While the Government was eyeing your data, CSIRO was eyeing its future, with major funding cuts announced as part of the Federal Budget in May.
Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed that CSIRO's belt would be tightened to the order of AU$111.4 million over 4 years, threatening Australia's leading scientific research organisation which conducts research on areas as diverse as climate change, astronomy and mineral resources. The cuts later came into stark relief when CSIRO announced it would have reduce infectious disease research, just as the ebola crisis was hitting its peak.
Behind closed doors
In November, Wikileaks published the draft IP chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a major international trade agreement being negotiated
between Australia and 11 other countries. The signatories accounting for 40
percent of global GDP, but negotiations have been going on behind closed doors
since 2010, leaving the public in the dark.
Said to be one of the more contentious parts of the
agreement, the Intellectual Property Chapter has major implications for issues
such as geoblocking and DRM, "criminalisation" of piracy, fair use
laws and the lifespan of copyright. While details are still sketchy, Australians could see major changes to their digital
rights when the final deal is signed off.
Catch of the Day
Once more unto the breach
Daily deals website Catch of the Day had a major headache on
its hands this year when it revealed that customer information had been compromised in a hack. While the news was bad in itself, Catch of the Day came under fire for taking a staggering three years to reveal the breach.
The delay in admitting fault prompted Shadow Attorney-General
Mark Dreyfus to renew calls for mandatory data breach disclosure laws to
protect consumers. There's been no real movement on this front, but if Sony's high profile hack at the close of 2014 has taught us anything, it's that our
most private information is not necessarily as secure as we think.
The NBN becomes the MTM
Goodbye FTTP -- it was good while it lasted.
As part of a drive to make the NBN available quicker and for less money, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced NBN Co would be working under a new 'multi-technology mix' with FTTP, FTTN, HFC, fixed wireless and satellite.
Thanks to a bit of spectrum wangling, Telstra and Vodafone also brought better mobile internet to indoor areas with low-frequency
4G switching on across the country, while Optus expanded 4G to 200 new regional locations.
As this legal stoush played out, anti-piracy site-blocking legislation was finally ushered into parliament in December, and ISPs were told to play nice with rights holders and jointly develop a code to stop piracy in Australia. They have until April 8, 2015.
Streaming gets a shake-up
Access to cheap and timely content is often cited as the best weapon against piracy, and Australians will hopefully be in a better position in this respect with the arrival of a number of new content streaming services announced for 2015.
The service is still operating, but it hasn't all been clear
sailing for Uber in 2014. After running a 'free ice cream' promotion in July,
customers complained that they were hit with hidden credit card charges, while
the company also copped flack for quadrupling prices during the Sydney Siege in
Sunswift's electric dreams
Australia rounded out the year with some good news in the innovation stakes, with Sunswift's eVe making car tech headlines for all the right reasons.
The electric vehicle, which is designed, built and engineered by students from UNSW, broke the world land speed record for an electric vehicle travelling
over a 500km distance on a single charge -- a record that had stood since 1988.
The team then started a campaign to raise funds to make the eVe street legal, and after a whirlwind 10 days, they hit their AU$30,000 crowd funding target just before Christmas. Tesla eat your heart out -- this EV is totally home-grown.