Thursday, June 13, 2002


Not a lot to talk about at JJJ Radio news today. The Prime Minister addressed the US Congress, large numbers of Afghanis were denied refugees status, ongoing Church child abuse scandals, industrial warfare . Even dope fiend MP’s.

If that doesn’t toot your horn, there’s the occasional body in a drum, or an MP accosted in the toilet.

But what counts as the big news for Australia’s national youth radio network?

The Federal Government is under formal investigation for possible breaches of privacy laws.

Last week, the Government's youth website The Source sent multiple spam emails to the site's previous visitors, advertising a competition for free movie tickets.

This ran as the lead story on the 6am, 7am. 8am and 9am news bulletins. By 1pm it had moved to second place.

That’s right. The most important story in the country was an investigation into whether a government web site had used subscriber email addresses to promote their own contest. Not sold them to a private concern, not used them to track anyone’s personal emails. Just used them to promote a contest.

I’ll make this prediction:
1. The Privacy Commissioner will spend upwards of $20,000 on this investigation.
2. He will find that guidelines were breached, and will issue a memo that this not happen again.
3. The Federal Department of Family and Community Services will agree to do just that.

And that. will. be. that.

Except that every brass razoo spent on this exercise could have been spent on something that actually matters to the users of the web site. Like suicide prevention, or nutrition, or half a year’s salary for a case worker to stop petrol sniffing.

You know, the kind of things a national youth radio network might care about, if they could spare the time away from putting the boot into the Government at every possible opportunity.

There’s more than one way to waste money.

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