Inmates Need Social Media. Take It From a Former Prisoner

The country’s most famous inmate is free. O.J. Simpson’s release highlights the challenges of leaving prison, saddled with multiple felony convictions. I would know. It’s hard to re-enter society, but it might be easier for those returning citizens, like Simpson, whose NFL pension and luxury homes, along with the prospect of the new iPhone, await him, compared with the likely transition for those who will return to poverty.

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Chandra Bozelko (@aprisondiary) is a 2017 John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim criminal justice reporting fellow and writes the award-winning blog Prison Diaries.

Like Simpson, when I came home from prison in 2014, after serving more than six years for identity-theft-related crimes, I had resources: money, my family’s support, a driver’s license that my parents had renewed in my absence. I had a safe, warm, and free place to stay as long as I needed to.

Where I floundered — and where Simpson may struggle, too — was technology. [...]  read more

I Helped Create Facebook’s Ad Machine. Here’s How I’d Fix It

This month, two magnificently embarrassing public-relations disasters rocked the Facebook money machine like nothing else in its history.

First, Facebook revealed that shady Russian operators purchased political ads via Facebook in the 2016 election. That’s right, Moscow decided to play a role in American democracy and targeted what are presumed to have been fake news, memes, and/or various bits of slander (Facebook refuses to disclose the ad creative, though it has shared it with special counsel Robert Mueller) at American voters in an attempt to influence the electoral course of our 241-year-old republic. And all that on what used to be a Harvard hook-up app.

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Antonio García Martínez (@antoniogm) was the first ads targeting product manager on the Facebook Ads team, and author of the memoir Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley He wrote about the internet in Cuba in WIRED’s July issue.

Second, reporters at ProPublica discovered that [...]  read more

Self-Driving Cars Will Kill People. Who Decides Who Dies?

Recently, the “trolley problem,” a decades-old thought experiment in moral philosophy, has been enjoying a second career of sorts, appearing in nightmare visions of a future in which cars make life-and-death decisions for us. Among many driverless car experts, however, talk of trolleys is très gauche. They call the trolley problem sensationalist and irrelevant. But this attitude is unfortunate. Thanks to the arrival of autonomous vehicles, the trolley problem will be answered—that much is unavoidable. More importantly, though, that answer will profoundly reshape the way law is administered in America.

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Jay Donde (@Jay_Donde) is an attorney in the San Francisco office of Morrison & Foerster LLP, where he practices privacy and data security law.

To understand the trolley problem, first consider this scenario: You are standing on a bridge. Underneath you, a railroad track divides into a main route and an alternative. On the main route, 50 people are tied to the [...]  read more

Apple’s FaceID Could Be a Powerful Tool for Mass Spying

This Tuesday Apple unveiled a new line of phones to much fanfare, but one feature immediately fell under scrutiny: FaceID, a tool that would use facial recognition to identify individuals and unlock their phones.

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Jake Laperruque (@jakelaperruque) is senior counsel for privacy and security issues at The Constitution Project. He previously served as a fellow for New America’s Open Technology Institute and The Center for Democracy and Technology.

Unsurprisingly, this raised major anxiety about consumer privacy given its profound ramifications: Retailers already crave facial recognition to monitor consumers, and without legally binding terms, Apple could use FaceID to track consumer patterns at its stores, or develop and sell data to others. It’s also possible that police would be able to more easily unlock phones without consent by simply holding an individual’s phone up to his or her face.

But FaceID should create fear about another form of government surveillance: [...]  read more

How the US Can Counter Threats from DIY Weapons and Automation

During the past several years, in my capacity as deputy director and then acting director of national intelligence, I have participated in National Security Council meetings about immediate challenges, from North Korea’s aggressive missile and nuclear development programs to Russian military operations along its borders, and from ISIS threats to the homeland to Chinese activity in the South China Sea.

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Michael Dempsey is the national intelligence fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former acting director of national intelligence. The author is an employee of the US government on a sponsored fellowship, but all opinions are those of the author and do not reflect the official views of the US government.

Even in instances in which the threat the US confronted was especially complex, there was at least a familiar policy playbook of options, as well as a shared understanding of how to approach these crises. However, in today’s dynamic security landscape, [...]  read more

Decentralized Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They’ll Never Work

Last year Jillian York, a free expression activist, was temporarily booted off Facebook for sharing partially nude images. The offending photos were part of a German breast cancer awareness campaign which featured, well, breasts. Facebook flagged the post as a violation of its Community Standards, which strictly prohibits most types of female nudity. Though the account suspension lasted only 24 hours, it had a powerful impact on York’s ability to get things done.

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Chelsea Barabas (@chels_bar) is a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab and former head of social innovation for the Digital Currency Initiative. Neha Narula (@neha) directs the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. Ethan Zuckerman (@ethanz) is the director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and associate professor of the practice at the MIT Media Lab.

Locked out of Facebook, York was unable to complete her work or post comments on news sites that use Facebook’s commenting tools. And without [...]  read more

Why the US Government Shouldn’t Ban Kaspersky Security Software

Earlier this summer the House Science Committee sent letters to 22 US government agencies requesting information on their use of Kaspersky Lab security products. As the federal government continues to investigate claims of ties between the Trump administration and Russia, officials in Washington have expressed concern that the government’s use of software from Kaspersky Lab—a well-known security vendor based in Russia—could compromise domestic intelligence. This request represents the most recent action in an aggressive campaign by Congress to review the possible security implications of using Kaspersky software for government infrastructure.

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Philip Chertoff (@ philip_chertoff ) is a research fellow in the cybersecurity program at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute, an EU/NATO policy think tank in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Already, the General Services Administration (GSA) has  [...]  read more

What James Damore Got Wrong About Gender Bias in Computer Science

In August Google employee James Damore made the news and even Wikipedia by publishing his speculation that female software engineers are underrepresented due to inherent biological differences. Although he admitted that implicit bias and explicit bias may exist, Damore wrote, “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

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John Hennessy was the tenth president of Stanford University, founded successful startups, and serves on the board of Alphabet. Maria Klawe (@MariaKlawe) is the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College, served on Microsoft’s board, and is former president of the Association for Computing Machinery. David Patterson was chair of UC Berkeley’s computer science department and was also formerly president of the Association for Computing Machinery.

It’s [...]  read more

Why Men Don’t Believe the Data on Gender Bias in Science

Earlier this summer Google engineer James Damore posted a treatise about gender differences on an internal company message board and was subsequently fired. The memo ignited a firestorm of debate about sex discrimination in Silicon Valley; this followed months of reporting on accusations of harassment at Uber and elsewhere. Sex discrimination and harassment in tech, and in science more broadly, is a major reason why women leave the field. Nationally, there has long been handwringing about why women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which has led to calls for increased mentoring, better family leave policies, and workshops designed to teach women how to negotiate like men.

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Alison Coil is a full professor of physics at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California at San Diego.

Last month three senior researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla  [...]  read more

Trump’s ‘America First’ Policies Won’t Work in Space

Space is a big place, but our upper atmosphere isn’t. Rapidly increasing numbers of satellites orbit there, in addition to innumerable bits of space debris, and rockets fly through it on missions to the moon, Mars, asteroids, and deep space. President Trump’s newly revived National Space Council will have to manage this busy region and beyond.

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Ramin A. Skibba (@raminskibba) is an astrophysicist turned science writer and freelance journalist based in San Diego.

The council members—which include heads of dozens of agencies, including the state, defense, commerce, transportation, and homeland security departments—have their work cut out for them as they develop recommendations for national space policy. Regulating and enabling commercial space activities will likely be a top priority, and the group will likely need to address issues including space debris and potentially militarized satellites. Given the risks of  [...]  read more