Here’s What’s On Fire: A Tech News Roundup

feature image via ABC

I had an essay planned. But NOPE everything is on fire and there are some things y’all should know.

Trump’s Tech Summit

So this travesty happened where Trump had a bunch of top technology CEOs to his flipping New York City-funded transition office and home in Trump Tower. 20% of the attendees were Trump family members, including his children who are running his businesses, because that’s not fishy at all. Attendees included Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, Sheryl Sanberg, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Safra Catz and Elon Musk. CEOs from Microsoft, Intel, IBM—all there. Trump reportedly said the following:

“This is a truly amazing group of people. Anything we can do to help this go along, and we’re going to be there for you… you’ll call my people, you’ll call me – it doesn’t make any difference, we have no formal chain of command here. We’re going to do fair trade deals, we’re going to make it a lot easier for you to trade.”

Because having no formal chain of command is exactly what I want to hear pop out of our president-elect’s mouth. The New York Times also reports:

Twitter declined to comment on why it was not included. A campaign official complained last month in a Medium post that Twitter had killed a #CrookedHillary emoji. On Wednesday, Sean Spicer, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said that Twitter had been left out of the meeting because of space considerations in a gathering that many other technology executives were “dying to get into.”

Other reasons were given as to why Twitter wasn’t invited, such as the table was only so big, and Twitter too small to be at this meeting of tech giants.

Tim Cook, who sat at a table with people who question his right to exist, reportedly said as he introduced himself: “Tim Cook, very good to be here,” and “…I look very forward to talking to the president-elect about the things that we can do to help you achieve some things you want.” I mean, I didn’t know it’d be THAT fast, but it sure does sound like a rich white gay dude is about to sell the rest of us down the river in the name of profit and power! But perhaps I could’ve guessed by his lackluster email to all his employees where he doesn’t denounce white nationalism and calls for the inclusion of white nationalists in the name of diversity lalalala.

Notably absent was Marc Benioff, who served as keynote speaker for one of the fabulous Lesbians Who Tech Summits and is touted as a great ally to marginalized communities in the tech industry. I’d like to think he’s sticking to his principals, but who knows! I also am torn about the tech industry’s participation in this meeting, because what choice do they have? If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu, and leaving the country’s technology policy up to a table of white nationalists who want to make a database of Muslim people is socially irresponsible. Kara Swisher puts it brilliantly:

Tech companies also stand on the other side of a myriad of key issues from Trump, including immigration reform, encryption and a range of social concerns. But those involved said that tech leaders had little choice in accepting the invitation, even if they wanted to decline, opting to engage now even if they later oppose Trump.

I’m going to continue to pay very close attention to who is opposing Trump in the technology industry, and who is using the power of technology to support a white nationalist agenda.

Tom Wheeler Is Stepping Down

Which we knew was coming, but is nonetheless cause for major concern! It’s customary for the Chairman of the FCC to resign when a new administration comes in, but Wheeler had dodged the question of whether he would for months. Now it’s official—yep. Which gives Republicans control over the FCC, and thus over Obama-era regulations. According to Politico:

Chief among the GOP targets are Wheeler’s net neutrality rules, passed last year, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The rules reclassify broadband akin to a utility making it subject to stricter oversight. Republicans called the regulations burdensome on companies, and the telecom industry has sued — so far unsuccessfully — to overturn them.

If you don’t know why net neutrality is a big deal SPECIFICALLY FOR GAY PEOPLE, read this, this and this.

Governor Moonbeam Is Killing It, Though

California Governor Jerry Brown is ready to fight Trump at every turn should he try to fuck around with earth science, specifically those monitoring climate change. He’s promised that if Trump’s white nationalist administration turns off the satellites used for this research, California would “launch its own damn satellite.” A reminder that, in an anti-science federal climate, state and local agencies helping to fund and fight for the sciences become more important, as do independent agencies.

Be Prepared: Here Is an Internet Security Video Series

Let’s end on something proactive. Watch this series on internet security basics with your family this holiday instead of the yule log.

So what did I miss? What else is on fire? Please alert us to potential freedom-threatening technology-industry stuff in the comments below. And remember:

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. Thank you for this, Ali! I’m definitely going to have to go through and secure my tech stuff, because up until now, I’ve been very lackadaisical with it (I’m not a luddite, but I’ve always been like, “meh, technology is hard”). Well, until I met my wife, who is a tech genius, and I realized that being tech savvy is my responsibility as a feminist and a tool in dismantling the patriarchy. Anyway, thank you for this column. Constant Vigilance!

  2. I personally hate Trump but as a candidate he was the only person sounding off on the slow stripping of American jobs to overseas and automation. I am kinda happy he got to bring these guys into a room and tell them its time you do something for America and not yourself. These tech companies have slowly been stripping America of jobs. They are the equivalent of the ash borer beetle. Sure not harmful to a whole forest as one individual one. But with a few inside a disgarded log in the forest they grow and multiply. So now instead of a one tree being threatened thousands are threatened but not all at once. A great forest can be eliminated in a decade with the introduction of only a few ash borer beetles. These tech companies are like the beetle swarm slowly killing all of the trees in the great forest we call America.

    But where does that leave us as a community? It means we have to start understanding why he won. He didn’t win because of racism. He won because people want a change to the threat of losing a job. So how does that harm us? By fighting for us we only hurt ourselves. We have to fight for all Americans who want jobs,aka the forest of America. Fighting for the forest gives us the respect of all Americans. That is how you win. Not thru lobbyist but thru respect. We didn’t win the right to marry with an army of lobbyist. We won the right because our neighbors and our coworkers had respect for us. They were the ones that approved of us having the right to marry the person we want. Their approval told the politicians that it was the right thing to do.

    • Hello!

      I think I have a different perspective on this. The way I see it, Trump ran on a platform of white identity politics and that is why he won. I actually think he DID win because of racism. And the shitty bit is a lot of people are giving all sorts of other reasons that he won because they don’t want to believe that a lot of this country is that racist, sexist, ableist, etc. So we start to legitimize a group of people who have this major implicit bias (or explicit bias, Trump’s administration is a white nationalist administration after all) because, well, they spoke to this one issue. The Democrats did too! But we didn’t hear about that. And I think we didn’t hear about it because technology has linked the most popular stories that make money using clicks to what gets reported on. Stories about how awful Hillary is make money? Well then, more of those please. A cocktail of social media and greed is slowly killing the free press (and I’m worried that this incoming white nationalist administration will deal the final blow).

      Mostly, though, I think we’re in this predicament because America hates women that much, that they couldn’t vote for one. Including the white women who voted for Trump. They’re not free from implicit bias against women. And we’re in this bind because a large portion of the country looked a politician who spoke to low-income white folks and excused the fact that he wants to register, intern and deport brown people. That there—that’s fighting only for oneself.

      Now make no mistake about it—I’ll fight for everyone, including the people who voted white nationalist because electing a sexual predator seemed like something that was acceptable when held up against their bottom line. I’ll fight for better education that doesn’t teach folks in rural areas to do only one kind of low-profit manufacturing job (and for the unions that made that job good in the first place). I’ll fight for the modernization of our food systems so that farming is sustainable and doesn’t wreck our environment (because right now, the way we farm does). As we transition out of coal, I’ll fight for ways to modernize a workforce so that, while they no longer have coal jobs that pollute our air and warm the planet, they are not left behind by science (perhaps that will cause this group to trust science more!). These are things I’ve been fighting for this whole time, but dammit, I’m going to step it up. But I’m ALSO going to fight for the ability to drive through the South to visit my parents without being scared out of my wits. I’m going to fight against the reinstatement of NSEERS (which will totally sidestep allies registering in solidarity and is just flipping awful). I’m going to do everything I can for everyone negatively affected by this administration, and it might not be enough, but I’m going to try. What I certainly will not do is center the concerns of white people who looked at someone encouraging a foreign government to harm his political opponent’s campaign, who wants to implement a registry of people from a specific religion, and whose name is being used to spit hate at Black people, gay people, women, Muslims, and every other kind of person who isn’t white and male, and said yeah. I will elect this man. Because I might make more money and he will not hurt me. I will fight for them, but they don’t get more real estate in my heart or my time.

      I’ve been fighting for the forest the whole time. A globalizing economy isn’t the reason these communities are languishing. Or rather, if a whole host of other reasons weren’t also present, these communities would be able to adapt and grow in a global economy. I’d also like to point out that it was mainly educated, middle-class white voters who are responsible for this mess.

      TL;DR: He did win because of racism. And we have a lot of work to do.

    • We did NOT win the right to marry because our neighbors and coworkers had respect for us. We won the right to marry because they DIDN’T…and when they didn’t, and they voted against it in states like MI, OH, KY, and TN, the SCOTUS held that it was unconstitutional of them.

  3. Yeah thanks for this. I’m slowly going over your recent articles on infosec etc and implementing those suggestions now that school is out for the holidays. These articles and EFF are really doing a great job keeping us informed and proactive; thank you.

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