Lizzie O’Shea

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Facebook and Google have negotiated with the Australian government about a new law that will require tech companies to compensate news sites for their content. Credit Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Last week Facebook carried out what may have been the single largest content takedown in its history. Any content that looked vaguely like news, even if it very much was not, disappeared from the platform in Australia. The company was demonstrating its opposition to a law now passed by the Australian Parliament that could require technology companies to compensate news organizations for their content.

The action was a high-stakes tactic designed to improve Facebook’s bargaining position with Australian lawmakers, and it worked: The company quickly negotiated amendments to the legislation and has now committed to restoring news sharing to the site.…  Seguir leyendo »

Australia Wants to Take Government Surveillance to the Next Level

A state’s capacity to spy on its citizens has grown exponentially in recent years as new technology has meant more aspects of our lives can be observed, recorded and analyzed than ever before. At the same time, much to the frustration of intelligence agencies around the world, so has the ability to keep digital information secret, thanks to encryption.

That’s why the main intelligence agencies of the Anglophone world are now hoping that Australia will lead the charge in developing ways to get decrypt information at will, and to tap into data that was previously kept secret. A proposed law, the draft of which was released last month by the cybersecurity minister, is an aggressive step in that direction.…  Seguir leyendo »

White Australians Celebrate, Aboriginal People Mourn

Every year on Jan. 26, at the height of summer, Australians pull out their flags and barbecues, and raise a glass for Australia Day. But as the nationalism rises with the temperature, so does the anger and alienation felt by Aboriginal people, and increasingly, many other Australians.

The date commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788. Around 1,400 people arrived, half of them convicts, transported from England to establish a penal colony. In the aftermath of the American War of Independence, the British needed a new place to send criminals. The colonizers and their courts considered Australia “terra nullius” or “land belonging to nobody,” a legal fiction used to justify the theft of Aboriginal land over the next two centuries.…  Seguir leyendo »