Tag Archives: Attorney General Brandis

For our spies only!

It’s out in the open, apparently Australia will get its first feel of a ‘cold war’, which according to Attorney General Brandis, will be a lot worse, will it?

Let us take a look.

The first source is the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/26/spy-agencies-to-get-stronger-powers-but-what-exactly-will-they-be), as I am all about a certain level of consistency, let us add a few quotes. “Crossbench senators and many stakeholders raised their concern that, in the absence of a clear definition of a computer network, a single warrant could be used to access a wide range of computers, given the internet is a network of networks” as well as the response to the greens who wanted to add a limit of 20. “Brandis said such an amendment “would impose an arbitrary, artificial and wholly unworkable limitation that would frustrate the ability of Asio to perform its statutory functions“.

These are both fair points, in regards to the sunset clause the response was “No. Brandis rejected a call to put a 10-year expiry date on the new law related to special intelligence operations, despite agreeing to similar sorts of sunset clauses in the yet-to-be-debated foreign fighters bill“.

And the fourth quote, which we need later on is ““Freedom is not a given,” the attorney general said. “A free society is not the usual experience of mankind. Freedom must be secured, and particularly at a time when those who would destroy our freedoms are active, blatant and among us”“.

So, this sounds fine and it all sounds viable, but what about the dangers here (are there even dangers)?

For those with some insight in law, here is the bill as it currently stands (at http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/legislation/bills/s969_first-senate/toc_pdf/1417820.pdf), which for the most is an amendment to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/series/c2004a02123).

Initially, it seemed that there was an issue on page 76, yet, when we look at the final product, the change makes perfect sense. The first change here is the approach to information; basically, we will not have a weaky leaky speaky person. So we will (hopefully) not have an issue with some person dreaming to be on team Manning, Snowden and Moronic. It was so nice of the NSA to get into ‘hot’ water, so that we can prevent it. However, not all is well; this is seen (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/sep/26/internet-threat-existence-video). Whether it was just bad form, or over generalisation, Senator Glenn Lazarus stated “The internet is a serious threat because it can be used to orchestrate and undertake criminal behaviour across the world“. He then continues how ASIO and ASIS are there to increase security. It is this slight casual quote that seems to voice the dangers, as these powers are needed to combat security threats of several shapes. Yet the senator states “orchestrate and undertake criminal behaviour“, which is a lot broader then initially implied. This does not mean that this will be used as such, and quite honestly, if it stops shady financial advisors, then I am all fine with that, but it goes further than that as it was voiced (not stating the reality will be as such). Another part of the Guardian showed the ‘grilling’ of Attorney General Brandis by Senator Scott Ludlam, yet it seems that there the kettle is off the boil too. The Senator knew that Brandis would not answer or resort to speculation. He stated “I am not going to indulge Senator Ludlam by answering hypothetical cases or cases of historical interest“, which is fair enough. The Senator should know that, when he did a similar thing on October 4th 2013.

So where is the fire and is there a fire? You see, what is happening now, is what should have been done some time ago. I oppose Brendan Molloy from Pirate Bay (a fellow student), but his heart is in the right place (top right behind the rib cage, just like mine) and all these posters we see all over the place in regards to whatever, whenever, forever and prison. It is nice that we see all these posters on dangers and so on, yet some people seem to ignore the debilitating blows the US suffered at the hands of Manning and Snowden, not to mention Jullian Assange (which I will not go into at present). This will now change. At times those who don’t know speak those who know remain silent. It is when those who know speak out, that is when the casualties really go into many digits and Australia has its own brand of security issues. America has a little over 19,000 border miles on an area occupied by 320 million people. Australia seems larger, with a 22,000 border miles coastal line, yet overall Australia only has 22 million people, so with a population less than 10% we have to play the game another way. The security measures are one way, not the only way, but it will possibly stem several issues, which gives our intelligence branches a little more time to figure it out. Let us not forget that we have an intelligence structure and a form of Signal Intelligence, but if you think that they get a serious chunk of cash, then consider that the total Australian intelligence budget is a little under 1% of what America gets, and we get to look at a similar sized chunk of land to observe and a lot less people.

This got me to two issues that are now forming, yet the bill seems to not cover it as such. I am referring to the Telecommunications (Interception and access) Act 1979. Intelligence is essential, so is data collection and analyses. What happens when new solutions are needed? What happens when we face a change? The US had this when they needed more efficiency for the buck and a system called Palantir was used in the tests. Like Deployable Ground Station (DGS), the army ended up with a version known as DCGS-A. Now we get off to the races, the initially optional new system Palantir, its software was rated as easier to use (not unlike the analytical tool IBM Modeller), but did not have the flexibility and wide number of data sources of DCGS-A, which now gets us into hot water, or what the London Chef of Sketch might classify as: ‘from the frying pan into the fire’, these changes will also impact other systems and other people. In many cases the use of a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) is used (or in many cases Positive Vetting). The entire mess (slight exaggeration), will take on new forms as we see how the changes might also have a flaw (as I see it), what happens when there is a sudden spike of collected data. Scripts, automation, production jobs and moreover the gathering, sifting and storing of data will soon take an entirely new dimension. The current intelligence framework is in my humble opinion not even close to ready for a growth in excess of 400% (800% is more realistic). You see, if we are to set up a path that gives us a possible trace of events, then we need several snapshots, now, they will not snapshot the entire nation, but the amount of data that needs to be stored so that the people who need to know can follow the trace will be a massive one. I for one, am absolutely not in the mood to allow a ‘3rd party’ (read IBM, Oracle and a few others) to set up shop, as that data could even end up in America. Even though I have no issue with my data, feel free to check my Diablo 3 save file guys! The issue is when a grey field allows other uses. For this I recall the article ‘NSA linked to corporate dangers?‘, which I wrote on September 22nd 2013 (Yes, a year ago!), where I quoted the NSA site (the open source unclassified part), “The Information Assurance Business Affairs Office (BAO) is the focal point for IA partnerships with industry. It also provides guidance to vendors and the NSA workforce in establishing IA business relationships and cultivates partnerships with commercial industry through demonstrations and technical exchanges“.

So when we see such an escalation, how long until we see an ‘evolution’ of our intelligence data to create a business space? Let’s be honest upfront, the NSA has a different charter and as such has a massive amount of additional tasks, yet in the current form, is such an evolution that far-fetched? How dishonest is the advantage when a firm like Telstra or iiNet gets their greedy little marketing claws on data so verbose that they can target 10%-20% more ‘efficient’? So we have 2 sides and as far as I see it an element that might need tweaking because of it (reference to the: Telecommunications (Interception and access) Act 1979). The entire Data mining issue is also on the table as I have not met an abundance of miners who have my levels of skill when it comes to massive data sets. When the pressure is on and they need to create a creative alternative to a missing values data set, the race will be pretty much over. Then what? Get external experts?

Now we go back to the initial fourth statement ““Freedom is not a given,” the attorney general said. “A free society is not the usual experience of mankind. Freedom must be secured, and particularly at a time when those who would destroy our freedoms are active, blatant and among us”“. I do not oppose the statement perse, yet in my view the statement is “Freedom is a given in Australia, to keep the Australian values, in a time and under conditions that were designed to remove the tranquillity of our lives, steps must be taken to safeguard the freedom we hold dear. As such we need to act according to new paths for the sole purpose of stopping these elements amongst us, who are driven to remove freedoms, we and all those who came here to enjoy our way of life“.

Freedom remains a given, we will just add a few new solutions to stop those intent on destroying our lives and our freedoms!

In the end, both the Attorney General and myself decided to make Pappas Bravas, he said potato, I said tomato, yet I remain at present cautious on who else is eating from our plate, without the balance of the whistle blower, that person might remain undetected, in that regard, I would have preferred that a clear location would be there to alert someone, even if it was a special appointed judge (who would be added in subsection “(4) The persons to whom information may be communicated under subsection (3) are the following:

Was that such a stretch?

 

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Changing topics?

It is Tuesday evening, I had been preparing some of my assignments when the two hour bell rang, it was time for a break. I am still ahead of what is needed, which means I can relax (only a little). For 4 weeks I have been doing my daily Uni work, so there is a moment to breath. This is good for now, so what to look at?

Well, I could take you down the road of a copyright driven Australia, yet, when we look at the facts, especially as presented by Brendan Molloy, councillor of Pirate Bay Australia, then a moment of depression hits me. We all speak in truths (or so I hope) and as such, so does he. I do not completely agree with his approach, but he makes a decent case. There are a few tweets he made as @piecritic that have reverberated in my own writings in the past.

  1. Brandis is known to have not met with any consumer representatives and stakeholders as part of writing this draft. #copyrightau“, which seem to give slightly more weight to the issues I posted on my blog on June 17th 2014 called ‘The real issue here!‘, when I wrote “This is at the centre of it all. From my point of view Mr Burke knows it, Mr Brandis knows it and Google, who has every profit with large broadband usage, knows it too. I think it is time for this sanctimonious posturing to stop” it was to state the issue that in the end this is NOT about copyright, this is about bandwidth and as such the Australian economy cannot survive another multi-BILLION dollar blow to it at present. I think that Attorney General Brandis DEFENITELY got spoken to (not speaking with) by certain stakeholders (off the record of course), yet these people do not want ANY visibility in the limelight at present.
  2. @piratepartyau made an FOI request for that data. They refused to release it. https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/copyright_legislation_working_gr#incoming-2467 #copyrightau”, which seemed to link to “A question about data costs being absurdly high. Love it. #copyrightau“, this is an interesting side. In my previous blog and other events I focussed on the bandwidth, which is what an ISP should be able to monitor and as such they do not, or better, only monitor for billing purposes. This all takes another turn when we consider the tweet by Ed Husic, Federal MP for Chifley, Shadow ParlSec to @bowenchris. His Tweet is “Abbott Govt should tackle copyright, pricing, access simultaneously and not just @copyrightau 1st“.

Well first, to get it all straight, I am a Liberal, so basically in the Abbott, Hockey corner!

Yet, these people make a decent case. You see, I am not in favour of copyright infringement, so if we can stop illegal downloads then this is just fine with me (additional reasons to follow soon). The issue here is not just about copyright; it is in part the ludicrous idea of continuing the TPP. This is at the centre of strangling honest commerce in the near future. I am all for a better legal system that protects the owners of copyrighted articles that Burke represents, yet ‘the rants’ as Brendan mentioned gives way that he is angry because the ACTUAL profiteers are too strong and too powerful (read the ISP and large telecom companies). This is why we see these ‘packaged’ solutions by Optus lately, amongst others. They are trying to convert people to a package as they know that securing revenue now is becoming increasingly important to THEIR survival, this is not seen anywhere in clarity.

So prices are being partially dealt with and access is being transferred to the US via the TPP. If you consider that to be not true, then wonder why Microsoft is setting up 300,000 servers. Just for gaming? Please get a grip and be fast about it!

Consider the following, this was stated by developer Jonathan Blow, but he is not the only stating issues in this direction. “I can spin up 10,000 virtual servers per host. They would just all suck. Saying 300k when they are virtual is a lie“, this is a developer, my issue, since even BEFORE day one has been on the ridiculousness of certain claims. This has all to do with streaming media and entertainment. Microsoft introduced it, when the backlash came they changed tune and dance, so why is this continued? Because the change to a broadband Foxtel approach will FORCE people in the bandwidth and there is no more downloads (which I do not oppose), but there is also no more privacy, with which I have an issue. When you force consoles online for all the wrong reasons, then we can safely state that this is about monitoring”. As America was the land of the free, it is now quickly becoming the nation of the monitors, which is what a debt of trillions will get you. As stated before, i cannot understand the TPP for the life of me, it strangles digital freedom (actual freedom, not freedom to download illegally), it will strangle generic medication (not part of this discussion) and it will strangle local commerce (very much the issue at present).

Patrick Bach, producer behind Battlefield 4 has an additional view “I’m not sure how the cloud will work for real-time stuff, but I can see how it could work for non-real-time stuff where you need a lot of calculations”, monitoring is not real-time, but requires massive power, here we see a side of that what is monitored and how it requires many servers. By the way, consider that this, when (or if) this is up and running, that the monitoring power of Microsoft will exceed that of the NSA by a massive margin. It seems a little extreme for streaming TV shows and online players, doesn’t it?

Additional evidence comes from the Australian (at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/copyright-law-is-failing-to-keep-up-with-internet/story-e6frg9if-1227050705973, this link requires you to subscribe) “As a former chief financial officer, I follow the money: these schemes haven’t worked, because the content owners aren’t prepared to invest in their administration. If they were genuinely effective, surely the movie and television studios would be happy to throw resources at such schemes“.

Again, as a technologist this could definitely be done, yet this is not in the ISP interest at all, his fortune is all about bandwidth, reducing it costs him money.

This is why I thought that the entire action was a waste of time from before the very beginning. Until greed (read revenue) from the Telco’s is set straight, whatever deal comes, will come at the price of ALL valid users and for the larger extent at the cost of their freedom (read privacy).

Yet, in all the tweets, Brendan Molloy does repeat on many occasions the issue that is at the centre of it all “fix your business models“. This is at the centre, yet in all scenario’s several players lose out on revenue (and loads of it), in addition Australia is not even at the heart of the issue that is playing behind the screens. For people like Google and Netflix (where a few groups have a valued investment of over 10 billion), it is not Australia, but the UK where the big price is. Australia with its 10 million households is just a small individual away from the Commonwealth pack. Yet this does not just hit the bandwidth and download models.

In all this, I have one other link. This one http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/09/malcolm-turnbulls-anti-piracy-forum-live-blog-follow-the-news-as-it-happens/ shows us the entire copyright AU evening and when you read it, please try to consider the following:

  1. The words ‘Revenue’ and ‘Bandwidth’ did not get mentioned ONCE. You might think that with illegal downloads and copyright infringements that issue would come up at least once, but both iiNet and Telstra were extremely cautious to sail away from getting near it. In my view that forum did exactly what it needed to do, keep interest away from the TPP, bandwidth and where the actual money would be draining from.

All this is as I expected it to be and if you read my previous blogs then you would have read that pointlessness is next to greediness. Not grammatically correct, but highly accurate. Whether we see changes remains to be seen, but the moment the TPP comes into effect the changes will be massive and it is likely that this changes get announced whilst the ink of the autographs on the TPP agreement is still drying.

So, why is this about changing topics?

Well, the discussion seems to be about piracy, copyright and copyright infringement, but the topic that hinders all events (like revenue and more important ‘blood money’) is kept out of the discussion for now.

I have already discussed revenue in more than one place, so feel free to read the other blog article (The real issue here!, mentioned at the beginning) to catch up on it. What I have not talked about is the issue of ‘Blood-money’. It is not my phrase, but I have adopted it as it applies (to some extent). You see, this is not the price of the game, not the cost of doing business. It is the price of being there and staying alive. It seems pure and simple, but it is not. You see, the topic of micro transactions is a little more complex and as such it is important to distinguish between them.

  1. The good guys and girls!

Highest on my list is Blacklight: Retribution. It is released for the PS4, yet there is also a PC edition. The game is large and is FREE! So how do they make money? Well they rely on micro transactions. When buying stuff you have two options, you start low, but as you get through games and as your score is there, you get money, this money allows for low to medium styled weapons. They are not cheap so it will take a little time to acquire the cash. Yet, it is free and you have time, so this is all good. However, if you want that one piece, that ultimate weapon, the slamalamadingdong of all shotguns that will rip through flesh, bone and Kevlar as you squeeze of the right trigger of your controller, then you must purchase Z-coins. There is an off-set here. Partially I think that without Z-coins you will be in a long trial to get decent gear to oppose, yet consider that this is all multiplayer and for those who are not really into this, it means no $99 and this is good, you can invest $10 to get decent gear. I think the approach is pretty good in this economy. This approach is better than try before you buy and is a decent business model. There are others that do this too and some have too steep a curve of costs, but Blacklight seemed reasonable.

For the iPad there is ‘Elemental Kingdoms’. A game, which is free to play and as you play and win, you get coin, which allows you to buy packs with random cards. It is easy to play, the game looks extremely well and the artwork is amazing, the cards unlike with actual cards evolve as you invest in the card, making it more powerful. If you purchase gems with your own cash you can buy packs with more rare cards and better rare cards, which makes for better odds. New players will get double the amount of gems with their first purchase. a good approach.

So, this is the good model, some like it, some do not, but nothing is for free and this way you get the pleasure to try and the option to grow without spending a cent. Those eager to step forward quicker can place $10-$25 and get a head start.

  1. The demons

Here we have the bad side. Whether we go after the Forza games, Gran Turismo or the classic which should now be regarded as an utter joke on the iPad! Prices range from roughly $7.5 for 500,000 in game credits to $75 for 7 million credits. Now consider that one car could cost you 20 million credits, which would be one of the extreme top cars, but that means one additional car at around twice the price for the whole game. How is this even considered sane? This pales by comparison when we see a great classic like Dungeon Keeper seems to push people to invest vast amounts of money into gems so that the player can get anywhere. This is free-to-play?

These are two extremes, yet how does this relate to the initial issue?

This is where the future takes us. The market on many levels is pushing for micro transactions on all fields. Whether it is an app or just a service, it is not just a worry, the future as we see it comes again from the Apple Market. This is not just the versions of the iPhone6 (plus or not), but the other options like the Apple Watch, where we see an interaction between watch and phone. This sounds like a decent gimmick, yet did you consider the exploitation of the consumer through services via micro transactions as well as the events we get as Apple collects all this data? It is not just Apple, where one goes Google will follow and the entire debate we saw on copyright now gets a whole new meaning as people on a global level sign up for ‘services’. This is where packaging of services will truly get a consequence. What if you have Foxtel?

Now we revisit the following statements:

Ed Husic: “Abbott Govt should tackle copyright, pricing, access simultaneously and not just @copyrightau 1st

Brendan Molloy: “fix your business models

Jonathan BlowSaying 300,000 servers when they are virtual, is a lie

I think that the business models have been adjusted, yet I think the adjustment is moving in a very dangerous direction. The Ed Husic nail is getting hit by a massive hammer; there is, at the core of these changes a need to immediately revisit pricing and taxation sides. You see, the ‘micro-transactions’ might seem small, but it reflects on the dangers we face how the frog will not jump out of the pot when the water is slowly brought to a boil, when we react to micro transactions, we will react too late. In this economy we need to make sure the consumer is protected as well as the national coffers, because when Apple and Google start their $0.99 a month service per service we will be hoisting millions a month outside of Australian tax shores, whilst at the same time collecting all that data to be resold and analysed at the other end giving them additional billions in revenue. The Privacy act will not guard us in any way for this new consumer wave. This all brings me to the question, how much do Telstra, Optus and iiNet know at present? Does the intelligence community realise this change of data and how can they keep track of some of the more shady events. Last but not least, when ‘3rd party’ people start pushing out data apps, how can this tsunami of data even be sifted through?

The final part will get us to the conclusion (at (at http://thenextweb.com/apple/2014/09/01/this-could-be-the-apple-icloud-flaw-that-led-to-celebrity-photos-being-leaked/) we see that last week someone took a look at certain events. and it gives us this quote “The vulnerability allegedly discovered in the Find My iPhone service appears to have let attackers use this method to guess passwords repeatedly without any sort of lockout or alert to the target. Once the password has been eventually matched, the attacker can then use it to access other iCloud functions freely“. As stated, this is not a fact at present, but it does give serious voice to the hacked phones.

Things you might think that have no bearing, but as we consider the case of the 101 naked celebrities (like Disney’s Dalmatians for adults), what else can outsiders get access to when people start using these new gadgets? If we consider that the financially well off start using these innovations first, how long until this clear target becomes a target of interest to the cyber-criminal?

So many issues linked to the changing topic. My question, what topic SHOULD have been debated? This is not about copyright perse, but that links to all of this, it is about a missing league of securities that endangers the lives of many Australians and none Australians alike. It is a change to facilitate for profit and data to be handed to big business at the expense of our personal, social and economic safety. Sides many seem to ignore.

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