The rich poop different: measuring inequality with sewage

In Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a group of researchers in Australia and Norway present their analysis of a 2016 Australian sewage census, which sampled 22 waste-water treatment facilities and looked for 42 biomarkers. Read the rest

After banning working cryptography and raiding whistleblowers, Australia's spies ban speakers from national infosec conference

Australian politics are a revolting mess of unstable governments dominated by xenophobic, climate-denying far-right oligarchs, and the only check on their power is the fact that Australian governments are so riven by internal strife and unhinged authoritarianism that they tend to collapse on a quarterly basis, triggering new elections and/or leadership contests. Read the rest

Far-right Australian billionaire demands $500k and a vow of silence from a satirical vlogger

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has earned a reputation for being...colourful. Read the rest

Australia wants to kill consent requirement in proposed data-sharing legislation, calls it "nuance"

Australia has a pending, comprehensive "data sharing" law that regulates the dispersal of data collected by the Australian state; in a new government white-paper, the Australian state has proposed that the rules could gain "nuance" if the government were allowed to share data without obtaining consent from the people whose privacy is implicated in that sharing. Read the rest

A non-aboriginal business has licensed the copyright on Australia's aboriginal flag, and are making copyright claims against aboriginal businesses

In 1971, the Australian indigenous artist Harold Thomas created the iconic Australian Aboriginal Flag which has since been named one of the "official flags of Australia," which resulted in Thomas successfully suing to assert copyright over the design. Read the rest

Australia's raids on journalists signal an authoritarian turning point

Yesterday's spectacular series of raids on Australian journalists by the Australian Federal Police are a turning point in how democracies view the role of the press and leaks: the raid targeted News Corp's Annika Smethurst over her reporting on a secret plan to grant the Australian Signals Directorate -- a spy agency -- the power to surveil Australians; 2GB radio's Ben Fordham over his reporting on human rights abuses of refugees; and ABC Sydney's offices over their 2017 Afghan files reports, which documented war-crimes and other misconduct by Australian military personnel. Read the rest

The best political commentary of the Australian election cycle: "Honest Government Adverts"

Juice Media's Honest Government Adverts are some of the best, most biting political satire being produced today -- they're so good at afflicting the comfortable that Australia basically banned their style of humour -- and now, on the eve of (yet another) critical Australian election, they've produced a "season finale" that recaps the parade of horrors that a succession of bumbling, oligarchic, racist, climate-denying, torturing, confiscatory, planet-destroying Australian governments have bequeathed to the nation and the world. I laughed, I cried, I laughed again. Now I'm crying. Read the rest

The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material

Last year the US Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, an "anti-sex-trafficking bill" that has resulted in the shuttering of all the services formerly used by sex workers to vet their johns, massively increasing the personal physical risk borne by sex-workers and reinvigorating the dying pimping industry, as sex workers seek out protectors. Read the rest

After Christchurch shooting, Australia doubles down on being stampeded into catastrophically stupid tech laws

Australia leads "developed democracies" in the adoption of poorly thought-through, dangerous tech laws, thanks to its ban on working cryptography, rushed through in late 2018; now, with no debate or consultation, the Australian Parliament has passed a law that gives tech companies one hour to remove "violent materials" from their platforms with penalties for noncompliance of up to 10% of annual global turnover. Read the rest

Sting operation: the NRA explains to white nationalist Australian political party how to deflect gun control calls after a massacre

Australian Al Jazeera reporter Rodger Muller infiltrated a meeting between the US National Rifle Association and Australia's far-right/white nationalist party One Nation, where the NRA gave party bosses advice on how to reverse Australia's tough anti-automatic/semi-automatic gun laws (passed after a 1996 mass shooting that killed 35 people) and what to do to deflect public calls for gun control when the next mass shooting happens. Read the rest

Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch

A senior source at Uber has confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners programme that Uber Australia illegally deployed an in-house piece of spyware called Surfcam in order to spy on drivers for a rival rideshare company called Gocatch; Uber was able to compile lists of drivers' emails, car registration numbers and other details and it used these to poach Gocatch drivers and turn them into Uber drivers. Read the rest

Australia just voted to ban working cryptography. No, really.

Remember when Malcolm Turnbull, the goddamned idiot who was briefly Prime Minister of Australia, was told that the laws of mathematics mean that there was no way to make a cryptography system that was weak enough that the cops could use to spy on bad guys, but strong enough that the bad guys couldn't use it to spy on cops, and he said: "Well the laws of Australia prevail in Australia, I can assure you of that. The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia." Read the rest

We don't know how much Village Roadshow paid to buy Australia's new censoring copyright law

Australia just passed into law one of the world's most censoring copyright law, which allows the country's media giants like Village Roadshow to use one-sided administrative process to get court orders to censor any website whose "primary effect" is infringement, then use those orders to force search engines to delist any site so blocked, and then recycle those orders to block for any site or service that "provides access" to a blocked site or service. Read the rest

Thousands of sleep apnea sufferers rely on a lone Australian CPAP hacker to stay healthy

An Australian developer named Mark Watkins painstakingly reverse-engineered the proprietary data generated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and created Sleepyhead, a free/open piece of software that has become the go-to tool for thousands of sleep apnea sufferers around the world who want to tune their machines to stay healthy. Read the rest

Sense About Science awards go to research on coral bleaching and naturopathy

Sense About Science (previously) is a UK group that advocates for evidence-based policy; as part of that mission they give out the annual Maddox Prizes for people who brave political and social retaliation to infuse difficult public policy debates with factual evidence. Read the rest

Australia's 2015 copyright censorship system has failed, so they're adding (lots) more censorship

In 2015, Australia created the most aggressive copyright censorship system in the world, which allowed the country's two major movie studios (Village Roadshow and Fox) along with an assortment of smaller companies and trolls to get court orders forcing the country's ISPs to censor sites that had the "primary purpose" of infringing copyright. Read the rest

"Free is not fair" won't make authors richer, but fixing publishers' contracts will

Australia is about to radically expand its copyright and the publishing industry has forged an unholy alliance with authors' groups to rail against fair use being formalised in Australia, rallying under the banner of "Free is not fair." Read the rest

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