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IIA report calls for more federal ICT support

by Andrew Starc •
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Bipartisan support for Gov 2.0 initiatives, a wholesale-only optical fibre network, regulatory reform to ensure a level playing field in the ICT industry and a call for stimulatory measures to promote broadband are among the key recommendations outlined by the Internet Industry Association (IIA) in its 'Principles for a Digital Economy' report.

With the report’s tenor promoting “the centrality of ICT innovation to the digital economy,” urging government and business to “drive productivity improvement through the development and deployment of information and communication technologies,” the IIA outlines specific policy recommendations with implications for both government and business ICT.

The report pledges support for ‘open government’ commitments, citing recommendation 6 of the Gov 2.0 taskforce which urges governments to commit to a policy of ensuring that “public sector information should be open, accessible and reusable.”

Further support in the form of Government stimulatory measures, and for Government departments to “advance plans on how they will deliver (on the Gov 2.0 agenda for) online services to the population” are to be embraced with “bipartisan support.”

Regarding the development of the National Broadband Network, recommendations centre around establishing an optical fibre network “as the most future proof among alternative broadband technologies.”  Considering wireless and satellite technologies as ancillary, the report states that “fibre investment will however support growth in demand for wireless services.”

“Parties should commit to bipartisan support 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,” states the report.

To foster broadband development, the report calls for accompanying regulatory reform to ensure a “level playing field for all access seekers,” “regional parity” and competition between suppliers. 

 ‘Teleworking’ is also highlighted as a national priority, the report urging Government to “lead by creating a policy framework for adopting pro-teleworking policies within relevant departments,” calling for a “review to examine any consequential law reforms necessary to remove legal impediments to broad economy-wide adoption.”

Efforts to curb cyber crime call upon internet service providers “to adopt the recently launched IIA icode,” which sets standards for managing compromised computers on networks and requires implementation by December 2010.  78 ISPs have already implemented the code.

The domain name system also comes under focus with calls for Government to “recognise that the domain name system is just as important today as the telephone exchange” and that the Domain Name System Security Extensions be adopted.

Addressing the contentious issue of internet privacy and data retention, the report urges caution to be exercised in using “ill-defined security objectives to justify incursions into personal data.”  Stressing that “public debate about the merits and impacts of data retention (should take place) prior to any new regulation being tabled,” the report affirms that “any derogation from personal privacy must be proportionate to the harm being addressed and tested by adequate public consultation and debate.” 

Full disclosure and debate is also advocated before Australia signs on to any Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the report stating that the IIA will engage with content owners to allow for “accessible, affordable, legally available content” for Australian internet users.

Outlined also are calls for bipartisan support for reforming the Copyright Act to “extend safe harbour protection beyond ISPs to pick up content hosts, universities, auction platforms, user generated content sites and other online services consistent with spirit of the AU/USA Free Trade Agreement”. 

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