A report released by communications minister Paul Fletcher has confirmed that so-called ‘Internet piracy’ declined dramatically following the arrival of Netflix and other online streaming services – debunking the need for ‘site-blocking’ laws controversially introduced following a well-funded lobbying effort by local representatives of the Hollywood studios. In the same week NBN Co announced it is cutting in half its pricing for new connections to encourage reluctant consumers to sign up to its troubled broadband service.
What these two incidents suggest is we need politicians to engage more with industry experts when making technology-related policy decisions. We also need IT / telecommunications groups to do more to ensure the government of the day is well advised. And we need more mainstream media focus on keeping everyone better informed.
Internet access is now the most complained about telco service in Australia according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s latest report. The state of our trouble-plagued NBN continues to see consumers heading to the authorities in the faint hope their broadband problems can be fixed. Alas, the future remains bleak for millions of NBN Co customers until the Government abandons a flawed set of technologies simply incapable of delivering 21st Century speeds.
Back in December 2016 I attended a dinner at which then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was one of the other guests. Toward the end of the evening Mr Turnbull beckoned me to join him in conversation. We’ve known each other for many years.
Not missing an opportunity I told him that his NBN was in big trouble. Actually, I used far more colourful language to describe this fetid project. However, I also said that there was a solution that should be adopted ASAP. “I need to know about this. Come and see me”, was the PM’s response.
In the wake of horrendous events in New Zealand high profile Australian politicians are calling on social media outlets to take action against people spreading violent hate speech. They could start by banning anonymous posts.
Marking the World Wide Web’s 30th anniversary last week its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, warned of the Internet’s unforeseen dysfunction, telling The Australian “there are a lot of people out there who believe in bizarre things, have fallen for atrocious conspiracy theories and are manipulated into scams”. Berners-Lee added, “This is not just about technology, there’s a people problem here as well”.
The boss of the ACCC, Rod Sims, has told The Australian “its recent dealings with the retail telcos has highlighted a weakness with the fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) access technology”.
For numerous broadband experts, not to mention millions of hapless NBN customers, this might be seen as a classic ‘no shit Sherlock’ moment. However, it is probably the most significant recent development in the long running saga that began with Labor’s 21st Century fibre-based national broadband network, only to end in tears for so many when former prime minister Tony Abbott ordered his heavily-wedged communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to “destroy” the NBN.
In my opinion, the National Broadband Network rollout will not be finished until everyone has access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband. On that basis the rollout will take us well beyond the current official completion date of 2020. It looks like a lot of NBN Co customers are in for a long hard ride unless the Government instructs the board to abandon FTTN (the trouble-plagued technology using Telstra’s ageing copper wires) sooner rather than later.
It’s not Mr Rue’s fault of course. He has been left ‘holding the baby’ – stuck with the flawed multi-technology mix (MTM) strategy introduced by his predecessor. But in a year from now it will be his problem fair and square.
Surveys regularly show that people increasingly regard access to broadband as an ‘essential service’. Which is why it’s essential that we fix the mess NBN Co has managed to get itself into.
“The process of registering and administering Internet domain names under the .au top level domain must be managed with full integrity and transparency of process and decision-making to ensure this public resource supports the needs of all Internet users and stakeholders”.
This statement from Internet Australia chair, Dr Paul Brooks, sums up why a number of Internet industry players are speaking out against a board spill at a Special General Meeting of auDA – the company managing our Internet domain names – to be held in Melbourne on Friday. If you have a website you’ll have dealt with one of the companies that sell domain names to the public. They all operate under the authority and supervision of auDA.
It’s time we did something about the ‘keyboard cowards’ – especially those who post false and/or defamatory comments on social media.
To fail to do so will open the Internet up to moves by governments to interfere in ways that have been successfully opposed since its inception, on the basis of arguments about free speech and freedom from undue state interference in people’s lives.
It’s a complex issue, but the laws that have traditionally protected people from damaging defamatory comments must be extended to the online world or they might as well not exist!
Turmoil within Australia’s internet domain administration could lead to it being handed back to the government. From my experience dealing with domain name owners and users in my former role as executive director of Internet Australia, I doubt it is in anyone’s best interests for this to occur.
Back when I was CEO of Internet Australia, the not-for-profit peak body representing the interests of Internet users, we attracted criticism via comments published in The Australian newspaper that resulted in legal action.