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

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.