TPPA and China

So I read an interesting little piece about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that you can read here.

The article goes into how the TPPA is forcing US corporate interests down the throats of nations in the Pacific, nations with trade interests and relationships with China. To put it simply, countries such as New Zealand and Australia can find themselves between a rock and a hard place, not wanting to upset the US, but also not losing their favour with China, a massive economic power.

I don’t particularly want to get into the politics or implications of TPPA in a serious sense, but in more of a speculative fiction sense. “What is it you are hoping to achieve here?” I hear you ask. Why, go play Black Ops II and then come back! Or don’t, maybe you shouldn’t feed the juggernaut that is Call of Duty any more than it has already been fed.

Let us just say that the game pushes, quite heavily, US interests in the framing of a second cold war, one between the US and China. The impetus behind this cold war is Rare Earth minerals, which China seems to have a monopoly on and are used in electronics.

So what?

Well, the article above mentions the possibility of TPPA and US Corporate interests fuelling a cold war between the US and China with Pacific nations used as a proxy battleground, with the two superpowers posturing for economic superiority.

I just found it quite amusing that it basically provided the plot of a new Modern Military Shooter.

Though it is a bit worrying that such issues could exist, that countries could be torn between their allegiances to other nations because they do not have the power to resist larger powers. Being an Australian citizen, I am also a little worried about what TPPA could mean for me as an individual. I will, of course, need to do some reading about this, and hopefully find some accurate information to avoid another ACTA furor (even though once clarified ACTA was still a horrible thing). I doubt I’d be able to wrap my head around all of it though, and we have another dragon to slay in the form of the ITU.

Once again, the governments of the world aim to govern the internet in an opaque fashion without public consultation. At least, I believe this time it is not motivated by corporate interests? It’s still a worrying thought though. Here is a video.


NDIS: What the doctor ordered?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) seems to be a step in the right direction for Australians with a disability. It aims to provide flexible, person-centered support to allow those with disabilities to lead normal lives, so what could possibly be wrong with this? You can start reading about the misgivings some in the community have with NDIS here.

So the NDIS aims to introduce a quasi-market model to disability service provision. This aims to turn people living with disabilities into empowered consumers. Empowered is a wonderful word, isn’t it?

There’s a troubling implication in all of this that many seem to have missed. It seems like the NDIS is putting the onus on the individual with disability to source their treatment or service and get it approved from a marketplace, and no clarification has been provided in certain key areas.

We live in a country where Public Hospitals are a thing. One does not need to go from hospital to hospital shopping for the best deal for them, nor does one have to consider whether they should employ a doctor directly. Here too, there has been no clarity provided. What exactly does employ directly mean?

Here’s an abstract from a study that brings into question the efficacy of a quasi-market model of service provision:

A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with 31 people with disabilities and 32 carers in the state of Queensland, Australia, found that their experience of supportive service delivery had not improved despite reforms of the service delivery system driven by a version of the quasi-market model. Instead of delivering increased consumer choice and improved efficiency in service delivery, service users experienced inadequate service supply, service cutbacks, and an increased emphasis on cost subsidisation and assessment processes. Additionally, few consumers felt that individualised funding arrangements had personally delivered the benefits which the quasi-market model and associated policy paradigm had indicated that they should receive. For many consumers, the notion of consumer ‘choice’ around service provision was fictitious and they felt that any efficiency gains were at the agency level, largely at the consumers’ cost. It is concluded that there appears to be no particular benefit to service users of quasi-market reforms, particularly in policy contexts where service delivery systems are historically under-funded.

The Opposition were absent from last week’s introduction of the draft NDIS legislation. This does not speak well of their concern for the disabled population of Australia.

The NDIS could be a step forward for equitable treatment of people with disability in Australia, however at the moment it seems murky and designed by individuals that do not understand what social and structural barriers are faced by individuals with disabilities. Even the quasi-market system, one that hides behind the banner of being flexible and person-centred, does not seem to consider the difficulties faced by those with intelectual disabilities, acquired brain injury, or their carers.

The cynic in me could see the push for the NDIS as the machinations of a government trying desperately to gain approval from an increasingly disenfranchised public.

Queensland was quite opposed to running NDIS trials, continuously calling foul and claiming to be broke. It could not afford to support disabled Queenslanders, what with the giant deficit left by the previous government, the devastating flooding, and the fact their financials put them close to being “the Spain of Australian States”. So then…

Whatever the merits of the current round of public service cuts, no-one can seriously argue that Queensland can’t afford a trial of the NDIS. As former Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett pointed out last week, the state is spending $80 million on the racing industry, including funding for a new greyhound racing track.

You can see how the remaining claims stack up and read the rest of the article here.

I believe strongly in disability support, and reform that will make life more liveable for those with disability is good in my books. I’ve spent two years working in the capacity of a Disability Employment Consultant, I have trained in Psychology and believe strongly in promoting ability rather than disability. I hope the NDIS will be what this country needs. However, I would be remis to say that the lack of clarity in the current draft and the seemingly indifferent attitudes of Australian politicians towards the plight of the people they represent hasn’t been cause for concern.

Have a bit more to chew on over here.

Poland on ACTA

Polish presidential advisor claims that protestors against ACTA have been “manipulated”.

From above link:

“I’d prefer the young would protest against the govenment not accepting the act about the prohibition of using claymore mines. “-said Ku┼║niar. He also mentioned that he’s surprised of the fact that so many young people have hit the streets, because he’s thinking they wouldn’t do this if they have read ACTA.

Anyone who wishes to read the final text can do so here in English, French or Spanish. Shall we see if people will be disinclined to taking to the streets after reading the official text.

I would also like to point out that all amendments to ACTA will be done by a specially created committee and their decisions will be free from public review and Judicial review. This will effectively create a framework that operates independent of the current judicial frameworks because ACTA proponents believe that the current process is handicapping their ability to enforce ACTA on an international scale. If this doesn’t worry you, I do not know what will.

ACTA will kill free software. DRM media will no longer be able to be played on free software players. Distribution channels for free software will be brought into question due to the threat of them also being used to transfer copywrited materials. To quote the above source, “It creates a culture of surveillance and suspicion, in which the freedom that is required to produce free software is seen as dangerous and threatening rather than creative, innovative, and exciting.”

Remember back when Microsoft killed Netscape by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows and not allowing the bundling of third party browsers? Imagine a world with that sort of limitation on competition due to companies exercising their right to protect their IP. It is scary and ultimately bad for the consumer.

ACTA allows for criminal investigations and searches on individuals without the need for probable cause, which undermines the presumption of innocence. You know, stuff like this would have been unlawful before.

ISPs that comply with ACTA will be provided with safe harbour from any legal accountability for the habits of their users, however those that do not comply will be afforded no such safety. Really, what ISP can afford not to monitor usage of their users now? iiNet would sure have a hard time in the courts a second time around.

ACTA may not end up killing the global economy, but it sure as hell will shoot it in the foot. Without distribution channels and with the loose definitions of copywrited and counterfeit materials, the age of software innovation may well be over.

The age of privacy was said to have died with Facebook. Not a social norm, says Zuckerberg. Though with Facebook you had the option to not use it.

With ACTA there is no such option.

Still, do you think those youths in Poland were overreacting? All things considered, for those without training in Law, Economics or even with an interested in open and free software (which relies on the ability to modify and learn from code that was created by others) would likely have a hard time considering this without being manipulated with parties interested in either side of the debate.

Having said that, I think the whole issue hasn’t been represented well enough in a way that will help people understand what the long term consequences of something like ACTA would be. And even countries like Ireland have tried their hand at something like SOPA.

Just read up on ACTA and be informed.

Not out of the woods…

SOPA and PIPA are out of the picture for now. Everyone, the internet has won a major battle in the fight for freedom and openness! However, the war is far from over. I am sure some of you by now have heard of ACTA, an international trade agreement that is being developed in secret and in some cases by non elected special interest groups.

Really, this could spell the end of the internet as we know it. It could kill innovation by limiting what others can do with already developed products, ideas, sentenes, you name it. How can we progress if we are not allowed to make itterative improvements to technology? How will free press survive if news and other articles can be copywrited by one particular media outlet?

This is going to kill off the majority of global industry for the benefit of a very very small number of people and entities that are clinging desperately to an outdated business model. There is something admirable in their tenacity, but really could you not try to end the world while you are at it?

Congress dismissing their lack of understanding of a fundamental part of the modern economy in an almost flippant manner by stating “I am not a nerd” shows an utter lack of respect for the kind of power they are toying with.

ACTA shows that lack of disrespect on an almost global scale. I know I am going to see if I can write to my MP demanding to know why such a dangerous agreement is being negotiated in secret, and why Australia is a part of it at all. If the government is intent on killing a massive job creation engine, I’m sure the tax payer is not going to want to pick up the pieces for them, and I definitely doubt JSA and DES are going to be happy with that as well.

As Gabe Newell said once, “Piracy is a service problem.” If you want me to buy your shit, release it in all markets. With Blu-rays we have seen a decline in region coding, which was an attempt at market segregation and pricing control. However, we still have not seen an end to market segregation, with certain products not available in all markets. I know I’d buy Antichrist on Blu-Ray but it’s locked to Region A and I’m not in Region A! Lost Sales!! YAY!!!! I’ve attempted to buy albums on the iTunes store, but they are not available on the Australian iTunes store. The list, beyond my own personal experiences, goes on.

The model is flawed, their service is atrocious, and they want us to pay for their backward thinking. They bitch and moan about a 7% loss in revenue due to piracy and their lobbyists with their deep pockets have potentially killed off an upcoming industry (see above link).

If they can already shut down sites, the introduction of an agreement that could destroy privacy, freedom of expression, net nutrality, multiple points of view in the press, innovation and a large part of the global economy seems just a tad unwarranted.

Your countries have already signed the agreement.

This is making me sad, so I will leave it off there. I just need to keep an eye out for news about ACTA and find out what I can do to help prevent it.

Hello world!

This is my first post on WordPress. Oh boy, what a time to join the fold. SOPA and PIPA are knocking on our door(s) and threatening to change the face of the internet and global economy as we know it.

Of course, I remain largely uneducated about the way of economics. For all I can comprehend it is an ancient and mystical art that involves numbers and animal spirits and stuff. But from my readings into the subject, I have been led to believe that the safest bet for international trade and investment is the US Dollar. So in my layperson’s understanding of things, the legislation would shoot the US economy in the foot by:

  • Stifling Startups;
  • Breeding fear and inaction in companies;
  • Restrict freedom of expression and journalism;
  • Severely restrict innovation; and
  • Putting an end to the job-creation potential of the internet
Also in my layperson’s understanding of things, this would do bad things to the US dollar, which will do bad things to the rest of the world.

Please, strange old people in government that remain insulated from the functioning of the 21st Century World, I beg you to reconsider something with such far reaching consequences. The world cannot be held randsom to the will of the Entertainment industry! Think not of your personal pockets and think of the pockets of the Nation you are meant to represent.


I would like to hope that January 24 will bring news that common sense prevails and that SOPA and PIPA are no more.

Make your voice heard.

Those not in America, make your voice heard too! Together we may be able to save ourselves from ourselves.

I will hopefully be able to get into a less SOPA oriented groove with this blog and have lots of fun on the Free internet!