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Conversation needed over proposed Digital Bill of Rights

Conversation still to be had about Labour's proposed Digital Bill of Rights

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) says that parts of Labour’s proposed Digital Bill of Rights are excellent, but parts of it may be unnecessary.

InternetNZ supports guaranteeing New Zealanders’ access to the Internet. InternetNZ CEO Jordan Carter believes that this is crucial discussion to have, given the importance of Internet access to modern day living.

“Getting online is becoming essential and those who are unable to do so are at risk of becoming second-class citizens. Enshrining a right for all Kiwis to be able to access the Internet is something a modern-day society should be looking at. Whether legislation is the right answer or not aside, the issue is an important one.

“We want to see more thinking from our political parties on how to close New Zealand’s digital divide and we look forward to working across the political spectrum to provide New Zealand with the strongest digital future we can.”

In its press release, Labour also said that the new Bill of Rights would “guarantee freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion while still outlawing hate speech.” Mr Carter says that New Zealand has law in force that already does this.

“In New Zealand we have the Bill of Rights Act. Many of the issues outlined in Labour’s proposal – and indeed in the Harmful Digital Communications Bill – could be solved if we re-worked the Bill of Rights for a 21st Century New Zealand. There is no reason to think that laws governing behaviour online should be different to laws offline.

“There is nothing further that a Digital Bill of Rights Act could do in outlawing mass surveillance that the current Bill of Rights Act does not. Labour alludes to such a charter creating the principled basis to guide reform of surveillance law, but the detail really counts in these matters.

“We look forward to discussing this plan with the Labour Party, and finding out more about what their aims are. The issues they raise are important ones to address.

“As the year proceeds, other parties will be tackling these issues too. InternetNZ as a trusted authority on Internet issues will engage with any party thinking about Internet issues, without fear or favour,” says Mr Carter.

InternetNZ will be working on a statement of issues for political parties to take into account as they develop policy, as it has done in previous years – and will again present a briefing to the incoming Government on Internet issues following the election.


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