Privacy Matters: A follow-up of the Census failure

Australia’s recent attempt of a national Census has evoked concerns regarding privacy and trust in both business and government. As previously discussed, controversy surfaced prior to the Census date due to changes in how long Census information was stored and used. Privacy advocates, such as the NSW Council for Civil Liberties President Stephen Banks stated, “We now have some politicians calling for discriminatory action against people of a particular faith… it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to think twice [about honestly conducting the Census]” (Burke 2016). A similar sentiment was concurred by Australian Privacy Foundation vice-chair David Vaile, “[The Census] has gone from a valuable anonymous snapshot to an identifiable longitudinal dossier on Australians, with technology now capable of cross-matching and analysing people’s private information” (Burke 2016).

These concerns were dismissed by Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business and Census head, claiming that the census is “No worse than Facebook” in tracking and storing private data. This is a valid point, especially considering 71 Australia schools were recently involved in teen nude-sharing, whereby students were publicly posting and exchanging sexual images of their classmates over social media.

So amongst privacy and trust concerns, where does Australia exactly stand? According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, Australia is experiencing “unprecedented signals of uncertainty” (Riches 2015). The 2015 and 2016 results reveal that both the general and mass population of Australians show a general distrust for the government and businesses.

 

Edelman global trust

Mass and General Population of Australia distrust the government. (Edelman 2015)

 

From 2014 to 2015, Australia’s trust in their own government dropped from 56% to 49%, which following the 2014 election, 75% of people believed the government “fails to contribute to the greater good” (Edelman 2015). Meanwhile, trust in business likewise dropped from 59% to 48% (Edelman 2015). Despite this, Australians have showed a steady increase of trust and certainty in both social media and online search engines (Edelman 2015). Given the trends within these results,  Australians substantially trust their social media over the government.

As Karl Stefanovic once said to our former Prime Minister, “No one’s buying what you’re selling”.

In light of the Census failure, the federal government is undoubtedly in damage control, with PM Malcolm Turnbull blaming IBM for the site’s takedown. McCormack’s previous statements to trust in the government and the ‘impenetrable’ ABS have fallen on a relatively distrustful business. IBM, which has secured $2.4 billion in federal government contracts, was paid $9.6 million to host the census. However, it’s history with government departments hasn’t always been one of unrequited trust. IBM is currently foregoing a 3-year ban with the Queensland State Government following a commission of inquiry into the $1.25 billion payroll failure. This inquiry revealed that a number of IBM employees were conducting “unethical transgressions”. It’s almost humorous for Michael McCormack and the federal government to ask Australians to trust a business with the protection of their private data, when government departments themselves demonstrate a lack of trust.

If the Census failure has taught us anything, it’s that concerns regarding privacy, data storage and cyber-security are becoming a prominent issue in Australia during a period of distrust for both government and business. Whilst advocates and agencies may act to intervene in programs such as the Census in facilitating these concerns and informing the public, general distrust and uncertainty have caused Australians to question the status quo or at least remain mindful when it comes to media and privacy.

References:

Burke, K 2016, ‘Census 2016: changes an “abuse” of public’s trust’, Daily Telegraph, July 23.

‘Edelman Trust Barometer 2015 Annual Global Study: Australia’, 2015, Edelman, Online Document, <http://edelman.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-Edelman-Trust-Australia-Results.pdf&gt;.

Foye, B 2016, ‘IBM breaks silence on Census fail’, CRN, August 12, <http://www.crn.com.au/news/ibm-breaks-silence-on-census-fail-433502&gt;.

Glance, D 2016, ‘As census failure blame points at IBM, why we shouldn’t be surprised by its failings’, The Conversation, August 17, <http://theconversation.com/as-census-failure-blame-points-at-ibm-why-we-shouldnt-be-surprised-by-its-failings-64038&gt;.

Riches, T 2015, ‘Trust in Australia Declines as Broken Election Promises, Economic Challenges, and Rapid Innovation and Change within Business Drive Uncertainty’, Edelman, online document, <http://edelman-au.edelman1.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Trust-In-Australia-in-2015-by-Tim-Riches.pdf&gt;.

Foye, B 2016, ‘IBM breaks silence on Census fail’, CRN, August 12, <http://www.crn.com.au/news/ibm-breaks-silence-on-census-fail-433502&gt;.

Glance, D 2016, ‘As census failure blame points at IBM, why we shouldn’t be surprised by its failings’, The Conversation, August 17, <http://theconversation.com/as-census-failure-blame-points-at-ibm-why-we-shouldnt-be-surprised-by-its-failings-64038&gt;.

Image:

‘Trust Index: World’, 2015, Edelman, Online Document, <http://edelman.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-Edelman-Trust-Australia-Results.pdf&gt;.

 

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The 2016 Australian Census: privacy matters and privacy matters.

Leading up to Tuesday, August 9, the 2016 Australian Census has experienced a flurry of controversy regarding privacy concerns and the question regarding religion.

SA senator Nick Xenophon, leader of the Nick Xenophon Team political party and major player in the recent election voiced concerns regarding the changes to private information, whereby the Australian Bureau of Statistics extended the period of maintaining Australian names and addresses from 18 months to four years. These concerns were likewise founded by The Australian Privacy Foundation, which urged the ABS to stop using Australian names and locations for data analysis, claiming, “We’ve now since found out they’re not being deleted at all, they’re being stored and made into unique identifiers” (Longbottom 2016).

Even former head of the ABS, Bill McLennan spoke of this year’s census as a severe breach of Australian’s privacy, labelling the changes as “the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated” by the ABS (3AW 2016).

These claims have been refuted by Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business and responsible for the Census. McCormack questioned those projecting privacy concerns, claiming that such individuals are willing to allow social media organisations such as Facebook and Twitter to track and record their private data, followed by claiming, “The ABS has never had a privacy breach, security breach on an ABS census, never” (Doran 2016).

Well, until last night. As most Australians are led to believe, the ABS was subject to a four separate ‘denial of service’ (DoS) attacks, resulting in the forced shutdown of the ABS site at 7:30pm. Early this morning McCormack reassured that the DoS attacks weren’t in fact an “attack” or “hack” but rather an “attempt to frustrate” the nation-wide survey. And it surely did “frustrate”.

There is, however, some skepticism whether the attacks actually occurred. Despite claims that the ABS site was ready to handle the mass amount of Australians accessing the online survey, RMIT internet security expert, Mark Gregory, questioned whether the attacks actually occurred, or if it was a result of too many Australians attempting to access the site for the survey.

This is a considerable argument, as this year was the first year the census was to be completed online nation-wide, and as such the ABS site could have simply been overwhelmed by the amount of Australians accessing it at once. This is supported by information provided by the Digital Attack Map, a live data visualisation of DoS attacks worldwide showed no record of data intrusion at the time.

In light of the entire issue regarding privacy concerns and the failing of the ABS site to combat the supposed DoS attacks, I was surprised to find that the Census did not include a question regarding sexuality or for same-sex couples. Considering the census is a key tool for data collection to shape policy making within both the public and private sector, it utterly failed to represent people of the LGBTIQ+ community, whilst also assuming that children have both a mother and father, and subsequently not a child of same-sex parents.

Such exclusivity is clearly a proponent of the current Liberal Party status quo, highlighted by their stance on gay marriage – a key issue of the recent election. Furthermore, it is interesting that the minister heading the Census, Michael McCormack, has been a vocal opponent of marriage equality. Furthermore, as former editor of the Daily Advertiser, McCormack wrote an editorial in May 1993 claiming homosexuals were “responsible for the greatest medical dilemma known to man – AIDS” (Glover 2010).

References:

Doran, M 2016, ‘Census 2016: Nick Xenophon to withhold name over privacy concerns’, ABC News Online, 8 August, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-08/nick-xenophon-to-withhold-name-in-census-over-privacy-concerns/7702304&gt;.

Longbottom, J 2016, ‘Census 2016: Privacy advocates say people’s names should not be retained’, ABC News Online, 22 July, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/privacy-advocates-express-concerns-over-2016-census/7653956&gt;.

Glover, B 2010, ‘Homophobic slurs haunt McCormack’, Daily Advertiser, 12 August, <http://www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/story/735465/homophobic-slurs-haunt-mccormack/&gt;.

3AW 2010, ‘Former ABS boss Bill McLennan has serious privacy concerns about Census’, August 9, <https://wordpress.com/post/validissuesnotissues.wordpress.com/668&gt;.

Star Wars 7: The 4DX Experience

It was my last night after 8 long months in China. I had been an adventurous traveler, so I just felt like an easy going night. It was then I decided to see the latest Star Wars film in the fullest of 4DX glory. [MILD SPOILERS AHEAD]

IMG_20160120_214210.jpg

4DX expands on 3D by providing the movie-goer an additional dimension to the cinematic experience. If the idea of watching a film is to escape, or enter a dream-like reality, there is no greater distraction to that idea then 4DX. It’s like a snooze alarm perpetually waking you from visual slumber. That’s if a snooze alarm utilised chair and feet movement, vibration and tickling; water, air and scent spray; smoke machines; strobes; and other effects to emulate rainstorms, snow or lightning. Well… all that combined with 3D. That sounds like a terrible, yet exciting snooze alarm.

So how was the experience?

After rushing down a Big Mac from next door, I entered the UME Cinema located in Shuangjing, Beijing. The admission price was ¥120, four times more expensive then watching the film in peasant 3D in Chengdu.

As I entered the cinema with my 3D glasses in hand, I already notice that the seats are greatly customised.

 

As the movie starts in the village on Jakku, the chair is subtly moving you forwards and backwards. It is almost unnoticeable. There are definite rumbles and vibrations in the seats.

IMG_20160120_214051

The air and water… ‘shooter’, placed on the back of the chair in front of you.

Immediately as Kylo Ren and his storm trooper army descend to the village, a quick burst of air and water shoot into your face. This feature occurred commonly throughout the film.

 

 

As the battle in the opening of the film continues, blaster fire was complimented with a series of disorientating ‘lightning flashes’ from strobes situated throughout the cinema. Then, as we are first introduced to the film’s antagonist, Kylo Ren, the sweet scent of ambiguous flowers is shot straight up my nostrils. This is combined with a hazy puff of smoke from the smoke machines nearby the screen.

 

Although 4DX is an insanely fun experience, within the first 20 minutes of Star Wars I knew it might be too much to handle. Perhaps woofing down a Big Mac wasn’t the best idea before entering, or that 2.5 hours is too long in an additional dimension.I’m also surprised they don’t hand out motion sickness bags with your 3D glasses and ticket. As a cinematic experience, 4DX is definitely not for those who wish to relax and watch a movie, but if you feel like trying something new or different then it is a lot of fun!

 

 

 

 

Yangshuo Part 1: Times and Tribulations

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Firstly, Yangshuo is fucking mental. The most amazing sights. Delicious Food. Ridiculous activities. And strangely enough, a warm and welcoming expat community full of the craziest people from around the globe.

The more pretentious might describe Yangshuo as not a Chinese village or city – but a concept. I hate those people.

Getting to Yangshuo, however, is a different matter.

Tom - Worst Brit Alive

Tom – Worst Brit Alive

At this point in my China travels, I had been with my newfound best mate Tom, a loosey goosey British protester for about 3 weeks. Tom can best be described as the worst Brit alive. He hates tea, he hates cricket, he hates gin, and his not all fond of the Queen either (ask to see his tattoo).

So Tom and I were heading from Guangzhou in Guangdong province on a 7 hour bus journey to the large village called Yangshuo, just shy of Guilin. Tom and I were slow-train veterans at this point, but nothing could prepare us for, what we thought, would be a simple bus ride through the countryside.

This is partly our fault. The night previous we got on the booze; 4 yuan Baijiu (60% Chinese liquor) might be hard to swallow, but Jesus Christ will it get you fucking wasted. So. Riding on zero sleep and still quite drunk Tom and myself jump on the small, cramped bus to paradise.

As picturesque as the views may be, our seats only provided enough leg space for a malnourished dwarf. And to our luck, our seats were placed in the middle-right side. This, for some reason was where the bus drivers bed was located. This crudely welded and inserted bed stopped both of us from reclining our chairs even a FUCKING FRACTION. Then, while we wait for the other passengers to take their seats, the middle-aged Cantonese ladies in front of us proceeded to batter our knees to recline their seats. One would presume that after the initial 4-5 attempts you would quit trying. But both these ladies families egged them on. Throughout the 7 hour journey, every 40-43 seconds one of these excruciatingly loud ladies with matching pink ‘Colvin Klain’ shirts would reel back with unfathomable strength. Lastly the bus blared this 12 minute movie on repeat for the entirety of the journey.  Jesus Christ I think I was  murderously tired and irritated by the time the bus ride finished.

Anyway, Tom and myself endure hell and we finally arrive in the beautiful town of Yangshuo… or so we thought.

Yangshuo South Bus Station is most definitely south and most definitely not a station. Essentially, the bus dropped us off on an empty intersection roughly 20km from the town. Tom with his dual backpacker backpacks and myself with my huge video camera backpack and fancy suitcase hail a man on a motorcycle with a trailer connected to the back. Hopefully this tuk-tuk-esque man will drop us to our much needed accommodation. I showed him the address in Chinese and the man loaded us on and we rode off into the oncoming sunset.

The motorcycle/trailer man, who will now be referred as Kenny, rode about 6km before stopping and calling a mate. From what I understood through his mumbling half Chinese half slurred jibberish conversation was that he was calling a mate to pick us up. At this point Tom and I were expectedly livid but we had to trust in Kenny, he was our last hope.

Kenny’s friend (who will now be referred to as Kenny 2), who also owned a motorcycle/trailer rocked up and we were told to go with him. Again, trusting in Kenny 2, we rode into the now pitch black night on a 1960s diesel guzzling moto-trailer. Kenny 2 drove for about 10 minutes before pulling over a local bus stop. Again in a mumbling Chinese/jitter he tells us to get on the green bus.

Fuck me right?

So Tom and myself wait ever so patiently whilst chain-smoking our frustrations away. Kenny and Kenny 2 had in effect delivered us to another bus stop rather than our accommodation.

Regardless, we jump aboard the green ‘bus’, which was populated by a mixture of school children, pensioners and farm people. Our fake smiles were met with piercing gazes and confused looks that could only translate into “Why the even fuck are you on this bus?”.

The beautiful 'hidden' town of Yangshuo

The beautiful ‘hidden’ town of Yangshuo

We ride this bus for about another 25 minutes (at this point we arrived 2-3 hours earlier)  and finally we get told to get the fuck off by the accommodating bus driver. At last we are somewhere that doesn’t quite look like the middle of nowhere.

I was informed Yangshuo was a small village. Nup. This densely populated village with a million or two Chinese tourists made Sydney Harbour on New Years look slow.

Again with all our baggage and in such an exasperated state, we navigate this crowd without a single fuck to get our hostel. Children and the elderly were not spared.

Goon: God how I have missed you

Goon: God how I have missed you

We finally arrive, drop our luggage, head to bar where I am served good ol’ Aussie goon. I would like to say all this effort was worth that glass of sweet sweet fruity lexia but seriously: Fuck Chinese Buses.

#BCM240 Intro

New Semester, New Intro.

Another semester and another round of blogging! If you’re new, I’m James and I am in my second year of university. I study Communication & Media studies and Arts, majoring in International Communication & Media and Chinese (Mandarin). I am excited to jump into another semester of blogging and, now, tweeting. So I will (well, when I open a twitter account in the next couple of days) be tweeting all my blog posts and maybe a few other things.

EDIT: I Finally got Twitter! @james_k73

So here a few quick facts about me:

  • I just spent 5 weeks in Shanghai, China, on a short course exchange. (Loved it!).
  • My interests are international film, fitness, coffee and gin.
  • I love being out of the house and meeting new people.

So if you have any questions or see me walking down the street, feel free to say hello. I’m a nice guy.

So what is my Media Space?

Despite being a member of the technologically-obsessed Gen Y, I barely use social media. I don’t have a twitter, or an instagram, or a tumblr, or an [insert more social media platforms here]. I am a big fan of Reddit though! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not tech savvy, its just that the various forms of social media haven’t interested me much. Even my friends will tell you I never check my Facebook, and when I do it’s a pretty big deal. But hey, maybe this subject will finally make me conform. So what is my Media Space? Maybe here:

Auction Rooms, North Melbourne.

Auction Rooms, North Melbourne.

Its my favourite cafe in Melbourne that serves the best coffee and gourmet food in the city. Here I usually chill out to indie-rock tunes for hours whilst I read a book or magazine, or even play around on my tablet and sip on my 7th latte. Sometimes I might see what is new on Facebook or Reddit. Sometimes I turn my phone off and enjoy tuning out for a few hours.

 

Auction Room image: http://fatboo.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Auction-Rooms-North-Melbourne-1313.jpg

Long Takes: Not Only Reserved for the Silver Screen.

 

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There is a very serious, and albeit under-researched medical condition known as ‘post-finale depression‘. This condition is identified in those who feel saddened or depressed following the finale of a favourite TV series, and must bounce back from the mourning period with another TV series to consume. It was at this point in my post Breaking Bad-finale depression that a friend pointed me in the direction of HBO’s True Detective.

As a person of seriously limited time, I don’t like to waste it on just any TV show. So I decided to have a look on YouTube for a trailer of the series, however, one of the top videos to come up was this:

This media text is an excerpt of True Detective‘s fourth episode, “Who Goes There?”. As the video’s title suggests, it is a “6 minute tracking shot” featuring “no edits, no cuts“. Personally, I found that the media text draws similarities from Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men”, which features similar long takes (which can be viewed here and here). Nevertheless, True Detective director Cary Joji Fukunaga has masterfully displayed the art of direction and action choreography whilst producing a suspenseful modern suburban war zone. After watching this spectacular, yet very ambigious and out-of-context long take, I immediately jumped into what is now one of my favourite TV series. The text itself was the catalyst as to why I decided to start watching the series, so I wonder whether the text may have had such a similar effect on other viewers.

True Detective‘s creator, the American television network HBO, is both the home to high quality and highly exclusive drama series. As the HBO network limits it’s audience exclusively to Pay-TV, I was surprised that such a lengthy scene was available on YouTube. The text currently has close to half a million views in a month, yet was uploaded by YouTube user “Axhol3Rose”, who I assume is not at all affiliated with HBO. This can be compared to the official trailer (which can be viewed here) of the series which was uploaded by HBO to YouTube. The trailer has received just over 1 million views in 5 months.

MTV's article

MTV’s article

 

Furthermore, as the text was uploaded by a random YouTube user rather than HBO officially, the text addresses the ‘produsage’ element to the show’s popularity. In addition to the 600 or so comments on the YouTube clip, the 6-minute scene has been subject to numerous web articles; including those from MTV (see left), The Guardian (see below), and Vulture.

 

 

The Guardian's coverage.

The Guardian’s coverage.

Many of these articles include interviews with Fukunaga and the technical crew behind the text. These articles and comments provide insight not only into the manufacturing of the scene, but also its meaning and context.

I originally assumed the show’s intended audience to primarily be amongst Western nations. However, what I did not know was that HBO does have an Asian network where True Detective was aired. Considering the detective genre has a huge market amongst Asian audiences, it would be interesting to track the shows reception within Asia. I would also like to know whether piracy or other illegal means of viewing the show have had a significant impact on its popularity, considering the media text uploaded on YouTube does breach copyright law. Episode 4 of True Detective garnered close to 2 million viewers on HBO, whereas close to 200,000 people have illegally downloaded the episode. Similarly, HBO’s other massive hit Game of Throne Season 3 finale had more illegal downloads then US viewers.

With True detective now at an end, I am again slumped with the feeling of post-finale depression until Game of Thrones starts back up in 9 days…

The Introduction

Hey Guys,

I guess this is the compulsory introduction… so welcome to my Blog: Valid Issues No Tissues. 

My name is James Keogh and I am a BCMS/Arts student at UOW. I am hoping to complete the Journalism major whilst also studying Mandarin and Politics under my Arts Degree (Ni Hao to any Chinese peeps). The reason I am doing this course is because every opportunity from the BCMS course appeals to me, and I eventually hope to have a career in journalism one day.

If you haven’t noticed I despise tabloid news and hope to blog about Valid Issues within the media. I guess the No Tissues part of the title (apart from rhyming) represents the sensationalised or exaggerated aspect of tabloid news and I will hopefully achieve in presenting accurate, referenced information on the world of media and communications – in which case I am already better than fox.

Anyway I love movies (test me), TV, street art, discussing politics, Al Pacino, modern history, money, Freddie Mercury (anything queen related actually) and Coffee.

Zia Jian