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Why Kim Dotcom's Internet Party is good for NZ

LATEST: Peters admits to mansion visits, sides with Dotcom against Key | Dotcom sets deadline for Internet Party 'self destruct


Had it not been knocked on the head by the Electoral Commission, Kim Dotcom’s ‘party party’ would have been unleashed on Monday to 20,000 screaming ‘fans’ at Vector Arena.

It’s hard to recall a product launch for anything of this scale in New Zealand recently. It’s even harder to recall the last time an aspiring politician filled a stadium.

Like him or not, something fantastic is brewing for New Zealand and I for one am watching happily as it unfolds. A lot of people from the industry that Kim and I work in, which revolves around technology, the internet, and innovation of the future, have thus far stayed quiet, preferring to sit on the sidelines. So as a self-appointed member of that unofficial club, I thought I’d come out and say something.

There is no doubt that controversy and hype surrounds Kim Dotcom. But if you can look beyond this for a moment and imagine that he could possibly play an important part of the political process, you might find yourself surprised.
Three reasons why:

1. The Vision Vacuum
People buy vision – it’s why they follow business icons like Steve Jobs; it’s why they vote Obama; it’s why America went to the moon (despite Colin Craig’s take). The common consensus among voters I know across all parties, is that there isn’t an ounce of vision within 1000 miles of the beehive.

What we desperately need during the debate on who earns the right to run our country is clear and breakthrough vision about very important long term things: about the future of sustainable farming, the future of energy; the future of drug policy; the future of the internet. We need true vision about where New Zealand needs to boldly head, beyond Sunday’s front page and into the next ten years – cycle ways and smacking don’t qualify.

Kim Dotcom definitely won’t have the answers to most things and may not have the right vision for New Zealand – but I’m betting that his party will at the very least have one about a few vital things this country needs to address: our vision on technology as a fundamental part of the economy of the future; universal broadband access as a public service right for everyone alongside access to clean water, air and shelter; and full transparency and protection of our privacy, freedom of voice and individual human rights fit for purpose for the digital era we live in.

As it stands, we are heading down a dangerous spiral across all those fronts – with a government that spies on us and uses helicopters to take down people without due process; with an internet that crawls along at toddler speeds and in some places not at all; and a public referendum process that doesn’t seem to matter, in the face of a ‘mandate’.

New Zealand needs leaders with the courage to do things differently, say things differently and have visions bigger than their terms. The choices on offer at the moment struggle in all departments and like him or loathe him, Kim Dotcom is going to have a crack at changing some of the conversation.

2. Digital Democracy
Kim Dotcom will unleash the force of innovation and the internet in the electoral and democratic process. None of the existing political parties have any real grasp of the power of digital, social and internet media in creating movements, and accelerating change – let alone using it as a tool to win elections, as Obama did.

We don’t have a Chief Digital Officer for most of our cities nor the country; we don’t have an army of digital savvy special advisors surrounding our Cabinet, or the Opposition (if they exist then I’m not aware of them). If they do, they should be using the internet in ways that reach, educate and inspire our young people to vote. With Dotcom’s party, I’m betting 2014 will see all that change and some of them will be woefully outgunned.

3. The Young & Indifferent
These two constituents are seldom inspired to get off the couch and go to the polls because to date what’s been offered is of little relevance to them.

We have a government that doesn’t really listen to the people and has increasingly grown comfortable in a quasi-arrogant swagger. And now, here comes somebody larger than life, fearless and controversial who has decided to swagger alongside them.

Because of the way our political system works, and the disproportionate power fringe parties can have, you don’t even have to like or care about Kim’s politics to know that a new ‘game of thrones’ has begun.

And that’s why his Internet Party is so vital for 2014 and New Zealand. The irony of his outsized personality and continual but well-executed self promotion is that by his very existence, by the very fact he’ll try to turn the game on its head, he will force all of his opposition to think.

He’ll make them sharper, more responsive, less arrogant, more digital, more relevant. More useful. More humble. And that’s good for all of us. So bring on the party party.

Derek Handley is the chairman of Snakk Media, a recently appointed Sky TV director, CEO of Sir Richard Branson's The B Team, founder of the Iliad fund and a budding space cadet.

LATEST: Peters admits to mansion visits, sides with Dotcom against Key | Dotcom sets deadline for Internet Party 'self destruct

More by Derek Handley

Comments and questions

Handley is also a director of the monopoly Sky TV .Cant help but think there appears to be a lot of backscratching,of the mentioned German Dotcom.Could there be a hidden agenda here.

Not sure where the backscratching comes in.
Personally, I find it fascinating that a recently appointed Sky TV director would champion a party formed by an advocate of over-the-top internet content.

Ok, let's go there then shall we if you want back-scratching and hidden agenda's?

Warner Bros, John Key, FBI, John Key, GCSB, John Key, Joe Biden, John Key, Barack Obama, John Key, Anti-Terror Raid, John Key, Police, John Key ... the irony is thick. Yet abuse of power used to be a criminal matter, not anymore it seems for those big enough to be above the law?

Mr Handley - good on you mate !

The old boys' club and their manipulators will sneer and scoff and yet be a little worried. You have told it like it is and I'm looking forward to it.

Handley is part of the old boys club. See posts above. He is just another businessman

Wonder what dotcom promised him

Whaleoil has noted that investor Michael John Sorensen owned arround 12% of shares in NZAX-listed Snakk Media at one time (Handley is chairman of Snakk). Sorensen is also director of Baboom*, along with Dotcom co-accused Finn Batato and major Mega shareholder Tony Lentino

I asked Handley if he had any association with Sorensen, or any connection to Baboom or any of Dotcom's other ventures.

He messaged: "no Sorenson has ever been a Director of any company I've been involved in + i don't have any links w any Dotcom ventures."

(*Although there's a locally registered Baboom, Mega CEO Vikram Kumar has previously told NBR that Baboom - formerly Megabox - is controlled by Hong Kong companies set up by Kim Dotcom during the time he lived in that country, and still operational. Dotcom says he brought Baboom investors on board through his Hong Kong companies because the investors preferred Hong Kong over NZ for tax reasons.)

I think people are forgetting that Kim can't stand for office as he is a foreigner. He will no doubt have some puppet fronting the party. Kim is only the founder. If the puppet doesn't have the right appeal or charisma they are dead in the water.

Yes, on the face of it, the Electoral Act says you have to be an NZ citizen. Dotcom earlier said he had received legal advice he could stand regardless (

And of course his supporters could stand as Internet Party candidates.

KDC's policy as Megaupload founder was clear to me: never again should we pay to see a rerun of a B-grade movie on Sky and for those willing to read off computer screens, paying for textbooks or any other literature would be a thing of the past. Certainly one major NZ exporter has used the latter facility. However as a politician what does he really stand for: no surveillance for possible terrorists whatsoever in NZ? higher internet speeds than could be achieved by natural technology creep? A zero rate of tax in NZ for people whose interests straddle international boundaries - no, he hasn't said that. Roger Douglas back in 1987 proposed that NZ would become the world's share trading hub because it straddled the date line- becoming the internet hub seems no less fanciful. KDC will appeal to a disaffected voter and can be expected to cannibalise more Green-Labour votes than National-Act-Conservative, despite his vision going little beyond self interest and having little contact (other than free tee-shirts) with his unwashed supporters.

Im a nzer n i think he should b deportd we dont wana big money hungrey Americanz, comin here n tryng 2 get in our goverment, yes we hv a crap goverment at mo but we need 2 keep it nz only, how about workng with kiwi companys instead of outrite takeova.

Um! Kim Dotcom is German not American and if he gets citizenship he will be a new zealander "kiwi" like you are me brother.

And he's not a big money hungry american/german, his whole stance so far is to end the monopoly of a certain company fleecing NZ'ers because we have no other choice.

Go Internet party! and I can't wait to see his "Digital Rights" Document.

I love the disturbance that he's caused. I think it's great to shake things up a little, every now and then. So it will be intresting to see how the younger voters respond this year -Elections 2014, c'mon!

Kim dot com's only vision for (from) NZ is the cell door of an American prison. Starting a Political Party in NZ won't keep him here in NZ.

Keep in mind, RJ Robert, the only ones *known* to have done something illegal in all of this are the GCSB and the NZ Gov't. Kim Dotcom, is innocent until proven guilty, and I think it's quite plausible that he won't be found guilty of anything, much less a trumped up extradition-to-the-US-of-Hollywood guilty. Keep in mind, "racketeering" (whatever that is) isn't even in our law books.

Before KDC could stand for parliament in NZ, he must face up to the FBI charges against him. I do not want to see someone with money but have a suspect business background, come to NZ and think that he could do anything. Why couldn't he do it in Thailand, Ozzy or Indonesia? He may have some good ideas but that alone is not enough to provide what the country needs. We have enough cowboys already as it is, [JohnBnks, Auck. mayor] and NZ is better off without another big one.

The charges have a trumpted up component from the movie moguls who financially support the US politicians. Corruption to degrees at every corner. And now we have John Keys sucking up to the movie industry and the US government. Does that make you feel comfortable?

Ironic that a director of Sky TV is promoting a political party that is the absolute antithesis of what Sky stands for.

Could be argued that by writing this article he is in breach of his fiduciary duties as director of Sky TV since he is encouraging internet piracy, removal of geoblocking etc, which harms Sky's business model.

And how is Derek Handley advocating internet piracy or removal of geo-blocking??

SkyTV's biggest threat isn't, its new internet players that buy rights for football matches which are then streamed to your computer.

Dotcom has the NZ preferred black apparel. All he needs is a silver fern badge and get rid of his German accent and add few kiwi words to his vocab and we'll have a winner.
Seriously we need vision. The great hydro electric schemes and rail and highways build last century are sustaining us now There hasn't been anything built since.
Can he get us to invest in R & D and develop it into Kiwi industry? The answer is no. Well be a land of unemployed playing space invaders on ultra fast broadband.

I think that the name Internet Party could be a misnomer.

To me at least it implies internet voting advocacy-which I think any sane democratic country would stay well clear of-even for referenda.

I mean given all the latest revelations of espying and the potential for a superpower country/corporate or opportunistic tycoon to infiltrate a non-physical ballott or internet voting environment-I also think that the more liberal rather than libertarian voters would not probably be of the same political ilk of Mr Dot Com and might be unpleasantly surprised by some of his eventual policies-remember his Banksy dalliance?

I like, time for change, And yes,my friends also agree. The initials (KDC) is out to party party 2014.

PR disaster is what it is - i mean really - Bomber the Blogger from to the left writing the strategy - oooohhhhh please. I think KDC looks silly on this one - see it for what it is - a go at Key / Nats, which in some ways is probably a little bit justified as the way in which the whole raid / spying was conducted looked pretty much like a C Grade Steven Segal movie - but that said launching a party like this. The Party Party missed the party.

I agree with Derek Handley and I think a lot of the posters on this article are missing the bigger picture. There are a substantial amount of disillusioned young people who are highly educated, technology savvy and social media connected in a way that was never previously available. They can communicate to large amounts of like-minded others in an instant and therefore have the ability to mobilise and shift opinion in way that the “old guard” politicians cannot fathom. This is a generation who can see the cynical nature of politicians who ignore what the voters are telling them. This generation is frustrated that it does not have a collective voice that registers with politicians.

Although Kim Dotcom might appear to be the “face” of change, look a little deeper and you can see he is simply a catalyst that has shown a way for the young educated and technically savvy to believe they can have a voice and can make a change to the status quo. If this change can be managed in a relatively rapid form there is the ability to institute real change in government as opposed the old way where those younger MP’s with vision enter parliament and get squashed by the old guard (none of whom would never qualify for employment in the “productive sector” of the economy), who like the way things currently run as its personally beneficial.

It’s only a generation away before these young and savvy become the politicians of tomorrow so change is inevitable. It’s simply a question of has Dotcom by default become a catalyst for initiating a faster change and paradigm shift in government thinking; something I would love to see happen.

BTW I am a 52 year old technology business owner that exports 100% of their production offshore returning all of the profits to NZ. If someone my age wants and sees this change coming then you know it’s not just the voice of a younger generation wanting to be heard by politicians.

Nail meet head. You can also add to the mix the fact that a male's brain is not fully developed until 25 years old (and therefore you could argue more easily manipulated) And lesser things too... for example, Finlayson’s latest, pompous rant about use of proper grammar (or was it a p## take??), that will just rally the younger troops against the old guard even more. Crikey, KDC’s target constituency wouldn’t even know what a coma was ...they speak an entirely different language. Finlayson’s nonsense is perhaps the sort of single issue thing KDC could rally the troops at the click of mouse, and have them rise up against the old guard. You only have to look to China and the change that Twitter is having against the old guard, where protests are now common place and all organised at the click of a button

Worse, we have no visionary leaders who are prepared to lay down a plan for New Zealand for the next 5, 10, 15 years out, so we all know were we are going and how we are going to get there. Mainly, I blame MMP for that and NZ will just have to continue to wing its way into the future, which is also why the likes of internet savy KDC has more than a fat chance.

BTW I'm a 62 year owner of a well established manufacturing business in Auckland

As I explained to my mid 20's nephew yesterday... in the next election we will have Labour promising benefit increases again (as they do with every election) and National promising to cut benefits and cut taxes.

We have never had an election built on vision. One in which a party promises a new viewpoint or a direction for change.

The internet is in its infancy. NZ could mould itself into one of the worlds safest data warehouses.... be the first country to adopt Bitcoin into our taxation system... we could be the leaders in so many things.

I think the Internet Party has a very good opportunity to push these idea's.

Methinks many of the posters are getting carried away, or at least jumping the gun. No candidates have been announced, no policies have been released, and I doubt that he has yet acquired 500 paid up members - a requirement to register a political party, yet many commentators seem to think KDC will be a factor in the election. He may be a factor alright, but he will not win any seats or pass the 5% threshold, so his only effect will be to damage the minor left wing parties. Sound perfect to me.

Someone show some evidence that Handley's generation, which has grown up sympatico with social media, has any self-sustaining political will and vision enmasse? At heart, digital media is just a hormone-fed amplification of the echo chamber of selective bias, personality politics and issues activism that have grown up with traditional media. The rapid dissemination, direct representation and network building power of current technology only serves to pressure-cook and blow-out attention before real traction occurs, the signal-to-noise ratio is even more diluted and engagement is fickle.
Commenters supporting Handley's position identify themselves as baby boomers thinking this will surprise readers but isn't it entirely predictable that the aging parents of a generation moving into late adulthood will put faith in the abilities and potential of their offspring? Particularly a generation whose size effected their unusual significant cultural and political influence at a young age.
In the end, the lower rungs of Maslow's hierarchy of needs win-out in politics and so long as we're meat puppets, they haven't changed for millennia.

I think that the target group for the K.C party will be a small sector of the Green party. i.e. those that really have right wing tendencies in that they want lighter regulation, smaller government and the freedom to do what they want.

Apart from a few policies that any government who has responsibilities to protect the wider interests of all the citizens (not just their privacy) I think the centre right is a more natural fit for this party but their target market not wanting to align with mainstream parties have clicked onto the Greens.

But whatever happens it will be interesting.

The other interesting thing is that within the next decade all these young internet savvy youth will be taking over from the Baby boomers as the new economy will increasingly become high tech. Chances are how they vote this year will be markedly different in 10 years time as they take on increased responsibility.

I think NZ spies need a warrant before they spy on someone.
Currently we are under mass surveillance by the GCSB or the NSA.
The best way to stop this illegal spying is to support Kim Dotcom's Internet party.

With respect to Mr. Handley, I don't think each of his argument works:

1. This "vision" thing is misleading. Obama's vision may have made an impact, but over a short period of time he was found out (Obama CAN but DID NOT change America for the better!). Jobs may have the vision for new great products, but over time others caught up.

This vision thing KDC has is either: a) skirting the law as much as we can so we can have free stuff/earn money, never mind the morality (i.e. business model of KDC); or b) DIGITAL ECONOMY BABY! (Just don't ask me how we get from our commodities reliant economy to DIGITAL ECONOMY BABY!). A) is no different from the practices of many multinational investment banks (while the real productive economy suffers.) B) is just hot air. We have enough of both, thank you very much.

2. I just don't see how KDC drives the bid for digital democracy. There are lots of proposal on how to meld the internet with the election process (the debate with using internet vote for local election like Auckland Mayor is one that immediately comes to mind). This issue is tangential to KDC.

3. I guess this is addressing to our generation, and I think the #1 hot button issue isn't about surveillance by the state (although it IS very high on the list, unlike to say, babyboomers). The #1 hot button issue is the very local issue of affordable house price in the major centres. KDC has nothing to say to that. Even regarding to surveillance, I just can't tell whether KDC is being entirely self-serving when he became the "champion" of internet freedom.

So here is the punchline: Is KDC going to politics for self-serving reason or for more altruistic reasons? As far as I can see, a lot of his reasons are self-serving. People like that would NEVER get my vote.

If I want to vote for a party that breaks the mold, the Greens are already doing that by breaking the duopoly of National and Labour. Conservative party looks to be able to do the same coming from the right.

The e-spying revelations-not to forget new revelations that suggest agencies (overseas or otherwise) can not only view data (undetected) but actually can insert data through advanced cable/radiowave connections and or compromised servors mean that the term 'digital democracy' is surely oxymoronic?

A physical ballot is our only assurance now that our vote will be counted-ie a physical ballot and due multi-party and independent scrutiny is now the only fair democratic process! It is highly ironic that as someone subject to intrusive e-spying KDC is seemingly (through his party's name choice) proposing a party that supports a voting system subject to these very same vagaries and machiavellian possibilities!

As Labour did for students ie student free loan, KDC could (for example) be in a position to offer free internet for all or, something similar which would have significant appeal to a lot of individuals.

Kiwis like free stuff - fireworks, icecreams and pirated movies. And now Internet. But Internet costs. Real money. Where will that money come from? Other people. So dotcom is just another socialist. We already have more than enough of those already.

One wonders if Herr Schmitz must now be questioning whether it was the right move to appoint 'Bomber' Bradbury as his Minister of Propaganda?

History is littered with charismatic individuals whom can mesmerise the masses with their intellect, vision and rhetoric, eg Hitler and the likes of Jim Jones whom sent nearly 1000 people to their death on his whim.

KDC is more than the measure of John Key when it comes to charisma, intellect and in articulating himself. KDC is also younger, has the fiscal whetheral but moreover perhaps, the motivation to stick it to John Key.

Love him or loathe him, don’t underestimate the fat guy

Unbelievable, all those being duped by this KFC, sorry KDC kid, be only wants to save his sorry arse and will do ANYTHING to stay out of the USA.

His company paid people to place copyright material on his site, where it can be used. That is plain and simple a Fence, and sitting on a fence is what the NZ judiciary are doing

Ever heard of Youtube and Yahoo? And the difference is?

KDC paid people to put the stolen property on mega, I guess that's the difference

Neither National or Labour have been able to motivate the young, dumb or poor to get off the couch and vote.

The fact that Labour know they get a poor voter turn out if it is raining on polling day, says much. The fact that Key needed a cup of tea to "wink wink nod nod", help Epsom voters get the message, and yet they still had an average turn out also says much.

We saw some of that "go vote" motivation (which worked) come from the Greens, who have some vision for sustainability, but you wouldn't trust them with real money. So they have part of the younger voter story. Lets see what the policies look like, but I suspect the Internet party will resonate.

I also find it extremely interesting that the Key government has become "muldoonesque" and here we have a modern day Bob Jones in the form of KDC setting up a party to again highlight the indifference and arrogance of an incumbent National party. We all know what happened that time...

The support for KDC by Derek Handley and other commenters here seems to be more about 'sticking it' to the current political parties and not at all about what KDC will bring to NZ politics. Thats the bit that scares me.

Support from those that can't think past 'whats-in-it-for-me' be they teenagers that think free tickets to a music event is worth a vote, or middle aged business owners who think a vote for KDC will 'show those politicians a thing or two' may well have the effect of giving enormous power to a bunch of self serving, untested, unknown idiots (as opposed to the idiots we know).

We have seen this so often before in history; remember when the USA thought it was a great idea to get rid of those pesky Russians in Afghanistan .... by arming the Taliban

I would be interested to learn more about any new party as the current crop of politicians really disappoint on so many levels

Except fence sitters usually get splinters.Would say up to now the NZ judiciary have got a few too many,trying to be all things to all people,and have got themselves into a muddle.What a pity the Privy Council was disbanded by a few politcians.NZ is now reaping the downside, of a badly considered political decision.

Another thing that could work in KDC favour, is that there are a now also a lot of Muslims (and other immigrants entitled to vote) in NZ, who despise the USA. This fact was driven home to me way back 9/11, when I remember feeling quite sick reading all the anti US sentiment in the book of condolences in the Auckland Public Library, shortly after the Twin Towers attack