/ / Articles, Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom, News

My latest Locus column, Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse in Reputation Economies, explains the ways in which “reputation” makes a poor form of currency — in a nutshell, reputation doesn’t fulfill most of the roles we expect from currency (store of value, unit of exchange, unit of account), and it is literally a popularity contest where the rich always get richer.

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My new Guardian column, Forget Apple’s fight with the FBI – our privacy catastrophe has only just begun, explains how surveillance advocates have changed their arguments: 20 years ago, they argued that the lack of commercial success for privacy tools showed that the public didn’t mind surveillance; today, they dismiss Apple’s use of cryptographic tools as a “marketing stunt” and treat the proportionality of surveillance as a settled question.
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My short story Scroogled has been reprinted on Lithub, as part of the promotion for Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of Interest, a forthcoming anthology about surveillance with stories by Etgar Keret, T.C. Boyle, Robert Coover, Aimee Bender, Jim Shepard, Alissa Nutting, Charles Yu and others.

Scroogled is the story of “the day Google became evil” — what happens when a former Googler discovers that his company has been made into an arm of the state.

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Since 2001, authoritarians in the South Korean government have been attempting to pass mass surveillance legislation, and they have seized upon the latest North Korean saber-rattling as the perfect excuse for ramming it through the SK Parliament.
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My latest Guardian column, The FBI wants a backdoor only it can use – but wanting it doesn’t make it possible, draws a connection between vaccine denial, climate denial, and the demand for backdoors in secure systems, as well as the call for technologies that prevent copyright infringement, like DRM.
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Last Friday, I travelled to Pasadena to give the morning keynote at SCaLE; they livecast the whole event, and you can watch it here.

No Matter Who’s Winning the War on General Purpose Computing, You’re Losing

If cyberwar were a hockey game, it’d be the end of the first period and the score would be tied 500-500. All offense, no defense. Meanwhile, a horrible convergence has occurred as everyone from car manufacturers to insulin pump makers have adopted the inkjet printer business model, insisting that only their authorized partners can make consumables, software and replacement parts — with the side-effect of making it a felony to report showstopper, potentially fatal bugs in technology that we live and die by. And then there’s the FBI and the UK’s David Cameron, who’ve joined in with the NSA and GCHQ in insisting that everyone must be vulnerable to Chinese spies and identity thieves and pervert voyeurs so that the spy agencies will always be able to spy on everyone and everything, everywhere. It’s been fifteen years since the copyright wars kicked off, and we’re still treating the Internet as a glorified video-on-demand service — when we’re not treating it as a more perfect pornography distribution system, or a jihadi recruitment tool. It’s all of those — and more. Because it’s the nervous system of the 21st century. We’ve got to stop treating it like a political football.

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It’s Copyright Week, and I’ve kicked it off with a post at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Deep Links explaining why, regardless of copyright term extension, Mickey Mouse will probably never be “free” — but that doesn’t mean that Disney is acting irrationally in its fight as hard as they are for eternal copyrights.
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