Living the Great New Zealand Internet Blackout

Even though I now live in Australia, much of my heart and my virtual life is based in New Zealand. So I joined the Great New Zealand Internet Blackout, turning my header black, putting a rotating gif about the blackout in the sidebar, setting up a static front page, and turning comments off. Not a complete takedown of this blog – that’s beyond my technical capabilties. Tumeke created this visual record of the blackout: that’s IASL in the bottom row, second from the right.


But this morning, I experienced the blackout for real. For reasons unknown to me, because they happened somewhere in the box we call ‘computer’, into which I rarely, if ever, pry, we lost our internet connection this morning, for about four hours. I spent about an hour of that time on the phone, trying to sort it out with the help desk (45 minutes!!! waiting time, 10 minutes help) and Mr Strange Land (5 minutes). Being much more technically proficient than me, Mr Strange Land was able to set up a workaround involving moving cables and connecting a laptop, so I am now back on-line, temporarily.

I didn’t like it. At all. I felt disconnected, disoriented, and powerless. The inner workings of computers confuse me, and although I can use software packages with reasonable proficiency (for example, I write this blog in html), the computer itself, and the connections to our ISP, are to me imbued with magic – knowable by adepts, and those who have learned the art of prestidigitation, but inaccessible to ordinary people who just want something that works (or in the case of magic, deludes them).

Like most of us, I use the net for all sorts of things – information gathering, entertainment, learning (I use youtube clips to help me learn the songs that my singing teacher gives me), communication, banking, booking travel, whatever. It is part of my daily life, and when it is taken from me, if I am not bereft (too strong a word), I am at least disconcerted, and inconvenienced, and very annoyed.

Which demonstrates exactly why section 92A is wrong. It proposes that if copyright holders detect a breach of copyright, then they can force an individual’s internet connection to be terminated, without any evidence other than the copyright holder’s accusation. Gone, just like that. You too can experience the disconnection, the disorientation, and the powerlessness of losing your access to the internet, just on the say so of a copyright holder.

It’s bad law, and it should be changed.

Update: Success! The implementation of the law is being delayed a month, while industry players come up with a code of practice that is acceptable to government. If they can’t, then the law will be suspended.


4 responses to “Living the Great New Zealand Internet Blackout

  1. When we first got here, we didn’t have the internet for about for a week. I was astonished at how disoriented it made me. Like, at times, my heart was actually racing with anxiety. Luckily we moved into an apartment where the internet is connected to the building and you pay for it with your rent.

    I’ve been reading a bit about that section 92A – it does seem to be an odd way to go about protecting people’s rights.

  2. I stayed with my father for a week – dial up only. I was beside myself!
    I don’t understand how they can cut you off with no proof – surely that goes against some other inalienable right?

  3. I was just in Patagonia and even remote campgrounds have WiFi! Better than central Wellington, we said to ourselves.

  4. On the West coast of the US in October of 2007 we had free wifi all the way – even in truck stops (along with free coffee – overbrewed but hot and free). Makes Aus look tragic.