Apple, the FBI, and Cyber Security
Enough bytes have been downloaded from screen to encrypted screen about the legal battle between Apple and the FBI. It was the lead story in This Week in Web #7, and it is still the top tech news dominating the week. Op-eds will continue to rightfully point out that it’s not a dichotomy of privacy vs. security, while the FBI and CIA will be quick to point fingers, with the director of the latter pointing specifically at the media for misleading the public on the audacity of reporting on newsworthy stories about our rights while cheering for the terrorists to win. Does that make me an accessory to this crime? Do I consider myself journalistic enough to have a dog in this fight? Maybe give it some time, but I doubt I’m swaying any readers into opinions that they wouldn’t hold as rational citizens.
Apple is going on the offensive, both challenging the directives in court, and working on improving the security around their devices, beefing it up to the point that the types of hacks being requested would no longer be possible, making it so that even they couldn’t access data with bruteforcing.
Of course, it’s pointless to debate, when the government could just let John McAfee and his team decrypt the phone, free of charge. Don’t believe he could do it? John thinks that you should Google “cybersecurity legend” then make up your mind.
Elspeth Reeve, New Republic
This is a long article, but it is an interesting read. It opens with the story of Pizza, a famous Tumblr user who had over 100,000 followers by the time she turned 15. The article then discusses several other viral sensations on Tumblr, and allowed me to use the phrase “viral sensation” in an article without being too ironic.
The article pokes into the lives of these Tumblr power-users, and how the site can – and often can’t – provide for them in terms of ad revenue. Some groups have been found to collude in click-fraud to earn money off of advertising on their accounts, and the backstabbing and pedantry that can come with that type of income. Finally, it discusses AdSense, DoubleClick, diet pills, illuminati, and a vast web of shady characters and conspiracy theories that keep the subculture as interesting as it can be vacuous.
Also, do yourself a favor and read it on the New Republic website on your desktop computer. The article is set up well and is a wonderful example of how the medium can enhance the message, more than be a burden on users who want to read enthralling stories and good journalism without having to trip over ads and clickbait.
Kristen M. Clark, Miami Herald
Earlier this week the Florida house senate voted 35-5 to approve a proposal (to put it on the path to becoming state law) to allow high-school students to count computer coding languages for foreign language requirements. While the push would ostensibly get more kids involved in coding, the drawbacks could exacerbate existing problems of wealth and education disparity for those sought after skills. True, certain students can perform better learning a rigidly structured language and interfacing with computers over the nuance of human speech, but the technical and financial requirements still exist to be able to support the equipment required for learning.
The gap between haves and have-nots exists when it comes to technology and the quality of education received in the state. While the debate over computer language mastery counting as being bi-lingual apparently being settled, the debate over how to use this new power still needs to play out. The bill promises to do nothing to expenses for school districts, where some expenses would be sorely needed in the poorest of schools to allow students to trade worn textbooks for computers fast enough to be competitive with peers in more wealthy neighborhoods.
Owen Williams, The Next Web
This week brings the launch of AMP, Google’s system of Accelerated Mobile Pages. While the service may be open and available for all to use wherever they please, unlike Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News, it’s not specifically a dig at those companies.
Instead, AMP is designed to make the web more friendly to the consumer, which in turn makes the consumer want to use the web even more, with Google being one of the lead providers of content. The inclusion of AMP by default for all WordPress.com users by Automattic is a big win, as the content will be delivered more efficiently to viewers, with no need to set anything up. Even self-hosted WordPresses can take advantage of the tool with a plugin that Automattic released this week.