SDN Technology

Surveillance Law Drives SDN Test From New Zealand – Reports

A tough surveillance law cost New Zealand a Google-sponsored SDN test, according to reports.

Victoria University in Wellington, the Reannz research network, Google and the Energy Sciences Network at Berkeley, California, were collaborating on an SDN research project for several years, according to a report by Rob O'Neill on ZDnet.

But New Zealand's new Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Act (TICSA) requires network operators to notify security agencies of changes to their networks. That's impractical for SDN, where network changes are constant and made on the fly, notes ZDnet.

So after seeking relief from agencies involved and failing, and facing penalties of up to NZ$500,000 (US$378,167) per day, the companies picked up house and moved to Australia.

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TICSA is "denting innovation and scaring off overseas investment," writes Juha Saarinen at The New Zealand Herald:

Good intentions aside, TICSA introduces a layer of bureaucracy and delay for network operators who want to be nimble and fleet-footed, but face ten to twenty days of waiting as the [New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre] ponders on whether or not to approve of network configuration changes...

We've missed the boat now because changing TICSA would take a long time. By then, SDN/NFV will be established business, earning some other country than New Zealand billions of dollars and kudos.

Protecting against crime and terrorism are important goals, but they need to be kept in balance with the needs of running an economy (and a society, and generally living life). New Zealand is paying a high price -- too high! -- for security legislation that makes it difficult to compete in a hot, emerging marketplace.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

brooks7 3/5/2015 | 11:06:53 AM
Re: The law can work with better tech investment. Mitch,

Essentially all nations have laws about lawful intercept of traffic.  They are used not just in terrorism cases but in standard wiretapping.  If you can use VoIP instead of the phone, then standard voice wiretaps are of no value.

Now generally, the implentation is the first time that customer traffic hits a switching center of either voice or data.  The problem in the Internet is that there is no central control point outside of BGP.  So, if there is dynamic changes to how traffic flows than it makes lawful intercept problematic.

One easy way to get around it (I would think) is have a layer that is not SDN-able at the customer boundary of edge routing.


Joe Stanganelli 3/4/2015 | 11:11:16 PM
Re: The law can work with better tech investment. I am by no means close to an expert on New Zealand policy matters, but I tend to think from your article that the law is a part national security policy, part nanny-statism.  Government wants to be kept informed of network changes across the nation to track cybersecurity, and it just may think it can do cybersecurity and networking better than the private sector.

Of course, if it can't figure out a way to work with SDN, that would tend to suggest that the latter perception would be mistaken.
Mitch Wagner 3/4/2015 | 4:29:28 PM
Re: The law can work with better tech investment. I'd like to see a response to a basic question: How is this law necessary? How does it protect anyone?
thebulk 3/2/2015 | 9:49:54 PM
Re: Holding back a lot more @FrankR, well put, I share your hope that at some point in the future we will see this time for what it really was, though I doubt it will be anytime soon. 
FrankR 3/2/2015 | 12:45:47 PM
Re: Holding back a lot more Another failed example of legislators attempting to regulate technologies they don't understand. I hope that one day post 9/11 hysteria and its negative outcomes will be correctly categorized with similar delusional episodes such as the Salem Witch trials, WW II internments, the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Until then, innovation and personal privacy will remain on hold and billions will be wasted trying to plug the governmental dikes which hold back human ingenuity and individual freedom in the name of "security".
Joe Stanganelli 3/1/2015 | 2:53:31 AM
The law can work with better tech investment. I wonder...could there not be a "real-time" mechanism built to accommodate compliance requirements with SDN?  Of course, this would require a significant investment on the part of the New Zealand government -- especially with the analytics required to distinguish the "noise" from the significant changes.
thebulk 2/28/2015 | 10:32:32 AM
Holding back a lot more It seems to me that such a law could hold back the whole country from the bright future that SDN could offer. I find it hard to believe that the government would not consider changes to the law to allow innovation and advancment. 
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