Talking swatting on Sydney radio 2UE, again

2UE logoFollowing on from Wednesday’s conversation about swatting on 2UE’s afternoon program, I spoke about the topic again on Thursday’s drive-time program, because they had more to discuss.

First, they’d been contacted by a listener named Greg, who a couple months back had been a victim of swatting — or at least his son had — with the result that a dozen police cars were outside his house for a “friendly chat”. The swatter had told them that three people were being held hostage in the house.

Second, they’d wondered whether that meant that a more elaborately crafted swatting attempt couldn’t cause much more disruption. Short answer, yes it could.

This is the full conversation with presenter Justin Smith.

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This audio is ©2014 Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd.

Guilty of being a teenager in a public place [blogjune04]

Police news clipping, click to embiggenEarlier this evening, Channel TEN journalist Hayden Nelson tweeted this news clipping, and oh how we laughed. But beyond the laughter, there’s something quite sinister here.

This item appears to be from one of the Murdochland local suburban papers, and it reads:

Mosman police were patrolling Rawson Park on Friday night, May 30, when they spotted two teenage males standing in the darkness at about 10.30pm. Police deemed it to be suspicious and thought they may have been there to consume alcohol or drugs. The 18-year-olds stated that they were just hanging out and eating lollies. After a search nothing was found but red frogs in their pockets. The pair were moved on from the area by the officers.

I know that the Sydney North Shore suburb of Mosman is a separate planet from the rest of human society, but I seem to recall that when I was 18 years old, some time shortly before the last of the mammoths died out, the local park was about the only place you could go for a private conversation with your mates about… well, life.

Home was obviously out, because your parents were there. Shopping malls were closing, and in any event you can’t just hang around in the mall without buying something. The same goes for pubs and cafés. Not everyone can afford to buy endless beverages, even in Mosman.

The increasing privatisation of public space is a problem. You can’t just walk around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore, for example, without coming under the management of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and their arbitrary rules enforced by private security guards.

The privatisation of public space even has its own story category at The Guardian.

The roads have been turned over to traffic, not people. What seats you can find to sit on are part of JCDecaux’s advertising empire masquerading as bus shelters, sited right at the edge of the road where their hoardings can be seen, rather than set back from the kerb so you can hear yourself think.

No, the local park is the place for a quiet chat about the hell of growing into adulthood.

“Hanging around” is precisely what public parks are for — and if that’s “in the darkness” it’s because the local council is either stingy with the lighting budget, or understands that it’s not actually healthy for the night to be lit up like a football stadium.

Actually no. It’s “in the darkness” because, der, that’s what happens at nighttime.

Maybe there’s more to this story than meets the eye. But as it’s reported, it seems like these two lads were “deemed to be suspicious” simply because they were teenagers outside after dark, and were asked to move on for no valid reason whatsoever, other than to cover the police officers’ embarrassment with having interfered with people going about their lawful business. And that’s wrong.

[Update 5 June 2014, 0805 AEST: In a comment below I’ve written about the law that apparently applies in this situation. It reinforces my view that what happened here was just plain wrong.]

[This is one of 30 daily posts I’m writing during Blogjune. See them all under the tag blogjune, or subscribe to the RSS feed.]

Talking swatting on Sydney radio 2UE

2UE logoThis morning a Sydney teenager was arrested over a supposed hostage drama which is now being reported as an alleged swatting attack — a false report to police in the hope they’d respond in force. Which they did.

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Police descended on the Arncliffe home just after 4.40am on Wednesday after emergency services received a report that the 18-year-old had tied up his father and a friend and was planning to shoot them because they had sexually assaulted his mother…

The teenager surrendered to police without incident.

The teenager’s mother claimed that his laptop was hacked and that he had told her he was the victim of “swatting”.

Sydney’s Radio 2UE picked up the story this afternoon, with Ian ‘Dicko” Dickson and Sarah Morice speaking first to their police reporter Michelle Taverniti, then me, then a 97-year-old caller recalling a different meaning of “swatting”.

Taverniti said that the teenager told his mother that he’d been visiting Hack Forums to trade Bitcoin. But as I said on-air, that’s what the lad told his mother told the police told the police reporter. We shall see.

“Three laptop computers and a smart phone were found at the house and these will be forensically examined by police,” says the NSW Police media release, so I daresay we’ll find out more in a couple of days.

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This audio is ©2014 Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Ltd.

Consilium: Social media is destroying society? Good!

Last month I took part in a fascinating discussion about the impact of social media and related breakthroughs at Consilium [PDF], an invitation-only annual conference put together by the Centre for Independent Studies. Here’s part of what I said.

The panel was called “Social Creatures: How social media is changing the landscape”. I joined Iarla Flynn, Google Australia’s head of public policy and government affairs; Nick Holder, a partner at LEK Consulting; and Cassandra Wilkinson, co-founder and president of FBi Radio, and author of Don’t Panic! Nearly Everything is Better than You Think.

The full blurb and a scheduled duration of 1 hour 45 minutes gave us plenty of scope for discussion and, as became clear once we were under way, for this particular audience much of what we were saying was new.

Consilium was held under a modified Chatham House Rule, which means I can’t bring you the whole discussion. But I did record my opening remarks and my summary, and I have permission from those I namechecked to mention their names — except for one that’s redacted.

Somehow I managed to use the phrase “arse end of the bell curve” and mention Prince Harry’s pubic hair. It’s a gift.

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The full transcript is over the jump. Audio and text ©2012 Stilgherrian.

Continue reading “Consilium: Social media is destroying society? Good!”

AusCERT 2012: What’s changed since 2011?

I’m currently on the train down from the Blue Mountains to Sydney, en route to the AusCERT 2012 information security conference on the Gold Coast, and I’m thinking about what stories might emerge.

Here’s what I wrote last year when, just like this year, I was on the ZDNet Australia team:

The feeling I get from scanning those headlines is that there’s always a lot of scaremongering but the threats often don’t materialise. Are the threats over-stated? Does pointing out the threats trigger an effort to counter them, thus defeating them? Is it all just a bit too screechy?

And over the last year there’s been so much talk of imminent cyberwar. Is that just this year’s fashionable scary thing on a stick? I intend to ask a few questions. And I’ll plug it again: Thomas Rid says we shouldn’t believe the hype.

I haven’t yet looked in detail at the conference program but will do so over the next few hours. What do you reckon I should be investigating?

[Update 16 May 2012, 0625 AEST: Changed second paragraph to emphasise that I am covering the event for ZDNet Australia this year as well as last.]

The 9pm Edict #18

Danger on the streets! Lock up your children! There’s not a moment to spare. Australians demonstrate their stupidity and complete lack of class by proposing fucked up names for satellites. And in an effort to become relevant to important media issues, a food review.

This episode’s lead topic is the report that NSW Police are lecturing parents who let their children walk to the shops or catch a bus on their own.

I counter this idiocy with the map showing how in just four generations children’s range of action has been cut from six miles to 300 metres, my own experiences as a child, and the Free Range Kids project.

We also hear the misery of entries into NBN Co’s “Name the Satellites” community involvement outreach PR project thingy, and review the wonder that is SunRice Thai Satay Chicken Sauce with Rice.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

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If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733. Not that anyone ever does.

[Credits: Audio grabs from The Police’s Roxanne, SunRice Flavoured Quick Cups television commercial and the survival kit checklist Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr Strangelove. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission. Special thanks to Neil Gardiner.]