The ''massive scale'' of worldwide internet surveillance provides the backdrop to an internet surveillance conference starting in Dunedin today, organiser John Farnsworth says.
The conference is being held at the University of Otago and has former Mega chief executive Vikram Kumar as one of the keynote speakers. He recently resigned from Kim Dotcom's Mega to run Mr Dotcom's Internet Party, which opposes internet surveillance.
Other keynote speakers include independent author and journalist Nicky Hager and Prof Graham Murdock, from the University of Auckland.
About 40 people had registered for the conference late yesterday, including Dunedin South MP Clare Curran, Labour's associate ICT spokeswoman.
Dr Farnsworth said yesterday the conference would focus on whether the open internet was dead.
A recent BBC report disclosed how the NSA and GCHQ spy agencies might have tapped not only into the internet but also into undersea fibre optic cables. A range of experts and public figures would discuss internet surveillance along with major privacy and copyright issues during the conference, which ends on Saturday, he said.
''We expect this to be the start of a series. We know internet surveillance will be an ongoing issue, so this conference is the start rather than the end.''