What we talk about when we talk about cybersecurity: security in internet governance debates | Internet Policy Review

Internet governance bodies agree that improving online security is important, but disagree on what a more secure internet would look like.

The tensions that arise around issues of security among different groups of internet governance stakeholders speak to the many tangled notions of what online security is and whom it is meant to protect that are espoused by the participants in multistakeholder governance forums. What makes these debates significant and unique in the context of internet governance is not that the different stakeholders often disagree (indeed, that is a common occurrence), but rather that they disagree while all using the same vocabulary of security to support their respective stances. Government stakeholders advocate for limitations on WHOIS privacy/proxy services in order to aid law enforcement and protect their citizens from crime and fraud. Civil society stakeholders advocate against those limitations in order to aid activists and minorities and protect those online users from harassment. Both sides would claim that their position promotes a more secure internet and a more secure society—and in a sense, both would be right, except that each promotes a differently secure internet and society, protecting different classes of people and behaviour from different threats.

Source: What we talk about when we talk about cybersecurity: security in internet governance debates | Internet Policy Review

The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy | New Republic

It’s not just Donald Trump and his fans who think the system is rigged.

“Why is the American Right giving up on democracy?”

Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud. In both this poll and an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, only half of Republicans say they’d accept a Clinton victory. (In the latter poll, by contrast, 82 percent of Democrats said they would accept a Trump victory.)

Beyond this election, beyond even the fate of the Republican Party, there is a significant minority of Americans who are giving up on democracy because it doesn’t serve their purpose of upholding a white Christian patriarchy. Trump is merely a symptom of this problem, and even if he fades as a political force after the election, the underlying disease will remain, and indeed will likely spread. The threat to the American system is not an armed revolt after November 8, but the growing number of Americans who are convinced that only “regime change” can save capitalism, Christianity, and America itself.

Source: The Right Is Giving Up on Democracy | New Republic

In a highly indebted world, austerity is a permanent state of affairs — Quartz

The logic behind austerity holds that “the market”—which the public had just bailed out—did not like the debt incurred when states everywhere rescued and recapitalized their banking systems.

Public debt, however, grew, because economies got smaller and grew slower the more they cut.

The reason is simple—and it is surprising anyone thought that anything else would happen. Imagine an economy as a sum, with a numerator and a denominator. Make total debt 100 and stick that on the top (the numerator). Make Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 100 and stick that on the bottom (the denominator) to give us a 100% debt-to-GDP ratio. If you cut total spending by 20% to restore “confidence,” the economy is “balanced” at 100/80. That means the debt-to-GDP ratio of the country just went up to 120%, all without the government issuing a single cent of new debt.

In short, cuts to spending in a recession make the underlying economy contract. After all, government workers have lost jobs or income, and government workers not shopping has the same effect as private sector workers not shopping. So the debt goes up as the economy shrinks further.

As difficult as it can be to make this reality part of the political conversation, public debt is an asset. Even at today’s low rates, it earns interest and retains value. No one is forced to invest in public debt, but every time bonds are issued investors show up and buy them by the truckload. By market criteria, public debt is a great investment.

But who pays for it? That would be the taxpayer.

Source: In a highly indebted world, austerity is a permanent state of affairs — Quartz

As Artificial Intelligence Evolves, So Does Its Criminal Potential – The New York Times

The next generation of online attack tools used by criminals will add machine learning capabilities pioneered by A.I. researchers.

The alarm about malevolent use of advanced artificial intelligence technologies was sounded earlier this year by James R. Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. In his annual review of security, Mr. Clapper underscored the point that while A.I. systems would make some things easier, they would also expand the vulnerabilities of the online world.

“I would argue that companies that offer customer support via chatbots are unwittingly making themselves liable to social engineering,” said Brian Krebs, an investigative reporter who publishes at krebsonsecurity.com.

Source: As Artificial Intelligence Evolves, So Does Its Criminal Potential – The New York Times

U.S. Parents Are Sweating And Hustling To Pay For Child Care : NPR

The average cost of day care in the U.S. — $9,589 per year — edges out the average cost of in-state college tuition at $9,410, according to a recent report from New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Care.com, an online resource that connects families and caregivers.

In four states — Kentucky, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin — average child care costs exceed median rent. In 11 states — Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington — and the District of Columbia, the average cost of full-time day care is more than 90 percent of median rent.

Average cost of child care as a share of median household income (U.S. average: 30.8 percent)
Source: New America Foundation: The Care Index (2016)
Credit: Alyson Hurt/NPR

Brian Hickey of Raleigh, N.C. … “At the end of the day, I can lose my house, my job, my car, you can replace those,” he says. “You can’t replace your kids.”

Source: U.S. Parents Are Sweating And Hustling To Pay For Child Care : NPR

Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking – ProPublica

Google is the latest tech company to drop the longstanding wall between anonymous online ad tracking and user’s names.

The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on the keywords they used in their Gmail. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.

Source: Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking – ProPublica

Can a Corporation Have a Soul? – The Atlantic

A business that earns nothing but money is a poor business.

— Henry Ford


The Dodge brothers were frustrated that Ford had declined to distribute the company’s surplus funds to shareholders, and instead planned to expand the company’s manufacturing capacity, hire more workers, and reduce the prices of its cars. … the Dodge brothers argued that Henry Ford believed that after ensuring shareholders had earned a reasonable return (which the Dodge brothers certainly had), a company should devote its resources to improving society. From Ford’s perspective, this meant producing better products at lower prices and employing more people at good wages.

the Michigan Supreme Court permitted Ford to go through with his plans as he pleased. … It acknowledged that its judges were “not business experts,” and for that reason deferred to Ford and the rest of the company’s board, permitting them to set forth on whatever strategy they deemed fit. After all, the court noted, Ford Motor’s previous strategies had already been extremely successful.

As long as there is some sort of connection to boosting long-term earnings, boards can essentially do as they please, as Ford’s court battle demonstrated. If they choose, directors can imbue a company with a purpose beyond distributing money to shareholders. … The question, then, is not what boards and executives must do, but what they will elect to do.

Source: Can a Corporation Have a Soul? – The Atlantic

Is the Self-Driving Car Un-American?

Our republic of drivers is poised to become a nation of passengers.

The experience of driving a car has been the mythopoeic heart of America for half a century. How will its absence be felt? We are still probably too close to it to know for sure. Will we mourn the loss of control? Will it subtly warp our sense of personal freedom — of having our destiny in our hands? Will it diminish our daily proximity to death? Will it scramble our (too often) gendered, racialized notions of who gets to drive which kinds of cars? Will middle-aged men still splurge on outlandishly fast (or, at least, fast-looking) self-driving vehicles? Will young men still buy cheap ones and then blow their paychecks tricking them out? If we are no longer forced to steer our way through a traffic jam, will it become less existentially frustrating, or more? What will become of the cinematic car chase? What about the hackneyed country song where driving is a metaphor for life? Will race-car drivers one day seem as remotely seraphic to us as stunt pilots? Will we all one day assume the entitled air of the habitually chauffeured?

the dialectic between the old-fashioned automotive freedom and the newfangled freedom from cars.

What exactly is that freedom worth? In answering that question, we as a society will schism in curious ways. For those of us who see driving as a kind of imprisonment — which, spatially speaking, it quite literally is — an extra hour to work or play (or eat, or read, or meditate, or fix our hair and do our makeup) will be cherished. But for those who see driving as a physical expression of freedom — which, spatially speaking, it also quite literally is — the end of driving will feel like confinement.

The question will become even more complicated once it becomes entangled in the sticky web of partisan politics, which it inevitably will be — another sign of just how loaded the car is as a pack mule of American symbolism.

Source: Is the Self-Driving Car Un-American?


To a large extent I deplore its passing, for as a basically old-fashioned machine it enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea — freedom.

— novelist J. G. Ballard

Ease of Online Applications Hurts Low-Income Students – The Atlantic

Students—especially those who are economically disadvantaged—and universities are hurt by how simple it is to apply to schools online.

The concern for colleges is that selectivity and national reach aren’t the only metrics that matter. Just as critical is “yield”—the share of accepted students who actually enroll. It’s what colleges use to project their revenues and manage their finances, and miscalculations can be fatal. Too few students—too low a yield—can spell shortfalls that lead to budget cuts, fewer classes, or even faculty layoffs. … On the other hand, too many enrollments could mean not enough student housing or financial aid.

Most schools, however, are having trouble finding the right students. In fact, despite the online application boom, schools are in crisis around yield. NACAC’s State of College Admission survey found that the average four-year college yield rate was 35.7 percent in 2013—down from 48.7 percent in 2002.

Of course, most students have no idea that this is how colleges are judging them. Some do, however, because they have the means to hire private educational consultants who can explain the rules of the current admissions marketplace. “One way to tell that the market is dysfunctional is if you have to hire a guide,” says Roth, from Stanford.

Source: Ease of Online Applications Hurts Low-Income Students – The Atlantic

Why We’re Living in the Age of Fear – Rolling Stone

This is the safest time in human history. So why are we all so afraid?

“What we’re talking about is anxiety, not fear,” LeDoux says. Where fear is a response to a present threat, anxiety is a more complex and highly manipulable response to something one anticipates might be a threat in the future. “It is a worry about something that hasn’t happened and may never happen,” says LeDoux.

This may seem like a small distinction. But in actuality, it is everything. Because where fear is about a danger that seems certain, anxiety is, in LeDoux’s words, “an experience of uncertainty.”

And that uncertainty is the exact lever that politicians regularly use to try to influence your behavior.

The goal, however, is to separate real threats from manufactured ones. And to find a balance where we are not so scared that we’re making bad decisions that hurt us and our freedom, but not so oblivious that we aren’t taking steps to protect ourselves.

Source: Why We’re Living in the Age of Fear – Rolling Stone