Tech Liberty NZ Defending civil liberties in the digital age

New content now added at NZ Council for Civil Liberties

Posted on July 18, 2016

New articles discussing technology, privacy, security and civil liberties are now posted on the NZ Council for Civil Liberties website.

This site will be kept operational to provide access to the archive.

 

Filed under: meta Comments Off

Defend the NZ internet

Posted on June 16, 2011

This week has seen the launch of two new groups dedicated to protecting the internet in New Zealand.

Retake the Net

The first is Retake the Net, which, in their own words:

It's increasingly clear that there are serious issues, both in New Zealand and abroad, with internet infrastructure, use, and control. Rather than simply moaning about them, the Retake the Net crew decided to start actually _doing_ something about the issues (with, of course, as much help as we can muster).

RtN's all about fostering projects which help promote the best aspects of the net, and using new technologies to make sure people can communicate freely. We're also about increasing the real engagement between government and citizens, and promoting New Zealand's transition from a consumer to a producer of content and information. We realise that there's a long way to go, but there's no time like the present to start.

NZ Internet Freedom Collective

Then there's the NZ Internet Freedom Collective, who are initially aiming their efforts at the new copyright law that was just passed:

Our founding purpose will be to establish a broad campaign of political, legal and social action aimed squarely at achieving the total repeal of the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 and the securing of our Internet rights and freedoms in the next election.

These new groups are both looking for members, or you could consider joining one of the following:

And, of course, at Tech Liberty we're still looking for people who want to be involved in defending our civil liberties in the digital age.

Tech Liberty: looking back at our first year and forward to the next

Posted on November 14, 2010

We published our first article on Tech Liberty a year ago. In it we defined what we saw as the problem:

  • The government believes it has the power to intercept, search and block our communications – if they’re done over the Internet.
  • The media companies want to ignore the right to a fair trial and skip straight to the punishment phase – if you download music files instead of copying a CD.
  • Border agencies and the Police believe they have a right to unlimited access to your private data – but only if it’s on computer, not on paper.
  • The government wants to be able to punish others by disconnecting them from the Internet – but we wouldn't ban people from using paper and pen.

There are those who think that they can ignore our existing rights and freedoms because new technology has made them obsolete.

We don’t agree.

Our First Year

Since then we've:

  • Written 70 articles for our website and published two guest editorials (security risks of internet filtering, copyright).
  • Received 15,000 visitors who looked at 27,000 pages and left 134 comments.
  • Made two written (Copyright, Search and Surveillance) and one oral submission (Search & Surveillance) to Parliamentary Select Committees.
  • Established an @TechLiberty Twitter presence with 287 followers and 469 updates.
  • Assisted people in their legal issues with Customs and Sky TV.
  • Written a guest editorial about internet filtering for the National Business Review.
  • Been quoted in a variety of online and print media and been interviewed on TV and radio.

Major issues we've written about and worked on include:

What's Next

We're pleased with what we've achieved in our first year. We think that these are important issues and that we've helped to influence people and improve the quality of debate around them.

We believe that New Zealand needs a group like Tech Liberty - while people like Internet NZ and the Creative Freedom Foundation continue to do good work, both have their own focus and we are the only group with a broader interest in defending the rights of New Zealanders in the digital sphere.

Some of the major issues we expect to be working on in our second year include:

  • The Trans Pacific Partnership - it appears that it's going to be another attempt to impose draconian and unfair copyright laws in New Zealand.
  • The Search and Surveillance Bill - government has gone too far in the conflict between "law enforcement convenience" and "protecting our civil liberties".
  • The Law Commission's revamp of the Official Information Act - we want to see more openness and transparency in Government and think that modern online publishing technology is part of the solution.

As part of this we're also looking at changing how we do things:

  • We are investigating what is involved with becoming a mass-membership organisation.
  • We intend to establish a fund to help finance our work.
  • Improving our internal communications so we can better support contributors all over the country.

Join Us

What we do need is more people to help us with this work.

We are currently a Wellington-based collective but we're looking for people across the country who can help us with one or more of the following roles:

  • Join the core collective and work with us to develop Tech Liberty.
  • Providing professional legal assistance to help us in interpreting current and proposed laws and helping people who face legal problems.
  • Adopt an issue and become our internal expert, writing articles and submissions about it.
  • Assist us with advice about becoming a membership organisation.

Or, if you've just got a bee in your bonnet about a particular issue, write us a guest editorial.

Read about our principles and then send us an email, we'd love to hear from you.

Dissent, the internet and freedom

Posted on August 23, 2010

Tech Liberty was formed because a group of us were concerned that governments were ignoring traditional civil liberties when it came to new technology. The New Zealand government had recently passed a digital copyright law that would see people punished without due process and were secretly introducing a new internet censorship regime. We decided that we needed to stick up for the civil liberties that underpin our democracy and keep our society healthy.

A recent article by Rob Weir does a good job of articulating what drives us. In How to Crush Dissent, he compares distributing information on the internet to the samizdat underground presses in the Eastern Bloc. He fears that our current anarchic level of information freedom could be temporary:

The Problem

Posted on November 11, 2009
  • The government believes it has the power to intercept, search and block our communications – if they’re done over the Internet.
  • The media companies want to ignore the right to a fair trial and skip straight to the punishment phase – if you download music files instead of copying a CD.
  • Border agencies and the Police believe they have a right to unlimited access to your private data – but only if it’s on computer, not on paper.
  • The government wants to be able to punish others by disconnecting them from the Internet – but we wouldn't ban people from using paper and pen.

There are those who think that they can ignore our existing rights and freedoms because new technology has made them obsolete.

We don’t agree.

Filed under: article, meta Comments Off