Communications Alliance and Energy Networks Australia (ENA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to improve the way the two sectors collaborate and share knowledge when responding to emergency situations.
Under the MoU, the pair have agreed to improve the safety of communities by mitigating risks caused by telecommunications or power outages during emergencies, as well as the sustainability of telecommunications and power supply services to communities affected by emergencies to support their recovery.
The MoU also sets out that the two sectors will collaborate and coordinate on preparing telecommunications and electricity networks and infrastructure for responding to emergencies at local, regional, and state level.
A report prepared by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in May found that during the peak period of the Black Summer bushfires, most telecommunication outages were due to power failures rather than direct fire damage to communication assets.
The report found that during the period from 19 December 2019 to 31 January 2020, only 3% of tower outages were due to fire damage, and of the 1,390 total facilities that were impacted by the fires outages, only 1% of incidents were a direct result of fire damage.
See also: Twitter bots and trolls promote conspiracy theories about Australian bushfires
Similar findings were disclosed by the company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia. In June, NBN revealed in response to Senate Estimates Question on Notice that bushfires impacted 1% of all NBN services.
“12% (or 6,367 services) of all services impacted were directly impacted by fire over the duration of the bushfires,” the company said at the time.
“The remaining services were impacted by power outages as a result of the bushfires.”
The federal government has previously announced it would spend AU$37.1 million to improve the resiliency of the nation’s
Lawmakers have sought to convene the hearing to explore social-media sites’ content-management practices and the future of a federal law, known as Section 230, that spares tech giants from being held liable for the way they police their sites and services.
GOP lawmakers have ramped up their attacks in recent months as tech companies take a more aggressive stand against controversial tweets and posts from President Trump, including his widely debunked comments that seek to cast doubt over the 2020 election. Democrats, meanwhile, widely reject the claims of bias — instead, they fault Facebook, Google and Twitter for failing to crack down against harmful or abusive posts, photos and videos, including viral election disinformation.
A spokesman for Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the Republican chairman of the Commerce Committee, did not respond to a request for comment. The hearing is set to occur virtually, with the tech executives testifying from the west coast.
Facebook confirmed Zuckerberg would attend, and Google did not comment. Twitter confirmed Dorsey’s attendance in a tweet late Friday that urged lawmakers to be “constructive & focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections.”
“Alleged ‘political bias’ remains an unsubstantiated allegation that we have refuted on many occasions to Congress,” the company added. “It has also been widely disproven by independent research. We do not enforce our policies on the basis of political ideology.”
Lawmakers’ hearing also comes as federal regulators continue to scrutinize Facebook and Google for their expansive corporate footprints. The Justice Department could file an antitrust lawsuit against Google as soon as next week, putting Pichai in the congressional hot seat over the government’s findings at the end of October.