New bill prompts debate on online freedoms and rights for New Zealanders


APC welcomes the new Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill proposal launched by Green Party Member of Parliament Gareth Hughes in New Zealand. “Up until now, the debate about human rights and the internet has been quite general,” said Joy Liddicoat, APC’s New Zealand-based human rights specialist. “But this is the first time a concrete set of proposals has been formulated and put up for debate. The proposed crowd-sourced consultation process also means that for the first time New Zealanders will be able to discuss together how their human rights online should be formulated and protected.”

Inspired by similar global initiatives, such as the Charter of Internet Rights and Principles, the proposed New Zealand internet rights and freedoms include the right to internet access, freedom of expression, freedom of association, network neutrality, protection of anonymity, and rights to privacy and freedom from surveillance. New areas for debate include the right to be forgotten, provisions for intermediary liability, freedom of innovation, and freedom from restriction (which relates to filtering and blocking of online content). The draft bill also proposes a new Chief Technology Officer and a new Internet Rights Commissioner.

“All of these areas need close scrutiny and debate,” said Liddicoat. “If we want to really protect our internet rights and freedoms we need to work towards shared agreements about them among all stakeholders, including civil society, business, the technical community, government and across political parties.”

“APC commends this initiative as it adds to the progressive trend to put internet rights at the centre of the political debate and opens the opportunity to address internet freedoms in a structural way. If passed, the bill would help to measure internet freedom and build on our New Zealand Internet Freedom Index and the APC Internet Rights Charter Liddicoat added.

Recently, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet and the founder of the Web We Want campaign, stated that a set of agreed principles was needed to keep the internet open and free – he called it an “Internet Magna Carta”. The New Zealand initiative takes up this debate at the national level, offering New Zealanders the chance to provide their unique perspectives and taking into account their own challenges, while taking part in conversations that are happening globally.

Resources and links:
Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill page
New Zealand Internet Freedom Index
APC Internet Rights Charter
Internet Rights and Principles (IRP) Coalition
IRP Charter
IRP NETmundial contribution

About the Association For Progressive Communications (APC
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world.

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