Every day, our data hits the market when we sign online. It’s for sale, and we’re left to wonder if tech companies will ever choose to protect our privacy rather than reap large profits with our information. But, is the choice — profit or privacy — a false dilemma? Meet the people who have built profitable tech businesses while also respecting your privacy. Fact check if Facebook and Google have really found religion in privacy. And, imagine a world where you could actually get paid to share your data.
In this episode, Oli Frost recalls what happened when he auctioned his personal data on eBay. Jeremy Tillman from Ghostery reveals the scope of how much ad-tracking is really taking place online. Patrick Jackson at Disconnect.me breaks down Big Tech’s privacy pivot. DuckDuckGo’s Gabriel Weinberg explains why his private search engine has been profitable. And Dana Budzyn walks us through how her company, UBDI, hopes to give consumers the ability to sell their data for cash.
Read about Patrick Jackson and Geoffrey Fowler's privacy experiment.
Learn more about DuckDuckGo, an alternative to Google search, at duckduckgo.com.
And, we're pleased to add a little more about Firefox's business here as well — one that puts user privacy first and is also profitable. Mozilla was founded as a community open source project in 1998, and currently consists of two organizations: the 501(c)3 Mozilla Foundation, which backs emerging leaders and mobilizes citizens to create a global movement for the health of the internet; and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, which creates Firefox products, advances public policy in support of internet user rights and explores new technologies that give people more control and privacy in their lives online. Firefox products have never — and never will never — buy or sell user data. Because of its unique structure, Mozilla stands apart from its peers in the technology field as one of the most impactful and successful social enterprises in the world. Learn more about Mozilla and Firefox at mozilla.org.
The word “regulation" gets tossed around a lot. And it’s often aimed at the internet’s Big Tech companies. Some worry that the size of these companies and the influence they wield is too much. On the other side, there’s the argument that any regulation is overreach — leave it to the market, and everything will sort itself out. But over the last year, in the midst of this regulation debate, a funny thing happened. Tech companies got regulated. And our right to privacy got a little easier to exercise.
Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna gives us the highlights of Europe’s sweeping GDPR privacy law, and explains how the law netted a huge fine against Spain’s National Football League. Twitter’s Data Protection Officer, Damien Kieran explains how regulation has shaped his new job and is changing how Twitter works with our personal data. Julie Brill at Microsoft says the company wants legislators to go further, and bring a federal privacy law to the U.S. And Manoush chats with Alastair MacTaggart, the California resident whose work led to the passing of the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Here’s more about the California Consumer Privacy Act and Alastair MacTaggart.
Firefox has a department dedicated to open policy and advocacy. We believe that privacy is a right, not a privilege. Follow our blog for more.
‘5G’ is a new buzzword floating around every corner of the internet. But what exactly is this hyped-up cellular network, often referred to as the next technological evolution in mobile internet communications? Will it really be 100 times faster than what we have now? What will it make possible that has never been possible before? Who will reap the benefits? And, who will get left behind?
Mike Thelander at Signals Research Group imagines the wild ways 5G might change our lives in the near future. Rhiannon Williams hits the street and takes a new 5G network out for a test drive. Amy France lives in a very rural part of Kansas — she dreams of the day that true, fast internet could come to her farm (but isn’t holding her breath). Larry Irving explains why technology has never been provided equally to everyone, and why he fears 5G will leave too many people out. Shireen Santosham, though, is doing what she can to leverage 5G deployment in order to bridge the digital divide in her city of San Jose.
Read more about Rhiannon Williams' 5G tests throughout London.
And, find out more about San Jose's smart city vision that hopes to bridge the digital divide.
There's a movement building within tech. Workers are demanding higher standards from their companies — and because of their unique skills and talent, they have the leverage to get attention. Walkouts and sit-ins. Picket protests and petitions. Shareholder resolutions, and open letters. These are the new tools of tech workers, increasingly emboldened to speak out. And, as they do that, they expose the underbellies of their companies' ethics and values or perceived lack of them.
In this episode of IRL, host Manoush Zomorodi meets with Rebecca Stack-Martinez, an Uber driver fed up with being treated like an extension of the app; Jack Poulson, who left Google over ethical concerns with a secret search engine being built for China; and Rebecca Sheppard, who works at Amazon and pushes for innovation on climate change from within. EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn explains why this movement is happening now, and why it matters for all of us.
Rebecca Stack-Martinez is a committee member for Gig Workers Rising.
Here is Jack Poulson's Jack-Poulson-Google-resignation-letter-20-Aug-2018.html.">resignation letter to Google. For more, read Google employees' open letter against Project Dragonfly.
Check out Amazon employees' open letter to Jeff Bezos and Board of Directors asking for a better plan to address climate change.
Cindy Cohn is the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is a nonprofit that defends civil liberties in the digital world. They champion user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.
Manoush Zomorodi explores the surprising environmental impact of the internet in this episode of IRL. Because while it’s easy to think of the internet as living only on your screen, energy demand for the internet is indeed powered by massive server farms, running around the clock, all over the world. What exactly is the internet’s carbon footprint? And, what can we do about it?
Music professor Kyle Devine considers the environmental costs of streaming music. Geophysicist and pop scientist Miles Traer takes his best shot at calculating the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast. Climate journalist Tatiana Schlossberg explores the environmental influence we don’t know we have and what the web’s got to do with it. Greenpeace’s Gary Cook explains which tech companies are committed to renewable energy — and which are not. Kris De Decker tries powering his website with a homebrew solar power system. And, Ecosia's Chief Tree Planting Officer Pieter Van Midwoud discusses how his company uses online search to plant trees.
Love the internet, but also love the environment? Here are some ways you can reduce your energy consumption — or offset it — while online.
Learn more about Kyle Devine’s research on the environmental costs of music streaming.
For more from Tatiana Schlossberg, check out her book, Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have.
Have a read through Greenpeace’s Click Clean Report that Gary Cook discusses in this IRL episode.
As Pieter Van Midwoud notes, Ecosia uses the money it makes from your online searches to plant trees where they are needed most. Learn more about Ecosia, an alternative to Google Search.
Here’s more about Miles Traer, the geophysicist who calculated the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast.
And, if you’re interested in offsetting your personal carbon emissions overall, Carbonfund.org can help with that.
The sound of a data center in this episode is courtesy of artist Matt Parker. Download his music here.
Part of celebrating democracy is questioning what influences it. In this episode of IRL, we look at how the internet influences us, our votes, and our systems of government. Is democracy in trouble? Are democratic elections and the internet incompatible?
Politico's Mark Scott takes us into Facebook's European Union election war room. Karina Gould, Canada's Minister for Democratic Institutions, explains why they passed a law governing online political ads. The ACLU's Ben Wizner says our online electoral integrity problem goes well beyond a few bad ads. The team at Stop Fake describes a massive problem that Ukraine faces in telling political news fact from fiction, as well as how they're tackling it. And NYU professor Eric Klinenberg explains how a little bit of offline conversation goes a long way to inoculate an electorate against election interference.
Early on in this episode, we comment about how more privacy online means more democracy offline. Here's more on that concept from Michaela Smiley at Firefox.
Have a read through Mark Scott's Politico reporting on Facebook's European election war room.
For more from Eric Klinenberg, check out his book, Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.
And, find out more about Stop Fake, its history, and its mission here.
Privacy policies: most apps and websites have them, buried away somewhere. These legal documents explain how the company collects, uses, and shares your personal data. But let's be honest, few of us actually read these things, right? And that passive acceptance says a lot about our complicated relationship with online privacy.
Charlie Warzel is an Opinion writer at large for the New York Times. You can get more insights from him about privacy online when you sign up for the Times’ Privacy Project Newsletter.
If you’d like to learn more about privacy policies and their impact on our youth, check out Jenny Afia’s article on tech’s exploitative relationship with our children.
The other privacy policies referenced in this episode include:
All the things we love on the internet — from websites that give us information to services that connect us — are made stronger when their creators come with different points of view. With this in mind, we asked ourselves and our guests: "What would the internet look like if it was built by mostly women?"
Witchsy founders Kate Dwyer and Penelope Gazin start us off with a story about the stunt they had to pull to get their site launched — and counter the sexist attitudes they fought against along the way. Brenda Darden Wilkerson recalls her life in tech in the 80s and 90s and shares her experience leading AnitaB.org, an organization striving to get more women hired in tech. Coraline Ada Ehmke created the covenant.org/">Contributor Covenant, a voluntary code of conduct being increasingly adopted by the open source community. She explains why she felt it necessary, and how it's been received; and Mighty Networks CEO Gina Bianchini rolls her eyes at being called a "lady CEO," and tells us why diversifying the boardroom is great for business and innovation.
Help us dream up the next season of IRL. What topics should we cover? Who should we talk to? Let us know by filling out this survey.
Meritocracy as an open source practice is briefly mentioned in this episode. Mozilla has taken steps to discontinue using the word “Meritocracy” as a way to describe our governance and leadership structures. Here's why.
Mozilla is dedicated to fostering both an inclusive web and also inclusive working places. Learn more.
Firefox is open source and driven by a community of volunteers and contributors. However, in the past decade, representation of women in open source has inched up merely 1.5 percentage points to a shockingly low 3%. Read about the importance of — and efforts to realize — open source gender inclusion.
Like society, the Internet grows stronger with every new voice. What's healthy and unhealthy on the web when it comes to inclusion? Mozilla Foundation's Internet Health Report has some of the answers.
And, check out this article from Common Sense Media, on kids and technology use.
Some people believe that decentralization is the inevitable future of the web. They believe that internet users will start to demand more privacy and authenticity of information online and that they’ll look to decentralized platforms to get those things. But would decentralization be as utopian as advocates say it could be?
Host Manoush Zomorodi speaks to Eugen Rochko of Mastodon, an ad-free alternative to Twitter; Justin Hunter of Graphite docs, a decentralized alternative to GoogleDocs; Maria Bustillos who hopes to help eliminate fake news online through the Blockchain; David Irvine, the co-founder of MaidSafe who plans to make the centralized internet as we know it redundant; and Tom Simonite of WIRED, who comments on both the promise and also the pitfalls of decentralization.
Help us dream up the next season of IRL. What topics should we cover? Who should we talk to? Let us know by filling out this survey.
Try out the decentralized endeavors covered in this episode of IRL:
Decentralization efforts are proof that the age of internet innovation is far from over. In fact, Mozilla staff work tirelessly on decentralized web standards, which have been — and continue to be — widely adopted.
Mozilla co-chaired the W3C Social Web Working Group 2014 through 2018, which produced several key decentralized social web standards. Some have dozens of implementations like Webmention (a standard for federating conversations across the decentralized web); and MicroPub (a standard API for client applications to post to decentralized web services).
As a part of Mozilla’s dedication to decentralized innovation, Mozilla participated in the 2018 Decentralized Web Summit. See our Founder and Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker’s talk on revitalizing the web. Hear Tantek Çelik, Web Standards Lead, speak on taking back your content with practical decentralization steps; and watch Chris Riley, Head of Policy, lead a web panel on decentralization.
So, are you inspired? Want to work on the decentralized web? Join Mozilla at one of these events: Feb 23-24, 2019: IndieWebCamp Austin; Mar 30-31, 2019: IndieWebCamp New Haven; May 4-5, 2019: IndieWebCamp Berlin; June 29-30, 2019: IndieWeb Summit in Portland. Questions about participating? Ask here.
For more, we've teamed up with 826 Valencia to bring you articles written by students on IRL topics this season. Accompanying this IRL episode, Huy An N. from De Marillac Academy wrote about centralized social media platforms and privacy. And, see this article from Common Sense Media, on why we need more research on kids and tech (centralized and not).
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