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Do we Need to Regulate Google and Facebook



Interesting article from Bruce Schneier, as always … reminding us that the problem is much bigger than a couple of companies …


Surveillance capitalism is not going to be abolished, because it makes the surveillance state so much easier. The NSA was simply ahead of the curve when it served secret warrants on Facebook, Google, Apple et al saying cooperate or be closed down. There are some serious government interests in what these guys collect, and very little power on the side of the person who is being sold.

Interesting, yes - but probably not applicable to Australia. I am fairly confident I have read something recently saying that courts do not expect the average Australian consumer to read and understand the full T&C when they are thousands of words of legalese. We have a few more rights than US citizens. (But then, so do most countries.)

That said, the idea of ‘binding arbitration’ is a concerning one - especially when it is being inserted into trade agreements like the TPP. Governments can be expected to bow to an arbiter who is clearly biased, and yet signed onto this idiotic agreement!


And then they test, seeing if they can affect user moods and get them depressed by spinning their timeline in particular ways.

Result? You betcha! Facebook can totally control its user’s emotions. But that’s okay, because they would never use such power unethically except when they tested it without any consideration of ethics or morality or what might be right.

They don’t just connect, they really do control - whether deliberately or when guided by outside (e.g. Russian) influences.


When it’s the government collecting, there is nothing being sold, it’s being taken - and personally I’d hate to think of the alternative …


This is a link to Facebook’s data use policy…generalisations of what can be collected and how it is used by Facebook. There might be more uses which have been reported in the media recently.


Would love to hear thoughts from people on this thread and also any @Digital-Rights supporters on the incoming GDPR regulations in Europe.


I think the regulation could form part of the reason the UK Govt wants out of the EU. I know it sounds a bit conspiracy theory and tin foil hat territory but UK has typically wanted pretty much open access to it’s citizens data. They can demand your encryption keys ( This UK Law might have generated many complaints to the EU Courts as people could to some degree rely on the GDPR for protection of their privacy from this open prying. The UK Govt could run up some hefty bills fighting each case and if found “guilty” some decent fines. This would also affect many other businesses that have lax security in the UK (I promise not to name any but there are known ones).

Next is why aren’t we doing similar with our privacy laws here, what are the Govt concerns for not introducing more stringent terms on protecting the people’s privacy.

Regardless of all this Facebook, Amazon, EBay, Microsoft, Google, Intel, AMD, and other big names are really going to have to lift their game in the EU or face huge costs from failing to comply. Which if you look at the record of breaches etc you can already say they will fail and they will probably fail sooner rather than later.


Digital Rights Watch has recently released a report calling for a range of reforms to better protect Australians’ digital rights, including repealing metadata retention and numerous measure to protect privacy online.

Anyone on this thread have any opinions about the report?


What to do big tech companies know about you, and how can you take better control of your data? We show you how to look after your personal data privacy:


The Appendix “Public perceptions on digital rights” is probably the most enlightening and useful section in the report. For anyone interested in the report you might just read these few pages at the end. This reflects on our community attitudes to digital rights. It is an enlightening contrast with the detailed report and recommendations. [quote=“BrendanMays, post:28, topic:14377”]
Digital Rights Watch has recently released a report calling for a range of reforms to better protect Australians’ digital rights

Professor Gillian Triggs introduction reminds us of why we should be more concerned than we perhaps are about digital rights. A key observation she offered included"

" No warrant or judicial supervision is required for ASIO and other government agents to have access to the metadata retained in this way. Since the mandatory data retention laws were passed, about 60 agencies have asked for access to the data. Traditional law requires that the content of an email or phone call may be accessed only with a prior judicial warrant. Ironically, access to metadata without a warrant, will reveal more about a person and their network of relationships than will the content of an email or phone call."

The recommendations in the report are summarised in two pages from page 8. Although some of the reasoning or understanding needed to appreciate them fully may need you to read the following sections in the report more than once.

The core part of the report left my head spinning. Through it’s separate topics you get an appreciation of the breadth of the impact of the digital revolution. The topics touch on many different aspects of our life from privacy and security to child protection and freedom of expression. Each is clearly written and cover complex issues succinctly.

Each topic was usually concluded with a short summary paragraph highlighting key risks, consequences and any recommendation actions for change.

There are clear points in the topics concerning the “international” nature of the digital universe and the issues relating to how differences between different jurisdictions impact. There are other instances and an interesting case study “The Ben Grubb case” which serve to high light the gaps between our perceptions of what is fair and reasonable and how the law fails to respond in kind.

Separate to the report the very current revelation that Ebay is treating Australian users that are purchasing from a seller who users Amazon’s fulfillment service differently to those in the USA.serves as an example of what we might expect without change. The report serves as a warning.

I was left with an impression that as a community we are approximately evenly divided in our views on most of the issues.
“50% of Australians agreed that everyone should have the right to online anonymity or pseudonymity, a figure that
increases to 57% for those under 40 years.” Refer to the appendix I mentioned previously.

The results on many of the other areas surveyed suggest that outside of a limited number of the topics and issues raised there might be insufficient support for major change. The extent to which this is due to ambivalence or lack of understanding is not tested.


For those who are interested, EDRi provides information on what the European Union is going in relation to protecting digital freedom.

Some of you may have received emails recently from organisations and businesses recently in relation to obtaining consent for the storage and use of digital information which you have provided in the past. I received one such email from a professional organisation confirming that I still wanted to be on their email listing for news, conferences and such like.

While EDRi is not perfect, it is possibly a move in the right direction. It is also potentially a model Australia and other countries would use in the future.




Not sure if this is the right place for this, but there’s another user data issue with FaceBook. This time with an app called ‘NameTests’.


Both Google and Facebook are full of it saying they protect anything.

I’m opted out of advertising, shared likes etc etc… And yet all too often a subject im discussing or mentioned suddenly starts appearing in emails and on my Fb feed. As recently as today.

Not even an hour after mentioning electrical issues with motorbike, I’m seeing posts about troubleshooting electrical issues on bikes!

I also have 3 accounts on google. One under my business name/email. One for day to day stuff like real estate agents, employers, etc etc. And a personal one i use mostly for chatting and surfing the net.

None are linked by name, phone number or email, and all are set to friends for any personal info. Yet when i added my number to the True caller app… There was my work identity, with my personal email andddd my fb profile pic. I’m still getting my head around that one…


Who knows how Google does it in your example or what other links Facebook holds. Google has so many options to track and link your useage. Many of these are also accessible to Facebook etc.

Unless you use a VPN (Choice has some advice on that) when you connect it can provide the “IP address” to others including Google. Your IP address many be fixed or change infrequently. Every device you use has a built in “MAC address” that is like a unique serial number. It is also discoverable by Google. And if you use a mobile device with android for any of your communications then there is GPS data plus the SSID details of every wifi network around you that may also be accessible to Google. And your Google account details associated with the device? Do you use Gmail or an android mail app? What about your browser and the fact Google and it’s friends use cookies extensively? How about Chrome, who provides that browser?

Good luck. I chose not to use Facebook. I am hopeful that peak FB has passed and that good people like The ABC, Choice etc will stop asking me to connect with FB or share thru FB


You’d think after the Cambridge Analytica debacle that everyone would want to get off facebook… it’s been proven users data was released without the users knowledge… in fact FB made money from it. They try to say it only effected about 900 Australians… what they don’t tell you is that it would have also effected all the “friends” those 900 Australians had and probably the “friends” of those “friends” etc.

I’m not on fb for many reasons and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve become a minority… Friends and family have succumb to fb, mainly because “the kids are on it and it’s the only way to keep in contact with them”. Once people succumb they start to not communicate so much through previously used channels (like phone, email and face to face). We see government and business supporting this private US company and handing millions over to them… why? Because “everyone’s doing it”.

I don’t know but my Dad used to say to me… “If (fill in name) jumped off a cliff would you too?”… Apparently most people would.


But the government wants to sell your data too:


Deeply troubling in my opinion.

It comes down to a schism over who owns an individual’s data. Is it yours because it is about you, or does it belong to the entity collecting the data?

Apparently, the Government believes our data is just another commodity which belongs to them.


I might be cynical, but I’m thinking something less than full disclosure :wink:


Will they son be watching us from above? :wink: If go to you can see this tracking over Arnhemland now … Project Loon … on the topic of regulation, one wonders what it will look like if there is global coverage of these things …