Friday Fry Up: Māori concerns on cybercrime alliance; Chorus’s spend; Network growth

Friday Fry Up is Computerworld New Zealand’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Māori groups raise concerns on cybercrime alliance

Joining an international alliance to combat cybercrime—cyberattacks, computer fraud, child exploitation, violent extremist content—seems, on the face of it, a good thing to do. And New Zealand has, as it happens, been slow to act when it comes to signing up to the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime.

The convention isn’t an event, more like a global organisation that actively works to prevent cybercrime. Established in 2004, 65 parties have signed up to it and, according to the cabinet paper, “New Zealand is now an outlier amongst like-minded countries in not having acceded to the convention.”

Oh dear, pass the pen; let’s sign up to this thing straight away.

Not so fast, say Māori groups and individuals who submitted to a Ministry of Justice proposal on the joining the convention. It will require changes to the Search and Surveillance Act 2012, which include giving global and international law enforcement agencies the ability to issue confidential data preservation orders to telcos and cloud service providers.

The concerns from Māori submitters are that the convention could trump local legislation that must factor in the Treaty of Waitangi, and that Māori may be unfairly targeted. As the Ministry of Justice summary of submissions notes:

Some felt that further and broader engagement was needed before a decision was made. Feedback included concerns that international interests may be put ahead of the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations, that accession could exacerbate the overrepresentation of Māori in the criminal justice system, and concerns about the protection of Māori data.

To address these concerns, the New Zealand government is proposing an ongoing review or oversight role for Māori—either in relation to the changes required for New Zealand to join the convention, or as part of a “broader conversation on cyber issues or through the central Māori-Crown dialogue on criminal justice.”

Concerns expressed by Māori—and government moves to address them—are mentioned briefly in the press release announcing that New Zealand is signing up to the convention. But it is another example that data—how it is gathered, disseminated, and acted upon—is of huge importance to Māori.

It is certainly an area that IT professionals will need to pay attention to as they deploy more complex and wide-ranging data and analytics programmes. As Waikato University associate professor Maui Hudson, who is leading a four-year project in this area told Computerworld New Zealand:

I think the challenge at one level is trying to signal that developers need to be more thoughtful about what they create. What we’d like to do is try and get down a little bit more into the technical aspects of that, and what are the different sorts of ways where we could make changes. They might be technical solutions, they might be ethical solutions, they might different sorts of solutions. At least giving the community of developers some tools to support them to either think their way through it, or code their way through it.

Chorus’s spend is up—enough or not enough?

It’s probably chump change to the likes of Jeff Bezos, but in New Zealand $1.6 billion is a lot of money. That’s the amount that Chorus is intending to invest from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2024.

We know this because it had to tell the Commerce Commission, which is in the process of working out what Chorus can charge retail service providers for using its networks under the new regulatory regime governing telecommunications. Part of that determination is arriving at a revenue cap for Chorus that takes into account its planned network investment.

The commission provides a short breakdown of how Chorus intends to invest the $1.6 billion. It notes that $983 million would be on network upgrades over three years—a 44% reduction on what Chorus spent in 2020. Another $599 million would be on network operation—a 17% increase in spending compared to 2020.

Is this fair, and how will it impact the maximum amount of revenue Chorus will be able to achieve?

The question will be answered following a round of industry submissions, a draft decision followed by more submissions, and then a final decision in November 2021. For Chorus, success is getting the green light to go ahead, for ComCom, it’s avoiding a court case—brought by Chorus, the retail service providers, or both.

Network growth prediction

Meanwhile, Chorus this week returned to sending daily updates on the state of its network with lockdowns making a dreaded return.

Thankfully, the summaries were short-lived because Auckland was only in Level 3 lockdown for three days. The biggest day was Monday where downstream traffic on Chorus’s network reached 1.75Tbps. This compares to the peak of 2.4Tbps in August 2020.

Chorus predicts that by 2024 network traffic will peak at 7.6Tbps.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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