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Have You Got A Permit For That Website? 15 October 2002 Edition
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Governments around the world are well-known for finding any excuse to levy a tax. PAYE, ACC, GST, FBT, road-tax, payrole tax -- even here in New Zealand the list is almost endless.

Then there are the taxes or levies associated with getting local or central government's permission to do everything from driving a car to owning a dog.

So what's this got to do with the Net?

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Well I have mooted the prospect of licensing individual Net users in the past and speculated that this may be the only effective way to control spam, illegal porn and Internet fraud.

I wasn't particularly serious about this, although I have no doubt that there are some bureaucrats who would be very much in favour of such an initiative.

What is a worry however, is the move in recent days by two overseas governments to introduce tough new regulations in respect to websites.

In Vietnam, it's now necessary to get government permission before you put up a website. Honest... I kid you not!

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    Maybe it's not too much of a surprise that this would happen in a country like Vietnam, which is hardly known for encouraging freedom of speech or the rights of the individual -- but they're not the only one introducing such draconian laws.

    Believe it or not, Spain, a country considered by most people to be a part of the Western world, appears to have done exactly the same thing.

    According to a report published by The Register, "[Spanish] Web sites must register with the government and ISPs are obliged to monitor sites for illicit content, which they must report to the authorities"

    Let's hope that our own government isn't eyeing this type of stupidity as a model for extra revenue generation. Let's face it, if they put their spin-doctors onto the job, they'd probably have little difficulty in convincing the public at large (the ones who don't have websites) that we need some form of control to avoid a proliferation of kiddy-porn, prego-porn, evil child-molester chat-rooms, etc.

    Charge $500 per website and I think you'd find that the revenues generated would contribute very nicely to Helen's obsession with funding the Arts.

    I hope I haven't given anyone ideas.

    More Broadband Competition?
    In recent years there have been many attempts (mainly by power companies) to use the power grid for carrying broadband data. Although they all start out with great promise and potential, they invariably end up a disappointment and we hear nothing more about them.

    Counties Power have been smart enough to realise that the technology isn't ready to allow this type of dual-use for their lines but have decided to jump on the broadband bandwagon anyway.

    I won't elaborate here because there's plenty of coverage over at IDG and the NZ Herald.

    IDG Have Some Good Spinmeisters!
    I try to restrict any comments I might have in respect to other local IT/Net publishers to positive things -- so today I'm praising IDG's ability to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

    Many readers will recall that a while back that NetGuide went head-to-head with a very similar (too similar actually) publication from IDG, originally titled "Net Magazine". It was clear to even the most casual of observers that IDG was trying to capitalise on the significant success that Netguide was enjoying in a small but seemingly lucrative sector of the market.

    Netguide called in the sharks and IDG was forced to change their magazine's name while also reviewing the format slightly.

    Well, despite telling us relentlessly that iMag was doing really well, IDG has decided to pull the plug on it.

    Here's how the closure was announced:

    iMag, published by IDG Communications, will cease publication after its November issue. iMag debuted a little under two years ago and has grown strongly, garnering a number of publishing awards and amassing a loyal following of some 91,000 readers* in the process.

    Hmmm... it's so good we just had to shut it down or be embarrassed by success eh?

    Maybe it did do very well -- but it seems that there's only enough room for one such publication in NZ's limited market.

    If you want to have your say on the contents of today's column then please do so. Only comments marked "For Publication" will (if I have time) be published in the readers' comments section.

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