Election 2014 is around the corner

media release from Steven Joyce yesterday reminded me that policy announcements are still coming out from last month's Budget, and that we are on the cusp of the debate really starting to focus on the decisions facing the country at Election 2014:

"The Government will invest $28.6 million operating funding (including $11.8 million of contingencies) over the next four years in three Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools to help address significant high-level skills shortages in the rapidly growing ICT industry, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says."

The policy - and the resources to be committed - is a great idea. The Government has rightfully identified that the country has a shortage of skilled professional in the ICT sector and it’s clearly a booming industry that New Zealand wants to develop, not choke.

Education and training of this sort is a great example of where action by government can make a useful and positive contribution to New Zealand’s ICT sector. As the debate heats up leading into the formal election campaign, other areas where government can help - or hinder - the Internet's development will no doubt arise.

InternetNZ members are working out a range of other Internet issues that are important to put in the public eye in the lead-up to the election. Once the issues are fleshed out, we'll be writing them down and putting them out there for everyone to consider as the election debates roll out.

The areas that are under discussion so far include the following:

UFB and RBI

  • The next steps in promoting greater access to world class Internet infrastructure

Overseas connectivity and data caps

  • Development of New Zealand's international connectivity to provide more bandwidth and more security to local Internet users

Fair Intellectual Property law

  • Copyright patents and intellectual property - how New Zealand's access to ideas and protection of the ideas we create can best be realised in the Internet era

Surveillance

  • Whether the "privacy v security" dichotomy true or false - and if false, how New Zealand best deals with these issues

Internet Governance

  • How to maintain an open and uncapturable Internet through action on the global stage as well as locally, when domestic debates sometimes lead to legislation like the Harmful Digital Communications Bill

Innovation

  • How to capture the benefits of New Zealand's investments in Internet infrastructure through driving greater innovation, use and development of the Internet 

Government in the Internet Era

  • How to encourage the public sector to be “best in class” themselves and be an exemplar to the wider community

It’s obvious that Internet issues are shaping as some of the defining policy issues of our time. Our role as a voice of the Internet in New Zealand is to help make sure that the next Government, whatever its politics, does its level best to maintain an open, uncapturable, innovative and advantageous Internet for New Zealanders. 

That open Internet and its protection is fundamental to our purpose as an organisation, and contributions to the public debate around the election are one aspect of how we work to achieve that goal (along with the community funding we do, the Internet Issues agenda we work on, our collaboration with the rest of the Internet community...).

Speaking out on issues that are a focus of public debate isn't always easy, but we wouldn't be doing our job if we ducked the responsibility to add sensible ideas to the debate about the country's direction on Internet issues for the next Parliament.

In doing that job, there's one final point I want to make crystal clear.

InternetNZ is not behind or in front of, for or against any political party, movement, creed or ideology - whatever their name or whoever's involved.

We’re interested in good policy that supports our vision of an open Internet that lets people get on and do the things they need to do online. That helps achieve the objects InternetNZ stands for. That's important for us.

All ideas will be dealt with on their merits, and our responses will be driven by InternetNZ's policy principles and objects - without fear or favour, as has always been the case.

With only around 100 days to go, watch this space for the more detailed suggestions to come... and if you'd like to join the conversation, you can join up as a member right here.