A couple of issues about nudge unit in the UK is that it is privatised and that it is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Therein lie some big problems. as described in this Guardian article
While the simpler implementations of nudge (behavioural modification)- the locations of toilets and refreshments in venues, opt-out rather than opt-in on organ donations, or road markings that support slowing on corners - implement ideas that are broadly supportive of the public good without a declared programme of work, openness and consultation there are potentially sinister ideas that could easily be developed.
Firstly because of the UK FOI secrecy the nudge unit may already be operating contracts in NZ - we would be unlikely to know - and officials would presumably be bound to cite commercial confidentiality in relation to any OIA questions.
Second there is nothing to stop political parties from hiring the nudge unit to carry out initiatives that manipulate populations without their knowledge in areas that have nothing to do with public good policy implementation.
Let's not forget we already have in the public sector a behavioural modification scheme in use with more than 10,000 staff (through another company) that equates blue with positive behaviour and green and red with passive and angry behaviour respectively. See this by Jane Bowron
Secret "nudge" initiatives are anathema to democracy. Citizens are not a laboratory for secret policy experiments and should not have to second guess what programmes we are being nudged (manipulated) by.
In Wellington there is a mini-conference on 9&10 October - a Friday evening and Saturday at St Andrews on the Terrace which will provide an opportunity to discuss these issues. Amongst those speaking are:
- Alastair Thompson from Scoop,
- Alex Clark whose News Renewed research looked at the market for paywall journalism and concluded that while few readers would pay for a single 'paper' behind a paywall the interest in a bundle of media - say NZHerald + NYT - is significantly greater.
- Peter Thompson, a Victoria academic whose recent research has looked a models for funding public interest broadcasting.
- Oliver Lineham from OIA website FYI.org.nz
Public Good website has the information.
Good point The oxygen is still rather sparse given that we are possibly days from a TPPA signup and even as late as this morning Bill English is still being reported as saying "the Government was open to clamping down on foreign buyers, "whereas the South Korea trade agreement not only brings China into the no limit on sale provisions by foreign entities ever but the TPPA is expected to have the same provisions.
It's been revealed in the news that the National government has already signed the South Korea and Taiwan FTAs, which contain rules that prevent NZ from legislating to prevent residential sales by overseas speculators forever. The TPPA it is alleged contains the same rules. While NZ progressives have been eating each other over accusations of racism I can't help thinking some eyes should have been on the main ball earlier - the use of undemocratic power to disenfrachise NZ residents new and established of whatever background from the ability to legislate on issues of national interest.
If you're explaining, you're losing
What a spectacularly silly comment. So debate, clarification and argument are all superfluous making a case? Are you also proposing that public address is therefore populated by losers on all sides or are some kinds of explanation valid?
"Fewer whistleblowers, more corruption, less stability "
Another consequence - not directly of mass surveillance but of the mechanisms and legislation that enable it - is that NZ is in danger of becoming a back water in ICT as the heavy handed, poorly drafted TICSA legislation prevents world leading research taking place in NZ.
There's not a lot of point spending $24M to set up new post-grad ICT courses when another part effectively outlaws the biggest area of new research opening up. Juha Saarinen has written about the decision of Google and others to relocate to Australia as a result of concerns about punitive fines.
There's just over 24 hours to help Scoop renew and refresh it's governance arrangements into a social enterprise/community ownership model. Another $15,001 will see a mobile version on it's way.
You can help too.
I don't think lawyering up is the issue here. The institutional users of Scoop get huge benefits from posting their information and having it available - curated and linked to similar information on Scoop - as well as the ability to use Scoop as a research resource. Councils, universities and polytechnics, political parties, NGO's large and small, professional bodies, corporates and unions all benefit from having an 400,000 + monthly audience for their stories. This audience importantly includes politicians and public sector officials who read and note the issues raised.
With the demise of TVNZ7 & Heartland TV and the inability of Triangle TV to broadcast nationally NZ has lost 3 important news channels in the last few years. The corresponding crisis in the print media - a case of market failure if you will - cries out to be addressed by large public institutions recognising that they have an interest in paying what is essentially a very small amount of money to Scoop - as they do to the other news media through the PCMA.
That the delivery model is a public good one - rather than a solely commercial one - should not undercut the moral case for paying to use it.
Finally although the invisible firewall is innovative in publishing there are similar models. Institutions typically pay more for a journal to reflect the multiple usage than an individual subscriber does. In the software industry there are many examples where licences are free or low cost to 'not for profits' but other users are charged more. The question is would a university library buy a single user licence for the New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com/projects/misc/institutionalsubs) or a government department choose to pay the not for profit fee for a software tool. If the answer is no then the situation is pretty clear what the right action is for institutional users of Scoop should be without an expensive court case to prove the point.
As you know I'm a fan of Scoop and fully aware of the value it offers. I wrote this piece recently identifying some of the information I was unable to find easily elsewhere (belying the reported comment about content aggregation)
I'd like to know more about how you see the new governance structure working. What kinds of representatives might be involved and how could they engage with their sector to build Scoop's services? Also what are your ideas about what Scoop could achieve if it were able to raise say an additional $100K or $250k per annum from community supporters?
David Rutherford the Human Rights Commissioner last week spoke at a meeting at St Andrews in Wellington and he made an interesting point about proportionality related to surveillance and public safety.
I don't have his exact words but essentially his idea was that the government don't protect children from violence by having cameras in every home, nor does the government protect people from traffic accidents by having a 30kph traffic limit nationwide where there are dozens and hundreds of deaths each year respectively.
In contrast we have a situation where there have been no deaths of New Zealanders from home grown terrorism and yet we are faced with unspecified levels of data collection and surveillance.