One of the then committee members, Philip Ruddock, challenged me to provide evidence, which was subsequently delivered in a confidential supplementary submission. As a result the committee made 29 recommendations for amendments to the Bill. The most important of these was a proposal for the PJCIS to undertake a review of the scheme after three years.
This week the PJCIS released its report on that review – making 22 recommendations that, if accepted, would lead to increased transparency, raise the threshold for when data can be accessed, and reduce overall access to our private data.
A rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases being reported in Victoria and New South Wales. China re-instating restrictions as it sees infections return. Our chief medical officer says his greatest fear is a second wave, and there’s the likelihood the coronavirus will linger around forever like the flu.
Yet another IT debacle from the federal government. But this one is different. In this case we could see people die.
The blunt reality is the COVIDSafe app is a dud. Poorly designed and incapabale of doing what it is intended to do. We need a contact tracing app that actually works.
So, the Attorney General Christian Porter will ban law enforcement agencies from accessing metadata from the proposed Coronavirus contact tracing app. What, just like he stopped them obtaining people’s web browsing history without a warrant under the data detention scheme?
A report released by communications minister Paul Fletcher has confirmed that so-called ‘Internet piracy’ declined dramatically following the arrival of Netflix and other online streaming services – debunking the need for ‘site-blocking’ laws controversially introduced following a well-funded lobbying effort by local representatives of the Hollywood studios. In the same week NBN Co announced it is cutting in half its pricing for new connections to encourage reluctant consumers to sign up to its troubled broadband service.
What these two incidents suggest is we need politicians to engage more with industry experts when making technology-related policy decisions. We also need IT / telecommunications groups to do more to ensure the government of the day is well advised. And we need more mainstream media focus on keeping everyone better informed.
In the wake of horrendous events in New Zealand high profile Australian politicians are calling on social media outlets to take action against people spreading violent hate speech. They could start by banning anonymous posts.
Marking the World Wide Web’s 30th anniversary last week its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, warned of the Internet’s unforeseen dysfunction, telling The Australian “there are a lot of people out there who believe in bizarre things, have fallen for atrocious conspiracy theories and are manipulated into scams”. Berners-Lee added, “This is not just about technology, there’s a people problem here as well”.
With our president and the head of the policy committee sitting beside me I boldly told the committee that the Data Retention Bill was “fundamentally flawed” and had clearly been drafted by lawyers who didn’t understand how the Internet actually works. How prescient those comments have proven to have been.