Issue 770

Thursday, 22nd November 2018

In This Issue


Google & others speak out against govt plan to expand site blocking laws

The federal government is currently trying to expand the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill, taking the existing DNS blocking of pirate media sites a step further by making search engines also block links to pirate content and expanding the definition of what the "primary purpose" of a site/service serving up pirate content is. Google is obviously anti-fiddling with their search engine, saying they already do this stuff anyways and sites like Pinterest and VPNs are worried they'll get sucked up in what media companies want to declare as a pirate content website as they can't always control what users upload.

Vision 2025 is the Digital Transformation Agency's blueprint for digitising government services

Australia has a digital transformation strategy! Vision 2025 is a 48 page document from the Digital Transformation Agency explaining how they will "deliver world-leading digital services for the benefit of all Australians". Inside is a roadmap and mission statement for the 75+ initiatives the DTA plans to implement over the next 6 years, all centered around making government interactions happen online, rather than on the phone, on paper, or in person. A former DTA boss Paul Shetler (remember him ragging on My Health Record?) reckons it's not a strategy, just a bunch of hollow aspirations.

Facebook admits to grubby PR moves, plus other dodgy stuff

In the darkness of Thanksgiving in the US, Facebook put out a statement saying that they had full knowledge of the work PR company Definers did, spreading pro-Facebook propaganda to Infowars and Brietbart on Facebook's dime, as well as paying them to dig into George Soros after he called Facebook "a menace to society". The person responsible, Elliot Schrage, has fallen on his sword and resigned in disgrace. Facebook also recently hired the former lead of the US DoJ's San Francisco anti-trust office - handy person to have on the payroll when the government wants to regulate you. To top this all off, a 17yo girl was auctioned off for marriage in South Sudan on Facebook and despite people reporting it, Facebook did nothing for over 2 weeks.

ALP proudly announces CO2 reduction plans, but lacks EV strategy

Bill Shorten went to the Bloomberg New Energy forum spruiking a plan to reduce Australia's carbon emissions from electricity generation. That's nice and all, but not a single mention of EVs was in that speech (there's no policy detail on the ALP website at the moment either). Considering road transport is the 2nd largest source of CO2 emissions and rising, some sort of electric vehicle policy from the ALP would give the industry a little confidence to bring EVs here. Even if the government isn't keen on direct cash handouts, they could at least update our mandatory emissions standards and our fuel standards, as they're currently stuck in 2009 without a single update to reflect modern engine technology available overseas.

Amazon allows Australians to order from the US site again

You probably remember that around mid-year, Amazon US stopped shipping stuff to Australia and re-directed us to the inferior AU version of Amazon. They claimed this was because having to charge GST on all orders was too much of a pain in the arse. But today, citing "customer feedback", Aussies can order from Amazon US again - but only items stocked and fulfilled by Amazon itself. Which is the good stuff anyways. I never shopped at Amazon US much personally, but I hope this brings you joy.

Not News, But Still Cool

US health insurance companies already using device data against patients

Propublica has a chilling story about "smart" medical devices and the data they collect being used against you. In this example, a man has a CPAP machine fitted with a wireless modem that's supposed to send data to his doctor regarding its use. All good there, everyone wants that. But in addition to his doctor getting that data, the insurance company got a copy too and used it to deny him a new mask due to a lack of "compliance" with using the machine - despite the fact the reason he wasn't using it properly was due to an improper mask! As more medical stuff gets internet connectivity and collects more data, insurance companies are gonna find more ways to stooge people out of treatment and that sucks.

Victorian state election campaign lacks any serious startup incentives

The Victorian state election is this Saturday and in terms of digital/tech/startup related promises, there's refreshingly sweet fuck all. The ALP will keep doing what its doing with LaunchVic, whilst the Libs if they win, will introduce a package of "six Industry Commercialisation Institutes, a $9 million Innovation Vouchers Program, the creation of a Victorian Chief Innovation Officer and a $1 million VicVentures grants scheme". It doesn't surprise me that the political parties aren't waving the tech flag this election. The tech industry has a bad smell around it lately and most normal people accurately view the industry as a bunch of rich wankers that don't need help anyways. Is there any evidence all those handouts and grants actually work in developing sustainable, profitable businesses that employ locals and pay taxes?

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That's it, see ya tomorrow!

Wolf & Cub - One to the Other