I wrote a submission to the New Zealand Law Commission’s Review on the Regulatory Gaps and New Media. Phew. Mine was an 11th hour effort. But I submitted because I believe there is value in participating in parliamentary and legislative processes. That’s where the public has an opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes of Parliament.
If your voice isn’t represented there, then your voice isn’t represented there. And that’s a lost opportunity to speak up and express a valid viewpoint that might not be spoken by anyone else.
I’m a great believer in the benefits of robust and thought-provoking conversations on issues and topics, particularly when people hold a diversity of views and backgrounds. As an aside, I have found, though, that there are some common factors that make it beneficial. Factors like shared goodwill, respect and trust between participants and leaders of the pack setting the example.
Fast forward to this morning. A story about a significant privacy breach on the Internet this morning affecting an employee on the picket lines. The Privacy Act and the exemptions extended to news media is a topic raised in the Issues paper of the Review I’ve submitted on this week.
Radio New Zealand Morning Report interviewed a lawyer, John Edwards, who specialises in privacy law. Click here to listen.
It’s sometimes a mistake that employers and agencies make to think that because an individual participates in a public debate or comments on a matter that that gives some license or waiver to their privacy rights…There’s nothing in law to support that view – John Edwards speaking on Morning Report.
That privacy breach is mired in an industrial relations dispute where a battle rages for the hearts and minds of ordinary Kiwis. The stakes are high and the hurt and acrimony will, no doubt, linger for years to come. Reputations and goodwill are on the line.
That sort of privacy breach would never happen in the medical health sector. Clinicians and health authorities, in my experience, tightly guard people’s personal and health information, even at the risk of being mis-reported or misrepresented by news media. A hat tip to health professionals for setting the gold standard. Earlier this week, another story surfaced about privacy breaches, this time affecting clients in a government department. The latest update today.
Now that I have sufficiently depressed you with the nasty stuff on the Internet, it is worth noting the positives.
With the government department story, it’s a credit to the Minister of ACC Judith Collins that she acknowledged the department’s errors. That’s the best approach in risk communication, work that I’ve specialised in. Admit the mistake, take it on the chin, be honest and up front with the public. It allows the story to move on faster. It helps relationships to heal and eventually, hopefully, rebuild trust in the leadership. As long as words match the actions. The Privacy Commissioner has stepped in. Another re-assuring mechanism for the public. So our legal and parliamentary processes are full steam ahead here and that’s heartening news.
I doubt the early developers of the Internet intended the Net to be used as a malicious tool to breach personal privacy and hurt people intentionally.
What about the Internet at its best?
Remember words like the Knowledge Economy? Information Highway? A broad description, I know, but it’s the Internet at its very best. I love discovering the multiple digital platforms people and organisations use to tell their story. Here’s a few sites and agents worth praising on the Internet.
- Interactive Narratives
- Building Communities Online
- Poynter’s Institute
- The Generations Project
- The unsung heroes of the Internet: open source developers who create services and plugins to democratize the Internet and removing access barriers. They are outstanding in helping non-developers, that’s been my experience. They create plugins that help website and email owners identify the IP address and domain name if there is nasty behaviour occurring via web email, comments, and so on.
The Internet’s Finest Hour
Filmed by Ilka Franzmann and aired on Al Jazeera and available online, this story on video here captures the powerful example of the Internet doing life-saving work. I originally saw this documentary on Al Jazeera. This is the latest on a story we all need to hear when people talk about the power of the Internet. It’s a humbling reminder.
We used to defend ourselves by bows and arrows. But that doesn’t work anymore. Our modern weapon is the internet. This is the only way to ensure safety in our territory.
- son of a chief of the Ashaninka tribe living in a region of the Amazon Rainforest
- New Zealand’s ‘Most Serious’ Privacy Breach: ACC Claimants, Sex Assault Victims, Horrified at Mishandling of Private Details (ibtimes.com)
- NZ Politics Daily: 14 March (liberation.typepad.com)
- Give me a press pass. I’m a Journalist. (pugnaciouspriest.com)
- Journalists Battle Web Censorship With Internet ‘Enemies’ List (worldmediatrend.wordpress.com)
- European Commission Proposes “Right to be Forgotten” Internet Law (circleid.com)