What am I reading today? 2 July 2017

Shelves of books in Stockholm library
What am I reading today?
Here are some of the stories that caught my attention in the past 6 weeks or so:

Data privacy & policy

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Senator George Brandis are reportedly looking at changing Australian laws (News) to force telecommunications and technology firms to help authorities decrypt suspect messages , including by sanctioning providers who do not comply with requests (Guardian).

Brandis took his message of banning working cryptography (Boing Boing) to the “Five Eyes” meeting in Ottawa this past week, where the delegates agreed to engage with industry on terrorists’ use of encryption (Globe and Mail). 

Google wants to make it easy for law enforcement to access user data overseas (Reuters), just as the [US] Department of Justice threatens to take the Microsoft email warrant fight to the US Supreme Court (Gizmodo).

From 1 July air travelers no longer need to fill out a departure card (Traveller) before leaving Australia. This is a consequence of the Government’s changes to Australia’s international airports (SMH). 


The Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Act 2017 to implement Australia’s obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty (WIPO) received royal assent on 22 June 2017. Among other changes, this will create a new “fair dealing” exception to allow other people to help people living with disabilities by creating and sharing accessible versions of books and other materials in braille, large print or DAISY audio formats. When I last checked in mid-June, 28 countries had ratified the Marrakesh Treaty.

WikiMedia continues to campaign to bring fair use to Australian copyright law (WikiMedia).

In May, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed (Lexum) to hear an appeal of a case that could alter Canada’s interprovincial trade laws (Globe). In 2012 a New Brunswick man, Gérard Comeau, visited neighbouring Quebec and bought 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor. On his return to New Brunswick, the RCMP fined him almost C$300 for exceeding the import limit on beer and liquor from another province. He fought the fine, and both the trial court and NB Court of Appeal favoured  Mr. Comeau’s arguments that the Constitution Act 1867 had mandated free trade among the Canadian provinces. The tentative hearing date is 7 December 2017 (Lexum).


The Department of Communications has recently consulted on the proposed civil penalty regime for non-consensual sharing of intimate images (DoC). Submissions closed on 30 June.

This week’s Petya/GoldenEye ransomware attack started in the Ukraine, and also hit Australian businesses including Cadbury (ABC). And Victoria Police now say that WannaCry may have disabled all Victorian speed cameras (iTn) after the contract operator’s maintenance tech connected an infected USB key to a computer on the camera network. The original report was that 55 cameras had been infected. 

A Sydney man had an Opal card implanted into hand (ABC) to paying for public transport easier. How’s that for tap-and-go.

Internet, Broadband and Telecommunications

Australia’s “Netflix” tax – extending the 10% GST to digital content such as streaming, online video, games, apps and e-books – went into effect this week. In addition, Netflix decided to lift some of its prices also by 10%, so that the top-end Netflix package now costs Aussie consumers $17.99 including GST (SMH).

In mid-May 2017, the EU Commission fined Facebook €110 million for providing misleading information during the Commission’s 2014 merger regulation investigation into the WhatsApp takeover (Europa). Then in June, the EU fined  Google a record €2.42 billion (BBC) for manipulating search results to promote its online shopping service.
Back in Oz, the Department of Communications has started public consultation on telecommunications carrier powers and immunities (DoC) http://www.minister.communications.gov.au/mitch_fifield/news/public_consultation_on_telecommunications_carrier_powers_and_immunities