Mega CEO resigns, joins Dotcom's Internet Party

Vikram Kumar, CEO of Mega, shifts to Kim Dotcom's Internet Party, aiming to win the "hope and excitement" vote.

Former high-ranking public servant and head of Internet New Zealand Vikram Kumar caused quite a stir when he hooked up with Kim Dotcom to accept the role of founding chief executive of "privacy company" Mega.

Now he has a a political start-up in his sights, announcing on his blog that he was taking a management role at Dotcom's Internet Party, which aims to win seats in New Zealand's Parliament at the next general election.

Kumar was at pains to say he will not be running as a candidate himself.

"Opportunity and circumstance have conspired in my leaving as CEO of Mega and I intend to begin working with Kim Dotcom and the rest of the Internet Party team shortly," he wrote.

Kumar says  technology is causing big shifts in economic, social, cultural, and environmental opportunities and challenges.

He cites a talk by Cory Doctorow at 28c3 in which he looks at why politicians make bad laws about technology as an influence on his decision.

"The answer is not, as often stated, that they need to be 'educated'. Politicians make good laws about things that they are not experts about all the time. So why do we have bad technology laws? Answer: IT confounds the heuristics (rules of thumb) they use, the Internet even more so."

He was also influenced by witnessing the those that held the balance of votes in New Zealand's Parliament choosing to support laws increasing state surveillance powers .

"What if the balance was held by a party that really understood technology and cared about business as well as human rights?" he asks. "What if that party understood that finding a needle in a haystack doesn’t require bigger haystacks?"

In the face of rapid technology change, societal changes happen glacially, he says, and not all technology-led change is positive. Technological innovation not only perpetuates but amplifies societal divides.

"The Internet and technology are tools and ways of thinking. They are not ideologies. It is up to us, whether by design or plodding along, to build a future for New Zealand we want. I believe the Internet Party can catalyse discussions about both the design itself as well as the need for a design in the first place. It’s not only what the State does but how."

Kumar says the onus is on the Internet Party to show it has "staying power, great policies, great candidates, voter mobilisation capability, and can make a difference," and to motivate the politically disengaged.

It’s not a youth vote or the tech vote or the protest vote, he says.

"I like to see it as a hope and excitement vote, a vote for leaping forward by design."

Kumar appears to address criticisms of the Internet Party as one of several so-called "single issue" parties emerging in New Zealand right now.

"The Internet Party is not a single issue party in the sense that the Internet is not just a technical or access issue - it impacts everything and everyone. The things that New Zealanders typically care about when voting can all benefit significantly from the Internet and technology. This includes the economy, jobs, health, education, and inequalities."

Kumar said his role will be in management within the party, doing "whatever needs doing", and not in Parliament.

"Five years of working for a central agency in government have taught me the virtues and benefits of openness, evidence-based policy making, and a systems approach. Experience with start-ups has emphasised speed, agility, and data. Working for big corporates included the big picture, strategy, and leadership...

"For me, the process of making the Internet Party’s policies, in an inclusive and engaging manner, is as important as the policies themselves."