Tag: government

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Tim Cook’s Defining Moment

Some documents are historically significant. They mark moments, comment on them, in manner demanding future citation and even use in courts or classrooms. That’s how I read Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “Open Letter to Our Customers“, about breaking iPhone encryption  His exposition spotlights seminal moment in the United States of America: Government’s further expansion of powers encroaching indiviuals’ rights to privacy and one company standing up and saying “No”.

Some people will scoff at my comparison, but it truly is what I see. Cook is like Rosa Parks, refusing to take a seat at the back of the bus—or in this instance behind one court judge and the FBI. Cook and Apple stand up for us all. I applaud law enforcement’s efforts to protect us from terrorism but tyranny shouldn’t be the means; taking away Constitutionally-given freedoms to protect them. Tim Cook is right. 

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If You Can Vote for American Idol on Smartphones, Why Not Presidents?

Over the weekend, my 94 year-old father-in-law asked what I would do to assure that every American who could vote would do so. That was an unexpected question, but one I addressed gingerly. This post is my answer restated for a public venue.

Simple answer: Smartphone. According to PewResearchCenter, nearly 70 percent of Americans own one of the devices, but the number among voting age adults tops 80 percent, according to other estimates. Surely a program could be in place by the 2020 Presidential race, and if lawmakers were truly serious about universal suffrage, a Manhattan-like project could make it happen by the next Mid-terms. 

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What Do Amazon, Google, and Twitter Share in Common?

Let’s spin some wild conspiracy theories—because it’s fun. You can choose whether or not to take them seriously, as nothing makes better hay than a presidential election year.  So I look fondly on the Obama Administration’s preparations for the president’s last State of the Union address—nearly a year before Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or some other soulless political pretend maven—boots him from the White House. Also, as a long-time tech journalist, what goes on behind the prep interests me.

Our Commander in Chief wants you to get the message whenever or wherever you may be. That’s an admirable ambition. But I can’t help wonder if the buddy-rule still applies; I suppose it could be coincidence that the tech that will bring you President Obama’s speech and followup conversations with the Veep, First Lady, and others is provided by people/companies close to the Administration. Hehe, a crony by any other name is still a crony, just not the same. 

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Twitter's Defiance is Good News

I love Twitter, all the more since Eric Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. government’s secret spying program. The company largely stands apart from other techs’ positions, but not completely. In December, I scolded Twitter, along with Apple, Facebook, Google, and a smattering of others for their “disingenuous and self-serving” call for global government surveillance reform.

Today, Twitter tweaks the government regarding an agreement that expands disclosure of information requests, including those that fall under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In a startling act of defiance, Twitter chooses not to disclose the number of FISA and other national security-related requests, contending they’re scope is an “overly broad range”.

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Even Paper Is Better Than Windows Mobile

Say, does anyone remember that the Census Bureau was supposed to use HTC handsets running Windows Mobile 5 this year? I briefly blogged about the strange deal on April 6, 2006: “When New Technology is Old Again.”

HTC handsets running Windows Mobile used for the 2010 Census go oddly together—or they did four years ago. The Census Bureau had reportedly planned to buy a half-million handsets for this year’s count.

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Be Better Neighbors

Yesterday, I wore my Alienware T-Shirt, with the company’s logo on the front—an alien, of course. For some reason, I got several questions about it. So I said: “Well, this is my illegal alien. He’s afraid of getting sent back to his home planet, and I’m protesting with him.”

There’s truth to what I said. I’m unfavorable to the hardline US legislators are taking with this immigration bill. I just don’t see turning all these immigrants into criminals, or turning them away. As one of the sixth graders pointed out today in the Sunday school class I teach, most Americans are immigrants. And to the Native Americans here 400 hundred years ago, the off-continent settlers were the illegals and, as it turned out, invaders, too. 

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You’ve Got Be Kidding

I am glad it’s an election year. Conservative legislators held a news conference today, where they lambasted Senate lawmakers for passing an immigration amnesty bill. The House wants to tighten immigration rules.

According to CNN, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) said, “I say let the prisoners pick the fruits”. From Rep. Steve King of Iowa: “Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter A”. The brand should be on these representatives and their colleagues making these outrageous statements.

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Voter Profiling

I guess privacy doesn’t mean much during an election year. According to a Reuters story by Andy Sullivan, politicians are “drawing detailed profiles” of voters. Mr. Sullivan quotes Grassroots Solutions founder Robert Richman as saying, “It’s pretty scary, the stuff you can get on people”.

It’s funny how politicians often talk big about protecting people’s privacy (except maybe with regard to Homeland security). But in the crunch, some won’t hesitate to mine data the same as businesses.