A recent Wikileaks release revealed extensive information on the tactics the CIA uses for surveillance. The documents, named “Vault 7” that the CIA was using “[contained] several hundred million lines of code, many of which are designed to exploit vulnerabilities in everyday consumer devices” (Miller & Nakashima, 2017). The documents have caused “damage to the CIA’s efforts to gather intelligence overseas” and have added to the “strain on the U.S. government’s relationship with Silicon Valley giants including Apple and Google” (Miller & Nakashima, 2017).
Google released a security update to patch the “Android smartphone software…vulnerabilities highlighted in the WikiLeaks documents” (Nicas, 2017). But the issue now is that “only 2.8% of Android devices run the latest software, released in August” last year (Nicas, 2017). The technology the CIA crafted for surveillance efforts raises important questions about how much trust we can place in our everyday technology’s ability to protect our privacy, but what can be done when users do not take minimal responsibility in updating their devices with security patches? While the phone makers should be held accountable for creating a safer software, more emphasis needs to placed on the users to accept and download these cyber security measures.
Miller, G., & Nakashima, E. (2017, March 07). WikiLeaks says it has obtained trove of CIA hacking tools. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/wikileaks-says-it-has-obtained-trove-of-cia-hacking-tools/2017/03/07
Nicas, J. (2017, March 12). Google Mends Gaps in Android Security. Wall Street Journal, p. B4.
The Trump Administration has faced several setbacks in less than a month since Inauguration Day. One of the most shocking has been the executive order signed January 27 that barred “immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States” (Korosec, 2017). The tech industry was quick to react to the news citing the issues they would face in meeting skills shortages.
The problem the immigration ban created brought a group of business leaders to the spotlight: the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The business advisory group that is “headed by Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and includes [Tesla’s Elon] Musk, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and General Motors’ Mary Barra” is set to provide the President with counsel to “provide feedback on issues that…are important for our country and the world” (Korosec, 2017). Given the criticism facing President Trump, the business leaders are “grappling with concerns over how to engage with the new administration” (Greenwald, 2017).
Controversy over the participation in the advisory group, particularly after the company’s response after the immigration ban, led Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to resign. But others have defended their choice to remain as a way to help create positive changes with Musk noting that “simply [providing] advice and attending does not mean that [he agrees] with actions by the Administration” (Korosec, 2017). Earlier, Musk had reinforced his participation and the benefit it can provide by saying that it is “better that there are open channels of communication” and that “simply attacking him will achieve nothing“ (Lui, 2017).
Greenwald, T. (2017, February 14). IBM Chief Defends Role Advising White House. Wall Street Journal, p. B3.
Korosec, K. (2017, February 2). Elon Musk Says His Role as Trump Advisor ‘Does Not Mean I Agree’ with the President. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/02/02/elon-musk-president-trumps-council/
Lui, K. (2017, January 27). Elon Musk Says Simply Attacking President Trump ‘Will Achieve Nothing’. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/01/27/elon-musk-donald-trump-rex-tillerson/
Questions loom as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai settles into his new role and seemingly contradicts the vision he set of “closing the digital divide” with a move that tells “nine companies they won’t be allowed to participate in a federal program meant to help them provide affordable Internet access to low-income consumers” (Fung, 2017). These nine companies had previously been allowed to proceed under the Lifeline program by the previous Chairman Tom Wheeler. Pai stated that this form of last-minute “midnight regulation” undermined the majority opinion of the commissioners and that they would not be forced to move forward.
Access to reliable high-speed internet service is mainly due to cost in the United States where “nonadoption is closely tied to economic status” and “lack of data access reinforces other inequalities” (Crawford, 2013 p. 261). As consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge’s president Gene Kimmelman states: “limiting the Lifeline program, at this moment in time, exacerbates the digital divide. It doesn’t address it in any positive way” (Fung, 2017). In an age where high-speed internet access “brings a wealth of economic activity and information” to communities, it remains to be see what Chairman Pai’s plans will be to bridge the gap in internet access for the country’s poor as he chooses to move past subsidy programs (Crawford, 2013 p. 261).
Crawford, S. (2013). Captive Audience. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Fung, B. (2017, February 3). The FCC is stopping 9 companies from providing federally subsidized Internet to the poor. Retrieved February 5, 2017, from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/02/03/the-fcc-is-stopping-9-companies-from-providing-subsidized-broadband-to-the-poor/?utm_term=.cd66df74fcf4
With many panels centered around the theme of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the World Economic Forum brought together leaders from government, business, and academia to discuss how digital technology (such as automation) will affect economic security for people around the world. In an article discussing the potential of intelligent cities as a mitigation for existing and future resource disparities, Frérot presents the argument that “digital technology provides solutions”, but that it will require active cooperation and depend “on the social support that is provided [and] on the policy choices made” (Frérot, 2017). The argument here is that while technological advancements have created inequality, that same technology can empower communities to create policy that is more inclusive, that the “information [technology gives us] becomes knowledge, and knowledge becomes the power to act more and to be more useful” (Frérot, 2017).
Writing about Davos in The New York Times, Goodman argues that it will take movement on behalf of the business community and governments to make the tough decisions that can create an environment that reduces economic inequality. He observes that “solutions that have currency [at Davos] seem calculated to spare corporations and the wealthiest people from having to make any sacrifices at all” while expecting the middle and working class to adapt their skills readily for the automated future (Goodman, 2017). Policy makers will need manage “the digital transition” to protect the most economically vulnerable and “supplement digital innovation with social innovation” to really bring to fruition the benefits promised by intelligent cities (Frérot, 2017).
Frérot, A. (2017, January 18). Intelligent cities, inclusive cities? Retrieved January 21, 2017, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/intelligent-cities-inclusive-cities/
Goodman, P. S. (2017, January 19). Amid Populist Fury, Elite Mull Inequity, but Avoid Talk of Sacrifice. The New York Times, pp. B1-B4.