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The Saturday Paper mastheadI’ve appeared in The Saturday Paper for the first time today, in a story by journalist Martin McKenzie-Murray with the headline Web of abuse grows as online bullies spread malice. In my very first quoted sentence in this august journal, I drop the c-word.

It’s a talent.

McKenzie-Murray’s story is great. It explores the same issue as we discussed on ABC TV’s Lateline the other night, namely the hideous violent and sexually-explicit abuse women face online, and the rather disappointing response from the police. Once more, it’s based around the experiences of Caitlin Roper.

McKenzie-Murray goes further, though, and speaks to Roper’s key abuser.

“I disagreed with some of her [Roper’s] statements [about Ched Evans]. I used the word ‘rape’ only for effect however she took it personally. I’ve said many times before that logic would explain the fact that nobody intended on raping her and nobody wishes rape upon her. I did get carried away and did use some obscene language… however, they took a joke out of context and began a witch-hunt of sorts by posting my picture and personal information.”

“Logic,” eh? “Joke.”

It’s worth reading the article in full. Despite my presence in it.

FIVEaa logoThe WireLurker malware that affects Apple’s iOS and OS X devices has been in the technical news this week. That caught Will Goodings’ eye, as did the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful people. We chatted about both on Friday afternoon.

I wrote about WireLurker at Crikey, so I won’t repeat that here. Our conversation on 1395 FIVEaa fleshes out some of the issues. If you want to get into the technicals, you can always read the original report from Palo Alto Networks or the independent analysis by Jonathan Zdziarski.

As for the Forbes list, Goodings was wanting to chat about Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page jointly holding the number nine spot. Which we did. But he also was interested in my suggestions.

For the most powerful Australian, I nominated the prime minister’s chief of staff Peta Credlin. “Nothing goes into the prime minister’s ear without her say-so, and nothing comes out of the government onto the media without her say-so,” I said.

Goodings then added his own comments, based on having see Credlin at work. It’s worth listening to. It starts at 15 minutes 27 seconds. I’ll also extract them for the next episode of The 9pm Edict.

The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

Screenshot of Stilgherrian on Lateline: click for video and transcriptLast week Collective Shout activist and campaigns manager Caitlin Roper told her story of the horrific misogynist abuse she’d received online, and what can most politely be called a disappointing response from the police.

I reluctantly went to the police station, already knowing that threats against women online are not regarded as a priority. “Why don’t you just close down your account?” asked the officer taking my statement.

I explained how I used Twitter in the course of my work for a non-profit organisation. She pressed further — “but why do you need to use it?” — as if it was somehow unreasonable for me to believe I had as much right as anyone to access social media without threats

Another colleague went to the police after one man described how he intended to mutilate her body and dissolve it in acid. The police officer suggested that the internet was “not a very nice place”, and maybe she should stay off it.

Last night, ABC TV’s Lateline did a follow-up story, the reported being John Stewart, and I provided a few comments.

It’s interesting that the one piece they used was about the internet putting everyone right next to everyone else:

It’s simply that within the past people were in communities, that were mostly made up of people like them or people they grew up with. If there was a violent part of town or a red-light district or whatever it might be, and you didn’t want to go there or you didn’t want to know about it, well you just didn’t go there. The problem is now on the internet all of that is right next to you as well and people are shocked by this. They’re suddenly discovering that there are people not like them. They have different attitudes to women, different attitudes to acceptable language, to religion, to class, to sporting teams, to clothing as we’ve seen in the media lately. Everything.

I also said that thanks to the internet, we are now building a global society, and yet policing is organised on a regional or even local basis.

While these women, and so many others, have experienced appalling abuse, in most cases there’s no credible threat. Even if the police cranked up the mechanisms of transnational police cooperation, there’d be little chance of a prosecution leading to a conviction. Their lack of follow-up reflects that unfortunate reality, as well as many police officers’ unfamiliarity with online life.

I daresay I’ll have further thoughts in this, because this story certainly isn’t going away.

Yes, I know they spelt my name wrong. Yes, I know they said “social media commentator”.

Stilgherrian on Download This Show

ABC logoI’d originally intended to avoid the clusterfuck in a teacup that is the Gamergate controversy, but I was persuaded to talk about it on this week’s Download This Show on ABC Radio National, along with seemingly now regular parter in crime and CNet news editor Claire Reilly.

GamerGate: death threats, sexism, misinformation and one of the biggest storms of opinion on the internet in a very long time. Plus we’re about to become flooded with Smartwatch devices but why do they mostly need to tethered to a mobile phone? Why can’t you just replace a phone with a watch? And it’s an international agreement being negotiated in secret which could have a huge impact on our digital life. We unpick the recent leaks from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations.

One of the better summaries of Gamergate is Kyle Wagner’s The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate, although I’m rather fond of the polemic Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off by long-time gamer and former NFL player Chris Kluwe.

As the blurb says, we also spoke about a new smart device called the Rufus Cuff, and developments in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website.

As usual, one of the segments was also made into a video — the one on TPP — and that’s over the fold, immediately below.

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FIVEaa logoTelstra is Australia’s biggest telco, and owner of the vast majority of the copper customer access network (CAN), the so called “last mile” — and it wants to raise its wholesale prices, charging other telcos 7.2% more.

“The move would affect almost every Australian with a phone line or an internet connection, because Telstra owns most of the copper phone lines that other telcos depend on to service their customers,” reported ABC News.

“The company leases about 4 million line services to rivals and has not raised wholesale prices since 2011.”

On Wednesday I spoke about the distinction between retail and wholesale telecommunications providers, and whether a 7.2% rise is reasonable, with Will Goodings on 1395 FIVEaa — after independent Senator Nick Xenophon has given his views.

Xenophon thought the rise was unreasonable, because Telstra had “gotten $11 billion” from NBN Co. I disagreed on both counts.

For reference, here’s the current Telstra Wholesale rate card (PDF).

The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

FIVEaa logo“Two of America’s biggest retail banks — JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Wells Fargo & Co — are quietly recording the biometric details of some callers’ voices to weed out fraud,” reported Associated Press this week. The news caught the eye of Will Goodings at 1395 FIVEaa in Adelaide. I told him that the Americans are way behind Australia on this one.

All of the Big Four banks here are already using voiceprints. In the case of NAB and Westpac, since about 2009.

In fact, Australia is a world leader in voiceprint technology. In a Patch Monday podcast from March 2012, I spoke with Dr Clive Summerfield, chief executive of Auraya, who told me that Australia’s social services agency Centrelink has been using voiceprints to identify callers since 2005, and more than 95% of callers are identified this way. Voiceprints are also used by the Australian Taxation Office.

Here’s a recording of the conversation we had on air on Friday afternoon, complete with a talkback caller who followed me.

The audio is ©2014 dmgRadio Australia.

"Politics of Social" panellists: see text for people's namesLast month I took part in the discussion panel Politics of Social at Social Media Week Sydney — and here’s a video, finally.

Yes, I’m dealing with my backlog of posts.

What was this discussion all about?

Trust, authority and credibility are arguably more crucial in politics than anywhere else. Social media is now an essential part of the political process for MPs, citizens, and lobbyists, but how does that change public perception, the end results, and their impact on society? Our political experts will dissect past and present political activity to determine what the evolution of social media has achieved in political realm, and how political communications is likely to continue evolving.

Joining moderator Kate Carruthers, co-founder of Social Innovation Sydney, on 24 September 2014 were (left to right): Alex Greenwich, independent Member for Sydney in the Parliament of NSW; political sociologist Ariadne Vromen, associate professor at the University of Sydney; myself; and Steph Harmon, managing editor of Junkee at The Sound Alliance.

It was a lively discussion, and the video is over the fold, immediately below. Enjoy.

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ABC logoThis new social network Ello has been getting so much attention it’s… annoying. I was originally going to ignore it, but I got roped into this spot for ABC Gold Coast, and then Download This Show, so I decided to write about it for ZDNet Australia — that piece will appear on Tuesday.

But… This recording is the ABC radio spot, which aired on Tuesday morning with presenter Rebecca McLaren. I think I was in a bit of a cynical mood.

The audio is ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Marc Fennell, Stilgherrian and Claire Reilly on Download This Show

ABC logoOn this week’s Download This Show on ABC Radio National, CNet news editor Claire Reilly and I joined Marc Fennell to discuss the new social network Ello and Australia’s latest national security laws.

The rise and rise of Call of Duty: It’s bigger than Harry Potter, bigger than James Bond: It’s the warfare video game Call of Duty. We step inside one of the studios responsible for building the biggest game on the planet to take the temperature of where blockbuster gaming is headed. And could the rising social network Ello be a viable alternative for the Facebook-weary? The four-thousand people signing up every hour apparently believe so. But are they being swindled? Plus #HeyASIO is perhaps the most popular Twitter hashtag in Australia. So just what do our new counter-terrorism laws really mean? We separate hyperbole from fact.

The audio is of course ©2014 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It’s served here directly from the ABC website.

As usual, one of the segments was also made into a video, and that’s over the fold, immediately below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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