28 April, 2011

Does NZ need a Technology based Political Party?

With the hilarity of the speeches by MPs during the debate of the recent Copyright Bill does NZ need a political party who has a focus on Technology and a clue about what is going on? There is the Pirate Party who does have similar goals but personally I think the branding of calling the party the Pirate party gives the majority of the public the wrong idea. I'm guessing they either need to rebrand or there needs to be another party that can focus on Technology without the linkage to Pirates. The Pirate Party has a lot of good ideas it is just I feel their name portrays the wrong image and is not helping get wider acceptance. I am guessing most people when they think pirates either think about talk like a pirate day, the pirates off the African coast or people who illegally obtain copyrights goods. If you have a read of their site they are not this but have some very good view points on things around technology, privacy, free and equal access, software patents and the ever lengthening time that copyright is for. I have done some digging around other parties and can't find their viewpoints on the below or they are vastly different and are not in the best interests of NZ Citizens.

The policies will be some along the lines of (happy to receive suggestions):
* Fixing the problems I have outlined in the Copyright Act

* Working towards making internet a basic Human Right. This is important as more Government Services move online, VoIP becomes more widespread and people need to dial 111 and banking, education and such also moves online more and more.

* Work on getting a second (and more) international fibre optical cable out of NZ to provide redundancy, competition, greater capacity, greater speed and hopefully cheaper prices.

* Better local peering. UFB should have the equivalent of "Free Local Calling". Thinking along the lines of WIX you should be able to connect and use as much data as you like within a calling area so you can VPN to work, make local VoIP or Skype calls to local places or backup files to friends nearby without it counting towards you bandwidth cap.

* With UFB it should have Net Neutrality imposed on it. Everyone should have equal access and all content must be treated equally and ISP shouldn't be able to make any traffic based on type, source or destination more expensive or more important than any other data. This needs to be imposed as Telecom and Telstra have already indicated that they won't play nice as they depeered years ago form WIX and APE trying to extort more money from content providers and make them pay money and while also charging their customers so receiving money twice for the same data. For the content providers that didin't pay the extortion money it meant the content often gets served from the US rather than NZ based servers so making it slower to access that content thus deceasing the user experience from optional.

* Make it illegal for data enroute to be tampered with or rerouted to deny access or change the data. There is a current example of an ISP injecting their own ads into sites like Apple and Google and intercepting 404 pages and DNS responses that return no result to have their ads in them. There is no excuse for tampering with content or results.

* Look at Spam policies. Maybe need to attack the root cause of spam which is people actually buy from it. Maybe we need better education of the public and maybe some harsher penalties for people buying from spam. If people stop buying from spam or falling for scammers their business model will no longer be profitable and they will shut up shop. For some more info on this have a look at a blog post I write last year.

* The DIA's Great Firewall of NZ needs more oversight. Child porn is bad but I don't think this system is the right way to go about it and is a slippery slope towards the Great Firewall of China. I would guess that this system doesn't actually stop the vast majority of people as I would expect the vast majority of Child Porn people don't use HTTP but use other ways to get the content they want. I feel this is more a PR thing than an actual stop people thing. If it does stay in place it needs greater transparency. It needs:
** Legislation governing what it can and can not do
** An independent over site committee
** Details about data is capture, how it is store, who can access it, under what requirements/scope and when/how it is destroyed
** The list of sites block should be public. They say they only block Child Porn so it should be no issue releasing the list to prove that no other site are blocked. Maybe not a full public release (so not telling people into child porn where to go) but a group of independent people who could verify it. Maybe InternetNZ, TUANZ and representatives of the media?
** A process and workflow to get sites unblocked
** The Australian system before they dropped it had blocked a Dentist's web site. What is there to currently stop the system from blocking web sites of the governments opponents or sites that don't give kickbacks?

* Better education of the public around security and practising safe internet use. A task force should be set up to work with ISP to detect infected machines and help the end users get their computers fixed. This should help make the internet a better for everyone.

* The public needs to be educated that P2P and filesharing is not bad and that it has legitimate and legal uses, it is just the sharing of copyrighted material that is the problem not the systems and networks themselves. Bittorrent is used to distributed things like Ubuntu and Twitter even uses Bittorrent internally for updating their servers. P2P and Filesharing has been unfairly tarred over the years and this need to be put right.

* There should also be public education around the use of public key encryption. Signing of emails may come in handy to stop phishing as banks could sign all their messages so it would make it harder to for the scammers to forge email.

* The Government when making law changes needs to engage with the IT community more around cost, timelines, etc. Currently the Government changes a law and has a date on it and IT has to scramble to make it happen. With this solutions needs to be rushed together and money scarped up from around the place. When time, scope and money is strictly limited quality is what suffers and low quality in IT systems costs more in the long run and doesn't provide optimal service to the public. Also given some the tight deadlines these changes to systems can't be integrated properly with corporate IT strategies, budgets and existing systems.

* Work with the the Entertainment Industry to move them into 21st Century and the time post the Technological Pandora's box that has been opened. This has a lot to with what I discussed in my first blog in relation to the new Act covering the root cause of filesharing. Technology has changed consumers expectations have changed,so the Entertainment Industry needs to help meet those new expectations. It will have to be seen if the Entertainment industry does it willingly or if they need some legislation to help them along. DRM has to be be removed or at least a lot less restrictive. The current eco systems need to be lossen up e.g. everyone mentions iTunes but it only works on Windows or OSX, iPod, IPad, iPhone and Apple TV while what happens if I want to use this media which I have brougth on Linux, a WD TV Live, a Samsung TV and an Andorid phone? Well I am plain out of luck. Devices and platforms will change in the future and I don't want to have to keep rebuying the content over and over. Also DRM is an issue for places like the Natiional Library as it makes it near on impossible to archive the content for future generations. Also instead of inventing new DRM schemes isn't it better to give that money to the artists?

* Along similar lines Government content should be accessible to everyone. People have equal rights to get the same experience independent of OS choice Linux, Windows, OSX, Android, iOS, etc or browser choice Firefox, Webkit, Chromium, IE etc and the same content should be available via screen readers and the like. Proprietary formats should not be used at all so no PDF, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Flash, etc it should be in open formats like HTML, Plain Text, and Open Document Format. This provides equal access to everyone and people will not have to buy or use proprietary application or formats.

* Schools also need better funding for their IT. Currently school IT budgets are small so for support and equipment it is a race to the bottom to find the cheapest people and unfortunately for schools pay peanuts get monkeys. From what I have about the standard of the people that do School IT support it makes me sick that they also call themselves IT Professionals. I am sure there are some good ones out there but I am just going on what I have heard.

* There should be measures put in place to ensure people's privacy online and the protection of the data as well. Like the recent Playstation Network case where the Credit Card detail was encrypted because of financial regulations but the person data like name, address, DOB, etc was in plain text and stolen. There should be requirements about how this data needs to be protected and what type of retention of data.

* Patents should be for revolutionary, innovated and game changing ideas not mere evolutions. Currently too many patents as being given out so instead of fostering and encouraging people to development news things it is actually doing the opposite.

* For passing Bills under urgency there must be an urgent need so all MPs should be in the house for Bills passed under urgency. MPs should arrive before the session starts and must stay in the house to be able to cast a vote in favour. If you are not in the house at the start of reading and/or leave during the reading for any reason you will be counted as a vote against the bill. If you want to vote against the bill you can either be in the house or be outside the house and have your vote counted automatically as a no. Urgent bills are for urgent matter so thus should take priority over all other work so there should be not issue with everyone being the house, if there is it isn't really an urgent matter is it. For MPs on leave their vote should count as an abstain as it is an urgent matter that has come up and given they are not at parliament they will be out of the loop of what is happening so thus do not have access to the information needed to exercise an informed vote.

* State Owned Enterprises should not be sold it may give money to the Government now but in the long run it is better for NZ to keep the assets. For instance Telecom was sold for $4.25 Billion and in 2008 made $0.7 Billion in profit disregarding inflation and what not 4.25/0.7 = 6ish years. So every six years the Government gets the equivalent amount of money with the additional of it continuing for a lot longer. So needless to say it does not make sense to sell off state assets. Also take the Rail Network the foreign companies ran it into the ground to make money then ditched in a dilapidated state. State assents are too important to NZ to be allowed to be run into the ground for a quick profit but should be left in the hands of government to play the long game with and do what is best for NZ.

So is anyone interested in such and idea? Need 500 financial members to like so can register as a party. Membership is 10 cents and I will spot the first 500 people the 10 cents to join.


mathmo said...

Unfortunately you can't give people the 10 cents to join the party for 10 cents, as the Pirate Party has already asked about that and been told the answer is no.

Karit said...

Well that is a shame them :(

Anonymous said...

Well I think a small 1-2 minute explanation of the usage of the word "Pirate" will calm any negative image of it.

Also mentioning that the Pirate Party is big in other countries where they actually have some seats in government is quite a big plus.

IMO it is not that bad of an image once people are given an explanation. The benefits received from the other Pirate Party's in other countries far outweighs the negatives.