Tech Today: March 18, 2021

Tech Today: March 18, 2021

Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in tech today:

Why Channel 37 Doesn’t Exist
This is a fun and fascinating article on Tedium about why, on older analog TVs, channel 37 never existed. To sum it up, the frequency that channel 37 existed on conflicted with a radio telescope built by the University of Illinois in Danville, IL. The story chronicles the struggle between the scientific community and business, with the FCC playing a crucial role in trying to block the scientists’ pleas to block use of just one channel out of dozens. “The tale of channel 37 reflects one thing: Without resistance, a commercial use case will usurp a noncommercial use case for a given resource.”

The FBI and the search for your digital trail
Great new piece on Mint Press News sums up how the FBI and other law enforcement & surveillance agencies have been tracking down and finding people based not just on the hundreds of thousands of posts on social media from January 6 but also with advanced surveillance. As I’ve written about on this site, the government could have prevented the fascist coup attempt with the surveillance tools it already has and does not need more spy powers.

Facebook to Black PhD applicant: Are you a “culture fit?”
Reporting from Sam Biddle in The Intercept that I missed earlier this week shares the story of a Black woman with a PhD – more than qualified for the job she was applying for – was told by Facebook that she probably would hate the job and that she wasn’t a good fit for the company’s culture. “Culture fit” is often used in tech to keep a hegemonic, white male dominated environment and avoid having to take any responsibility for addressing racism and sexism.

FCC fines robocallers
This is good, but not nearly enough. The Federal Communications Commission has levied fines of $225 million against two telemarketing companies that made “about one billion” robocalls. But the technology in our phone system makes it extremely hard to track down a lot of these robocallers, who use intimidation to make people think they’re from the IRS or police, or to offer vague car “warranties” or debt reconsolidation. Tech for the People has a guide on dealing with – and avoiding – them.