Links and thinks: 8 Jan 2018

A short, friendly blog from your policy and advocacy geeks at InternetNZ posted by Ben Creet on 8 January 2018.

Kia ora koutou,

A new year, some resolutions and the re-imagining of the issues team weekly blog! That's right, we're going to blog more frequently this year so we're going to environment scan and write about news, technology developments and the like. Our commitment (ish) to you is that every week (mostly) we give you some interesting (mostly) links and our quick thoughts on some articles that have caught our eyes recently.

So, without any further delays - let's kick this off with net neutrality, open data, data breaches, bitcoin mining and eSports.

The Tech Giants join Net Neutrality legal action

The Internet Association (the lobby for organisations like Amazon, Facebook and Google) is going to be joining some legal action(s) to fight the FCC's repeal of a 2015 ruling that treated Internet as a utility (something New Zealand is in the process of cementing in). As pointed out by Jordan in December, the repeal of Net Neutrality protections is a bad thing so it's good to see the larger Silicon Valley organisations gearing up to joining and participate in legal action to try and protect the Internet.

For more info here is a good summary piece from the Verge: FCC net neutrality vote results rules repealed

Open Data. Open water.

For some New Zealanders, summer means "getting away" to somewhere with better access to the beach or bush. At home, we have easy access to electricity and drinkable water, and camping or staying at a basic bach can remind us of these services we normally take for granted. In past blogs and other work, we've talked about Internet access as a similar basic need. But what about access to open data?

California has had massive success using data to combat drought conditions. To estimate water use, an open data approach cost only 5% of the $3 million originally budgeted. As data becomes more important and more accessible via the Internet, maybe it should be a resource we have on-tap like electricity and water. We now think of electricity and water as basic basic human and business needs. But to get to that point, people needed to recognise their importance and build supply systems had to be built first. Maybe we also need to think about opening data in the same way, so we can use it enough to take it for granted?

Learning from California's data breach laws

This made the cut for one main reason - our overdue Privacy Act review. Data Breach rules are coming to New Zealand - either now or later when the EU finally get around to assessing whether NZ will still be whitelisted under their new data-protection law, the GDPR. This is a pretty interesting summary of 2017's data breach notifications. What really interested me was that there were 29 cases due to compromised credential use, mostly likely from passwords being reused on other sites which have had their own data breaches.

Re-using passwords on multiple sites is a bad idea people - billions of username and password pairs get lost or stolen every year. You really, really, really should turn on two factor authentication and have unique, strong passwords for every site and service you use (password managers are a great way to help you make this doable).

Mining bitcoin in university dorms

It turns out that there's a bunch of students in the US that are using the free power in their dorm rooms to mine bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies.

I love this story for one main reason- it highlights the main problem I have with cryptocurrencies - the externality of their highly inefficient power usage.

An eSports bonus story

As a console and first person shooter player (yes, I know that's lame, sue me) I LOVE eSports. This long read article on wired is all about how a new Overwach eSports league is trying to go big, and become a mainstream televised sport in the US. StarCraft has been BIG in South Korea (with its own domestic league and televised or streamed competitions) and League of Legends has a large following but the Overwatch League has backing from Blizzard (the game developer) who has brought in some of the people who made ESPN a thing. It may feel a bit weird to some, but if they can make eSports a real, professional thing, then I have an excuse for all those hours of console playing as just being training, right? Right?

That's us team - this week we're just getting back into the groove, remembering how to write after a couple weeks away from keyboards and adjusting back into the routine of office life.

Thanks for reading!