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  • Digitisation of government data: democratic benefits and possible costs

    Event 1 in Victorian Fabians Spring Series, "Digitisation and Democracy".

    SPEAKERS: Janet McCalman and Chris Culnane.

    The Turnbull government touts public and private use of open government data as a wellspring for better public and private service delivery and economic well-being.
    Digitisation and tracking of government data allows better understanding of causes and solutions to inequities in our changing communities, and consequent adjustment of services and amenities. But use of government data is also encouraged for private profit making business opportunities.
    Digitised government data may be used well or badly by both government entities and private ventures. Does open government digital data improve equality of access to democracy and its benefits and empower all?

    Janet McCalman is a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor in the Centre for Health Equity in the Melbourne School of Population & Global Health, at the University of Melbourne. She is an historian who specialises in historical population health, and the author of Struggletown (1984), Journeyings (1993) and Sex and Suffering: women health and a women's hospital (1998).

    Janet uses government data extensively for her research and is a proponent of open availability of government data for positive research outcomes that benefit all Australians.

    Janet says: "I'm calling my talk, ‘From Clinical Material to Big Data’. I’ll be arguing strongly for govt data to belong to the people i.e. The State and not to be sold for commercial gain - e.g.. Insurance companies, private analytics groups, etc."

    Chris Culnane is a Research Fellow in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at the University of Melbourne.

    He has researched electronic voting. He was the technical lead on the SuVote project to design, develop, and deploy an end-to-end verifiable electronic voting system in the 2014 state election in the State of Victoria, Australia.

    More recently he was part of the team that discovered weaknesses in the anonymisation of the Australian Government MBS/PBS dataset release. The dataset consisted of a 10% sample of Australian Medicare billing records over a 30 year period.

    He is also interested in how the original notion of open government has morphed into the more general notion of open data. As a result, an increasing number of open government data releases are not about the Government itself, but are instead about the population.

    Chris says "...an increasing number of open government data releases are not about the Government itself, but are instead about the population. ...Such releases raise important questions about data ownership; does the data belong to the government, or is it merely the custodian? Should data that is collected compulsorily, or via access to essential government services, ever be released as open data, given the lack of an opt-out or alternative? If such data is released, does that mean a greater dependence on government services increases the likelihood of being a subject in a data release, and therefore incurs a greater privacy risk?"

    rsvp
  • Digital Manipulation of Democracy

    Digital Manipulation of Democracy.

    Event 2 in Victorian Fabians Spring Series, "Digitisation and Democracy".

    SPEAKERS: Stilgherrian and Vanessa Teague

    The capacity and reach of digitisation combined with sophisticated social psychology methods of studying  marketing behaviour means that the democratic process is more open to manipulation than ever.

    The effect of this is to subject voters to intensive but disguised attempts change their attitudes.  A standout example is Cambridge Analytica which used Facebook statistics to try to manipulate US voters' intentions in favour of Trump. Cambridge Analytica is now in Australia, registering an office in Maroubra, Sydney in April of this year, and the Liberal Party also uses a big data based marketing system, Parakeelia.

    The capacity of corporate organisations and governments to use and abuse data and social psychology to affect peoples' opinions and behaviours is not restricted to this. Is digitisation and big data being used by narrow sectional interests to manipulate and capture voting behaviour and political sentiment? 

    Stigherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and broadcaster who covers the politics of the internet and the way it’s changing power relationships at every level of society. He’s particularly interested in security, privacy, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

    He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide range of media and technology work that’s included ABC Radio, magazines and online media. He survived the first dotcom boom

    Stilgherrian currently writes for ZDNet, Crikey and others, produces the podcasts Corrupted Nerds and The 9pm Edict, is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and in his own words, tweets far too prolifically.

    Vanessa Teague is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing and Information Systems at at The University of Melbourne.

    She is also a brilliant and legitimate hacker who has demonstrated that virtually no encrypted system is secure. At the same time she has a passionate commitment to people’s ownership of their own data and to democracy.

    She has been invited to appear before several parliamentary inquiries into elections at the state and federal level, to answer questions on electronic voting. She opposes electronic voting on security grounds, and she is very involved in the debates over big data.

    rsvp
  • How can digitisation benefit democracy and equality?

    How can Digitisation Benefit Democracy and Equality?

    Event 3 in Victorian Fabians Spring Series, "Digitisation and Democracy".

    The advent of new digital platforms that have the capacity to increase the interaction between citizens and their representatives are expanding as the potential of peer communication, and crowd evaluation is explored.

    With the right design, this has huge potential to broaden the depth of political dialogue and extend and equalise democratic expression. 

    How could digitisation encourage deliberation, spread power and bolster knowledge to enhance democracy?

    rsvp
  • 2017 C.E. Martin Memorial Dinner with Anne Aly

    • Friday, November 17, 2017 at 06:00 PM
    • The Apprentice in Ultimo, Australia
    • $90.00 AUD

    The NSW Fabians are proud to host its 5th annual C.E. Martin Memorial Dinner on Friday 17th November.

    The dinner is named in honour of the first President of the NSW Fabian Society, Clarence Edward Martin, the longest serving Attorney-General in New South Wales history. 

    Our keynote speaker will be Dr Anne Aly, Labor MP for Cowan.

    It will be a great opportunity to share a night among friends and fellow members and support the work the NSW Fabians have done over the past year.

    Last year’s dinner sold out so please get in early.

    Includes: A three course meal plus three beverages & unlimited soft drinks (additional drinks available for purchase but please note that venue does not accept cash)

    Earlybird Price: Members/concession $90, non-members $100, solidarity $120 (Members/concession $100, non-members $110 after September 30)

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