Letter to my Two Sons on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

  My sons. You are 9 and 6, old enough to understand certain aspects of consent, but not quite old enough for me to tell you all the things I want to tell you about what’s going on right now with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. So I’m writing it here, for posterity, so you can read it and so I can later remember how I felt in this moment. As you grow, and as your dreams and desires bump up against the people and world around you, you will be faced … Continue reading Letter to my Two Sons on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Voting Security Cheatsheet [2016 Edition]

It’s voting season! Which means everyone is asking questions like: wait, why can’t I vote online? how hard can voting really be? shouldn’t this all be open-source? isn’t it just as easy to hack paper voting as electronic voting? is Russia hacking our voting machines? why do we even need voting machines when other countries count by hand? maybe there’s enough time to fix things before November 8th? Hasn’t the blockchain solved voting already? For your convenience, I have compiled this handy election technology & security cheat-sheet. you can’t vote online for good reason. (a) We don’t know how to … Continue reading Voting Security Cheatsheet [2016 Edition]

What John McCain could say

[This is … hopeful fiction] My fellow Americans, When I ran for President in 2008, in the last stretch of the campaign, a woman at one of my rallies stood up and expressed fears about Obama because “he’s an Arab.” I could have stoked those fears, and many Republicans wanted me to. Instead, I chose to answer “no, Ma’am, he’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” I chose decency over easy political gain and demagoguery. (Ignore for a moment the implication that “Arab” and “decent family man” are opposites.) At some point … Continue reading What John McCain could say

On Apple and the FBI

If you pay attention to tech/policy stories, then surely you know about the Apple/FBI situation. Though this story has been broadly covered, I don’t think we’re having the right debate. And the right debate is, of course, very subtle. So here goes my attempt to nail that subtlety. What’s Going On? The FBI wants access to a particular criminal/terrorist’s iPhone. They have a warrant. The iPhone is locked, and if the FBI tries a few bad PIN codes, the phone will erase its data as a defense mechanism. Also, iPhones are programmed to slow down password attempts after a few … Continue reading On Apple and the FBI

Letter to My Two Sons – November 13th, 2015

[this is a little bit raw… on purpose.] My sons, You are just 6 and 3, and so you don’t know what happened tonight. A group of suicide bombers killed 150 people in Paris, your father’s hometown. The feeling in my gut today is much like the one I felt on that Tuesday in September 2001, as I tried to get to my office in TriBeCa, shell-shocked people on the street walking past me, thousands of dead in the rubble. Profound sadness, deep anger, frustration, and powerlessness. And this nagging feeling that one of the victims could, under slightly different circumstances, … Continue reading Letter to My Two Sons – November 13th, 2015

(your) information wants to be free – obamacare edition

My friends over at EFF just revealed that Healthcare.gov is sending personal data to dozens of tracking sites: It’s especially troubling that the U.S. government is sending personal information to commercial companies on a website that’s touted as the place for people to obtain health care coverage. Even more troubling is the potential for companies like Doubleclick, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and others to associate this data with a person’s actual identity. The referenced AP story uses even more damning language: The government’s health insurance website is quietly sending consumers’ personal data to private companies that specialize in advertising and analyzing … Continue reading (your) information wants to be free – obamacare edition

where the system eats itself

Larry Lessig just launched MayOne.us, the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs. The idea is disarmingly simple: since SuperPACs funded by billionaires are corrupting politics, let’s crowd-source a SuperPAC funded by individuals, which will then work to put in power officials who answer to the people, maybe by undoing the whole SuperPAC insanity. Use a SuperPAC to kill all SuperPACs. This is a fascinating pattern that we’ve actually seen before. And it makes me very, very happy, because it is the ultimate policy hack. Take the GPL or the Apache License, two significant software licenses that make possible open-source and thus much of … Continue reading where the system eats itself

Obama lets NTSB exploit widespread tire vulnerabilities

Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s transportation safety agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovers major flaws in transportation equipment, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage, senior administration officials said Saturday. But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the NTSB to continue to exploit safety flaws to apprehend terrorist suspects … Continue reading Obama lets NTSB exploit widespread tire vulnerabilities

to Brendan and Mozilla

I was in the middle of writing a blog post about the controversy surrounding Mozilla when my Twitter feed exploded with the news that Brendan Eich stepped down from his new appointment as Mozilla CEO. So this is a different post. Also, this is not a post about Prop8 (which I abhored) or gay marriage (which I consider a basic civil right.) to Brendan There is little love lost between me and Brendan. We have different styles, and I butted heads with him in tech discussions on a regular basis while I was at Mozilla. He was, at times, infuriating. To be honest, he … Continue reading to Brendan and Mozilla