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Labour proposes government app store, UFB and copyright reviews

A government-run app store, a single regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting and priority for rural broadband are among the measures proposed under the Labour Party's IT policy.

A government-run app store, a single regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting and priority for rural broadband are among the measures proposed under the Labour Party's IT policy.

This would "provide a short circuit for fledgling NZ software developers to get to market", and complements Labour's plan to set an aspirational target of two-thirds of government agencies using some form of open-source software for a reasonable proportion of their software needs by 2015.

Technology and communications spokeswoman Clare Curran said the party would consider expanding NZ On Screen's film and TV archive into a broader online content storage facility for local creative content, which could be paid for through a small copyright levy on consumers' internet access.

Labour wants to create a Ministry of Communications and IT, appoint a Chief Technical Advisor responsible for producing technology roadmaps for New Zealand and a single network regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting.

In addition, it would boost the current number of state-funded R&D interns from 200 to 1000, reallocating $5.1 million from Technology Development Grants funding.

The party also plans to conduct an independent review of the UFB rollout by an international expert, including a full assessment of the true costs of the choices that have been made.

“Labour has some grave concerns about Government’s urban and rural broadband scheme, and with the amendments to the Telecommunications Act passed in 2011,” Curran said.

“National’s broadband network must not be a tool to entrench the divide between the haves and the have-nots."

She said there was no reason rollout of fibre to urban areas should be limited to 75 percent of New Zealanders, and extensions to the programme would be paid for by extending the timeline for return of the money to Crown Fibre Holdings by the Local Fibre Companies (LFCs), or extending the repayment of funds loaned to or invested in Chorus.

Remote areas would be given priority under the Rural Broadband Initiative for access via satellite, wireless or other means.

On the contentious issue of copyright law, Labour will review the Copyright Act with the aim of introducing a new Copyright Bill within 18 months, and introduce a bill within 90 days of taking office to remove the ability to introduce account suspension for infringing file sharing.

The party also supports the draft Patent Bill currently before Parliament that excludes computer software from being patentable.

The Digital Nation document outlines seven points:

Broadcasting and telecommunications
Public consultation in regard to a “single powerful regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting”; a new Ministry of Communications and IT; and a Chief Technical Advisor.
 

Broadband
An independent review of the UFB rollout; completion of the rollout; extending the rollout to other areas of New Zealand where viable at similar costs,  within the existing $1.35 billion investment fund held by Crown Fibre Holdings.

Digital divide
Research into the social and economic effects on the impact of the “digital age”; more funding for the Computer Clubhouses and Computers in Homes initiatives; an additional 800 R&D internships nationwide.

Copyright
Review of the Copyright Act with the goal of introducing a new Copyright Bill; removing the internet account suspension penalty for infringing file sharing.

Software patents
Supporting the Patent Bill , which excludes computer software from being patentable.

Open software’ in government
A government “app store”; neutrality in software purchasing; aspirational target of two-thirds of government agencies using some form of open source software by 2015; agencies considering technology purchases over $2 million will first consider whether using publicly available technology is feasible; software that government has paid to create will be shared with the public; establish a 'Centre of Excellence; for open source software development.

Cyber security
Establish a Computer Emergency Response Team for New Zealand.

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