it should be hidden. The decision to remove content should be made by the original publisher, if anyone.

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A reader on Labour’s website

July 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

I went there yesterday to try and find out what Phil Twyford had said about the roading package.  First thing I noticed on the front page: no search function.  So I went to news and clicked on press releases.  They’re in chronological order.  So I clicked on page 3, as I figured that might take me back as far as June 29, when we made the announcement.  It didn’t, so I clicked on the last available page – page 5.  That took me back as far as July 4, but there is an arrow to the right of the five numbered pages, so I clicked on that, figuring it would take me to pages 6 and beyond.  Nope, it took me back to the front page of press releases.

 Shit I thought, I’ll have to go to Phil Twyford’s MP page – that’s bound to have his press releases.  No, it doesn’t.  It doesn’t actually have any of his media statements – there’s no hyperlinks from his page to anything he’s said, press releases or speeches.  It did have a link to what looked to be his personal website (‘Website: twyord.org.nz’), so I thought it might be there, but astonishingly that link merely refreshed the very page I was looking at.

 So in a nutshell:

  • Labour’s website has no search function
  • It has no archive of its press releases older than the past two weeks, and older releases just seem to drop off the bottom of the list as new ones enter the system
  • Its MP pages have none of their statements, and the links to what appear to be their external personal websites don’t work

 And, as someone else out to me, if you look at their team page, here: http://campaign.labour.org.nz/team the bios don’t follow any orchestrated formula; they’re a shambles – some are in the first person, such as Nanaia Mahuta … “since becoming an MP I have …”, some are in the third person, such as David Cunliffe … “David is in politics because he believes people matter …”, and some, like Chris Hipkins (ironically the Education Spokesperson) are a grammatical mess … “Chris passionate about education …”

The main purpose of Labour’s website seems to be to get people to give them their e-mail address.

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Why is .xyz so popular

July 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I was surprised to read:

The 1,500,000th registration of a domain name under one of the new gTLDs happened in the last few days, probably last Friday, although exactly when is hard to pinpoint on newTLDstats.com daily update.

Currently total new gTLD registrations are showing at 1,517,747 with around one in five (301,627 – 19.87%) of these being .xyz registrations. Just on registrations, the second most successful new gTLD has been .berlin, which now has 136,943 domains under management, or 9.02 percent of all new gTLDs.

Can this be true? .xyz is the most popular new TLD?

Both of these new gTLDs have had differing promotions that have been extremely successful at getting them initial registrations. Network Solutions has run a promotion for .xyz where their .com registrants received the equivalent .xyz domain for free, resulting in Network Solutions being responsible for 232,685 of the gTLD’s DUM, or over three-quarters (77.14%) of the total.

Oh, now that makes sense. When you give them away for free, that is not what I call success.

The .berlin gTLD ran a successful promotion itself with a limited number of registrars where the maximum fee charged per domains was €5.55, with some even giving away domains. After three days of the promotion, DUM had jumped almost 90,000.

Again, if you give them away, that doesn’t indicate how successful you will be long-term.

According to the latest nTLDstats.com statistics, the third most popular of the new gTLDs is .club with 83,003 DUM, followed by .guru (65,137) and then .photography (40,603).

I can see why .club could do well.

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Wheedle wheedled

July 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Online auction site Wheedle is closing, less than two years after it was set up to take on Trade Me. 

The site’s sole funder, Mainfreight co-founder and rich-lister Neil Graham, decided against further investment in the company, he said in a message to Wheedle members tonight.

“Our aim was to create a commercially successful site where people could buy and sell online without costing users an arm and a leg. 

“More than 80,000 members backed us and we’re very proud of that achievement.”

With respect Wheedle could almost become a text book case of how not to do a launch. Competing with Trade Me would have been challenging for the best of competitors, but Wheedle never got it together.

Launched in October 2012, the site aimed to undercut Trade Me by charging a flat-rate $1 fee on items that sold for more than $20. 

People don’t care much about the fees. They care about the price they’ll get.

NBR has a good feature on what went wrong.

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Good job Google

July 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Google has been accused of misinterpreting a European court’s “right to be forgotten” ruling by deleting links to apparently harmless news articles in a bid to whip up anger against “censorship”.

Articles about a former Merrill Lynch banker, the singer Kelly Osbourne, a football referee involved in a controversial penalty decision, and a “foul-mouthed” former president of the Law Society were among the first tranche of web stories to be removed from search results, it emerged yesterday.

The move by Google comes weeks after a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice which upheld the “right to be forgotten” and sparked a debate over how to balance freedom of expression and public interest with the right to privacy.

Details of the first article to be “hidden” by the search engine created a backlash against the court ruling yesterday, but by last night there were growing questions about how Google was handling the take-down requests.

Ryan Heath, spokesman for the European Commission’s vice-president Neelie Kroes, said that Google’s decision to remove a BBC article by the economics editor Robert Peston about the ex-Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal – one of those blamed for helping cause the global financial crisis – was “not a good judgement”.

He said he could not see a “reasonable public interest” for the action, adding that the court ruling should not allow people to “Photoshop their lives”.

That’s exactly what the court ruling allowed. Good on Google for making people aware the impact of the ruling.

Describing Google’s actions as “tactical”, he added: “It may be that they’ve decided that it’s simply cheaper to just say yes to all of these requests.”

Of course it is cheaper. do they really think Google is going to hire 200 lawyers to spend hours or days on each request considering the merits extensively. Of course not. They will take the option with least legal risk, and act on almost all requests – because that is the position the stupid European Court has put them in.

Privacy campaigners accused the internet giant of playing “silly political games” in an attempt to undermine the ruling. Jim Killock, executive director, Open Rights Group, said: “The ruling was clear that results that relate to articles that are in the public interest shouldn’t be removed.”

Who decides the public interest? Google? I don’t want Google deciding the public interest. The decision should be made by individual publishers whether to keep content on the Internet, and not by search engines on whether to index it.

Google is struggling to deal with the volume of demands. Around 70,000 requests for links to be removed have been made in the past month – more than 8,000 [8,497] of which were from Britain – it emerged yesterday. If all demands were met, more than a quarter of a million [267,550] web pages would be deleted – around 34,000 [34,597] as a result of complaints made by people in Britain.

This is why Jimmy Wales called the ruling the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet.

70,000 requests being made per month. If each request takes an hour to consider, then that is 70,000 hours of staff (probably lawyers) time needed per month. So around 450 lawyers needed just to deal with the requests. Sheer madness.

Emma Carr, acting director, Big Brother Watch, cited Google’s decision to remove a link to the blog, which featured “wholly accurate and legal content”, as highlighting “exactly why the ECJ ruling was ridiculous and detrimental to freedom of the press in Europe.”

And Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales, a member of an expert panel set up by Google to help it deal with the controversy, condemned the European ruling as “an utter and complete disaster” and branded it “a major human rights violation”. The judgment is “clear and direct censorship of the worst kind,” he said.

It is. But here is the sad thing. If this was a court ruling in almost any other place, the law could just be changed to over-rule the court. But pretty much the only way to get rid of this, is by leaving the EU and the jurisdiction of the European Court.

It is not just Google which is being swamped with demands for links to be removed. The rate at which the BBC is receiving requests for stories to be deleted from its website has prompted the broadcaster to issue new guidance on “unpublishing” content.

David Jordan, BBC director of editorial policy and standards, said: “Sometimes the people we feature in our news reports want the news about themselves to be erased so they can obscure the events they were involved in, or the comments they made to us and stop others finding them.”

The new guidance states that material on the BBC website is part of a “permanently accessible archive” and will not be removed or changed unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. It adds: “Removing online content, particularly news items, risks the accusation that we are erasing the past or altering history.”

On this I agree with the BBC.

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Hollywood wants DIA child porn filter extended to copyright

July 4th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

It has been revealed top Hollywood studios asked for access to a controversial government-run internet filter – so they could stop Kiwis accessing pirate and torrent websites.

RadioLIVE reported the Motion Pictures Distributors Association wanted access to the Internal Affairs child pornography filter, so they could block access to copyrighted material.

But they were knocked back by the Government and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne says that it is partly because internet service providers refused.

“They were not prepared to agree to that extension and in any case it would have shifted the mandate somewhat from DIA’s primary focus on preventing sexual abuse of young children.”

The child pornography filter is a voluntary one.

It is good to see the Government knocked the request back. If I want a filtered Internet, I’d live in China.

When the voluntary DIA filter was introduced, many of us were nervous that one day other groups would try to extend it beyond the narrow remit of child abuse images, and try to have it block all material that different groups want blocked. As it is voluntary, that can’t happen easily – ISPs would stop using it. But beware the day when a political party proposes making it mandatory.

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Another blow against geoblocking

July 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Slingshot has just made it a lot easier for its customers to access television and movie streaming websites like Netflix and BBC iPlayer that are normally blocked to this country’s internet users.

For the past 12 months Slingshot has offered a service called Global Mode, letting households with international visitors sign up and have access to websites such as Netflix which are blocked in some parts of the world.

The service was seen by some as a ruse, allowing New Zealanders to access these websites simply by telling their internet company they had a cousin from Minneapolis staying with them.

Slingshot, the country’s third-biggest internet company, is now unblocking about two dozen international sites for all of its customers to access. They won’t need to claim they are playing host to overseas visitors.

“No beating around the bush. This is to watch Netflix, this is to watch BBC iPlayer, this is to watch Hulu, this is to watch Amazon Prime,” Slingshot general manager Taryn Hamilton told the Herald.

Superb. The WWW is global. Geo-blocking is not compatible with it. Business models that rely on geo-blocking will fail. Think of the planet as one big hungry for content global market, and go sell to it.

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Not even close

July 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key holds a clear advantage over his rivals on social media heading into September’s general election.

Key has almost three times the followers on his Facebook page and Twitter account than all other party leaders combined. 

His official Twitter feed has 110,000 followers; almost 10 times as many as the next most followed party leader on Twitter – Russel Norman of the Greens with 11,500. 

Labour leader David Cunliffe commands a Twitter audience of 9926. 

How does this compare to other countries? How many Twitter followers per 1,000 populations do the PMs and Opposition Leaders all have. Here’s their followers per 1,000 population:

  1. John Key (NZ) 25.0
  2. Steven Harper (Canada) 13.8
  3. Justin Trudeau (Canada) 11.2
  4. Tony Abbott (Aus) 13.0
  5. David Cameron (UK) 11.1
  6. Eed Miliband (UK) 5.1
  7. Bill Shorten (Aus) 2.8
  8. David Cunliffe (NZ) 2.2

So the NZ PM has twice as many Twitter follows per capita as the Canadian, Australian and UK PMs. And David Cunliffe has fewer followers than any of the other opposition leaders.

On Facebook, Key’s official page has 149,873 likes, while the official pages of all the other party leaders combined have 45,038 followers/likes. 

Interesting the leader with the 2nd most “likes” on Facebook is Winston Peters.

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Should NZ have a right to be forgotten?

July 3rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards blogs:

The biggest thing in the privacy world just now seems to have exploded into the collective consciousness out of nowhere. For those of you with TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) syndrome, here’s the spoiler. The issue is not as clear cut as you might think. I’d like to hear a range of views about how we should approach this in New Zealand.

Since May 13, when the European Court of Justice ruled that Google in Spain should break links to an old newspaper story about the plaintiff, there has been much criticism, astonishment, suspicion, relief and applause, depending on which side of the fence (or the Atlantic) the commentator comes from.

I’m one of those fairly unimpressed with it.

Could someone in New Zealand assert a right to have links removed from a Google search on their name? Our law differs in some key respects from European law. For example, we don’t have the concept of “data controller” or “data processor”, and there are a number of other differences.

The first hurdle would be territoriality. Google could be expected to argue that their search engine and the algorithms that compile and order results are not within New Zealand’s jurisdiction. The ECJ decision might offer some assistance to a litigant on that point, as might this June 13 decision of the Canadian Supreme Court which is a more influential source of jurisprudence to our courts.

Google has a .co.nz domain name registered in New Zealand. If you search for a mechanic or painter in your town, the ads that lead the search results will tell you pretty clearly that Google has a place of business here, and those points might provide the beginnings of an argument that Google should be subject to a range of domestic laws – from the Fair Trading Act, to the Copyright Act, to the upcoming Harmful Digital Communications Act. Should privacy be any different?

Google could of course close down its local office, and run its NZ operations from say Australia.

A number of other arguments would then ensue as to the liability (if any) that Google should have for content hosted on sites to which it is only providing a link to. What is the extent of Google’s obligation under the multi-qualified information privacy principle 8 in our Privacy Act?

An agency that holds personal information shall not use that information without taking such steps (if any) as are, in the circumstances, reasonable to ensure that, having regard to the purpose for which the information is proposed to be used, the information is accurate, up to date, complete, relevant, and not misleading.

What is the onus if a New Zealand person asserts a right of correction (a term which is defined as including deletion) under information privacy principle 7?

My views is that people who want data about them on the Internet corrected, should go to the actual publisher of the data, and not hold the search engine liable for the data published by someone else.

Does the “purpose” element of the non-retention principle (principle 9) absolve search engines of the obligation to proactively purge old content? Should I issue a code of practice which spells out the respective rights of search engines and individuals?

I’m going to leave these questions until I am presented with an actual case to apply them to. There are many other authorities around the world grappling with the same difficulties.

I want my search engines to locate all content that is on the Internet, that the published has been asked to be indexed.

It may be that a case will come before me to determine before the issue comes to the Court or to Parliament. Someone might argue that Google should break a link to personal information that has been published online from a data breach, or that it is in breach of a Court suppression order. If I do have to determine such a case, in addition to weighing the various rights of privacy against the rights in the NZBORA, I will need to take into account the matters specified in s.14 of the Privacy Act. That means that, among other things, I have to have due regard to “the protection of important human rights and social interests that compete with privacy, including the general desirability of a free flow of information and the recognition of the right of government and business to achieve their objectives in an efficient way”.

Where do you think the balance should lie?

This is an issue that won’t go away.

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Drury says NZ needs a CTO

July 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Barack Obama has one. So do many large companies. The chief technology officer’s role, for the US at least, is to apply technology to help create jobs, reduce the cost of health care, help keep the nation secure and increase access to broadband.

New Zealand is the farthest country from its trading partners in the world. As a small, sub-scale, island nation we have the most of any country to gain by technology.

Our Government has done a great job with fiscal management and has achieved some useful incremental tweaks, but we haven’t as a country played a bold move with technology. We lack a technology plan.

In the last term, we went through the traumatic restructure of our telecommunications industry, and during the past three years the focus has been the implementation of the domestic ultrafast broadband network – a key part of improving the internet.

Over this timeframe, technology has seen entire industries disrupted, and new organisations like Xero, Vend and others become world-leading cloud companies, all from our small set of rocks in the South Pacific.

But as a country, we’ve been far too passive about using technology to redefine our place in the world. …

I believe the answer is to appoint a chief technology officer of New Zealand. Similar to the chief science officer, Peter Gluckman, but in the technology arena. A respected senior, international, technology leader at a point in their career where they want to give back.

That person can identify and determine the big issues of the day, own a New Zealand technology strategy and be the interface between the private sector and the Government.

They would be able to co-ordinate and encourage the investments that global technology companies will make in New Zealand.

Like Gluckman, a chief technology officer would have the ear of the Prime Minister and report regularly to the Cabinet. They would provide the interface point for industry to connect to the Government and provide the opportunity for a bold vision to be determined and implemented. 

Not a bad idea I must say.

Rod also has a radical idea for the IRD:

Inland Revenue has responded guardedly to a call from Xero founder Rod Drury for it to use a “public-private partnership” to replace its computer systems.

Spokeswoman Lorna Milton said considerations included taxpayers’ privacy and the “integrity of the tax system”.

The department warned in 2012 that it might cost up to $1.5 billion to replace its ageing mainframe-based First computer system.

Drury said Inland Revenue could save “hundreds of millions” if it just published the tax rules, maintained a computer that could collect tax payments, and left the rest to private-sector businesses such as Xero.

That would not mean everyone would need to pay to use Xero’s cloud-based service, or those of its rivals, he said.

Instead, Xero and other software companies could offer a free service that would let taxpayers key in any information needed for tax returns into online forms and would process that for no charge as part of a broader, non-exclusive partnership, he said.

“The private sector could do the ‘heavy lifting’. Inland Revenue doesn’t really need to build all the complex rules any more; all they need to do is be a transaction system that receives money and publishes the rules and the private sector is more than happy to invest in building the online returns.”

IRD has some issues with the idea:

Milton said Inland Revenue saw opportunities to integrate Inland Revenue’s systems with third-party software applications “to allow tax agents and software providers to carry out some services that Inland Revenue currently provides”.

But she said there were several factors to consider, “particularly taxpayers’ privacy and security, the accuracy of information, maintaining the integrity of the tax system and how our core systems interact with third parties”.

I hope it is given serious consideration.

 

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labour08.co.nz

June 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

From John Key’s Facebook page to the Official Monster Raving Loony Party and a video of a laser-chasing kitty cat – the man behind Sue Moroney’s billboard prank is offering a moving feast of political larrikinism.

This has been hilarious – the latest redirect is to The Civilian,

Last week, Moroney erected an election sign in the Hamilton West electorate with an expired domain name obscured under masking tape.

The masking tape was removed, revealing an obsolete campaign web address from 2008. Someone notified West Auckland IT guy Frank Collingwood, who registered it and began his shenanigans.

“It’s their own fault for putting up a billboard with an expired domain name, which can be registered by anyone,” Collingwood said in an email.

Collingwood was last in Hamilton more than a decade ago and was not affiliated with any political party in New Zealand, but said the claim the prime minister was behind it was “quite frankly, ridiculous”.

Moroney was silly enough to use some old hoardings, and she is blaming the PM for this guy having a sense of humour.

He said the link to Key’s Facebook page was “one in a long list of possible redirections” which had gone from the moggy videos to McGillicuddy Serious Party archives posted on Youtube.

The Monster Raving Loony Party was established in England in 1983 by musician David Sutch, better known as Screaming Lord Sutch, who Collingwood said was an “absolute legend” and “superb role model” for politicians.

“I really don’t even want any publicity, just seemed a good prank at a time when pollies across the spectrum are taking themselves far too seriously,” he said.

I wonder how many other Labour hoardings have the old URL on them, plastered over? One good reasons to not have a different site for every election.

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Google’s tax in NZ

June 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Google’s New Zealand subsidiary reported an annual loss of just over $60,000 and paid just $227,000 in tax in 2013, its latest accounts have revealed.

New Zealand businesses are believed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on Google’s advertising services and software.

Yep, but they buy those from Google, not Google NZ. Google NZ did not invent the search engine we all use.

But Google is one of a number of technology multinationals that book most of their revenues in Ireland, enabling it to take advantage of legal tax rorts that are currently the focus of an attempted-clampdown by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The subsidiary turned over $10.1 million in 2013, according to accounts published by the Companies Office on Friday.

Google globally actually paid $2.3 billion in tax last year, which was an effective tax rate of 16%. Companies will incorporate in countries with lower corporate tax rates – but they still pay tax there.

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Labour candidates spray paints wrong Facebook address on his van

June 17th, 2014 at 7:09 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs:

Labour’s candidate for Botany has already been talked about in relation to his social media at least once today. Jami-Lee Ross has also talked about this. However, upon seeing this, I did a little digging to try and find Tofik’s social media accounts. When you search for him on Facebook, the first return that comes up is his personal profile, that is pretty locked down. Normally if you are going to do that, somewhere on that profile, that wasn’t locked down, you would have a link to your page, so people could find it easily. On that note, there was a photo of Tofik’s new campaign van, which had a Facebook logo and address on it.

Great I thought. That will make finding his facebook page easy. So I typed it in,www.facebook.com/Mamedov.Botany But no, it redirects to my timeline. I asked a number of friends to try the link, and it redirects to their timeline as well. So the address that Tofik has printed on the side of his van is incorrect.

I did manage to find his Facebook page in the end, www.facebook.com/pages/TOFIK-Mamedov, which is nothing like what he has written on the side of his van. I am not sure how this could have happened. Surely it would have been checked before sign-writing it on to the side of his van?

I can’t work out how you could possibly spray paint a Facebook address on your van, and not actually have the right address.

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Live-streaming Council meetings

June 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A trial proved a ratings flop, but the Wellington City Council is pressing ahead with plans to live stream its meetings.

The council spent about $5000 on a live broadcast of October’s inauguration ceremony for the new council on YouTube, with hopes of getting viewers “in the thousands”. As of yesterday, the video clip had gathered 782 views. …

Last year, the cost of live streaming all full council meetings was put at about $30,000 a year.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said he did not share Ritchie’s concerns.

“I don’t know what she’s on about really. People have been asking for this for a long time.”

Taupo District was the first council to start broadcasting meetings in 2010.

In 2012 it had an average of 15 viewers per meeting.

In principle this is a good thing to do – allowing people to see their elected representatives debating issues and making decisions.

In Canada many local authorities have their meetings covered on a local channel, and quite a few people actually watch them.

However it looks like the demand is not enough to justify the expense. 15 viewers per meeting for Taupo tells us something, and many of them may be bots!

InternetNZ used to record its meetings, as it wanted to show how transparent they were. So every meeting would be miked up with a dozen mikes, recording equipment and the like. A review a few years back found that the only people who had ever accessed the audio files were staff (off memory), and so it was dropped.

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The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

June 9th, 2014 at 12:03 pm by David Farrar

The latest Greens policy:

The Blueprint For The Future, a digital manufacturing strategy for New Zealand, will:

• develop a digital manufacturing strategy;

• support and develop 3D printing;

• educate and empower students in the use of digital manufacturing.

So why do the Greens want NZ to become a 3D printing country? Is it:

  • a) so NZ can cope with printing 3D money for them?
  • b) so they can 3D print money printing machines for them?
  • c) To clone Laila and Clint for them, as they’re still mourning their loss
  • d) To build their own castle in their parliamentary office?

And how will this 3D printing future be achieved?

“The Green Party will institute a taskforce to establish a digital manufacturing strategy for New Zealand, one part of our blueprint for a smart green economy,” said Mr Hughes.

Oh, a taskforce!

I am personally a fan of 3D printing and think it has a great future. But companies can and will respond to the market opportunities it presents without the Government telling them what to do.

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Where does online free speech end?

June 9th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Messages posted on Facebook and Twitter or sent in emails can be tasteless, vulgar and even disturbing.

But just when do they cross the line from free speech to threats that can be punished as a crime?

As the internet and social networks allow people to vent their frustrations with the click of a mouse, the US Supreme Court is being asked to clarify the First Amendment rights of people who use violent or threatening language on electronic media where the speaker’s intent is not always clear. The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom f speech and other basic rights.

The justices could decide as early as Monday whether to hear appeals in two cases where defendants were convicted and sent to jail for making illegal threats, despite their claims that they never meant any harm.

Often authorities do over-react. The worst case was in the UK when a man was arrested seven days after he tweeted he was so annoyed with a flight delay, he might blow something up. A dumb thing to do, and one could understand if action was taken at the time. But to hunt him down seven days later, was awful.

But how about these cases:

In one case, a Pennsylvania man ranted on Facebook in the form of rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife, blowing up an amusement park, slitting the throat of an FBI agent and committing “the most heinous school shooting ever imagined.”

That’s way over the line. Especially the reference to the estranged wife, and the school shooting.

The other case involves a Florida woman who emailed a conservative radio talk show host about “second amendment gun rights” and said she was planning “something big” at a Broward County government building or school. The US Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.

“I’m going to walk in and teach all the government hacks working there what the 2nd Amendment is all about,” the email said. Her comments triggered a lockdown affecting more than a quarter-million students.

No sympathy in this case either. It is a specific credible threat that could not be ignored.

In both cases, the defendants were prosecuted under a federal statute that makes it a crime to transmit a “threat to injure the person of another.” Those laws apply only to “true threats” that are not protected by the First Amendment under a doctrine established by the Supreme Court in 1969. The high court has said laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech that includes “political hyperbole” or “vehement,” “caustic,” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

I’d see both of those as true threats. A quip about blowing up an airport because a flight was late is hyperbole.

The wife of the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, man, Anthony Elonis, testified at his trial that the postings made her fear for her life. One post about his wife said, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

What a creep. Posting that to the Internet is a form of mental torture, designed to harass and terrify his wife – at least.

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John Oliver on Net Neutrality

June 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss about Net Neutrality is about, then you can get both informed and very amused by this piece from John Oliver on it.

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iOS 8

June 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports on some new features for iOS8.

  1. Can interact with notifications without switching apps
  2. Can send temporary audio messages
  3. Allow apps, music ad movies to be shared within a family
  4. Synchronized photo editing
  5. Enhanced Airdrop to wirelessly share content
  6. Keyboard can be amended by third party apps
  7. A Health & Home bundle of products
  8. Can answer your iphone on another device (such as your laptop) rather than have to get up and grab the phone
  9. Enhanced spotlight

The ability to answer your phone on your laptop is great. iPhones are always charging (mine only lasts a few hours now – will get an iPhone 6 when out), so not having to get up to grab the iPhone when working on my laptop will be useful.

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The cyber bullying law

May 28th, 2014 at 6:48 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cyber bullies could be jailed for up to two years for sending messages or posting material that causes harm, following recommendations from a parliamentary committee.

Internet providers will also be forced to reveal the identity of an offending anonymous poster, under order from the District Court.

School principals will also be permitted to ask a court to take down malicious or nasty content on behalf of a student.

The Government introduced a bill last year to tackle online abuse. Parliament’s justice and electoral select committee has now reported back with a raft of amendments to toughen up the legislation – which Justice Minister Judith Collins has accepted.

The committee wants the higher maximum penalty for the new offence of “causing harm by posting a digital communication” to be raised from three months in jail, or a $2000 fine, to two years in jail. This would bring the sentence in line with other harassment offences.

I have mixed feelings on the law. It will provide relief to some victims of cyber bullying, and that is a good thing. There is some nasty stuff happening on line.

But I am concerned that the definition of harm, based on 10 principles, is too wide and it may be used to try and stifle free speech and merely robust opinion. Already one NZ First MP on Twitter has been threatening journalists with complaints under the new law.

MPs also believe the author of material subject to a complaint be given 48 hours to respond.

There is one good aspect to the new law, and it is giving a fair degree of protection to content hosts like Kiwiblog. I’ll explain how it will work.

If someone complains that something I have personally written is causing an individual harm, then I’ll consider the complaint and either delete or amend what I have said – or reject the complaint and it may go through to the Approved Agency and then District Court for a decision.

But what if there is a complaint about what a commenter has written? I don’t want to be liable for that. The law as drafted proposed that hosts like myself be immune from liability so long as we remove the comment written by someone else upon receiving a complaint. The trouble with that is it means that I have to make a decision on what might not be a clear cut case, and that I’ll be incentivised to remove comments upon receiving complaints just to be safe.

The revised law allows me to avoid getting dragged in. If a complaint is received, then I need to pass it onto the author (commenter) within 48 hours and they have a further 48 hours to respond. If they wish their comments to remain, and are happy to accept liability for them – then the case will become a dispute between the complainant and the author/commenter – and generally leave me out of it. That is a very good thing – and may also apply to other areas such as defamation.

The 48 hours timeframe is too tight though, and I think it should be say three working days. I’m often out of touch for 48 hours or more.

So some good and some not so good in the bill.

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Telling the truth is not harrassment

May 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A fraudster’s victim who fought back has won a landmark battle to name and shame the man who scammed him and dozens of others.

Nearly two and a half years ago, Steve Taylor contracted Grant Norman King to build a sleepout for his elderly father behind the family home in West Auckland.

Taylor paid three-quarters of the price – $23,500 – as a deposit. The sleepout was never built and the money was not returned.

In a bid to get even, Taylor brought civil proceedings against King but when the cost of continuing the case became prohibitive, he took a different tack, setting up the website grantnormanking.com with the intention of warning others who might be drawn in.

Within months other victims were clamouring to tell their stories and it was not long before Taylor built a comprehensive timeline of King’s offending.

King then tried to turn the legal tables on Taylor by using the Harassment Act to sue Taylor and demand the website be taken down.

Taylor was forced into Auckland District Court to defend himself.

However, that was King’s mistake. “What he did was open up the opportunity for every other victim to tell their story, which was the very thing he was advocating against,” Taylor said.

Affidavits in support of Taylor’s cause flooded in and he said it was surreal to be standing in court with the public gallery full of people backing him.

In court Judge David Wilson sided with Taylor and said the website, with all its explosive accusations, could remain online. “It would be inappropriate if a man in Mr King’s position could close down postings of essentially factual material on the basis that it interferes with his commercial plans and deprives him of customers,” the judge said.

Exactly.

“I accept Mr King is distressed by the postings but in my view that distress arises because he would prefer potential customers were unaware of his history and is not such as justifies the making of restraining orders.”

Lawyer Madeleine Flannagan, who advised Taylor and has been the victim of online harassment herselft, said the judge’s decision showed free speech was alive and well.

She said the unique nature of the case, setting a new precedent in harassment laws, meant it was already being used by media law professors at Auckland University.

Taylor’s website also resulted in King being punished. Since setting up the website, Taylor said more than 70 victims had come forward, across a 32-year span, claiming losses of more than $3 million.

Nice.

Madeleine has commented:

The law appears to now stand that if someone repeatedly publishes attacks on another person online this action can constitute harassment under the act if the information is harmful, baseless and untrue. However, if the blogger has a lawful purpose for releasing the information and it is either true, or they have reasonable belief that it is true, then even if that information is highly offensive and causes distress, such conduct is lawful and does not fall foul of harassment law.

The judgement is below. I welcome it.

King v Taylor

d

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Xero ranked No 1 by Forbes

May 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm by David Farrar

Xero has just been ranked #1 by Forbes in its list of top 100 most innovative growth companies.

Well done Rod and his team.

I remain a very happy customer and shareholder.

I would like a native payroll package at some point though please!

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