Google's data hungry practices are in the spotlight - with live inquiries on its anti-competitive behaviour in advertising, its monopoly in search and reviews of data collection practices. DuckDuckGo shows an alternative way - that you can do business without the surveillance.
Full disclosure: DuckDuckGo supports the Centre for Responsible Technology as part of their 2021 donation round. However, the Centre supported DuckDuckGo prior to this and we have made our position clear against Google and its monopolistic and data extractive practices.Read more
The ALP pledges anti-scam centres and further social media crackdown (via ALP). The ALP has announced a National Anti-Scam Centre to protect Australians from online scams including fake cryptocurrency and investment scams and tough new industry codes for social media platforms to protect consumers.
Clearview AI breaches Australians' privacy (via OAIC). The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner has determined that Clearview AI breached Australians' privacy by scraping biometric information from the web. The determination orders Clearview AI to stop collecting facial images and biometrics in Australia, and to destroy existing images captured.
Facebook may have to be legally forced into small publisher deals (via SMH). After refusing to negotiate with SBS, The Conversation and other small publishers, Senator Andrew Bragg has said that Facebook should be designated under the News Media Bargaining Code, forcing them to enter negotiations or risk fines of up to 10 percent of their Australian revenue.
Google loses antitrust appeal against 2.4 billion euro fine (via Bloomberg). The EU's General Court found that Google breached competition rules and favoured its own services over competitors.
Study from Australian National University found that young people need more protection online (via Canberra Times). The study cited young people exposed to "explicit and disturbing content" and harmful targeting, urging Australia to catch up with European and UK online safety initiatives.
Jon Favreau and Peter Hamby on how social media has changed journalism (via Crooked Media). Topics include how the internet has transformed media businesses and what a sustainable model for journalism might look like.
Why the metaverse must be stopped (via Tech Won't Save Us). Paris Marx talks to author Brian Merchant on Zuckerberg's plan for the metaverse, what's wrong with it and why Silicon Valley is desperate to make it happen.
The Sydney Dialogue annual summit for emerging, critical and cyber technologies (via ASPI). The summit will bring together key players in tech including Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and Facebook Corporate Affairs boss Nick Clegg.
The metaverse – a complete virtual world that promises to be the next phase of the web is not a new concept. It’s entered pop culture in many examples which most will be familiar with – like the dystopia of the leather and PVC clad hacker anarchists from 1999’s ‘Matrix’, or the more recent uber gamer fan flick ‘Ready Player One’ in 2011.
Zuckerberg was first enamored by the idea as a teenager, through the 1992 science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’. For a time, the novel was required reading for early Facebook employees...
...Many are quick to point out that Facebook reputationally, is currently facing its lowest ebb yet – with whistleblower Francis Haugen revealing a trove of internal documents confirming that Facebook knew it was causing harm to teenagers, ignored issues with drug cartels and human trafficking, and spread vaccine conspiracy theories.
This follows a constant stream of scandals as Facebook steadfastly refuses to address the many issues in its toxic ecosystem. The new metaverse announcement conveniently, willfully ignores all of this.
Read the full article on InnovationAus here.
This week was a huge one for online regulation, with the much anticipated updates to the Privacy Act review dropping, including a specific Online Privacy Bill, the latest ACCC report on competition in search, and a private member's bill on social media defamation.
Social media giants face $10m fines for privacy breaches under proposed government reform (via Guardian Australia). Proposed reforms to the Privacy Act include up to $10m in fines for repeated privacy breaches. Other major proposals include requiring platforms to verify users' ages, and getting parental consent for children.
Submissions are open to the public to feedback on the Privacy Act review proposals (via Attorney-General's Department). This includes public submissions for an Online Privacy Bill that looks specifically at social media and online platforms.
The ACCC has released its report on competition in search engines in Australia (via ACCC). The third Digital Platforms Services Inquiry interim report found that Google's 94% search engine share is harmful to competition and consumers. One of the proposals to address this is the development of a default choice screen on smartphones that allows users the ability to choose their preferred search engine upfront.
Nationals MP Anne Webster introduced a private member's bill to make social media companies liable (via Parliament of Australia). The Bill proposes that social media companies should be liable as publishers if they don't take down allegedly defamatory material within 48 hours of receiving a notice from the eSafety Commissioner.
Pressure is growing for the government to designate Facebook under the News Media Bargaining Code (via InnovationAus). Facebook has refused to negotiate with critical publishers like SBS and The Conversation, which has ACCC Chair Rod Sims "concerned".
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen briefs Australian MPs (via Reset Australia). After her explosive revelations, Frances Haugen has spoken to other governments globally, including in the UK, EU and Australia.
A new podcast about how the internet is "slowly breaking our brains" (via Crooked). Jon Favreau hosts candid conversations with newsmakers, political figures and artists to discuss how the internet shapes the way we live.
Australia's annual Internet Governance Forum NetThing is on early November (via NetThing). The conference themes this year are "Inclusion", "Health", "Trust", and "Environment" including a panel with our very own Director Peter Lewis, and a special Burning Platforms session.
On this Tech Check we see how technology regulation and governance plays out differently depending on where you sit, as we collectively grapple with our technology-mediated world:
New resources to combat disinformation through tech lobby group slammed as woefully inadequate (via Innovation Aus). Australia's local technology lobby group DIGI announced new measures to "bolster" its weak Disinformation Code, including an oversight board made up of only three members who will meet twice a year. Both Centre for Responsible Technology and Reset Australia criticised their efforts.
Home quarantine apps spark privacy fears (via Guardian Australia). Human rights groups worry that data collected through home quarantine apps could be kept for longer than necessary and used for secondary purposes. The Centre for Responsible Technology advocate for strict limits and protections in the use of facial recognition technology for home quarantine in our related report.
Twitter releases regulatory principles for policy makers (via Twitter). As regulatory efforts continue to build globally, Twitter released a report containing principles for policy makers. It includes recommendations around algorithmic management and privacy principles but also uses the myth of the "Open Internet" in its defence against regulatory intervention.
Facebook's week from hell (via the Briefing podcast). Technology journalist David Swan recounts Facebook's recent troubles, including the high profile whistleblower Francis Haugen and their outage problems.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims launches new issue of UNSW law journal on the theme of 'Big Tech and the Law' (via UNSW). The issue explores a diverse range of topics related to the regulation of digital platforms including the inadequacy of current antitrust/merger law frameworks and copyright.
On Burning Platforms we take a deep dive into the legal frameworks for entrenching digital data rights into Australian law. From informed consent to data matching and security, is the traditional approach to privacy applicable to the online world?Read more
‘Tech Talk’ – the Centre for Responsible Technology’s fortnightly virtual community forum covering the latest technology news, issues and policies is taking on a new look.
We are renaming our forum to ‘Burning Platforms’ to capture the sense of urgency in our work as digital technology continues to disrupt Australia.
We are also making it available as a podcast so you can listen in anytime.Read more
On the radar for Tech Check - big moves by and against Google, Amazon tries to make surveillance look cute, and more on the Wall Street Journal's excoriating exposés on Facebook:
- The ACCC finds Google's dominance in adtech harms businesses and consumers (via ACCC). In the final report of its Digital Advertising Services Inquiry, the ACCC confirms how Google's vertical integration and market power in adtech is bad news for Australians. The ACCC is looking for broader reform and the ability to develop sector-specific regulations to address this market issue. The Centre for Responsible Technology has urged the government to enact the ACCC's recommendations.
- Youtube announces it will block all anti-vaccine content (via SBS News). Youtube, after years of inaction on misinformation including during the pandemic, announces it will block all anti-vaccine content on its platform. With growing criticism against the tech giants and their refusal to address content harms, it appears Youtube has finally started to listen, but is it too little, too late?
- Amazon unveiled a new robot called Astro, which tracks everything in your home (via Vice). Amazon's unapologetic strategy of surveillance gets a new face as it launches Astro - a robot "home assistant" that can set up reminders, turn on TV shows and control smart devices around your home. It can also integrate with Amazon security products like Ring to alert you of possible break-ins or fires. Leaked internal documents show how Astro "tracks everything" and developers who worked on the product described it as "flawed".
- UTS hosts author of 'Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech betrayed its founding principles and all of us' (via UTS). As part of The University of Technology Sydney's Democracy Forum, emeritus professor Roy Green chats to author Rana Foroohar about the economics of Big Tech and its importance in the future of democracy around the world.
- The latest report from Wall Street Journal's 'Facebook Files' reveals the company's aggressive plans to get children onto the platform (via Gimlet). Reporter Georgia Wells discusses what Facebook's leaked documents show about the company's years-long efforts to study and design products for kids, ahead of a Senate hearing against Facebook.
- An Ethical Future? Questioning the ecological and social implications of AI (via Monash University). Monash hosts a webinar with leading academics discussing the broader implications of AI for the world's ecological and political systems, and society in general.