daria42 writes: If you're counting on Apple to keep your digital information safe, you may want to think again... at least if you live in Australia. Yesterday the country's two major political parties — Labor and the Coalition — voted down a motion in Federal Parliament calling for strong encryption to be supported in the wake of the FBI's demands that Apple unlock iOS. It appears that implementing comprehensive telephone and email retention in Australia may not have been the end of demands by law enforcement in the country.
daria42 writes: Worried about Microsoft's software, especially its server software, featuring a secret backdoor that can be accessed by US law enforcement agencies such as the National Security Agency? You're not alone. However, according to a statement Microsoft has given to Australia's national Parliament, which pinged the company on the issue, no such backdoor exists. "Microsoft has advised [the Parliament] that there is no backdoor within the Microsoft suite of products," the Parliament's IT staff said in a statement this month.
daria42 writes: Remember how the Australian Government caused a bit of a kerfuffle a while back for choosing to standardise on on Microsoft's proprietary office document file format? Well, this week the decision has been reversed, with all of the country's federal departments and agencies to use the more widely supported Open Document Format from now on. Score one for open standards.
daria42 writes: Think the media's bad in your country? Spare a thought for Australia, where much of the conservative media is against the Australian Government's decision to deploy universal fibre broadband around the country to deliver 93% of Australians speeds of 1Gbps. Yup, you read correctly. There are media outlets staunchly against this plan. This week the country's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was forced to step in to defend a journalist who has been pointing out that the Government's fibre broadband plan was fundamentally better technically than a much more limited plan being pushed by the Opposition.
daria42 writes: Want a pair of Google Glasses? Well, apparently all you have to do is be voted Australia's Prime Minister, if photos to emerge today are any judge. Australian PM Julia Gillard posted a photo of herself wearing a pair of the hot new Google augmented reality toys following a meeting with the search giant's global chief financial officer Patrick Pichette.
daria42 writes: If you live in Australia, you might have good reason to be annoyed at Adobe, considering that the company charges up to $1,400 more for its Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign etc) than it does in the US. However, in a press conference in Sydney this morning, the company's global CEO Shantanu Narayen flatly refused to directly answer any questions about the price differential, instead farcically pushing the message that Australians should pay for Creative Suite on a monthly basis instead ('Creative Cloud'). Steve Jobs' comments that Adobe has "turned out crap" as a company since founder John Warnock left might have been quite prescient.
daria42 writes: Looks like Google's habit of funnelling billions of dollars in revenue through its Irish and Bermuda subsidiaries, in a tactic known as the "double Dutch sandwich", continues to attract unfavourable government attention globally. France has already announced plans to take on the search giant's tax evasion habits, and the Australian Government, to which Google paid just $74,000 in tax last year despite having Australian revenues close to $1 billion, has now confirmed plans to do the same. How does tax evasion relate to Google's 'don't be evil' motto? Perhaps Google should re-consider its stance in this area.
daria42 writes: This morning Microsoft held a major launch event for its new Windows 8 operating system in Sydney. There is marketing material everywhere, articles in every major publication; Australians are swamped with info about Windows 8. The only caveat? They can't buy it. Microsoft confirmed this morning that it's not yet selling full copies of Windows 8 in Australia, only upgrade versions. Does this seem a little strange to anyone else?
daria42 writes: Live outside the US? Then you're probably used to being blocked from watching Hulu, frustrated by not being able to buy the eBooks you want from Amazon and most of all, annoyed about paying significantly higher prices than Americans for exactly the same software, games and content online, all based on your IP address. This week Australian consumer group Choice called for an Australian ban on geo-IP-blocking, saying it created significant barriers to the free flow of goods and services. Maybe other countries' consumer groups should follow suit, in the quest for a fair go?
daria42 writes: Bad news, Internet Explorer users. If you're using version 7 of IE and want to buy goods from major Australian online retailer Kogan, you'll be paying 6.8 percent more than those using alternative browsers or IE8 or IE9. Kogan this week said it was fed up with the high costs of keeping its web site compatible with IE7, so it's passing the cost onto those who use the browser. Sounds like it's about time to switch;)
daria42 writes: Enjoying Diablo 3? I'm sure you are, as it's likely to be one of the games of the year. Unless, of course, you're Australian, in which case you're probably struggling to play with an acceptable response time due to abominable lag to US servers, due to Blizzard's reluctance to establish Australian servers for the game. But then, it was the same situation with World of Warcraft and StarCraft II — looks like nothing has changed:(
daria42 writes: It appears as if the decision to screen HBO's popular Game of Thrones show in Australia up to nine days after it screens in the US is having a dramatic impact on the country's Internet piracy activities. With a population of just 23 million compared with the US's 313 million, more people are pirating Game of Thrones via BitTorrent each week in Australia than are in the US, with 10.1 percent of all BitTorrent downloads of the show coming from Australia compared with 9.7 percent from the US. Perhaps, just perhaps, HBO, it might be a good idea to stream Game of Thrones in a reasonable time frame to Australia? Just saying.
daria42 writes: Looks like Apple isn't the only company with interesting offshore taxation practices. The financial statements for Google's Australian subsidiary show the company told the Australian Government it made just $200 million in revenue in 2011 in Australia, despite local industry estimating it actually brought in closer to $1 billion. The rest was funnelled through Google's Irish subsidiary and not disclosed in Australia. Consequently the company only disclosed taxation costs in Australia of $74,000. Not bad work if you can get it — which Google apparently can. About that 'don't be evil' motto? Yeah. Not so much.
daria42 writes: Live in the US? Most likely, you do. In that case, you're probably not aware that vendors like Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Lenovo charge thousands of dollars more for the same tech products (even if they're digital downloads) sold outside the US. Australian consumers have been complaining about this issue for a decade now, and the Australian Government has finally sat up and paid attention, announcing an official inquiry into this issue, with executives from major vendors to be hauled before a committee to explain their markups. Sounds like a win for consumers — at least in Australia.
daria42 writes: Australian Internet service provider iiNet has emerged victorious in a long-running court case to determine the future of how the country's ISPs handle Internet piracy complaints by movie and film studios. Australia's courts have found several times that ISPs such as iiNet have not authorised Internet piracy by not passing on so-called "copyright infringement notices" from content owners to broadband users. This morning, the country's highest court of appeal, the High Court, found in favour of iiNet and dismissed an appeal by film and TV studios in the area, setting back the content owners' ability to directly target Internet users for piracy. The move is being widely interpreted as a win for digital rights in Australia.