This weekly blog is to explore the news around the larger issues around Digital Health, data security, data privacy, AI / ML. technology, social media and related matters.
I will also try to highlight ADHA Propaganda when I come upon it.
Just so we keep count, the latest Notes from the ADHA Board were dated 6 December, 2018 and we have seen none since! Its pretty sad!
Note: Appearance here is not to suggest I see any credibility or value in what follows. I will leave it to the reader to decide what is worthwhile and what is not! The point is to let people know what is being said / published that I have come upon.
My Health Record resources for community health staff: focusing on the Mental Health Toolkit
Event details ADHA Propaganda
25 August 2021
1:00pm - 2:00pm (AEST)
Hosted by Australian Digital Health Agency
My Health Record is becoming an increasingly significant summary record of an individual’s health information.
Mental health plays a crucial part in an individual’s wellbeing and having relevant information in My Health Record will assist in supporting clients with complex health needs (such as mental health conditions).
The Australian Digital Health Agency is hosting a virtual session focusing on the Mental Health Toolkit which includes a range of practical resources to assist you in providing care to your clients. This session is intended for a range of providers including nurses and allied health
Big Tech misinformation efforts slammed as ‘woefully inadequate’
National Affairs Editor
11 October 2021
The latest effort by social media giants to combat misinformation on their platforms has been slammed by multiple organisations as a “total farce” and “woefully inadequate”, as federal government rhetoric about further regulatory crackdowns escalates.
The Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI), a group whose members include Facebook, Apple, Twitter and Google, announced on Monday morning that new governance arrangements would be rolled out for the Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, developed last year following the competition watchdog’s digital platforms inquiry.
Facebook removed 110,000 pieces of COVID misinformation posted by Australians last year. Credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com
The new arrangements include a new independent complaints subcommittee which will accept complaints from the public about potential breaches of the misinformation code by the social media giants and a new fact-checker of the companies’ annual transparency reports.
Calls to ID social media users is just another Morrison government rush job
The government has escalated its war of words against the social media giants, demanding ID for all users. But it's a strategy that we already know won't solve the problem.
Every now and then, someone in power has a sook about a bad experience on social media. Then, as regular as a cuckoo clock, there's a call for every social media user to be identified, because they reckon anonymity is the problem.
Right now the cuckoo is the Australian government, and boy are they ramping up the rhetoric.
Last Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and two other senior ministers called on the tech giants to identify their users, telling them that if they didn't do so then they were no longer platforms, immune from prosecution. They would be publishers, subject to Australia's tough defamation laws.
Social media is a "coward's palace", Morrison said.
$590 million in ransomware payments reported to US in 2021 as attacks surge
October 16, 2021
New data out Friday showed $590 million in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021 alone, setting a pace to beat totals for the whole previous decade as cyber-extortion booms.
The figure is also 42 percent higher than the amount divulged by financial institutions for all of 2020, the US Treasury report said, and there are strong indicators the true cost could be in the billions.
The heists involve breaking into a company or institution's network to encrypt its data, then demanding a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency in exchange for the digital key to unlock it.
Recent assaults on a major US oil pipeline, a meatpacking company and the Microsoft Exchange email system drew attention to the vulnerability of US infrastructure to digital pirates who are extorting staggering sums.
The training courses introduces My Health Record and outlines its benefits, features and functionalities. ADHA Propaganda
It covers topics such as:
- the benefits of My Health Record for healthcare providers and patients
- the types of information that may be found in My Health Record
- the uses of My Health Record in a range of healthcare settings
- the privacy and security mechanisms which underpin My Health Record.
'I was heckled over a loudhailer as I vaccinated my patients’
Dr Alvin Wee says he has been repeatedly targeted by anti-vaxxers.
15th October 2021
A GP is threatening to shut down his outdoor COVID-19 vaccine clinic after being repeatedly targeted by anti-vaxxers.
Every Saturday, Dr Alvin Wee runs the clinic under large tents set up in the car park of his practice in Rockingham, south of Perth.
The set-up offers space for social distancing but staff can vaccinate more than 100 patients in a single session.
But Dr Wee said he was recently menaced by a four-wheel drive cruising past the clinic broadcasting anti-vax messages to patients over a loudspeaker.
“At first, we just thought it was someone heckling, but then we realised that they were talking about the vaccinations,” Dr Wee said.
Embattled Facebook releases new curbs on harassment
4:33PM October 14, 2021
Facebook has unveiled fresh protections against online attacks on journalists, activists and celebrities as the social media giant battles a crisis over its platforms’ potential harms.
Facebook head of safety Antigone Davis announced the new protections, writing “we do not allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does happen, we act”.
Facebook expanded its range of banned “attacks” on public figures to include a range of sexual or degrading images of their bodies.
The company has faced a storm of criticism and a US Senate panel hearing since a whistleblower leaked internal studies showing Facebook knew its sites could be harmful to young people’s mental health.
Frances Haugen, an ex-worker at the company, alleged the leading social network put profits before the safety of its users.
Service NSW turns on in-app vaccine certificates
By Justin Hendry on Oct 15, 2021 10:27AM
Adds QR code verification.
All NSW residents fully immunised against Covid-19 can now add their digital vaccine certificates to the Service NSW app, removing the need to present the credential separately during check-ins.
The feature became available on Thursday night after a whirlwind four-day trial with 500 people in the regional centres of Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Lismore.
It comes as the state fast approaches the 80 percent double vaccination mark, which will likely see restrictions further eased from Monday.
Until now, the digital certificate could be accessed through the Express Plus Medicare app and myGov, or downloaded to an Apple or Google digital wallet.
Friday, 15 October 2021 10:39
Tech industry bodies urge government to revise emergency powers bill
Three technology industry bodies have urged the Federal Government to significantly revise the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020 before it is voted on, as it would "create an unworkable set of obligations and set a troubling global precedent".
The Information Technology Industry Council, the Australian Information Industry Association and the Cybersecurity Coalition wrote to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Thursday, saying that while their members shared the government's commitment to protecting critical infrastructure against cyber threats, the bill remained "highly problematic and largely unchanged despite extensive feedback from our organisations"
The bill in question was reviewed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security which said, on 30 September, that it be split up into two, in order to pass what it characterised as "urgent reforms".
The PJCIS said it had made 14 recommendations about the bill, including that it be split into two parts:
"Bill One for rapid passage – to expand the critical infrastructure sectors covered by the Act, introduce government assistance measures to be used as a last resort in crisis scenarios as well as mandatory reporting obligations; and
"Bill Two for further consultation – including declarations of systems of national significance, enhanced cyber-security obligations and positive security obligations which are to be defined in delegated legislation."
Trolling, abuse, death threats: a COVID scientist’s lot
By Lisa Jackson Pulver
October 15, 2021 — 5.00am
I don’t read comments on articles I author or look at reviews following a TV or radio appearance or follow the comments in the newspapers where I am cited. It turns out this is a common practice of many for my fellow epidemiologists during these long hard days of COVID, during which many of us have endured trolling, abuse and threats of violence and even death.
I regularly drop off social media for periods when the feeds get too intense. But this phenomenon is not new for me.
About 10 years ago, I dropped off all social media following threats of violence and threats of a sexual nature. My former workplace received many unsubstantiated complaints about me from “anonymous” colleagues, members of the public and so-called “concerned citizens”.
Those complaints and concerns were about how I got my job, where my grant money came from, about my qualifications, my professionalism and my character. I received similarly nonsensical and sometimes threatening letters in the post. My workplace took the threats seriously. I ended up having to be escorted in and out of my office and I took multiple routes to get home safely. Others checked the mail and opened packages addressed to me.
Health ministers urged to take action on home quarantine app privacy fears
By Justin Hendry on Oct 14, 2021 5:49PM
Protections lacking, civil society groups warn.
Australian health ministers have been told to bolster the privacy protections behind home quarantine apps that use facial recognition and geolocation technology before making them commonplace.
In an open letter, the Human Rights Law Centre and Digital Rights Watch urged the adoption of stronger safeguards around the use and management of personal data, including biometric information, being collected as part of tec hnology trials.
Both groups backed using technology to support the transition from mandatory hotel quarantine to home quarantine, but say preventing the misuse of personal information through robust safeguards is essential.
“Unprecedented steps to gather and temporarily store personal information may be necessary to respond to the pandemic, however, such exceptional measures must come with robust safeguards,” the letter [pdf] reads.
14 October 2021
Scientists endure a pandemic of abuse
“Eat a bat and die, bitch.”
“If you were near me I would shoot you.”
“We’ll teach you what fear is.”
These are just a few examples of the torrent of online and offline abuse that has been directed at scientists around the world who have communicated about science during the pandemic – a topic I have spent months researching for Nature magazine.
The effect has been to stifle science communication, with many now reluctant to speak publicly for fear of attracting abuse.
A survey undertaken by Nature has found more than one in five scientists who have spoken up either in the media or on social media have received threats of physical or sexual violence as a result.
The non-peer-reviewed survey, which 321 scientists from 20 countries responded to, also found that 15% of respondents had received death threats, and six were physically attacked.
Education and Training on My Health Record (MHR)
Home » ADHA Propaganda
The ASA Policy Team and ANZCA have been working closely with the Australian Digital Health Agency (Agency) to take steps towards supporting and informing the ASA members and Practice Managers about My Health Record and its access.
We undertake to publish educational material to deliver My Health Record updates to members.
ASA Members are invited to provide feedback about MHR on the ASA Forum
We are currently developing a new schedule for 2022 and will update this shortly
Epidemiologists face threats of death or sexual violence after Covid-19 media appearances
12:00AM October 14, 2021
Offering your scientific expertise about Covid-19 to the country can come at a significant personal cost, with one in five Australian scientists saying they have received death threats or threats of physical or sexual violence after media appearances.
A survey by the Australian Science Media Centre received 50 responses from scientists who have provided public commentary on Covid-19, finding 31 had been subjected to trolling, with 20 per cent receiving threats.
For some, it was enough to make them reconsider appearing in the media.
Others reported emotional and psychological impacts.
It is worse internationally, with science media organisations reporting 15 per cent of scientists receiving death threats over their commentary on Covid-19 and 22 per cent reporting threats of physical or sexual violence.
AI as a risk mitigator: health AI as a case study
Australia October 11 2021
When the words ‘risk’ and ‘AI’ appear in the same sentence, it is usually about the risks of AI running amok in your organisation, causing reputational or financial harm on an industrial scale. However, in many contexts, AI is actually a powerful tool to mitigate current human-sourced risk and liability. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the use of AI in the health system.
Surgeons, for example, make complex, high risk decisions, often under time pressure of a deteriorating patient’s condition, and with heavy workload of other patients awaiting care. Tragically, mistakes are usually not reversible.
Therefore, it is no surprise that ‘when facing time constraints and uncertainty, decision-making by surgeons may be influenced by heuristics [‘rules of thumb’ based on past experiences’] or cognitive shortcuts’. As a result, diagnostic and judgment errors are the second most common cause of preventable harm incurred by surgical patients and surgeons report that lapses in judgment are the most common cause of their major errors.
AI is ready-made for the “hypothetical-deductive decision-making model” that dominates surgery: as a diagnostic tool by providing a complete list of all likely diagnoses and assessing the benefits and risks of surgery vs other approaches, and then in the operating theatre itself, by predicting potential risks in real time and even in steadying and guiding the surgeon’s hand.
Wednesday, 13 October 2021 11:15
Govt to force businesses with $10m annual turnover to report ransomware attacks
The Federal Government will make it compulsory for businesses that have an annual turnover of $10 million or more to report ransomware attacks, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says.
The government will also introduce new criminal offences and tougher penalties as part of the plan. However, there is no date given for the Plan to take effect.
She said the government did not condone the payment of ransoms. Attackers who use ransomware to attack companies or individuals generally exfiltrate some data before they encrypt files on the system.
A ransom note is then generated and appears on the victim's desktop. All ransomware attacks so far have affected systems running Microsoft's Windows operating system.
Government plans mandatory reporting, new offences for ransomware crackdown
By Justin Hendry on Oct 13, 2021 10:54AM
Outlines legislative reforms under new plan.
The federal government is set to stand up a mandatory ransomware incident reporting regime for business as part of a suite of legislative reforms to crack down on cybercrime
It will also introduce a suite of new offences for cyber extortion aimed at criminals that target critical infrastructure, as well as criminalise dealing in stolen data and the buying or selling of malware.
The new measures are part of a comprehensive ransomware action plan [pdf] released by the federal government on Wednesday aimed at countering the rise in ransomware incidents.
Technology a lifesaver for Lifeline
This is sponsored content for Cisco
By Alexandra Cain
October 13, 2021 — 9.12am
Crisis support service Lifeline has seen demand from Australians in emotional distress spike amid the uncertainty of the pandemic and is using the latest technology to help it deliver.
Lifeline recorded its busiest day ever on 30 August during the latest lockdowns, with 3564 calls registered. This follows more than 3200 calls on average each day in July, compared with 2400 daily in July 2019 before the pandemic struck.
The national charity is also responding to about 1000 SMS and chat requests for help daily as the organisation moves towards an “omni-channel” approach to deliver more ways for help seekers to get in touch
Continuing a 57-year record of answering calls and meeting demand has meant solving a number of logistical and technical challenges.
Smartwatch app could tell workers to stay home and get a COVID-19 test
John Davidson Columnist
Oct 12, 2021 – 5.00am
Australian researchers are trialling a smartwatch app that can monitor a worker’s vitals and tell them if it’s OK to go to work or if they should stay home and potentially get a COVID-19 test.
The app uses the heart rate and blood oxygen (SpO2) sensors in Samsung’s recently released Galaxy Watch4 smartwatch, and works together with a phone-based app on which workers answer questions about their wellbeing each morning before they go to work.
Data from the watch and the phone is fed into a decision support system that either tells the worker to stay home or produces a QR code on the phone’s screen that could be scanned by the workplace to certify the worker has been cleared for work that day.
While the system will look for an increased heart rate and lowered SpO2 levels reported by the smartwatch, those factors alone would never provide enough context to determine if someone has COVID-19, said Dr Carl Luckhoff, acting director of emergency at AlfredHealth, the healthcare provider that runs the Alfred hospital in Melbourne and the Caulfield and Sandringham hospitals.
Australian Digital Health Agency
Senior Security Architect
Opportunity ID 16465
Deadline for asking questions Thursday 14 October 2021 at 6pm (in Canberra)
Application closing date Monday 18 October 2021 at 6pm (in Canberra)
Published Monday 11 October 2021
Category Cyber security
The Senior Cyber Security Architect provides security advice into the design, build and test of the Agency’s corporate and digital health systems to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all information assets. The senior cyber security architect will work alongside a dynamic team of professionals to collaboratively achieve the Agency’s business objectives. The Senior Cyber Security Architect will provide a wide range of experience, knowledge and skills, including, but not limited to: Contribute to the development and maintenance of the security architecture for the Agency’s systems and services. Assist with defining and maintaining ‘standard patterns’ that are aligned with the Agency’s Security Architecture and provide secure solutions to common design problems. Identify and incorporate appropriate security measures in the development of ICT projects and the information security program. Develop, maintain and review requirements, solution design documentation, test documentation, technical specifications, security documentation, standard operating procedures and other documentation related to large Information Communications Technology (ICT) systems. Participate in the selection of appropriate strategies to mitigate security risks. Support the Certification and Accreditation of Agency systems. Contribute to security assessment and compliance activities, such as IRAP assessments, security testing, and Threat and Risk Assessments. Support the procurement of security related products and services as directed by senior team members. Support the delivery of security products and services by external providers. Prepare and deliver presentations, minutes, briefing papers, guidance and advice for stakeholders at, business and technical levels. Follow all Agency policies, procedures and instructions and take reasonable care for your own health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace
HiNZ CONFERENCE UPDATE 12.10.21
considering a range of options, HiNZ has decided to postpone Digital Health Week NZ (the HiNZ Conference and its
associated events) until March 2022. Our official press release can be
read in eHealthNews.nz.
We’re very disappointed but we have no option, given there’s no clear indication when the country will be able to safely run large-scale events again.
We could not wait any longer for alert levels to drop, because non-refundable expenses ramp up in the month before the conference. Our previous conference in November 2019 cost $1 million to run, so the financial risk from last-minute cancellation is significant.
The decision to postpone was made at last night's HiNZ board meeting.
Facebook-backed group launches misinformation adjudication panel in Australia
By Byron Kaye on Oct 12, 2021 6:07AM
A day after the government threatened tougher laws.
A tech body backed by the Australian units of Facebook, Google and Twitter said it has set up an industry panel to adjudicate complaints over misinformation, a day after the government threatened tougher laws over false and defamatory online posts.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week labelled social media "a coward's palace", while the government said on Sunday it was looking at measures to make social media companies more responsible, including forcing legal liability onto the platforms for the content published on them.
The issue of damaging online posts has emerged as a second battlefront between Big Tech and Australia, which last year passed a law to make platforms pay licence fees for content, sparking a temporary Facebook blackout in February.
The Digital Industry Group Inc (DIGI), which represents the Australian units of Facebook, Google and Twitter, said its new misinformation oversight subcommittee showed the industry was willing to self-regulate against damaging posts.
Facebook unveils new controls for kids on its platforms
By Anne D'Innocenzio
October 11, 2021 — 7.39am
Facebook, in the aftermath of damning testimony that its platforms harm children, will be introducing several features including prompting teens to take a break using its photo sharing app Instagram, and “nudging” teens if they are repeatedly looking at the same content that’s not conducive to their wellbeing.
Facebook is also planning to introduce new controls for adults of teens on an optional basis so that parents or guardians can supervise what their teens are doing online. These initiatives come after Facebook announced late last month that it was pausing work on its Instagram for Kids project. But critics say the plan lacks details and they are sceptical that the new features would be effective.
The new controls were outlined on Sunday (US time) by Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs, who made the rounds on various Sunday news shows including CNN’s State of the Union and ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos where he was grilled about Facebook’s use of algorithms as well as its role in spreading harmful misinformation ahead of the January 6 Capitol riots.
“We are constantly iterating in order to improve our products,” Clegg told Dana Bash on State of the Union on Sunday. “We cannot, with a wave of the wand, make everyone’s life perfect. What we can do is improve our products, so that our products are as safe and as enjoyable to use.”
The law that could make social media giants accountable
By Rebekah Giles
October 11, 2021 — 5.00am
In the same week that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his deputy Barnaby Joyce declared war on the social media platforms that publish the posts of anonymous users who defame, vilify, and harass, the same foreign companies that operate these platforms took their seat at the NSW Attorney-General’s roundtable discussions on Stage 2 of the defamation law reforms where they robustly advocated for safe harbour from liability.
The legal implications of social media are of such paramount public importance that dialogue between government and these tech giants is necessary. However, in circumstances where foreign entities such as Twitter refuse to submit to the jurisdiction of Australian courts, one has to wonder why they are invited to have a say on Australian law reform at all.
Nevertheless, the safe harbour proposal outlined in NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s discussion paper on Stage 2 of the defamation law reforms demonstrates his interest in protecting the commercial operations of these foreign entities – a position that is quite obviously out of step with his federal colleagues. Barnaby Joyce, stung by what he has described as “malicious lies” about his daughter on social media, wants to put “the fear of God” into Big Tech.
The arm wrestle between the commonwealth and the states and territories over power to pass defamation laws resulted in the rushed passing of the 2005 legislation by the states and territories which produced an ineffective patchwork regime that has not served Australia well. Many of the inclusions were negotiated compromises which turned out to be unmitigated disasters, resulting in countless appeals and wasted costs. The defence of contextual truth and the removal of the public interest requirement for a defence of truth are but two examples.
Tech giants’ ‘laughable’ disinformation solution slammed
Oct 11, 2021 – 8.25am
Moves by big tech companies including Facebook to introduce a new self-funded and self-appointed oversight panel to rule on Australian cases of misinformation on their platforms have been dismissed as “laughable” by public interest groups.
The action comes as pressure rises for new laws that will hold operators legally responsible for content published across their sites.
Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple-funded lobby group The Digital Industry Group (DIGI) on Monday announced a three-member oversight committee would assess complaints from the Australian public about breaches of a voluntary code of conduct. The code was launched in February and signed by Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, TikTok and Twitter.
The panel will, however, have no punitive powers other than the potential to make public statements that a company has failed to adhere to the code, and in extreme cases to kick a company out of the voluntary group it is paying for.
Artificial intelligence is now part of our everyday lives – and its growing power is a double-edged sword
October 11, 2021 6.10am AEDT
Professor, Computing and Information Systems, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Systems), and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Digital & Data), The University of Melbourne
Professor of AI at UNSW, Research Group Leader, UNSW
A major new report on the state of artificial intelligence (AI) has just been released. Think of it as the AI equivalent of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, in that it identifies where AI is at today, and the promise and perils in view.
From language generation and molecular medicine to disinformation and algorithmic bias, AI has begun to permeate every aspect of our lives.
The report argues that we are at an inflection point where researchers and governments must think and act carefully to contain the risks AI presents and make the most of its benefits.
A century-long study of AI
The report comes out of the AI100 project, which aims to study and anticipate the effects of AI rippling out through our lives over the course of the next 100 years.
Australia mulls measures making social media giants responsible for defamatory postings
By Staff Writer on Oct 11, 2021 6:33AM
Escalates talk of crackdown.
The Australian government is considering a range of measures that would make social media companies more responsible for defamatory material published on their platforms, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said on Sunday.
"We expect a stronger position from the platforms," Fletcher said in an interview on the ABC.
"For a long time, they've been getting away with not taking any responsibility in relation to content published on their sites."
Intensifying a debate over the country's libel and defamation laws, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday called social media "a coward's palace", saying platforms should be treated as publishers when defamatory comments by unidentified people are posted.