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Tuesday, 06 July 2021 10:02

ABC mum when asked if iview user data is fed to Google, Facebook Featured

ABC mum when asked if iview user data is fed to Google, Facebook Image by philm1310 from Pixabay

The ABC is unwilling to say whether it provides Google and Facebook access to the data of iview users, a considerable number of whom have created accounts to access the service prior to 1 July based on ABC warnings that logins would be compulsory in the new financial year.

The broadcaster had said for some months prior to 1 July that it would make logins to use iview — a service that allows users to see programs that have already been broadcast or, in some cases, which are yet to go to air — compulsory from that date.

But when asked on that day, the ABC said it was putting off the compulsory logins for at least six months. It did not announce this of its own accord, but only revealed the change of policy when asked about it by media outlets.

The ABC is one of the media organisations that has signed deals with Facebook and Google under the government's news media code, but will not say whether user data is being fed to these two organisations as part of those deals either.

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Researcher Dr Vanessa Teague of Thinking Cybersecurity has lodged a freedom of information request with the ABC, asking that all data-sharing agreements signed with third parties who have access to iview data, including Google, Facebook and customer data hub and enterprise tag management firm Tealium, and any other to whom the broadcaster has granted access.

Whether the corporation will agree to her FoI request or not remains to be seen. The deadline for responding is 16 July.

iTWire sent the following queries to the ABC on Monday:

What happens to the data of those who have already registered in response to the information on the ABC site over the past few months that logins would be enforced from 1 July?

Why has the ABC not made a formal announcement about the delaying of logins rather than depending on outside journalists to make this public?

Is the ABC sharing iview user data with Facebook and Google as part of the deals it has struck with the two companies under the news media code?

What about the user data of those who have not registered iview logins? Is that being shared with Google and Facebook?

Why is the ABC reluctant to say why exactly it wants to make logins compulsory? If this is to help users to track programs that they may be interested in, then surely those who have no need of such guidance should be able to opt out?

But the corporation, which kicks up a hissy fit any time politicians refuse to come on its programs when requested, had only this to say in response: "We've said all we have to say for now. I'll make sure you are looped in on future comms."

This, by the way, is an organisation that is run using taxpayer funds. Yet it does not seem to like being accountable to the public through the media – though it demands that others be accountable. There's one word for this: hypocrisy.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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