Labour Party gaff reveals 'digital bill of rights' on policy agenda

New Zealand's Labour Party appears set to co-opt a key policy from Kim Dotcom's nascent Internet Party.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

New Zealand's Labour Party opposition looks set to back the development of a digital bill of rights, purloining a key policy from Kim Dotcom's Internet Party.

The proposal was revealed when someone in associate ICT spokesperson Clare Curran's office accidentally sent a policy document to government ICT minister Amy Adams yesterday.

Curran says the document is a "set of ideas".

"It has no status as Labour policy," she said.

Be that as it may, the disclosure indicates that whether Dotcom's party receives electoral support or not, New Zealanders could be offered the opportunity to vote for a prescribed set of digital rights.

One prominent blogger goes further, saying a source or sources inside the Dotcom Mansion say the proposals were "the exact ones discussed with Dotcom" and promoted by him in meetings with Labour.

"Make no mistake this policy is Dotcom’s policy…the source are adamant that this is what has been planned all along," the blogger says.

Also suggested in the document is an undefined strengthening of the powers of New Zealand's competition regulator, the Commerce Commission, and what appear to be minimum defined allowances for communications and cloud storage for citizens dubbed KiwiCall, KiwiCap and KiwiCloud.

Another area of interest is content access.

"Content production is encouraged, innovation across platforms shifts focus to producers. Broadcasters and publishers become aggregators and streamers," the document says cryptically.

Policies suggested  in this area include, converged content funding (presumably across online and traditional media), a New Zealand content access charter, an "appropriate" copyright regime and, tellingly, "New Zealand access to geoblocked content".

The document also contains an interesting shopping list of proposals in the unsexy area of ICT skills and training. It suggests a digital careers structure be created through primary, secondary and tertiary education featuring ICT interns, ICT apprentices and ICT degrees and prizes.

There has been much comment locally  over many years about the New Zealand education system's lack of a cohesive approach in this area.

Meanwhile, Labour has allowed itself some wishful thinking. Commenting on recent problems evident in New Zealand's nationwide ultrafast broadband rollout the document refers to the "Chorus crisis" which "could bring down Govt!"

In a week full of Labour Party gaffs, including revelations about secret donations to a party leadership campaign, that seems less likely than ever.

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