Controversial Reads 121021

In a highly anticipated decision, a judge of the United States International Trade Commission ruled in August that Google infringed five patents owned by speaker maker Sonos. The case charged Google with copying Sonos’ patented technology in its Google Home smart speakers.

If you’ve followed the news over the last few years, you’re probably convinced that we’re living in a golden age of conspiracy theories and disinformation.

Americans, and not just Americans, are well aware of how deep the dysfunction of the ruling factions runs. Many older ones remember the abuses of the Intelligence Community and the warnings against the Military-Industrial Complex; they have lived long enough to see the political resistance to the Community and the Complex shift, under pressure of deliberate policies, from the Left to the Right.

The rumors spread like wildfire: Muslims were secretly lacing a Sri Lankan village’s food with sterilization drugs. Soon, a video circulated that appeared to show a Muslim shopkeeper admitting to drugging his customers — he had misunderstood the question that was angrily put to him.

Antitrust has not had its moment since the 1911 breakup of Standard Oil. But this past year, policymakers and government leaders around the globe have been taking a hard look at the technology markets.

For well over a decade, I have been arguing that governments should create IT accident investigation boards for the exact same reasons they have done so for ships, railroads, planes, and in many cases, automobiles.

Yet risks remain, and once the genie is out of the bottle, they are often difficult to manage and contain—they range from unintended consequences and side effects to threats to privacy and loss or misdirection of control.

How can we change the field of computing so that ethics is as central a concern as growth, efficiency, and innovation? There is no one intervention to change an entire field: instead, broad change will take a combination of guidelines, governance, and advocacy.

Jerome Pesenti, Facebook’s VP of Artificial Intelligence, explains the changes to the face recognition system that have accompanied the very recent brand name change from Facebook to Meta…

The dominant regime of the electric age—“democracy” mediated and managed by corporate journalists, academics, experts—is being slowly eaten by a new cybernetic order, mediated by algorithm and increasingly not managed at all.

The metaverse is, as they say, happening. Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that Facebook’s parent company, now called Meta, will take the lead in building out an immersive, interactive, and ubiquitous network of virtual environments that he envisions as the next phase of the Internet.

When Google introduced Manifest V3 in 2019, web extension developers were alarmed at the amount of functionality that would be taken away for features they provide users. Especially features like blocking trackers and providing secure connections.

In preventing people like me from accessing Twitter despite plainly qualifying under their own terms of service — and in failing to provide the kind of communication Dorsey testified under oath occurs in situations like mine — Twitter is arguably engaging in fraud, telling the public one thing while engaging in the opposite.

Privacy law is manifested in practice as a litany of “Agree” buttons to consent to data collection and a series of long, convoluted statements of data collection practices that are supposed to give users enough notice about what companies do with our data to enable us to make informed decisions.

It’s been 24 hours since Jack’s resignation, and while I’m not really interested in the evolving loser drama surrounding the new CEO’s decade-old tweets, it is worth noting that Twitter has already updated its content policy in a manner that effectively makes citizen journalism impossible.

In one of the more unusual cybersecurity policing stories of the past year, the FBI announced in June that it had created its own company, called ANOM, to sell devices with a pre-installed encrypted messaging app to criminals.

In its response to Stossel’s defamation claim, Facebook responds on Page 2, Line 8 in the court document (download it below) that Facebook cannot be sued for defamation (which is making a false and harmful assertion) because its ‘fact checks’ are mere statements of opinion rather than factual assertions.

While GDPR has provided essential data protections for Europeans, it has also imposed substantial compliance costs on American companies seeking to do business in the bloc and forced many companies to cease their European operations.