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  • OPINION

    Innovation no fix for urban transport ills

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 03/07/2018

    » Urban transportation is undergoing a revolution. Offerings such as Uber and Lyft, as well as car- and bike-sharing services are widely believed to reduce congestion and generally make urban dwellers more mobile; driverless cars are expected to provide further benefits. Yet the notion that these innovations always make things better is far from a given: The new services are a net good only if they complement traditional public transportation systems rather than compete with them.

  • OPINION

    The cyber whodunnit and the global blame game

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 21/12/2017

    » The US government has officially attributed to North Korea the WannaCry ransomware attack, which encrypted hundreds of thousands of computer drives around the world in May, 2017. And yet as with a series of other highly public cyberattack attributions, little evidence for the claim was made public. It's time for the cybersecurity world to follow the advice of the Rand Corporation and set up an unbiased international consortium that would seek to attribute attacks based on a common set of rules.

  • OPINION

    The Cambridge Analytica red herring

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 21/03/2018

    » Facebook is being hammered for allowing the data firm Cambridge Analytica to acquire 50 million user profiles in the US, which it may or may not have used to help the Trump campaign. But the outrage misses the target: There's nothing Cambridge Analytica could have done that Facebook itself doesn't offer political clients.

  • OPINION

    Secretive Russian billionaire vents to US conservatives

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 13/03/2018

    » It's not every day that a Russian billionaire submits a op-ed piece to the Daily Caller, the conservative US website. When the billionaire in question is as media-shy as Oleg Deripaska, something extraordinary is going on. As the unfortunate recipient of an oversized role in the "Trump-Russia" scandal, he has had enough and is not quite sure how to defend himself.

  • OPINION

    Authoritarian cryptocurrencies are on the march

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 18/10/2017

    » With Russia and China both embracing the idea of sovereign cryptocurrencies, it's time to ask a simple question: Why is a technology threatening to decentralise money so attractive to highly centralised, authoritarian regimes?

  • OPINION

    Give people a chance to sell their data to FB

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 01/02/2019

    » It's easy to be outraged by the revelation that Facebook has been paying users between the ages of 13 and 35 up to US$20 (624 baht) a month to allow practically unlimited access to their smartphone usage data. But outrage about the social media giant is so 2017. The latest dubious practice could be an opportunity to consider a more finely tuned business model.

  • OPINION

    Yes, Russia abused Facebook. But did it actually work?

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 20/12/2018

    » Russia's propaganda operations during the 2016 US presidential election were broader than previously thought, according to two recently published studies. But they don't provide proof the influence campaign was as effective as the Kremlin may have hoped. Both reports, based on data provided by social networks, combine a distrust of the companies' disclosures and a naive trust in the metrics they tout.

  • OPINION

    Europe is helping Uber to improve

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 03/10/2018

    » On Monday, Uber returned to Dusseldorf, Germany, a city it was forced to abandon in 2015. This is a victory both for German regulators and for Uber, or rather, for its new version under Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi. It shows that the San Francisco-based company can actually function as a tech platform, rather than as a taxi business that pretends to be a tech platform.

  • OPINION

    Social media needs bigger clean-up

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 31/07/2018

    » The plunge of Facebook and Twitter shares last week shows that both companies are hostages to investors' unrealistic perceptions of how quickly they should grow even as they purge bots and trolls. Moving to eliminate all fake and malicious accounts, as well as making new ones very hard to register, would be scary given these inflated expectations.

  • OPINION

    EU privacy rules risk giving Google even more power

    News, Leonid Bershidsky, Published on 03/05/2018

    » The disingenuous way companies are attempting to comply with the letter, not the spirit, of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is only part of the problem with the new privacy rule, which goes into effect on May 25. For publishers already forced to accept Google's near monopoly on programmatic advertising on their sites, the new regulation could make things worse.

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