As if it wasn't alarming enough having Domainz, the country's domain name registry company, funding a defamation action against one of the Internet Society's members, Alan Brown, for comments made about the then Domainz CEO Patrick O'Brien, O'Brien claimed in court yesterday that entire suit was initiated by the chair of ISOCNZ, Peter Dengate Thrush.
If that is the case, and Dengate Thrush has yet to publicly acknowledge his role in the affair, it must surely call into doubt his chairmanship of the society. Did he "initiate" the action against Brown? Was O'Brien nothing more than a pawn in Dengate Thrush's action? You may have seen Dengate Thrush on the TV3 news following the court case commenting on defamation in general and the internet in particular. Surely he should have made clear his role in the case or at least his position in the society.
And just when you thought ISOCNZ's dirty laundry hamper had been completely aired, an email from one board member of Domainz to the ISOCNZ members-only mailing list says the board of Domainz has ceased funding O'Brien in the case because O'Brien "refused to honour a commitment that he would make 'no personal gain' from the action". That commitment was "a central plank of the reason that ISOCNZ councillors permitted the action to go forward" and after weeks of negotiation between O'Brien and Brown the board was clearly frustrated by the process.
"The directors of Domainz have already refused point blank any opportunity for funding appeals or further stupidity," says Roger De Salis in his email. O'Brien, it seems, has gone back on his commitment to seek nothing more than costs and an apology and now wants someone to write him a big fat cheque.
ISOCNZ members also seem to have had more than a gutsful of the whole debacle. A special general meeting of the society has been called to demand the society fund Alan Brown's legal costs and that the society "take action" against O'Brien for his "failure to act in the best interests of the company while he was CEO".
"I have called for the removal of those responsible for initiating this litigation" says society member Craig Anderson who describes Dengate Thrush's role as being "a huge concern".
Oh, and the issue of the country's first online defamation case? Well it seems to be a foregone conclusion - most lawyers seem to agree the internet is no different to any other medium and you can defame people in email, website or newsgroup postings.
The judge in the case has reserved his decision.
Man sues on net comments - NZHerald
Wallets To Win In Court Again? - Aardvark
Telecommunications Bill Launched
Paul Swain stood up in parliament this week and launched his Telecommunications Bill on the country. It's the next step on a long and twisted road that has lead from the hands-off "let the market decide" cry of the 1990s National government through the Hugh Fletcher led telecommunications inquiry on to the Labour-led government's new regime. A commissioner of telecommunications will be appointed to oversee the new market rules and to ensure that all players remember - it's all about the end user.
National supports the bill "in principle" but someone should probably tell its spokesman for telecommunications, Alec Neill. Neill took over the spokesmanship from Lockwood "I have nothing to say but that the government is doing it wrong" Smith. He of course, took over from Maurice Williamson, who managed to spend nearly a decade in the job doing bugger-all.
Neill could take a leaf from Williamson's book - his first act has been to agree the bill will be supported by National but that if he were in charge National wouldn't stop until every farmer in the land had high-speed broadband internet access and nothing less is good enough for our hard working Kiwi jokers.
Yes, in one fell swoop, Neill has proven himself more radical a leftie than either Swain or Trotsky before him. Telecom is to blame for 10 years' worth of neglect of the infrastructure and telco companies should be "compelled" to provide services to rural users.
Wonder if anyone's told Jenny?
Telecoms Legislation Introduced - Nzoom
Telecom Shuts Down AAPT CDMA Trial
They came, they saw, they bought the company, they shut down the project.
Actually Telecom is probably doing the right thing here - the CDMA rollout would have been Australia's sixth cellular network and is one too many to say the least.
Still, it's cost Telecom and AAPT around A$125 million to reach this point. Telecom did pause the project while it was fighting for Cable & Wireless Optus and has since decided to call the whole thing off.
So if Telecom hasn't got an Australian 2.5G cellular network, why did it buy AAPT? AAPT is the third largest Aussie cellular company and the user base alone would be worth the effort. Telecom clearly still has plans for Australia but quite what happens now is anyone's guess. Watch this space.
AAPT cans CDMA roll-out - Stuff