Digital rights, privacy & power-by-wifi

Ben Creet

A blog post from Ben Creet, Senior Issues Advisor at InternetNZ
23 November 2015

Hi everyone. Monday!

That means it’s time for a short blog from us at the Issues team, this time curated by your local friendly neighbourhood Creeture. Here’s a couple things we’ve seen or been thinking about recently and a heads-up on what we’ll be focussing on this week. 

Ranking Digital Rights

Ranking Digital Rights recently released their 2015 corporate responsibility index. It’s a very interesting, and potentially powerful tool highlighting how some of the largest technology companies do in terms of protecting and valuing their customers human rights. Check it out here:

The Ranking Digital Rights 2015 Corporate Accountability Index

Edward Snowden’s Privacy Advice

Concerned that governments or others are tracking your communications online? Edward Snowden probably has it worse. In a recent interview, Snowden offers some advice for keeping your personal information private: your phone calls and text messages, the things you have on your hard drive, and your passwords for online services. Many online services are designed for maximum information sharing, but as Snowden says “[e]verybody doesn’t need to know everything about us”. In other words, don’t live as if you’re electronically naked all the time!

The practical advice is about one page down, and the whole interview is worth a read:

Edward Snowden explains how to reclaim your privacy

Also - follow Edward on twitter here @snowden (everyone loves being on lists!)

Computer files as “property”

The New Zealand Supreme Court recently decided that computer files could be “property” for some legal purposes. While the details of the case are a bit scandalous (it’s that case from the 2011 world cup where the security guard sold video footage of the England captain with a woman who wasn’t his wife), the end result is slightly puzzling.

It turns out that video footage files, and potentially many more types of computer files, can be property. It’s a new decision and overall the fact that the accused represented himself at the Supreme Court didn’t lend to some high-quality legal back-and-forth. Does that mean that mean your ex-wife/husband gets to take ½ of your iTunes collection as its ‘relationship property’? What is the property value of a computer file? Do you have to declare high value files (e.g. IP / cherished digital photos) on contents insurance? All in all, we’re scratching our heads and QQ’ing a bit to be honest.

Would you like to know more? Here’s a couple of good blog posts with robust legal analysis:

By the power of Wifi 

Some researchers at the University of Washington have figured out a way to power devices through wifi. I’m not an engineer so I don’t know how big a deal it is, but Dean seemed pretty excited about it. And when you think about the billion or so small sensors and things that are about to get connected, this could be a really useful avenue of research (must. not. say ‘game-changing’).

Here’s a short press release: Powering the next billion devices with Wi-Fi

What’s up this week

  • On Tuesday Andrew will be attending the Innovation Partnership’s November meeting. I’m sure he’ll come back with some great ideas and potential new projects to add to the ‘ideas’ part of the team KanBan board.
  • On Friday James will be at the Copyright Law and Policy in the Asia Pacific Conference, which I’m sure will result the appropriate level of nerding-out.
  • And next Monday I’ll be at NZTech’s Security Summit.

If you want to talk about stuff, or hear more about what your Issues team is up to - ping me.

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