Saturday, March 22, 2014

Enemies of the internet: the countries and agencies controlling the web

America is one of many countries criticised of its electronic surveillance tactics. But t
America is one of many countries criticised of its electronic surveillance tactics. But they’re not alone. The annual Enemies of the internet report lists how the web is silenced around the world. Source: Getty Images
 
They’re known as Enemies of the Internet. They are the countries and agencies identified as using surveillance, censorship and even imprisonment to silence the internet and rule a tightly controlled web. 

Reporters Without Borders — a watchdog organisation campaigning for media freedom — released its annual Enemies of the Internet report on the biggest culprits flexing a stranglehold over online freedom.
The likes of Korea, China and Iran are perennial names on the list but for the first time the UK, USA and India appear alongside them.

These democracies have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms but the Centre for Development of Telematics in India, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom, and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States have been exposed for spying.

Spying around the world. How individual countries monitor the internet.
Spying around the world. How individual countries monitor the internet. Source: Supplied
 
But as we mentioned, they are not the only places doing such tricks. Here are just a few of the other countries guilty of silencing the internet and their (often unbelievable) ways of doing it.

Surveillance

• China is a champion of internet control. It is famous for blocking websites such as Facebook and Twitter (the ban was recently lifted but only to a 27km square area of the country) and its own social networking sites such as Weibo are watched closely.

China’s knowledge is being sought after with the country helping Iran build what is known as a “Halal internet”, a national internet completely disconnected from the World Wide Web and therefore totally under the control of the government.

But China’s assistance in gagging doesn’t stop there. It was reported in 2013 that the Zambian government was also seeking its help to install an internet surveillance network.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who worked as a contractor at the National Security Agency. Picture courtesy The Guardian. Source: Supplied
 
• As a result of Edward Snowden’s leaked documents it was discovered Britain’s GCHQ tapped into the webcams of millions of Yahoo users to intercept their activity. A frightening thought.

What’s even more concerning is how Britain is perfectly placed to tap into the internet as its geographical location sits next to 263 submarine cables that criss-cross the world and are owned by the big names of the World Wide Web, such as Verizon, Orange and Alcatel-Lucent.

• In Columbia, a digital surveillance unit believed to be run by the Columbian government intercepted more than 2,600 emails between international journalists and spokesmen of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombian (FARC) during recent peace talks.

• France’s parliament cavalierly adopted a Military Programming Law in December 2013 that allows the authorities to spy on phone and internet communications in real time without asking a judge for permission.

Censorship

• North Korea — famous for its internet censorship — is not linked to the internet proper and the authorities keep most of the population isolated from the rest of the world and even from the national intranet. Their intranet is highly restricted and closely controlled by the domestic intelligence agencies. Its goal is not to keep the population informed but merely to broadcast the official ideology and strengthen the technical skills of those who work for the fatherland. To enforce this wall of silence, special units such as Group 109 and Department 27 are dedicated to tracking down digital devices brought in from outside the country.

Surfing the intranet in North Korea.
Surfing the intranet in North Korea. Source: Supplied
 
• In Syria and Iran, internet speed is often reduced drastically during demonstrations to prevent the circulation of images of the protests.

But more radical measures are sometimes used. In November 2012, the Syrian authorities cut the internet and phone networks for more than 48 hours.

Chinese authorities disconnected the internet for several hours on 22 January 2014 to stop the circulation of reports about the use of offshore tax havens by members of the Chinese elite. While in Sudan, the authorities disconnected the internet throughout the country for 24 hours on 25 September 2013 to prevent social networks being used to organise protests.

To censor web activity some countries partner with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are asked to act as “internet cops”.

• Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro forced ISPs to filter content of a sensitive nature. The authorities ordered them to block about 50 websites covering exchange rates and soaring inflation on the grounds that they were fuelling an “economic war” against Venezuela. This did not prevent a wave of protests against shortages and the high crime rate. On 24 February, when many photos of the protests were circulating on Twitter, the authorities ordered ISPs to block all images on Twitter.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro used internet service providers to try to stop images
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro used internet service providers to try to stop images of protests hitting Twitter. Source: AFP 

PHOTO/PRESIDENCIA Source: AFP
 
Some cases border on the ridiculous. In Somalia, for example, the Islamist militia Al-Shabaab banned using the internet in January 2014. As it did not have the required skills or technical ability to disconnect it, they ordered ISPs to terminate their services within 15 days. Ironically, to ensure that the public knew of the ban, it was posted on websites.

Imprisonment

• In Gambia, a government legislation passed an amendment to make the “spreading of false news against the government or public officials” punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine of three million dalasi ($A85,300).

• In Bangladesh, four bloggers and its secretary of human rights were arrested in 2013 under an act that includes “publishing fake, obscene or defaming information in electronic form”. The bloggers criticised politicians and press for allegedly being biased towards Islamist views and under the country’s cyber laws could face up to 10 years in prison. However, the definition of digital crime is extremely vague giving a higher opportunity for arrests.

• And it gets vaguer. Grenada adopted an electronics Crimes Act in 2013 that prohibits an electronic system or electronic device to send “information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character.”

Vietnam jailed blogger Pham Viet Dao 15 months on a charge of anti-state activity, the se
Vietnam jailed blogger Pham Viet Dao 15 months on a charge of anti-state activity, the second such sentencing in a fortnight in a nation where perceived dissent is severely punished. Source: AFP PHOTO / Vietnam News Agency Source: AFP
 
In an attempt to keep the world press as well as vocal netizens in a tight grip, there are now parts of the world that employ a system where a licence is required in order to publish content to the internet.

In Singapore, it’s enforced by the authorities creating a major economic barrier for online news media. Under a measure that took effect in June 2013, news websites that post more than one article a week about Singapore and have more than 50,000 Singaporean visitors a month need a licence that requires depositing “a performance bond” of 50,000 Singaporean dollars ($A43,300). The licence has to be renewed every year.

The internet is the greatest communication tool giving freedom of speech to the modern age. Some of these methods enforced may seem extraordinary and we may count ourselves lucky to live where such measure aren’t in place, but we consider it more human right than luck and the rest of the world should experience the same.

news.com.au 21 Mar 2014

Probably unbeknown to the 'lay person', Australian internet traffic is monitored and stored 'NSA Style', and the policies of the Australian government are akin to that of Chinese authorities.

The Australian corporatocracy has only 23 million to control, not an overly difficult task.

NASA study: Over-population, depleting resources and wealth distribution

Civilisation could be facing collapse within the next few decades as a result of rising g
Civilisation could be facing collapse within the next few decades as a result of rising global population,. depleting resources and economic divide. Source: ThinkStock
 
LOVING life? Well, lap it up because the days of driving around in comfy cars, feasting on fancy food and enjoying an aircon-cooled civilised existence could be numbered. 

With rising population, depleting natural resources and stretching social divide, civilisation could be facing collapse within the next few decades according to a scientific study funded by NASA. And if you think this is a load of scaremongering tosh, it’s happened before. Remember the Roman Empire?

In the report conducted by applied mathematician, Safa Motesharri, his ‘Human And Nature Dynamical’ (Handy) model claims “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history”.

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilisations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

Our modern world might appear to be pretty sure of itself with advanced technologies helping people live longer and revolutionising everyday life but this might be to blame. Using his theoretical model Motesharri explored several factors and ran different scenarios that could lead to the collapse of industrial civilisation and found a break down of society could arise from global population growing rapidly and unsustainable resource exploitation.

And as resources deplete, they will become more expensive. This is where he further states that “economic stratification” — where society is further divided based on wealth — will create “Elites” (rich) and “Masses” (poor) with the Elites being responsible for over consuming leaving the Masses in famine and collapsing social structure.

But before you start hoarding resources, the study does conclude that this scenario is not inevitable and that in order to prevent such catastrophe it calls on action by the Elites to share the wealth and to do their bit in restoring balance.

“Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion”
It does serve as a wake up call that if we don’t want to face disaster we need to seriously consider how we manage resources, population growth and wealth. The end is not yet nigh...if we can help it.

news.com.au 18 Mar 2014

Australia is contributing to the economics of overpopulation, under the 'asylum seekers' policy of globalisation.

Australia's welfare system supports polygamous relationships,contrary to the Australia's official marriage laws, of up to five wives with three or more offspring each, where there is no economic sense in obtaining full time employment.

Australian tax payers are coughing up for an 'asylum seeker' breeding spree that is supported by the so called 'authorities'.

NASA survey finds no trace of Planet X

Hubble Catches Jupiter's Largest Moon Going to the 'Dark Side'. NASA's Hubble Space Teles
Enormous ... Most theories had estimated Planet X to be up to four times the size of Jupiter (pictured). Picture: NASA/Flickr Source: Flickr
 
IT was an elusive planet that for 200 years appeared to explain Uranus’s wobbly orbit. And there was the sister sun theorised to be near our solar system that caused asteroids to swerve toward Earth. 

There is just one problem: neither “Planet X’’ nor “Nemesis’’ may have never existed, researchers now say.
“The outer solar system probably does not contain a large gas giant planet (Planet X), or a small, companion star (Nemesis),’’ concluded University of Pennsylvania astronomer Kevin Luhman, who directed the study using NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope.

The results were published in the most recent edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

Most theories had estimated Planet X to be up to four times the size of Jupiter — the biggest planet in our solar system.

They suggested it would be found some 1,486 billion kilometres from the sun, or about 10,000 times further than the Earth’s orbit.

But the images gathered by the telescope did not detect any object larger than Jupiter.

Luhman doesn’t rule out the possibility that a planet is lurking somewhere in the asteroid belt.

It would be hard to find if it were closely aligned with a bright star that blinds the telescope or were much smaller than had been theorised.

But after this latest survey, Luhman said the odds of finding one are very unlikely: “That is like a one in a hundred chance.’’

Scientists first imagined the existence of Planet X in 1781, when they discovered Uranus, a gas giant that astonished astronomers with its orbital variations, apparently incompatible with Newton’s laws of gravity.
Observers concluded that these irregularities could be explained by the existence of another, unknown planet that was exerting its own gravitational force.

Attempts to track this mysterious Planet X led to the discovery of Neptune in 1846. But the estimated mass of Neptune couldn’t explain the deviations of Uranus’s orbit.

That led astronomers to continue their search for Planet X — which, in turn, led to the discovery of Pluto in 1930. But the dwarf planet was also too small to explain Uranus’s irregular path around the sun.

Finally, in the 1990s, researchers determined that they had slightly over-estimated the mass of Neptune, which meant the planet could in fact be the reason for Uranus’s orbital behaviour.

Yet Planet X believers were still not convinced.

The existence of Nemesis, a sun-like star nearby, was first posited in the 1980s. The star, by occasionally coming closer to the sun, interfered with the orbit of comets and asteroids leading them to occasionally hit the Earth.

Collisions like these are blamed for the five mass extinctions over the last 540 million years — the most recent being the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago.

“So over the years, there have been different pieces of evidence suggesting there might be something there,’’ Luhman explained to AFP.

But the WISE telescope didn’t find anything.

The hunt for Planet X and Nemesis may have turned up empty, but the study did uncover 3,525 stars and brown dwarfs — celestial objects whose mass puts them between a star and a large planet — within 500 light years of the sun.

“Neighbouring star systems that have been hiding in plain sight just jump out in the WISE data,’’ said Ned Wright, a University of California, Los Angeles astronomer who contributed to the study.

news.com.au 16 Mar 2014

In order to put the conspiracy theorists to rest.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Smart meters can be used to spy on homes

Smart electricity meters provide power companies with an accurate and streamlined method of monitoring, reading and controlling a home's power usage. That convenience, however, comes at a steep price and could put homeowners' safety in jeopardy. 

Researchers examining the privacy implications of smart-meter technology found that one German provider's devices contained vulnerabilities that allowed them to snoop on unencrypted data to determine whether or not the homeowners were home.

After signing up with the German smart-meter firm Discovergy, the researchers detected that the company's devices transmitted unencrypted data from the home devices back to the company's servers over an insecure link. The researchers, Dario Carluccio and Stephan Brinkhaus, intercepted the supposedly confidential and sensitive information, and, based on the fingerprint of power usage, were able to tell not only whether or not the homeowners were home, away or even sleeping, but also what movie they were watching on TV.

The problem, the researchers explained, stems from Discovergy's monitoring frequency; the devices log homeowners' electricity usage in 2-second intervals, a timeframe they deemed unnecessary and intrusive. The two-second reporting interval provides so much data that they were able to accurately chart power usage spikes and lulls indicative of times a homeowner would be home, asleep or away.

Carluccio and Brinkhaus presented their research in a presentation titled " Smart Hacking for Privacy" at the Chaos Computing Congress in Berlin on Dec. 30.

Flaws in Discovergy's Web interface also enabled the researchers to send back rigged meter readings to the company, and to tap into the company's servers and obtain a complete record of all the information collected by a home's smart meter.

During the presentation, the chief executive officer of Discovergy, Nikolaus Starzacher, came on stage and vowed to resolve the security glitches "as quickly as possible," the security firm Sophos reported. Starzacher explained that his company used a two-second monitoring interval to provide services to the homeowners such as notifying them if they left an iron or stove on by accident. He said he would make the data collection interval configurable in the future.

nbcnews.com 10 Jan 2012

In the I.T (Information Technology) world, it has been known for quite some time that the unencrypted data can be captured and used for monitoring purposes.

While this information relates to the United States, it is also applicable in Australia.

This is the policy and agenda to monitor everyone at every stage of their life, with the full support of the corporatised politicians that provide false information along the way with NO consequences.


Major US Utility: “No Rational Basis” for Smart Meters

Northeast Utilities (NU) operates New England’s largest utility system serving more than 3.6 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.

In a written submittal filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, Northeast Utilities was highly critical of a proposed state plan that would require utilization of “advanced metering” or smart meters within the state of Massachusetts as part of an electrical grid modernization plan. In fact, the comments are quite remarkable in that they appear to reflect reality without undue political spin or bias.

Let us hope that other utilities, public utility commissions, and politicians everywhere can soon come to similar unbiased conclusions that are based upon economic realities and reflect consumers’ and societal best interests.

What is presented below is a summary of key points made by Northeast Utilities in its filing of January 17, 2014, with only slight editorial changes, for example, replacing the term “advanced metering infrastructure” with the term “smart meters.”

Overall Perspective – No Rational Basis for Smart Meter Mandate

“There is no rational basis for the implementation of AMI [smart meters].”
The submittal states that mandating smart meters…
“…comes without due consideration of key issues such as:
  • the immense cost attached to the technology choice;
  • whether customers are willing and able to pay the price of this technology choice;
  • whether the functionality provided by the technology choice will be utilized by customers or is even sought by customers;
  • whether the imposition of significant costs … for this technology conflicts with other policies encouraging … increased penetration of distributed resources [like wind and solar];
  • whether investment in distribution upgrades needed to accommodate distributed energy resources [would be] a better investment of customer dollars given the relatively small incremental benefit afforded by [smart meters]; and
  • whether other issues such as market alternatives, time-varying rates, and cyber-security should be resolved before there can be any rational determination that this technology is a good choice for customers.”

Smart Meters Are Not a Good Choice for Consumers

The [smart meter] technology choice is made although there is no evidence that this is a good choice for customers. Conversely, there is ample evidence that this technology choice will be unduly costly for customers and that the objectives of grid modernization are achievable with technologies and strategies that rank substantially higher in terms of cost-effectiveness. For customers who will pay the price of this system, there is no rational basis for this technology choice.”

“There is no evidence that customers are willing to pay for the limited incremental functionality gained through implementation of [smart meters]. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. For example, industry studies show that only 46 percent of customers are aware of the concept of ‘smart metering,’ and of that percentage, 33 percent associate smart metering with complaints of meter inaccuracy, higher customer bills, invasion of privacy and health concerns. Many customers have a deep aversion to technology that links them to the ‘grid’ in a way that they perceive as an invasion of their privacy and/or detrimental to their health.”

Smart Meter Costs Can Not Be Justified

“There is no cost justification that can support the implementation of [smart meters]. As identified by Northeast Utilities, … [a smart meter] roll-out is problematic due to the extraordinary cost associated with, at best, a modest increase in functionality.”

“Northeast Utilities estimates, conservatively, that the price tag for a [smart meter] rollout, including the recovery of existing investment on the Companies’ books would likely approach, and possibly exceed, $1 billion over the course of … implementation – all of which is to be borne by customers who may or may not be interested in interacting with the distribution system at the level implicated by [smart meter] technology.”

Smart Meters Are Not an Appropriate Technology Platform for Grid Modernization

The submittal goes on to say that mandating smart meters…
“…creates an intractable obstacle to grid modernization. The mandate precludes [utilities] from designing and implementing grid modernization plans that are best suited to customers and that mitigate the cost that customers will bear for progress.”

“An Advanced Metering System is not a ‘basic technology platform’ for grid modernization and is not needed to realize ‘all of the benefits of grid modernization.’”


Meters do not reduce the number of outages; metering systems are not the only option for optimizing demand or reducing system and customer costs; and metering systems are not necessary to integrate distributed resources [such as wind or solar] or to improve workforce and asset management. Therefore, it is not correct that advanced metering functionality is a ‘basic technology platform’ that must be in place before all of the benefits of grid modernization can be fully realized.”

“Accordingly, not only is there a flaw in the … premise that an advanced metering system is a ‘basic technology platform’ for grid modernization, but also the implementation of a costly, advanced metering system is at odds with policies designed to promote the growth of distributed energy resources.”

“Immense, near-term investments in [smart meters] should not be mandated without (1) methodical, valid analysis of the associated costs and benefits; and (2) the development of a plan to solve the detrimental impact of cost-shifting driven by the pervasive installation of distributed energy resources.”

“It is also premature to assume that [smart meters] can provide for large-scale conservation voltage reduction (‘CVR’).”

Cyber-Security Issues Prevent Development of a Suitable Implementation Plan

“Without resolution of the [issues related to] cyber-security, it is not possible … to develop a suitable [smart meter implementation plan]. [Smart meters] introduce a brand new portal into the Companies’ information systems, significantly increasing the cyber-security risk. Currently, the only mandatory standard for electric distribution company cyber-security is the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (‘NERCCIP’), which applies only to bulk power systems and not to the electric distribution systems and metering infrastructure…”

Smart Meter Technology May Soon Be Rendered Obsolete

“Last, but not least, there is little confidence that the incremental benefits of moving to a [smart meter] platform will be sufficient to warrant the cost. Given that the grid modernization technology sphere is a dynamic, rapidly evolving marketplace, it is also unclear whether the incremental benefits, if any, would begin accruing to customers prior to the implemented [smart meter technology] being rendered obsolete. In any event, the cost remains unjustified by the benefits.”

takebackyourpower.net 21 Feb 2014

Politicians are corporate lap dogs that are supporting the surveillance agenda, with the byproduct of extra income for the CEO's of the energy companies.

This action leads to the implementation of Financial Terrorism.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Haddara clan no strangers to visits from police

The Haddara clan are familiar with a dawn visit from armed members of the Santiago taskforce, which was established in 2008 following a spate of shootings linked to rival Middle Eastern families including the Chaouks, Tibas and Kassabs.

Over the past five years, Santiago officers have investigated about 20 shootings linked to the Haddara family and a string of organised crime offences, including extortion, kidnapping and the manufacturing and trafficking of methamphetamines. An early morning raid in 2012 even uncovered a live crocodile at the Essendon home of Rabieh Haddara, along with drugs, cash and firearms.

Last year, Waleed Haddara was sentenced to more than eight years over the accidental shooting of his cousin Sabet "Sam" Haddara, who was mistaken for a member of the Chaouk clan, when blasted in the face in 2011.

Six months earlier, Matwali Chaouk had fired shots at Sam Haddara from his car, and was found guilty last year of recklessly endangering life. Matwali Chaouk is the son of family patriarch, Macchour Chaouk, who was gunned down in the backyard of his Brooklyn home in August 2010.

The grieving Chaouks immediately blamed their bitter rivals, but the brutal killing remains unsolved.

The escalation of violence between the Lebanese families, who were once on friendly terms, can be traced back to the 2009 murder of Mohammed Haddara, who was shot in Fifth Avenue, Altona North.

A cousin of the Chaouks, Ahmed Hablas, was charged with Mohammed Haddara's murder, but was acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

Within months of Mohammed Haddara's murder, an associate's car was peppered with machine-gun fire outside an Altona North McDonald's restaurant. A string of non-fatal shootings have continued, but victims have been unwilling to assist police and identify their assailants.

theage.com.au 18 Mar 2014

The Australian authorities 'supporting' criminal ethnic gangs, in the process importing more from various countries.

The agenda can seem to be of a similar policy to that of 200 years ago.

Power companies threaten smart meter refusers with higher bills

Smart meter. Electricity.
Customers refusing smart meters are being threatened with higher bills by power companies. Source: News Limited
 
POWER companies are writing to customers who have refused smart meters to warn they face being slugged with higher bills. 

Electricity distributors Jemena and United Energy are discussing with the State Government the size and structure of a potential “refusal” fee from next year.

Most Victorians now have remotely read digital meters after being advised that the rollout was mandatory.
But thousands have repeatedly resisted, mainly over health and privacy concerns.

All households and small businesses have been paying for the government-ordered $2.3 billion rollout through power bills for several years.

A Jemena letter warns distributors will be entitled to recover the costs of maintaining a separate manual-read system from next March.

“To avoid this additional charge, we request you contact us as soon as possible to make an appointment to install your smart meter,” it reads.

United Energy’s letter states it will “honour your request to not have the smart meter installed at this time ... this will mean that you may incur additional charges”.

The Herald Sun late last year revealed that customers risked being charged up to $150 more annually — on top of smart meter costs — if they refused installation. Former Energy Minister Nicholas Kotsiras said at the time a fee approved by the Australian Energy Regulator was preferable to disconnections.

Entire IT and communications systems were overhauled to accept smart meters statewide.

Government spokeswoman Rachel White on Wednesday said arrangements were being made to “ensure that the vast majority of Victorians do not have to foot the bill for additional costs created by a small minority”.

But Stop Smart Meters Australia president Marc Florio said it was unfair to “double charge”.

“And it’s too late for thousands more who didn’t want a smart meter but were told it was compulsory and were coerced and deceived and got disconnection threats,” Mr Florio said.

Jemena’s Samantha Porter said: “Any recoverable fee will reflect the additional costs associated with the manual read as well as back-end systems and processes that will need to be supported”.

United Energy’s Stuart Allott said a refusal fee option was being explored.

SP AusNet, CitiPower and Powercor said they would continue to work with customers to finish the rollout.

heraldsun.com.au 19 Mar 2014

The corporate media has not really told the whole story (truth?) regarding smart meters, their legality and how fraudulently the companies are 'enforcing' the 'customer' into smart meter installations.

Could there be an agenda behind this action? Surely not.

Read article:

Consumers face up to $194 per year for smart meters, at:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Billionaire Andew 'Twiggy' Forrest fights to end global slavery

The terrified screams of a traumatised sex-trafficked teenager, witnessed by an Australian billionaire, have led to a history-making alliance between three of the world's major religions to end slavery.

At the Vatican on Monday, West Australian iron-ore magnate Andrew Forrest launched the Global Freedom Network – an organisation led by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt.

The network  aims to free the world's estimated 30 million slaves, and has set itself specific, ambitious targets to achieve this.

<p>
It has taken almost a year of negotiation to pull together. However, its roots, Mr Forrest told Fairfax Media on Sunday in Rome, lie in an experience that deeply shook him, and changed his business practice and his life.
"This isn't something I've tripped over; it's something I got dragged into," he said.

Five years ago his daughter Grace, aged 15, volunteered at an orphanage in Nepal – but then found out that all the children she had been looking after had been ''groomed'' for sex work.

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest meets Pope Francis to discuss a bid to end slavery. Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest meets Pope Francis to discuss a bid to end slavery.

"It was horrible for [Grace]," Mr Forrest said. He set up a team to find out what happened: the children had been trafficked through India into the Middle East.

Mr Forrest travelled to Asia and  met some of the victims. "There was one kid there [from Kathmandu] who could only say she had been sent to a land where the men wore long dresses," he said.

Her ordeal began when she was only nine, and three years later she was put on a plane back to India.

A captive sex worker in the room where she lives and works on the Indonesian island of Batam.
A captive sex worker in the room where she lives and works on the Indonesian island of Batam. Photo: Peter Morris

"She hadn't spoken for several months. She gave her story and from that point on she would only rock on her bed and whimper,'' Mr Forrest said.

"When I walked through the little columns of beds to this kid, she was wailing at the back and just rocking from side to side. The screams she let out when she saw an approaching male, and the horror and revulsion and the terror on her little face will be stuck with (my wife) Nicola and I forever."

Mr Forrest started researching the slave industry. He commanded a review of all his supply chains at Fortescue and required affidavits of all suppliers that they had reviewed their own supply chains, and to his disgust found that "three or four had trouble signing that affidavit".

He felt "really awful". It led him to resign as chief executive of Fortescue, taking a position as non-executive director, and now he spends most of his time in philanthropic causes.

"It all spins off that experience really - to live a useful life you've actually got to help others."

In 2010 he started building Walk Free Foundation, which launched in 2012. Last year it published a Global Slavery Index, identifying the countries where the problem is most acute.

He is also pushing corporations to clean their supply chains.

"You're up against defensive chief executive and chairmanship behaviour," he said.

At a lunch of executives of major corporations chaired by Bill Clinton last year, Mr Forrest forced most of them to admit they had slavery in their supply chains.

"Then we had a really constructive conversation," Mr Forrest said, after they realised their culpability and the risk to their public image.

But there was a gap that frustrated him.

"Wherever we've gone around the world we've found quite significant gaps: the holy texts, no matter which one you turn to, has ambiguity in it around slavery," he said.

"That, we knew, was being used as justification by slavers all over the world."

Last year he found an opportunity to close that gap. A meeting of mining executives and charities last year at the Vatican (Forrest is Christian, though not Catholic) gave him a chance to engage with the Church on the topic.

Pope Francis has identified slavery as one of the evils he is most keen to combat: in his first Easter message last year he said human trafficking was a threat to peace and he instructed the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences to focus on the issue.

"He is of the view that it is one of the worst scourges of humanity," Mr Forrest said.

Mr Forrest proposed an alliance between multiple faiths and his Walk Free Foundation. He got the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on board, and then flew to Cairo and recruited the grand imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, one of the highest scholarly authorities in Sunni Islam.

In a major coup for the nascent Global Freedom Network, Sheikh Tayyeb agreed to join the group and issue a fatwa, or religious ruling, officially published on Monday. It declares that "the worst type of human trafficking [is] the kidnapping of women and girls", prohibits "modern-day slavery in all of its types", and commits al-Azhar to an official study, which will "clearly explain the position of Islam on slavery".

"This was just unbelievable," Mr Forrest said. "There has never been an operating agreement between [Catholic and Islamic institutions] ever in history."

This joint venture between the faiths will be a "major operating company", Mr Forrest pledges.
The GFN's aims include:

■ All global faiths to remove any slavery-related organisations from their supply chains and investments.
■ 162 governments and 30 heads of state to endorse the GFN by the end of 2014.
■ Political leaders to slavery-proof government supply chains.
■ The G20 to adopt a new anti-slavery and human trafficking initiative.
■ 50 multinational businesses to commit to ''slavery-proofing'' their supply chains.

It defines slavery broadly, including sex trafficking, forced labour and forced marriage.

"When I heard the news [that all parties had agreed to the venture] I have to admit I became emotional, this is going to change everything," Mr Forrest said.

He met the Pope privately last month once, and won't reveal the details, but says: "The Pope wants slavery beaten or mortally wounded so it will never recover, by 2020."

The group will set a budget, raised from big donors to a global fund to be launched at Davos next year, to help governments close the gap between policy and enforcement, to set up strategies and put them into action.

"This is set up like a high-achieving, measurement-driven, totally target-oriented company,'' Mr Forrest said.

"It's like a hard-edged business. We are out to defeat slavery, we are not out to feel good. This is our mission. You see the complete hopelessness in the eyes [of enslaved people]. It's like I'm stuck, I will never get help, I am dirt. Then you know that you can't rest until you free them."

theage.com.au 18 Mar 2014

While the traditional form of slavery is rife, there is also another form of slavery. to the corporate governments, which is hardly acknowledged by the corporate media, only to be dispelled as 'conspiracy theories'.
 
Australia's 23 million inhabitants are corporate slaves living under Martial Law.

The corporatocracy (Nike, Apple, etc) with the support of local governments thrives on the labours of the slaves.

According to various studies, IF the top ten companies / earners donated 10% of their income then poverty / slavery would be eradicated, but this is not on the agenda of any so called 'humanitarian' efforts.

Insulation scheme dreamed up over a weekend, royal commission hears

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd resigns from politics. Expected to appear at royal commission: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Peter Braig
Two public servants were given just one weekend to design a program to insulate every home in Australia in two years, the Royal Commission into Home Insulation has been told.

On the Friday afternoon of the 2009 Australia Day weekend, Federal Environment Department bureaucrat Mary Wiley-Smith and a fellow bureaucrat were told  to have the plan ready for costing by the Department of Finance and Regulation on the following Monday.

The revelations came in the first day of hearings in Brisbane at the Royal Commission which was set up in December by the Coalition Government and tasked with uncovering whether the Labor Government had received advice, warnings or recommendations about the program.

The scheme was established in 2009 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Environment Minister Peter Garrett to boost the economy in the face of the global financial crisis.

It involved rebates being paid to homeowners or installers of roof insulation but four installers died and badly installed insulation caused hundreds of house fires.

Mr Rudd and Mr Garrett have been called to give evidence at the inquiry into the $2.5 billion program. Former senator Mark Arbib, who was involved in coordinating government stimulus spending, is also to be called to give evidence.

Ms Wiley-Smith, an assistant secretary in the resources and energy efficiency division, also confirmed she and her fellow bureaucrat were told to keep the matter confidential and they could not ring industry representatives to seek advice.

However an industry representative who had been in touch with a minister's office was allowed to contact them, she confirmed.

Under questioning from Richard Perry  SC, representing two of the families of the deceased, Ms Wiley-Smith acknowledged the specific directive to keep the matter confidential had not occurred before.
Ms Wiley-Smith also acknowledged she had heard talk among the Environment Department's Communications staff and the risk assessment staff by July 2009 about deaths in a New Zealand insulation program. She would have preferred the program was rolled out over five years.

Earlier the inquiry heard legal discussion about whether Federal cabinet documents relating to the scheme should be aired publicly at the inquiry.

The inquiry has been given all cabinet documents relating to the scheme including notebooks and letter between Mr Rudd and Mr Garrett.

Counsel representing the Commonwealth Tom Howe queried whether all the documents in full should be made public.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also been asked to provide documents to the inquiry.

Commissioner Ian Hanger QC gave the Commonwealth until  Thursday to provide an affadavit before he would rule on the request.

Matthew Fuller, 25, Rueben Barnes, 16, Mitchell Sweeney, and Marcus Wilson died while installing insulation as part of the scheme.

Barnes was electrocuted while laying batts in a ceiling near near Rockhampton in Queensland in 2009.

Sweeney also was electrocuted installing insulation in North Queensland in 2010.

Fuller was electrocuted while installing foil insulation in a Brisbane home in 2009.

Wilson collapsed and died from heat stroke after installing insulation in a house in western Sydney in 2009.

theage.com.au 17 Mar 2014

Under so called O.H & S (Occupational Health and Safety) laws ex Prime Minister, should stand trial for manslaughter.

An absolute pathetic implementation of a business plan, with no SWMS (Safe Work Method Statement).

Now the actions of a corrupt judicial system will be on display.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Push for Australians' web browsing histories to be stored


Agencies want access to texts, and social media such as  Facebook and Twitter.
Agencies want access to metadata, such as web browsing histories.

Intelligence agency ASIO is using the Snowden leaks to bolster its case for laws forcing Australian telecommunications companies to store certain types of customers' internet and telephone data for a period of what some law enforcement agencies would like to be two years.

The federal spying agency is supported by the Northern Territory Police, Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission and Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, who all say they are in support of a data-retention regime.

IlloWhat type of data should be stored by internet and phone providers is another question. Although storing "content" data has been ruled out under a retention scheme, at least two agencies – the Northern Territory Police and Victoria Police – want web-browsing histories stored.

In its submission to a parliamentary inquiry into potential changes to telecommunications laws, ASIO argues that more people are encrypting their web communications after revelations made by US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about widespread data collection programs by governments.

This has hastened the need for changes that would force providers to keep all customers' "metadata" for a prescribed period, it says.

Metadata stored about a phone call could include the parties to the call, location, duration and time of the call, but not what was said. Metadata stored about an internet activity could include your assigned IP address and the IP addresses of web servers you visit, or uniform resource locators (URLs) you visit and the time at which they were visited, while email metadata might include addresses, times, and the subject.

Agencies accessed metadata 330,640 times during criminal and financial investigations in 2012-13. Access to such data, if it is currently stored by a provider, is able to be retrieved by many state and federal agencies, and a small number of local councils, as well as the RSPCA, Australia Post and the Tax Office, without a warrant.

Privacy advocates are wary of changes to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, but intelligence and law enforcement agencies say they are vital to keep the law up to date with modern technology now that so much communication is done online.

"These changes are becoming far more significant in the security environment following the leaks of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden," ASIO states in its submission to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Mr Snowden, a former contractor for the US National Security Agency, has thrown the intelligence world into turmoil in the past year by revealing sweeping data-gathering programs by the NSA.

"Since the Snowden leaks, public reporting suggests the level of encryption on the internet has increased substantially," ASIO said.

"In direct response to these leaks, the technology industry is driving the development of new internet standards with the goal of having all web activity encrypted, which will make the challenges of traditional telecommunications interception for necessary national security purposes far more complex."

The Northern Territory Police said in its submission it wanted telcos to store not only basic metadata but browsing histories for two years.

The policing agency went on to say that a shift away from traditional telephony services to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and others meant that data may be included in browser histories and was "as important to capture as telephone records".

Victoria Police said it "strongly" supported the implementation of a data retention regime, and recommended among other things that URLs be stored "to the extent that they do not identify the content of a communication".

Storing URLs is the same as storing a customer's web-browsing history.

The Australian Crime Commission said the loss of data due to the absence of a mandatory data retention scheme has had a "detrimental impact" on its investigations, in terms of availability of data and certainty as to the period it will be retained.

The Australian Federal Police said it wanted to see a data retention regime in place "to ensure a national and systematic approach is taken to safeguarding the ongoing availability of telecommunications data for legitimate, investigative purposes". It did, however, acknowledge that further work needed to be undertaken to examine the appropriate types of data stored and timeframes for retention.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity said requiring telcos to retain data was needed to police the police.

Digital rights group Electronic Frontiers Australia lobbied against the changes, saying retention was "an ineffective method to curb terrorism".

"The ease with which data retention regimes can be evaded is grossly disproportionate to the cost and security concerns of the data retention regime," it said.

The Attorney-General's Department said further exploration of options was "necessary" and that detailed consultation needed to occur with key stakeholders before providing detailed advice to government to support any decision.

George Brandis, who was shadow Attorney-General at the time, said in July, 2012, that he would "examine the issues carefully".

Now the Coalition government's Attorney-General, Mr Brandis said on Monday that the government was "not currently considering any proposal relating to data retention" despite the push from law enforcement agencies and the fact it hasn't yet responded to last year's inquiry.

theage.com.au 17 Mar 2014

Another plan to be executed as part of the 'police state'.

Absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. 

Terrorism is the current excuse, just as communism was in the generations before.
The internet is a government domain.

Tween star Cody Simpson’s new girlfriend Gigi Hadid’s raunchy spread in men’s fashion mag

Cody’s girl ain’t shy of the camera
TWEEN star Cody Simpson’s new girlfriend has posed in a raunchy spread for an American men’s fashion magazine, VMan. 
 
Gigi Hadid, 19, an aspiring model, has been dating the 17-year-old Aussie pop singer since last year, with the pair going public with their romance in November, five months into their relationship.

Cody Simpson and new girlfriend Gigi Hadid. Picture: Instagram.Gigi Hadid reveals a lot more of herself for VMan men’s magazine. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied
 
Hadid is not shy in front of the camera, posing nude in a train carriage in the editorial spread. One shot sees the model perched on a leather chair, and in two others she is lying naked on a fold-out bed.

“If I work hard enough, I hope to accomplish as many of my goals as possible here,” Hadid said, referring to her desire to make her mark in New York.

The images were captured by acclaimed photographer Sebastian Faena.

Cody Simpson and new girlfriend Gigi Hadid. Picture: Instagram. Source: Supplied
 
Hadid, who is the daughter of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Foster, also recently appeared in Sports Illustrated.

Cody Simpson and Gigi Hadid at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter.Simpson’s profile is also very much on the rise. Signed to Atlantic Records in the States, Simpson has been announced as a celebrity competitor on the latest series of Dancing With The Stars there. He’s partnered with 20-year-old professional dancer Witney Carson, with the new series to premiere in the US this week.

The Pretty Brown Eyes singer and Hadid had eyes only for each other when they stepped out together at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscars party. The teen lovers spent Christmas and New Year together on a yacht in St Lucia.

Cody Simpson and Gigi Hadid at the 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

dailytelegraph.com.au 16 Mar 2014

In true tabloid style, to keep the trailer park trash industry afloat with little to no talent, but with only a focus on the aspect of sex goes a long way.
 

Australia's (corrupt) parliament is unlawfully in power

Probably one of the more important pieces of information that the authorities do not want the general populous to know about.

With reference to Queen Victoria who died on the 21st day of January 1900, no new Letters Patent have been issued until August 1984, which is 4 Monarchs later.

The concealment continues with 2 more documents. The first being "The Letters Patent Relating to her Office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia" which was gazetted on the 24th August 1984 after being signed 3 days earlier at Balmoral in the United Kingdom. Under UK law, the writs of the sovereign die with the sovereign. But when Queen Victoria died on the 21st January, 1900, no new Letters Patent were issued until August 1984! This was 4 (not 5) monarchs later. 

 These Letters Patent also had a clause to cover any 'invalid' Commission or appointment or any action taken by someone so commissioned or appointed without authority. This is the effect of clause VII.


The next document(s) created to continue the concealment was the passage of the Australia Acts (see web address for Australia Acts (Cth) & (UK)) through both the UK and the Australian Parliaments, in 1985, to commence in 1986. Contrary to international law, both of these Acts attempted to infringe sovereignty of another nation, were not registered as required under the Charter of the United Nations to have extra-territorial effect, and consequently, can not be relied on in any international forum. Notwithstanding the international status of the Australia Act 1986 (Cth), the preamble and several clauses clearly indicate that British colonial law was continuing in the sovereign independent Australia, and that from the commencement of this Act, all such colonial law, as well as the UK government, will have no effect. If this was not the case, than there would not be any need to have an Australia Act, let alone 2 of them.

There are several major structural problems associated with the Australia Act (Cth), and since it is continually referred to in judicial decisions, it is worthwhile noting these problems. 
(1) First, it does not remove all existing British law used in Australia. It only refers to new British law. Any Australian lawyer can testify that the Commonwealth and State Statute books are pregnant with British law, the most obvious being the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK). 

(2) Second, the termination of British law in Australia that is supposed to occur with this Act, when challenged, will be determined in a court which is dependent for it's existence on the very same British law! 

(3) Thirdly, Australia continues to have a monarch who derives her power from the British Parliament, and she remains the Executive Head of Government of the six Australian States. So to exercise her power in those States, her power must be seen as an extension of power of the UK Parliament. 

(4) Lastly, at the very time that the Australia Acts came into law in Australia to prevent the UK Government from interfering in Australian matters (see also Sue v Hill HCA 30 of 1999), the Letters Patent relating to the Governors of South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia was signed off by none other than Sir Anthony Derek Maxwell Oulton, KCB, QC, MA, Ph.D., Permanent Secretary, Lord Chancellors Office, UK Parliament!
Recent confirmations establish invalidity of the political and judicial system currently being applied in Australia.

While all of this is relevant and pertinent, it is as well to be aware that on, 19th December 1997 the Office of Legal Council of the General Secretariat of the United Nations volunteered and thus confirmed that Australia has been a sovereign State from the 24th October 1945 at the latest. This was confirmed by letter dated 19th December 1997, from the Acting Director and Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General, Office of the Legal Counsel, under the hand of Paul C. Szasz.

On the 5th November 1999, the UK Government through their High Commission in Canberra, volunteered and thus confirmed that the UK British Nationality Act 1948 legislated that Australia was not a protectorate of the United Kingdom, so both the UN and the UK have confirmed that for at least 53 years Australia has been an independent sovereign nation State. This was confirmed by letter dated 5th November 1999, from the Chief Passport Examiner, British High Commission, Canberra, under the hand of Mrs Carole Turner.

As a consequence, under both international and UK law the UK Parliament’s ‘An Act to Constitute the Commonwealth of Australia’ has been ultra vires in relation to Australia for at least 53 years. So, for purposes of definition and resolution there is no fundamental need to look any further back into history.

It is also most pertinent to note that on the 6th November 1999 the entire people of Australia, by referendum had for the first time, the opportunity to have their say regarding the acceptance or otherwise of the Constitution under which they are governed. They overwhelmingly rejected the 'Preamble to the Constitution' question which included,
“We the Australian people commit ourselves to this Constitution”
(The proposition was rejected in every State and Territory of Australia on a national basis of 60.66% to 39.34%. see end note.)
Thus the question must now be asked: "How can present Australian parliaments possibly continue to exist under the terms of a Constitution to which the people have refused to be committed?"

With reference to documentation by Sir Harry Gibbs, Chief Justice of the High Court Australia, from 1970 - 1981.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

IBM denies sharing client data with NSA


AFP Photi / Odd Andersen
AFP Photi / Odd Andersen

US technology giant IBM has fought back against speculation that the company cooperated with the National Security Agency, publishing a letter to clients Friday in an attempt to distance itself from the embattled intelligence agency.

IBM has not provided client data to the NSA or any other government agency under any surveillance program involving the bulk collection of content or metadata,” Robert Weber, the company’s senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs, wrote in a blog post quoted by Reuters.

If the US government were to serve a national security order on IBM to obtain data from an enterprise client and impose a gag order that prohibits IBM from notifying that client, IBM will take appropriate steps to challenge the gag order through judicial action or other means,” he went on.
The International Business Machines Corporation is a New York City-based multinational technology and consulting company.

Nicknamed “Big Blue,” IBM provides computer software and infrastructure, along with hosting and a number of other services to customers around the globe. It is consistently ranked among the most profitable and recognizable companies in the US.

Weber also claimed that IBM had not installed so-called “backdoors” into its products like other technology companies have, either voluntarily or otherwise. The classified documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden implicated Facebook, Google, Apple, and a number of other Silicon Valley giants, as well as Verizon and other major telecommunication companies.

"Our business model sets us apart from many of the companies that have been associated with the surveillance programs that have been disclosed,” Weber wrote. “Unlike those companies, IBM’s primary business does not involve providing telephone or Internet-based communication services to the general public. Rather, because the vast majority of our customers are other companies and organizations, we deal mainly with business data.”

Previous reports have speculated that the NSA revelations will cost US firms $35 billion over the next several years if international companies decide to take their business elsewhere, according to Sam Gustin of Time magazine.

With over half of its revenue base coming from clients located outside the US, Big Blue has already taken a hit, watching its revenue from China alone fall by 22 percent over the second half of 2013. News of the Snowden leak convinced Beijing to encourage state-owned companies to buy Chinese products rather than the typical US technology to avoid any espionage efforts.

Governments must act to restore trust,” Weber wrote. “Technology often challenges us as a society. This is one instance in which both business and government must respond. Data is the next great natural resource, with the potential to improve lives and transform institutions for the better. However, establishing and maintaining the public’s trust in new technologies is essential.”


Comments on article:

Dave Mathieu 15.03.2014 14:27

Oby Unthank 15.03.2014 06:15

Google "IBM and the Holocaust".

Corporations will do anything for money. That's why the world is such a mess and people are dying to make way for the corporate hegemony with the USA as the flagship.
  

You're 100% right, and I don't believe IBM is innocent...in fact I know they're not 100% innocent..

 rt.com 15 Mar 2014

 Another 'lie' from the corporate world and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

There are no 'fines' for telling 'lies', so this kind of behaviour / denial will always occur.

All part of the 'police state' agenda to have every single person on file.

Telcos gouging on SMS by up to 90,000%, says consumer group

How much do text messages really cost? Less than one cent per 100, says Macquarie Telecom. 
How much do text messages really cost? Less than one cent per 100, says Macquarie Telecom. Photo: Glenn Hunt


Australian consumers are being gouged by telcos for sending text messages on their mobiles, says a consumer group which has asked the competition regulator to take action.

In a submission to an inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network said some Australians were paying unreasonable SMS prices because telcos inflate the price they charge one another to pass texts between networks.

"Consumers should not be slugged for simply sending an SMS. It's time the ACCC stepped in and set the scene for some real competition. Telcos are currently setting whatever outrageous wholesale price they want and then that gets passed onto consumers," ACCAN deputy chief executive officer Narelle Clark said.

In a submission to the ACCC's Domestic Mobile Terminating Access Service Declaration inquiry,

Macquarie Telecom said it cost telcos less than one cent to send 100 text messages.

While most major telcos offer unlimited text messages on a number of their plans, they still charge for them on many prepaid and some monthly plans.

Yatango Mobile charges 12 cents a text on some of its plans, while Virgin Mobile charges between 15 and 28 cents. On some Telstra packages the telco charges 29 cents an SMS. Vodafone also uses a 30-cent per text charge on some of its plans.

"This level of profit margin is astronomical," said ACCAN's Clark. "We're strongly encouraging the ACCC to take action on this SMS price gouge, as they have done in the past with voice calls to mobiles."

Macquarie Telecom said $0.000083 was the true cost for a telco to send an SMS. ACCAN multiplied this cost by two (to take into account the receiving cost) to arrive at $0.00016 as the total underlying wholesale cost of a single SMS to the telcos. If they then charge 15 cents for a single SMS it represents an almost 90,000 per cent mark-up for consumers.

In December the ACCC proposed to declare SMS termination costs for the first time.

ACCAN said that if the ACCC did that, it would be able to set a lower wholesale rate and foster competition resulting in cheaper prices for consumers.

Telstra said in a submission made public last week that it did not support this.

"There is no evidence of market failure in the provision of SMS termination services. Mobile service providers are offering a large number of retail plans incorporating different options for SMS as well as competitive SMS pricing and/or bundling."

It added making SMS termination costs public "would not be in the long-term interests of end-users". It said consumers continued to benefit from "strong competition in the mobiles market, including competitive SMS pricing and retail mobile service plans that reflect the changing preferences of consumers towards data-centric services such as internet, email and [over the top] messaging applications".

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone haven't revealed the wholesale SMS price that they charge each other, claiming commercial-in-confidence. However in its submission, Optus has called for wholesale SMS prices to be reduced.

According to joint ACCAN and Anglicare research, low-income earners, older people and people with disabilities are more likely to suffer financially from high SMS prices.

"Many of these consumers don't own a smartphone, so they're not able to take advantage of relatively cheap data messaging services like Whatsapp or Viber, leaving them stuck with these unreasonable prices," said ACCAN's Clark.

The same wholesale price declaration was made for voice calls to mobiles in 1997. Since then and with other factors considered, the cost of mobile services has dropped at least 51 per cent in real terms, ACCAN said.

smh.com.au 25 Feb 2014