Editorials 4 May 2010

The Herald talks social media:

If anyone doubts how technology is changing the way people communicate with each other they should consult the latest research by the Privacy Commissioner.

Published this week, the survey of Individual Privacy and Personal Information shows that 43 per cent of us now use a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter.

This is an enormous increase from the 14 per cent recorded three years ago. Clearly these sites provide a welcome service to large numbers of happy customers.

But there is a big difference which Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff highlighted with the release of the survey results. She pointed out that more than half of those who used social networking sites assumed them to be private spaces.

However, this was really an illusion of privacy; personal details or pictures could be easily obtained by third parties, creating the real possibility of unintended, unacceptable and even dangerous consequences.

They are public places, but the sheer amount of info there, makes them semi-private. Unless someone is looking for your info for a reason, then people’s info generally stays with friends and families. But if you apply for a job, come to public notice in some way, it is all there to be seen.

A much better approach was suggested by Ms Shroff this week when she urged people to use internet safety resources available through Hector’s World, Netsafe and the Privacy Commissioner’s website.

As the survey has shown, most people join social networking sites with their eyes wide open and they understand the risks and issues and how to protect themselves.

Rather than bringing in more laws, the challenge should be to open the eyes of the few who fail to see the consequences of what they are doing.

I agree.

The Press wants betterย  roading infrastructure:

New Zealand has had a habit of under-investing in road infrastructure.

The most obvious example of this has been in Auckland, where decades of myopia has required multi-billion dollar catch-up projects, while in Wellington, the Transmission Gully route was until recently an exercise in dithering.

And in Canterbury it should not have taken a triple fatality crash on Saturday morning to highlight the driving risks on parts of State Highway 1 which require action. …

Steven Joyce has shown commendable speed in identifying roading priorities and pledging the money to them (the harder part).

This roading situation might have been adequate or acceptable a generation ago, when traffic volumes were far lower, but not today. Waimakariri and Selwyn, through which SH1 goes, are two of the fastest growing districts in New Zealand. Increasing numbers of commuters travel from small towns, including new ones such as Pegasus, into Christchurch, sharing the road with significant tourist traffic and with trucks.

The US do it quite well. Motorway and highways do not go through towns but around them.

The Dom Post looks at democracy in Tonga, or the lack of it:

The only good thing that could have come from the tragic sinking of the Princess Ashika off Tonga would have been a new openness and accountability in the Tongan political system.

The resignation of Attorney-General John Cauchi suggests that is a forlorn prospect.

The inquiry gave Tongans a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the elite who run their country โ€“ an elite who gain power based on hereditary links and personal contacts rather than talent. But having promised, and delivered, a fully transparent inquiry, it appears Tonga’s rulers are getting cold feet.

The Australian-born Mr Cauchi quit last week over government plans to abolish the judicial services commission which appoints judges. He believes the move is an attempt to interfere with the inquiry. Others say the cabinet is trying to discredit the royal commission.

The Tongan Government says Mr Cauchi was unable to properly exercise the powers he was granted and outsiders should butt out. Political reform is a matter for Tongans alone.

But as Tongans do not have the vote in a meaningful way, that is not true. They do not have the ability to get change internally.

And the ODT looks at ACC:

Unless it is a statistical blip, evidence points to procedures within ACC’s Sensitive Claims Unit having radically altered.

Figures show 32 sexual-abuse claims for counselling were approved in the first two months this year, compared with 472 in January and February 2009.

That is not far off a tenfold decrease.

And, on Monday last week, ACC Minister Nick Smith announced the way the corporation managed the claims of sexual-abuse victims was to be reconsidered.

To this end, he named a panel to undertake a “clinical review to ensure best possible practice in this sensitive area”. …

The conclusion must be that changes to the way in which ACC handles such claims, introduced in October last year by Dr Smith, have been responsible for the drop.

On the one hand, this will undoubtedly be helping to meet the savings of which the minister has made something of a mantra; on the other, it could mean that the changes have been “overcooked”, laying the minister open to charges of callousness and injustice.

Personally I don’t think sexual abuse victims should receive ACC. I do think they should get assistance for counselling etc from the state, but through Vote Health or Vote Justice. One of the problems of ACC is it has expanded too far from its original mandate.

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