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Interception Bill could harm Internet economy - InternetNZ

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has today filed a submission on the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security (TICS) Bill, noting that the proposed legislation could harm the development of a stronger Internet economy in New Zealand if appropriate checks and balances aren’t included.

Robust information security frameworks are essential to the cultivation and growth of Internet-based economies, but these frameworks must incorporate a sound balance between security concerns and the hugely important privacy concerns that are at the foundation of successful online business growth. Strong privacy protection is vital to encouraging the development and uptake of online services and business - without it, public confidence will ebb. The way the interception regime works is critical to this balance.

InternetNZ Acting Chief Executive Jordan Carter says the proposed TICS legislation is helpful in respect of the cost-reducing effect that it will have on smaller, wholesale and infrastructure network operators. The proposed amendments are likely to achieve a more equitable balance between requirements on network operators to provide an interception capability, and the associated costs imposed on small operators by the current one-size-fits-all regime.

InternetNZ does, however, believe that the Bill could benefit from further attention in two areas. First, the new notification regime established by the Bill should be amended in order to alleviate the burden it would otherwise place upon network operators in designing and building their networks.

"One of the Internet’s hallmark qualities is its openness to permissionless innovation. The Internet was designed to welcome extensions to the network by anyone. This openness has been key to the Internet’s growth and success," says Carter.

"Openness can by no means be unqualified, of course, but the purpose of the Bill relating to network security can still be achieved through a lighter, more flexible regime, while also encouraging innovation and competition in the telecommunications sector.

InternetNZ holds that the Bill could also benefit from the addition of prescribed checks and balances relating to the new role of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

"In light of the unfolding, global story on far-reaching state surveillance of peoples’ Internet communications, Internet users everywhere need to be assured that their privacy is not subject to unreasonable intrusion by Government," says Carter.

"National security legislation will necessarily impinge on the human right of privacy, but can do so only to an extent that is reasonable for the maintenance of a free and democratic society where there is a legislative basis for it, and the policy framework surrounding is subject to proper scrutiny and open debate. With the magnitude of the power this Bill proposes to grant the GCSB, it is important that practical, effective checks and balances are included."

"If we get the balance right in this legislation, it can provide a platform for the future development of New Zealand’s Internet economy. If we get it wrong, we risk losing an economic opportunity," says Carter.

InternetNZ’s full submission can be read online at

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