No broadband connection? Birds get the blame, Australian cable company says

Repairing the damage wrought on Australia’s broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already cost A$80,000, according to network builder NBN. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2017
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No broadband connection? Birds get the blame, Australian cable company says

SYDNEY: Australia’s government-built $36 billion broadband network, already under attack from underwhelmed customers, has found a new and formidable enemy — cockatoos are chewing through cables across the country.
Repairing the damage wrought on the broadband system, including replacing steel-braid wires that the pesky parrots have gnawed, has already cost A$80,000 ($61,500), network builder NBN said on Friday.
The company estimates the bill could rise sharply as more damage is uncovered and more cables are rolled out in the national telecommunications infrastructure project, which is not due to be completed until around 2021.
“They are constantly sharpening their beaks and as a result will attack and tear apart anything they come across,” said NBN Co. project manager Chedryian Bresland in a blog post on the company’s website on Friday.
“Unfortunately, they’ve developed a liking to our cables ... these birds are unstoppable when in a swarm.”
Yellow-crested cockatoos are prolific in Australia and well-known for their voracious appetites for everything from fruit crops to wooden window frames.
Much of the cable chomping has occurred in grain-growing regions in Australia’s southeast.
“It would have to be an acquired taste, because it’s not their usual style,” Gisela Kaplan, a professor in animal behavior at the University of New England, told Reuters.
“Cockatoos usually go for wood, or strip the bark off trees, They don’t usually go for cables. But it might be the color or the position of the cables that’s attracted them,” she said.
The broadband network itself has come under fire for poor service and slow speeds, with customer complaints spiking nearly 160 percent this year, according to government figures released last month.
Australia’s average Internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second ranks 50th in the world, according to the most recent State of the Internet report by Akamai Technologies, an IT company specializing in Internet speed technology.
NBN is installing protective casing it says will protect the wires from birds in the future.


Facebook accused of discrimination with job ad targeting

Updated 19 September 2018
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Facebook accused of discrimination with job ad targeting

  • It charges that job ads on Facebook targeted male users only
  • Facebook lets advertisers target ads on the basis of gender and age, which is against the law in America

WASHINGTON: A complaint has been filed with the US government accusing Facebook and 10 other companies of using the platform’s job ad targeting system to discriminate on the basis of gender.
The complaint was announced Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union, a union called the Communications Workers of America and a labor law firm, on behalf of three female job seekers and a group of “thousands” of members represented by the union.
It charges that job ads on Facebook targeted male users only. It also alleges that most of the listings were for jobs in male-dominated fields, so women and non-binary users were excluded from seeing these ads.
Facebook lets advertisers target ads on the basis of gender and age, which is against the law in America, the complaint reads.
“I shouldn’t be shut out of the chance to hear about a job opportunity just because I am a woman,” said Bobbi Spees, one of the three women named in the complaint.
Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said in a statement to CNNMoney that there is no place for discrimination on Facebook.
“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” Osborne said.
Facebook will defend itself once it has reviewed the complaint, he added.
The ACLU noted that online platforms such as Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others.
“But in this case, Facebook is doing much more than merely publishing content created by others,” the advocacy group argued.
“It has built the architecture for this discriminatory marketing framework, enabled and encouraged advertisers to use it, and delivered the gender-based ads according to employers’ sex-based preferences.”
Last month the US Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Facebook of breaking the law by letting landlords and home sellers use its ad-targeting system to discriminate against potential buyers or tenants.
Facebook responded by cutting more than 5,000 ad-targeting options to prevent advertisers from discriminating on the basis of traits such as religion or race.