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Australia Bureau of Statistics may wind back internet usage data collection

The Australian Bureau of Statistics might discontinue the country's only authoritative survey about Internet users in Australia, as the cash-starved organisation prepares for another round of layoffs. Facing a three-year cut of 10 per cent in its funding – $29 million out of its $290 million allocation – the ABS has published …
Facebook VR, photo by Facebook

Fake-news-monetizing machine Facebook lectures hacks on how not to write fake news that made it millions

Stung by accusations that it allowed its platform to be hijacked by Russian propagandists, and facing looming regulatory crackdowns, Facebook has decided to shift the spotlight onto journalists and lecture scribes on how not to write "fake news." The social network this week issued guidelines to deter hacks from gumming up its …
Thomas Claburn, 24 Oct 2017
Flaming letter G

nbn™ to use G.fast in late 2018, firstly in commercial premises

nbn™, the company building and operating Australia's national broadband network (NBN), has announced it will start using G.fast in 2018 and will eventually use it in fibre-to-the-node installations. G.fast is a successor to VDSL and can hit a gigabit per second when the stars align. Government policy means nbn™ will deploy …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Oct 2017
gag

US DoJ eases gagging rules, Microsoft drops data slurp alert lawsuit

The US Department of Justice has limited its gagging policy that bans companies from alerting customers when their personal information is accessed by the Feds. As a result, Microsoft has dropped one of its lawsuits against the American government, which argued it had the right to tell its customers when Uncle Sam demanded …
Rebecca Hill, 24 Oct 2017
A woman wagging her finger

Tories spared fine after being told off by ICO for election telemarketing

Phone calls made on behalf of the Conservatives in the run-up to the UK general election "crossed the line" into unlawful direct marketing – but the party has escaped regulatory action. The Tories hired Welsh-based firm Blue Telecoms to carry out direct marketing and market research calls during the campaign. This is a pretty …
Rebecca Hill, 24 Oct 2017
Australian $20 burning

nbn™'s problems were known – in 2008, a year before its birth

Australia's telecommunications ombudsman last week reported a startling and unwelcome 159.3 per cent year-on-year jump in complaints, with more than 40,000 lodged about services on the national broadband network (NBN). The usual tut-tutting took place and nbn™, the company that builds and operates the NBN, came in for …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Oct 2017

Sex harassment scandal scoops up Silicon Valley's Slimy Scoble

Analysis The rolling saga of rich and powerful men being identified as serial sexual harassers has returned to Silicon Valley, having spent a few week slicing through Hollywood. Now it's scooped up another well-known tech figure: Robert Scoble. Late last week, technology journalist Quinn Norton decided to go public with her story …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Oct 2017
EU parliament photo2 via Shutterstock

MEPs vote to update 'cookie law' despite ad industry pressure

European legislation that aims to put over-the-top services on a level pegging with their more traditional telecoms counterparts, and gives users more rights over websites tracking them, has been approved by a committee of MEPs. The proposed ePrivacy rules, which will update a directive that was last amended in 2009, have been …
Rebecca Hill, 20 Oct 2017
UK passport control photo via Shutterstock

National Audit Office: We'll be in a world of pain with '90s border tech post-Brexit

The clunky technology underpinning Blighty's border control leaves the UK in concerning position post-Brexit, a National Audit Office report has found. Border operations in the UK still rely on '90s technology that lacks modern functionality. "The government's ambitions to seamlessly interact with citizens, and securely share …
Kat Hall, 20 Oct 2017
Boeing 777--2H6/ER 9M-MRI, an aircraft very similar to the one that operated Flight MH370. Pic: Ryan Fletcher/Shutterstock

MH 370 search to resume as Malaysia makes deal with US oceanographic company

Malaysia has struck a deal with US biz Ocean Infinity to resume the search for missing airliner MH370. The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014. None of the 239 people aboard have been seen or heard from since. It is presumed that the plane's crew was incapacitated, leading the 777 to fly until it ran out …
Simon Sharwood, 20 Oct 2017

Facebook, Google and pals may be hit with TV political ads rules

Facebook and Google, along with other online publishers, may soon be required in the US to disclose funding for paid political ads. On Thursday in Washington DC, two US senators – Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) – proposed a bill called The Honest Ads Act to extend the funding disclosure requirements for political …
Thomas Claburn, 19 Oct 2017

Mohawks fling patent infringement sueball at Microsoft and Amazon

A Native American tribe in New York is going after Microsoft and Amazon for infringing its patents. The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe filed lawsuits against the tech firms Wednesday, a spokesperson for the tribe told The Register. The patents, which deal with data processing, actually come from a US tech firm called SRC Labs. But …
Andrew Silver, 19 Oct 2017
Australia with ethernet cable

Australian government launches review of .au domain

Australia will conduct a review of how the nation's .au top level domain is managed. Minister for communications Mitch Fifield says it's needed because current arrangements have been in place since the year 2001, when the not-for-profit .au Domain Administration (auDA) got the job of operating and managing the .au domain. …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Oct 2017
Chinese computer keyboard

Like Uber, for socialism: Chinese leader calls for more use of AI, big data and sharing economy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has outlined the nation's technological ambitions in his opening address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Congress is staged every five years and commences with an address from the leader, in which he (always he, so far) outlines past accomplishments, gives …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Oct 2017

First annual review of Privacy Shield gives it a resounding... 'adequate'

The first annual review of the Privacy Shield agreement that governs transatlantic data flows has come back with a solid, unsurprising mark of "adequate". The agreement – which rose from the ashes of the Safe Harbour framework that was ruled invalid after being challenged by privacy activist Max Schrems – aims to protect …
Rebecca Hill, 18 Oct 2017
Light bulb photo via Shutterstock

Brit spooks 'kept oversight bodies in the dark' over data sharing

Concerns have been raised that neither of the bodies tasked with overseeing the UK's spy agencies were aware that data they collected was shared with the private sector. According to documents released as part of an ongoing court case between the UK government and Privacy International, GCHQ and MI5 didn't tell watchdogs they …
Rebecca Hill, 18 Oct 2017
HMRC photo, Gov.uk

Watchdog slams HMRC, Amazon over 'dismal' response to UK biz hurt by online VAT fraud

HMRC, Amazon and eBay have not done enough to crack down on overseas sellers evading VAT in the UK, a “dismal” failure that has hit British businesses hard, the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee said today. The select committee's report, Tackling online VAT fraud and error, warned that online sellers who do not …
Kat Hall, 18 Oct 2017
Man peers into fridge with odd look on his face. Photo by shutterstock

Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right

INTERVIEW As Vulture South reported Monday, Australia's government hopes to have consumer Internet of Things products given security “star ratings” of some kind, so consumers know what they're buying. The notion seems problematic: for example, what does a five-star security rating on a security camera mean, if it's attached to a router …
trump

No, the FCC can't shut down TV stations just because Donald Trump is mad at the news

The head of America's telly watchdog, the FCC, said he cannot follow up on Donald Trump's threat to revoke the broadcast licenses of TV networks that run unflattering news coverage of the US president. Speaking at a public policy conference at George Mason University, Virginia, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the authority of the …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Oct 2017

Now German companies are beating the drum over poor patent quality

The issue of falling patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO) has again reared its head, this time thanks to German intellectual property lawyers. Following a testy exchange last week at an official meeting of the EPO's Administrative Council where staff aired their grievances and were attacked by EPO president …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Oct 2017

Australian senator Pauline Hanson wants devilish scam calls to flash '666'

An Australian senator has come up with a cunning plan to stop phone scammers: any call from an unregistered VoIP line should show the caller's number as “666”. Senator Pauline Hanson detailed the idea in a letter to communications minister Mitch Fifield, as part of a government review into dealing with scams. On Facebook, she …

Dying! Yahoo! loses! fight! to! lock! dead! man's! dead! account!

Yahoo! may be compelled to hand over the contents of a dead man's email account to his surviving family, Massachusetts's top court has ruled. On Monday, the US state's supreme struck down an earlier ruling in the Purple Palace's favor in a case regarding the estate of John Ajemian, who was killed at the age of 43 in a bike …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Oct 2017
finger pointing

Review pins blame for Medicare ID breach on you. All of you

Comment The Australian government's review of an incident that saw health care customer numbers offered for sale on a Tor “darknet” site has recommended retaining the numbers as acceptable proof of identity. Australian adults are all issued a "Medicare card" entitling them to government-funded healthcare. The cards bear the unique …
California

Super Cali goes ballistic, small-cell law is bogus. School IT outsourcing is also... quite atrocious

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a state bill that would have allowed telcos to put up loads of small-cell antennas, and thus boost phone coverage, against city officials' wishes. Brown said that the proposed law, which was written by State Senator Ben Hueso (D) and backed by the wireless industry cheerleaders at the …
Shaun Nichols, 16 Oct 2017
Massive human has key to little person's house.

Huge power imbalance between firms and users whose info they grab

Mass commercial data gathering and opaque decision-making processes have a “massive potential” to damage personal autonomy and dignity, a report has said. Data gathered and stored by companies is increasingly being used to make decisions that can affect people’s lives, but the systems that drive these processes are often …
Rebecca Hill, 16 Oct 2017

'Cyber kangaroo' ratings for IoT security? Jump to it, says Australia's cyber security minister

Australia's government hopes that somewhere in the world, a vendor of consumer-grade connected electronics is willing to admit it's rubbish at security by giving itself a low score in a proposed safety rating system. The idea of security ratings for internet things emerged during last year's 360° Cyber Security Game, co-hosted …
drone

Drone smacks commercial passenger plane in Canada

Canada's transport minster has told drone operators to stay away from airports after a remotely piloted craft bonked a passenger plane during its final approach to Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City. Minister Marc Garneau hasn't revealed the model of the drone, but we do know that it hit a plane operated by …
Simon Sharwood, 16 Oct 2017

Facebook, Twitter slammed for deleting evidence of Russia's US election mischief

Facebook and Twitter have come under attack for deleting tens of thousands of posts that may provide vital clues to how and to what extent the Russian government was able to able to influence the US presidential elections. Facebook has removed thousands of Facebook posts – and the related data around them such as "likes" and …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Oct 2017

Uber begins appeals process to claw back taxi licence in London

Londoners can keep on using the Uber ride-hailing app. For now. Transport for London decided not to renew Uber's private hire licence last month, claiming the firm was not "fit and proper" to operate in the city. The business this morning filed its intent to appeal the decision with Westminster Magistrates' Court, which will …
Andrew Silver, 13 Oct 2017
Privacy

Dear America, you can't steal a personality: GDPR godfather talks privacy with El Reg

Interview "Now I've heard that one before. Let me think, where was it... Ah yes. It was Google!" Jan Philipp Albrecht is the biggest thorn in the side of US data slurpers, and fortunately he has a good memory. The German Green MEP is the architect of Europe's new privacy regulations, GDPR, and we were discussing a rhetorical question …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Oct 2017
No, just stop. Nope. photo by shutterstock

Scouse marketing scamps scalped £70k for 100,000+ nuisance calls

A firm promising to generate leads for businesses has been fined £70,000 for making more than 100,000 nuisance calls – although it has denied using automatic dialling. The UK Information Commissioner's Office investigated (PDF) Liverpool-based firm The Lead Experts following a series of complaints from people who had not …
Rebecca Hill, 13 Oct 2017
Big bill

Beware the GDPR 'no win, no fee ambulance chasers' – experts

The UK's incoming data protection laws could bring with them a wave of "no win, no fee"-style companies, experts have said. Much of the discussion about the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation – which comes into force in May 2018 – has focused on the fines regulators can impose. Although these are large – up …
Rebecca Hill, 13 Oct 2017

Twitter: Why we silenced Rose McGowan after she slammed alleged sex pest Harvey Weinstein

Analysis Twitter was today accused of censorship after it froze the account of actress Rose McGowan – who had just publicly slammed alleged sex fiend Harvey Weinstein. McGowan was surprised to find herself locked out of her @rosemcgowan profile on Wednesday night, and posted on Instagram a screengrab of a telling-off she received from …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Oct 2017

Screw the badgers! Irish High Court dismisses Apple bit barn appeals

Ireland's High Court has dismissed planning appeals preventing the construction of Apple's County Galway data centre, Reuters reports. Cupertino had announced the €850m bit barn in February 2015, alongside plans for one in Denmark. But while the Danish facility is set to open next year, the 500-acre site at Derrydonnell, about …
Andrew Silver, 12 Oct 2017

Q. Why's Oracle so two-faced over open source? A. Moolah, wonga, dosh

Oracle loves open source. Except when the database giant hates open source. Which, according to its recent lobbying of the US federal government, seems to be "most of the time". Yes, Oracle has recently joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to up its support for open-source Kubernetes and, yes, it has long …
Matt Asay, 12 Oct 2017

European Patent Office's document churning snatches Germany's attention: 'We are concerned about quality'

A row has broken out at the European Patent Office over the quality of its work. The international organization's big annual meeting in Munich this week has been overshadowed by a war of words between staff and the EPO's president, Benoit Battistelli. Staff are warning that quality is falling in response to an aggressive …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Oct 2017

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