It’s Time to Throw Off Our Digital Chains

Discussions about digital privacy often evoke images of whistle-blowers, journalists, and intelligence agencies. But beyond this, it can sometimes feel as though the business model of corporate data mining presents few negative consequences in our daily lives. The omniscient machinery of state surveillance is rarely an issue visited upon us personally. Amazon, Google, and Facebook are overwhelmingly convenient, well-designed platforms …

People have a right to be suspicious of journalists’ self-advocacy, but press freedom is important

Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

You’d be hard pressed to miss this week’s all-out campaign from the media sector on government attacks on press freedom. This remarkable collaborative effort should not be understated – to see Guardian Australia stand alongside the Daily Telegraph with aligned messaging and shared aims is virtually unprecedented in our increasingly polarised media landscape. But without a similarly concerted effort, we …

Invisible handcuffs

Copyright Eric Carter/The Baffler

The regulation of technology capitalism is now a mainstream topic of discussion. Privacy scandals such as the misuse of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, the rise of right-wing extremism, and the diminishing quality of public spaces in the digital age have generated sufficient public outcry such that the Overton window is wide open. Aspirants for the Oval Office, like Senator Elizabeth …

Bipartisan Approaches to National Security Bring a Decrease in Rights

The dust has settled on the federal election, and advocates from all sectors are either crowing over their wins or licking their wounds. On the battleground for the internet, there is a much darker spectre looming. Over the coming year, Australia will rapidly be relegated to the backwaters of the global digital world. We will no longer have a functioning …

Spies should focus on foreign threats rather than journalists

Federal police going through Ms Smethurst’s home

We have witnessed two shocking raids by the Australian Federal Police on news outlets, both under the guise of protecting our national security. Let’s call the raids what they are: dangerous police overreach that could intimidate and curtail our free press. Media freedom is a cornerstone of any democracy — it shines a light on the darkest corners and helps …

Technology Is as Biased as Its Makers

From exploding Ford Pintos to racist algorithms, all harmful technologies are a product of unethical design. And yet, like car companies in the ’70s, today’s tech companies would rather blame the user. Read the rest of this article on Long Reads This article is an excerpt adapted from Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Teach …

Australia’s role in the Christchurch attacks, and the work to be done

From across the ditch, the news that the Christchurch terrorist was an Australian was accompanied by a sinking feeling. The way in which our everyday public debate is steeped in concepts of white superiority made it all too predictable that such a horrendous crime should find its origins on our shores. To take up Giovanni Tiso’s call from earlier this …

There are no easy fixes for the live streaming of real-life hate

Image: CC Licensed Flickr user ijclark

Scott Morrison has called for the G20 to regulate social media companies in the wake of the terrorist massacre in Christchurch last Friday. The knee-jerk reaction to the mass shooting proposes policy responses that won’t work, and fails to address the real challenges of combating the spread of hatred in our society. The Christchurch massacre was live streamed on Facebook, …

One giant step backwards for cyber security in encryption bill fiasco

Image: Fairfax media

Australia will soon be relegated to the backwaters of the global digital community. We will no longer have a functioning security software industry, nor will we have faith in the safety of our telecommunications systems. Our elected representatives in Canberra have passed into law an obscene bill that will have long-lasting impacts on the infrastructure of the digital economy, and …

Sleepwalking into a digital dystopia

Image: Binoculars / flickr

We’re in the midst of a worsening democracy deficit, and you need look no further to see this on full display than within the shambolic process around the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill. This Bill will introduce unprecedented new powers for government and law enforcement, and Coalition politicians are treating the public, and our concerns about …

Australia Wants to Take Government Surveillance to the Next Level

Image: Michael Haddad/NY Times

A state’s capacity to spy on its citizens has grown exponentially in recent years as new technology has meant more aspects of our lives can be observed, recorded and analyzed than ever before. At the same time, much to the frustration of intelligence agencies around the world, so has the ability to keep digital information secret, thanks to encryption. That’s …

The positives and perils of My Health Record

Last week, Singapore’s ministry of health admitted information from 1.5 million citizens had been copied in “a deliberate, targeted, and well-planned cyber attack” by hackers who were specifically going after the personal data of the country’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. It took authorities a week to detect the breach, which, to be fair, is relatively fast given the average …

Tech has no moral code. It is everyone’s job now to fight for one

Image: Allstar/20th Century Fox

It has been a tough two years for the technology industry. The 2016 US election was a turning point for what was formerly the face of upbeat, self-actualising capitalism. Today the common view is that a tiny minority has been making money by disrupting things at the expense of the majority. Technology companies are out of control because law-makers have …

It isn’t just greedy corporations using and abusing your private data

The Cambridge Analytica revelations have spawned outrage across the world, as well they should. The mass manipulation of millions of individual Facebook users, psychometric profiling to reveal potential pressure points, micro-targeted advertising and black-ops electoral interference are certainly something worthy of the headlines.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Analytica?

The extraordinary revelations from the Observer/Channel 4 investigation into the practices of the digital marketing firm Cambridge Analytica have, like many a great internet controversy, produced great outrage but few answers or ways forward. People are rightly horrified at the prospect of such comprehensive personal information being used to manipulate them by the million, but also daunted by the task …

Time to cut ties with the digital oligarchs and rewire the web

Image: Leon Edler/Guardian

Facebook’s reckless vanity has made the headlines again, with the revelation that data it held on about 50 million users was exploited commercially without their consent, and that when Facebook found out about this, it did pathetically little. We only know this thanks to the bravery of a whistleblower. This is yet another scandal in a troubled period for the company, …

The census is too important to boycott, despite serious privacy concerns

Photo: SMH/Kirk Gilmour

One of Australia’s richest sources of statistical data has had both its reputation and trust destroyed by the decision to retain name and address data – a decision made with little consultation and with no regard to the ramifications for individual’s right to privacy. But does this warrant an overall boycott of the census?