Did Yahoo sell out its users and its values? Last year, Yahoo complied with U.S. intelligence demands to scan all incoming emails for a search phrase, according to an investigation by Joe Menn at Reuters. The company has denied aspects of the report. If Yahoo did what Reuters describes, it not only went beyond what other tech giants that manage our mail (like Google and Microsoft) have been willing to do; it also violated the basic trust that customers of internet services place in their providers. The Reuters report comes on the heels of news that 500 million Yahoo user accounts had their information exposed by a massive break-in. That leaves Yahoo with a double black eye — right as it’s trying to sell itself to Verizon. Users expect and deserve privacy and security. The government wants to foil terrorist plots. It’s up to companies to carefully walk the narrow line between customer rights and law-enforcement needs; instead, it looks like Yahoo staggered drunkenly into a roadside ditch. If the company hopes to retain a shred of public trust, CEO Marissa Mayer should commission an impartial external investigation — but that’s unlikely in the middle of an acquisition.
No one is looking our carbon problem in the eye. Hey, now that the European Union has joined the U.S., China, India, and many other nations in embracing last year’s Paris climate agreement, it’s going to become binding (NPR). Good news, everybody! Or maybe not. The fuzzy goals the Paris agreement sets, and its lax system for letting countries adopt their own plans, means that we are almost certainly going to miss the Paris target of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. If we were actually serious about 2 degrees, writes David Roberts (Vox), it would mean “no more exploring for new fossil fuels. No new mines, wells, or fossil fuel infrastructure. And rapid, managed decline in existing fossil fuels.” Nobody’s proposing that. Even the best-case scenarios we’re playing under assume that, as the 21st century progresses, the human species is going to have to develop some extremely effective new technologies to recover carbon from the atmosphere and bury it in the ground. This, according to Roberts, is “a huge and existentially risky bet” on the future of humanity and the planet. Maybe there should be a question or two on this at the next presidential debate. Maybe it should get an entire debate of its own.Read More