Penalty for selling confidential celebrity medical files? $300

30 08 2008

Penalty for selling confidential celebrity medical files? $300. That’s the ruling from The Heidelberg Magistrates Court. The pair sold the records for personal financial gain and did not obtain the records legally. I’m honestly quite shocked at this ruling as Australia has the Privacy Act, which I thought covered medical records, but it doesn’t.

I find it astonishing that when people find private medical records in the street and seek a sale for profit with a journalist, knowing the victim is a celebrity, the penalty is a paltry AU$300.

Does violating someone’s privacy really only deserve a slap on the wrist?

When celebrity news is a billion dollar business, is a $300 fine really appropriate as a deterrent?


Help Firefox set a World Record! Download Day 2008

14 06 2008

Help Firefox set a World Record! Download Day 2008 is (in Australia) on Tuesday 17th June 2008.

How is your country looking on the Pledge Map?
Download Day - English

My favourite tools of 2007 and the biggest tool of 2007

31 12 2007

My favourite tools of 2007:
Twitter – if you don’t get it, you don’t have enough contacts or you’re not asking the right questions
Akismet – oh how I love you. Akismet has caught 23,003 spam for me since I first installed it.
WordPress – a bit neglected this year, but a favourite none the less

But the biggest tool of 2007 is Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister of the Digital Economy, who has wrapped up 2007 by announcing mandatory internet filters, which will be opt-out only.

“Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the internet is like going down the Chinese road,” he said. “If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree.”

Filtering the internet isn’t democratic.

In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 19 affirms the right to free speech:

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Is a filtered internet what you want for your kids? Unable to research breast cancer, religion, censorship, politics and missing out on news such as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s visit to a strip club.

The Librarians are asking, who is in charge of the filter? What is being filtered? Why no announcements on government websites?

All of this at a time when any child can easily subscribe to hard core porn via SMS, great job Conroy! Way to protect the children.

OECD says Australian broadband among the world’s worst

18 07 2007

OECD says Australian broadband among the world’s worst and Aussies now know they’re not crazy, it really does suck. My own carrier recently advised me that although I am in a brand new land estate with a large population, I cannot get ADSL2 because the local cabling is of such poor quality it won’t sustain the connection from the ADSL2 enabled exchange.

I am still waiting for a real broadband plan that’s not just for the next couple of years, but the next few decades. How will our connectivity be upgraded in the future? Are preparations being made to make this a cheap, fast and easy process? How will these future upgrades be funded? Why isn’t there a public map of what connectivity is available in your location and who is responsible for your crappy service? Why aren’t councils requiring mandatory standards of service before releasing new land titles? Why are some people still not receiving proper copper cabling and only receiving shared-line technology while paying full price?

 If there are any politicians which actually understand all of the above and are able to answer the questions with something other than “We have a plan, but it’s a secret”, you just might get my vote.

Failing that, I may just have to move overseas to country with better than 3rd world connectivity. It sucks to live here.

A great turnout for Destra and Brad Howarth at The Domain

16 05 2007

Brad Howarth and Domenic Carosa (CEO of Destra) drew quite a crowd at The Domain networking event in Melbourne, held at Digital Harbour in the Docklands. Attendees received a music CD from Destra and a copy of Australian Anthill magazine (Subscribe to Anthill for the secret bargain price herethanks Rich).

Brad “Best Technology Industry Journalist” Howarth wrote an article in The Age which is firing up the local blogosphere. It’s web take 2.0 is creating a lot of discussion around whether Australian big business gets Web 2.0 (Brad’s full Aussie 2.0 list is here). One of my favourite quotes is from Mick Liubinskas at Tangler “So they keep chasing the users wherever they go, and the users are running away because they are sick of the corporates yelling at them”. As a Gen Y in the workforce, communication is clearly aimed at older generations. I’ve grown up as a consumer hearing the noise that is the corporate monologue, the same-again tv advertising, empty promises and not-so-hidden-agendas. This not only changes my behaviour as a consumer, it also changes what I want in communication in the workplace. I want two-way communication, input, rapid dissemination of news, subscriptions to news based on topic, a human voice, a giant repository of collective knowledge that can be searched… the list goes on. These technologies and techniques are native to me, part of how I get things done. I don’t fax, I don’t send letters and I hear blah blah blah when communication is inhuman and unnatural. Many older style companies are not connecting with their Gen X & Y employees, just as old media is not connecting with their Gen X & Y readers (if they have any). It’s a generation gap. (Rupert is one of the few who gets it)

The Global Geek Podcast recently asked Cameron Reilly “What motivates someone to walk away from the relative security of a six-figure-income corporate job to weather the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that go with running a start-up?”. Cam posted If You Start Me Up… on Startup Stories,

Creating a startup is already enticing to Gen X & Y for the seemingly unlimited challenge and job satisfaction, but I increasingly wonder whether the human voice (Naked Conversations) is going to be a greater factor in job choice for the coming decades. Money is only useful in that it leads to greater freedom. If you have freedom already, what exactly is the money for?

In other news, Scouta has released Hicks (thanks, no one else was going to) and MODM #2 is on 7th June at Federation Square. Put it in your calendar, RSVP and subscribe to the MODM rss feed. All the cool kids will be there.

American Politicians using 2.0, Australian Politicians still using paper

28 03 2007

Politics 2.0 on the ValueWiki Blog only highlights the Luddite qualities of Australian politicians and Australian Government. All the presidential candidates for the USA 2008 Election have their own MySpace pages, some candidates have blogs, social networks and the ability to create your own website about the candidates. The two candidates for Australian Prime Minister are John Howard and Kevin Rudd are a very different story. John Howard has a special website for his seat of Bennelong, which contains an online community survey for Bennelong, email form submission for feedback and an area to enter your snail mail address to receive detailed information on specific issues. Kevin Rudd’s own website URL only redirects back to the ALP website. An email address is not listed on John Howard’s member page for the House of Representatives, although an email address is listed on Kevin Rudd’s member page for the House of Representiatives.

The party websites aren’t much better, the Australian Labour Party website has an email newsletter signup as well as buttons to email the page, print the page, view text-only version and bookmark the page, although they do have a selection of Australian Labour Party RSS feeds, however these are all different formats for a single content feed, which is of Media Releases (how very old media).

However, there are some 2.0 political voices from Australia, they just don’t belong to the politicians. This MySpace page does not belong to Kevin Rudd, but is trying to show support for Kevin Rudd (Kevin Rudd For PM! has 1474 friends). Best name goes to JohnHowardAwesome (John Howard: PM of Australia has 490 friends). There is also a MySpace Group for Australian Politics. That doesn’t include any of the mock pages such as these ones on MySpace for The Ruddmeister (Kevin Rudd) and John Winston Howard (John Howard).

Is there really no more engagement than an RSS feed of Media Releases?

Why Aussie geeks should not support Kevin Rudd’s broadband plan

23 03 2007

Geeks, techies, educators and innovators across Australia were excited to hear about Kevin Rudd’s plan for a high speed broadband optical fibre rollout to 98% of Australia. There is no doubt that Australia is a “broadband backwater”. The horror quotes from the Luddites of Australian politics, such as Ron Boswell’s “We’ve got adequate broadband for the people out there”, Helen Coonan’s “Internet users in most Australian capital cities should be happy with the speed of their broadband connection” and (my favourite, the biggest luddite in history), Richard Alston’s “Well for example, people will tell you that pornography is one of the major reasons why there’s been a high take-up rate in South Korea. I haven’t confirmed that at first instance but I’ve been there, I’ve looked at what’s happening.”, say it all. Our politicians don’t have a technical clue.
However, while I fully support the idea of optical fibre to 98% of Australia, it has to be funded and planned in a responsible manner. You may have read this little gem: “The Future Fund is full of money from telecommunications from the sale of Telstra, so in a way it’s not inappropriate that money is spent on telecommunications” from Democrats leader Lynn Allison. The origin of the money in the Future Fund is not the issue Lynn Allison, it’s what it’s been earmarked for. Labor cannot guarantee to cover public service superannuation liabilities, not if it’s going to be spending that money. There are no guarantees in investment. This is Superannuation money that people have been paying their whole lives. If it was my money, I would not want anyone spending it and promising they’ll pay it back by 2020. I doubt Kevin Rudd will be leaving his Superannuation in there until 2020, so he personally won’t be paying any price. This plan is a carrot dangled for the younger generation, who aren’t owed any money by the Future Fund. The Future Fund is not spending money, it’s a debt owed by the government that they have an obligation to pay. The Australian Government made a mistake a long time ago, by not putting aside money for their future superannuation obligations for retiring workers, just like General Motors. What do you think will happen if a large number of public servants don’t get the Superannuation they need for retirement? They’re going to be an additional drain on taxpayers in the welfare system. This money is not just for politicians, it’s for teachers, police, doctors, nurses and other staff working in the public sector, paid by the government. For Generations X & Y, this may mean your parents moving in with you when they’re no longer able to work, as they can’t afford housing without their Superannuation and welfare money will be limited with a reduced workforce. Don’t be fooled by this shiny offer, read the fine print. I want that dream broadband network too, I just don’t think this is the way to fund it.
We don’t just need faster broadband, we need a complete project plan for ongoing infrastructure building, maintenance and future upgrades. This is not the last time a communications network will require upgrades, how do they intend to pay for the next one?
Optical fibre is a great plan for Australia (we need Fibre To The Home (FTTH) not Fibre To The Node (FTTN), but stealing from the future to pay for the mistakes of the past doesn’t work. It’s how we built this broadband backwater in the first place, by cutting corners and hoping someone in the future will fix it. All Australian politicians need to use greater foresight in policy, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, not just planning ahead until the next election. Each side doesn’t want to do too good a job, for fear a future opposition might take the credit. Get your bloody act together Labour and Liberals. Try working together to actually solve a problem for the good of the country, instead of wasting time name calling, chest beating and buggering around instead of actually getting things done.