Further Reading (December 8)

  • Big Tech’s Big Defector“ – The New Yorker. Roger McNamee was one of the pioneer investors in Silicon Valley, including companies like Facebook, and now condemns many of the data privacy practices the largest technology engage in. This article surveys a number of possible remedies, including banning transfers of data to third parties, imposing a fiduciary duty of companies that collect and process data, and levy a tax on injurious collection and divisive content on platforms.
  • UN Secretary-General: US-China Tech Divide Could Cause More Havoc Than the Cold War“ – WIRED. Secretary-General António Guterres predicts that a major war could be started with one country utilizing a cyberattack on another country. In this wide-ranging interview, Guterres opines on autonomous weapons, geostrategic social and technological divides. Also, on how technology can help and hurt humans and the flourishing of democracy.
  • The California DMV Is Making $50M a Year Selling Drivers’ Personal Information” – VICE. Even with the pending effective date of the “California Consumer Privacy Act,” there is a significant loophole through which sensitive data about Californians is being sold to data brokers and others: the DMV. In a public records request, VICE found out the DMV earned $50 million last year selling such data, and California is not the only state doing this.
  • Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone.” – The New York Times. An eye-opening investigation on the huge gap between the technological and legal resources available to prosecutors and largely out of reach for public defenders. Even though smartphones and the trove of data they hold could better help courts get to the truth of many criminal matters, public defenders are either not able to afford technology prosecutors typically use to extract data from phones but they also cannot issue warrants to tech companies which frequently rebuff the subpoenas they issue. As a side note, one company, Grayshift, offers technology to prosecutors to access the data on encrypted iPhones, suggesting there are means for law enforcement to break encrypted communications.
  • Exclusive: China’s ByteDance moves to ringfence its TikTok app amid U.S. probe – sources” ­– Reuters. In the face of a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review, TikTok’s parent, ByteDance, is reportedly putting in place systems to ensure separation between the data collected by TikTok and the data collected by the parent company.
  • U.S. Tech Companies Prop Up China’s Vast Surveillance Network” – The Wall Street Journal. Through minority partnerships or other arrangements, the technology of a number of American firms are being used by Chinese firms to assist in surveillance and oppression in China. The U.S. firms typically claim not to know the end uses but profess their opposition to the types of tactics used in China.

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