Adiós 2011

Fireworks over Zurich

From the future.

So…

***

We had an earthquake in Christchurch. Our family came out pretty well. There was some drama involved. Including the case of a stolen light bulb. And maybe we were being spied on. I went to my first TED event and I got together with a bunch of other young people to submit feedback to CERA. Then we had a few more earthquakes.

Christchurch Earthquake 22.02.11

A really stupid copyright law was introduced. The record companies showed their understanding of where the line was between things they should and shouldn’t be doing.

Home taping is killing music and it's illegal

Free speech was challenged multiple times. Tiki Taane, a book on child abuse and a band were all on the receiving end.

We had an election and a referendum. Then things went a bit awry with the tea tape situation. We found out that our media could be a little more ballsy, but that they’ll get searched by the police anyway.

We won the Rugby World Cup.

Rugby World Cup Christchurch

An ad for drink driving made the list of top YouTube videos.

The war on youth went on strong.

Most New Zealanders received a call from the international tech support scammers.

Name suppression controversy still appeared in the news.

Plus:

  • #Occupy
  • Rena
  • Women working
  • Failed raptures
  • Harry Potter finished with the final installment of the last movie
  • Will and Kate
  • Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear situation
  • The London riots
  • Amy Winehouse
  • The Kardashphrie 72 day marriage
  • Planking
  • Angry Birds
  • Charlie Sheen
  • Steve Jobs
  • Kim Jong Il, the importance of serifs, Osama and friends
  • The Norway massacre (where TV helicopters were there before the police)
  • Egypt
  • Libya
  • Wikileaks (Julian Assange with a target over him, Bradley Manning finally in court)
  • Brazil’s landslide
  • Turkey’s earthquake
  • US tornadoes
  • Thailand’s flood
  • News of the World
  • Macaroons

Also, check out Public Address‘, Marian Schembari, and Cate Owen‘s 2011 recaps, because they’re pretty alright too.

Image credit: Gary Denham, Tambako the Jaguar, and I

Please Follow The Instructions Carefully

Voting instructions

I agree with Graeme Edgeler over at Legal Beagle: you should probably read the Waitakere (Sepuloni/Bennett) recount/judicial review judgment (pdf) by Judge Adams. Graeme calls it 14 pages of democracy.

It’s written in plain English, and it’s no surprise that Judge Adams has a Masters in Creative Writing and has written a book of poems.

“[6] Imagine a large, vacated, open-plan office. It is well-lit, day or night, and there are windows along one side. At one end, it connects, through a door, to another similar room; at the other end, a door connects it to a large kitchen-dining area. It is not flash but the basics are provided. The room is furnished with tables made of cardboard. Four large tables have been created; achieved by pushing six tables together, three on one side and three on the other. Sellotape strips join  them together, and ensure that there is no gap into which a slip of paper could disappear. A single cardboard table stands at the head of each large table – this is the place for the table leader. The folding chairs have slightly padded seats. On these seats the counters will sit for several hours each day. This is the Waitakere electorate offìce.”

Some interesting bits from the judgment:

Dual votes

On Election Day I remember having a discussion on Twitter about what happens if it turns out there is more than one vote for a voter. I asked at a polling place but they weren’t too sure either. Basically, the election people find out what happened from the voter, and if they seem legit, they allow their actual vote.

“[22] All the polling place records are collected and a thorough check is made in order to discover if anyone has been given more than one ballot paper; this is referred to [as] “dual votes”. Where dual voting seems to have occurred the Returning Officer conducts a check – even having her staff call to the home of the voter – so that the voter can shed light on the matter. The rule is that dual votes are both disallowed but if enquiry shows that the real voter received only one paper, their vote is allowed.”

Unenrolled voters

Nearly 400 votes weren’t counted because the voters weren’t enrolled to vote.

“[24] … In Waitakere, 393 people who cast votes were found not to be enrolled anywhere so their votes remained unopened, never counted. Those votes did not form any part of the official count.”

National paranoia

A National Party scrutineer wanted the building guarded by police. The judge: “The police were likely to have more productive tasks on hand”.

“[42] At approximately 8:15pm on the Wednesday evening a National Party scrutineer, Mr Mark Brickell, requested that I ask police to guard the building. He submitted that, if word leaked out that the vote seemed closer than the official count, there might be an attempt to interfere with the voting forms. I saw no evidence of any such risk; the suggestion had not been made earlier; the police were likely to have more productive tasks on hand; the building seemed secure. I provided a hand-written decision which gave my reasons. I permitted either party to employ security guards to attend outside the building provided they notified me, and I gave them my cellphone number for that purpose. I received no call. In the morning the ballot papers were still where I had left them.”

<3

Best. Judgment. Ever.

“[47] … My favourite was the voter who emphasised their tick for Carmel Sepuloni by drawing a little orange heart in the rectangle containing her name.”

We don’t like admitting mistakes, or we love trees

Or we don’t know that we can get another voting paper if we screw one up?

“[49] … Quite a few voters had made ticks that they had scribbled over with the orange pen, but left a clear tick in another circle, which I took to be a clear indication of their preference. It seems that voters are shy of admitting they have spoiled their paper, because they could easily have obtained another. This might be fruitful area for voter education.”

The downside of transparent orange ink

Christopher Nimmo on the blog post: “But orange is just such a perfect colour for highlighting!”

“[52] … In one, the voter had made a tick for Carmel Sepuloni, and drawn a wavering line through her name. It is possible that the intention was to highlight the choice but I could not exclude the possibility that the voter had struck out her name. For me, this decision is much closer to my line than the previous decision. My level of doubt about whether the line was a change of heart of an emphasis is high; the possibility that a vote was intended is real. Nevertheless, close though it is to the line, I could not be sure that the voter clearly indicated that choice and for lack of clarity I treated it as informal.”

 

I think this all illustrates that in New Zealand the people dealing with votes actually care.

“I may heartily dislike the results of our latest election, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t dispute its validity. We’re lucky that way.” –Lucy Steward, comment on Legal Beagle.

Image credit: Liz West

The War On Youth: Pak’nSave Responds

Pak'nSave shoppersTheir reply to “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches. No comment on women with handbags or what happens if I did have something in my bag that I had bought from another supermarket.

Dear Matt,

I can confirm that our bag policy is applicable regardless of a customer’s age and is simply designed to prevent an ongoing shoplifting issue which we are trying to manage. We have a prominent sign in-store which clearly states that ‘We reserve the right to check all bags and may require you to leave large bags with a staff member while shopping.’

While I do appreciate having your bag checked is an inconvenience, unfortunately due to the level of shoplifting we experience in-store, it is an unavoidable part of how we are forced to do business, we would certainly prefer to not check customer’s bags but sometimes even with cameras and other security measures we are left with no option. I apologise if you felt you were unfairly treated and I hope you will continue to shop at my store.

My staff remain committed to giving our customers the best possible shopping experience, and by endeavouring to keep shoplifting to a minimum we hope we can deliver the lowest everyday prices.

Kind regards,

Steven McDonald
Owner
PAK’nSAVE Riccarton

Image credit: Naomi

The War On Youth: Drug Dogs At School

I wrote about the Ministry of Education’s search and seizure guide for schools a couple of months ago, but I missed this article that contains some really disturbing comments from those involved in education. Basically, the police used to assist schools with draconian drug dog and weapon searches of entire schools, but have stopped after their lawyers realized that they’re probably not legal.

Training anti-narcotics dog

The rights of a few

“Education Minister Anne Tolley said a law change might be needed, because it was wrong for the rights of one or two pupils to take precedence over the rights of the whole school community.” [emphasis mine]

Because, you know, it’s only the students with drugs and knives that are being protected by making sure searches are reasonable! As Michael Bott points out later in the article, you’re violating the rights of every student when you conduct unreasonable searches en masse.

“Every step has to be taken to prevent [exposure to drugs and weapons].”

An extremely single-minded approach. When do strip searches become a reasonable step?

Exempting teachers from the law

“Crown Law is also investigating possible law changes to protect teachers from being charged with assault or false imprisonment”.

The police being the only sensible people in the room

“They will still help schools with searches but only when there is evidence of pupils carrying weapons or illicit drugs.”

“Screw reasonable suspicion and screw the police lawyers”

“Secondary Principals Association president Patrick Walsh – principal of John Paul College in Rotorua – said … it was unfortunate that police would now offer searches only if there was “reasonable suspicion that drugs are being peddled at the school”. The searches should continue until their legality was tested in court or ministry lawyers ruled they were unlawful, he said.” [emphasis mine]

What is this I don’t even.

Second-class citizens

“‘No other New Zealand citizens are subject to the same intrusive search criteria,’ lawyer Michael Bott said.”

Random drug searches of innocent pupils “were ‘deemed OK by virtue of their age and the fact that they’re compelled to attend the school’”.

 

Hekia Parata is the new Minister of Education, so hopefully she isn’t as ridiculous as Anne Tolley. Though, Anne Tolley becomes the Minister for Police and Corrections, so good luck with that everyone.

Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Lawlor http://www.flickr.com/photos/anhonorablegerman/5722364868/

Megafail: Universal Music Gone Rogue

Megaupload uploaded a $3 million+ viral video attempt in the form of a song, The Mega Song, to YouTube. Containing endorsements from many musicians that have contracts with Universal Music Group, they weren’t the happiest of campers.

Macy Gray sings in the video, which features will.i.am, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian (who comes running whenever someone utters the word “endorsement”), Lil John, The Game, Floyd Mayweather, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx, Serena Williams and Ciara on camera. (Side note: It’s accepted that Chris Brown can do endorsements now?)

Using YouTube’s content management system, which Universal has access to as copyright holders, they took the video down. They didn’t own any content in it. They just didn’t like it.

The lawsuit

Now Megaupload aren’t the happiest of campers, and are suing Universal, trying to prevent Universal from interfering with the video, which is now back up, after YouTube appears to have asked Universal as to why exactly they took it down.

The New Zealand connection (read: Universal don’t know what their own artists sound like)

Apart from Kim Schmitz/Kim Dotcom, Chief Innovation Officer at Megaupload having a house here in New Zealand where he also has permanent residency (which he celebrated by giving Auckland a $500,000 USD New Year fireworks display), Universal claimed that they took down the video because it contained content from one of their artists, Gin Wigmore.

Wigmore, of course, doesn’t appear in the video at all, in audio or visual form (but was approached to sing in it), so perhaps Universal have forgotten what their artists actually sound like, and mistook Macy Gray for her.

will.i.am

Two takedown notices were received, the second one from will.i.am (well, his lawyer), who appears in the video, saying “When I’ve got to send files across the globe, I use Megaupload”.

Ira Rothken, lawyer for Megaupload, says that written permission in the form of signed Appearance Consent and Release Agreements were provided by everyone in the video, including will.i.am. will.i.am’s signed form, which you can read here (pdf, will.i.am’s real name is William Adams), is pretty convincing.

The Hollywood Reporter has Ken Hertz, will.i.am’s lawyer, says that he “never consented to the ‘Megaupload Mega Song’”. Because he delivered that line to camera for another reason?

Dotcom says that will.i.am assured him that he “had not authorized the submission of any takedown notice on his behalf”.

Universal’s takedown rights “not limited to copyright infringement”

Universal claim that they can takedown the video under an agreement with YouTube–not the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a letter (pdf) to YouTube from Kelly Klaus, a Universal lawyer, says that “As you know, UMG’s [takedown] rights in this regard are not limited to copyright infringement, as set forth more completely in the March 31, 2009 Video License Agreement for UGC Video Service Providers, including without limitation in Paragraphs 1(b) and 1(g) thereof.”

In that case the DMCA’s rules and protections around takedown notices wouldn’t apply. If this is true, YouTube isn’t exactly open about it. They claimed that the video had been taken down by a copyright claim in the message displayed when people tried to watch it:

Mega Song block notice on YouTube

Rothken says “What they are basically arguing, they can go ahead and suppress any speech they want without any consequences. That’s not a workable paradigm”.

 

This is, perhaps, a huge tick in the column against the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is currently being debated.

Streisand effect, here we come.

Image credit: TorrentFreak

The War On Youth: “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches

Trolley outside shop

Update: Pak’nSave responds.

An open letter.

Dear People of Pak’nSave Riccarton,

On 15 December I shopped at Riccarton Pak’nSave with a group of other young people.

After purchasing items at a self-checkout directly in front of one of your staff (really, she was right beside me), she requested to search my bag. I had not touched the bag during my visit so this request was not based on any actual evidence that I had attempted to steal something, like from a store detective or a camera.

It was extremely obvious that this was not a random search, as she called it. It was because of my age. Three other people from our group were selected for a “random” search. I wonder how many women with handbags were searched that day? I know my friend that came through the self-checkout after us wasn’t.

I declined the request.

I waited for the rest of our group and left the store. I was followed by a store manager who put his arm touching up against me, and tried to stop me from leaving. I declined again, which I have the right to do, no matter your signage, and walked away.

It’s disgusting to treat your paying customers like this.

Do you consider that bags contain personal possessions? That most people wouldn’t decline your request to search, because it makes them look and feel like a criminal? That searching personal possessions could reveal, say, a private medical condition?

I wonder what the purpose of these “random” searches are. Say I did consent to the search, I had items in my bag that I didn’t buy or steal from Pak’nSave, but that you sell. I didn’t have the receipt. What would happen then? Would you accuse me of stealing those items? Would you call the police on me? If not, why are you searching young people? Scare tactics? That isn’t the definition of a reasonable search.

If it is your policy to target young people or people with backpacks (read: young people), it needs to change. It is discriminatory and wrong.

If you weren’t the only supermarket at Westfield Riccarton, I wouldn’t shop with you again.

Kind regards

Matt Taylor

Image credit: bfick

Update: Here’s Aliza Eveleigh on bag searches (click for larger version): The Star Aliza Eveleigh bag search