Set-top boxes, internet access coming to a TV near you

Government gets jiggy with IT; US police scan Super Bowl crowd faces

TelstraSaturn and TVNZ. Sky TV and Ihug (again) — it seems this year could see the beginning of a couple of beautiful friendships and you the end user will be the winner on the day.

TelstraSaturn has, as you probably know, secured the rights to the All Black’s overseas games at the end of the year. It outbid Sky TV and will show the games live and exclusive to its 25,000 odd subscribers, most of whom don’t live around here. TVNZ has cosied up to TelstraSaturn and will show the games delayed but free-to-air, and that forms the nucleus of an interesting arrangement. TVNZ and TelstraSaturn will work together on their respective digital offerings but would hopefully use the same set-top box — the decoder that households will need to see the signal. Sky and Ihug are talking about a similar deal for their side of the fence as well.

This is a good thing because it means we won’t need half a dozen boxes littering up the lounge — just a VCR, PlayStation 2, decoder for TelstraSaturn/TVNZ and one for Sky and Ihug. Well, it’s better than it could be. Actually it could be better than that as well if they all agree on the same type of decoder.

TVNZ and TelstraSaturn are also talking about offering internet access off the box as well. In the UK B2C e-commerce via the TV has taken off far more than e-commerce via PC. It could be the kick-in-the-pants that the New Zealand e-tail market needs.

Net access decoder bait - NZHerald

SkyHug revisited: Sky Digital and Ultra through the same dish? - IDGNet

Government gets jiggy with IT

A new year and the government has started in with hiss and a roar, at least when it comes to IT. Education will receive a $10 million boost to get PCs and internet connections into secondary schools, which can’t be a bad thing. Of course, training the teachers would be a good thing too — anyone else remember the science teacher trying to come to grips with the overhead projector? Imagine the fun they’ll have with a fatal exception.

But wait, there’s more. Everything electronic minister Paul Swain will announce his e-commerce action team in the next week or so closely followed by electronic transaction legislation, the new telecommunications environment going to select committee and the introduction of the Crimes Amendment Bill, for better or worse. All in all it should be an entertaining year legislatively speaking.

Government commits $10m to schools - IDGNet

Govt cash for computer catchup trial - NZHerald

E-commerce team being finalised - IDGNet

US police scan Super Bowl crowd faces

The award for outrageous story of the year has already been won. During the Super Bowl the Florida police were scanning the crowd looking for villains. Rather than simply wandering around peering, they used face recognition software and compared the faces they filmed with those on a database. Why is this outrageous? Don’t I want killers and paedophiles off our streets? Yes, of course. But this is an invasion of privacy on the grandest scale — was it a condition of buying a ticket that the crowd allows itself to be part of a police line up? What exactly were the criteria for being on the database? What now happens to the digital footage of all those people who were at the game? Who has access to that data? What happens if you’re spotted and confused with Carlos the Jackal?

The software used claims to be able to pinpoint 128 different measurements to compare and contrast one face from another — it allegedly can tell the difference between identical twins. Of course, software is never wrong, is it? The constitutional right of US citizens not to incriminate themselves (the 5th amendment we hear about so often) has surely been breached by such a “search”. Would it happen here? Quite possibly, if our police had access to the technology. Already police film crews can be seen at demonstrations and events like the APEC leaders summit in Auckland filming the public. I’m all in favour of police having the tools to do their job, but this goes beyond the line I think.

Face scanning Surveillance Stirs Controversy After Super Bowl - Nzoom

Meanwhile, over at Stuff, they would have you believe that governments know best when it comes to your own security. Encryption, you see, is a bad thing and really only pornographers and terrorists need high-grade encryption. Take this nasty man, Osama bin Laden, renowned around the world for masterminding the bombing of US embassies in Africa and currently resident in Afghanistan so he must be evil, he uses encryption AND pornographic bulletin boards so that just proves it’s bad.

Make up your own minds but really, does this read like a press release for the FBI to anyone else? I remember a US senator blaming Middle Eastern terrorists using the internet for bomb recipes for the tragedy. When they finally arrested a white American he told them he’d got the details for the bomb from his local library and never used the Net in his life.

Web sites act as host for extremist plots - Stuff

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