AppWrap22: Local data storage requirements, myCDRdata sold

Published on the 01/12/2022 | Written by Newsdesk

iStart News - AppWrap tech news in brief

Keeping you up to date with A/NZ and world tech news…

AppWrap aims to help you keep up to date with an easy to read collection of news and snippets published by other leading tech media publications that we trust.

AppWrap December 2022

15.12 ASIC and the Reserve Bank of Australia have directed the ASX to engage EY to conduct an audit into the support and maintenance of its Chess system, following the collapse of the replacement program. IT News reports that the two organisations have outlined a list of expectations, including compliance with financial stability standards and identifying what upgrades will be needed to keep the current Chess in operation until a replacement is ready.

10.12 The ATO has raided 35 properties across Australia as part of a crackdown on businesses supplying or using sales suppression software. The tools are being used globally to alter PoS data to understate or conceal revenue. Many of the businesses raided were in the hospitality sector, ABC News reports. The raids coincided with similar action in the UK and US.

09.12 Work on the GovERP SAP-based project will be reduced over summer. InnovationAUS says it understands work on the project stopped recently for six weeks, though a government spokesperson would not confirm that, but said there would be reduced activity due to Christmas and New Year leave. It is unclear if the project is impacted by recent cuts in contractors at Services Australia.

08.12 Home Affairs and Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil is considering local data storage requirements in Australia to improve security for sensitive data, InnovationAus says. O’Neil told the publication data localisation would be ‘very much’ a feature of the discussion for the recently announced cybersecurity strategy.

08.12 Regional Bank Australia has sold its myCDRdata consumer data right platform to Australian payment, banking and regulated data solutions company Cuscal. The bank says consumers have used myCDRdata to access all 114 bank brands in the CDR ecosystem, while the pro-subscriptions are available to banks and other entities to help them undertake simple and fast verification testing of their CDR capabilities.

08.12 Former Telstra CEO Andrew Penn is among those charged with developing a new cyber security strategy to make Australia ‘the most cyber secure country in the world by 2030’. Penn will be joined by Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre CEO Rachael Falk and retired Air Force chief Mel Hupfeld in immediate development of the strategy ITNews says. Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil says the 2030 target will involve an international panel with ‘some of the biggest cyber guns from around the world’.

06.12 Real estate agency LJ Hooker has confirmed it has affected by a data breach, with a ransomware group claiming to have stolen 375 gigabytes of employee and customer data, including passport scans, credit card details and loans data, from a NSW office, Vice says. It’s the second big breach for the real estate sector in recent weeks with Harcourts Melbourne City hit in October.

01.12 The Medibank hackers have published what is believed to be all remaining datasets from the incident on their dark web blog. The data dump, with compressed files amounting to more than 5GB, was accompanied by a ‘case closed’ announcement, The Guardian notes. The drop is the sixth from the hack, which the AFP says originated in Russia. Investigations are continuing, with the case far from closed.

01.12 Six invasive warrants were enacted last year under the controversial Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) Bill 2020, which provided the AFT and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission with new warrants, including the power of account takeovers. Two data disruption warrants, two network activity warrants and two account takeovers were issued in 2021-22 according to the annual Surveillance Devices Act 2004 report, ITNews says.

AppWrap November 2022

29.11 A/NZ SMBs are predicting 12 percent growth in their IT spend on managed service providers and system integrators every year until 2025 according to a new report commissioned by Microsoft. Fifty-one percent of the SMBs said they want tech partners who proactively recommend new solutions.

28.11 Legislation increasing fines for privacy breaches has passed through Parliament. The legislation will see companies subject to fines of up to $50m, three times the value of any benefit obtained through misuse of the data or 30 percent of a company’s adjusted turnover in the relevant period, for serious or repeated breaches. The penalties come into effect a day after Royal Assent by the Governor-General. Opposition from stakeholders failed to secure reduced penalties, InnovationAus reports. There had been calls for tiering of penalties to prevent SMBs and charities being subjected to the same penalties as multinationals.

28.11 The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has intensified its supervision of Medibank following its data breach, with Deloitte examining the incident and Medibank’s response and the effectiveness of its controls. ZDnet says the financial services regulator will determine if further regulatory action is necessary following the completion of the external review.

25.11 Melbourne’s Montu has taken out the top spot in the Australian Deloitte 2022 Technology Fast 50, with FrankieOne and me&u runners up. Montu provides paths to medical cannabis therapies through an integrated digital system, and achieved 20,728 percent revenue growth in the 2020-22 period. FrankieOne is a fraud and money laundering risk management platfrom, while me&u is a digital order and pay platform, Deloitte says.

24.11 Supermarket chain Coles has digitised its supply chain with a ‘track and trace’ system to monitor poultry moving between farms and its distribution centre. The company says 4,500 smart, foldable food bins, fitted with IoT devices, have been deployed, with the combination of the bins and IoT reducing the cost of the asset pool required by 25 percent, tripling the amount of empty bins returned, reducing cost and waste. The system is also ensuring food safety standards.

24.11 Martech vendor Wunderkind has launched its APAC hub in Sydney after singling out Australia as a priority growth market. The US based company says it plans to grow headcount ‘exponentially’, across sales, customer success and client partnerships in the coming 12 months, Retail World reports.

22.11 Children’s charity The Smith Family has become the latest major Australian cyberattack victim, as it warns personal data and some card information of up to 80,000 donors was potentially exposed. Card data is limited to the first four and last digits on some cards, other card data was not stored by the charity. It says there is no indication so far that any information has been misused, SMH reports.

21.11 EY has acquired Sydney professional services firm Bridge Business Consulting in a deal designed to bolster its data and analytics capabilities. Twenty Bridge staff will join EY’s data and analytics practice, EY says. Financial details for the deal were not disclosed.

19.11 If you’re counting on Twitter during the World Cup, you may want to think again with one former employee claiming the company has a 50 percent chance of a major outage that could take the site offline during the Cup. The employee estimates a 90 percent likelihood of failures and glitches, The Guardian says. The article follows a New York Times piece last week saying the company was ‘teetering on the edge’ after another 1,200 staff resigned last Thursday. Meanwhile Elon Musk has reinstated Donald Trump to the platform, but Trump himself has said he has no interest returning to the platform.

17.11 The ASX’s blockchain-based Chess upgrade has been scrapped – five years into the project, with the ASX taking a pretax charge of up to AU$255 million in H1 2023. The ASX announced it has ‘paused’ all current activities of the project following an independent review by Accenture. That review found significant gaps and deficiencies in the ASX’s program delivery capabilities and that there are significant challenges in the technology design. ASIC and the Reserve Bank of Australia dubbed it ‘altogether unsatisfactory’ that the findings were made at such a late state of a critical replacement program.

17.11 NSW is getting Australia’s first state-based mandatory data breach notification scheme for the public sector with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Amendment Bill passing the upper house last week, without amendment. It will come into effect within a year and requires public sector agencies, state-owned corporations, local councils and some universities to report breaches ‘likely to result in serious harm’, InnovationAus reports.

17.11 New Zealand’s Ackama has acquired Melbourne bespoke software company Common Code for NZ$2.7 million in a deal which will lift its revenue to over $12 million – 75 percent of which is via exporting its services. The deal will also increase Ackama’s staff by 90 percent across A/NZ, Ackama, which develops software and secure cloud platforms, says.

11.11 The ACCC is gunning for big tech again, calling for a range of new measures to address harms from digital platforms. The fifth report in the five-year Digital Platforms Services Inquiry proposed platforms be subject to mandatory dispute resolution processes and stronger requirements for combating scams, harmful apps and fake reviews, among other measure.

11.11 Apple added US$190 billion in market value overnight on November 10, setting a stockmarket record for US listed companies. The company has seen strong double-digit growth in emerging markets. Its market value gain last week was greater than Alphabet, Amazon and Meta combined and gave the company a capitalisation of US$2.34 trillion, MoneyControl says.

10.11 Australia’s police and emergency services will be able to access telecommunications data faster in order to help triangulate the location of missing persons under a bill introduced to federal parliament. The bill is in part a response to a recommendation made following a 2020 coronial inquest and removes a current requirement that a threat to a persons’ life be imminent in order for telcos to disclose information, InnovationAus reports.

10.11 Seven large data breaches affecting more than 50,000 people each were reported to the OAIC in the first half of the year. The OAIC report shows one of the breaches affected more than one million Australians. Overall notifications were down 14 percent to 396. The report covers the period to June, so recent big breaches, including Optus and Medibank are not included.

10.11 NAB boss Ross McEwan has called on the government to rethink increases to the data breach penalties, saying it could be ‘terminal’ for some businesses and could result in companies being less willing to promptly disclose beaches. The comments came in a submission to the senate inquiry on the proposed bill, ITNews reports.

10.11 Optus parent Singtel has set aside $140 million for this financial year for customer remediation efforts following the September data breach, while also booking a $1 billion write down for the Australia business’ goodwill. Singtel attributed the non-cash impairment to a combination of interest rate hikes and the weaker Australian dollar, rather than the breach, AFR reports.

09.11 The first details customer details from the Medibank hack have begun appearing on the dark web, a day after the alleged hacker threatened data would be released in 24 hours. The data includes phone numbers and Medicare numbers. Medibank has said it will not pay the ransom. WhatsApp messages between the hackers and Medibank reps have also been published 9News reports.

04.11 More than 110 quantum software experts across nine universities and two Australian startups have teamed up in an alliance to drive quantum software research and development locally. The Australian Quantum Software Network is also partnering with six companies, including Google Quantum AI and three Australian quantum hardware companies, to foster collaborations and partnerships between software and hardware, University of Technology Sydney says.

04.11 IP Australia is working on a $20m patent system modernisation to support high-quality customer centric administration of the patents system, strengthen cyber security and adapt to evolving requirements, IT News reports.

03.11 Harcourts’ Melbourne City franchisee’s rental property database has been accessed by an unknown third party, exposing names, addresses, banking information and other personal details. Harcourts says an external cybersecurity team is investigating. The breach comes amid rising concerns about the volume of data being collected on renters, SBS News notes.

02.11 Australia will convene and host a virtual international ransomware task force as part of the International Counter Ransomware Task Force, established to share intelligence and coordinate law enforcement and cybersecurity agencies. Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil says the task force aims to develop innovative solutions to counter the ransomware threat. New Zealand is also a member of the Counter Ransomware Initiative.

AppWrap October 2022

30.10 Twitter has been hit by a trolling campaign with more than 50,000 tweets from 300 accounts bombarding the platform after Elon Musk’s takeover of the company. The Guardian says the coordinated campaign aimed to make users think the platform had dropped or weakened its content policies following Musk’s finalising of the acquisition last week.

28.10 Elon Mush has completed his US$44b deal to purchase Twitter, whipping up a media frenzy around what the future Twitter will look like. Musk was reportedly quick to stamp his authority on the company, with reports of staff firings coming hard on the heels of Musk’s confirmation the deal has been completed. Claims he’s trying ‘to help humanity’ through the purchase, and has long raged against the amount of spam and bot accounts he says are on Twitter. As BBC reports he’s also been making hints about the new company being the start of ‘X, the everything app’ – reputably a ‘super app’ along the lines of China’s WeChat, wrapping social media, messaging, finance and food orders into one app.

28.10 GWA Group, Virtus Health, My Plan Manager and Great Western Water have taken out the top prizes in this year’s IDC Future Enterprise Awards Australia and New Zealand. GWA Group took the gong for Best in Future of Digital Infrastructure, Virtus won for best in future intelligence, Best in Future Operations went to My Plan Manager and Great Western Water won the Best in Future of Work, IDC says. 

27.10 Australia’s fintech space has grown eight percent in the past year with 775 currently active fintechs, KPMG says. Record levels of investment are also flowing into the sector, with US$29.6b recorded in H1 2022. That includes a US$27.9b acquisition of Afterpay by Block (formerly Square) which was the biggest deal in H1. Three of Asia Pacific’s biggest deals were in Australia.

27.10 ANZ Bank has been hit with $25m in fines – alongside $211m in remediation costs – after the Australian Federal Court found a failure to maintain systems and processes and complex siloed IT systems had contributed to errors in its handling of the Breakfree Benefits package. The remediation package was also approved by the court, ITNews reports. Breakfree had offered fee waivers and interest rate discounts on some ANZ products but the court found customers didn’t always receive the benefits. Monitoring and analysis of the systems and processes were also lacking the court noted. 

26.10 Australian HR and payroll software provider Elmo Software has agreed to a $500 million takeover by US investor K1 Investment Management. The bid has been recommended to shareholders by Elmo’s independent board committee, Reuters reports.

26.10 Australian VC firm Square Peg Capital has raised $550 million for its fifth fund. Bloomberg reports that $350 million of that will be allocated to early stage deals with the remaining focused on later stage investments. The company has previously backed companies including Canva and Airwallex.

25.10 Medibank says customer data has been taken in its recent cyber breach. Initially it was believed no customer data had been stolen in the October 13 attack. The health insurer confirmed the ‘distressing development’ saying it has received a series of files from the criminal, including personal and health claims data and some customer data. “Given the complexity of what we have received, it is too soon to determine the full extent of the customer data that has been stolen,” Medibank says. The cybercrime is being investigated by the AFP.

25.10 Vinomofo customer details have been offered for sale on a Russian cybercrime forum after a cyber security ‘incident’ where the online wine retailers’ customer database was breached. Vinomofo has said it doesn’t hold identity or financial data in the exposed database, which contained a range fo sensitive customer and member details of reportedly up to 500,000 customers, InformationAge reports. 

24.10 The combined revenues of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft are expected to have dropped to just under 10 percent for the third quarter when results are announced this week, Financial Times reports. The big five saw a 29 percent increase for all of last year, with combined sales of US$1.4 trillion.

19.10 Quantum technologies could add $6 billion to the economy and generate more than 19,000 jobs for Australia by 2045 according to CSIRO figures. The science agency says recent developments such as public and private investment announcements, new policy initiatives and focused funding provide optimism, though there are still high levels of uncertainty around how quantum technology will be commercialised.

18.10 The Communications Alliance is calling for a phased introduction of the CDR for the telco sector. In a submission to Treasury consultation on the matter, the Alliance has asked for implementation to be extended to two years, IT News says.

18.10 Australia and Singapore have signed a new agreement to boost cooperation on climate investment, financing and technology. The ‘green economy’ deal will promote the development and commercialisation of green technologies and support the transition to net zero, Reuters says.

18.10 Westpac is in preliminary discussions to acquire payment provider Tyro Payments, the bank says. The deal would strengthen Westpac’s small business proposition enabling it to grow merchant acquiring, particularly in the hospitality and healthcare sectors, Westpac says.

17.10 Microsoft is extending its Azure Availability Zones to Melbourne and the new Auckland data centre region still under construction, to provide greater infrastructure redundancy, the company says. NAB says the Melbourne Azure Availability Zone will enable the bank to deploy critical applications into the Australia Southeast region.

15.10 The CRM of Woolworth’s subsidiary MyDeal has been accessed by a ‘compromised user credential’ with 2.2 million customer records affected. MyDeal says while the ‘majority’ of affected customers have only had their email address exposed, others have had customer names, emails, phone numbers, delivery addresses and in some instances date of birth exposed. The company says all impacted customers have been notified. No other Woolworths systems were affected.

14.10 Aruba has released patches for a number of critical vulnerabilities affecting multiple versions of its EdgeConnect Enterprise Orchestrator software. On-prem, as-a-service provider and global enterprise tenant versions were affected, ITNews notes.

12.10 The head of UK intelligence and security organisation, GCHQ, says Chinese technology poses a major risk with countries risking ‘mortgaging the future’ by buying into the technology with ‘hidden costs’. Sir Jeremy Fleming says China is using technology to secure control at home and abroad and cautioned against the UK and its allies use of the technologies, the BBC says.

12.10 Australia’s tech workforce has expanded by 164 percent in the past decade according to Census data. Computer programmers (up 91 percent) and business and systems analysts (up 96 percent) were particularly sought-after, ABC News says.

11.10 The OAIC and ACMA have both opened investigations into Optus’ massive data breach. The OAIC will be looking at whether Optus too reasonable steps to protect customers’ personal information, and whether its data collection practices were necessary and best practice was used for collecting and storing the data. The ACMA will be looking at whether Optus upheld its obligations as a telecommunications service provider, ITNews reports.

11.10 Ernst & Young has snapped up Kiwi ServiceNow specialist Red Moki for an undisclosed sum. EY says it’s experiencing ‘unprecedented growth in ServiceNow demands from clients and the deal will expand its footprint and expertise, and strengthen its transformation capability across Oceania.

07.10 Ten more IT-related jobs have been added to the National Skills Commission’s skills priority list. The Commission says 31 percent of the 914 occupations assessed are now in national shortage. The IT jobs added include systems analyst, web developer, analyst programmer, database administrator, network administrator and ICT quality assurance engineer, InformationAge reports.

07.10 Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been hacked with CNBC reporting around US$570m stolen. The company, the world’s largest crypto exchange, temporarily suspended transactions after an exploit on a cross-chain bridge, which enables transfer of tokens from one blockchain to another, was targeted. Operations have since resumed.

06.10 The Federal Government has announced temporary emergency amendments to telecommunications regulations to help protect people caught in the Optus breach. The amendments include enabling telcos to temporarily share approved government identifier information with regulated financial services to allow enhanced monitoring and safeguards, Treasurer Jim Chalmers says. Separate regulation will allow identifiers to be shared with Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

05.10 A Parliamentary probe has opened into Canberra’s procurement culture after a series of damning audits showing failures in the procurement practices of government departments. Labor MP and committee chair Julian Hill says there appears to be a ‘concerning’ pattern of agencies cutting corners or interpreting the rules to suit themselves, InnovationAus reports. Submissions will be taken until November 11.

05.10 Elon Musk’s Twitter deal is back on – but not before Musk sought a discount of up to 30 percent on the US$44 billion deal, NYTimes says. Twitter rebuffed the proposal and Musk ultimately ‘offered’ to pay his full initial price. Twitter had sued Musk for after he tried to back out of the deal.

03.10 Banks have been told not to dump fintech, crypto and remittance customers with the Council of Financial Regulators proposing a range of proposals for policy options to address debanking, AFR says. Treasurer Jim Chalmers says a government response to the recommendations – which include collecting debanking data and increased transparency and fairness measures – will be released ‘in due course’.

03.10 Microsoft has shared ‘mitigation measures’ for the latest two zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019, after admitting last week that there have been ‘limited’ targeted attacks using the vulnerabilities. Researchers, however, are warning that the mitigations are ‘insufficient’, Bleeping Computer says.

02.10 A new accounts payable automation, a configure, price and quote offering and a mobile app to help improve warehouse operations efficiency were among the big announcements from NetSuite at Suiteworld. NetSuite Account Payable Automation embeds banking services into the ERP system to make it easier and faster for businesses to process bills and pay vendors from within NetSuite, while NetSuite CPQ will enable sales teams to quickly configure offerings and generate accurate proposals, saving costs in the pricing process, Manila Times says.

AppWrap September 2022

27.09 The Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme has begun with senior government officials expected to be called to give evidence. Commissioner Catherine Holmes says many people at different levels of the government will be asked to give an account of their role in the scheme, but the focus will be on those holding senior positions who had, or should have had, oversight, The Guardian says. Class action with 453,000 victims of the scheme resulted in a AU$1.8b federal court settlement in 2021.

26.09 The ransomware bill has been reintroduced to Parliament without major alterations. The bill which, could see the introduction of maximum sentences of 10 years for ransomware use and up to 25 years for those targeting critical infrastructure, was first introduced under the previous government, was not debated before parliament dissolved ahead of the election, InnovationAus notes.

26.09 Iranian-affiliated hackers are actively targeting organisations in Australia according to a new advisory from the ACSC, which is urging businesses to carry out mitigations including implementing and enforcing backup and restoration and patching and updating systems.

26.09 Big CRM and Slack updates are among the raft of announcements Salesforce has unveiled at its Dreamforce 2022 conference. It’s Salesforce Genie – dubbed the ‘biggest innovation’ to come to its CRM and sales enablement platform, will unify customer data and enable real-time capabilities and new uses, while Slack Canvas will unleash greater collaboration, Forbes says.

22.09 A mix of commercial and scientific leaders will head the new National Quantum Advisory Committee to drive Australia’s quantum computing capability. The 15-person committee will help shape the national quantum strategy and coordinate capability across research, industry and government, InnovationAus says.

21.09 The Digital Transformation Agency has been slammed for its handling of nine procurements examined by the ANAO. The Australian National Audit Office says the procurements have been ‘ineffective’ and the DTA’s approach ‘fell short of ethical requirements’. Management of contracts was also not managed effectively. The review found a litany of issues including evidence of conflicts of interest, failure to manage contracts effectively with costs blowing out, duplicate payments being made, poor application of risk and fraud management guidance and missing records. Seven contracts originally valued at $25m blew out to $54m, with one $121,000 project blowing out a massive 40x to nearly $5m. Three of the nine projects reviewed related to the Covid pandemic response.

21.09 New research into the impact of algorithms won’t involve big players such as Facebook, Google or TikTok. The nine-month, US$1.5 million research project was touted by NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier this week with Ardern calling it the ‘centrepiece of her visit to New York for the UN General Assembly this week, Stuff says. Microsoft, Twitter, OpenMinded and the NZ and US governments are involved in the grandly titled ‘Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithmic Outcomes’.

21-09 NextDC has opened its $1b S3 data centre in Sydney’s Artarmon. The 20,000m2 centre – NextDC’s largest in Sydney – will support 1,600 customers and 770 partners and features 1,500m2 of mission critical operation space, CRN reports.

18.09 Drone-blocking technology is being deployed in London as part of the security around Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral. A no-fly zone is in place over the city the Telegraph says, with ‘top secret’ anti-drone devices deployed on rooftops around Westminster. The devices, which block signals between drones and their pilots, are part of one of the biggest security operations in British history.

15.09 Microsoft’s US$75 billion acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard, maker of Call of Duty, is being probed by UK antitrust regulators with Brussels expected to follow suit. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority says it has referred the deal for an in-depth investigation amid concerns the deal is anti-competitive. Rivals including Sony have raised concerns over the deal.

15.09 Australian workplace wellness startup Sonder has closed a AU$35 million series B funding round, led by Blackbird Ventures. The company already has Woolworths, Commonwealth Bank, Allianz and Toll Group among its clients and plans to expand into the SMB market and to the UK, AFR says.

14.09 The ATO will go to tender soon for midrange and data centre services along with separate hyper converged infrastructure services. The tenders are part of a modernisation of the ATO’s outsourcing portfolio, IT News says. Advance notices for the tenders have been issued, with the actual tenders expected later this month.

14.09 Google is facing a €25 billion lawsuit in the EU and UK over alleged anticompetitive behaviour in the digital advertising market. Law firms involved in the action say they’re seeking compensation that could reach up to €7 billion in the UK and €17 billion in the EU. The UK case is expected to be taken to the competition appeal tribunal over the next month but could take years to reach a conclusion, The Guardian says.

13.09 Australian Universities are calling for GDPR-style data reforms, saying deficiencies in local laws are preventing sharing of data between European researchers and their Australian counterparts. The issue could force local projects offshore, InnovationAus reports.

08.09 The Australian Banking Association has sided with big tech in opposing being forced to house Australian customer data onshore. The ABA’s submission to The Data Security Action Plan Discussion Paper cautions against a general policy of storing or moving data offshore, saying data localisation can weaken data security and would disrupt existing commercial and infrastructure arrangements, the Mandarin says.

07.09 US tech companies receiving government funding will be banned from building ‘advanced technology’ facilities in China for 10 years as part of a plan to build up the US semiconductor industry. Companies receiving funding under the $50 billion Chips and Science Act – Washington’s response to the semiconductor shortage – have been told they can’t invest it in China and can only expand mature node factories in China to serve the Chinese market, the BBC says.

05.10 New Zealand is eyeing up tech exchange programs with Korea, with NZ ambassador to Korea Philip Turner saying the two countries are well placed in the digital ecosystem to work together. Turner says Korea is very good at finding a path to market ideas, and NZ is keen to connect startups with Korean partners for collaboration and capital raising, The Korea Herald says.

04.09 An AI generated work has taken first place in the digital category at a US show – and others aren’t happy. The winning artwork was created using Midjourney, which turns lines of text into graphics and has prompted a social media pile-on with complaints that using AI was cheating other artists, Aljazeera reports.

02.09 The Federal government has committed to opening 6,800 extra permanent migration places for tech workers. An additional $36 million will also be invested in additional visa processing staff, InnovationAus notes.

02.09 Science and Technology Australia has launched a plan of five policy fixes in science jobs and skills to ensure Australia can keep up with economic competitors. The plan includes a call a top-up investment for new discovery research and for Labor’s election pledges to legislate new investments in research commercialisation to be confirmed in Budget papers. A shared story, training bench-to-boardroom scientists and work to keep talent is also called for.

AppWrap August 2022

31.08 The Tech Council of Australia will formally ask the federal government to give higher earning migrants faster entry and a better pathway to permanent residency in Australia at this week’s jobs and skills summit, the SMH says. The Tech Council released a report earlier this week noting 2.3 percent of the world’s tech unicorns have been founded in Australia. The report also highlights potential ‘star’ segments including mining tech, edtech, diversified fintech and AR/VR.

30.08 Blockchain developers, UX designers and AppSec engineers are among the most in-demand tech jobs for the coming years across A/NZ, at least according to recruitment company Hays. IoT, software, robotics and cloud engineers, data scientists, machine learning engineers, mobile application developers, and IAM and DevSecOps engineers also make the list of roles that Hays says ‘will rapidly increase in demand in coming years’.

30.08 Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has issued legal notices tech companies including Apple, Meta and Microsoft requiring them to report on what measures they’re taking to tackle child sexual exploitation material on their platforms. The Commissioner says the notices are ‘an information gathering process’, with more planned for additional providers ‘in due course’. Companies face penalties of up to $555,000 a day for failing to respond within 28 days.

29.08 A new $25 million Cyber Security Operations Centre has opened in Sydney to identify and block terrorist, criminal and hacker threats in real time. The centre, in an undisclosed location, is an Australian-first and will protect important data, including that of held by the NSW Police network, from online threats and has a team of 15 analysts and engineers, NSW Government says.

29.08 The Tech Council of Australia and the ACTU are joining forces to push for reforms to the skills, training and immigrations systems. The two organisations are calling for the establishment of a new modern Australian Digital Apprenticeship, along with expedited consideration of highly skilled, highly paid migration places where there are clear skills shortages and where roles can provide coaching and expertise to the local workforce. Improved access to tech jobs for women, people with a disability and indigenous Australians are also among the key policy areas touted.

27.08 Facebook parent Meta has ‘dramatically’ reached a tentative settlement in a lawsuit over Cambridge Analytica’s access to the private data of tens of millions of users. No details about the terms of the agreement are known yet, with the parties requesting a stay of 60 days to finalise the written agreement. The deal means Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg will avoid giving depositions, The Guardian notes.

26.08 Ed Husic has approved all grants made by the former Morrison government under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, following an ‘examination’ of the program. Grants that had been announced, but not signed, were put on hold while the review looked at whether relevant rules and advice had been followed. Husic had been critical of ‘the brazen attempt of the former Morrison government to politicise this grant’.

25.08 The federal government has announced the terms of reference for the botched Robodebt debt recovery scheme. The $30 million inquiry will be headed by Former Queensland chief justice Catherine Holmes, with a report on the saga, which Anthony Albanese has called a ‘human tragedy’ due in April 2023, The Guardian says.

23.08 ASIC has flagged a focus ‘technology risks’ as a key priority over the next four years. The organisation’s 2022-26 Corporate Plan notes its desire to ‘focus on the impacts of technology in financial markets and services, drive good cyber-risk and operational resilience practices, and act to address digitally enabled misconduct, including scams’.

23.08 A former Twitter security chief has turned whistleblower testifying that the company misled users, regulators and its own board about security vulnerabilities, and – in news that will delight Elon Musk – how many fake accounts are on the platform. CNN Business says Peiter Zatko also alleges Twitter does not reliably delete users data when they cancel accounts. Musk is attempting to pull out of a US$44 billion deal to buy Twitter, amid claims the company was lying about the number of spam bots on the platform. Zatko, for his part, was reportedly fired by Twitter in January. Twitter says the allegations are inaccurate.

22.08 The federal government has opened consultation as part of a review of the critical technologies list, launched last November. The 2022 list will build on the 2021 list of 63 technologies, Ed Husic says. “It is vital we understand and send a clear signal about what technologies we should be focusing on and where our strengths lie – and that is exactly what this consultation is all about,” he says.

18.08 Australia’s High Court has ruled that Google is not a publisher and can’t be held responsible for defamatory material. The judgement overturns an earlier ruling which found Google through its inclusion of links to articles could be treated as a publisher of defamatory content in the case of an Australian lawyer allegedly involved in Melbourne’s gangland wars. The latest finding says: “In reality, a hyperlink is merely a tool which enables a person to navigate to another webpage,” Law Society Gazette says.

16.08 The federal Department of Health does not have adequate assurance over the completeness and accuracy of data and third party systems used in its Covid-19 response, an ANAO audit says. Data collection and IT management for systems used in the vaccine rollout was outsourced to parties including Services Australia, Salesforce, Accenture and AWS. “Health does not have assurance that third parties have IT controls in place to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data,” the report says.

15.08 Services Australia has locked in 5 September as the changeover date for myGov. IT News says the updated beta platform will replace the legacy site, used since 2013, with new functionality progressively added.

12.08 The Australian Federal Court has ordered Google to pay AU$60 million for misleading users about the collection of their personal location data on Android phones. The ACCC says Google misled users into believing it would only collect and use location data if Location History was on, when in fact the Web and App Activity setting also enabled Google to collect and use the data. The ACCC began action against Google back in 2019 and the order is the fist public enforcement outcome arising out of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.

10.08 Cisco has admitted suffering a hack in late May, with an adversary with ties to Lapsus$ blamed. While a list of stolen files were leaked to the dark web, Cisco says no sensitive customer or employee data, IP or supply chain information was obtained.

10.08 Health Minister Mark Butler has scrapped the CovidSafe app, saying it was clear the app failed as a public health measure, the BBC reports. The AU$14m app, launched in April 2020, identified just 17 close contacts not found manually.

10.08 Zero trust is the future of security according to A/NZ IT decision makers, but many say their internal teams lack time or expertise to adopt best practices effectively. The results, from a Forrester survey commissioned by Datacom, show 58 percent of A/NZ organisations are ‘well on their way’ to implementing zero trust, with just 17 percent yet to begin.

09.08 South East Queensland’s has announced its partnered with Wisk Aero to introduce self-driving air taxis to the region. Despite the MoU signing, there are still significant regulatory hurdles to overcome, InformationAge notes.

09.08 The Reserve Bank of Australia has launched a one-year research project into use cases for central bank digital currency in Australia. The research, in collaboration with the Digital Finance Cooperative Research Centre, hopes to identify innovative use cases and business models that could be supported by a CBDC, the RBA says.

09.08 The Federal court has ruled that ransomware victim Inchcape can’t claim costs incurred for cleanup and recovery from the attack under the insurance policy the company held. ITNews says the judgement declares such costs as decisions taken by the victim, rather than costs directly incurred from the attack.

08.08 Australia’s Digital Rights Watch is calling on the government to tighten privacy laws following Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot, which manufactures the Roomba vacuum. The group says many of the vacuums create detailed maps of users homes, with that information now belonging to Amazon and able to be combined with data from products such as Ring cameras and Echo speakers.

05.08 Slack reset the passwords of 0.5 percent of its users last week, after identifying a vulnerability which exposed some users’ hashed passwords for five years. The bug affected all users who created or revoked a shared invite link between April 2017 and July 17, 2022, transmitting the link creator’s hashed password to other members of the workspace, Wired notes.

03.08 The ASX has called in Accenture to review its blockchain based Chess cleaning system project. The appointment comes alongside yet another delay to the project schedule. ASX says it now does not expect go-live for the new system to be before late 2024. The three-month review will focus on the Chess application software, from Digital Asset.

03.08 DCI Data Centers is building a 20MW data centre in Canberra. The company has secured land and power for the centre in Jerrabomberra’s Poplars Innovation Precinct, with the facility due to be ready for service in 2024, DataCenterDynamics says. The new facility comes as demand for greater resilience and sovereignty for federal government cloud workloads steps up.

01.08 MYOB has signed deals to buy Endeavour Solutions Australia’s Greentree and MYOB Advanced practices, and Perth-based ERP specialists Addax Business Solutions. The company has been on an aggressive acquisition trail in recent months as it builds out its mid-market direct channel, with the latest deals bringing to eight its acquisitions since beginning the push. It acquired the NZ Greentree practice of Endeavour Solutions last December.

AppWrap July 2022

26.07 Government services minister Bill Shorten has outlined his vision for a myGov that ‘unifies government digital services’ and is outcome and people-led. “While agencies continue to create digital silos, with their own disconnected apps and websites, ordinary Australians will remain rightfully frustrated,” he said at the Australian Financial Review Government Services Summit. He says there’s no reason myGov couldn’t be used for ‘simple conveniences’, such as accessing prescriptions or nudging people to book for cancer screenings.

25.07 Bunnings and Kmart have temporarily switched off their in-store facial recognition systems, says. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner is currently investigating the technology’s use and how the stores handle customers’ personal information.

22.07 The ACCC has launched a free Consumer Data Right sandbox to help test and improve CDR solutions. It says the sandbox will help participants improve the effectiveness of their data sharing offerings, and reduce time and cost in the process of becoming an active CDR participant or updating CDR offerings. Earlier this month the Bank of Queensland paid a $133.200 penalty for failing to provide a service enabling consumer’s data to be shared. The CDR has only rolled out to banking so far with energy and telecommunications due to follow.

22.07 Victorian government agencies are failing to ensure third parties they share public information with are effectively securing it. A Victorian Information Commission audit of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Transport Accident Commission and Worksafe Victoria found none were ‘completely effective’ across all audit criteria, ITNews reports.

21.07 The Australian National University has called for Australia and other quad countries to do more to provide tech training to Indonesia to ward off the threat of China, which provide large-scale, free tech training to the country. An ANU paper says Huawei alone is potentially training ‘tens of thousands’ of Indonesians each year, steering the country’s tech leaders towards Chinese technology – despite its apparent ‘deep animosity toward China’.

21.07 The Australian Digital Health Agency has missed the government deadline for moving out of a Chinese-owned data centre. The agency is yet to finish decommissioning hardware but says it completed its migration of sensitive data earlier this month – about a week after deadline, InnovationAus says.

20.07 The Federal Government is fast-tracking almost 60,000 permanent visa applications for skilled workers based overseas. Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil says a lot of the people given visas to work in Australia are actually already here and the move to prioritising people offshore will help more effectively address the skills crisis.

17.07 ANZ has pulled the pin on its play for MYOB, and is instead looking to acquire retail banking assets from insurance giant Suncorp, SMH reports. 

13.07 Details for almost 47,000 current and past Deakin University students have been stolen in a ‘smishing’ attack after a staff members login credentials were compromised. Among the details stolen are names, student ID and mobile numbers and ‘special comments’, Deakin says.

14.07 Amazon is promising to stop using sellers data for its own benefit as it attempts to ward off EU regulators action. The company, which has been under investigation for allegedly using its dominance to box out competitors, has offered up a range of changes, including stopping collecting non-public data about merchants it competes with, and providing other sellers more access to prime space, such as the Buy Box, on its site, the NYTimes says.

13.07 ANZ bank has confirmed its in talks to buy MYOB for more than AU$4.5 billion. Bloomberg says MYOB’s owner, private equity giant KKR, and ANZ are in ‘advanced discussions’, though there is no certainty a deal will go ahead. The deal could give ANZ a ‘deeper relationship’ with the hundreds of thousands of small businesses using MYOB.

11.07 Twitter has called in the big guns in preparation to sue Elon Musk after he pulled out of a US$44 billion acquisition of the company. The company has hired US law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, with Reuters reporting it plans to force him to complete the acquisition. Musk pulled out last week claiming Twitter had failed to provide information about fake accounts.

06.07 In what could be one of the largest ever data breaches, hackers claim to have obtained data on one billion people from a Shanghai police database. A user on online hacking forum Breach Forums offered to sell nearly 24TB of data from the hack for 10 Bitcoins, or around US$200,000, Aljazeera reports.

04.07 MYOB has snapped up Sydney-based Greentree partner GT Business Solutions as it continues ramping up its ERP sales channel. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, continues MYOB’s acquisition strategy which has seen it buy companies including Aztech, Star Business Solutions, Axsys and Exobiz since announcing its move to a direct sales and service model. MYOB says the deal will bolster its Greentree sales and support capability.

04.07 Labor is doubling the share of government procurement earmarked for SMBs with new Commonwealth Procurement Rules requiring that 20 percent of procurements by value are sourced from SMEs. Each year the government spends around $70b on contracts, notes AuManufacturing.

04.07 Wellington software testing and assurance provider Qual IT has been snapped up by Australia’s Planit in a move the companies say creates the largest independent IT testing company in New Zealand and Australia and the third largest globally. Qual IT partner company, SEQA, which provides cybersecurity, has also been acquired as part of the deal.

03.07 Australia’s Digital Passenger Declaration has been dropped, with Home Affairs minister Clare O’Neil admitting the offering ‘needs a lot more work to make it user friendly’. In announcing the change, which takes effect from midnight AEST Wednesday 06 July 2022, O’Neil noted that the removal will reduce airport delays and said it will ‘encourage more visitors and skilled workers to choose Australia as a destination’.

AppWrap June 2022

29.06 Australia’s first online-only bank, Volt, has pulled the plug, returning AU$100m in deposits, selling its mortgage book and surrendering its banking license after failing to secure needed funding. The bank had needed to raise AU$200m to continue trading, the FinancialTimes notes. Xinja, another neobank granted a license in 2019 alongside Volt, announced the closure of its banking service at the end of 2020.

30.06 The plummeting cryptocurrency market has wiped millions of dollars in funds stolen by North Korean hackers, threatening a key source of funding for the country’s weapons program. An analyst says a crypto cache, worth tens of millions of dollars, from a 2021 heist lost 80-85 percent of its value in recent weeks and is now worth less than $10m, Reuters says. Earlier this year it was suggested North Korea’s Lazarus hacking group was behind a US$615 million cryptocurrency theft.

29.06 Australian climate tech companies raised $1.4 billion in capital in the last year according to a Climate Salad report. The funding was reported by 171 survey respondents – the majority of which are pre-seed or seed stage – with a similar amount expected to be raised in the coming year, InnovationAus reports. About half of the funding came from international investment.

29.06 Algorithms, digital transparency and increased collaboration will be top priorities for the Digital Platform Regulators Forum in the coming year. Created earlier this year and made up of representatives from the ACCC, OAIC, ACMA and the Australian eSafety Commissioner, the forum says transparency issues around digital platforms, the impact of their activities and how consumer data is being handled are particularly concerning for the forum.

29.06 Rocket Lab has successfully launched the first lunar mission from New Zealand with Nasa’s Capstone micro-satellite spacecraft testing a never before flown orbit of the moon. The launch this week is the first step in Nasa’s mission to send humans back to the moon, RNZ News notes. The launch came a day after Nasa launched a rocket from Australia – the agency’s first launch from a commercial spaceport outside the US. The sub-orbital rocket will enable astrophysics studies that can only be undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere, Nasa says.

24.06 Queensland government has proposed mandatory data breach reporting, requiring agencies to report data breaches to both affected individuals and the privacy commissioner. No Australian state has yet implemented a MDB notification scheme yet, though NSW has an exposure draft of planned legislation, ITNews reports.

23.06 Australians are more interested in flexible work times than in a four day working week according to new research. A report by Qualtrics found while Australians were open to a four-day week, they also had concerns about the potential trade-offs for themselves, customers and the business itself, Business Daily Media notes.

21.06 NSW’s budget has included a $703 million Future Economy Fund for R&D, commercialisation and business growth and relocation to the state, and a $262 million for an advanced manufacturing research facility digital, but there’s no increase for the Digital Restart Fund, for the first time since its 2019 launch, InnovationAus says. That fund will however receive another $126.7 million from its $2.1 billion fund.

21.06 Queensland’s integrated electronic medical record functionality rollout has garnered another $300 million in Budget funding. The Budget also includes $127 million to digitise Queensland Courts and the Civil and Administrative Tribunal and $30 million for Queensland Corrective Services, IT News reports.

21.06 Microsoft is retiring its ‘emotion reading’ facial analysis capabilities and restricting the use of its facial recognition operations in Azure Face API, Computer Vision and Video Indexer in the wake of rising concerns over such technologies and their validity. In a blog post, Microsoft conceded that there were ‘important questions about privacy’ in the case of emotion classification, which has been criticised by experts who say the technology is unscientific.

16.06 The University of Melbourne has launched two major investment funds, including a $15m pre-seed fund and a $100m startup fund. The University says the funds will play a critical role in supporting researchers to take more risks and accelerate the possibilities to take research discoveries from idea to market.

16.06 Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok, Microsoft and other online platforms have agreed to tougher EU standards against disinformation. Thirty-four companies have signed on to the strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation which requires them to take action to counter fake accounts and deep fakes or face hefty fines of as much as six percent of their global turnover, Social Media Today reports.

15.06 A Choice investigation has found Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys are using facial recognition in retail stores, with most shoppers unaware of the use of the technology. Choice says it asked 25 leading Australian retailers whether they used the technology, with Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys appearing to be the only three capturing biometric data of customers.

09.06 Australasian cyber security services company CyberCX has snapped up Auckland’s Consegna and Sydney’s Tracer Cloud for an undisclosed sum. The deal will add more than 150 staff to CyberCX’s 1,000+ team, the company says.

09.06 The NSW Government’s M4 Smart Motorway Project has taken out the transport infrastructure award at IDC’s 2022 Smart City Asia/Pacific Awards. The project features in-road traffic sensors, and is designed to help drivers navigate the road by monitoring traffic volumes and providing variable speed and messaging signs, plus a quick-change light system, IDC says. It was the sole Australian winner in the awards.

08.06 US data centre operator Stack Infrastructure is entering the Australian market with plans for five local data centres by 2023. The data centres will be in Melbourne, Canberra and Perth. Work on the campus Melbourne campus is already underway and approval has been granted for Canberra and Perth, Stack says.

08.06 Nasa is heading downunder to launch three rockets from the Northern Territory. It’s the first Nasa launch in Australia since 1995, with the rockets being used to investigate heilophysics, astrophysics and planetary science phenomena which can only be seen in the southern hemisphere, ABC reports.

08.06 The ACMA is teaming up with New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs in an attempt to battle spam and scam messages. The newly signed memorandum of understanding furthers existing information sharing and strategic engagement to enhance compliance and enforcement outcomes, the ACMA says.

06-06 Westpac Australia has launched a new commercial data analytics offering using de-identified credit card data from more than six million daily transactions to provide insights to its largest clients to help in decision making. The self-serve DataX offering aims to enable customers ‘to optimise logistics, take advantage of market share opportunities or deliver to their growth strategy’, Westpac says.

02.06 Australians are being offered $40,000 to study cyber. Deloitte, the University of Wollongong, Swinburne University of Technology and TAFE NSW have joined forces to create the new three-year Cyber Academy program, which aims to fast track 1,200 cyber security careers. Students will earn an annual salary of $40,000 and work three days a week at Deloitte, a government department or industry partner while undertaking their study, InformationAge says.

01.06 New Zealand has won the battle of the upload speeds – and is proving better during busy hours –in the Trans-Tasman broadband Performance report. New Zealand’s Fibre 100 speeds squeaked in 0.1Mbps faster than Australia for downloads. On uploads NZ rated 22.3Mbps, while Australia could manage only 18.2Mbps, with more outages also recorded for Australia. The ACCC says NBN’s access charging model and approach to provisioning upload traffic ‘appear to be causing some busy hour and upload metrics to fall below New Zealand’s’. The report was released by the ACCC and New Zealand Commerce Commission.

01.06 Facebook’s number two, Sheryl Sandberg, is stepping down as COO of Meta after 14 years in the job. She will leave the position in Fall, though will remain on the board. Javier Olivan, currently Meta chief growth officer, will take on the COO role, Forbes reports.

AppWrap May 2022

26.05 New Zealand Rugby has signed SAP as its first ever major tech partner, with a multi-year ‘digital transformation’ deal. NZ Rugby says it will work with SAP to identify and implement innovative cloud solutions from SAP and connect data across key areas of the business to provide competitive advantage both on and off the field.

25.05 Google is collecting more personal data than any of the other tech giants, including Facebook. Analysis from AtlasVPN and shows Google is collecting 39 data points, such as name, contact details, payment information films, photos, documents and spreadsheets you’ve stored and YouTube comments, on each user. That’s well ahead of second placed Twitter, which collects 24. Amazon follows with 23, with Facebook way back on just 14 data points. Apple came in on 12. “In general, they collect every little detail that they can,” AtlasVPN says. “There are a few exceptions, like your address, SSN, or driver’s license number, but besides that, not much else is left out of their databases.

25.05 Dyson is planning a major robotics centre as it seeks to create new domestic robots though the company isn’t revealing what forms those robots might take. The company’s announcement of the plans is accompanied by video and images of robot arms picking plates and detergent, along with a soft toy, and vacuuming an armchair. Don’t expect robotic helpers anytime soon, however, with Dyson saying it plans to bring the tech into our homes ‘by the end of the decade’.

24.05 Australia, the US, India and Japan are boosting their cooperation over cybersecurity and telecommunications standards and plan to convene industry partners to help unlock opportunities in critical and emerging technologies, following this week’s Quad conference. Strengthened information sharing on both cybersecurity and technical standards activities and coordinated cybersecurity standards for Quad governments’ procurement of software are among the initiatives set out. The four countries will also work together more closely on space initiatives, the White House says.

23.05 Clearview AI has been fined more than £7.5 million by UK privacy watchdog the ICO, and ordered to delete the data of UK residents, scraped from the internet, from its systems. The Information Commissioners Office says the controversial facial recognition provider’s collection of personal data breached UK data protection laws. Earlier this year founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said it was ‘heartbreaking’ that countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia – where he grew up – had ‘misinterpreted’ Clearview’s technology and intentions.

20.05 WhatsApp – aka Meta – is looking to squeeze new revenue from businesses, with the launch of its WhatsApp Cloud API worldwide and plans for a paid tier for it Business App. The on-prem version of the Business API – the company’s first revenue-generating enterprise product – has thousands of businesses using it, including big brands such as Vodafone, BMW, KLM and Royal Dutch Airlines, notes TechCrunch. Companies pay WhatsApp on a per-message basis and can use the platform to direct customer communications to other channels. The cloud version is aimed at smaller businesses.

20.05 Woolworths has taken an 80 percent, AU$243m, stake in online marketplace MyDeal as it seeks to expand its online retail presence. Woolworths says the deal ‘materially expands our marketplace capabilities, especially in general merchandise’, ZDNet notes.

19.05 Australian businesses will spend $3.6 billion on AI systems in 2025 according to IDC, with strong demands from organisations for streamlining of core business processes and maximising the power of organisational data. The spending growth represents a CAGR of 24.4 percent between 2020 and 2025.

18.05 Eftpos’ QR code payments platform has finally gone live, with two Subway stores, in Sydney and Brisbane, as launch partners. Further rollouts across other restaurants are expected over the coming months, ZDNet reports.

17.05 Australia AI software company Clear Dynamics has closed a $35 million funding round as it eyes global expansion, BusinessNewsAustralia says. The company, which is tapping into the Gartner vision of a composable future, automates coding to create modular systems that can be assembled and reassembled as needed.

11.05 The University of South Australia has invested $25,000 in a quadruped robot to help advance research. Quadrupeds are now commonly used for remote inspections by defence, space, mining and utility companies, and for search and rescue, but the university says it’s interested in taking the robot’s capabilities ‘much further’.

11.05 The long-touted myGov app is reportedly on track to launch later this year, nearly three years since its need was first flagged. InnovationAus says the app went into private beta testing in December. An ‘enhanced’ version of the myGov platform, which the smartphone app is expected to harness, is also in beta testing.

11.05 The ASX has confirmed the April 2023 launch timeframe for its blockchain-enabled Chess platform will not be met. The launch had already been delayed by more than a year and the ASX says the April 2023 go-live is also ‘no longer viable’ with delays to the delivery of application software meaning there isn’t time for users to complete by April. No updated timeframe was provided.

10.05 Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI has been banned from selling its software to most US companies. The ban comes as part of a legal agreement following action by civil rights advocates who accused the company of breach of law for allegedly using biometric dat without use, TechCrunch says.

09.05 Meta is adding NFTs to Instagram this week, and Facebook ‘in the near future’. The move, initially for a small group of US creators and collectors, will enable them to share the ‘digital collectables’ on Instagram, Engadet reports.

06.05 Oracle has been certified to host Australian protected-level public sector data under the federal government’s hosting certification which requires agencies to use certified data centres, cloud service and SaaS providers from July. ITnews reports that Oracle quietly joined the list of certified providers last week. AWS, AUCloud, Sliced Tech, Vault Cloud, Microsoft and Kyndrl have also received ‘certified strategic’ accreditation – the highest level of assurance under the framework.

04.05 Pac Capital has launched Australia’s first Web3 focused VC fund. The $50 million Pac Private 1 will invest in metaverse, blockchain, gaming, health, AI, ML and VR, ITNews reports.

03.05 The NSW Government has identified digital, materials and chemistry, biotechnology and energy as key tech areas of focus in its 20-year R&D Roadmap. The roadmap is designed to better target funds to fast-track new technology and commercialisation. The roadmap also includes 39 applications, including Fintech, quantum computing and process automation as areas where NSW has ‘competitive advantages’.

02.05 Telemedicine has taken to space with Nasa ‘holoporting’ a medical team to the International Space Station. The technology allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted live in real time, Nasa says. When combined with mixed reality displays such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, it enables users to see, hear and interact with remote participants ‘as if they are actually present in the same space’.

AppWrap April 2022

29.04 Amazon has declined to provide the ACCC with information on its search algorithms, Reuters says. The ACCC is investigating online marketplaces’ practices, including whether they give preference to in-house products. Amazon has denied doing so, but refused to provide details of its algorithm inputs when requested by the ACCC.

28.04 Labor has pledged to develop a $1.2 billion independent Advanced Strategic Research Agency to support cutting-edge research and technology if it wins the federal election. The existing Defence Innovation Hub would be transitioned into the agency under the proposal, InnovationAus says.

26.04 The Australian National University’s random number generator has launched on AWS Marketplace. ANU Quantum Numbers uses quantum technology to generate true random numbers, ANU says. Random numbers are in demand for a range of uses, from generating secure passwords to research simulations and simulating processes and events in computer games.

26.04 Microsoft has beaten earnings expectations across each of its key business segments in Q3 to record US$49.4 billion in revenue – up 17 percent year on year. The Intelligent cloud segment, which includes Azure public cloud, SQL Server, Windows Server and enterprise services was up 26 percent to $19.0 billion, CNBC says.

26.04 Elon Musk’s likely US$44 billion purchase of Twitter has pushed debate on free speech and disinformation up a notch with Musk proclaiming that Twitter is ‘the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated’, the BBC notes. He’s announced his plans to ‘unlock’ Twitter’s ‘tremendous potential’. Others however have expressed concern the lack of a strong platform moderation will spell disaster. Twitter shares will be delisted and taken private once the deal closes, giving Musk total control.

21.04 CSIRO and industry and university partners are investing $16.2 million for its Next Generation scholarship program to fund 165 students to work on ‘challenges’ including data-centric and machine-driven engineering, AI in mental health, smart manufacturing and sensing, digital privacy and cybersecurity, national quantum technology capabilities and enhancing industry operations through the metaverse. Students will be part of multi-disciplinary teams working across industry, research and the university sector. At least 480 scholarships are expected to be funded over the six year Next Generation Graduates program, CSIRO says.

21.04 The Australian Taxation Office plans to replace its current IBM z14 mainframe before tax time in July 2024. The organisation has gone to market for a replacement, which it says can be a ‘cloud-like’ service or a more traditional model, ZDNet reports.

19.04 Woolworths has migrated its SAP applications and platforms to Microsoft Azure in an eight-month project. The migration covered 20 SAP applications and platforms, including ERP and Cloud platform, Microsoft says.

14.04 A multimodal logistics hub in Tennant Creek and logistics and agribusiness hubs at Alice Springs and Katherine are part of the $440m in Northern Territory logistics hubs to be established under the federal government’s budget commitment, InnovationAus says.

14.04 Australian telecommunications services provider Uniti Group has agreed to a AU$3.6 billion takeover offer from Brookfield Asset Management, Morrison & Co and Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. Uniti says value of the deal is testament to the strength of the business built over the three years since listing on the ASX.

12.04 Services Australia has opened tendering for an IaaS platform to host the federal government’s S/4 HANA ERP system, ITNews says. GovERP will replace the existing SAP-based ERP systems with a single platform across six shared services hubs.

11.04 Google Cloud is reportedly hiring overseas support employees after slashing its Australia-based support team. CRN says more than 200 support employees are being hired across India, Poland, Canada and Mexico.

10.04 Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to propose new features, including an ‘edit’ button, and highlight areas of concern around Twitter – including questioning if the platform is ‘dying’ – after being appointed to the company’s board last week, the Guardian says. Musk acquired a 9.2 percent stake in the company, becoming its largest shareholder, earlier this month.

07.04 Australian IT spend will grow 13.1 percent this year to hit AU$117.2 billion, but half that growth rate is being attributed to exchange rate changes, Gartner says. If a constant exchange rate is assumed, actual growth will be 6.9 percent. IT services – the largest category – will grow 12.2 percent to hit $41.5 billon, while software spend is the big mover with 21.4 percent growth to $29.2 billion. Worldwide spend is forecast to be US$4.4 trillion, CRN notes.

07.04 NetApp is acquiring Canberra-based Instaclustr for an undisclosed amount. Instaclustr is a database-as-a-service provider, and the deal will enable Netapp to provide its customers with an easier way of installing open-source databases and help it grow beyond its on-premise storage roots, TechTarget says.

07.04 A Senate Select Committee has slammed the CovidSafe app, calling for funding of the app to stop. ZDNet reports the committee’s report says the app is ‘not fit for its intended purpose, has cost millions of dollars and offered limited public value’.

01.04 Microsoft has launched a new startup founders hub in Australia and New Zealand offering over US$300,000 of benefits and credits, including free access to technology, tools and resources and connections to mentors. Microsoft says the hub, available to all A/NZ startups, is designed for early-stage startups, to lower barriers of business creation and be a catalyst for entrepreneurship and innovation.

AppWrap March 2022

31.03 The Federal government is investing $44 million in four industry-run AI centres in a bid to drive research commercialisation. ITNews says each of the four centres will nominate a focus area, aligned with government digital growth or manufacturing priorities, in specific applications of AI.

30.03 US sanctions on Russia’s Kaspersky Lab are in limbo with the Biden administration divided over whether to impose sanctions, amid concerns the Kremlin could use the cybersecurity giant as a surveillance tool. The WSJ says some officials have also flagged any sanctions could increase the risk of triggering a cyberattack against the West by Moscow, potentially using Kaspersky software to do so.

29.03 Air purifying headphones anyone? Yes, Dyson is apparently making its first foray into wearable tech with an interesting looking offering (think headphones with a mini horse nose bag) combining a noise-cancelling headphone and a personal air filter – worn over the nose and mouth – in one. As CNet reports, it looks like something you’d see in a dystopian sci-fi movie. And if it had been announced three days later we would have said ‘April fools!’.

28.03 The ASX’s blockchain-based Chess platform, already delayed by more than a year, is expected to face further delays. The ASX, which just last month was confident of an April 2023 launch, this week announced a ‘strong likelihood of delay’, ZDNet reports.

28.03 Singtel subsidiary NCS has made its fourth Australian investment in 15 months, snapping up local digital consultancy firm ARQ Group for $290 million. ARQ’s clients include government agencies, Qantas, NAB and Australia Post, Business News Australia reports.

24.03 ANZ Bank has minted its first stablecoin – the first Australian-bank issued stablecoin, tied to the Australian dollar. The bank says the A$DC is ‘a first and important step in enabling our customers to find a safe and secure gateway to the digital economy’. Don’t be rushing to purchase the digital currency however. The 30 million of A$DC was delivered as part of a trial. The stablecoin isn’t available for retail investors and will be targeted, initially at least, at institutional clients.

24.03 The ACSC is urging Australian businesses to nab their .au domain name before it becomes available to the general public, leaving businesses open to fraudulent cyber activity. Organisations holding a .au name in another namespace have until 20 September to apply for its .au direct match after then it becomes available to the general public. The Australian Cyber Security Centre is warning that opportunistic cybercriminals could register a .au domain name in an attempt to impersonate a business.

24.03 Europe is putting the squeeze on the dominance of big online platforms with proposed legislation to curtail their power. The Digital Markets Act will blacklist certain practices and force large platforms such as Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms if requested, says the European Parliament.

22.03 Eighty-six percent of Australian executives say their organisations are already dependent on AI to function effectively according to an Accenture report. The report also notes that just 22 percent of Australian consumers trust how organisations are implementing AI, Technology Decisions says

21.03 The Australian government plans to establish a market licence regime for crypto exchanges, saying the scheme is a way of regulating ‘trust’ between crypto investors and exchanges, ZDNet says. The introduction of the policies comes ahead of the federal government, expected to take place in the next couple of months.

17.03 Three NSW council elections have been voided thanks to issues with NSW’s digital voting system, reports InnovationAus. The iVote system crashed during council elections, leaving people locked out and unable to vote. The system has now been dumped indefinitely and new elections will be held in the three councils.

17.03 The NSW government has slashed more than $1 billion from its ERP sourcing agreement with SAP, ITNews says. The revision is due to consolation of licenses and sees spend plummet from $1.65 billion to $475 million over the 15 years.

17.03 Microsoft is facing new antitrust complaint with French data centre provider OVHcloud among several cloud services providers filing a complaint with the European Commission, the Register says. Microsoft is also the subject of a complaint filed last year by NextCloud around Microsoft’s bundling of OneDrive and other services with Windows. The new complaint alleges Microsoft is undermining fair competition and limiting consumer choice in the cloud computing services market.

17.03 Australian Android users may soon need to provide proof of age when attempting to watch ‘mature’ content on YouTube or download content on Google Play. The ‘age assurance’ step comes in response to government regulations requiring platforms to take reasonable steps to confirm a users age when accessing content deemed inappropriate for those under 18. Users will be asked to complete ‘a brief check’ to verify age, and in some instances my be required to provide a ‘valid ID’ or credit card to verify age, 9to5Google says.

15.03 Australian tech companies are missing out on high-quality people because they are failing to explain the opportunities that exist within the sector, with the sector urged to make itself more appealing to a diverse cross-section of society, AFR says. Delegates at the ACS Reimagination Thought Leaders’ Summit were told that while recruitment will remain a significant challenge, by thinking outside the box and casting the net more widely the talent can be found.

10.03 The New Media Bargaining Code has seen Google and Facebook pay Australian media companies around AU$200 million in the past year, with ’at least’ 50 new journalist roles in underserved parts of the market created. The regulation, which requires platforms including Google and Facebook to pay local media for content, came into effect a year ago, but a report from the Judith Neilson Institute says the system remains an ‘opaque mess’ with some companies unable to negotiate easily with big tech companies, Financial Times reports.

10.03 Queensland University of Technology and Cisco have partnered up in a AU$3 million partnership to push development in retail and logistics through industry and university research collaboration. InnovationAus says the deal will include funding for a Chair in Trusted Retail and Logistics Innovation to develop a research program, and the development of an innovation hub, due to be operational by July.

10.03 TikTok is close to finalising a deal with Oracle to store data from US users on Oracle servers in order to appease US national security concerns, Reuters says. An earlier deal, begun after then-President Trum tried to ban TikTok and force parent ByteDance to sell the US business, fell apart.

09.03 Google is buying security intelligence company Mandiant in a US$5.4 billion deal. The company acquired cybersecurity specialist Siemplify in January for a reported $500 million, with TechCrunch noting it is building a strong security business.

07.03 Commercialisation of research could provide a AU$17.6 billion economic boost for Australia according to Science and Technology Australia analysis. The STA says only half of the recently announced $1.6 billion Economic Accelerator’s projects would need to succeed in order to produce that result, Research Professional News reports.

07.03 The Australian Electoral Commission has launched a disinformation register listing prominent pieces of disinformation regarding Australia’s federal election process. The searchable database includes information about the platform it was spread on, timing and factual information about the matter. “The message here is simple: The AEC will not tolerate the spread of mis- or disinformation about our electoral system, no matter the source,” Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers says.

04.03 Airservices Australia is looking to build a digital twin of Australia’s airspace to improve network planning and reduce airport delays. ITNews says an RFI has been issued.

03.03 Accenture has scored itself an extra $62 million in federal government work in the past year, receiving $371.5 million in contracts, InnovationAus says. The money comes from some 104 contracts in the 2020-21 financial year.

03.03 Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has told platforms including Meta, Google and TikTok to immediately remove Russian state media posts from their platforms locally over concerns about the volume of content promoting violence, extremism and disinformation in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. SMH says Apple and Snapchat were also told to remove the Kremlin-backed RT and Sputnik media outlets. RT and Sputnik were also banned by Google and the EU this week.

AppWrap February 2022

28.02 The ACCC is proposing major reforms to address concerns about the dominance of digital platforms. A discussion paper includes proposed new rules to prevent anti-competitive behaviour, including a ban on self-preferencing conduct and obligations to treat competitors fairly or in a non-discriminatory manner, ZDNet reports.

21.02 Services Australia says proposed Privacy Act changes could require ‘wholesale’ IT changes to critical whole-of-government IT systems. Services Australia, which is responsible for Centrelink and Medicare is calling for ‘sufficient lead time to enable changes to systems, infrastructure and processes’, with ‘significant concern’ about both the time accost to make changes required under proposal 2. IT News reports Services Now says proposed changes and the broadening of the personal information definition would also ‘likely impact on the ability to conduct research projects and customer journey analytics activities’.

18.02 A team of researchers from Australia, New Zealand and India has taken facial recognition to the next level, using smiles, frowns, even clenched jaws to manipulate objects in a VR setting, without the use of a handheld controller or touchpad. It’s hoped the ‘world first’ study, will not only provide a novel way to use VR, but will enable people with disabilities to interact hands free in VR, the University of South Australia says.

17.02 AWS is adding Local Zones in Auckland, Perth and Brisbane. TVNZ will be a foundation customer for the Auckland Local Zone – ‘a new type of cloud infrastructure that brings computer storage, database and other select services close to customers’, providing ‘single-digit millisecond performance’. The Local Zone comes on top of a $7.5 billion investment in a new infrastructure region in Auckland, expected to open in 2024, AWS says.

16.02 All major social media platforms have assured the Australian Electoral Commission that they will allocate more resources for monitoring election disinformation and misinformation for the upcoming Australian federal election, ZDNet says. The AEC says it’s seeing an increase in election conspiracy theories locally.

14.02 Australian deep-tech startup incubator Cicada Innovations, with NSW Government support, has launched a National Space Industry Hub in Sydney. The accelerator program will support world-class research, innovation, collaboration and commercialisation in the sector and host emerging space tech ventures. The Hub will ‘closely collaborate’ with the NSW Space Research Network, SamrtSat Cooperative Research Centre, Space Industry Association of Australia, University of Technology Sydney Tech Lab, University of New South Wales, ANU InSpace and the University of Sydney, Investable Universe says.

11.02 The Australian government is investing an additional AU$6.7 million in Stem initiatives for women and girls. The Superstars of Stem program and Stem Ambassador and Future You will all receive funding, ZDNet says.

10.02 The US Justice Department has seized more than US$3.6 billion of Bitcoin allegedly stolen during the Bitfinex virtual currency exchange hack in 2016. A husband and wife team has bee arrested for conspiracy to launder US$4.5 billion in stolen cryptocurrency. The seizure is the Department of Justice’s largest financial seizure ever, the DoJ says.

10.02 The remainder of the proposed critical infrastructure security reforms have been introduced to parliament. The Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Protection) Bill 2022 includes measures such as enhanced security obligations for infrastructure deemed to be on national significance and would require operators of certain assets to ‘adopt, maintain and comply with’ an all-hazards critical infrastructure risk management program, ITNews says.

07.02 Facebook – now Meta – has lost an appeal against a Cambridge Analytica data lawsuit launched by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. The Federal Court’s dismissal of Facebook’s appeal means the OAIC case alleging Meta has breached the privacy of more than 300,000 Australians caught in the Cambridge Analytica scandal can now go ahead, ZDNet says.

02.02 MYOB has started the year off with two acquisitions, snapping up business operations software specialist Tall Emu and document management software developer Nimbus Portal Solutions. The company says it sees opportunities in combining the end-to-end management tools with its existing financial management capabilities.

02.02 Google parent Alphabet’s profit soared 36 percent, with quarterly sales up 32 percent to US$75.3 billion as its digital advertising raked in the dollars – some US$61.2 billion in ad revenue to be specific. The results were ahead of analyst expectations for the quarter, ABC News notes.

01.02 Citrix and Tibco are to merge in a US$16.5 billion deal, creating what Tibco says will be one of the world’s largest software providers with 400,000 customers including 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and 100 million users in 100 countries. The all-cash deal sees affiliates of Vista Equity Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital purchasing Citrix, whose future has been under scrutiny in recent years, becoming private.

01.02 Aussie-born automated CX platform provider Cyara has secured a record US$350 million (AU$485 million) in funding from California’s K1 Investment Management. The company had previously been looking at a public listing on the ASX. That IPO has now been deferred StartupDaily says.

01.02 Facebook’s Diem digital payments dreams are over with the company announcing it has sold Diem’s assets to small US bank Silvergate Capital for US$182 million. Diem’s chief executive says it had become clear following dialogue with regulators that the project ‘could not move ahead’ and selling was the best option, the Financial Times says. Silvergate plans to launch a stablecoin by the end of this year using the Diem assets and its own IP.

AppWrap January 2022

31.01 Telstra Purple, Telstra’s managed and professional services offshoot, has bolstered its IoT and infrastructure capabilities with the acquisitions of Alliance Automation and Aqura Technologies. The Aqura acquisition alone has a AU$30 million price tag. Aqura, which has more than 90 staff around Australia, provides technology and telecommunications infrastructure solutions, while Alliance Automation, with 250 staff, is one of Australia’s largest independent providers of IoT industrial automation solutions and control systems. Telstra Purple says the deals strengthen its presence in the mining, energy, oil and gas, utilities and defence projects.

23.01 A robot cleaner made a bid for freedom, escaping from a UK Travelodge and roaming free for a day before being found by a human cleaner under a hedge. The automated device failed to stop at the front door, with staff posting the story of the robot’s great escape on social media asking for it to be returned if located, BBC says. Its freedom was short lived and it’s now back at work.

19.01 A Los Angeles startup, founded by three former SpaceX engineers, is aiming to create electric self-powered train cars, which it says are more energy-efficient than trucking, CNBC says. Parallel Systems says the autonomous battery-electric rail vehicles could help alleviate supply chain issues by providing low cost and regular movement of freight in and out of ports.

19.01 Tonga is likely to be without internet connectivity for at least two weeks following the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption on Saturday. The nearest cable-laying vessel required to repair the damaged submarine cable, is 4,700km away in Papua New Guinea and expected to take several days to reach Tonga, The Verge notes. Telco Digicel said on Wednesday it has restored international calling capability for the nation.
[Supplementary update 24.01 – what will it take to fix Tonga’s cable? (BBC)]

18.01 France’s IDEMIA has won nearly $180 million in contracts from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission to replace Australia’s fingerprints matching database. The three contracts include $57 million to keep the legacy system running over the next three years while the system is replaced with an off-the-shelf IDEMIA offering, NextGen, which will be customised for Australian use. The deals followed a ‘limited’ tender, InnovationAus says.

18.01 Online voting is on hold in NSW until ‘extensive reconfiguration and testing’ of the iVote system is undertaken. Electoral commissioner John Schmidt says the system won’t be used until issues seen during the local elections last month, when the system failed for a period, are resolved, ZDnet reports.

18.01 The United States government is reportedly reviewing Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to national security, according to Reuters. The news outlet cites three people briefed on the matter and says how US clients’ data is stored and whether the Chinese government can gain access to it are key focuses. The Office of Intelligence and Security, set up by the Trump administration and welding powers to ban or restrict transactions between US firms and internet, telco and tech companies from ‘foreign adversary’ nations, is managing the investigation.

16.01 The first round of the NSW government’s $1.5 million Bushfire Technology Pilots Program has opened, offering grants of up to $100,000 for Australian companies to trial bushfire technology in the field. The program is part of the $28 million Bushfire Response R&D Mission designed to support bushfire research commercialisation and was recommended by the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, InnovationAus says.

14.10 NAB has been on the M&A and investment trail. Its NAB Ventures arm has invested in agritech startup Genora, with the bank also snapping up digital health claiming tech business LanternPay in a deal with InLoop. Geora, which provides a SaaS blockchain platform linking traceability data with financing solutions using no-code digital tools, secured funding from NAB Ventures, Tenacious Ventures and Flying Fox Ventures in a $1.5 million seed round. “Agribusiness customers have demonstrated they’re extremely innovative in their use of technology and we think Geora’s data capabilities will further help farmers and agri-supply chains prove their sustainability credentials,” NAB says.

13.01 Australian fintech Airwallex has officially launched in Singapore, offering a suite of global payments services including global account issuance, domestic and cross-border money transfer and multi-currency wallets and online payments acceptance. The company, which recently raised US$300 million increasing its valuation to US$5.5 billion, has plans to scale its solutions across South-east Asia, notes The Business Times.

12.01 NSW is requiring positive rapid antigen test results to be logged in its Service NSW mobile app – with fines of $1,000 for those that test positive and don’t record it on an app. NSW is the first state to launch in-app reporting of RATs, InnovationAus reports.

For 2021 news from around the web refer to the 2021 archive.

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