Brown Study

Brown study

26 June 2021

9:00 AM

26 June 2021

9:00 AM

One of my beefs about the ABC is how the Liberal party has stood by and allowed it to become the bloated state-owned enterprise it now is. In fact, the party has actively encouraged this expansion by increasing the ABC’s scope and by force-feeding it money. Virtually every expansion of the ABC into new fields has taken place under a Coalition government. So, the Coalition deserves all the abuse it gets from the ABC. It also deserves to be the victim of the ever-expanding and more brazen left-wing bias exhibited by the organisation as its so-called investigative journalists run amok, smearing innocent people they dislike, others with whom they disagree and virtually anyone who stands in the way of the latest Green/ Left cause that it thinks it has a right to promote.

But the latest expansion of its empire takes the ABC into a far darker and more sinister realm, for it will give the broadcaster a vast amount of information about the citizen and allow companies to build up a profile on you and use it for their own commercial purposes. If you like the way social media platforms have been allowed to get a foothold on your personal information, you will love what the ABC has in store for you. And, as usual, the Coalition government is letting the ABC get away with it.

This latest expansion of the ABC’s powers comes from the service it offers called iView, which lets the public re-run programs they missed when they first went to air. I have used it myself, although rarely: I find that with most ABC programs, once is enough. But I suppose you would have to say that up to a point it is a useful service, but one that you are already paying for through your taxes to the tune of a billion dollars a year. The ABC has now decided to trade on this service to launch itself as an all-knowing department of truth by forcing users to cough up unlimited personal and private information. How is this made compulsory? Simply by denying access to the service unless you sign up and let the ABC collect this mine of information, no matter where they get it from.

Yes, that’s right; you have to sign up with the state-owned media and be registered. But to join, you must agree to its so-called privacy policy first. You cannot join and say you do not want whatever protection the policy will give you. You simply have Hobson’s choice; sign up or no iView. And here’s the sting. Like most privacy policies this one is designed to ensure you have no privacy. It is the mirror of the freedom of information law, which is to stop you from seeing documents, not to let you see them. The ABC’s privacy policy, first of all, allows it to collect endless information about you, and as well as the obvious personal details, it chillingly lets the ABC grab your ‘preferences’ (watch out, Barnaby Joyce) and ‘interests’ (watch out everyone); and then, ‘user generated content’ (stuff you look up on the internet), research or survey responses (from now on, ignore those promises of confidentiality) and payment details (criminal syndicates in Russia will love that, when it is leaked or sold to them).

It then gives the ABC the right to collect, their words again, ‘information about your race or ethnicity, political opinions or affiliations, religious beliefs or affiliations, physical or mental health and sexuality’. Phew! Is nothing sacred? And, for good measure, ‘information about your use of our digital services’ (in other words, any use you make of the internet or ‘social media sites’). I am sorry to use this word, but there is a distinctly Orwellian nature about this; it gives the ABC the right to collect the low-down on you from mysterious ‘ABC online store fulfilment partners’. And by using ‘Other Technologies’ (What!)

We would never dream of allowing the tax office, the police, any of the burgeoning crime commissions or anyone in the government to keep a file on us with this information in it, but this is what the ABC has decided to do and of course with the connivance of the federal government. And remember, no agree to privacy policy, no iView. And if you use any of their digital services, they can collect information about ’identifiers for your device or browser’. Remember the trouble George Brandis got into claiming your meta-data was safe? Not from the ABC!

Worst of all, to whom will they be able to hand over all this personal information? Well, to internet companies, cloud hosts, ‘security services’, those pesky ‘online store fulfilment partners’ again and ‘analytics service providers’. They can also give your personal information to ominously described ‘third parties’, so that they can ‘help’ you. If a government body threatens to ‘help’ you, I say lock up your silver. These third parties are then allowed to collect information on you in any overseas country. They will also be allowed ‘to match information about your use of our digital services with personal information they already have about you’. Busy third parties. And the threat is barely concealed. If you do not open an account, ‘the ABC may disclose the identifier for your device or browser to Google and Facebook, via Tealium …,’. How nice for them.

This appalling exercise is an expansion of government snooping on an unprecedented scale, and all done with the threat that you comply with it, or you will be denied the service you have already paid for. No law has been passed to justify it. But how comforting it is that we have a Liberal party minister to supervise the ABC. After all, it is the party of small government.

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