As regular Delimiter readers will know, I have made mistakes in the past. Not all of the articles I have written have been on target. Sometimes I have been naïve. In particular, I know that many of you will continue to feel angry at me about believing Turnbull’s NBN promises before the 2013 Federal Election. I screwed up there, and you all know it.
So that this will never happen again, today I am publishing the following as a draft Statement of Principles for Delimiter. If the site is rebooted, this document will represent the will of the Delimiter community and guide my writing. And I will expect you all to hold me to these principles on a daily basis.
I want to be clear that this document is not complete or final. I want these principles to be criticised. I want new principles to be suggested, if the Delimiter community does not feel the list is comprehensive. And, as time goes on, I want it to be reviewed. This should be a living document rather than a static one. This is the just the first draft.
Note that these are intended to be general principles that could be applied to any specific situation, rather than specific principles which can’t be applied generally. My intent is that whenever an issue arises, that the Delimiter community will look to this Statement of Principles to gauge how we should approach it.
The draft is now open for comments. Go hog wild. Rip it to shreds and make it better.
Principle 1: We support the development and adoption of beneficial new technologies.
Delimiter’s community is composed of individuals who work with or who are personally enthusiastic about technology. We recognise the beneficial impact that new technology usually has upon the operation of society in general and upon the human experience of individuals.
This means that we support removing artificial barriers to the development and adoption of beneficial new technologies. However, we also recognise that some specific technologies (for example, military technology) can be potentially harmful, and must be carefully regulated.
Principle 2: Where there is a choice of technologies to be implemented, we support the option that will be the best fit for purpose in the long-term.
There are a number of different mechanisms for judging which technology should be implemented in any situation. Some are based on pure technical capability, some on human factors such as usability, and some on financial issues such as cost or return on investment.
When judging what technology should be implemented, Delimiter believes that all available factors should be considered, with a view to finding the best solution for the long-term.
Principle 3: Free market competition between private sector companies is generally the best mechanism for society to develop and adopt beneficial new technologies.
Most new technology is primarily developed and distributed by innovative private sector companies competing with each other in a free market. In general, such companies should be given the freedom to develop and sell their products and services to consumers. However, we also recognise that such competition must be carefully and sensitively moderated by regulators and the Government.
Principle 4: No government should interfere in the operation of the Internet, beyond that which is required to ensure a stable domain name system.
The Delimiter community does not want the Internet to be censored, filtered, regulated or otherwise controlled by the Government. The Internet is a global network of networks which is beyond the reach of any one jurisdiction. The only role the Government should play in the operation of the Internet is to ensure a stable domain name system is maintained.
Principle 5: The privacy of individuals should be respected by default. Electronic surveillance must be targeted, proportionate, and subject to strong oversight.
Electronic surveillance is a legitimate part of modern law enforcement activities. However, the Delimiter community believes that the privacy of all individuals should be protected by default. Electronic surveillance should only be used when there is a strong law enforcement need for this information. When this occurs, such access should be targeted, proportionate and subject to strong oversight.
Principle 6: Corporations should pay a fair amount of tax in the geographic area where they made their revenue.
A number of major technology companies are currently gaming the global taxation system by funnelling their income through jurisdictions with extremely favourable tax regulations. Delimiter believes this results in a disproportionate rate of tax distribution to certain countries and should be stopped.
Principle 7: The implementation of new technology must be subject to appropriate governance controls.
This principle particularly refers to major technology-enabled projects of the kinds regularly undertaken by governments and corporations, although it can also apply to technology implemented by individuals.
It refers to the fact that it is not sufficient merely to purchase a new technology product or service. All technology must be implemented or ‘bedded down’ in such a way that it functions correctly and achieves a beneficial outcome.
Principle 8: Governments should grant favourable financial and regulatory incentives to digital economy industries to help generate new economic activity and to base their operations locally.
This principle reflects the fact that some new digital economy industries (for example, IT and video game development) have the potential to drive significant new economic activity, to add to or replace existing economic activity generated by legacy sectors such as resources and agriculture.
Some countries have granted these fast-growing industries significant concessions in order to help them expand more rapidly. In order to compete, it is essential that Australia does the same. It is also important that these industries are incentivised to grow their operations on-shore and not shift overseas.
Principle 9: Commercial service providers should respond to their customers’ needs and communicate openly with them
Many of the issues that have arisen in the global technology industry over the past several decades relate to a situation where a vendor stops directly responding to the needs of their customers, in terms of changing their products or services or the terms and conditions or pricing associated with such services.
This principle reflects the idea that vendors should seek to meet their customers’ needs, rather than fighting them. This can be a delicate balance at times, but there is no doubt that the Delimiter community comes down on the side of the customer.