Future Tense Newsletter: The Government Has Made Privacy Laws a Lot Worse … Again

A so-called super blue blood moon sets behind Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert.
A so-called super blue blood moon sets behind Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert on Wednesday.
David McNew/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

If you’ve felt a little more paranoid than normal today, it could be the super blue blood moon—or it could be that a couple of weeks ago, Congress passed a bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for another six years. While the law is known for allowing the government to target foreigners for intelligence surveillance, it also poses a number of privacy threats to average Americans. Robyn Greene expands on how the government might use the renewed act to collect your data.

Amazon has narrowed down the search for the site for its second headquarters, but not all of its finalists are winners when it comes to the environment. Sharon E. Burke explains which cities would help Amazon stay on track with its pledge for greener energy use.

Other things we read that almost made us spit out our cash:

That magic (Leap) touch: Would being able to re-create touch in virtual spaces fix our bad behavior online? Jeremy Bailenson explores the idea in this excerpt from his new book.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s legacy is one of imagining the future through contemplating the present, something we can all learn from, writes Jacob Brogan.

#mood: Heather Schwedel explains how GIFs are the new mood rings, giving us a panacea of new options to express our feelings and interior lives.

Is Tim Cook Swole? Slate investigates if the private Apple CEO is more corporeal than his façade lets on.

ICOops: The world’s first “decentralized bank” is a big, fat cryptocurrency scam, says the SEC.


Join Future Tense and TechCongress on Thursday, Feb. 8, in Washington to consider whether our democracy will have the capacity to address such complex issues as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and climate change adaptation—and whether our quest for technological and scientific advancement continues to be subjected to sound democratic governance. Lunch will be served. For more information and to RSVP, visit the New America website.

Love to our real followers,

For Future Tense,

Tonya Riley

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