Technology

IT contractors shown the door en masse at Home Affairs

Hundreds of IT contractors were shown the door at the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra this week due to budget pressures, with industry experts fearing a flood of workers will push down incomes across the sector. Sally Whyte The Canberra Times It’s understood that anywhere between 170 and 300 contractors, working on various information technology contracts across the department, were told this week that they were no longer required, with their work to be finishing up in the next ... Read More »

Khashoggi murder: how states are increasingly repressing dissidents beyond their borders

Authoritarian states have long tried to suppress dissidents who oppose the regime But in the age of globalisation, they are increasingly able to mobilise beyond their territorial borders and target political opponents overseas. Aurhors: The Conversation The brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi regime insider who became a critic in self exile of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is an extreme example of this new reality. Although the precise details of Khashoggi’s murder have yet to be proved, his grim fate – he ... Read More »

Apple, Google, Facebook line up to pay homage to EU privacy rules

Tech executives and global regulators promise to boost privacy rights. But not everything is what it seems. Mark Scott Politico Top executives from Facebook, Google and Apple heaped praise on Europe’s revamped data protection standards Wednesday, just as these companies face ever tighter scrutiny over privacy and the prospect of similar restrictions in the… Apple’s Tim Cook — the only U.S. CEO to appear in person — spoke in the strongest terms, calling for a federal U.S. privacy law to match ... Read More »

Want to know your rights but only have 60 seconds?

London barrister hopes to educate people about the law with bitesize Youtube videos Owen Bowcott The Guardian Christian Weaver likes to keep it concise. His video series ‘TheLawin60Seconds’ is pioneering legal advice for an age of supposedly limited attention spans. The 24-year-old lawyer has begun teaching people about their rights in online talks to camera that aim to simplify the complexity of legislation into a few basic principles. He may not be the first person to deliver consumer-friendly lectures over the… Weaver’s first ... Read More »

What would happen if we banned emails at the weekends

Maybe we all need ‘the right to disconnect’ Chris Stokel-Walker BBC For the average working person, there’s no greater feeling than powering down your computer and kissing goodbye to your avalanche of work emails for the day. If we’re lucky enough to disconnect from the job on evenings and weekends, we’re overjoyed to leave work email and the stress that comes with it in the office. But experts say we’re increasingly failing to do so, instead bringing the burden home ... Read More »

Children mining cobalt in slave-like conditions as global demand for battery material surges

If you have not spared a thought for cobalt since high school science, then it might be time. It is having a boom, and the modern world is increasingly reliant on it — using it to stabilise batteries in phones, computers and electric cars; in fact, it is probably in the device you are using right now. The Signal – By Angela Lavoipierre, Stephen Smiley and Lin Evlin ABC But there is a catch. Cobalt is mined in a string of ... Read More »

Why Vietnam is quitting Facebook

Activists, dissidents and writers are gravitating to other social media platforms as Facebook appears to acquiesce to government censorship demands David Hutt Asia Times When logging onto Minds, an open-source social media platform, it is hard to miss the huge number of posts written in Vietnamese. Of the platform’s over one million users, about 10% hail from Vietnam, according to recent media reports. What’s more, roughly 100,000 of those Vietnamese users signed up in the period of just one week, ... Read More »

In praise of doing nothing

In the 1950s, scholars worried that, thanks to technological innovations, Americans wouldn’t know what to do with all of their leisure time. Simon Gottschalk The Conversation Yet today, as sociologist Juliet Schor notes, Americans are overworked, putting in more hours than at any time since the Depression and more than in any other in Western society. It’s probably not unrelated to the fact that instant and constant access has become de rigueur, and our devices constantly expose us to a ... Read More »

This isn’t Helter Skelter: Why the internet alone can’t be blamed for radicalisation

The internet’s precise role in the process of radicalisation remains vexing. You can lead a person to a bomb-making manual, but you can’t make them use it. Radicalisation is a social process. Authors: The Conversation It refers to a means by which an individual or group embraces an extreme ideology and rejects or undermines the “status quo”. This process can then lead to an increased willingness to condone or use violence. “Safety” in the digital era The internet allows previously ... Read More »

Hitman threats and high-quality drugs: Journalist reveals dark web investigation

Investigative journalist Eileen Ormsby has spent the past five years wading through the deep, dark depths of the internet’s “evil twin”. Amy Mitchell-Whittington Brisbane Times The 48-year-old has chatted to hackers and was the target of a hitman and will later this month share her experiences in Brisbane at the launch of her latest book The Darkest Web. She said the idea of exploring the dark web came to her after researching Silk Road, an online black market platform used to ... Read More »

Cambridge Analytica: Warrant sought to inspect company

The UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says she will seek a warrant to look at the databases and servers used by British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. BBC The firm is accused of using the personal data of 50 million Facebook members, amassed via a personality quiz app created by an academic. Former employee Christopher Wylie claims the company used the data to influence the US presidential election. The firm denies the allegations. Ms Denham had demanded access to Cambridge ... Read More »

German court backs city bans on diesel cars

A top German court ruled on Feb. 27 in favor of allowing major cities to ban the most heavily polluting diesel cars, a move set to hit the value of 12 million vehicles in Europe’s largest car market and probably force carmakers to pay for costly modifications. LEIPZIG – Reuters Hurriyet There has been a global backlash against diesel-engine cars since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating U.S. exhaust tests, meant to limit emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide ... Read More »

Cyber threats: 2018 and beyond

Hackers using technology with behavioural insights pose a greater threat than ever to cyber security. What do consumer credit reporting agency Equifax and ride-hailing company Uber have in common? Foo Siang-tse and Shashi Jayakumar The Straits Times One would imagine that as large enterprises, they would check the boxes for good cyber-security practices: a healthy security budget, deployment of leading-edge cyber security technologies, and round-the-clock monitoring by well-trained cyber professionals. Yet they were revealed last year to have been successfully ... Read More »

China and India dominate planned pipelines additions

GlobalData’s latest analysis of global planned trunk/transmission oil and gas pipelines for the period 2018 to 2022 shows that the Xinjiang–Guangdong–Zhejiang SNG gas pipeline in China is the longest planned pipeline globally with a length of 8,972 kilometres (km). By GlobalData Energy Hydrocarbons Technology The onshore pipeline is expected to start operations in 2022 China Petrochemical Corp has 100% equity in the pipeline while China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation is the operator. The pipeline has a… The second longest planned ... Read More »

Insight: The Scots investors in the Bitcoin boom

Some Scots investors in the cryptocurrency can barely believe their luck, writes Dani Garavelli Around 18 months ago, Norman, a pensioner from Inverness, was contacted about an investment opportunity: bitcoin. Dani Garavelli The Scotsman A financial dabbler, he had once been defrauded out of quite a large sum of money, so he was reticent about getting involved. But eventually he was persuaded to take the risk. He bought just over six bitcoins at just under £500 each, through a London-based ... Read More »

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis. JEAN M. TWENGE The Atlantic One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with ... Read More »