Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: How Doxxing, Data, and DNA Are Disrupting Our Future

Protesters demonstrate after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Jan. 20 in D.C.

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Greetings, Future Tensers,

Technology is changing the way we protest, and that includes how the government reacts to it. On Saturday, the Department of Justice requested a warrant to force protest group #DisruptJ20 to turn over data that would reveal essentially anyone who has visited the website of the group responsible for many protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration. Jacob Brogan writes about how DreamHost, the company that hosts DisruptJ20’s site, is resisting the effort and what this says about Trump’s scary record of collecting data on those in opposition to him.

In the U.K., lawmakers are considering a law that would ban the identification of individuals from anonymized data. That may sound great, but cracking anonymous data can be essential to important security research, explains Nick Thieme. And data security isn’t the only threat to our technological well-being. April Glaser spoke with researchers at University of Washington about how they were able to encode malware into DNA and what potential dangers it could lead to for hospitals and research centers.

Other things we read while wishing for more seasons of Orphan Black:

  • Still a bad idea: If everyone knows blackface is a bad idea, why are companies still creating apps to allow people to change their skin color? April Glaser begs developers to “knock if off.”
  • Book smart: Hardcover textbooks are costing underfunded school districts millions of dollars. E-books could provide a cost-saving answer for both students and teachers, writes Lindsey Tepe.
  • Ready, set, sew: If you think video games and crafts are on opposite sides of the recreational spectrum, this new game is ready to prove you wrong. Grace Ballenger reports on how new computer interfaces, such as looms, can make gaming more widely accessible.
  • Generation ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Lisa Guernsey explains why parents shouldn’t be panicked by a recent viral story about how smartphones are changing the lives of teens.
  • E-market eclipse: Excited for the eclipse? Buy your glasses online? Amazon is offering refunds for some eclipse-viewing products—though it isn’t clear whether they’re all faulty.

In solidarity,

Tonya Riley
For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.