2020 - this year, the Internet was the hero we needed (quietly, as usual)
Jordan Carter Chief Executive •
It’s been a year like no other. A global pandemic has been the defining feature of all of our lives. Besides the tragic loss of life, the disruptions to people’s plans and dreams, and the economic carnage, three things are true.
The lockdowns we and everyone else faced would have been far worse without the Internet.
Imagine that period with no access to communications and information, to online shopping and socialising, to the (sometimes dreaded) Zooms, Teams, Meets, BigBlueButtons and more of online meetings, to the 1pm updates and our reactions to it, to the online teaching that kept kids learning… the list goes on, but the Internet helped make things functional. Disagree with me? Think about a week locked down, with no access to it. Let me know if you still disagree.
The essential nature of the Internet and the foundational skills needed to make use of its opportunities are proven, beyond all doubt, to be way more than ‘nice to have’.
They are a foundation of participation in society today, absolutely integral to people’s wellbeing. Equity in the online world is a precondition for everyone having the chance to make the most of their lives. Digital inclusion is therefore no longer an optional extra: it is a core responsibility of the community to guarantee, and here in Aotearoa we have a long way to go to get to that point.
This year also showed the vitality of the Internet as a force for good.
It allowed all of us to live better lives in oh so many ways. We don’t need long memories, though, to remember 2019, and the events in Christchurch, which showed the dark side of an online world that has grown and changed in ways that the founders did not expect - or, if they did, certainly did not hope for.
At InternetNZ our agenda is on point for these times. Our demand that the Internet be for everyone – that digital equity is vital for our country – recognises that nobody should be left behind. Our nascent work on an Internet for good will help us, together with you, define how the Internet needs to change to be doing more good for us and our communities, and less harm.
In aid of that work, and recognising the general election held in October, we’ve prepared briefing notes for incoming Ministers that talk about these themes in the context of key portfolios. You can take a look at them: to the Prime Minister, Minister of Digital Economy and Comms, Minister of Broadcasting and Media, and Minister of Internal Affairs.
We are pleased that the new Government has created a sensible grouping of portfolios and responsibilities around Dr David Clark, the Digital Economy Minister.
We look forward to working with him and the other members of the ministerial group.
It’s also vital to carry on the work that we started as a nation with the Christchurch Call. That mahi is important, and progress has been varied in some of the priority areas. New Zealand picked up a leadership role in part to honour the victims of Christchurch and to make sure that things changed in the world. Putting the resources required into making that leadership role more effective will be something we urge on the Prime Minister and the whole government in the months ahead, as we put this oh-so-strange year behind us and move into 2021 and whatever it brings.
Thank you for your interest and involvement with our work over the year, and I wish you and yours a peaceful holiday break. Catch you in 2021.