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  • Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years

    AlbanX writes The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would require telecommunications carriers and service providers to retain the non-content data of Australian citizens for two years so it can be accessed — without a warrant — by local law enforcement agencies. Despite tabling the draft legislation into parliament, the bill doesn't actually specify the types of data the Government wants retained. The proposal has received a huge amount of criticism from the telco industry, other members of parliament and privacy groups. (The Sydney Morning Herald has some audio of discussion about the law.)

    55 comments | yesterday

  • Imagining the Future History of Climate Change

    HughPickens.com writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.

    Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."

    Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""

    433 comments | yesterday

  • Amazon Web Services To Build Two New Aussie Data Centers

    Bismillah writes: Sydney will get two new AWS data centers in the western and south-western parts of the city. AWS apparently decided to build the new DCs after it struggled to find enough Tier III space for rapid expansion in the region.

    27 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Accessing One's Own Metadata

    skegg writes: Frustrated journalist Ben Grubb has documented his attempts at gaining access to his own metadata from his carrier. "After more than a year of phone calls and emails and a private mediation session, it still hasn't released the information or answered my one key question satisfactorily: the government can access my Telstra metadata, so why can't I?" Later, he says, "Telstra's one and only valid argument to date has been that identifying who calls me would be in breach of that person's privacy if they called from an unlisted number. I've agreed and said that in providing me with my metadata they should remove unlisted numbers. They argue this would be too difficult to do, which I think is baloney."

    94 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Analyzing Silk Road 2.0

    An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.

    68 comments | about a month ago

  • Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

    First time accepted submitter chentiangemalc writes While Australia is on "high alert" for terror threats a man walked past a Sydney Airport security screening while engrossed in his iPad and delayed flights for an hour. From the article: "This event was captured on CCTV and unnerved officials so much that they evacuated passengers. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, the man found himself (or, perhaps, didn't) going into the terminal through an exit passage that clearly was convenient for him, but less convenient for the hordes of passengers who not only had to be removed from Terminal 3, but also re-screened. A spokeswoman for Qantas told the Morning Herald: 'The man disembarked a flight and left. It appears he wasn't paying attention, was looking at his iPad, forgot something and walked back past (the security area).'"

    217 comments | about a month ago

  • Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance

    First time accepted submitter Marquis231 writes New laws due to be passed in Australia allow intelligence agency ASIO to spy on domestic internet traffic like never before. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "Spy agency ASIO will be given the power to monitor the entire Australian internet and journalists' ability to write about national security will be curtailed when new legislation – expected to pass in the Senate as early as Wednesday – becomes law, academics, media organisations, lawyers, the Greens party and rights groups fear."

    212 comments | about a month ago

  • South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early

    ferrisoxide.com writes: South Australia has hit its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020, 6 years earlier than expected, delivering clean power to the state through investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy — mothballing one coal-fired power station in the process. Not content to rest on their laurels, the SA government has now announced a new "stretch" target of 50% by 2025. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declared that despite initial upfront costs to renewable energy generators such as wind farms, the 50 per cent target will not add one extra dollar to energy prices.

    169 comments | about a month ago

  • Australian Police Arrest 15, Charge 2, For Alleged Islamic State Beheading Plot

    The Washington Post reports (building on a short AP report they're also carrying) that "[Australian] police have arrested 15 people allegedly linked to the Islamic State, some who plotted a public beheading." According to the Sydney Morning Herald, of the arrestees, only two have been charged. From the Washington Post story: “Police said the planned attack was to be “random.” The killers were to behead a victim and then drape the body in the black Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. ... Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in [the Islamic State] to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference, as the BBC reported. “So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”

    165 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks

    An anonymous reader writes Tinba, the tiny (20 KB) banking malware with man-in-the-browser and network traffic sniffing capabilities, is back. After initially being made to target users of a small number of banks, that list has been amplified and now includes 26 financial institutions mostly in the US and Canada, but some in Australia and Europe as well. Tinba has been modified over the years, in an attempt to bypass new security protections set up by banks, and its source code has been leaked on underground forums a few months ago. In this new campaign, the Trojan gets delivered to users via the Rig exploit kit, which uses Flash and Silverlight exploits. The victims get saddled with the malware when they unknowingly visit a website hosting the exploit kit."

    61 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise

    the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.

    198 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

    ashshy writes 200,000 Australian residents reportedly use Netflix today, tunneling their video traffic to the US, UK, and other Netflix markets via VPN connections. A proper Netflix Down Under service isn't expected to launch until 2015. Last week, Aussie video streaming company Quickflix told Netflix to stop this practice, so Australian viewers can return to Quickflix and other local alternatives. But Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford didn't explain how Netflix could restrict Australian VPN users, beyond the IP geolocating and credit card billing address checks it already runs. Today, ZDNet's Josh Taylor ripped into the absurdity of Quickflix's demands. From the article: "If Netflix cuts those people off, they're going to know that it was at the behest of Foxtel and Quickflix, and would likely boycott those services instead of flocking to them. If nothing else, it would encourage those who have tried to do the right thing by subscribing and paying for content on Netflix to return to copyright infringement."

    172 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • NSW Police Named as FinFisher Spyware Users

    Bismillah writes Wikileaks' latest release of documents shows that the Australian New South Wales police force has spent millions on licenses for the FinFisher set of law enforcement spy- and malware tools — and still has active licenses. What it uses FinFisher, which has been deployed against dissidents by oppressive regimes, for is yet to be revealed. NSW Police spokesperson John Thompson said it would not be appropriate to comment "given this technology relates to operational capability".

    73 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Treasure Map: NSA, GCHQ Work On Real-Time "Google Earth" Internet Observation

    wabrandsma) writes with the latest accusations about NSA spying activity in Germany. According to top-secret documents from the NSA and the British agency GCHQ, the intelligence agencies are seeking to map the entire Internet.
    Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them. The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet — Any device, anywhere, all the time." Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes. Employees of the so-called "FiveEyes" intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird's eye view of the planet's digital arteries.

    267 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • BBC: ISPs Should Assume VPN Users Are Pirates

    An anonymous reader sends this news from TorrentFreak: After cutting its teeth as a domestic broadcaster, the BBC is spreading its products all around the globe. Shows like Top Gear have done extremely well overseas and the trend of exploiting other shows in multiple territories is set to continue. As a result, the BBC is now getting involved in the copyright debates of other countries, notably Australia, where it operates four subscription channels. Following submissions from Hollywood interests and local ISPs, BBC Worldwide has now presented its own to the Federal Government. Its text shows that the corporation wants new anti-piracy measures to go further than ever before.

    The BBC begins by indicating a preference for a co-operative scheme, one in which content owners and ISPs share responsibility to "reduce and eliminate" online copyright infringement. ... "Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task. This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection," the BBC explains.

    363 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Mushroom-Like Deep Sea Organism May Be New Branch of Life

    jones_supa writes: During a scientific cruise in 1986, scientists collected organisms at water depths of 400m and 1,000m on the south-east Australian continental slope, near Tasmania. But the two types of mushroom-shaped organisms were recognized only recently, after sorting of the bulk samples collected during the expedition. A team of scientists at the University of Copenhagen says the tiny organism does not fit into any of the known subdivisions of the animal kingdom. The organisms are described in the academic journal PLOS ONE. The authors of the paper recognise two new species of mushroom-shaped animal: Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides. Measuring only a few millimeters in size, the animals consist of a flattened disc and a stalk with a mouth on the end. One way to resolve the question surrounding Dendrogramma's affinities would be to examine its DNA, but new specimens will need to be found. The team's paper calls for researchers around the world to keep an eye out for other examples.

    64 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Google Testing Drone Delivery System: 'Project Wing'

    rtoz writes: Google's research division, Google X, is developing a fleet of drones to deliver goods. This drone delivery system is called "Project Wing," and Google X has been developing it in secret for the past two years. During a recent test in Australia, drones successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers. The self-flying vehicle uses four electrically-driven propellers to get around, and it has a wingspan of about five feet. It weighs just under 19 pounds and can take off and land without a runway. Google's long-term goal is to develop drones that could be used for disaster relief by delivering aid to isolated areas.

    52 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

    angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.

    139 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Aussie Airlines To Allow Uninterrupted Mobile Use During Flights

    Bismillah (993337) writes "While you're in coverage during take-off and landing, at least. Passengers flying with Qantas and Virgin Australia might be able to leave their devices on from as early as September this year after the Civil Aviation Authority decided it was no longer unsafe to do so."

    51 comments | about 2 months ago

  • News Corp Australia Doesn't Want You To Look Closely At Their Financials

    Presto Vivace writes with news of an embarrassing discovery for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp about the company's financial state, which might draw less attention if News Corp hadn't tried to prevent people from using the information: "The existential crisis that has gripped Rupert Murdoch's Australian arm began with a rude discovery just after 2pm on Wednesday afternoon. The Crikey news website had stumbled across some of News Corp's most intimate lingerie, and had just put it all up on the the net. ... The 276-page document is called the Blue Book, a weekly and year-to-date rundown of results at June 30, 2013 for every News Corp business in the country. ... The great newspaper engine which was Rupert Murdoch's original springboard to take over the world was already under stress. In 2013, 70 per cent of its earnings disappeared, leaving operating income precariously balanced at $87.6 million. As Crikey pointed out, trying hard not to gloat, another year even half as bad as 2013 could put News Australia into the red." Crikey took the documents off line after legal threats, but it seems not before business reporters all over the world had a chance to download them."

    132 comments | about 2 months ago

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