Tech Today: March 2, 2021

Tech Today: March 2, 2021

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

Minneapolis won’t publicly pay people to promote the city’s line during Derek Chauvin trial.
The city of Minneapolis recently approved spending $1,181,500 for communications around the trial of Derek Chauvin, the cop who killed George Floyd.
After Motherboard published an article about it, the city canceled specific plans to pay $2,000 each to social media influencers to “target Black, Native American, Somali, Hmong, and Latinx communities during the trial” with the city’s message, hoping to quell protest. The city’s excuse – that the plan would help people who don’t normally get information from city channels – rings hollow, and doesn’t address the absolute racism. Additionally, the city could spend nearly $1.2 million in improving the lives of people in the city rather than “communications” around the trial. Jail killer cops! Justice for George Floyd!

Colleges buy COVID surveillance tech, don’t care if it works
From the New York Times: Higher education institutions are spending a lot of money on tech like temperature sensors and wearable heart-rate monitors. But they don’t track if the surveillance devices are actually working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campuses. As Bruce Schneier says in the article and elsewhere, this is “security theater,” similar to post-9/11 changes at airports. It makes us feel good, but probably doesn’t increase our security.

US to Google: Tell us how your search has changed, not how it works
The way the media’s portraying this story with headlines like “U.S. Asks Google for Detailed Search Data in Antitrust Case” is completely misleading. On Monday, the Department of Justice asked Google for information on what search results would have been in February 2015 vs February 2020, including “how and where users searched in those periods, the quantity of different types of ads, revenue from those ads and what the underlying bids were for them”. The headline suggests that Google’s being asked for information on their algorithm.
The filing comes in the context of the US antitrust suit against Google, which will ultimately seek to break the company up into multiple units. Unfortunately, capitalism trends towards monopoly, and any breakup won’t last long. See also: Standard Oil, AT&T.

Chris Wray testifies on Jan 6, extremism and surveillance
More to come on this story in the next couple days, but my predictions on the renewed calls for surveillance in the wake of the January 6 coup attempt were proven today on the Senate floor. FBI director Chris Wray testified about January 6th and faced a barrage of questions, including some on end-to-end encryption, which is under attack. For very quick coverage, check my Twitter feed from today.