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A good idea scuttled? 14 June 2000 Edition
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Globally, there's lots of talk about the lack of privacy and the spectre of looming government regulation hanging over the Internet.

The British are planning active monitoring of all Internet activities and unencrypted email is the 21st century equivalent of a postcard -- with its contents easily read by anyone who happens to intercept it on its journey across the face of the planet.

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Then there's censorship -- with a number of governments already, or planning to clamp down on the type of content carried by websites operating within their jurisdictions.

Well one smart group of US entrepreneurs thought they'd discovered a way around the problems of government regulation by striking a deal with the occupier of a disused oil platform parked off the coast of Britain.

After being abandoned in the mid-60's, the platform was boarded and claimed by a retired Army major who promptly renamed it as 4 the principality of Sealand. Major Paddy Roy Bates has been working hard since 1967 to have his little speck of dry-space 6 miles off the east coast of Britain recognised as an independent nation and is obviously finding it an expensive proposition.

It was no surprise therefore that he leapt at the offer made to him by a group of US entrepreneurs, 4 HavenCo who were looking for somewhere to host their Internet server farm. They wanted a location that was free from the effects of government regulations and which offered a unique form of privacy -- the principality of Seaworld was obviously a perfect fit.

Unfortunately, although the platform was originally well outside British jurisdiction when Major Bates took possession of it -- the UK government amended their territorial claims back in 1987 such that an extension of what it claims as coastal territory has seen Seaworld again considered a part of Britain.

So, it seems that Seaworld is now, once again, under the rule of British law -- potentially scuttling the plans of HavenCo to operate their web hosting operation in an environment free from the grubby eyes and hands of politicians.

What is it that politicians and governments world wide have against true individual freedom?

e-Regulation? Phooey!
The NZ government is presently working hard to establish some kind of context and guidelines for the creation of legislation to control and regulate e-commerce on the Internet.


For a start, as I've demonstrated numerous times in this column, our politicians simply don't have a clue about what the Net, its technology, its culture or its marketplace are all about. Clearly this is a case of a government acting in fear of that which it doesn't understand.

My real question is -- doesn't the government realise that e-commerce is really just e-mail-order?

Why do they feel it necessary to waste time, money and effort reinventing the wheel and creating a whole new set of regulations that will be an almost total duplication of the existing consumer and commerce laws as they apply to mail order operators?

Perhaps they ought to wake up to the fact that most businesses and Net users are already far more aware and informed about e-commerce than our politicians themselves appear to be. Why have the blind leading the not-so blind?

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

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