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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 08 December 2017, 5:27 pm


The new ministers are in their hot seats and (as if by magic) the ministries have prepared their Briefings for Incoming Ministers (BIM). Why, it's almost as if they knew they were coming!

And so it is that we get this period insight into the minds of the ministries and how they think they function.

In the ICT space we have several to consider. There's the cyber-security BIM, the MBIE BIM, the Infrastructure BIM, one from Callaghan,  and no doubt countless others that I have yet to read. There's even on on the New Zealand Story (I kid you not) which aims to "enhance New Zealand's reputation beyond natural beauty". Presumably into being globally recognised for writing briefing notes.

Hightlights so far: the GCSB and SIS BIM has the phrase "TOP SECRET // COMINT // NZEO" crossed out and UNCLASSIFIED written in on every page.

Lowlights: Sadly the Infrastructure BIM contains zero mentions of the words 'broadband', 'fibre', 'UFB', 'internet' or 'ICT'. Presumably everything's fine.

Here at Brislen HQ we've been having a think about what our new Ministers need to know and we've come up with a few suggestions. These follow on from our now famous briefing note on what the proposed CIO for the Nation should do.

1: Establish a CIO for the nation.

OK, well you're well on the way with that, so that's good. The CIO should be a champion, a cheerleader for New Zealand's efforts in this area and should hold government agencies and departments up to the spotlight as potentially one of the biggest users of New Zealand developed ICT in the world.

2: The Digital Divide I.

Yes, it's still there and yes, it's still a chasm. Sure, the UFB and RBI (and UFB2 and RBI2) are addressing the physical plant, but we still have a very long way to go before we address the mental issue that the country seems to have. "We can't do anything cool from here/let's stick to growing cows" seems to be the pushback from most MPs and indeed their constituents and that's just not true. Addressing this lack of faith in the third largest export earner is a bit of a mission for the new ministers (not just the ICT ones).

3: Education is the silver bullet.

Yes, also I see you're hard on at this one. I'd rather live in a country where tertiary education in all its guises is the expected minimum than a country that says only people who are wealthy (or who anticipate studying something that will make them wealthy) can go on to tertiary study. Life long learning is going to be key to New Zealand's economic and social growth as we move into the mid-21st century.

4: The Digital Divide II.

We need to do more to get computers in every home, to get those computers hooked up to the internet and to get every family online, not because I want everyone watching Netflix or playing computer games but because of the learning opportunities that this presents. Teaching and learning doesn't stop at the school gate and if only some of the kids have access to digital technology for their homework we're not taking everyone on this journey with us. This should be a priority.

5: Research and Development.

Speaking of priorities, New Zealand needs to spend more on R&D.

Never mind that some people claim the chairs in the office and the coffee machine and all that rot, R&D spending in New Zealand is woeful. We are roughly half the OECD average and all of that comes from the public sector (Callaghan and co). We need to match that with at least as much spending from the private sector and we need to do it 20 years ago. Realising that the cost of building a time machine to make that happen are prohibitive, I'll settle for starting now. At once.

6: Smarter laws.

Copyright is up for review and we need to revisit both SIS and GCSB legislation because that all got passed at a trot and doesn't give us any faith in the way the law handles metadata, bulk harvesting of content, sharing of content with other countries and all the rest. We need to beef up the digital signatory thing because as Auckland University's David Harvey has pointed out, hardly anyone is offering it at government level (and then can we PLEASE sort out banks that insist on us going into branches and scratching on pieces of paper like an animal) and that's pretty hopeless.

We could also look at net neutrality while we're at it, OK?

That should do to keep you going, so good luck and we'll see you on the other side!

BIMs Page - All neatly filed for your reading pleasure

Techblog - Copyright law reform


Digital Divide



In the beginning, in the early days, the internet was this thing that happened Over There. New Zealand's access to it was slight and limited to a single gateway at Waikato University and when the university balked at owning and running what would later become known as an ISP, it struggled to find anyone willing to take on the role.

The government of the day (this is the late 1980s, early 1990s) displayed the usual amounts of interest governments display in new things: it laughed the suggestion away. NZ Post, then owner of the telephone network, is reported to have said there was no need for this "electronic mail" that people were talking about as it had the newfangled "facsimile machine" and that would suffice.

Talk of domain name servers, the .nz name space and all the rest, well that was just something Waikato Uni would have to sort out, as if it meant anything to anyone at all.

And so some fanatical internet types who remain part of the fabric today, decided to form the Internet Society to take ownership of the .nz domain space.

The ISP component and global gateway would eventually become part of Telecom's remit but the domain name was parceled out to IsocNZ, now known as InternetNZ.

Today the cost of buying a domain name helps prop up the good works undertaken by the organisation, including NetHui, grants to several organisations to support their work and research into key issues that affect New Zealand and its place in the internet.

It hasn't always been plain sailing, however. A stoush in the late 1990s saw the society take the extraordinary step of supporting the CEO who was suing one of the society's members for defamation (for saying the CEO was the kind of person who would sue someone to stop them from talking), and the ensuing bunfight resulted in a reorganisation and restructuring of the Society into a more professional body.

Last year InternetNZ began a review of its own structure that has resulted in the collapsing of three distinct branches, each with its own CEO and associated staff, into one body with a single Group CEO. This is a good thing as the functions of Domain Name Commissioner and Shared Registry Service don't really need to be entirely separate and they were only set up that way I believe as a way to minimise risk to the organization as a whole, should some CEO go rogue and try to change the world.

That risk has passed and the cost of that separation meant it was probably inevitable that the three roles would combine into one.

And so it is. Jordan Carter, who formerly ran the InternetNZ arm, is now the head of the whole lot and in the new year Carter says he'll begin addressing the way forward for the organization.

InternetNZ's mantra is "the internet, free and uncapturable" and given the environment we're in, with net neutrality coming under threat, content holders trying to force ISPs to block websites and all the rest, it's essential we have a strong voice in that corner. InternetNZ has to be that voice.

RNZ - Nine to Noon

Computerworld - InternetNZ moves to build Internet trust and security

Computerworld - InternetNZ CEO Carter elevated to group CEO under new structure

Computerworld - Domainz lawsuit: nobody blinks (from 2000)



ITP member Eric Light tweeted this image to us earlier today featuring our very own Paul Brislen, and we really had to share! Enjoy your weekend.





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