Weekly Wrap 294: Unlocking a great many compartments

Torpedo tube hatch controls on USS PampanitoYou may have noticed that I wrote nothing about my week of Monday 11 to Sunday 17 January 2016. That shall continue to be the case for some time. That was a terrible week. But this week, Monday 18 to Sunday 24 January 2016, has been much better. So far. And about that…

The key word, ladies and gentlemen, is “compartmentalisation”. And you’re in the wrong compartment. Move on. There’s nothing to see here.

Some of you will be wondering why I haven’t been paying attention to Twitter for a couple of weeks. Well, I’m busy dealing with a great many things, and it’s a lot to process. I don’t need the additional cognitive load of Twitter just now — neither the processing of a fast-moving information stream, nor the performance aspects.

Twitter will probably be added back into the mix a few days from now, once certain things have been dealt with.

Articles

Podcasts

None, but see below.

Media Appearances

None.

5at5

None. But should 5at5 ever reappear, you’ll know about it if you subscribe.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

On Monday morning, I’ll spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks I’ve got a production meeting at 1000, and then I’ll be writing for ZDNet. In the afternoon, I’ll make the long commute down to Sydney and back, because errands. En route, I’ll update various client projects.

Tuesday is Australia Day. But despite the public holiday, I plan to spend the afternoon on pre-production for the next episode of The 9pm Edict podcast.

On Wednesday, I’ll spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks, and then write for ZDNet.

The 9pm Edict will be recorded on Thursday night 28 January, streamed live through Spreaker from 2100 AEDT.

On Thursday, I’ll finally finish a column for ZDNet, and then spend a couple of hours on my tax accounting, the first of many such sessions in the coming weeks. After that, I’ll sort out some loose ends on my geek-for-hire projects. Well, it might not be in precisely that order.

On Friday, I’ll head down to Sydney again, for a meeting with my accountant, and to record a Corrupted Nerds podcast with Leslie Nassar, and perhaps some social activities.

The weekend is as yet unplanned.

On Saturday, I’ll be dealing with whatever critical loose ends remain from the working week.

The 9pm Edict will be recorded on Sunday night 31 January, streamed live through Spreaker from 2100 AEDT.

Further Ahead

On 10 to 12 February, I’ll be in Melbourne for the Pause Fest. I’m on a panel on Thursday 11 titled “The security paradox: individual privacy vs digital driftnets”. I’ll be staying in Melbourne until Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to catch up, let me know.

Update 25 January 2016: Edited to reflect schedule changes. Update 27 January 2016: Edited to reflect further schedule changes. Update 28 January 2016: Edited yet again to reflect even more schedule changes.

[Photo: The controls which operate the external torpedo tube hatches in the forward torpedo room of USS Pampanito, San Francisco, photographed on 10 December 2010.]

Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?

There aren’t many places in the world where you can openly accuse the nation’s top police and intelligence agencies of having an attitude problem, as I did on Monday, without being visited by the men in the van with the canvas sack. Which is a good thing.

In this week’s Patch Monday podcast, embedded immediately below for your convenience and CBS Interactive’s traffic logging, I departed from the usual format to present a personal opinion.

Data retention for law enforcement is one of the most important political issues relating to our use of the internet now and as far into the future as we care to imagine, I said, and it’s being mishandled.

The Australian government’s current one-page working definition (PDF) of what constitutes communications metadata (which can be requested by law enforcement agencies without a warrant) as opposed to communications content (which generally does require a warrant) is, to anyone with a technical understanding of how the internet actually works and is evolving, virtual gibberish.

“Dangerously immature” is how I described it.

I also raised three points where I think the version of reality being promoted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is wrong.

  • This is a push for more power. We conduct so much more of our lives online than we ever did on the phone, and that means the balance of power is changing. We need to have a conversation about this.
  • The AFP says quite specifically that they’re not after our web browsing activity, but I don’t see how the working document supports that argument. And other agencies, including the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), are after that stuff.
  • ASIO and the AFP constantly talk about the powers being needed to catch the terrorists and pedophiles. But the law will probably be modelled on the current law for the phone, which provides access to communication metadata to many other agencies with far less stringent accountability rules for many other, far less serious, crimes.

Please have a listen and tell me what you think.

Play

The podcast stands on its own, but I want to emphasise the thing that still disturbs me…

Continue reading “Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?”

Weekly Wrap 22

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets and in the media and so on and so forth — and this week I’ve done a lot of writing.

Articles

Podcasts

  • Patch Monday episode 63, “The govt’s data retention dreams revealed”. If you’d prefer to listen to the edited highlights of that Senate hearing rather than read about it, this is the go.

Media Appearances

  • Parity Bit episode 1. A new IT-related video podcast produced and presented by Owen Kelly. I was chatting with him and the other panellists about #ozlog and other news stories. I didn’t swear once.

Geekery

Not a sausage.

Corporate Largesse

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Enmore village in the spring rain, taken from the Warren View Hotel. Compare this with the similar view from a few weeks ago.]

Data retention by ISPs: your comments?

Tomorrow’s Patch Monday podcast will be about data retention for law enforcement. Specifically, internet service providers (ISPs) retaining the metadata of all your online communications, possibly for years. I’d like your comments.

Here in Australia, it was revealed in June that the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) had been discussing these issues in secret with ISPs, law enforcement and other government agencies. I covered that in Patch Monday in July, Is Australia’s data retention idea that scary?

Since the AGD activities were revealed, and following the Google Wi-Fi sniffing incident, the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts has been running an inquiry into The adequacy of protections for the privacy of Australians online.

On Friday the committee heard evidence, and late in the afternoon the discussions turned to ISP data retention. Delimiter has published a summary, and a story explaining that the Privacy Commissioner won’t talk about those AGD discussions. ZDNet.com.au stories say the Privacy Commissioner is against the idea although Neil Gaughan, Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police reckon it’s really just the status quo translated to the new medium.

Here’s a recording of Friday’s Senate hearing, starting from when the AGD’s Catherine Smith introduced the topic. She’s Assistant Secretary, in charge of the Telecommunications and Surveillance Law Branch.

Play

This was recorded off the internet, so there are some gaps where the audio stream re-buffered. I have cleaned up the sound but it’s otherwise unedited. I’m compiling a 10- or 15-minute summary for Patch Monday. This is really only for the political tragics — or those who simply can’t wait to hear the persistent questioning by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

If you’d like to provide an audio comment on this issue for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733 and leave a voicemail. The deadline is 8.30am Monday morning, Sydney time. The podcast is now online, but you cal still leave an audio comment for next week’s episode.

[Photo: SATA beehive data storage, adapted from an original photograph by Konstantinos Koukopoulos, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Audio: Many thanks to journalist Josh Taylor for providing the audio recording.]