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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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This and that

1 May 2019

Welcome to winter.

Well it's not officially winter but coincidentally, the first of May has bought the first frost of the year to these parts so that's got to count for something.

I'm a little pushed for time this morning so I'll keep today's column short and disorganised, for your confusion and my convenience.

First-up, it seems that the UK may well be using Huawei for some of its communications infrastructure -- and that's got the USA quite pee'd off. It's also pee'd off the UK government who seemingly did not officially release that information, it came via a leak.

Ah, governments eh?

And while on the subject of the UK government...

In their infinite wisdom, the government of the UK has decided that there will be a tax on the very safe, responsible and long-standing hobby of flying model aircraft.

Although they're wrapping it up in fluff and calling it a "drone registration fee", it is a tax, plain and simple.

To own any form of drone, model helicopter, model aircraft or anything else that is heavier than 250g and capable of sustained flight without a human onboard people will be required to pay an annual fee of 16.50 quid.

Failure to pay will risk a 1000 pound fine.

I wonder how many people will become inadvertent offenders as a result of this.

For example, there are probably huge numbers of people who have model planes in the back of the wardrobe or hung up in their sheds. Maybe it's from years ago when they had the time for such folly or maybe it's just something that was inherited when dad died.

I strongly doubt that any of these people will realise that the "drone license" regulations will require them, as *owners* of a model aircraft, to register and pay their annual tax registration fee.

"But it's not a drone, its a toy plane" will undoubtedly be the cry of innocence as the 1000 quid fine is handed out.

"Sorry sir but the government has declared that all model planes *are* drones, now pay up" will be the inevitable reply from the courts.

The interesting thing about this whole situation also involves IT.

The 16.50 annual fee is supposed to cover the operating costs of a computer system that will act as the registry for these drone owners. The CAA estimates that it will have about 170,000 entries (owners). They estimate that the cost to run this trivial little database is going to be around 2.8 million quid a year -- that's nearly NZ$5.5 million.


We're talking about a database that would run quite happily on a small desktop or even a laptop PC. The amount of data involved is likely to be just hundreds of megabytes and I really can't see more than a few hundred or at most a few thousand transactions being processed a day.

How the hell do they get $5.5 million for the annual running costs???

Ah... but it's government and it's IT. When you mix those two things you can get some scary-high numbers and some worryingly-low delivery.

Finally, on that subject... the CAA claims it has to create the database because it's an EU requirement that all members states must have in place by next year. I guess nobody told them about brexit then huh?

Idiot politicians and bureaucrats!

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