Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

A giganation?

August 5th, 2014 at 4:02 pm by David Farrar

Telecom have said:

It’s time for a ‘Giganation’ says Telecom as UFB coverage hits 100%

Telecom, soon to be Spark New Zealand, says the time has come for Gigabit per second data download speeds to be available across all of New Zealand’s Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre network.

Telecom made the call today as its Ultra Fibre products became available in the Taupo area – making it the only Internet Service Provider (ISP) selling fibre broadband services everywhere in New Zealand where the UFB network is currently active.

“When the UFB network rollout began in 2012, the standard download speeds available were 30 or 100 Megabits per second (Mbps),” says Telecom’s General Manager Product and Service Delivery, Lindsay Cowley.

“Since then, we’ve seen encouraging product innovation and speed increases across the four fibre companies who are contracted by the Government to build the UFB network and offer wholesale services to ISPs. Telecom has worked constructively with all LFCs to bring fibre products to people around New Zealand.

“A top download speed of 1000 Megabits, or 1 Gigabit, per second – the maximum technically possible under the UFB network’s current configuration – is now on the table as Ultrafast Fibre Ltd has announced it will launch the product throughout their coverage area of approximately 162,000 addresses in the central North Island.

I agree with Telecom. I love being on fibre and have chosen a 30/10 package as that is all I need for now. But demand keeps growing and we want everyone on UFB to have the option of a 1 Gb/s connection so people can choose the connection speed (and price) most suitable to them.

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Online voting report released

August 5th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said:

A report looking at the feasibility of online voting for local body elections has been welcomed by Associate Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

In September 2013, Cabinet agreed to establish a working party to consider the feasibility of online voting in New Zealand’s local elections. The working party met from December 2013 to May 2014 and has now reported back with its recommendations.

Mr Lotu-Iiga says the working party found online voting for local elections is feasible. The report said that online voting has the potential to enhance the operation of local democracy and offer New Zealanders a more accessible and convenient option to cast their vote.

“One of the major benefits of online voting is as a tool of convenience. It would enable voters to act on their intention to vote quicker, easier and in a forum more in line with the modern digital age,” he says.

“We have seen good examples of that recently with the census, where 35 per cent of forms were completed online in 2013, which is up from 7 per cent in 2006.”

I was on the working group that write the report. It was a lot of work, but I’m really pleased with the report.  Very impressed with the DIA staff who supported the working group.

The report makes seven findings. They are:

  1. online voting is feasible
  2. broad implementation is not feasible in 2016
  3. online voting should be trialled in 2016 as part of local elections
  4. online voting can improve and enhance the voting experience
  5. public trust and confidence must be maintained
  6. implementing online voting will require a partnership approach
  7. securing online voting is critical, but not easy

Some of the specific recommendations include:

  • online voting should be considered complementary to postal or booth voting and not as a replacement to existing voting methods
  • Councils and their communities should choose whether online voting is available as a voting method
  • In order to ensure that online voting systems are secure enough, the Department should harness the expertise of the wider security community through a ‘bug bounty’ or similar process to attract constructive analysis of proposed systems for vulnerabilities.
  • The Department should ensure that any online voting solutions are highly auditable.
  • For the 2016 trials, online voting should use the existing postal ballot issue to communicate login details to users, only allow one-time access to the online voting system and use two factor authentication if possible – our preferred option is for the voter to use their date of birth (acquired from the electoral roll) as a ‘shared secret’

The Institute of IT Professionals has welcomed the report:

IITP CEO Paul Matthews, who sat on the working group, welcomed the release of the report today. “This report plots the path forward for online voting in New Zealand, and carefully weighs up the issues around security and other factors”, Matthews said.

During the development of the report, the Institute was heavily engaged and very pleased with the focus of the Working Group and Government on protecting the integrity of voter’s private information amidst the security implications of online voting.

“We especially support the recommendation of a ‘bug bounty’ approach to the online voting system. While bug bounties are used extensively in our sector by most prominent technology companies, this would be a step forward for a Government and is one of the key recommendations from the IT profession to Government last year, following various public sector security breaches.”

“We thank the Minister for looking to IITP and other organisations such as Internet New Zealand to provide independent expertise for this Working Group. As the representative body for the IT Profession, this enabled IITP to work with others to ensure tech-related factors were well considered, independently and without technology bias,” Matthews concluded.

Basically what is needed now is for central and local government to work together to determine how to find the initial costs of developing a robust online voting system. This will have potential for not just local government elections, but also referenda. Note I don’t advocate using online voting for parliamentary elections – just as a complementary option to those systems that rely on postal ballots – as the postal system is basically dying.

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Spark

August 1st, 2014 at 7:21 am by David Farrar

spark

Peter McCaffery has noted the similarities. He hopes Telecom didn’t pay their designers too much money!

UPDATE: Telecom comments:

* The Telus Spark logo displayed doesn’t seem anything like their main logo (see link below) although it seems they use a similar graphic device in some circumstances  http://www.sparkscience.ca/

*Whatever the similarities might be, Telus Spark the Science Centre opened in Oct 2011 – two years after Telecom started using the ‘spark’ logo as part of our 2009 rebranding.

Seems to be great minds think alike then!

 

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www.govt.nz

July 30th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Attended the launch of the revamped Government portal, www.govt.nz, last night. With a goal of having 70% of transactions with the Government done online, it is important to be able to easily find out where to do them.

The site is clean and simple. Sensible categories, and information. I tried searching on various terms such as “pay tax” and “Milford Track and it came up with the page I wanted. The only term it didn’t cover was “tenders”.

So overall seems to be a successful revamp, that will be a good gateway for residents and organisations to use to find out where most Government information is online.

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NZ Taxis against Uber

July 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial car travel app Uber is eyeing the Wellington market but the taxi federation says it is illegal under New Zealand law and warns that it is “sugar-coated poison” that will lead to higher fares.

Uber has denied claims it was operating illegally since it started in May in Auckland, where people can book a ride from motorists who are not cabbies.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said Uber was effectively acting as a booking agent for a network of private hire service providers – not as a taxi firm – and those private hire services were a long-established form of passenger service in New Zealand.

The Taxi Federation doesn’t like the idea of competition. I do. Can’t wait for Uber to get here.

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Internet Party and social media

July 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs on two social media gaffes by the Internet Party.

  1. Dotcom posting a joke about Batman killing a hooker
  2. The Internet Party a modified version of Picasso’s Guernica, which was about the bombing of the Spanish village by German and Italian planes, killing many civilians

Matthew has a collection of tweets in response, which are interesting.

This is not the first time by Dotcom. He actually tweeted some rape jokes a while back. Yet Laila Harre has no compunction about being his mouthpiece, while also condemning the “rape culture” in New Zealand.

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Chorus v Telecom

July 28th, 2014 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chorus has returned fire over a complaint Telecom laid with the Commerce Commission over a new copper broadband product.

Telecom said Chorus planned to impose an “artificial cap” of 250 kilobits-per-second on the average throughput of its regulated copper broadband service in order to make new “premium” products it announced in May more attractive.

Telecom said the move would significantly degrade the performance of regulated copper broadband services, the price of which is set by the Commerce Commission.

It has laid a complaint against Chorus, saying the proposals breached the Telecommunications Act and were also a “breach of good faith”.

The commission said it would investigate the complaint and revealed CallPlus had also voiced concerns about Chorus’ changes.

This shows what a good idea it was to separate Telecom and Chorus. In the old days, this may have just happened without dissent. It is a good thing to have the interests of the largest competitive provider separate to the interests of the monopoly infrastructure provider.

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Dotcom attacks Drury and Xero

July 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

A war of words has erupted between Kim Dotcom and the founder of online accounting software firm Xero.

Speaking on TVNZ’s Q+A programme, Rod Drury said Internet Party leader Laila Harre knows nothing about technology and he wished Mr Dotcom would go away.

“At the beginning it was really cool to see someone like that come through but his manipulation of the media, so he’s very media savvy, understands that it’s a good story, that journalism’s cheap, I think it’s a big sideshow,” said Mr Drury.

Kim Dotcom then hit back with a string of tweets, claiming Xero was over-valued and pointing out how many more users his own company has.

“CEO of totally overvalued NZ cloud ‘accounting’ company Xero (300k users) says: ‘I represent the Internet Generation. Kim Dotcom doesn’t’,” tweeted Kim Dotcom.

One of the tweets is below:

Not such a nice guy is he when you dare to criticise him.

I would point out that Xero’s 300,000 users all pay for Xero. From $500 a year upwards. The vast vast majority of Mega users (and I am one) have a free account – because it is, well, free.  I understand well under 1% of Mega’s customers are paying customers.

I want both companies to succeed. I use both. Mega is very different company to Megaupload. But it is not a good look to have the self proclaimed mentor of the Internet Party trash talking and denigrating NZ’s most successful Internet company. But that just confirms the Internet Party is about Kim Dotcom, not about the Internet.

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Drury on ICT and Internet Party

July 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

IT Brief reports:

As the political heavyweights debated the future ICT roadmap for New Zealand last night, Rod Drury sat shaking his head in the crowd.

Taking the stage amidst the backdrop of Auckland’s evening sky, key political figures debated long into the night about the future of New Zealand’s ICT sector.

Chaired by the New Zealand Technology Industry Association, CEO Candace Kinser orchestrated discussion with technology representatives from National, Labour, the Green Party and the Internet MANA parties.

But as the opinions flowed and policies were outlined, Xero’s charismatic CEO reawakened a conversation which, in the eyes of the entrepreneur, drifted widely off the overriding issue.

“I find this really depressing but I’ll try to be positive about it,” he said, in his typically outspoken manner.

Addressing Internet Party leader Laila Harre first, Drury told the recently elected head of the Kim Dotcom funded political party: “We’ve been in the industry for 20 years and you don’t speak for us, Kim Dotcom should go away and it’s kind of insulting to hear what you speak about because it doesn’t take into account the hard work we’ve done for the last 20 years.”

Rod is never shy about saying what he thinks. His view on this issue, is widely shared I must say.

According to Drury, panelists Harre, Amy Adams, Clare Curran and Gareth Hughes spoke about “incremental stuff which everybody else is already doing”, branding the discussion “boring.”

National had the big bold vision in 2008 of fibre to the homes of 75% of New Zealanders. I’m pretty comfortable with keeping the focus for now on the implementation of that. But we move towards the completion of that, we do need to get some thought leadership and vision on how we use it.

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Labour’s Comms & ICT policies

July 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I think it is a sign that the Government is doing most things right,  when most of Labour’s policies seem to be to keep the status quo and just have a lot of reviews. This is not a bad thing. An Opposition shouldn’t promise massive change just for the sake of it.

Labour’s policy is here. The details are:

  • Review the Ultra-fast Broadband project
  • Review the Rural Broadband Initiative
  • Review the telecommunications regulatory framework
  • Review the Telecommunications Service Obligations
  • Encourage local authorities to include broadband availability in their online maps
  • Hope someone builds a second cable, and offer the same money as National to be an anchor tenant in one
  • $2.4 million a year for local Councils to roll out Internet access to low income communities
  • $1.6 million a year for a pilot rural fibre connectivity scheme
  • $1.3 million a year for a connectivity innovation fund
  • Review the Telecommunications, Commerce and Radio Communication Acts
  • Review the Copyright Act
  • Review the recommendations of the Data Futures Forum

There’s nothing bad in this policy. The modest spending commitment of around $5 million could get some good results.  But largely the policy is an endorsement of the status quo and almost a dozen reviews. Some seem pointless, while others are very desirable (I am very keen on a first principles review of copyright law).

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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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