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ACS Week in Review: 28 March 2014

Friday, 28 Mar 2014

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The ACS Week In Review is a collection of key news items from the previous week, which may be of interest to ACS members and stakeholders. To view the full news item, simply click on the link in the headline.

Primary students learn to program

Computer programming could be mandatory for schoolchildren from age eight pending a key government review as a public-private funding arrangement to spend $23 million training teachers in tech is mooted.

Key representatives from Sydney University, the Westpac Banking Group and Telstra have held talks with Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to provide funding ideas on how to train teachers in programming.

Estonia, the tiny European nation that gave us Skype, teaches children as young as six on how to program computers, smartphones and other devices in school.

Britain is on course to follow suit when computer coding is made compulsory in all primary and secondary schools come September.

Australia could match both countries in the programming stakes if the Abbott government’s national curriculum review were to endorse the new discipline.

Programming will be a compulsory subject from Years 3 to 8 under the digital technologies component of the new national curriculum.

Advanced programming will be an elective subject in Years 9 and 10.

You can read the ACS submission to the ACARA review by clicking here

Internet voting on the cards for next NSW state election

NSW voters could cast a ballot at the next state election without leaving home under proposed changes that would alleviate the Saturday rush for polling booths.

A joint parliamentary inquiry into electoral matters said the so-called iVote system, which allows electors to vote using the internet, should be introduced for all council and state elections.

It called for the measure in a draft report obtained by Fairfax Media, saying it would help boost voter turnout. The report is due to be tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

However, voting experts say the system is open to abuse by hackers and should be used with caution.

The iVote system was introduced at the 2011 NSW state election for people who were vision-impaired, had reading difficulties or other disabilities. It was also open to those who live more than 20 kilometres from a polling place or would be interstate or overseas on polling day.

The inquiry's chairman Liberal MP Gareth Ward said the measure, if made available to all voters, would be an Australian first.

"When you live in an era with new technology you've got to take advantage of it," he said.

Playing by the rules: Australia’s banks and the privacy reforms

Now that the reforms of the Privacy Act have come into effect, Australia's big four banks have been forced to provide full disclosure on what information they are collecting about their customers, how it is collected, and how it is being used.

Aside from the usual identity data and contact details, other common personal details the banks are collecting about their customers include gender, marital status, and financial information, such as tax file number.

Commonwealth Bank noted in its privacy policy that online and mobile applications are giving it the ability to also collect location- or activity-based information about its customers. This includes IP address, telephone number, and whether a user has access to third-party sites. It admits that it is sometimes collecting web-based information through cookies.

Also, where applicable, such as for insurance purposes, health information is being collected by all the banks, too.

"We collect information about you from others, such as service providers, agents, advisers, brokers, employers, or family members," CBA wrote in its privacy policy.