Australia put an algorithm in charge of its benefits fraud detection and plunged the nation into chaos

In a textbook example of the use of big data to create a digital poorhouse, as described in Virginia Eubanks's excellent new book Automating Inequality, the Australian government created an algorithmic, semi-privatised system to mine the financial records of people receiving means-tested benefits and accuse them of fraud on the basis of its findings, bringing in private contractors to build and maintain the system and collect the penalties it ascribed, paying them a commission on the basis of how much money they extracted from poor Australians. Read the rest

Australian government's worst-ever state-secrets leak: accidentally selling filing cabinets full of classified docs in a surplus store

Australian national broadcaster ABC has gotten hold of a massive trove of state secrets that were inadvertently sold off in a pair of cheap, locked filing cabinets purchased from a Canberra junk-shop that specialises in government surplus furniture. Read the rest

The Australian health authority believed it had "anonymised" a data-set of patient histories, but academics were easily able to unscramble it

The Australian government's open data initiative is in the laudable business of publishing publicly accessible data about the government's actions and spending, in order to help scholars, businesses and officials understand and improve its processes. Read the rest

After priest/child rape scandal, Australian Archbishop says he'll ask the Pope to allow priests to have sex

As a Royal Commission in Australia wraps up its investigation into decades of rape by priests (especially rape of children), and decades of Church officials obstructing investigation into the rape, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart says he'll ask the Pope to change the rules so that celibacy for priests is voluntary, not mandatory. Read the rest

A proposed Australian leaker law will put journalists and whistleblowers in jail for 20 years

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a plan to bring down anti-leaker legislation that provides for 20 year prison sentences for whistelblowers who leak in order to prove government wrongdoing, and for the journalists who publish those leaks. Read the rest

Bigots who swore their religious beliefs would force them to divorce if Australia passed marriage equality renege on promise

In 2015, Nick and Sarah Jensen publicly swore that their religious beliefs would force them to divorce in protest if Australia enacted marriage equality laws that allowed for same-sex marriage. This week, Australia passed such legislation, but the Jensens were evidently lying, and now Nick Jensen told the press (by text-message!) that they meant their "public comments regarding civil divorce never envisaged me separating from my wife, but rather our marriage from the state." Read the rest

Australia is a world leader in internet usage and bad internet policies, so Australians want better policies

Australia is one of the world leaders in internet adoption and usage, and it's also been one of the worst offenders in bad internet policy, with a track record to rival even America's reckless indifference to the internet's overall importance. Read the rest

Australian government proposes jail terms for satire

Juice Media is a company whose "Honest Government Adverts" Youtube series lampoon both the Australian government's decisions and the way it promotes them. Juice's videos are very funny, and very, very obviously parodies (they spell "Australian" wrong!). Read the rest

Australia's housing bubble is built on a deadly, about-to-burst credit bubble

If you buy a house in Australia -- where housing prices are out of control, even by global standards -- you can wait a couple months for the house's book value to go up, and then borrow against that "unrealised capital gain" to buy another house...and then you can do it again. Read the rest

Australian police seek the right to install malware on home devices during "emergencies"

The Queensland Police have asked the Australian Parliament to give them the right to covertly install malicious software on your home devices in order to conduct mass surveillance during times of "national emergency" Read the rest

For sale: any Australian's full health record for a mere $22

A hacker who appears to have ongoing, continuous access to Australia's electronic health care records is selling access to any full record for 0.0089 bitcoin, or about USD22. Read the rest

Australia announces plan to ban working cryptography at home and in the US, UK, New Zealand, and Canada

The Australian Attorney General and a key Australian minister have published a memo detailing the demand they plan on presenting to the next Five Eyes surveillance alliance meeting, which will be held next week in Ottawa. Read the rest

Australia leads the world in selling housing to money-launderers

A new Transparency International report ranks the world's most superheated urban property markets to find the most corrupt and finds that Australia is a playground for offshore criminals looking to launder their money, because "real estate agents are not subject to the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and CounterTerrorism Financing Act 2006," thus, "70 per cent of Chinese buyers pay in cash and they represent the largest proportion of foreign purchases in the country." Read the rest

Australia's Goldman-Sachs Prime Minister quietly donated $1.75M to himself to secure his narrow win

Malcolm Turnbull, the Goldman-Sachs investment banker turned Australian Prime Minister, secretly donated AUD1.75m to his own 2016 re-election campaign, giving it the funds it needed to squeak into victory. Read the rest

Australia names "Democracy Sausage" as the 2016 Word (sic) of the Year

The Australian National Dictionary Centre has declared the two-word compound phrase "democracy sausage" to be its 2016 Word of the Year, defining it as "A barbecued sausage served on a slice of bread, bought at a polling booth sausage sizzle on election day." Read the rest

Electoral fraud: Trump sends fundraiser emails to foreign politicians

US election law makes it a crime to knowingly solicit campaign funds from foreign nationals who do not have permanent residence in the USA. Read the rest

Australian educational contractor warns of wifi, vaccination danger to "gifted" kids' "extra neurological connections"

Wise Ones, an Australian "gifted" education programme offers students who test into it vaccination exemption forms, and advises them to avoid wifi, because they say that "gifted children" have "extra neurological connections" that make them vulnerable to "extra sensitivities to food or chemicals." Read the rest

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