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Q+A: Dita de Boni on the TICS Bill

Q+A 2013 Episode 25 25/08/13
Dita de Boni’s opinion of the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill

At one time, police took batons and tear gas to protesters; these days they can track them without leaving the station using wider and deeper digital surveillance that lasts a lot longer.

VIKRAM KUMAR - Chief Executive, Mega
Assume that everything you do online is being recorded, stored and analysed at least for maybe five to 10 years.

DITA CEO of Mega, Vikram Kumar has a stark warning about the new TICS [Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security] Bill.

VIKRAM It does mean that what people do every day on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Apple, assume that the government is able to get that whenever they want it.

DITA Perhaps most of us already assumed that online privacy is an oxymoron. But the new TICS Bill will put it into law. At the moment, everyone’s phones are intercept ready, meaning the GCSB can force telcos to hand over data if they deem it necessary. Under TICS, telcos will have to consult with the GCSB to ensure all new products and services provide a backdoor for data. But perhaps even more ominously for the average Joe, not just telcos but internet service providers and the Microsofts, Googles, Skypes and Apples of the world may also have to hand over data to the NZ government when they’re asked. Companies like Telecom say the rules must apply across the board.

JOHN WESLEY-SMITH - GM Regulatory and Industry Affairs, Telecom
Skype carries approximately a third of international calls out of NZ now. Messaging over the internet is going to be double. Our customers are using these services in significant volumes today, and we just can’t see how you can leave that part of your interception framework to be determined at a later date.

DITA Telecom can’t say how much data it is forced to hand over to the government each year, but says it spends millions on interception in the name of being a good corporate citizen. Offshore companies may not see it the same way.

JORDAN CARTER - Chief Executive, InternetNZ
The test will come if the government…if the minister decides to say, ‘Hey, Microsoft, hey, Google, we want you to be able to intercept content for us as well.’ What we don’t know is what will happen to those service providers. Will they just carry on and take the risk? Or will they withdraw their services from the NZ market?

DITA One way local providers can fend off the law is to provide online services that cannot be decrypted. Mega is working on such a service, but it may not avoid the inevitable.

VIKRAM I sometimes wonder whether email as we know it is going to come to an end. There may not be a future for email.

DITA Nor a future for any sort of privacy online - if anyone ever had it.

© Scoop Media

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