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Cyber Law focus of new research fellowship at Vic

Cyber Law focus of new research fellowship at Victoria

From censorship and defamation to controlling spam and viruses, the brave new world of cyberspace law is to be the focus of a new research position in the Victoria University School of Law sponsored by InternetNZ.

In an agreement with the University, the InternetNZ Research Fellowship in Cyber Law will be established in the School of Law with InternetNZ contributing $85,000 a year, for up to three years, towards the School's costs in establishing the position through the Victoria University Foundation.

InternetNZ Executive Director Peter Macaulay said InternetNZ was recognised as a respected and authoritative advocate for the internet community and regularly responded to legislative and regulatory initiatives.

"The exponential growth of the internet and the development of its associated technologies has led to a raft of legislative and regulatory changes as governments throughout the world have attempted to grapple with the unique issues that cyberspace poses.

"While InternetNZ has been at the forefront of responding to such initiatives, we have been concerned for sometime that our response has tended to be reactive. We believe that by establishing the InternetNZ Research Fellowship in Cyber Law with Victoria University's School of Law it will increase expertise and knowledge of legal and policy issues surrounding cyberspace use in New Zealand."

Mr Macaulay said InternetNZ believed the Fellowship would be the start of creating a New Zealand centre of expertise in cyberspace legal issues.

"Too often in the past, New Zealand has tended to follow the initiatives from overseas instead of developing a New Zealand-specific response. Currently, policymakers are examining methods to combat spam by looking at what has been done overseas because we do not have the resources to develop our own innovative solutions."

Professor Matthew Palmer, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law, said the Research Fellow would undertake research into cyber law issues and contribute to teaching in the School through seminars and workshops at the postgraduate level as well as presenting outreach programmes for the wider public.

"Both Parliament and the Courts have struggled with the breadth of the internet. A New Zealand court, for example, can suppress the name of a person accused of a crime but there is little that can be done to stop New Zealanders accessing foreign internet news sites that will contain all the details of the case.

"The growth of e-commerce has also raised many issues for the New Zealand business and commercial law community. If New Zealand is going to tap into the full advantages of the internet, sound research into the legal foundations is essential.

"Establishing the Fellowship is an important step to recognising the significance of internet-based legal issues and raising their profile, not only with the public but also with policymakers and the wider legal community. Victoria's School of Law, based in the Capital close to Parliament and the courts, sees this initiative as a natural fit with its strategic goal to be a national centre for legal policy debate and the natural home of public law teaching and research in New Zealand."

InternetNZ, the Internet Society of New Zealand, is a non-profit organisation fostering co-ordinated and co-operative development of the internet in New Zealand. It represents New Zealand on global internet organisations, having delegation for the .nz country code top level domain. As part of the delegation, it is the home of the Office of the Domain Name Commissioner that oversees the management of the .nz domain name space. It also owns the New Zealand Domain Name Registry Limited that operates the .nz register.

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