Tech News: 5 Things to Know in Australia Today

Tech News: 5 Things to Know in Australia Today

Hello and welcome to the second last day of this fabulously short week. We’ve got a few bits of tech news to share this morning.


1. TikTok ban to trickle down

The Australian government yesterday banned the use of TikTok on departmental devices, but while the ban trickles down to state and territory governments, it doesn’t affect government-funded agencies, like the ABC, SBS, Australia Post and NBN Co. But according to a report from The Guardian, the ABC is thinking of putting the app in the bin, too, noting: “A spokesperson for the ABC confirmed that in light of the ban, the ABC was reviewing its use of the platform”. News comes as TikTok was fined £12.7 million ($23 million) for breaching data protection laws including using the personal data of children aged under 13 without parental consent.

2. Elon playing God

After Dogecoin’s Shiba Inu dog replaced Twitter’s blue bird as the social media company’s logo, the meme coin added as much as $4 billion to its market value, Reuters is reporting. The token was born as a satire of a cryptocurrency frenzy in 2013 and has absolutely no fundamental use.

3. Step away from the tech, Centrelink

In the original publication of this article, we lifted a paragraph from the good folks at iTnews that we said was Centrelink “at it again with bad ideas”. We wrote that Services Australia was using telecommunications metadata and password-bypassing software to investigate welfare recipients suspected of claiming single payments while in relationships. 1.5 days after this briefing went live on Wednesday morning, Services Australia reached out to clarify a few things. We’ll do a deep dive into this on Tuesday (because it is now 5pm on the Thursday before a long weekend), but here’s what a spokesperson had to say in the interim.

“We don’t use telecommunications metadata or Cellebrite when conducting ‘member of a couple’ reviews”, rather that telco metadata is only used to support potential criminal cases. The spokesperson also said it is not used in compliance activities, which “aim to prevent avoidable debt as a result of customers being overpaid due to changes of their circumstances”. Further:

“Cellebrite technology is only used to support the interrogation of ICT devices seized in accordance with Commonwealth Search Warrants issued in relation to an offence against a Commonwealth Law.

“Warrants are issued in accordance with the Crimes Act 1914, and are executed by the Australian Federal Police.


“We conduct our fraud investigations in accordance with Commonwealth law, with briefs of evidence prepared for consideration by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions where there is sufficient evidence of an offence.”

4. Defamation claim launched against ChatGPT

Law firm Gordon Legal has launched a defamation claim against ChatGPT Hepburn Shire Council Mayor Brian Hood (Hepburn is in Victoria for those of you not from The Education State). You might remember Gordon Legal from that time it kicked off a Class Action against the federal government for Centrelink’s robodebt fiasco. Anyway, Gordon Legal alleges Hood’s reputation was defamed by the ChatGPT AI, which it said incorrectly identified him as an individual who faced charges related to a foreign bribery scandal, rather than his actual role as the whistle-blower in the case.

5. CSIRO joins landmine-clearing efforts

CSIRO has developed new landmine detection technology and it could soon help landmine-affected countries with their demining efforts. Landmines and other explosive remnants of war are a global humanitarian crisis, with over 100 million landmines deployed in more than 60 countries, causing around 6,500 casualties each year. CSIRO and corporate advisor RFC Ambrian have jointly established a new Australian company, MRead, to develop the technology into hand-held detectors that more quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively detect landmines for clearing.


See you tomorrow.

This article has been updated since it was first published. 

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