Interview: the digital divide and inequality

This morning on Newshub Nation:  Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley talks to Lisa Owen about the digital divide, and how technology could be increasing inequality.

InternetNZ: NZ’s digital divide now on display

InternetNZ has teamed up with the 20/20 Trust to build an interactive map called the Digital Divide Map – which shows the different digital divides facing New Zealanders and their communities.

You can see Internet infrastructure access, digital skill gaps and socioeconomic divides broken down by area units across New Zealand.

InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter says it’s important that people are aware of the digital divides in New Zealand.

“Some people don’t have access to the Internet, some are not skilled enough to use it and some cannot afford an Internet connection.

“This is something that we want to see fixed. The Internet has so many benefits for us all and no New Zealander should be denied the potential that the Internet offers us,” says Carter.

The purpose of the map is to help identify these divides, understand them, and therefore help local, regional and national decision makers address the divides.

The map also pinpoints known digital inclusion projects and local community resources to address digital skill gaps. We hope that by sharing these digital inclusion projects and resources, they can act as models and inspiration for other areas.

The Digital Divide map.

On Handley two weeks ago: Digital divide holding back New Zealand – tech entrepreneur

In its report Solving Digital Divides Together, InternetNZ claims that “infrastructure access is no longer the primary access issue for New Zealanders. 93% of Kiwis tell us they have the Internet.

in a TechWeek speech earlier this week Derek Handley, whose roles include Adjunct Executive Professor at AUT, board member at SkyTV, and Chief Innovation Officer at a New York-based start-up studio Human Ventures, said New Zealand will fail to become a leading digital nation if it doesn’t address the number of children without internet access in their homes.

During a visit to the Otara Library in Manukau he discovered that the most popular attendance time was directly after school, so that the students could use the library’s computers and internet.

“Many of them (students) use cheap Android phones without data plans, to connect to WiFi – to search, type up essays and assignments, on their tiny screens,” he says. “Many of the homes they go back to might have only a handful of books. In their homes, they are barely connected to the present – let alone the future.”

Handley contrasted that experience with his own five-year-old son, whom he says is “digitally roaming every day creatively and in his own way”.

“If we believe, as I do and I have witnessed, that the internet and a tablet accelerates the learning and discovery of a young child, orders of magnitude beyond what a simple book can – we have on one hand a child growing

The Government also pledged to create a National Chief Technology Officer and is currently recruiting again for the role, following a failed attempt earlier this year. While Handley positively referenced the CTO role in his speech, he later told Computerworld that he has not put his hand up, noting that he is still living in New York.

Tech Entrepreneur Derek Handley “For the last couple of decades, clearly, no government authentically, genuinely committed to creating a pathway for a digital or innovative technology-oriented nation.”

“There are so many ideas and services and concepts that should exist in New Zealand — that we should be leading — that we’re not.”

… says we need to ensure access to internet in the same way we ensure access to water in order to close ‘the digital divide’

…on the Government’s hunt for a Chief Technology Officer – “The fact that it even exists, the fact that it will be working with the Prime Minister and the Minister, to me, is a symbol and a signal that we get it and that it’s important.”

He sort of sound like he could be interested in the job, saying ‘I’m working in the US’ but intends coming back to New Zealand soon.

He could be a good fit for the job, but he expressed no specific ideas on how to ensure the people with none or little online access could join the electronic revolution.

Just like it is difficult to force some people to read and write (or some families to support and encourage education), you can’t make people use the Internet if they don’t want to.


WHOIS and Prentice’s misuse and motives

Lynn Prentice (lprent) has tried to defend his abusive attack on a young person who was involved in a spoof political site, Kiwi-O-Meter, which has since been taken down by the site owner.

I think his excuses are disingenuous bull.

But there’s another thing that he hasn’t defended. I don’t think he can credibly defend it.

The title of Prentice’s post at The Standard shows it’s attacking and abusive intent – Ben Guerin: a dirty politics fuckwit.

Personal abuse from Prentice is normal, as is over-reacting. Less common is his use of a post to attack someone like this.But what stood out was his posting the personal contact details – email address, phone number and home address – of the target of his apparent anger.

While his intent in doing this could be argued Prentice applied strict moderation, personally clearing all comments, banning some commenters and admitting to trashing about 25% of comments. But Prentice passed this comment from Atiawa:

I just sent him a text letting him know what a shit head he is. Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same.

So Prentice approved of the contact details he posted being used to abuse Guerin, and he approved the comment “Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same”.

Prentice claims to be a Internet expert so he must have been aware of the possibility, even probability, that his publishing personal details would result in personal abuse.

And when challenged on his actions by ‘Izzy’…

I think it’s disappointing that you saw fit to publish his contact information, which apparently commentators here have now used to send him abusive messages.

He said something about your team that you didn’t like, which pissed you off, and that’s chill. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to like his politics, you’re allowed to question whether the site was made in a work capacity or done independently (which he has answered). But he doesn’t deserve the level of vitriol in this post, and he doesn’t deserve texts and emails telling him he’s a piece of shit. Being a Nat doesn’t make him immune to being hurt by this kind of thing. Be kind.

One of Prentice’s excuses was:

The “voitrol” was because he didn’t provide any information on the site to identify who was responsible for it.

That’s an interesting accusation.

If a person wanted to find out who was responsible for The Standard what would they find? Their about page specifically says they won’t identify themselves.

Why don’t you say who you are?

Some of the authors here use their real names, but others choose to blog anonymously for a variety of reasons. Some of us have professional reasons for doing so, others of us are reluctant to expose ourselves to the kind of personal threats sometimes made online. Those of us using pseudonyms discussed this issue long and hard before we began and came down on the side of anonymity. We hope you can see why. You might also want to contemplate the implications of this link.

If you want to get hold of us, have a look on the Contact Page.

The contact page also doesn’t identify who is responsible for the site. It gives two email addresses, but when i emailed one of them last week on a serious matter I didn’t get a reply.

So it appears that Prentice is applying one standard to Guerin, using it as an excuse to reveal personal contact details, but  ignoring that standard himself.

What Prentice has done looks like it could be a breach of conditions of use of the WHOIS look up – I detailed this in Prentice actions “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ.

% Users are advised that the following activities are strictly forbidden.
% Using any information contained in the WHOIS query output to attempt a
% targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation, using any
% medium.

Prentice’s response to this:

Bearing in mind the gutless wonders that you and other people are about acting on your words, which in this case should be to make a complaint, I’ll write to InternetNZ – firstly asking them to inform me of any complaints (I anticipate none to date), and secondly asking for a ruling on what you fuckwits should be asking them based on your idiotic allegations.

If he thinks that the correct way to deal with misuse is to submit a complaint to InternetNZ why didn’t he do that regarding his complaint about Guerin rather than launching an online attack on him and not only deliberately or recklessly exposing him to abuse but also personally allowing abusive comments including a comment encouraging more abuse using the contact details posted.

Another double standard.

Prentice has defended his use of WHOIS contact information.

I didn’t incite anyone. I wrote an opinion about a domain owner deliberately misusing their domain by non-transparently masquerading as someone else. To do so, I used and published the chain of evidence that showed who owned the domain and what their affiliations were. There was nothing in my post that was a ” ….attempt a targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation…”

This is exactly what the whois is intended for.

His post is more than ‘an opinion’, it is a vindictive looking attack on Guerin and it encouraged others to attack Guerin using publicised contact information.

Prentice has also stated:

But as usual, rather than dealing with the issue that was in my post, you chose to make a big deal about publishing the information. Including the identifying information that is specifically public to allow the identification of the owners and operators of domains. You appear to have been too lazy to look at why that detail was actually published in my post. It was there to make it quite specific exactly who I was talking about. That is something that is typically done with addresses, emails addresses and phone numbers.

Prentice has previously complained about phone numbers and addresses being published on Whale Oil. He is well aware of what can happen when details like that are promoted on attack blogs. Another double standard.

He has also stated:

Actually I suspect that you are too rigidly cast into your unthinking attitudes to actually look at any evidence.

But others who still operate their intelligence may actually read the whois policies amd why they are formed. That is useful for the ongoing debate.

I frequently look for evidence, I think I do this more than most in political forums.

Here are excerpts the Terms of Service from WHOIS:

1. Acceptance of Terms

By using (“”) you agree that you are over 18 years of age and have the ability to enter into a binding agreement. Any access to or use of constitutes acceptance of the following Terms of Service (“TOS”).


2. Responsibilities and Regulations

Use of our services requires that you agree to uphold the following responsibilities and abide by the following regulations. Failure to do so in any constitutes immediate breach of this TOS.

You may not use our site to engage in any behavior that violates any local law or any law or regulation that is applicable to the venue created in this agreement. This prohibition includes, but is in no way limited to, use of our products or services in any way associated with activities that:

(b) attack, harass, threaten, defame, or otherwise infringe on the legal rights of any other individual or entity including but not limited to protection afforded to them via applicable criminal or privacy regulations.

Prentice’s post certainly looks like an attack on Guerin. It also enables harassment in the comments by allowing more abuse to be published. And by posting contact details and allowing a comment that admits using those details to abuse and harass Guerin and encourage further abuse Prentice appears to be a willing party to this.

(c) violate or would cause to violate any law, regulation or ethical standard. reserves the right to determine and establish what constitutes both what qualifies as a violation or ethical standard in our sole discretion at any time.

Prentice violates ethical standards he himself writes and complains about and imposes on others. I don’t know specifically what current WHOIS ethical standards are.

Prentice also wrote:

I wasn’t asking for a right of reply – I really just think you are being a stupid idiot. I was merely informing you of the steps I’d be taking to shut the internet morons like yourself up by exposing exactly how little you understood about why the whois is there.

This is what WHOIS suggests it’s information is for:

What is WHOIS data used for?

WHOIS is indispensable to the smooth operation of the DNS and is used for many legitimate purposes, including:

  • To determine whether or not a given domain is available.
  • To contact network administrators for resolution of technical matters related to networks associated with a domain name (e.g., DNS or routing matter, origin and path analysis of DoS and other network-based attacks).
  • To diagnose registration difficulties. WHOIS queries provide information that is often useful in resolving a registration ownership issue, such as the creation and expiration dates and the identity of the registrar.
  • To contact web administrators for resolution of technical matters associated with a domain name.
  • To obtain the real world identity, business location and contact information of an online merchant or business, or generally, any organization that has an online presence.
  • To associate a company, organization, or individual with a domain name, and to identify the party that is operating a web or other publicly accessible service using a domain name, for commercial or other purposes.
  • To contact a domain name registrant for the purpose of discussing and negotiating a secondary market transaction related to a registered domain name.
  • To notify a domain name registrant of the registrant’s obligation to maintain accurate registration information.
  • To contact a domain name registrant on matters related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
  • To establish or look into an identity in cyberspace, and as part of an incident response following an Internet or computer attack. (Security professionals and law enforcement agents use WHOIS to identify points of contact for a domain name.)
  • To gather investigative leads (i.e., to identify parties from whom additional information might be obtained). Law enforcement agents use WHOIS to find email addresses and attempt to identify the location of an alleged perpetrator of a crime involving fraud.
  • To investigate spam, law enforcement agents look to the WHOIS database to collect information on the website advertised in the spam.

I don’t see anything  there that suggests publishing contact information as a part of petty politically motivated attacks. Nor vindictive personal attacks.

Lynn – you say you wrote the post and managed the comments to expose Guerin (for doing similar things to what is done on The Standard).

Your words:

The “voitrol” was because he didn’t provide any information on the site to identify who was responsible for it. As far as I’m concerned he was concealing who was responsible from the public.

You easily found out who was responsible – that’s what WHOIS is for, isn’t it. Guerin had also been open about his involvement elsewhere in social media and other blogs had posted about who was responsible – without going to the level of abuse and exposure you did.

But all that aside Lynn can you explain this:

Why, after publishing abuse from yourself, contact information and abuse from others, and this comment from Atiawa:

I just sent him a text letting him know what a shit head he is. Can’t see much harm in anyone else telling him the same.

Why, after Guerin advised you that as a result of what you posted he been abused (and you published):

Unfortunately, after my personal details including phone number, postal address and email address were published on an article on The Standard, I receive a significant amount of hatred-filled vitriol directly at me personally via txt message, phone calls, emails and messages sent to my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Why, five hours after Guerin posted that so you were well aware of what happened after you posted his contact details, in direct response to Guerin, why did you post this?

I have been busy this morning and lunch is a bit short for a full reply.

Here is Pete George, registrant of (just because I am thinking about complaining to him about his stupid and ignorant post this morning pushing this PR line)

This is explicitly public information to allow people to be able to check who is responsible for a domain, and for them to be able to contact them if there is an issue. This is a concept known as personal responsibility. Get used to it.

Lynn, why did you do this?

Prentice right of reply on Ben Guerin post

On Thursday I posted Prentice actions “strictly forbidden” by InternetNZ.

This related to an lprent post at The Standard: Ben Guerin: a dirty politics fuckwit

Lynn Prentice has chose to respond in comments but I think it’s fair to give it equal exposure so here it is in full:

So rather than being a useless lazy critic, lay a complaint with InternetNZ.

I didn’t incite anyone. I wrote an opinion about a domain owner deliberately misusing their domain by non-transparently masquerading as someone else. To do so, I used and published the chain of evidence that showed who owned the domain and what their affiliations were. There was nothing in my post that was a ” ….attempt a targeted contact campaign with any person, or any organisation…”

This is exactly what the whois is intended for. Now about of strawman arguments that you, Duncan Brown or any other idiot craphouse lawyers invent.

Bearing in mind the gutless wonders that you and other people are about acting on your words, which in this case should be to make a complaint, I’ll write to InternetNZ – firstly asking them to inform me of any complaints (I anticipate none to date), and secondly asking for a ruling on what you fuckwits should be asking them based on your idiotic allegations.


BTW: I posted your Open Letter link into the internal forums. I have no idea why you think that we act as a collective (apart from annoying over optimistic statement in the about from 2007 that we have never gotten rid of). We never agree on anything. We operate as a cooperative as has been stated many times and is inherent is the statement about using a trust further in on the about.

So I’d think that your appeal is likely to be pretty useless, even excluding your strange ideas and that I actually run the plant…. But hey, if an author missed reading it – they now have their chance.

I’ve responded in part on that post but will do so in more detail here soon in comments.

InternetNZ wants compartmentalising of GCSB

InternetNZ supports the GCSB Amendment Bill, reports Audrey Young reports at NZ Herald in Law Society slams spy agency bill.

InternetNZ’s submission, in the name of acting director Jordan Carter, says it supports the provisions of the bill that address cyber security of NZ’s information infrastructure.

But it questions whether such a function should be housed alongside an intelligence operation.

That is a common question.

It proposes compartmentalising the agency’s operations to increase public confidence in the cyber security function.

It would be difficult for the public to know how effective any compartmentising would be in a secret organisation. It would need to be clearly defined in law.

The submission says the legislation lacks sufficient clarity about the circumstances in which the communications of New Zealanders will be gathered.

“A broad reading renders the sum effect of the bill, as currently drafted, as providing access to anyone’s communications whether live or stored, including internet communications.”

It says that although the ability of governments to collect communications and metadata has advanced under the internet, human rights such as privacy are treated as less important online than off.

And another complaint about a lack of clarity.

There’s a lot of work to be done on the bill if it is to meet standards required.