Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Australia Post Digital Identity Service Rescued by Chinese Shoppers After Failure 20 Years Ago?

Australia Post Digital Identity
announcement from 1998
Stuart Robert, Minister for Government Services, announced 24 July 2019 that Australia Post’s Digital iD service had been accredited as a trusted identity service provider under the Trusted Digital Identity Framework (TDIF). What the Minister did not mention, was Australia Post's previous digital identity service failed 20 years ago. But Daigou might provide the use case for the new service.

In 1998 I applied for an Australia Post "KeyPOST" digital certificate, at a cost of $20. Here is the text from the Australia Post web page of the time:
"Australia Post plays a role in introducing security and trust into transactions performed over the internet. It does this by providing the public (individuals and organisations) with a convenient access point to acquire a digital certificates. KeyPOST is an identity check performed on behalf Certification Authorities.
Digital certificates are now available via the KeyPOST Registration Service, from SecureNet Certificates (SNC). Information and application details for Certification Services provided by SNC are available on the SecureNet Certificates website:"
From "KeyPost",  Australia Post, in the Internet Archive, 20 May 2000
There were a few glitches with the process, but eventually the certificate was issued. However, Australia Post ceased the service the following year. There appeared to have been very few certificates issued and the manual processing required to issue them was unlikely to have covered the cost.
"Australia Post has decided to cease its KeyPOST(tm) operations concerning the generation of private keys and certificates from 1 August 1999. Unfortunately, the service has not met expectations and its growth and take up rate have been less than what we expected.  I would like to thank you for your support and interest in the service, but >it has become increasingly clear that the service is not commercially  viable."
From Keypost 1/04/99

Chinese Daigou Use Case

The daigou channel, by Bang Xiao  &
Sean Mantesso, ABC News, 31 Jul 2019

Hopefully, those at Australia Post planning the new digital identity service have learned from the previous failed service. A use case which might make the new service a success is the multi-billion dollar personal shopper business. Chinese consumers contract 150,000 personal shoppers in Australia (daigou), who are mostly Chinese students, to buy products for them. The Australia Post Digital iD could be used to authenticate the personal shoppers, perhaps in combination with a blockchain. The consumers could be assured who is doing the buying, and they were getting the correct product. The governments could be assured all taxes and duty were being paid.

Friday, July 19, 2019

ACT Renewables Showcase

I am running a free workshop on "How Green is my Computer?" at the ACT Renewables Showcase in Canberra, 26 July 2019. There is also an electric car exhibition.


9:00-9:20 Registration
9:20-9:30 Welcome/Opening
10:00-17:00 Electric Vehicles Exhibition (in partnership with Tesla Owners Club of Australia and Australian Vehicle Association)
9:30-10:15 Panel: Policy Implications for Renewables with Geoffrey Rutledge (ACT Government), Dr Frank Jotzo (ANU), Dr Andreas Loeschel(University of Munster); moderated by Sylvia Tulloch (BAB Chairman for REIF)
10:30-11:45 Workshop: How Green is my Computer? by Tom Worthington.
11:45-12:45 Panel: Women in Renewables with Shahana McKenzie(Bioenergy Australia), Clara Mazzone (ITP Renewables), Alison Reeve (ACT Government), Michelle McCann (PV Lab), Dr Marnie Shaw (ANU); moderated by Ruth O'Connor (ANU)
13:15-14:10 Seminar: Renewable Energy Innovation and World Trends by Simon Corbell (Energy Estate).
14:25-14:50 Speed Talks: Greening the Future-Bioenergy for Transport and Industrial Application by Dr Clive Stephens (Vtara Energy Group).
14:55-15:20 Speed Talks: How Electric Vehicles Could Shape Our World? by Darryl Bourke (Tesla Owners Club of Australia).
15:25-15:50 Speed Talks: Building Blocks of a Sustainable Energy Future by Vincenzo Marciano and Ryan Wood (Evergen).
16:00-16:55 Seminar: State of affairs: Clean Energy Market Challenges by John Grimes (Smart Energy Council).
17:00-17:30 Closing Ceremony closing remarks by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
From 17:30, Energy Lab will kick off with their famous annual Hackathon. Join us to explore a variety of opportunities that will accelerate the uptake of clean energy. To register for the Hackathon, click here.
You can find tickets at

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Capped Speed Mobile Broadband Data Plans

Telstra recently simplified its mobile phone plans. Along with this were data plans, from 5 to 100 GBytes per month. What got my attention was that after the data limit is reached, the service keeps working, with no extra charges, but with the speed capped at 1.5 Mbps.

The Telstra speed cap is much higher than for the Belong service I had been using, of 64Kbps. As I am using the service for email and web browsing, not watching moves, 1.5 Mbps should be sufficient. So I signed up for the minimum 5 GBytes for $15 per month.

I found Telstra's website very confusing. So I went into a Telstra store and a very helpful sales person provided a new SIM and signed me up. I walked out with a working service. I am using this with a tiny Wingle (Wifi equipped USB modem dongle). For those wanting a low fuss, low speed broadband, this looks a good option.

Some other mobile data providers are also offering a 1.5Mbps cap. Belong is owned by Telstra and uses the Telstra network. It will be interesting to see if they switch to a 1.5 Mbps cap.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Creative Bureaucracy Festival in Berlin 20 September

I would love an excuse to visit Berlin again, but perhaps the "Creative Bureaucracy Festival", is not it. My invitation arrived from the UK Cabinet Office in the form of a 20 Mbyte PDF file. The document had 18 pages with complex charts and photos of dozens of people with impressive titles. Despite having events such as "Fu*kup Night" and "Legislative theatre work", apparently this is not a spoof. There really is a festival devoted to creative bureaucracy, in Berlin, 20 to 21 September 2019. But if they are really being creative, perhaps they could produce a smaller, simpler brochure for the event, but that might not be in the spirit of bureaucracy. ;-)