Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: What Do We Call a Data Breach That Isn’t a Breach?

A busted lock on top of computer parts.
Sometimes data is supposed to leak. weerapatkiatdumrong/Thinkstock

It came as a shock to many when the Washington Post reported that Strava, an app to track jogging routes, inadvertently exposed sensitive military intelligence. But, Kirsten Ostherr asks, was the incident really a “breach” if the app was working exactly as it’s supposed to?

And while “breaches” might be over reported, it turns out cybercrimes have the opposite problem. Josephine Wolff reports on how better law enforcement, not just better data collection, could help the soaring number of cybercrime victims.


Here’s another quandary for the smartphone age: If you have to get to the hospital, when is it OK to use Uber or Lyft instead of calling an ambulance? Lila Thulin digs into the ethical and economical pros and cons of skipping a pricey ambulance bill.

Sick of ads? Salon is joining a growing number of publications that are willing to let you read its site ad-free in exchange for using your computers unused energy to mine cryptocurrency. And it’s not just websites getting into the cryptogame: Berkeley, California, announced recently that it might become the first city in the United States to launch its own initial coin offering.


Other things we read while wondering if anyone will ever make a proofreading app that actually works:


Nonconsensual pornography: Reddit, Pornhub, and Twitter are cracking down on “deepfakes”—porn that uses technology to swap in other people’s faces without their permission. But the new technology still means a scary future for revenge porn victims.

Market fails: Can Facebook appeal to marketers and democracy at the same time? A new report explains how the market drove the creation of our disinformation state.

Our digital future:  John Perry Barlow leaves behind a legacy of fighting for liberty online, but April Glaser explains how his vision shaped some of the dangers currently posed by the internet.

See Spot dominate: Could an unsettling robot dog be the future of automated commerce?

Redesigns gone bad: The new Snapchat is losing the loyalty of its teen user base and for good reason, writes Christina Bonnington.

Ban DMs,

Tonya Riley
For Future Tense

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