Beware The Ides Of March

ABC attack on democracy and your privacy
16 March 2022
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

Starting on 15 March, the ABC compels everybody who wants to use its iView platform to have a login.  It is also the Ides of March.  ABC offers no choice and no opt out except to cease using iView.

The ABC claims that this is to allow them to personalise each users’ experience on iView.  

The ABC claims that this information will not be shared with anybody else.

Yet here are the facts:

  1. Unlike any other broadcaster or media outlet, ABC has an obligation to share the national conversation with everybody.  Personalisation does the opposite:  puts individuals in an echo chamber where alternative points of view and interests are filtered out.
    Personalisation contributed materially to the failure of democracy in the USA including the insurgency at the US Capitol on 6 January.
  2. ABC will be exchanging information about users with other platforms including Facebook and Google even if account settings are set to opt out of personalisation.  There is no option to opt out of the underlying data collection and sharing.

    While ABC claims this information is ‘de-identified’, these companies go to great lengths to use it for targeting individuals with advertising and ‘personalised’ news feeds.
    In short, ABC, Facebook, Google and others will be in a position to monetise how iView is used and inevitably will.  

Leading advisors on privacy and security have raised these issues with the ABC right up to the Managing Director level.  So far to little avail.  The only response have been clearer but still incomplete explanations on the ABC website about how the ABC will reduce your freedoms.  That and the public release of a Privacy Impact Assessment that lacks balance.

Letters raising these concerns were sent to David Anderson, the Managing Director of the ABC, in mid 2021.  One of these is attached.  It sets out these concerns in more detail.

The Founder and Lead Privacy Advisor to IIS Partners and former Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton was one of the letter writers.  He has commented, saying:

“At a time when regulators around the world, including ACCC and OAIC in Australia, have raised concerns about personalisation and obscured monetisation of personal information, ABC is heading in the wrong direction.  It is time ABC took stock and acted within the spirit of its Charter.”

The CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity, Vanessa Teague also observed:

“We own this broadcaster and already paid for this material. Every Australian should be able to explore its excellent content and challenging topics without those explorations being tracked, recorded, and disclosed to companies that fuel global misinformation.”


- CyberBeat

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