NZ: a digital laboratory for the world?

by Toby Manhire / 07 October, 2013
American writer hails New Zealand as a model for good, progressive digital law-making.
New Zealand has long held a reputation, often reluctantly, as a global laboratory for social and economic experimentation. Most recently, according to a post at Tech President, an American site devoted to technology and government, as “the world’s laboratory for progressive digital legislation”.

New Zealand is gaining a reputation for intelligent law-making, most recently in the prohibition on software patents, writes David Eaves.

It is “the place I’d send a public servant or politician wanting to know more about how to do technology policy right”.

Eaves – who concedes that many New Zealanders might not share his enthusiasm – says this along with an embrace of the open-source approach and the appearance, after the Kim Dotcom fiasco, of “a political climate that may be more (healthily) distrustful of government intelligence services”, sets an example in the world.

While Eaves notes the Kitteridge Report findings on the GCSB, he makes no mention of the law changes which followed.

The GCSB bill, now made law, and the TICS bill, which is going through the parliamentary process currently, are regarded by few internet specialists in New Zealand as a progressive initiative. And the success on software patents, welcome though it is, showed up in the debate widespread ignorance in the field by parliamentarians – an ignorance that surprised no one who watched the passage of the three-strikes law or the discussions around the Winz kiosk data breach.

But for all that, it can be refreshing to hear an outside point of view. From Eaves’ concluding paragraphs:

This is clearly a place where something is happening in a way that may not be possible in other OECD countries. The small size of its economy (and so relative lack of importance to the major proprietary software vendors) combined with a sufficient policy agreement both among the public and elites enables the country to overcome both internal and external lobbying and pressure that would likely sink similar initiatives elsewhere. And while New Zealand's influence may be limited, don't underestimate the power of example ...


If a policy maker, public servant or politician comes to me and asks me who to talk to around digital policy, I increasingly find myself looking at New Zealand as the place that is the most compelling. I have similar advice for PhD students. Indeed, if what I'm arguing is true, we need research to describe, better than I have, the conditions that lead to this outcome as well as the impact these policies are having on the economy, government and society. Sadly, I have no names to give to those I suggest this idea to, but I figure they'll find someone in the government to talk to, since, as a bonus to all this, I've always found New Zealanders to be exceedingly friendly.


So keep an eye on New Zealand, it could be the place where some of the most progressive technology policies first get experimented with. It would be a shame if no one noticed.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

New Zealanders love a good ghost story
86094 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z History

New Zealanders love a good ghost story

by Redmer Yska

We New Zealanders are known for being down to earth and no-nonsense, but there's a surprising number of Kiwi stories with a supernatural element.

Read more
How to avoid burnout at work
86051 2018-01-22 00:00:00Z Psychology

How to avoid burnout at work

by Marc Wilson

Taking positive steps at work will help keep weariness at bay.

Read more
A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog
86100 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

A puppy-buyer's guide to getting a new dog

by Sally Blundell

Just saying “oh, how adorable” is not all you need to do before taking on a new dog.

Read more
Tarawera eruption: What was the mysterious ghost canoe?
86076 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z History

Tarawera eruption: What was the mysterious ghost c…

by Dale Williams

For more than 130 years, lovers of ghost stories have enjoyed talking about one of our most enduring mysteries: the Phantom Canoe of Lake Tarawera.

Read more
How to get the health benefits of nuts without the cost
85733 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How to get the health benefits of nuts without the…

by Jennifer Bowden

You need 30g of nuts a day to maximise their health benefits. Here's some tips on how to do it without putting a hole in your wallet.

Read more
Model car collector Winton Amies: 'I'm just a big kid collecting toys'
84783 2018-01-21 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Model car collector Winton Amies: 'I'm just a big …

by Guy Frederick

When Amies moved to Naseby’s old butcher shop 22 years ago, he brought 1200 model cars with him; now he has more than 3000.

Read more
Trade Me bans sale of pugs, British and French bulldogs
86110 2018-01-20 10:49:32Z Business

Trade Me bans sale of pugs, British and French bul…

by Sally Blundell

As a result of growing concern over the welfare of pugs, British and French bulldogs, Trade Me has announced they're banning the sale of these breeds.

Read more
Puppy farming: New Zealand's secret dog-breeding shame
86056 2018-01-20 00:00:00Z Currently

Puppy farming: New Zealand's secret dog-breeding s…

by Sally Blundell

NZ has an unregulated puppy-breeding industry where unscrupulous operators can flourish, so why aren’t we following the lead of overseas governments?

Read more