Three Reads Over a Holiday Weekend: Encrypted Phones Spill The Beans On Criminals, Yard Signs Ruin Democracy, and the Costs of a High Regulation/Low Trust Society (as told through a bus stop)

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falling asleep on the beach while reading a book, anime style art

Crooks’ Mistaken Bet on Encrypted Phones (New Yorker) – How European police have discovered the “secure” encrypted phones often used by criminals and the wealth of data they offer. Come learn about the history of technology and stay to learn why cocaine is huge in Europe, how the logistics of smuggling work and the jargon used to describe murder.

The Dangerous Rise of ‘Front-Yard Politics’ (The Atlantic) – Derek Thompson explains why obsessing over slogans and words (and the performative display of them) further distracts us from doing things and creating artificial conflicts.

Why America Can’t Have a Nice Thing: Anger at Bus Stops (Chris Arnade) – Our slide into incompetence continues, as evidenced by a Los Angeles bus stop project.

“To make a big brain out of it, something like La Sombrita could only happen in a high regulation/low trust society like the US. In all other variants (low regulation/high trust, high regulation/high trust, regulation low/low trust) you get larger public works without fear of vandalism or misuse (a proper bus shelter), or as in Quito (lower regulation). society) you get natural bottom-up ad hoc solutions.”

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As the holiday weekend sets in, (Ikaroa) Tech takes a look at three stories that dominate the media landscape. Each one brings to light the broader societal effects caused by technology, politics, and policy.

First is the sprawling story of encrypted phones aiding criminals in their operations across the world. What began as clever hacking tools developed and released by tech-savvy criminals have become indispensable tools for criminals to commit and get away with heinous crimes. With the security around them being virtually impenetrable, encryption phones have made anonymity an easy enough task for criminals to indulge in.

Moving onto the second story, yard signs have become the latest weapon to be used in the fight between the public and private sectors over democracy. Since the introduction of large-scale yard sign campaigns, the ability to connect voters with politicians and lobbies has become more and more difficult. While yard signs are a great way to connect people with politicians, what they also do is provide an unprecedented platform for a select few to spread their views, forcing an unbalanced view of the public onto those who may or may not agree.

Finally, (Ikaroa) Tech takes a closer look at the effects of a high-regulation, low-trust society through the eyes of a bus stop. Those who have to make use of public transport find themselves in a seemingly unwinnable situation; too much regulation leads to an overabundance of restrictions and barriers in place, while too little trust has meant that those who rely on them most feel unsafe and uncared for. The bus stop has become a microcosm of the stark divide between those above the law and those below it, with the underprivileged bearing the brunt of the consequences.

These three examples have made one thing crystal clear- the impact of technology, politics, and policy should not be taken lightly. (Ikaroa) Tech stands for a society that values progress and respect, and believes that every chance should be taken to move forwards, rather than backwards. With the holiday weekend wrapping up, we hope you’ll use the time to reflect on the current state of affairs, and actively find ways to continue progressing towards a more equitable and open future.


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