Territory Stories

The Northern Territory news Sat 31 Jul 2021



The Northern Territory news Sat 31 Jul 2021

Other title

NT news


The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT






Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

Publisher name

News Corp Australia

Place of publication


File type



Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

Copyright owner

News Corp Australia



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

SATURDAY JULY 31 2021 NEWS 17 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA Inquiry told of Covid misinfo AUSTRALIAN Facebook users have been targeted in four highly sophisticated, coordinated attacks on the platform, including one campaign that sought to spread disinformation about Covid-19 through fake news services, a Senate inquiry heard on Friday. The worlds largest social network was also increasingly being attacked by malicious groups paying disinfo-for-hire businesses, Senators heard, to flood users with fraudulent news while hiding their own identities. The revelations came during the fourth public hearing of the Foreign Interference Through Social Media Inquiry, with high-level Facebook employees presenting via video link after unexpectedly cancelling their appearance last year due to a scheduling issue thought to be the US election. Facebook security policy global head Nathaniel Gleicher said the tech giant had identified four co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour campaigns targeting Australia recently, which he described as the most sophisticated tool used by determined adversaries like (nation) states. The most recent attack, in August 2020, included posts in English and Chinese, he said, and targeted countries including Australia. It engaged on a range of topics coronavirus was among the many topics they mentioned, he said. (It) used a network of fake accounts to target public debate in the United States, in Australia, in Europe, and across South-East Asia. They posed as local and regional media entities to make themselves appear more legitimate. Other campaigns identified as targeting Australian Facebook users included attacks on public debate, and a financially motivated operation. The attacks represented four of 150 co-ordinated disinformation campaigns identified and removed from Facebook in recent years. Facebook Australia public policy head Josh Machin said the company had ample appetite to increase its work with Australian government departments in relation to security threats, particularly in the lead-up to the next federal election. Executives from Google also appeared before the Senate committee on Friday, but the internet giants executive law enforcement and information security matters director Richard Salgado said it had seen no evidence of foreign campaigns trying to influence Australian elections. Since 2016, weve not seen the co-ordinated foreign influence campaigns targeted at Australia that we have with other jurisdictions including the United States, he said. The Senate committee is due to report on its findings in May 2022. Facebook Australia public policy head Josh Machin, Google executive law enforcement and information security matters director Richard Salgado, and Facebook security policy global head Nathaniel Gleicher appear by video link at a Senate inquiry into foreign interference in social media platforms. JENNIFER DUDLEY-NICHOLSON AUSSIE FACEBOOK USERS TARGETED IN ATTACKS AUSTRALIAS $8m Covidtracking app, once sold as our ticket out of lockdowns, is rarely being used to identify coronavirus contacts and shared information from just 44 users in its second six months of operation, according to a new report into its effectiveness. The COVIDSafe app, released in April 2020, also collected and shared data from fewer than 800 people by May 2021, the report found, even though Australia recorded more than 23,000 positive cases during that time. The data did identify more than 2800 possible Covid-19 close contacts over the year, but the report noted some were not relevant or followed up by authorities. The Health D e p a r t m e n t report, released after a Free dom of Information application last week, comes after widespread criticism of the app, which some state officials said they were no longer using as a tool to trace the spread of the virus. The report revealed the COVIDSafe app had been installed 7.6 million times in Australia but did not disclose how many people were still using it. Between April 2020 and May 2021, data from 779 app users who tested positive for Covid-19 was shared and uploaded to a national health database, the report found. But that figure included data from just 44 users between November and May. The data identified 2827 potential close contacts, the report found, but noted that some of those contacts may not be followed up because of the timing of the contact. The report also noted that the COVIDSafe app was created in anticipation of widespread community transmission and had not been used as much as expected due to the success of Australias suppression strategy. Its understood the COVIDSafe app has not been regularly used during Australias latest Covid outbreaks, however. $8m fail: Fed virus app used 44 times JENNIFER DUDLEY-NICHOLSON COVIDSafe app. Mental health box ticked in upcoming census THIS years census will be the first to ask Aussies if theyve ever been diagnosed with mental illnesses including depression and anxiety and mental health advocate Professor Patrick McGorry is predicting an astonishing response. Weve had national mental health surveys in the past, but we havent had one for about 15 years, he said. But this is actu ally finding out the full extent of mental ill health in the population and I think its going to be quite staggering, the number. Prof McGorry said a significant response could see mental health bumped up the policy agenda. Cancer takes up about 30 per cent of the health budget, but its only about 18 per cent of the health burden. Mental illness takes up about 7 per cent of the health budget, and its at least 15 to 20 per cent of the burden, so its seriously underfunded, he said. The compulsory question will ask respondents to tick a box if theyve ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition effectively lumping in serious illnesses such as schizophrenia with conditions that can be mild or severe, such as depression and anxiety. Australian Statistician David Gruen defended the broad nature of the question, describing it as a step in the right direction. There are more topics that would be of importance for public policy than there is real estate on the census form, he said. If a lot of people tick the mental health box it could prompt additional surveys, or a more detailed question in the 2026 census, he said. Prof McGorry said the results wont let us know the severity of the problem, but its good to get a snapshot of the extent. Census night is August 10. DAVID MILLS VIC TOPS WEB SPEED VICTORIA has topped the nation as the state with the fastest internet, new research has found. Online comparison service Finder analysed more than 24,000 speed tests on its website between October 2020 and July 2021 to uncover the fastest and slowest states as well as the fastest days of the week. Victoria clocked up an impressive download speed of 49.5Mbps on average, with South Australia coming in second at 47.2Mbps. Tasmania was last with 36.8Mbps. And according to Finder, Friday is the best day to surf the net on average across the nation. Friday has a download speed of 47Mbps compared with Monday, the slowest day, at 43.8.