01 September 2015

Affordances

'Can Americans Resist Surveillance?' by Ryan Calo in University of Chicago Law Review (Forthcoming) analyses
the ability of everyday Americans to resist and alter the conditions of government surveillance. Americans appear to have several avenues of resistance or reform. We can vote for privacy-friendly politicians, challenge surveillance in court, adopt encryption or other technology, and put market pressure on companies not to cooperate with law enforcement. 
In practice, however, many of these avenues turn out to be limited. Reform-minded officials lack the capacity for real oversight. Litigants lack standing to invoke the Constitution in court. Encryption is not usable and can turn the citizen into a target. Citizens can extract promises from companies to push back against government surveillance on their behalf but have no recourse if these promises are not enforced. 
By way of method, this essay adopts James Gibson's influential theory of affordances. Originating in psychology, and famous everywhere but law, affordance theory has evolved into a general method of inquiry with its own useful vocabulary and commitments. This essay hopes to leverage these concepts to lend structure to an otherwise haphazard inquiry into the capability of citizens to perceive and affect surveillance. The essay meanwhile contributes to affordance theory by insisting that law itself represents an important affordance.
'Online Price Discrimination and Data Protection Law' (Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2015-32) by Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius comments
Online shops can offer each website customer a different price – a practice called first degree price discrimination, or personalised pricing. An online shop can recognise a customer, for instance through a cookie, and categorise the customer as a rich or a poor person. The shop could, for instance, charge rich people higher prices. From an economic perspective, there are good arguments in favour of price discrimination. But many regard price discrimination as unfair or manipulative. This paper examines whether European data protection law applies to personalised pricing. Data protection law applies if personal data are processed. This paper argues that personalised pricing generally entails the processing of personal data. Therefore, data protection law generally applies to personalised pricing. That conclusion has several implications. For instance, data protection law requires a company to inform people about the purpose of processing their personal data. A company must inform customers if it personalises prices.

31 August 2015

Refugees Inquiry

Taking responsibility: conditions and circumstances at Australia's Regional Processing Centre in Nauru, the final report by the Senate Select Committee on the Recent allegations relating to conditions and circumstances at the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru, features the following recommendations
R1 ... that, consistent with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding and related arrangements between the governments of Australia and Nauru, Australia ensure that support and assistance is provided to Nauru's police, judicial, prosecutorial and other law and justice entities to the extent necessary to ensure that Nauru's justice system meets the standards of accountability and probity required by Australian and international law.  
R2 ... that the Government of Australia, in consultation with the Government of Nauru, agree on and publicly commit to a model timeframe for refugee status determinations, and that Australia provide the Government of Nauru with the support necessary to achieve faster and more predictable processing of claims.  
The committee further recommends that asylum seekers be informed about the steps being taken to process their claims, be regularly updated on the progress of the claim, and that an explanation be provided to asylum seekers when model timeframes are not met.
R3 ... that the Immigration Ombudsman undertake independent external review of all complaints involving the conduct of Australian-funded staff or contractors at the Regional Processing Centre, and that the government ensure that the office of the Ombudsman is adequately resourced to do so.
The committee further recommends that the Ombudsman report to parliament on an annual basis on the number and nature of the complaints received and the outcomes of the Ombudsman's assessment of them.
R4 ... that briefing be required to be provided to all asylum seekers on their rights to lodge complaints with independent bodies such as the Immigration Ombudsman, the Australian Human Rights Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross, both generally and in specific response to any complaints made.
R5 ... that Australia increase the transparency of conditions and operations at the Regional Processing Centre, including by ensuring the provision of reasonable access, in negotiation with the Government of Nauru as necessary, by the Australian Human Rights Commission and by the media.
R6 ... that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection require, in its contracts with service providers, that comprehensive drug and alcohol testing be conducted on staff employed at the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru, including daily random tests for both alcohol and drugs.
R7 ... that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection provide full and disaggregated accounts in its Portfolio Budget Statements, annual reports and other relevant reports to Parliament and to the Australian public, of the expenditure associated with the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru. This accounting should include detailing costs specific to the Nauru RPC, as well as related support and assistance provided by the Australian Government to the Republic of Nauru.
R8 ... that a full and disaggregated account of all works conducted in association with the Regional Processing Centre to date be reported by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to the Senate.
The committee recommends that a clarification be provided to the Senate by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as to why exemptions on the grounds of assistance to foreign governments apply to expenditure associated with the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru.  
The committee further recommends that all expenditure associated with the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru, including expenditure considered to be assistance to a foreign government, should be specifically reported to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee before each estimates round. 
R9 ... that the Australian Government continue to review the operation of the Regional Processing Centre with a view to expanding open centre arrangements. The committee recommends that the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru move toward becoming a more open, lower security living arrangement for all asylum seekers except where there is a compelling reason for an asylum seeker to be accommodated more securely.  
The committee recommends that any savings resulting from the implementation of an open centre model be redirected toward improving the living conditions of asylum seekers in the Regional Processing Centre, with a focus on humane living arrangements, services and amenities, including improved access to communications. The committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection report publicly and to the Senate within 12 months on progress in this regard. 
R10 ... that the government commit to and publicly release a medium to long term plan for the completion of permanent infrastructure at the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru, including the construction of solid accommodation structures, and for tangible improvements to amenities for asylum seekers including lighting, water, toilets, air conditioning, cooking facilities and communications. 
The committee is convinced that welfare services must be provided by a dedicated welfare service provider with the required experience and accreditation to undertake such work. The committee recommends that a non-government organisation be contracted directly by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to provide welfare services to all asylum seekers within the Regional Processing Centre on Nauru. 
R11 ... that the government extend its current policy commitment to remove children from immigration detention to the maximum extent possible, to include the removal of children from the Regional Processing Centre in Nauru. The government should develop a plan for the removal of children from the Nauru RPC as soon as possible, with their families where they have them, to appropriate arrangements in the community. 
R12 ... that the Australian Government commit to and publicly state a specific plan for addressing the educational needs of asylum seeker and refugee children in Nauru.  
R13 ... that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, in consultation with the Australian Federal Police, undertake a full audit of all allegations of sexual abuse, child abuse and other criminal conduct reported to the Australian Human Rights Commission, to the Moss Review and to this inquiry, seeking the agreement of these bodies to share confidential information where necessary to conduct such an audit. 
The committee further recommends that, taking into account the need to protect personal privacy, the minister should report to the Senate by the end of December 2015, and every six months thereafter, setting out all allegations of a criminal nature made in relation to the RPC, and the action taken by the department and other relevant authorities in response. 
R14 ... that legislation be passed by the Australian Parliament requiring the mandatory reporting of any reasonably suspected unlawful sexual contact, sexual harassment, unreasonable use of force or other assault perpetrated against asylum seekers at the Regional Processing Centres, under similar terms as the mandatory reporting provisions contained in existing Commonwealth, state and territory laws. 
Such legislation should require that the reporting is made to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Federal Police, as well as any relevant state, territory or foreign police force and, where the matter relates to a child, child protection authorities in any relevant jurisdictions. The legislation should utilise Category C or D extraterritorial jurisdiction to apply in Nauru, and impose penalties for noncompliance comparable with those which apply in existing legislation within Australia. 
R15 Given the committee's concerns about the level of accountability and transparency that currently applies to the operation of the regional processing centre in the Republic of Nauru, the committee recommends that the following matter be referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 31 December 2016:
a) conditions and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at the Regional Processing Centre in the Republic of Nauru; 
b) transparency and accountability mechanisms that apply to the Regional Processing Centre in the Republic of Nauru;  
c) implementation of recommendations of the Moss Review in relation to the regional processing centre in the Republic of Nauru; 
d) the extent to which the Australian funded regional processing centre in the Republic of Nauru is operating in compliance with Australian and international legal obligations;  
e) the extent to which contracts associated with the operation of offshore processing centres are: • delivering value for money consistent with the definition contained in the Commonwealth procurement rules; • meeting the terms of their contracts; • delivering services which meet Australian standards; and   
f) any related matter.

26 August 2015

Powers of the Australian Head of State

'Powers of the Head of State' by Michael Crommelin in (2015) 38(3) Melbourne University Law Review 1118-1139 comments
The proposed law to alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic did not attempt to identify and define the powers of the head of state. Instead, it provided for the President to assume, essentially unchanged, the powers conferred by the existing Constitution on the Queen and the Governor-General. Those powers have never been clearly identified and defined. Their scope depends heavily on constitutional conventions. This article argues that reliance on constitutional conventions is misplaced and that any future proposal to establish a republic must specify the powers of the President as well as the method of appointment to that office.
Crommelin concludes -
Meeting the challenge of identification and definition of the powers of the head of state in a republican constitution requires explicit classification of those powers according to their manner of exercise.
The formal powers of the Governor-General are uncontroversial. They should be conferred directly on the President. 
The powers conferred on the Governor-General in Council are also relatively straightforward. There is no reason to suppose that, upon the change from monarchy to republic, the effective operation of the legislative, executive or judicial branches of the Commonwealth would be increased by providing discretionary authority to the President in the exercise of any of these powers. Accordingly, they should be conferred on the President in Council.
Some of the powers of the Governor-General that are exercisable only on Ministerial advice should also be conferred on the President in Council. The executive power of the Commonwealth should be vested in the President (if vesting is deemed necessary) and declared to be exercisable by the President in Council, together with the command in chief of the naval and military forces of the Commonwealth, the transmission of a message to the House of Representatives or Senate recommending the purpose of an appropriation, and the assent to a proposed law passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Other powers of the Governor-General that are exercisable only on ministerial advice should be conferred on the President and declared to be exercisable only in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister. These include the selection, summoning and dismissal of members of the Federal Executive Council and the allocation of portfolios to Commonwealth Ministers.
Two further powers of the Governor-General which may currently confer discretionary authority would require special treatment. First, the President in Council rather than the President should exercise the power to convene a joint sitting of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate after a double dissolution under s 57 of the Constitution. The jurisdiction of the High Court to determine whether the requirements of s 57 of the Constitution have been satisfied in relation to a proposed law enacted at a joint sitting is sufficient to protect the constitutional integrity of the deadlocks procedure without any need to confer discretionary authority on the President. Secondly, the President should be required to submit a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution to referendum under s 128 of the Constitution after its passage by Parliament, whether by each House or by one House twice, as a corollary of the fact that s 128 allows such a proposed law to originate in either House. Then there would be no need to confer discretionary authority on the President.
In my opinion, only six reserve powers should be conferred on the President. They are the powers of appointment of the Prime Minister, dismissal of the Prime Minister, summoning Parliament, prorogation of Parliament, dissolution of the House of Representatives, and dissolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously under s 57 of the Constitution. The exercise of each of these powers in particular circumstances poses a threat to our system of government sufficient to justify the exercise of discretionary authority of the President in fulfilment of a duty to uphold the Constitution.
Both principle and pragmatism demonstrate that reliance on constitutional conventions is more likely to hinder than help the identification and definition of the reserve powers of the head of state. Any inclination to perpetuate the Barton approach should be firmly resisted. Instead, the Constitution should simply state that the President has a duty to uphold the institutional integrity of the Constitution, including the principle that a government must have the confidence of the House of Representatives.

Bitcoin and the UCC

'Bitcoin and the Uniform Commercial Code' by Jeanne L. Schroeder comments
Much of the discussion of bitcoin in the popular press has concentrated on its status as a currency. Putting aside a vocal minority of radical libertarians and anarchists, however, many bitcoin enthusiasts are concentrating on how its underlying technology – the blockchain – can be put to use for wide variety of uses. For example, economists at the Fed and other central banks have suggested that they should encourage the evolution of bitcoin’s blockchain protocol which might allow financial transactions to clear much efficiently than under our current systems. As such, it also holds out the possibility of becoming that holy grail of commerce – a payment system that would eliminate or minimize the roles of third party intermediaries. In addition, the NASDAQ and a number of issuers are experimenting with using the blockchain to record the issuing and trading of investments securities.
In this Article, I examine the implications for bitcoin under the Uniform Commercial Code (the “U.C.C.”). Specifically, I consider three issues. In Part 1, I discuss the characterization of bitcoin – which I am using generically to refer to any virtual or cryptocurrency – under Article 9. The bad news is that it does not, and cannot be made to fit into, the U.C.C.’s definition of “money”. If held directly by the owner, bitcoin constitutes a “general intangible”. Unfortunately, general intangibles are non-negotiable. This could greatly impinge on bitcoin’s liquidity and, therefore, its utility as a payment system.
In Part 2, I show how this may be mitigated by the rules of Article 8 governing investment securities. If the owner of bitcoin were to choose to hold it indirectly through a financial intermediary, then she and the intermediary could elect to have it treated as a “financial asset” which is super-negotiable. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of eliminating one of the primary attractions of cryptocurrency, namely the ability to engage in financial transactions directly without a third-party intermediary. However, Article 8, may already provide a legal regime for another contemplated use for the blockchain – namely as a readily searchable means of recording the ownership and transfer of property generally.
In Part 3, I explain how cryptosecurities fall squarely within Article 8's definition of “uncertificated securities.” Ironically, therefore, the creation of bitcoin securities may finally breathe life to little used provisions that were invented almost 40 years ago in a failed attempt to solve a completely different problem.

Papal Copyright History

'Proto-Property in Literary and Artistic Works: Sixteenth-Century Papal Printing Privileges' by Jane C. Ginsburg in Isabella Alexander & H. Tomas Gomez-Arostegui (eds) THe History of Copyright: A Handbook of Contemporary Research (Edward Elgar, 2015) comments
This Study endeavors to reconstruct the Vatican’s precursor system of copyright, and the author’s place in it, inferred from examination of over five hundred privileges and petitions and related documents — almost all unpublished — in the Vatican Secret Archives. The typical account of the precopyright world of printing privileges, particularly in Venice, France and England, portrays a system primarily designed to promote investment in the material and labor of producing and disseminating books; protecting or rewarding authorship was at most an ancillary objective.
The sixteenth-century Papal privileges found in the Archives, however, prompt some rethinking of that story because the majority of these privileges were awarded to authors, and even where a printer received a privilege for a work of a living author, the petition increasingly asserted the author’s endorsement of the application. The predominance of authors might suggest the conclusion that the Papal privilege system more closely resembled modern copyright than printer-centered systems. That said, it would be inaccurate and anachronistic to claim that authorship supplied the basis for the grant of a Papal privilege. Nonetheless, a sufficient number of petitions and privileges invoke the author’s creativity that one may cautiously suggest that authorship afforded a ground for bestowing exclusive rights.
The Study proceeds as follows: first, a description of the sources consulted and methodology employed; second, an account of the system of Papal printing privileges derived from the petitions for and grants of printing monopolies; third, an examination of the justifications for Papal printing monopolies and the inferences appropriately drawn regarding the role of authors in the Papal privilege system.

25 August 2015

CIFR report on Competition In Financial Services

Bank account number portability as a pro-competition mechanism?

The Centre for International Finance and Regulation (CIFR) has released a 154 page report [PDF] on Competition In Financial Services that suggests adoption of that portability.

CIFR comments
The research question for this project was ‘What are the optimal competition law and policy settings that should apply to the financial services sector?’
The research question was driven by two Australian Government inquiries which will affect competition policy in the financial services sector. The Financial System Inquiry chaired by David Murray and the Competition Policy Review, chaired by Professor Ian Harper
The project has three objectives. 
The first is to investigate the nature of competition in certain sectors of the financial markets. Meeting this objective will provide Australian evidence on which decisions as to the competitive settings in the sector can, or should be, adjusted. 
The second is to consider the mechanisms by which competition in the financial services sector can be promoted. This includes an analysis of the approaches used on an international basis for the promotion of competition in financial services. Meeting this objective will provide evidence on which decisions as to allocation of responsibility for promoting competition can be made. 
The third is to consider the sector-specific competition settings in the financial sector, including the balance between competition and stability. As the global financial crisis did not provide Australia with direct experience of the practical limitations of this balance, the work investigates theoretical approaches and international experience. Meeting this objective will provide evidence for appropriate policy settings if there are to be any sector-specific competition policy exemptions. 
CIFR goes on to state
International work from central banks, international financial institutions and academic sources in this field is still dominated by the effects of the financial crisis. There are three critical themes:
(a) an increased focus on macroprudential regulation; 
(b) a focus on regulations that respond to the globalisation of the financial markets; and 
(c) the introduction of anti-competitive policies such as government intervention and consolidation after the financial crisis.
These sources have also offered key policies to promote competition, which include the independence and strength of regulators, consumer policies such as the facilitation of switching, financial literacy, and easing entry and exit restrictions. 
There are three characteristics of retail banking in Australia:
(a) the stability of the sector is sound and retail banking had a relatively soft landing in the aftermath of the financial crisis; 
(b) there is limited competitiveness and this is reflected in the static state of market share between the four major banks and very slow and marginal improvement gains even by strong second tier competitors; and 
(c) product and service innovation is limited.
There are two important implications that flow from these issues:
(a) the absence of vigorous rivalry, whilst providing stability, is likely to mean that the welfare of retail banking consumers is not optimised; and 
(b) the level of innovation may not be as high as is feasible and barriers, including prudential regulatory barriers to entry or expansion, mean that the extent of rivalry is unlikely to change without some form of promotion of competition.
We recommend the removal of the ‘four pillars’ policy for the following reasons:
  • The four major banks are protected by an implicit government guarantee that impacts market operation with little observable benefit to consumers, and may be a source of consumer disutility. 
  • The four pillars policy has prompted increased vertical integration within the sector, particularly in the area of mortgage products. 
  • There are sufficient merger protections provided by Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). 
  • Competition and contestability arise when there are reasonably low barriers to entry and exit from the sector. It is not clear that low barriers to entry exist in Australia, and evidence to support this view comes from the failure of international banks to gain a significant toehold in the retail banking sector in Australia. One deterrent to entry is the regulatory focus on the four pillars.
We recognised that this position is at odds with the view of the Financial System Inquiry. The rationale in the report of the Inquiry was to prevent mergers between the four pillars, and the current competition law achieves this objective.
The report examines crowd equity funding as a disruptive force in the banking sector. We recommend that crowd equity funding be permitted with the following safeguards:
  • The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) should take an active role in monitoring crowd equity funding and be willing to sue in case of fraudulent action. 
  • Any intermediary online platform should have a financial services licence with limited duty of care. 
  • There should be a cap for business raisings through crowd equity funding of $2 million in a 12-month period.
In terms of competitiveness, Australia’s banking sector lies broadly between the US and the UK, and is comparable with the world overall. However, statistical measures indicate that competition in the domestic sector peaked in 2004. 
We recommend two specific policies to promote competition in retail banking without the structural intervention that would otherwise be required to improve the intensity of competition in the retail banking sector:
  • Introduce bank account number portability. This would use ‘know your customer’ and central database systems in a similar form to those that have been used for mobile number portability in Australia for the last decade and a half. 
  • Introduce customer access to data held by banks to allow third parties to compare bank offerings across all banks.
It is interesting to note that these two recommendations are consistent with the productivity proposals issued by the UK Government in July 2015.
In discussing portability CIFR states -
Introduction 
One of the issues which deters consumers from changing suppliers is the associated switching cost (Fuentelsaz, Maicas and Polo 2012; Colgate and Lang 2001). The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a UK financial regulatory body that is independent of the UK government, released a report in March 2015 that highlights the benefits of account number portability (bank account number portability) in encouraging consumers to switch. The report predominately concentrates on Current Account Switching Service (CASS), a service provided in the UK to allow for customers to switch more easily by automatically switching all direct debits, standing orders and bill payments within seven working days and providing a redirection service for up to 13 months. The report also provides important insights into the workings of bank account number portability. These can be used to understand how this mechanism can be introduced into Australia as an effective tool to make switching easier and simpler, which is a necessary component in the financial system for vibrant competition. 
4.7.2 Benefits of bank account number portability 
The FCA report finds that bank account number portability would encourage more customers to switch. Based on recent quantitative consumer research, the report revealed that 35% of consumers and 40% of businesses ‘would be much more likely or more likely to switch if they had portable account details’ (Financial Conduct Authority 2015: 53). The research signalled that customers view bank account number portability as having ‘less risk and is more seamless as a process than CASS’, as there is no requirement to change details or to notify consumers of any changes (Financial Conduct Authority 2015: 53). Further quantitative research shows that, for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and charities, bank account number portability is viewed as a more convenient mechanism. This is because ‘they would not have to notify their customers of changing details, worry about transferring certain payments, make changes to stationery, or be concerned about what the change in account details may signal to their customers’ (Financial Conduct Authority 2015: 53). Moreover, bank account number portability is seen by customers as reducing the chances of encountering problems such as incoming payments going astray. Thus, the main benefits for incorporating bank account number portability are that switching is made easier and quicker for customers by allowing existing direct debits and credits linked to the account to be automatically transferred to the new institution, meaning that the risk of error for payments going amiss would diminish. 
4.7.3 Possible implementation of bank account number portability 
The FCA report provides technical advice on what measures are required for bank account number portability to be implemented. This includes the following prerequisites: payments, as well as the existing balance, would need to be transferred from the old to the new account, and a record of both the payments to be transferred and the current and any previous account numbers would also be required. Essentially, for bank account number portability to be effective, the customer’s details and payments would need to be accessible by the old and new institution. 
According to the FCA report, these requirements could be dealt with via two different methods. The first potential method is based on the existing market structure, but would incorporate bank account number portability by building additional infrastructure that includes the prerequisites, as previously referred to, such as retaining information on payments and account information, and routing payments and balances. This additional infrastructure would be run centrally, but providers would still work under their own existing systems. The second concept is a ‘central utility model’ based on a ‘central shared banking platform’. The ‘utility’ model could include features such as a ‘Know-Your-Customer’ (KYC) database (which stores the customer’s details for identification) and a ‘payment mandates database’ for all payments to be transferred through a common payment infrastructure that would identify which institution the account is linked to (Financial Conduct Authority 2015: 54). The idea is for providers to retain their different products and services, interest rates, internet banking sites, or mobile banking applications to continue offering competing products to customers, whilst using a common infrastructure system. Unfortunately, the FCA does not delve into the specifics of how bank account number portability would be implemented, but rather provides a framework to be further examined. 
4.7.4 Portability implementation in Australia 
Implementing account number portability in Australia would require compliance with the relevant regulatory safeguards, especially in the context of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism, that have been constructed over the years. Consequently, an Australian model would need to include a ‘Know Your Customer’ database and a ‘payment mandates database’. Currently, the Australian payment system is based on the direct entry system, which essentially is a series of bilateral networks between financial institutions to facilitate the transactions of direct credits and debits. In other words, an electronic payment system to transfer money. For this to occur, each customer has a customer account number to identify the specific account, and a bank, state, branch (BSB) number to indicate which financial institution, state and branch the customer’s account number is linked to. To switch in Australia, customers are required to change their BSB, customer account number and redirect incoming or outgoing transactions to the new account details. 
The Fraser (2011: 8) report, commissioned by the Australian government, developed a similar idea to the FCA report on bank account number portability. The report conceptualized an alternative numbering system with a central account registry to store the details of the customer’s account, including that of the customer’s institution, which would be updated each time a switch occurs, as well as, a ‘central hub’ or clearing house whereby all direct payments would be transferred. The existing BSB number and account number system would thus be replaced with a unique customer account number with the clearing house and central registry acting as a mechanism for rerouting payments. The report alternatively describes the possibility of a de-centralized approach whereby institutions would be held responsible to reroute payments and retain their own account registry of switched account numbers which would be available to other financial institutions (Fraser 2011: 8). The report however, concludes by arguing that the costs involved in building the infrastructure necessary for bank account number portability and for it to function, outweighs the benefits. 
Of interesting note however, the Fraser (2011) report does not provide a reason for why the current BSB and account number could not be merged to form a unique customer account number rather than having to develop a completely new one. Furthermore, the report does not examine whether a current banking institution, such as one of the four big banks could manage the centralized payments system, which could be checked by the remaining big banking institutions and would avoid the costs of establishing a new institution. Perhaps a simpler alternative however, could be to merge the current BSB and account number in order to form a unique customer account number rather than having to develop a completely new one. This parallels the mobile numbering approach where two digits after ‘04’ previously indicated the network operator and now only do so for non-ported numbers. 
4.7.5 Additional detailed option for bank account number portability 
There is also a report by Jain and Kudidhi (2010) from the Infosys Institute that envisages a similar but much more detailed idea of how bank account number portability could be implemented, compared to the Fraser (2011) and Financial Conduct Authority (2015) report. The authors propose a method that entails a local database for each institution to initiate switching requests, as well as a central database with all customer account numbers that would be accessible to all banking institutions. A clearing house agency would be given the responsibility to manage this database by updating the requests made by the new serving bank and informing the old serving bank of the customer’s request to switch. The old serving bank would be responsible for undertaking closure procedures including cancellations of ATM/Debit cards and transferring to the new bank the customer’s details whilst informing the clearing agency of this process. Finally, the new bank would perform a KYC process requirement and make switching requests via its local database that is connected to the central database. The report however, does not provide any assessment of the costs involved in this bank account number portability initiative. A centralised database system is also important and is sometimes regarded as a high cost item. However, a process could be established where one of the four big banks manages the database, which is then checked by the remaining big banking institutions. This would avoid the costs of establishing a new institution. In the telecommunications sector, Telstra runs the equivalent data repository known as the Integrated Public Number Database.

Drones

'Self-Defense Against Robots and Drones' by A. Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo in (2015) 48(1) Connecticut Law Review comments
Robots can pose - or can appear to pose - a threat to life, property, and privacy. May a landowner legally shoot down a trespassing drone? Can she hold a trespassing autonomous car as security against damage done or further torts? Is the fear that a drone may be operated by a paparazzo or a peeping Tom sufficient grounds to disable or interfere with it? How hard may you shove if the office robot rolls over your foot? This paper addresses all those issues and one more: what rules and standards we could put into place to make the resolution of those questions easier and fairer to all concerned. 
The default common-law legal rules governing each of these perceived threats are somewhat different, although reasonableness always plays an important role in defining legal rights and options. In certain cases - drone overflights, autonomous cars, national, state, and even local regulation - may trump the common law. Because it is in most cases obvious that humans can use force to protect themselves against actual physical attack, the paper concentrates on the more interesting cases of (1) robot (and especially drone) trespass and (2) responses to perceived threats other than physical attack by robots notably the risk that the robot (or drone) may be spying - perceptions which may not always be justified, but which sometimes may nonetheless be considered reasonable in law. 
We argue that the scope of permissible self-help in defending one's privacy should be quite broad. There is exigency in that resort to legally administered remedies would be impracticable; and worse, the harm caused by a drone that escapes with intrusive recordings can be substantial and hard to remedy after the fact. Further, it is common for new technology to be seen as risky and dangerous, and until proven otherwise drones are no exception. At least initially, violent self-help will seem, and often may be, reasonable even when the privacy threat is not great - or even extant. We therefore suggest measures to reduce uncertainties about robots, ranging from forbidding weaponized robots to requiring lights, and other markings that would announce a robot’s capabilities, and RFID chips and serial numbers that would uniquely identify the robot’s owner. 
The paper concludes with a brief examination of what if anything our survey of a person's right to defend against robots might tell us about the current state of robot rights against people.
'Public Opinion and the Politics of the Killer Robots Debate' by Michael C. Horowitz comments
The possibility that today’s drones could become tomorrow’s killer robots has attracted the attention of people around the world. Scientists and business leaders from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk recently signed a letter urging the world to ban autonomous weapons. Part of the argument against these systems is that they violate the public conscience provision of the Martens Clause due to public opposition, making them illegal under international law. What, however, does the US public think of these systems? Existing research suggests widespread US public opposition, but only asked people about support for autonomous weapons in a vacuum. This paper uses two survey experiments to test the conditions in which public opposition rises and falls. The results demonstrate that public opposition to autonomous weapons is extremely contextual. Fear of other countries or non-state actors developing these weapons makes the public significantly more supportive of developing them. The public also becomes much more willing to actually use autonomous weapons when the alternative is sending in US troops. Beyond contributing to ongoing academic debates about casualty aversion, the microfoundations of foreign policy, and weapon systems, these results suggest the need for modesty when making claims about how the public views new, unknown, technologies such as autonomous weapons.