Aug 222014
communications is critical to modern business

In the early hours of this morning I spoke with Rod Quinn on ABC Overnights about what exactly is metadata in light of current Australian government plans to mandate a data retention law for internet service providers.

Part of the problem in the debate is defining exactly what metadata is, something I’ve attempted to do previously.

The attempt to bring clarity to the discussion isn’t being helped by the confusing explanations of politicians as shown in this interview with Malcolm Turnbull, the communications minister, shows.

One of the things that kept coming up in the conversation, which we hope to have available shortly, was people who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear.

These two videos — Don’t Talk To Cops Parts I and II — feature a law professor and police prosecutor speaking about how innocent people can be caught out by the law.

First the law professor;

Then the police prosecutor;

A question the law professor asks, “did you know it’s a Federal offence to posses a lobster?” The answer is ‘yes’ and in every country there’s almost no way any individual can be confident they haven’t committed a crime under some obscure or archaic law.

This is why an adult discussion on laws that change the burden of proof and how government agencies conduct themselves is important.

Another key point from this morning’s conversation is how we need to reconsider the boundaries of privacy and personal information.

Jul 142014
private property limiting access to cloud computing and social media web services

Drummond Reed, CEO of the Respect Network, is the latest guest on the Decoding the New Economy channel.

The Respect Network offers ‘private clouds’ for individuals and companies where users can choose to trust others to share information.

After over twenty years of working in the IT security industry, Drummond founded the Respect Network after becoming worried at the power social networks are having over individuals’ privacy.

Drummond explains how a network designed to be private may be the future of online services.

“The internet is only 18 years old,” says Drummond. “We want to bring it into adulthood.”

Jul 072014

Tonight was the Australian launch of the Respect Network in Sydney which followed similar events in London and San Francisco. I’ll be writing more on this over the next few days.

One of the key questions when considering the Respect Network is how much the average internet user values privacy; the business model of the service relies upon people being prepared to pay to preserve their privacy.

Another question is how many lies people will tell to get free or cheap stuff – respect is a two way thing.

May 292014
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Paul Wallbank joins Tony Delroy on ABC Nightlife across Australia from 10pm Australian Eastern time tonight to discuss how technology affects your business and life.

For the May 2014 spot we looked at computer security, specifically Apple ransomware and The Heartbleed bug along with dropping off the grid, 4D printing and the future of design.

To protect from the Oleg Pliss ransomware – or any similar problems – have a strong password, enable the screen passkey and enable two factor authentication.

Join us

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on the night on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Eastern Summer time or listen online at

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

May 072014

“Know your data” is the key tip for businesses concerned about privacy says Michelle Dennedy, Chief Privacy Officer for Intel Security, formerly McAfee.

“It’s really important to go back to basics,” says Michelle. “We’re trying to do bolt-on privacy, just like we did with security years ago. I think it’s time to take a good look at the policy side, which id called Privacy By Design, thinking about it at early states and being consumer-centric.”

“We at McAfee call it ‘Privacy Engineering'; looking at the tools. methodologies and standards from the past, adding current legislative requirements and business rules then turning them into functional requirement.”

Michelle, who is also co-author of the Privacy Engineering Manifesto, was speaking to Decoding The New Economy as part of Privacy Awareness Week.

A key part of the interview is how Michelle sees privacy evolving in a global environment, “if you’d asked me in 2000 where we’d be today I’d have told you it would be like the 1500s when we were dealing with shipping lanes. We would have treaties, it would harmonised and we’d understand that global trade is a hundred percent based upon sharing.”

“We have instead decided to become a set of Balkanized nations.”

For individual businesses “know thy data,” is Michelle’s main advice. “Know what brings you risk, know what brings you opportunity.”

In Michelle’s view, businesses need to balance the opportunities against the risks and treat customers data with respect as the monetisation policies of many online platforms don’t recognise users’ costs in time and data sold.

As businesses find themselves being flooded with data, protecting it and respecting the privacy of customers, users and staff is going become an increasing important responsibility for managers.

It’s worthwhile understanding the privacy laws as they apply to you and making sure your systems and staff comply with them.

May 062014

Just how hard is it to hide from big data? ABC Newcastle’s Carol Duncan and I will be discussing this from 2.40 this afternoon.

Princeton University assistant professor of sociology Janet Vertesi decided she’d find out by trying to conceal her pregnancy from the internet.

She describes her experiences to Think Progress and the lessons are startling on how difficult it is to drop off the Internet and business databases.

While it’s easy to tritely say ‘don’t use the internet’, Janet found that using cash to avoid being picked up by bank databases raises suspicions while not using discount voucher or store cards meant she missed out on valuable savings.

For many people though dropping off the internet is not an option – not having a LinkedIn profile hurts most job hunters’ chances of finding work while if you want to participate in communities, it’s often essential to join the group’s Facebook page.

The amazing part of all is that Janet herself became a Google conscientious objector two years ago after deciding the company’s data collection methods were too intrusive. Yet she still found it hard to keep the news of her baby off the internet.

Ultimately her friends were the greatest risk and she had to beg them not to mention her pregnancy on Facebook and other social media channels lest the algorithms pick that up.

For Janet, it proved possible but it was really hard work;

Experience has shown that it is possible, but it’s really not easy, and it comes with a lot of sacrifices. And it requires some technical skill. So to that end, it’s my concern about the opt-out idea. I don’t actually think it’s feasible for everyone to do this.

So can you drop off the net? Do you know if you’re on it at all. Join us on ABC Newcastle with Carol Duncan from 2.40 to discuss these issues and more.

Filing cabinet image by ralev_com through SXC.HU