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israeli myanmar swedish iphone yorktimes During a half millennium of military rule , Myanmar’s totalitarian equipment were crude yet effective. Men within sarongs shadowed democracy activists, neighbors advised on each other plus thugs brandished business lead pipes.

The particular generals, who staged the coup a month ago, are actually back in charge having a far more sophisticated toolbox at their disposal: Israeli-made monitoring drones, European apple iphone cracking devices plus American software that may hack into computer systems and vacuum upward their contents.

Some of this technologies, including satellite plus telecommunications upgrades, assisted people in Myanmar go online and incorporate with the world right after years of isolation . Other systems, such as spyware and adware, were sold because integral to modernizing law enforcement agencies.

But critics state a ruthless armed forces , which maintained the dominance over the economic climate and powerful ministries even as it quickly shared power having a civilian government, used facade of democracy to enable sensitive cybersecurity and defense buys.

Some of these “dual-use” technologies, tools associated with both legitimate police force and repression, are now being deployed by the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar army is known, to target competitors of the Feb. one coup — the practice that echoes actions taken towards critics by Tiongkok, Saudi Arabia, South america and other governments.

Within Myanmar, they are the electronic weapons for an accelerating campaign in which security causes have killed at least twenty five individuals and detained a lot more than 1, 100, such as the ousted civilian head, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Upon Monday, she had been hit with brand new criminal charges — making a statement which could alarm the public plus inducing someone to react against the state — that could put the girl in prison for a long time.

“The army is now using all those very tools in order to brutally crack upon peaceful protesters jeopardizing their lives in order to resist the army junta and recover democracy, ” mentioned Ma Yadanar Maung, a spokeswoman intended for Justice For Myanmar, a group that displays the Tatmadaw’s violations.

Hundreds of pages associated with Myanmar government costs for the last two financial years viewed from the New York Times display a voracious hunger for the latest within military-grade surveillance technologies.

The paperwork, provided by Justice Regarding Myanmar, catalog many millions of dollars earmarked pertaining to technology that can my own phones and computer systems, as well as track people’s live locations plus listen in to their particular conversations. Two parliamentary budget committee users, who requested invisiblity given the delicate political climate, mentioned these proposed finances for the Ministry associated with Home Affairs plus Ministry of Transportation and Communications shown actual purchases.

The budgets fine detail companies and the features of their tools. In most cases, they specify the particular proposed uses, such as combating “money laundering” or investigating “cybercrime. ”

“What you see the Myanmar military putting together is really a comprehensive suite associated with cybersecurity and forensics, ” said Ian Foxley, a specialist at the Center meant for Applied Human Legal rights at the University associated with York. “A large amount of this is electronic combat capability stuff. ”

Credit… The New York Periods

Mount of Myanmar’s contemporary surveillance state offers depended partly upon patrons like Cina and Russia which have few qualms regarding equipping authoritarians. They have also relied upon Western companies that will saw the country’s five years of hybrid civilian-military rule as an opening, legitimately and politically, to develop a frontier marketplace in what appeared to be the nascent democracy.

Beginning in 2016, the particular Tatmadaw handed several authority to a civilian government led simply by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nationwide League for Democracy, which won 2 landslide electoral requires. Despite inching towards democracy, the army maintained significant control of spending, particularly to get defense, law enforcement as well as other security affairs.

The documents suggest that dual-use security technology made by Israeli, American and Euro companies made the way to Myanmar, regardless of many of their home government authorities banning such exports after the military’s intense expulsion of Rohingya Muslims within 2017.

During countries that did not officially block this kind of trade, many Traditional western purveyors had clauses in their corporate recommendations barring their technologies from being used in order to abuse human legal rights.

In the majority of egregious cases, companies supplied surveillance equipment and weaponry towards the military and the ministries it controlled, evading arms embargoes plus export bans. Within others, they ongoing to sell dual-use technologies without conducting research about how it might be utilized and who may use it.

Frequently , they depended upon military-linked brokers who also thrive in the shadowy interstices, allowing the particular Tatmadaw to acquire the various tools of oppression not directly from foreign businesses.

Hardware which was sold to the law enforcement to catch crooks is being used to monitor opponents of the hen house online and offline.

Documentation for post-coup arrest warrants, that have been reviewed by The Situations, shows that Myanmar’s safety forces have triangulated between their critics’ social media posts as well as the individual addresses of the internet hookups to get where they live. Such investigator work could just have been carried out by utilizing specialized foreign technologies, according to experts along with knowledge of Myanmar’s monitoring infrastructure.

“Even under a civilian federal government, there was little oversight of the military’s expenses for surveillance technologies, ” said Ko Nay Yan Oo, a former fellow on the Pacific Forum from the Center for Tactical and International Research who has studied the particular Myanmar military. “Now we are under army rule, and they can perform everything they want. ”

Credit… The New York Occasions

1 particularly large portion of the budget allocations addresses the latest ware designed for phone-cracking and computer-hacking. Those systems are often designed for use simply by militaries and law enforcement forces, and many global export bans consist of such technology.

The 2020-2021 Ministry of Home Matters budget allocations consist of units from MSAB, a Swedish business that supplies forensic data tools pertaining to militaries around the world. These types of MSAB field devices can download the particular contents of mobile phones and recover removed items, according to notations in the budget.

Henrik Tjernberg, the particular chairman of MSAB, said that some of the company’s “legacy technology” acquired ended up in Myanmar a few years ago, however it no longer sold products there because of an Eu export ban upon dual-use products which you can use for domestic clampdown, dominance. Mr. Tjernberg failed to answer questions about how exactly his products wound up in the latest spending budget.

U Thein Tan, another person in the parliamentary spending budget committee, said that many other lawmakers felt unpleasant with all the spyware within the budgets but that will questioning anything to perform with the security solutions was taboo just for civilian politicians.

“To be sincere, we did realise that they were using the technical devices for poor purposes, like security of the people, ” said Mr. Thein Tan. “But the issue is we don’t understand what kind of technological gadgets these would be due to the fact we lack understanding of the technology. ”

International overview has made a difference. This past year, MSAB and Cellebrite, among other Traditional western cyber-surveillance firms, picked up of Hong Kong, in which the police used mobile phone hacking technology in order to democracy activists.

In Myanmar, the most recent budget also integrated MacQuisition forensic software program designed to extract plus collect data through Apple computers. The program is made by BlackBag Technologies, an American corporation that was bought this past year by Cellebrite associated with Israel. Both businesses also make various other sophisticated tools in order to infiltrate locked or even encrypted devices plus suck out their particular data, including location-tracking information.

Credit… The New You are able to Times

A spokeswoman for that company said that Cellebrite stopped selling to Myanmar in 2018 which BlackBag had not marketed to the country because it was acquired this past year. The company, she mentioned, does not sell in order to countries sanctioned from the United States, European Union, The uk or Israel.

“In the extremely uncommon case when our own technology is used in a fashion that does not meet worldwide law or will not comply with Cellebrite’s beliefs, we immediately banner these licenses pertaining to nonrenewal and do not supply software updates, ” the spokeswoman mentioned.

Cellebrite equipment and software happen to be used by the police to obtain evidence in courtroom cases, according to Oughout Khin Maung Zaw, one of Myanmar’s best human-rights lawyers who will be representing Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the ousted civilian leader.

The particular technology was displayed as central towards the 2018 trial associated with two Reuters reporters who uncovered proof of a Rohingya massacre the year before. Mister. Khin Maung Zaw represented the two media.

In court papers, the police said they had collected data from the detained reporters’ phones using Cellebrite forensic technology. The information helped convict the particular reporters, in what human being rights groups have got said were politically motivated cases.

Cellebrite said that following the Reuters case had been publicized, “these permit were unequivocally not really renewed. ” The business now has the ability to distantly suspend the permit, essentially erasing the application from its machinery plus rendering the gadgets useless.

Mister. Khin Maung Zaw, the human rights attorney, said that the police once again presented Cellebrite proof in trials he or she worked on in 2019 and 2020. The particular cases related to an area in the telecommunications regulation on online defamation, which human legal rights groups say is utilized to criminalize refuse.

“The cybersecurity department is still making use of that technology, ” Mr. Khin Maung Zaw said. “To my knowledge, each uses Cellebrite to check and recover information from cellphones. ”

Credit… Ye Aung Thu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In many instances, government authorities do not buy military-grade technology directly from the businesses that make them but rather go through middlemen. The particular intermediaries often hide their intentions at the rear of business registrations meant for education, construction or even technology companies, even while they post pictures on social media associated with foreign weaponry or even signing ceremonies along with generals.

Middlemen can give Western businesses distance from working face-to-face with dictators. But international embargoes and dual-use bans still hold technology firms liable for the conclusion users of their items, even if resellers associated with deals.

Probably the most prominent surveillance technologies middlemen in Myanmar is Dr . Kyaw Htun, the Myanmar national whom studied at a Ruskies university and Myanmar’s Defense Services Technical Academy, the military’s elite training surface. Many of the top workers at MySpace Worldwide and other firms he or she founded share exactly the same educational pedigree.

His connections had been extensive. At protection procurement fairs, Doctor Kyaw Htun showed off Western spy ware to crowds associated with men in standard, and he boasted upon social media about web hosting an American defense producer in Myanmar. Myspace . com International is on the website of a Czech defense and lab equipment maker like a “partner. ”

Dr . Kyaw Htun’s wife will be the daughter of a high-ranking Tatmadaw officer who have served as ambassador to Russia. She actually is named as the Myanmar agent for a Ruskies stun gun producer.

The two individuals with knowledge of police procurements said that Dr . Kyaw Htun’s businesses supply most of the brought in Western surveillance technologies for the Myanmar law enforcement. A list of successful latest tenders from the Ministry of Home Matters includes MySpace Worldwide, and the company’s site had the Ministry of Defense amongst its clients.

The website also a new section on electronic forensic technology that will cited MSAB, BlackBag and Cellebrite amongst its “main providers, ” with considerable descriptions of each firm’s offerings.

Doctor Kyaw Htun declined to talk to The Times.

“We are not a big firm, ” said Ko Tet Toe Lynn, the assistant common manager for Myspace . com International. He would not really answer questions as to what products the company resells, saying there were a lot of to remember.

Cellebrite said that neither this nor BlackBag had been “affiliated” with 4 of Dr . Kyaw Htun’s businesses, including MySpace Worldwide. The Israeli company did not say that its reseller within Myanmar was.

The day after The Situations posed extensive queries about the relationship in between MySpace International plus Cellebrite, the entire Bebo International website has been taken down.

Credit… The New You are able to Times

While some imported security equipment is considered dual-use, other technology is definitely clearly meant for army purposes. International hands embargoes prohibit this kind of systems from getting exported to Myanmar.

By 2018, Israel had basically blocked military exports to Myanmar, right after it emerged that will Israeli weaponry had been sold to an military accused of genocidal actions against the Rohingya ethnic minority. The particular embargo extends to aftermarket.

Two years later on, Myanmar Future Technology, a company that phone calls itself an academic and teaching help supplier, signed documents reviewed by The Instances agreeing to services military-grade surveillance drones made by Elbit Techniques, an Israeli hands manufacturer. Senior Style. Min Aung Hlaing, the Tatmadaw main who led the particular coup last 30 days, visited Elbit’s workplaces during a 2015 visit to Israel.

The particular company’s drones have already been connected to ongoing issues in Myanmar. This past year, an ethnic equipped group fighting the particular Tatmadaw in considerably western Rakhine Condition said it experienced seized an Elbit drone that had been soaring over a battle area.

U Kyi Thar, the chief professional of Myanmar Upcoming Science, confirmed that will his company started the repair focus on the drones at the end of 2019 and ongoing into 2020.

“We ordered the particular spare parts from the Israeli company called Elbit because they have top quality and Elbit is definitely well-known, ” Mister. Kyi Thar mentioned.

A speaker for Elbit declared that it has had simply no dealings with Myanmar since 2015 or even 2016.

“Myanmar’s military is very shut, and Israel is extremely closed, ” stated Siemon Wezeman, the senior researcher using the arms and army expenditure program in the Stockholm International Peacefulness Research Institute. “Who knows what happens within there? ”

Despite the export prohibit, Israeli defense technologies continues to turn up within unexpected places.

Credit… Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On February. 1, the day from the coup, military specialists were surprised to find out armored vehicles manufactured by Gaia Automotive Industrial sectors, an Israeli producer, rolling through Naypyidaw, the capital. The experts, which includes Mr. Wezeman plus a person familiar with Myanmar’s defense procurements, stated the vehicles utilized in the coup showcased Gaia’s distinctive engine handles, air inlets and headlight configurations.

The automobiles did not go into bulk production until following the Israeli ban upon military exports.

Shlomi Shraga, the top of Gaia Auto, said that he had not really seen any pictures of the company’s automobiles cruising through the Myanmar capital during the hen house. He stressed that every his exports got the requisite permit from Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

“Let’s hope which the people of Myanmar live in peace plus under a democratic routine, ” Mr. Shraga said.

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The CEO of Zapier talks about the secondary market investment from Sequoia and Steadfast Finance that took place in January




Zapier Interview

Experts and investors in the business world are constantly searching for the next great thing. In the corporate sector, the marketplaces for technology and business items are where you’ll find the next big thing. We just received funding from Sequoia Capital and Steadfast Finance, and in this post we’d want to share an interview with Zapier’s CEO, James Cargill. Cargill explains why Sequoia and Steadfast invested in Zapier and how the company’s platform can help companies of all kinds in this interview. Wishing you a wonderful time reading!

CEO of Zapier discusses the secondary market investment from Sequoia and Steadfast Finance that took place in January. Last month, it was reported that Sequoia Capital and Steadfast Finance had invested in Zapier through a secondary market deal. Shawn Henry, founder and CEO, joined us to talk about where Zapier is headed and why we should put money into it.

What made Zapier appealing to Sequoia Capital and Steadfast Financial?

Shawn Henry: We thought Zapier had a great product and team, so we decided to invest. Its product’s ability to streamline complicated processes across environments makes it invaluable to organisations of all sizes. And they have an excellent team; their platform is intuitive and expandable.

What criteria did you use to judge Zapier’s worthiness?

Henry, Shawn When testing Zapier, we considered a wide range of criteria. The company’s product and crew were top priorities, so we had to verify their worth first. Secondly, we were interested in gauging the company’s market standing to determine whether or not it had opportunity for expansion. Next, we checked the company’s long-term viability to make sure it was solid. After consulting with the Zapier team and evaluating their statistics, we were convinced that the platform met all of our requirements and made the decision to invest.

Exactly what does Zapier do?

It was revealed on Monday that Sequoia and Steadfast Finance had provided Zapier, a web-based automation platform, with $25 million in Series C funding. This investment will be utilised to fuel the company’s expansion into new markets and product lines.

Engineers Jamie Reynolds and Christian Holzmann founded Zapier in 2009 to serve as a hub for setting up seamless workflows between software programmes. More than 700,000 people utilise the service, and it integrates with over a thousand other apps.

Stripe co-founder John Collison: “We are pleased to see Zapier continue to expand as an impactful business and help people work better across their whole lives.” Their expertise in automating complex processes makes them an invaluable resource for companies of all sizes.

According to Reynolds, the funding will enable Zapier to rapidly increase its customer base and continue making its products simpler and easier to use. He also mentioned that agreements with larger financial institutions are being considered as a means of expanding the business’s sphere of influence.

Why did you decide to make this financial commitment?

Daren Metropoulos, CEO of Zapier, spoke with Silicon Valley Business Journal about funding from Sequoia and Steadfast Finance. Zapier is a service that facilitates the automation of processes across several software platforms. With this funding, the company now has more room to move into other markets.

The Sequoia Capital and the Steadfast Financial Group are two of the most prominent Silicon Valley VC firms. They put money into businesses they think will experience quick expansion. Zapier is a great addition to their offerings because it frees up workers from repetitive activities and allows them to concentrate on more strategic endeavors.

According to Metropoulos, Zapier’s investment was worth $15 million, and he anticipates that figure to rise as the company enters new areas. He adds that the company will utilize the funds to hire more people and develop new features for its existing products.

As an organisations, why did you decide to put money into Steadfast Financial?

Jeff Dunn, CEO of Zapier, recently discussed the company’s investment in Steadfast Finance. According to Dunn, Zapier was impressed by the potential of Steadfast Financial’s product and strategy.

The staff at Steadfast Financial was exceptional, according to Dunn. They are developing a fantastic product, and their product is excellent. Dunn added that the investment from Steadfast Financial was a natural fit for Zapier because the company can grow with the help of outside investors. It aids Zapier’s expansion and gives its users more options.

Zapier expects to increase its product line and advertising budget with the money it put into Steadfast Finance.

To what end does this funding serve Zapier?

Jesse Draper, CEO of Zapier, recently spoke with StartUp LA about the company’s investment from Sequoia and Steadfast Finance.

Draper remarked, “Our objective is to make linking different things more efficient, and we think that’s a pretty essential thing. It’s important to us that consumers be able to make sense of the myriad channels and platforms at their disposal. The company has placed a premium on innovation in recent years, and as a result, it has added support for a number of new connections, such as Slack and Wunderlist. The funds will be used to expand Zapier’s infrastructure and support the company’s rapid expansion.


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IT firms in Ukraine expect the best but prepare for the worst




well-known IT enterprises

A large number of well-known IT enterprises and contract programmers for international clients may be found in this country.

Russia invaded Ukraine in an official capacity on Thursday. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Thursday that sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies are not anticipated to instantly halt the Soviet advance. Meanwhile, Ukrainians wait tensely for whatever comes next. There are several ways in which the technological world has been affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Certain American sanctions, for instance, are aimed at preventing Russia from acquiring advanced technology for military and other uses. Moreover, Ukraine is home to a number of technological enterprises that serve millions of customers and organizations worldwide. On Thursday, the first day of the Russian occupation, I had a chance to speak with a few of them.

Perhaps the most well-known Ukrainian IT firm is Grammarly. Grammarly is the maker of an AI-driven service that helps people communicate better in writing. Millions of people all around the world use it, and some of the best venture capital firms in the world, like General Catalyst and Blackrock, have invested in it. Its current worth is $13 billion. The company’s headquarters and a large portion of its software development staff are located in Kyiv, Ukraine. The distance between Kyiv and the fighting zone in eastern Ukraine is around 700 kilometers (435 miles). It also employs people in New York City, San Francisco, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Senka Hadzimuratovic, a representative from Grammarly, emailed me on Thursday to tell me that the company is currently putting into effect the backup measures they had developed to safeguard their employees in Ukraine. According to her, the corporation is being secretive about the intentions out of concern for employees’ safety. She also reassures me that, should the crisis worsen, the corporation has preparations in place to keep its services functioning. So that our team members in Ukraine may focus on the immediate safety of themselves and their families, we have taken measures such as establishing alternative channels of contact and temporarily shifting mission-critical tasks to members of the team based in other countries.

A LinkedIn post by Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover read as follows: “Grammarly was founded in Ukraine, and I’ve had the privilege of getting to know its vibrant culture and kind people over the past decade — that includes many of our resilient, unstoppable team members who are yet again facing stress and uncertainty. Even while I still hold out hope for a de-escalation, I am saddened by the ongoing escalations in the country.

Kyiv-based Readdle was one of the first app stores to sell apps for the iPhone and iPad. Its history is littered with successful productivity apps for iOS devices and computers. Products like PDF Expert and Scanner Pro have been downloaded about 200 million times, according to the business. Denys Zhadanov, a board member, informs me that the company has over 150 workers in Ukraine. I inquired as to the current concerns of the minds behind Ukraine’s tech startups. All large CEOs agree that Ukraine should be a sovereign state, he said. This is an act of wartime hostility. The time Zhadanov spends in each location is roughly equal.

Zhadanov, like other Ukrainian business leaders, claims that his firm has backup plans and that its infrastructure and customer data are stored on servers in the United States and Europe. With offices in 11 different locations and a workforce spread around the globe, he is confident that business won’t take a hit. We are now taking precautions for the safety of our Odessa-based personnel. While technology advances, some Ukrainian IT leaders lament that geopolitics may seem stuck in the Cold War era.

MacPaw, based in Kyiv, creates utilities like CleanMyMac and The Unarchiver to make Macs more useful. As 21st century humans, “we all wish that the dreadful days of war were a thing of the past,” stated MacPaw CEO and creator Oleksandr Kosovan in a blog post on Thursday. We have seen how vulnerable freedom, independence, and the human right to life and choice are once again with the Russian onslaught against Ukraine. Kosovan continues by saying that the safety of MacPaw’s employees in Kyiv is the company’s top priority right now. To secure the security of its employees in Ukraine, the business has developed “different assistance programs and formed an emergency plan.” Customer information is stored on AWS servers outside of Ukraine, he adds.

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She exposed tech’s impact on people of color. Now, she’s on Biden’s team




Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson, the nation’s first deputy director for science and society, will investigate how technology affects people.

Alondra Nelson has seen first-hand the disappointment of Facebook. Known for studying the societal impacts of new technologies and scientific endeavours, the famous social scientist has been appointed as President Biden’s first deputy director for science and society. Nevertheless, three years ago, she was chosen to assist lead Social Science One, an ambitious research initiative funded by a number of different foundations and aimed at providing academics with access to vast amounts of Facebook data in order to study the platform’s effect on democracy. This project was especially important given the context of its timing—right after the Cambridge Analytical scandal—and its potential impact on the relationship between social science and Big Tech. Nelson presided over the non-profit organisations Social Science Research Council, which doled out the aforementioned Social Science One awards. But, by the year 2019, it had failed. Researchers who were promised funding by Nelson were unable to receive the data they requested from Facebook due to privacy concerns. Social Science One, a collection of wealthy benefactors, and the Council were at odds about the best course of action.

Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, told Protocol, “The privacy issues turned out to be way harder than anybody knew when we started, therefore we weren’t able to send the data to the researchers.” “We’re on the line here,” [Nelson] was reportedly heard saying. If Facebook isn’t willing to provide over the data soon, Nelson said the groups should end the effort. The Council decided to abandon the initiative in the end. Two years of work resulted in the release of the dataset in the early part of last year.

According to danah boyd, chief researcher at Microsoft Research and founder of Data & Society, Nelson’s work was a driving factor in the Council’s decision to shift its research focus to technology rather than the social sciences. A member of the Council board at the time, boyd, declared, “That was a win even when Facebook never unlocked the data.” It sparked a wide-ranging discussion among academics on how best to collaborate with major enterprises. Boyd remarked, “It offers openings for other possibilities down the line when there is more of this kind of data,” referring to the fact that the Council has never sought to use corporate data before to this effort.

That knowledge is now being brought to the White House by Nelson. During his campaign, Vice President Biden pledged to view all policies, especially those pertaining to technology, through the lens of civil rights. In many ways, Nelson exemplifies that promise through his study of how race and technology interact.

Since neither Nelson nor the Office of Science and Technology Policy responded to requests for comment, we’ll assume that Nelson’s inclusion was well received by the community of AI ethicists, tech critics, and civil rights advocates who believe that the government should address the civil rights and social justice issues that technological innovations are raising.

When we offer inputs to the algorithm, when we program the gadget, when we create, test, and research, we are making human choices,” Nelson said in her award address earlier this month. That’s why, throughout my career, I’ve made it a point to hear out the communities and individuals who aren’t typically consulted but whose lives are affected by the decisions made behind closed doors. When Barack Obama was in office, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House was staffed by scientists and technologists who hoped to spread their knowledge and enthusiasm for new technologies throughout the government. Nelson, on the other hand, is more likely to be the sceptic in a conversation on how race, class, and gender interact with new technologies. Her dissertation explored the paradox that African Americans “have been the most injured by science and technology,” but “have also been the most imaginative with it, despite these conflicting pressures,” as she phrased it in an interview last year. The anthology “Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Daily Life,” which she co-edited, examines how people of color use technology in their daily lives, and her book “The Social Life of DNA” digs into the tense relationship between genetic testing and Black communities.

She has been working with a group of academics to make the tech industry more inclusive over the past year under the banner of Just Tech. Her most recent work for her current employment, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), focuses on how the Obama administration has integrated ethics into its operations. “It’s certainly not the superficial ‘open data will solve all policy issues’ rhetoric that we’ve seen from certain persons in some earlier administrations,” said Meredith Whittaker, faculty director of the AI Now Institute and a leading figure in the tech labour organizing movement. According to Whittaker, the strength of political organisations was made clear by Nelson’s study of the Black Panther party’s grassroots medical action.

To have someone who “thinks that widely” and “understands the capacity for organized groups and the individuals who are living the effects of these technologies” is exciting, as Whittaker put it. Given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and minority communities, Nelson’s new position is crucial as the next administration weighs the tradeoffs between surveillance and privacy. Advice on contact tracing, machine-enabled vaccination deployment, algorithmic bias, and data privacy are all likely to come from the Office of the Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), whose position is fluid and often defined by the personalities within it.

She’ll be asking, “Who can be hurt by this technology?” with a sceptical eye. Simone Browne, an associate professor at the University of Texas in Austin, has remarked that Nelson’s study has affected her own work on anti-Blackness and surveillance. For former Obama deputy CTO Jen Pahlka, “her hiring certainly looks to be an indication that some of the issues of her study — which delve into race and class and equity, and the shape of our society” will become increasingly central to OSTP’s efforts.

As the Biden administration employs Silicon Valley elites to shape policy, activists like Whittaker are both excited and skeptical about Nelson’s selection. A former Facebook attorney is apparently being considered by his attorney general for a position leading the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. Concerned that Biden is inviting key executives like Nelson and tech industry officials who have formed the unequal business she has investigated, Whittaker expressed her worries to the press.

The OSTP has not yet opened for business. Biden has yet to hire people for a number of key jobs in the office, including chief technology officer, and the team is currently building out its portfolio. When it comes down to it, Nelson’s opinion won’t count for much in determining the future of science and technology policy. Yet, President Biden’s decision to select her is an indication of significant changes to the administration’s approach to technology policy.

If Alondra is as successful at OSTP as she has been elsewhere, as one commenter put it, “she will open so many doors for folks who would otherwise have no access to any of this,” body added. And it’s crucial if we want to build a government that represents the people.


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