Data, Tweets, and Thieves

Lee Bergstein 

The Unlikely Advocates Who Took on Silicon Valley–and Won. (Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times): “It’s like selling you coffee and making it your job to decide if the coffee has lead in it.” This is the model by which Silicon Valley (most notably Facebook and Google) has been using to collect your data. This article tells the story of Alastair Mactaggart, a real estate developer, who is attempting to upend that model by using the ballot initiative process in California. As Mactaggart and his team navigate a complex web of tech giants, influential lobbyists and politicians, parallels between Big Tech and classically nefarious industries like Big Oil and Big Tobacco are inescapable and disheartening. The past, however, is not prologue here and the tale’s outcome is a surprise guaranteed to make you spit out your lead-laden coffee: a bi-partisan solution.

 

Mike Flynn

Elon Musk’s Tweets on Tesla Started a Tizzy. Someone Should Hit the Brakes. (DealBook, The New York Times): The hook is right in the opening line: “Why do people say the craziest things on Twitter?” And before you decide not to click on another article about Trump, this one primarily dissects the recent tweets of another powerful billionaire, Elon Musk — meaning there might be actual legal ramifications to analyze. As a lawyer who has studied the surprisingly shaky legal underpinnings of our so called “right to privacy,” I am always fascinated by how quickly and freely people of all walks of life just give their thoughts away in real time.

 

Cooper Knowlton

The Feather Heist (Sean Cole, This American Life): After you’ve finished catching up on the previous episodes of Two Lawyers Walk into a Bar, listen to the most recent episode of This American Life — The Feather Heist. The episode tells the story of one of the strangest capers in recent history, involving the theft of 299 rare bird specimens stolen from the Tring Museum north of London. It’s also a story about fly-fishing, ornithology, and an obsessive amateur detective. I’ve probably listened to every episode of this American Life and this is easily one of my all-time favorites. ark, oddball humor, and a relevant guide on not allowing circumstance (or climate) to dictate how you treat people. Plus, Frank Langella.

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