Top 10 policy ideas from IIA's Digital Economy Paper

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Top 10 policy ideas from IIA's Digital Economy Paper

Comment: A concise guide.

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The Internet Industry Association has released its latest manifesto,  'Principles for a Digital Economy', which sets about making policy recommendations that would boost Australia's economy - and in particular the local ICT industry.

Unsurprisingly, the document speaks strongly for investment in the sector and for an easing of regulation by government - initiatives that favour the industry above all else.

But contained within its 50-odd pages is a series of well-reasoned arguments for policy shifts, and alternatives to some of the policy problems the Government faces in its attempt to regulate a global phenomenon from the confines of a national jurisdiction.

Below, I have hand-picked ten key policy takeaways for discussion.

Note that these aren't the official recommendations of the IIA, but my attempt to cut through the noise. I would be very interested in your thoughts in our 'comments' section.

  1. Come on Tony, support a National Broadband Network

The paper calls for bipartisan support for an investment in a network that, to all extents and purposes, fits the current NBN plan proposed by the ALP Government.

It calls for an "open access wholesale only fibre-to-the-premises network with equivalent access for all access seekers, extended to provide ubiquitous superfast broadband access to all homes and businesses with wireless and satellite technologies."

Such a network would require regulatory changes to ensure competition, regional parity and incentives to innovate, the paper said.

  1. Consider alternatives to a mandatory ISP filter

The IIA focused on education and optional internet filters in the home as two alternatives to the mandatory ISP-level filtering plan proposed by the Federal Government.

The paper resists the temptation to argue against the filter on technical or political grounds.

"While content filters have their place, they are no substitute for the lifelong protection provided by critical thinking. The best "filter" is not the one that runs on a device but the "software" that runs in our heads," the report said.

The report also rejected other measures such as the proposal to establish an Online Ombudsman.

3.    Invest in the Federal Police

Instead, the paper called for more funding for the Federal Police, which operates a successful high tech crime centre.

"Domestically, we favour continued resourcing and training of traditional policing to equip forces to deal with crime as it moves online," the report said.

4.    Be an ambassador in the fight against cybercrime

Beyond our shores, the IIA calls on the Australian Government to spearhead global efforts to align eSecurity efforts and even harmonise some laws, recognising that the internet "presents unique policy challenges for governments around the world."

"Australia should work with other developed nations to foster the creation and extension of international Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in developing economies where they do not currently exist, to provide a streamlined international response to emerging threats at a technical level," the report said.

5.    Come clean on data retention plans

The Federal Government's efforts to play down the potential to introduce data retention laws that would force ISPs to record user web browsing history did not go unnoticed in the report.

"Government must commit to a public debate about the merits and impacts of data retention prior to any new regulation being tabled. In the absence of broad community (and industry) support for such a proposal, a data preservation approach in respect of individual 'targets' under appropriate lawful authority is to be preferred," it said.

Read on for more policy suggestions including how to deal with ACTA and P2P, opening up access to government data, auctioning off mobile spectrum and achieving the right level of regulation...

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