Collision Course

By Tommy Collison

A newsletter about tech policy, consumer privacy, and the future.

A newsletter about tech policy, consumer privacy, and the future.

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Google Minus Google+ [Collision Course #14]

First, a postscript to last week's newsletter on Bloomberg's chip cover story: the original article used no named sources. Zero. This probably has long-term impacts on trust in journalism, but I won't tease them out right now.On to today's news, Google+ being…


Not the last we've heard of the Bloomberg story [Collision Course - Issue #13]

There's a song by Don Henley (of Eagles fame) called "New York Minute" that includes the line:Lying here in the darkness, I hear the sirens wail / Somebody going to emergency, somebody's going to jailI thought of that line reading Bloomberg's cover story this…


Smells like team spirit [Collision Course #12]

In Seattle, the locals don't like newcomers very much. It was ever thus, from the Yukon gold rushes to its 20th century development as the financial centre of the Pacific Northwest.But as I sit here, a transplant from Ireland, via New York, I can definitely f…


Is Mark Zuckerberg still having fun? [Collision Course #11]

This week was a treat: Evan Osnos' excellent profile of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was published, giving us new insight into the closest thing the 21st century has to William Randolph Hearst. The whole thing —it's just north of 15,000 words— is worth your t…


Tinder, harassment, and why privacy is hard [Collision Course #10]

For a final project for a journalism class at NYU, I interviewed a sophomore at George Washington University who was harassed by someone she met on Tinder.“He would say overtly sexual things, like ‘can’t wait to rip your clothes off when I see you,’ or, since…


Do we not care about online privacy any more? [Collision Course #9]

The Commerce Department released a report this week on the online privacy and security concerns among American households. The new report compliments an earlier study done — first in June 2015 and again in November 2017. Both times, here's what respondents we…


A study finds that children welcome our new robot overlords [Collision Course #8]

Yes, if you're young. That's what a team of researchers, led by Anna-Lisa Vollmer at Bielefeld University, have found in a study released this week. Carolyn Y. Johnson over at the Washington Post summarized it well: "In the experiment, two groups of children …


A defense of big thinking, ft. Elon Musk [Collision Course #7]

Give Elon Musk a break — at least he's focussed on big ideasCall it the parable of the cave. Here on the west coast of the US at least, the rescue last month of a football team and their coach from the cave in Thailand revolved around one man. It wasn't the c…


We Regret to Inform You That Two-Factor Authentication is Not Invincible [Collision Course #6]

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Reddit, the popular social networking site, announced today that they'd been hacked and that attackers had gotten access to users' personal information:All Reddit data from 2007 and before including account credentials…


Leaking, ft. Lady Gaga [Collision Course #5]

I’m not convinced people appreciate just how easy it is to leak information today. Or, to turn it on its head, how hard it is to keep information secure. Put simply, it is no longer logistically prohibitive to leak huge amounts of documents, and that’s why we…


When is a Cellphone Not A Cellphone? [Collision Course #4]

Earlier this month, Apple released a software update for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches that prevents someone from transferring data off the device if it's been locked for over an hour.Why Should I Care?Companies make tools that bypass Apple's security feat…


Why It’s So Hard To Make A Law against Revenge Porn [Collision Course #3]

A man, a plan, a sext, a lawsuit, Panama!With basically all of us carrying around internet-enabled cameras (excuse me, smartphones), I’m surprised we don’t hear more about revenge porn, or sharing someone’s intimate photos and videos without their consent.Oft…


Why can't the EU leave the internet alone? [Collision Course #1.5]

Next week, the second installment of this newsletter talks about intimate photos, revenge porn, and why it's hard to create effective laws around the internet. But in the meantime, here's a piece I wrote for the Irish Independent this week about how the EU is…


Collision Course: Because humans are bad at understanding technology [Collision Course, #1]

But first, a story about Fake News.In the run-up to the election of 1800, one of America's first gossip journalists wrote that sitting president John Adams had a "hideous, hermaphroditical character" with "neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gent…