Future Tense Newsletter: The End of Privacy?

Maybe CIA Director John Brennan should consider a different email service?

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Dear Slate-liens,

You would think that CIA directors would be better than the average slob at keeping their computers locked down, but it turns out that as a group they have surprisingly terrible cyberhygiene. At least current Director John Brennan didn’t have anything worth hiding—not on his personal AOL account anyway. Though some might argue that Brennan’s first mistake was using an AOL account (even if it was largely dormant), he might have made himself a bit more secure by trying one of these iambic tetrameter passwords.

Even those of us who freely share our Netflix passwords could probably stand to be a little more careful, not least of all because we’re already giving away more information online than we’re probably willing to admit. As Amanda Hess noted, Facebook’s “Trending” section often appeals to of our worst instincts. Meanwhile, ahead of the Senate vote, Mike Godwin argued that the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act has more to do with surveillance than it does with security. (Against Godwin’s objections, the bill passed 74–21 on Tuesday.) Of course, we already live in a world where the Internal Revenue Service owns stingray cellphone surveillance technology, so go figure.

Here are some of our other favorite stories from the week:

  • Climate change: Yes, the Persian Gulf is going to be hotter than ever, but apocalyptic headlines don’t do us any favors.
  • Culture: Many artists employ social media, but few of them make it as central to their work as Ai Weiwei.
  • Science diplomacy: Marga Gual Soler explained how she puts her biomedical science Ph.D. to work outside the laboratory.
  • Space exploration: The Mars rovers are helping us rethink the ways we’ll visit other worlds. Also, Neil deGrasse Tyson was our personal astrophysicist.
  • Education: Will Oremus explored the changing textbook market through the lens of adaptive learning technologies.

Trying to remember my password,

Jacob Brogan

for Future Tense