jm + australia   17

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Tracked People By Their Mobile Device Data.
The ABS claims population estimates have a “major data gap” and so they’ve been a busy bee figuring out a way to track crowd movement. Their solution? Mobile device user data. “…with its near-complete coverage of the population, mobile device data is now seen as a feasible way to estimate temporary populations,” states a 2017 conference extract for a talk by ABS Demographer Andrew Howe.

While the “Estimated Resident Population” (ERP) is Australia’s official population measure, the ABS felt the pre-existing data wasn’t ‘granular’ enough. What the ABS really wanted to know was where you’re moving, hour by hour, through the CBD, educational hubs, tourist areas. Howe’s ABS pilot study of mobile device user data creates population estimates with the help of a trial engagement with an unnamed telco company. The data includes age and sex breakdowns. The study ran between the 18th April to 1st May 2016. [....]

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Justin Warren also pointed out that while there are beneficial uses for this kind of information, “…the ABS should be treading much more carefully than it is. The ABS damaged its reputation with its bungled management of the 2016 Census, and with its failure to properly consult with civil society about its decision to retain names and addresses. Now we discover that the ABS is running secret tracking experiments on the population?”

“Even if the ABS’ motives are benign, this behaviour — making ethically dubious decisions without consulting the public it is experimenting on — continues to damage the once stellar reputation of the ABS.”

“This kind of population tracking has a dark history. During World War II, the US Census Bureau used this kind of tracking information to round up Japanese-Americans for internment. Census data was used extensively by Nazi Germany to target specific groups of people. The ABS should be acutely aware of these historical abuses, and the current tensions within society that mirror those earlier, dark days all too closely.”
abs  australia  tracking  location-data  privacy  data-privacy  mobile 
8 weeks ago by jm
Austerity is an Algorithm
Fucking hell, things sound grim Down Under:
Things changed in December 2016, when the government announced that the system had undergone full automation. Humans would no longer investigate anomalies in earnings. Instead, debt notices would be automatically generated when inconsistencies were detected. The government’s rationale for automating the process was telling. “Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to—no more and no less,” read the press release. “And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.”

The result was a disaster. I’ve had friends who’ve received an innocuous email urging them to check their MyGov account—an online portal available to Australian citizens with an internet connection to access a variety of government services—only to log in and find they’re hundreds or thousands of dollars in arrears, supposedly because they didn’t accurately report their income. Some received threats from private debt collectors, who told them their wages would be seized if they didn’t submit to a payment plan.

Those who wanted to contest their debts had to lodge a formal complaint, and were subjected to hours of Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major before they could talk to a case worker. Others tried taking their concerns directly to the Centrelink agency on Twitter, where they were directed to calling Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline for crisis support and suicide prevention.

At the end of 2015, my friend Chloe received a notice claiming she owed $20,000 to the government. She was told that she had reported her income incorrectly while on Youth Allowance, which provides financial assistance to certain categories of young people.

The figure was shocking and, like others in her position, she grew suspicious. She decided to contest the debt: she contacted all of her previous employers so she could gather pay slips, and scanned them into the MyGov app. “I gave them all of my information to prove that there was no way I owed them $20,000,” she says.

The bean counters were unmoved. They maintained that Chloe had reported her after-tax income instead of her before-tax income. As a result, they increased the amount she owed to $30,000. She agreed to a payment plan, which will see her pay off the debt in fortnightly installments of $50 over the course of two decades. “I even looked into bankruptcy because I was so stressed by it,” she says. “All I could think about was the Centrelink debt, and once they upped it to 30k, I was so ashamed and sad and miserable,” she says.
austerity  algorithms  automation  dystopia  australia  government  debt-collectors  robo-debt  dole  benefit  grim-meathook-future 
10 weeks ago by jm
Computer says no: Irish vet fails oral English test needed to stay in Australia
An Irish veterinarian with degrees in history and politics has been unable to convince a machine she can speak English well enough to stay in Australia.

Louise Kennedy is a native English speaker, has excellent grammar and a broad vocabulary. She holds two university degrees – both obtained in English – and has been working in Australia as an equine vet on a skilled worker visa for the past two years.

But she is now scrambling for other visa options after a computer-based English test – scored by a machine – essentially handed her a fail in terms of convincing immigration officers she can fluently speak her own language.


This is idiotic. Computer-based voice recognition is in no way reliable enough for this kind of job. It's automated Kafkaesque bureaucracy -- "computer says no". Shame on Oz

(via James Kelleher)
via:etienneshrdlu  kafkaesque  bureaucracy  computer-says-no  voice-recognition  australia  immigration  english  voice  testing 
august 2017 by jm
Australian Doctor on Twitter: "Outcry as MyHealthRecord default privacy setting left open to universal access"
Funnily enough, this is exactly what Ross Anderson warned about 10 years ago re patient record digitisation in the UK.

'Occupational therapists working for an employer, doctors working for insurance companies, a dietitian, an optometrist or a dentist or their staff can view the [patient] record and see if individuals have a sexually transmitted disease, a mental illness, have had an abortion or are using Viagra.'
privacy  heaith  australia  myhealthrecord  data-protection  data-privacy  healthcare  medicine 
april 2017 by jm
IPBill ICRs are the perfect material for 21st-century blackmail
ICRs are the perfect material for blackmail, which makes them valuable in a way that traditional telephone records are not. And where potentially large sums of money are involved, corruption is sure to follow. Even if ICR databases are secured with the best available technology, they are still vulnerable to subversion by individuals whose jobs give them ready access.
This is no theoretical risk. Just one day ago, it emerged that corrupt insiders at offshore call centres used by Australian telecoms were offering to sell phone records, home addresses, and other private details of customers. Significantly, the price requested was more if the target was an Australian "VIP, politician, police [or] celebrity."
blackmail  privacy  uk-politics  uk  snooping  surveillance  icrs  australia  phone-records 
november 2016 by jm
Gene patents probably dead worldwide following Australian court decision
The court based its reasoning on the fact that, although an isolated gene such as BRCA1 was "a product of human action, it was the existence of the information stored in the relevant sequences that was an essential element of the invention as claimed." Since the information stored in the DNA as a sequence of nucleotides was a product of nature, it did not require human action to bring it into existence, and therefore could not be patented.


Via Tony Finch.
via:fanf  australia  genetics  law  ipr  medicine  ip  patents 
october 2015 by jm
Sweary Australian Mountains
This is great. Featuring Mount Buggery:
There were no tracks of any sort until they reached Mt Howitt and Stewart, perhaps not quite as fit as he could have been, was finding the going tough after the descent from Mt Speculation. Faced with the prospect of yet another laborious climb he exploded with the words 'What another bugger! I'll call this mountain Mt Buggery.'


and Mount Arsehole:
"We always called it Mt Arsehole... Then they came along with all their fancy bloody maps and ideas. Changed it to Mt Arthur. Christ knows why. Bastard of a place anyway!"
swearing  australia  mount-buggery  mount-arsehole  nsw  victoria  places  history  names  mountains 
august 2015 by jm
New South Wales Attacks Researchers Who Found Internet Voting Vulnerabilities | Electronic Frontier Foundation
'NSW officials seemed more interested in protecting their reputations than the integrity of elections. They sharply criticized Halderman and Teague, rather than commending them, for their discovery of the FREAK attack vulnerability. The Chief Information Officer of the Electoral Commission, Ian Brightwell, claimed Halderman and Teague’s discovery was part of efforts by “well-funded, well-managed anti-internet voting lobby groups,” an apparent reference to our friends at VerifiedVoting.org, where Halderman and Teague are voluntary Advisory Board members.1 Yet at the same time, Brightwell concluded that it was indeed possible that votes were manipulated.'
freak  security  vulnerabilities  exploits  nsw  australia  internet-voting  vvat  voting  online-voting  eff 
april 2015 by jm
Australia tries to ban crypto research – by ACCIDENT • The Register
Researchers are warned off [discussing] 512-bits-plus key lengths, systems “designed or modified to perform cryptanalytic functions, or “designed or modified to use 'quantum cryptography'”. [....] “an email to a fellow academic could land you a 10 year prison sentence”.


https://twitter.com/_miw/status/556023024009224192 notes 'the DSGL 5A002 defines it as >512bit RSA, >512bit DH, >112 bit ECC and >56 bit symmetric ciphers; weak as fuck i say.'
law  australia  crime  crypto  ecc  rsa  stupidity  fail 
january 2015 by jm
You can't "waste your vote"!
A fantastic infographic explaining Australia's Preferential Voting system, featuring Dennis the Election Koala and Ken the Voting Dingo
infographics  funny  pr  voting  australia  images  via:fp 
august 2013 by jm
small town council in Oz has been snooping on mobile phone records to catch litterbugs and owners of unregistered pets
Privacy advocates have slammed Wyndham council for spying on residents’ mobile phone data and email records almost 50 times in the past three years, “not to hunt down terrorists but to catch litterbugs and owners of unregistered pets”. Figures from the attorney-general’s department reveal Wyndham is the only Victorian council that has been snooping on personal data, seizing residents’ information 31 times during 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Council’s acting chief executive Kelly Grigsby told the Weekly there had been another 18 authorisations in the past 12 months to chase people for unauthorised advertising, unregistered pets and illegal littering.
victoria  australia  oz  privacy  snooping  data-retention  metadata  overreach 
july 2013 by jm
Interpol filter scope creep: ASIC ordering unilateral website blocks
Bloody hell. This is stupidity of the highest order, and a canonical example of "filter creep" by a government -- secret state censorship of 1200 websites due to a single investment scam site.

The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios.

The instrument through which the ISPs are blocking the Interpol list of sites is Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act. Under the Act, the Australian Federal Police is allowed to issue notices to telcos asking for reasonable assistance in upholding the law. [...] Tonight Senator Conroy’s office revealed that the incident that resulted in Melbourne Free University and more than a thousand other sites being blocked originated from a different source — financial regulator the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

On 22 March this year, ASIC issued a media release warning consumers about the activities of a cold-calling investment scam using the name ‘Global Capital Wealth’, which ASIC said was operating several fraudulent websites — www.globalcapitalwealth.com and www.globalcapitalaustralia.com. In its release on that date, ASIC stated: “ASIC has already blocked access to these websites.”
scams  australia  filtering  filter-creep  false-positives  isps  asic  fraud  secrecy 
may 2013 by jm
Did Conroy’s AFP filter wrongly block 1,200 sites?
Looks like many Aussie network operators were legally required to block 1,200 websites (presumably, one target and 1199 false positives), in secret.

Quoting http://lists.ausnog.net/pipermail/ausnog/2013-April/017993.html : "You get a notice to
block. You block or either get fined, go to jail or lose your carrier
licence. It is a blunt instrument and it is a condition of being at 'the
big boys table' i.e. you're a carrier or a carriage service provider."
australia  law  afp  filtering  internet  blocking  censorship  secret  eff 
may 2013 by jm
Piracy: are we being conned?
The Age with a cynical take on pro-music-biz anti-piracy "reports". "The quality of data and analysis is very weak as its political objective is so clear. It does not use actual ABS data but data taken from Europe. It's an elemental statistical error, it's fudging with numbers to come out with a figure which is 'kinda sorta' plausible."
piracy  filesharing  copyright  australia  the-age  newspapers  ifpi  acta 
june 2011 by jm
mnot’s Weblog: HTTP + Politics = ?
how the Great Firewall of Oz breaks so much more than the web browser
http  web  politics  australia  internet  proxies  filtering  from delicious
december 2009 by jm

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