Newsletter #148: Tech Working for Justice

Hello Recompilers,

Last week I was talking about how Trump had declared war on Twitter and I was being a bit hyperbolic. This week he’s declared war on the American people and I’m not being so hyperbolic. He’s threatening that he will use federal troops whether states approve or not.


There isn’t a lot of middle ground left, and various platforms are busy making their positions clear. Zoom has committed publicly to working with law enforcement. They have announced they are not seeking end-to-end encryption for their free users so that governments may more easily monitor people’s communications. Slack, on the other hand, has stated they support Black Lives Matter and have taken the small but tangible step of removing a three-year-old post on their blog that taught law enforcement how to use their platform.

Techies are getting in on it too, of course. Hackers have been jamming police scanner signals in Chicago by playing “Fuck the Police” and “Chocolate Rain,” or in NYC “Breaking the Law.” An anonymous developer has made an app to help people email their councilmembers about the need to defund police departments.

My sleepy mountain town made international news when the local police destroyed a medical triage area set up for the largely-peaceful protests. After intense public pressure, the police department apologized and said they should have stolen the equipment instead of destroying it. Which serves as a convenient little parable about broader patterns of how hard it is to hold police accountable in the USA. Oh and nationally, cops seized tens of thousands of dollars of anti-covid masks from the mail because they might be used by demonstrators to not catch or spread disease.


Behind the Bastards: The Man Who Teaches Our Cops To Kill
Host Robert Evans is joined by Jack O’Brien to discuss the pseudoscience peddled by David Grossman, inventor of “killology” and probably the single most influential police trainer in US history.

Conference Talk of the Week:

This talk is part of our “Favorite Talks” YouTube Playlist. Check it out and subscribe! 

Keynote: Technically, a Talk by Eileen Uchitelle

Eileen Uchitelle at RailsConf 2020 talks about Rails connection management.


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This newsletter compiled by Margaret Killjoy (@magpiekilljoy). Margaret is an author, activist, and musician based in Appalachia. Her most recent book series is the Danielle Cain novella series, which starts with The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion.

Image by The Gender Spectrum Collection (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)