My day job is managing the digital platforms at a not for profit online library service called CAVAL. My team look after academic and public libraries and help manage anything that is digitally based. For example if libraries want to borrow digital resources from each other, I help manage those interactions and automate processes. I also look after internal technology structures and the way technology impacts our workflows.
As well as that, I’m President of Linux Australia and Vice-chair of Internet Australia. At Linux Australia we advocate for open source methodologies and technologies, and at Internet Australia we are advocates for internet users in Australia.
In terms of the future of the technology industry, my biggest worry is that we don’t actually know what impact the AAbill will have on the community. Open source code drives the majority of the technology we run today – everything from mobile phones, to fridges to cars. It’s based on a lot of coders giving up their time and money to contribute to open source code. Trying to work out the intricacies of the AAbill is very confusing for the open source community because there may not be an individual owner for a lot of this technology, the code is publicly available for everyone to see, and if you are asked to code in a ‘backdoor’ it is easy for anyone to find it and change it.
There are a lot of conversations going on now about how do we handle it if you get tapped on the shoulder [by an Australian agency]. There is that worry. A lot of Australian open source developers work remotely for organisations that are overseas and they are now reluctant to hire us with this cloud over our heads. There will be jobs lost.
I worry for the community that I represent. Looking after the interests of our members and our community has become a lot harder. And it’s not just technology workers; if there’s a backdoor [in code] it affects everyone, not just the people the bill is trying to target.
To better support my industry, the Australian Government should be listening to us. There doesn’t seem to be a genuine interest in paying attention to the sector’s concerns. I also question why the Government has pursued these changes, as there’s no evidence that the data they have achieves the goals for collecting it in the first place. It’s all in the name of terrorism but it’s a slippery slope.
At Linux Australia we are advocates of the open source community and making sure their voice is heard. Technology is the future and we should be investing in technology and encouraging entrepreneurship in this area. Our tech talent and expertise should be our greatest export, but we can’t do that if we are not trusted in the international market.