5 things you should know about tech today

- October 8, 2019 3 MIN READ


Hello and welcome to Tuesday. Here’s what’s going down.


1.  Cybercon-troversy

The Australian Information Security Association (AISA)’s 12th annual national cyber-security conference, Cybercon2019, got underway in Melbourne and word of the day is “incongruent” after two experts were suddenly disinvited from appearing at the last minute.

Thomas Drake, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) official and military veteran who blew the whistle on surveillance and waste in the surveillance authority’s Trailblazer Project, and in 2010 was threatened with jail for espionage, said he was about to catch the plane to Australia when he was informed he’d been cut from the lineup because his talk titled “The Golden Age of Surveillance” was deemed “incongruent.

University of Melbourne privacy researcher Dr Suelette Dreyfus, who planned to talk on how anti-corruption whistleblowers can use digital drop boxes was also dropped and was reportedly told by AISA that a conference partner had vetoed her talk.

The federal government’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), part of the Australian Signals Directorate security agency, sponsors the event, with the AISA deputy chair referring questions about why the duo were dropped to ACSC.

Dr Dreyfus has written her own account of what she believed happened on Twitter.


2. Facebook offers US$40 million to settle a class action over inflated video views

Legal action by ad agencies against the social media giant will see billionaire Mark Zuckerberg checking his bottom drawer for loose change to make it all go away.

The case involves an 18-month period in 2015-16 and inflated “watch time” on videos. Facebook conceded they miscalculated the figures, but it was an innocent mistake. Advertisers argue they spent more money than they otherwise would have based on the figures.

“The average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60%-80%; they were inflated by some 150 to 900%,” the complaint said.

Facebook has been fighting the case and still argues it’s “without merit but we believe resolving this case is in the best interests of the company and advertisers.”

Lawyers will walk away with around 30% of the settlement figure. Forbes has more on the three-year stoush here.


3. DoorDash, the US food delivery giant launched recently in Australia, is adding restaurants to its platform without asking them.

The first Melbourne’s Foddies Cafe knew about it was when a delivery driver arrived to pick up an order. They’re not the only venue claiming it’s happened to them despite refusing the join the platform, according to The SMH.

DoorDash’s Australian GM, Thomas Stephens, said restaurants can request they be removed from the service. Foddies owner Luke Lucas told The SMH he’d been “hounded for months to sign up” but declined.

DoorDash is worth more than AU$18 billion after raising $US600 million earlier this year. It’s the market leader in the US against rivals such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Stephens told the Herald they “had informative, enlightening conversations with restaurateurs who expressed concern”.


4. ACS appoints a director of scale up and innovation labs

Siobhan Casey, the new ACS Director of Scale Up and Innovation Labs.

Sydney-based tech sector professional association ACS put Siobhan Casey in charge of growth and commercialisation for River City Labs in Brisbane, Harbour City Labs in Sydney and Bay City Labs in Melbourne. She was previously COO of fintech startup HashChing and started as Director of Scale Up and Innovation Labs on Friday, having been an inaugural judge in ACS’s RiverPitch TV series this year.

The ACS Labs network was formed after the acquisition of Brisbane’s River City Labs in September 2018, followed by the launch of the Sydney lab in April this year and the Melbourne Docklands lab in July.


5.  Mark Cuban says bitcoin has less value than baseball cards

Tech mag Wired combined technologies in a chat with the US tech billionaire and Shark Tanker on YouTube, taking questions from punters via Twitter.

Asked “why the hate for crypto”, Cuban said compared bitcoin to baseball cards and comic books loved by their owners, but with “no intrinsic value”.

“Bitcoin–there’s even less you can do with it: at least I can look at my baseball card and go ‘Ooh, that’s my favourite player!’,” he said.

“Crypto a key that is so complicated for 99% of the population. Do you put in in a device, do you print it out, how do you keep from being hacked, who’s going to host it for you?

“It’s just so difficult that it’s only worth what somebody will pay for it.”

Cuban compared it to gold, adding “gold’s a religion”, but it won’t save anyone.

“I’d rather have bananas. I can eat bananas. Cryptos not so much,” he said.

But he does like blockchain.