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NetHui promotes discussion and debate on internet accessibility, rights and governance

Sathya Mithra Ashok | July 14, 2014
NetHui, InternetNZ's annual conference, brought together professionals, academics and government representatives into bustling sessions to discuss the current role of the internet in the country and the future for it in the next 25 years.

Breakout sessions during the day touched on everything from blended digital learning, to the future of journalism in an online world, and government service delivery and requirements over the internet.

The panel discussion near the end of the day brought together members of the different parties in the country to discuss the burning issue of digital rights, with a focus on internet accessibility and the digital divide.

"I think there are three critical rights that we need to start discussions around. There is the right to access the internet, and there are policy implications around it. There is the right not to be disconnected from the internet, which we need to tease out more of. And finally there is the right not to be exposed to blanket surveillance, both as individual citizens, and as a nation," said Clare Curran, Labour MP, who was part of the panel.

NZ First MP, Tracey Martin, said, "There should be more cross-party discussion on internet rights. The Parliamentary Internet Forum should become the environment for bringing all parties work together, set aside political divisions, find common ground, bring in experts and have true dialogue around the issues.

"We would look to have access to the internet like access to water. Where's local government's role in it? If it is a right and if it is so pivotal in every citizen's environment then we must have conversations in the same context, and as pivotal in nature, as water. There is a role for central government in that, and there is a role for the local government too," Martin added.

However, none of the parties on the panel were able to address the issues at a policy level or elaborate on ways in which they would enforce them to provide internet access to Kiwis going forward.

NetHui 2014 is the fourth edition of the conference, and takes place over three days in Auckland. InternetNZ plans to take the conference to Christchurch this year, under the banner of NetHui South, in November.


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