In This Issue


Facebook taken to Federal Court by the Australian Information Commissioner

The Australian Information Commissioner is suing Facebook over its lack of concern for user privacy in the whole Cambridge Analytica thing. They claim that approximately 311,127 Australian Facebook users had their profiles unknowingly sucked in to Cambridge Analytica’s data sausage factory by the 53 Australian users of an app called "My Digital Life". Due to Facebook's shitty defaults "users were unable to exercise reasonable choice and control about how their personal information was disclosed". This, according to the AIC breaches Australian Privacy Principle 6 (disclosing data to a third party without user permission) and 11 (not taking proper setps to secure that personal info). Fines can be over $1m per breach, so with over 300,000 users impacted, that could be a fine of over $300b - unlikely, but we can dream.

Health Department leans on Melb Uni over researcher’s deanonymisation of Medicare info

In 2016, Vanessa Teague, a cryptographer from the University of Melbourne found a dataset published on a public government website that claimed to have the "deanonymised" details of Medicare and PBS payment info for over 2.5m Australians dating back to 1984. As part of her research her team managed to re-identify people in it and ultimately obtain "a trove of their entire medical history, including medication purchases and tests conducted". The Health Department, instead of being appreciative and using this as a teachable moment, had its secretary Glenys Beauchamp, write to the University of Melbourne vice-chancellor telling the uni to stop Vanessa's work. They did and she quit under the pressure - an absolute disgrace considering she was doing the right thing at all times by wanting the Health Department to let the 2.5m impacted people know their private health data is floating around the internet.

Social media is full of coronavirus related garbage and we are powerless to stop it

Coronavirus related bullshit is going wild on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, despite these companies claiming to be cracking down on the spread of misinformation on the topic. They say they will remove posts and present factual info to people sharing coronavirus related content, but they barely scratch the surface of what's out there. Taiwanese social media fact checkers reckon they're busier now than they were during the country's January elections - people just love eating up this conspiracy theory shit and sharing it. Facebook in particular is weak to stop what's being spouted in private groups that have over 100,000 people in them. Scammers are loving it too - just throw up some links to wild conspiracy theories (it’s a Chinese bioweapon out of control, claims there’s riots in Italian streets, that you can be cured of coronavirus by dozens of different nonsense concoctions) and because of the hype around coronavirus you’ve got a perfect storm for people to click on stuff they shouldn't.

Not News

Are smartphones pocket coronavirus carriers? Not really, but there’s a phone steriliser if you’re keen

Worried about your filthy petri-dish of a smartphone being a perfect vessel for COVID-19 to spread? According to Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Utah School of Medicine, "unless you hand your phone to someone else, that's probably the least likely thing to get contaminated by someone else. The surfaces you need to be concerned about are surfaces that are touched by other people" and Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said that "there is no real evidence that transmission is occurring outside of the realm of person [to] person". However, if you are handling other people's phones often, dropping $150 on this box you chuck a phone into that blasts it with ultraviolet light to kill all 99.9% of germs might be a solid investment.


🎶 Payback - Dream Nails

😁 The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Join us on Slack and chat with other Sizzle subscribers.

The Sizzle is created on Wathaurong land and acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, recognising their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to them and their cultures and to elders both past and present.​