InternetNZ welcomes growing debate on Internet issues

InternetNZ is pleased to see evidence that debate on Internet issues is taking hold, with today’s release by the Green Party of a for-comment Internet rights and freedom bill.

InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter says that there is a lot of merit in having this discussion, but he’s not sure that new legislation is quite the right way to deal with the issues highlighted in the draft Bill.

“This draft bill includes good ideas on a wide range of topics. Putting out a draft Bill and seeking public feedback is a good idea. Crowd sourcing provides a way to tap into broader expertise, and it lets ideas be tested before they become commitments.

“InternetNZ encourages all political parties to embrace this approach to developing policy on Internet issues. There are a lot of people in the community with a lot of brilliant ideas and tapping those minds shows a willingness to learn and get the best possible result.

“On the substance, our initial analysis is that many of the issues that are raised in this Bill could be addressed with targeted changes to the Bill of Rights Act or to other existing legislation (e.g. the Privacy Act and the Human Rights Act). This fits in with a core InternetNZ policy principle, that laws governing behaviour online should not generally be different to those aimed at behaviour offline.

“Surveillance is a good example. There is nothing that a Digital Bill of Rights Act could do in outlawing mass surveillance that the current Bill of Rights Act does not. The framework of law that enables surveillance is contained in other statutes and those would need to be changed to change surveillance practice.

“Overall, this draft bill does contain some very useful principles, and they are generally articulated well. There is no doubt these ideas could be developed further to act as a guide for how legislation should be “recast” interms of the Internet, and that may end up being a more useful outcome than legislation in and of itself.

“We look forward to seeing what other parties bring to the table in terms of their policy suggestions for making the Internet better – and in how they use the Internet to develop their plans.

InternetNZ will develop a statement of issues for political parties to take into account as they develop policy, as it has done in previous years. This is anticipated for release next month. Following the election, the organisation will again present a briefing to the incoming Government on Internet issues.

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