Weekly Wrap 387: Roses, rain, wine, and cybers

Antique Roses at The AlexMy week of Monday 23 to Sunday 29 October 2017 was adequate. I’ve been having a relaxed Sunday, though, and I don’t want to spoil that, so let’s get on with the show.

Articles

Podcasts

Media Appearances

  • On Tuesday, I spoke about the targeting of advertising on social media on ABC Canberra.
  • On Wednesday, I spoke about encryption policies and, briefly, Nazis for the next episode of the Covert Contact podcast, which will appear very soon. If you haven’t done so, you can still listen to my first appearance, the episode about Australian Cyber Policy.
  • My story about an Australian defence contractor’s data breach from a couple of weeks ago was picked up by a Ukrainian news site, and a site in Italian that I didn’t investigate further.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

Monday will definitely be a jumbled day of editorial planning, research, story pitches, and administrivia. I’m glad I’ve already sketched out the rest of the week.

On Tuesday I’m heading to Sydney for a couple meetings, but I’ve got room for more. I’m also doing a radio spot on ABC Melbourne at 1930 AEDT.

Wednesday will be a day of writing, as will most of the rest of the week.

At some point, I’ll also announce a new crowdfunding campaign. It’s been more than a year since my last concentrated ask-for-money burst, and the gods know my budget needs it. But there’s been some changes in the crowdfunding landscape since then, so I don’t want to rush it. Stay tuned for details.

Further Ahead

At this stage, I haven’t locked in anything specific for the rest of the calendar year. Please feel free to make some suggestions.

[Photo: Antique Roses at The Alex. The back bar of the Alexandra Hotel, Leura, was decorated with a bouquet of antique roses taken from the pub’s own garden. Photographed on 26 October 2017.]

Operation Sovereign Borders, sinister and banal [blogjune05]

An Australian bureaucrat reacts to allegations that Operation Sovereign Borders removes safety gear from lifeboats: click to embiggenThis man’s name is Mick Kinley, and he’s shrugging with indifference at allegations that safety equipment is deliberately removed from the lifeboats used to return asylum seekers to Indonesia. But that OK, he’s the acting chief executive officer of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

I’ve never met Kinley. I know nothing of his work apart from this incident. But do we really need any further context? The bureaucrat in charge of maritime safety is challenged over what sounds like a breach of maritime safety, but, you know, “Whatever.”

I believe this is what’s called the banality of evil.

Hang on, I’d better scroll back a bit…

Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) is the Australian government’s grand-sounding name for the grubby process of intercepting any boats at sea that contain asylum seekers and returning them to Indonesia. They’re put into standard orange lifeboats towed behind our ships, and once they’re within a certain distance of Indonesia they’re cast off and left to find their own way hone.

But as The Guardian’s Paul Farrell reported on 7 May, safety equipment is removed from those lifeboats beforehand — ropes, scissors, knives, a mirror, fishing line and even buckets.

On 27 May, Kinley was questioned about this in the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee by Senator Stephen Conroy, who was clearly unimpressed. You can read the transcript — the relevant exchange starts on page 86 — but you should really watch the video to see the body language for yourself.

Actually, it’s worth picking up the story a little before that video starts, on page 84…

Continue reading “Operation Sovereign Borders, sinister and banal [blogjune05]”

Privacy rights for Australia, maybe, but where’s speech?

Early this morning, Australia’s Minister for Privacy Brendan O’Connor announced that the government will start a public consultation into whether Australia should have a statutory right to privacy.

The media release was emailed at 6.26am AEST, a clear sign that it was a calm, reasoned decision made as part of a long-term government strategy. Sorry? No? Read the release?

“The News of the World scandal and other recent mass breaches of privacy, both at home and abroad, have put the spotlight on whether there should be such a right.”

The Australian Law Reform Commission’s recommendation for such a law has been sitting on the table for three years now. But hey, something in the news cycle triggers a potential “announceable” and… disco!

Right then.

I’ve already written straight news stories today for CSO Online, Australia to consider right-to-privacy law and Watchdogs welcome Australia’s right-to-privacy move. I’ll be writing about the timing thing tomorrow for ABC’s The Drum.

Right now, though, I have one question. It’s a question I’ve asked before, but I was reminded by something Mark Newton said earlier this evening.

How come we don’t see such sudden action, ever, when is comes to giving Australians a statutory right to freedom of speech?