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3555 logoMy recent critique of Attorney-General George Brandis’ comments about copyright reform in the digital age attracted plenty of positive comments — and also some media attention.

That critique was my ZDNet Australia column on the day of Brandis’ speech, Friday 14 February, What the Dickens will Brandis do to copyright in the digital realm?

The first piece of media interest was from Michelle Bennett, presenter of Spoke, the weekly social issues program on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR. The interview was recorded on Sunday 16 February and broadcast in the Spoke episode of Tuesday 18 February.

The conversation wasn’t just about Brandis’ comments, but also some of the background — including the so-called iiTrial between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and internet service provider iiNet, the graduated response or “three strikes” rules for tackling copyright infringement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, and the idea that internet access can be considered a basic human right.

I also mentioned Dr Rebecca Giblin’s research paper, Evaluating Graduated Response, which looked at those three strikes rules. The conclusion was that “there is little to no evidence that that graduated responses are either ‘successful’ or ‘effective’.”

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The interview is ©2014 Triple R Broadcasters Ltd. Over at their website you can listen to the full program.

Hitachi Data Systems privacy law graphic: click for whitepaperAustralia’s new privacy laws come into force on 12 March. On 12 February, four weeks before the new laws come into force, I hosted a panel discussion on dealing with these new law for Hitachi Data Systems.

The panelists were lawyer Alec Christie, a partner in the intellectual property and technology practice of global law firm DLA Piper; Jodie Sangster, chief executive officer of ADMA, the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (which used to be called the Australian Direct Marketing Association); and Adrian De Luca, chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the fold is the full 58-minute video. This was done as a Google Hangout, and since there were some internet glitches the video is a bit glitchy too, but the content itself is great.

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The first edition of the 5at5 email letter, which I announced yesterday, was posted earlier this evening — slightly late thanks to some annoyances with TinyLetter, which I’ll tell you about another time. You can read it here, subscribe here, or even look at a local archive copy.

03 February 2014 by Stilgherrian | No comments

Screenshot of 5at5 website: click to go thereI come across a lot of fascinating stuff in the course of my alleged media work. It’s stuff worth sharing more widely. Back in December, I decided that I’d start sending out a daily email linking to the best. That email launches tomorrow, Monday 3 February.

It’s called 5at5, and it’ll bring you five items every weekday at around 5pm Sydney time.

They’ll be connected to [my] interests in some way — the politics of the internet and how technology is changing power relationships at every level of society, security and surveillance, military technology and history, language, journalism and human nature. And more.

I was amused to see Alexis Madrigal, technology editor at The Atlantic, launch his own daily email recently, 5 Intriguing Things. Five is the magic number, it seems.

I’ve chosen to use the same platform at Madrigal, TinyLetter, which is a subsidiary of email marketing platform MailChimp. Why? Mostly because it’s free. TinyLetter is limited to 3000 subscribers, but I’ll worry about that when it happens.

So now you’re going to click through to subscribe, right? Good puppy. Smart puppy.

On Wednesday I decided to see if I could finally sort out my Google+ profile, which was suspended around two and a half years ago. I didn’t really get anywhere, but I did discover some new and different frustrations.

First, the back story…

Google+ screenshot 1: see text for a description

As the first screenshot (above) says, “Your profile [that is, my profile] was suspected because it violates our names policy.” That’s because back in 2011, Google required that names consist of at least two words. To get something that looked close to my single-word name (a “mononym”), I’d entered it as “Stilgherrian .” But the full stop (“period” for American readers) isn’t allowed, and the profile was suspended.

I was so frustrated by that, and even more so by Google’s arrogant-seeming error messages, that I wrote an infamous expletive-filled blog post — which got more than 100,000 unique viewers on the first day. Even now, two and a half years later, it sometimes gets a couple hundred readers a month.

Since then, Google had supposedly started allowing people to display their “nicknames” (that is, pseudonyms”), at least in some contexts, so I figured that I’d give it another go. It wouldn’t worry me too much if I was “Stilgherrian Stilgherrian” under the hood, as long as my name was displayed properly.

So I clicked on “Take action”…

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ABC logoOn Tuesday, news reached us that two men connected with the digital currency Bitcoin had been arrested in the US — one a prominent advocate, the other the operator of a currency exchange.

ABC Radio’s lunchtime current affairs program The World Today did a story about it the same day, in which I made a few brief comments. The reporter was Tom Nightingale. Here’s the audio.

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, served here directly from their website — where you can also read a full transcript.

ABC logoWhen the list of the worst passwords for 2013 did the rounds last week, I’m glad that a few media outlets went beyond mocking those who used them and gave some practical advice.

ABC 105.7 Darwin was one of them. On Thursday morning 23 January I spoke with breakfast presenter Richard Margetson.

While it was a light-hearted chat, we also managed to sneak in the advice: use different passwords for everything important; the longer the password, the better it is; email account passwords are particularly important; use password management software to keep track of them all.

Searching the internet for “how to choose a good password” generally delivers reasonable advice, but I reckon Microsoft’s advice and password checker ain’t too bad.

[Update 1510 AEDT: As Nick Andrew points out, the problem with Microsoft's password checker is that you're typing your password into Microsoft's website -- which is obviously a Bad Idea. So my recommendation is to use it to explore how different choices for your password affect its strength, and then choose something different again for your real password based on what you've learned.]

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The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

FIVEaa logoI continue to be pleased that digital privacy issues are getting more and more coverage in the mainstream media — such as the interview I did last Monday 20 January with radio 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide.

Presenter Will Goodings had spotted the story of Turnstyle Solutions in Toronto, who can track people around town via their smartphones and use that location data for marketing.

Rather stupidly, I talk about Australia’s Privacy Act being “under review” when in fact that review is well over and the new Privacy Act comes into force on 12 March.

We also spoke about the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forcing Apple to refund $35 million to customers who’d had their kids make what they felt were unauthorised in-app purchases on their iDevices.

It’s something the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been concerned about too, and they have a page to explain how you can block in-app purchases or complain to Apple or Google.

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The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia, but here it is ’cos it hasn’t been posted on the radio station’s website. Besides, this is a reasonable plug.

ABC logoThe concept of Net Neutrality was in the news earlier this month: a US federal court struck down the Net Neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had introduced in 2010.

On 16 January I spoke about the issue on ABC Radio National Breakfast with Jonathan Green, and here’s the audio.

A US Court of Appeals ruling in Washington DC is being seen as a major blow to proponents of an open internet.

In ruling described as “even more emphatic and disastrous than anyone expected”, the court found internet service providers had every right to play favourites with their clients.

That could mean slowing speeds for services in competition with their own services and potentially charging higher fees to allow access to premium speeds.

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I must admit, I feel like I rambled a bit. As we started the conversation, my mobile phone link went dodgy, and the producer had to phone me back. We started the interview after a break — that’s been edited out of this version — but it threw me a bit. I’m not sure that I recovered.

Still, I think we got through the key points, and later in the morning I wrote something more coherent for Crikey, Net neutrality and why the internet might have just changed forever.

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and is served here directly from their website.

Screenshot from The Project, 13 December 2013On Friday 13 December I recorded some grabs for the Channel TEN program The Project, which were used that night in a story about Google’s idea of putting microphones in your house so that their “digital assistant” software could figure out how it could help you next.

I was amazed that Google would even suggest this idea so soon after they were linked to Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US National Security Agency (NSA). But then again, Google is a many-headed hydra of an organisation. It can walk and chew gum at the same time. Badly.

The Project only ended up using two of the grabs, but over the fold you’ll find the video of the entire four-minute segment — including some guy called Mark Pesce in the studio, talking to the panel.

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