Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Playing fast and loose with data a serious indictment on Facebook

Canberra Times Letters to the Editor: Playing fast and loose with data a serious indictment on Facebook

As the editorial of March 22 pointed out, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) "is learning the hard way that when billions of people put their trust in you there will be heavy consequences if you let them down".

At issue is the personal data of billions of users, some of which was apparently used by Cambridge Analytica in Donald Trump's presidential campaign.


The data, originally collected by a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, ostensibly for legitimate research, was passed on to Eunoia Technologies which formed Cambridge Analytica.

The editorial argued that "While, at first glance, CA appears to be the bad guy in this story, the fact is Facebook facilitated an enormous breach of trust." Facebook's failure to protect its clients "suggests a high degree of naivety on the one hand and potentially indifference on the other".


As true as that is, the professor concerned was seriously culpable, breaching both academic and professional standards in passing on the data. One doubts that he did so gratis.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Light rail semantics

Kevin Cox (Letters, March 22) categorises autonomous vehicles and light rail as shared transport. He is using semantics to argue his case but in doing so he fails to recognise the distinct and irreconcilable differences between the two modes, and yet he should because he is a technologist and a self-professed futurist.

LR is shared in time, AVs are shared in use; AVs have agile scalability and flexibility, LR does not; AVs will revolutionise lifestyles and the built environment, LR will anchor us to the past.

If LR in this city ever achieves a truly impressive level of patronage, say 25 per cent, it will be because 50 per cent of the population has been forced to live within the corridors, with half of those having no option but to use the LR, while the other 50 per cent of the population will have no access to it even if they want it.

Still, a 25 per cent patronage will look like a successful conversion from the current 3per cent, and yet 75 per cent of us will be travelling in cars.

Ross Johnson, Belconnen

Hypocrisy takes off

Other letter writers have drawn attention to the seeming hypocrisy of Canberra Airport management in rejecting the ACTU's ads as "too political" while happily promoting the next generation of war toys for grown men.

These are clearly advertisements selling both fear and reassurance to our politicians and the rest of us as we pass through their airport.

Someone should remind the airport's managing director, Terry Snow, of Prussian strategist Karl von Clausewitz's famous aphorism, that "war is the continuation of politics by other means..."

If the ACTU can't display its ads at Canberra Airport, then surely those for military hardware should also go.

Nigel Thompson, Queanbeyan East

Filtering economic talk

Thank you, Peter Martin, (Comment, March 22, p24) for spelling out the nonsense of another manifestation of "trickle-down economics".

Whenever I hear politicians or their backers promoting trickle-down economics, whatever the name or rationale they invoke, I am reminded of the following story, even though it is probably apocryphal.

Two old mates, Frank and Ernest, lived a few kilometres apart and once a week they would take it in turns to walk to the other's house after lunch. They would discuss life, the universe and everything, while consuming two by two fingers of good whisky, then walk home in time for dinner.

Having done this for years after retirement they could confide in one another about anything, so when Frank raised the subject of death, Ernest said "would you do me a favour if I die before you?" Frank said "sure if I can what is it?" Ernest said "after all the mourners have left would you go back to my grave and pour my two glasses of whisky over it?" Frank replied "gees mate that'd be a waste of good whisky. Do you mind if I filter it through my kidneys first?" Ernest's final words on the subject; "I won't be able to object, will I?"

I think that describes trickle-down economics for people in the lower half of the socio-economic spectrum.

John F. Simmons, Kambah

Time to act on Myanmar

Following the equally globally important and statesmanlike words of Indonesia's enlightened President Jokowi recently, Malaysia's PM Najib Razak has correctly told ASEAN that the treatment of the Rohingya is more than a domestic matter for Myanmar, and he rightly said that the horrific abuse they are subjected to is preparing a fertile ground for terrorism; and while Australia prefers marshmallow diplomacy behind closed doors with Myanmar's "conman" Aung San Suu Kyi who denies and defends a murderous kakistocracy behind her flowers and thus has made herself part, Australia at least could refuse to train Myanmar's military.

President Trump, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia with China and perhaps Boris Johnson from the UK, must work out a solution, I suggest.

John Dobinson, Herston, Qld

Parasites in finance

The sad story of single mother of two, Nalini Thiruvangadam ("Don't do this to me. I have two kids",, March 22) gives us an insight into the vulturistic practices of parasitical institutions (bank loan sharks) that prey on vulnerable members of the public.

These heartless bastards are motivated by one consideration only: how to screw the public to make maximum profit. There are many Nalinis out there who have suffered at the hands of these greedy parasitical swines and it's about time that as a "civilised" society (to borrow [Peter] Dutton's term) we put a check on their unfettered practices.

Rajend Naidu, Glenfield NSW

Retiree misconceptions

I take issue with M. Flint's claim that "most of the people disadvantaged (by the proposed changes to the taxation of imputation credits) would be self-funded retirees who through a responsible lifestyle have planned not to be any burden on the taxpayer" (Letters, March 21).

This is sure to be incorrect simply because there are very few retirees who are in fact fully self-funded and have never received any taxpayer support for their retirement. There may be a few hard working and frugal souls who have achieved this, and good on them. The more accurate term for the rest of us would be "non-pensioner retirees". We should reflect on the fact we have benefitted from some hefty tax concessions and/or from government-funded employer superannuation schemes and stop being so damn self righteous.

Laurene Edsor, Bungendore

NEG a flawed policy

It was disappointing to see The Canberra Times dragging out the tired and tattered trope about "ideological purity" in the editorial of March 21 recommending that the ACT government support the NEG at COAG.

Refusing to support a manifestly bad policy that will entrench the power of the large existing electricity gentailers and stymie the vital growth of renewables, while failing utterly to lower emissions or prices, is a fine example of sensible and principled policy rather than "ideological purity" (whatever that cliche might actually mean in reality). The NEG is no more "80 per cent of something" than a decapitated body is 80 per cent of a viable human being.

Felix MacNeill, Dickson

Sinister it's not

Ian Warden is an experienced and supposedly responsible journalist and, as such, he chooses his words carefully.

Four words in his "Rorting raises nation's hackles" (March 17)column merit attention. What on earth is behind his gratuitous description of ICOMOS as "sinister"? ICOMOS is an internationally respected non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation of the world's monuments and sites. We can assume that it knows rather more about conservation issues than Warden, who has clearly joined Michael Gove, the irresponsible British minister who "has had enough of experts". They both indulge in unsubstantiated slurs on those who are better informed than they are.

Then Warden looks forward to an "enriched" West Basin. Exactly – as he himself concedes, these apartments, built on what is public land, will be "very expensive" and exclusive. The West Basin waterfront will be nothing like the picture accompanying Warden's article; it will be a manufactured boardwalk dominated – and shaded – by multi-storey buildings. And Warden's dream of towelling his dog dry after a swim and driving home is a fantasy. He won't be able to get there because the planners haven't a clue how to cope with the traffic and parking issues. If he wants to frolic with his dog on a natural West Basin waterfront backed by a wonderful stand of trees he had better hurry before it is concreted over.

Andrew L Schuller, Campbell

Parcel tax folly

I can only assume Peter Dutton has taken into account many parcels arriving from overseas are gifts. ("Department of Home Affairs plans new tax on parcels being posted to Australia", Canberra Times, March 22).

I sincerely hope I will not be paying a tax on gifts I receive from my family in London for Christmas or birthday.

Last Christmas my daughter in London was charged £17 for the Christmas gifts I posted to her and her husband.

I then had to submit a statement saying the package was a gift allowing my daughter to claim the tax as a refund.

Peter Dutton's new idea seems to have been copied from the UK. I can only hope it is only another crazy thought bubble from Peter Dutton.

Robyn Lewis, Raglan NSW

Clear as daylight

The purpose of daylight saving is to transfer a period of daylight from the morning (when it is a nuisance because it can wake you earlier than you want to be woken) to the evening (when it is beneficial because it provides more usable time without need of lighting). It is actually energy saving – an economy and environmental measure that saves our pockets and slows global warming.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

No to infanticide

I sincerely support Bishop Power and Rita Joseph ("Abortion stance ironic", Letters, March 22).

A procured abortion is a premeditated act of infanticide; i.e., murder of the most defenceless and innocent of all human life. The child did not ask to be born. It is the responsibility of the parents to bring the child to birth and when possible, to put the child up for adoption. I understand there are many couples wishing to adopt, but there are few children available locally.

Philip Robinson, Bruce

Indigenous voice

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to consider allowing Indigenous Australians to provide a "voice to Parliament" to give our First Nations people a seat at the table to advise the government on policies that relate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Mr Turnbull said the government does not believe such an addition to our representative institutions is either desirable or capable of winning acceptance in a referendum.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, is considering establishing a committee to allow pro-gun lobbyists to provide a "firearms advisory council" to give gun importers a seat at the table to advise the government on firearms policy. How about a referendum on stricter gun controls to let the public decide on this issue?

Heather Stewart, Weston

Decide on deciduous

It is time to plant deciduous trees to save towns and farms from the devastation of bushfires. It is the only sure way to help mitigate the fires because the trees are fire retardant and deflect flames and heat.

I suggest planting thick stands of deciduous trees around the perimeter of farms and towns as well as liberal planting within the said areas. National parks could benefit from lines of deciduous trees within the native forest to mitigate fires coming through.

This could be done in the form of long vertical and lateral stands of trees within the forest or woodland.

Some deciduous trees can grow in arid areas, and many send up suckers and don't need planting once a few are established. They are a welcome diet for animals including kangaroos and shelter for possum and dasyurids. They provide native birds shelter.

Plantings of deciduous trees should be mandatory to stop repeat of the destruction from fires every summer. There are many benefits that come with having deciduous trees. They raise the water table, increase the soil nutrients, provide shade and protection from fire. They are fodder for grazing animals and homes and food for native animals.

Margot Sirr, Gowrie



Large corporate tax cuts equal jobs and investment. Pauline thinks so, everyone vote for "won" nation, oh dear.

Linus Cole, Palmerston


It's good to see the Turnbull government's priorities: big tax cuts for large corporations and a $5 per item new tax for consumers on overseas parcels.

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld


I guess the people on Nauru and Manus are dead to Peter Dutton as well?

Doug Steley, Heyfield


I am sure the ACT Liberals will be as scathing in their rebuke of Minister Dutton's comments seeking to intimidate a free press as they were of Chief Minster Barr's. And I am confident Senator Seselja will be equally as strong in his support of that stance.

Peter Edsor, Bungendore


While reading the "Opposition plan motion against Barr over debate 'threat" article (CT, March 22, p8) "pot/kettle" somehow sprung into mind.

Brian Bell, Isabella Plains


Does any one in the Canberra region experience bad TV reception?

On Thursday we could not watch ABC, SBS, or Channel 10.

I thought Australia was a first-world country, however I was wrong, I feel we are way below third world.

V. Harris, Yass, NSW


As Ms Caroline Le Couteur MLA does not hold back to destroy life in the womb ("Greens put forward abortion bill", March 19, p2) I wonder if she will keep an open mind to the submissions concerning 'Life Choices' – read euthanasia – when the Legislative Assembly Inquiry meets to consider this important issue.

Bev Cains, President of the ACT Right to Life Association


Neither the Labor Party nor the unions are behind "class warfare". They exist because of it!

Gary Frances, Bexley NSW


I would like to add my story to that of C. J Johnston (Letters, March 22) which shows how helpful Canberrans naturally are.

Last Sunday, we ventured out to the Raiders' game, with my husband in a wheelchair for the first time.

We may not have won on the field but the number of people who helped get us into and out of the ground were the true winners.

Well done.

Christina Rowe, Florey

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