- It's the law
- bundles of fun
- It's the law
The Crimes Amendment Act, to be precise. And this is the first outing where we get to see what the judiciary and defence lawyers make of it.
Well, almost. Unfortunately, the chap pleaded guilty so we're not going to get a blow-by-blow account of the intricacies of the police e-crimes lab at work, which is a shame. Well it is if you're not being prosecuted for hacking of course.
The juiciest of details, such as the offender's name and the company he works for, are still suppressed because the man hasn't been convicted of anything yet. His lawyer is pushing for the case to be discharged without conviction.
The details we do know are these: a US company, based in Oregon, claims it was hacked last year and the finger has been pointed at a man in Dunedin. He's pleaded guilty to two charges of interfering with a computer system and one charge of causing data to be deleted but rejects both the number of times the system was hacked and the level of damage done. The company, an e-commerce company, wants US$450,000 in reparations.
It's interesting that the first use of our shiny new anti-hacking laws refers to damage done to a system in the US. I was quite surprised to find the new laws extended quite so far, but apparently it was a carefully included provision in the new Act. The crime is deemed to have happened where the hacker is, not where the damage was done, so as to make it easier to prosecute those involved.
This seems quite contradictory to me. Surely the damage was done in the US not in New Zealand - wouldn't it make more sense of the US company to take this guy to court over there? I'm sure we have an extradition treaty of some kind in place with the US.
This is the way the law seems to be working for defamation - at least in the US. You may remember the Australian businessman who is suing Dow Jones for publishing a defamatory statement about him on one of its websites. He's suing them in Australia because even though they publish the site in the US his reputation has been damaged in the state of Victoria, where he resides.
That seems fair enough to me, although I'll admit there are many who think it's a nonsense.
So the first real local test of our new law is yet to take place. Is it possible to prove a chain of evidence based on IP addresses and user names and passwords? Can you build a defence around ignorance or "just having a look"?
This case goes back to court in April for a hearing on the extent of the hacking, so we'll keep you posted on what comes of it then.
Ah, statistics again. I can't decide if it's great news that 61,000 people bothered to click on a link or call a toll-free number or whether it's an appallingly low number that points to the hidden truth: nobody cares about Telecom's network ownership outside the ICT sector.
Perhaps it's a bit of both.
Still, the Call4Change campaign, run by TelstraClear, Slingshot/CallPlus, Ihug and Compass Communications, has raised awareness of a number of issues. Not least is that Telecom will compete where it has to but won't where it doesn't. No surprise there but it's always nice to see these things in action.
Call4Change based its campaign around the idea that the phone line rental charges in Wellington, Christchurch and Kapiti Coast are cheaper than in other areas. They're cheaper because TelstraClear offers its own network connection in those areas and Telecom matched its pricing street by street.
The campaign pointed out that if Telecom can do it in those areas it could probably do it for everyone and that meant anyone not living in Wellington, Christchurch or the Kapiti Coast were paying too much for their phone lines. This would all change, allegedly, if the network were unbundled.
Telecom made much of pointing out the unbundling decision is mostly about broadband uptake and that's true, to a point. But unbundling would also mean the other telcos could offer different prices for different products - like line rental charges and local calls - and that they can't offer those different products because Telecom won't let them.
So it's something of a red herring itself to claim the whole campaign is a red herring. Unbundling would mean the opposition could use Telecom's network to offer whatever services they saw fit to offer, and Telecom wouldn't get to say yes or no. Telecom would still get paid, of course, but would lose control of the industry which is why it's still lobbying so hard to keep it.
The communications minister, Paul Swain, is back in the hot seat and has to report to cabinet some time in May as to whether or not he'll back telco commissioner Douglas Webb on his report which recommended we don't unbundle.
Unfortunately what the report did recommend New Zealand introduce is a weak, watered down, unspecified wholesale offering that will do nothing to drive up the broadband market or drive down the costs for the end users. Instead we'll get yet another undifferentiated product from all the ISPs and we'll have to go about our business elsewhere.
I have a suggestion for the minister. I would suggest he phone all the various regulators around the OECD world and ask them whether they think unbundling's made a difference. I'd ask whether or not they would like to roll the clock back and re-bundle (so to speak) or whether they're glad to see it in place. I'd ask whether the incumbent has made it easy or hard post-unbundling and whether the end users have been well served by the move.
Swain says he's determined to make the right choice, and given that he also believes unbundling to be the biggest issue in the industry this decade, he'd better.
- Bundles of fun
Kudos surely must go to Bruce Simpson for this particular story, even if the mainstream press can't quite bring themselves to acknowledge it.
In his tech blog (I guess that's what it is) Aardvark, Simpson pointed out that Telecom was offering 25% discounts to any toll customer who switched to Telecom. He called up and said "I'm a Telecom customer, I'm going to switch to someone else then switch back to get your discount" and was told he didn't have to, that they'd give it to him on the spot.
Next thing you know it's the lead in Harold and a certain Wellington newspaper's picked it up as well and the radio's talking about it and Telecom's "in damage control mode" apparently.
It's got to make you laugh really.
Existing customers will only get the discount if they bother to ring 123 and demand it, but Telecom's claiming it meant to offer it to them all along.
Yeah, right. Telecom's own website headline's the offer with "Join the convoy returning to Telecom for great calling offers". Not a mention of existing customers getting to share in the wealth. None of the ads mention existing customers, and clearly it's not a campaign aimed at rewarding loyalty but rather in luring customers back to the fold, as it were.
Already Telecom is bundling its new JetStream offerings with its toll packages, offering a discount to users who have both with Telecom. Now we're seeing the giant offer discounts to attract customers from its opposition.
Only Telecom has the power and reach to offer this kind of service. Only Telecom can offer a complete one-bill-for-all-services package. It's kind of flaunting it a bit, though, don't you think?