Obsession with Secrets-The New York Times

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Before visitors set foot in the offices of many tech companies, they must sign a (digital) promise not to argue about what they hear or see there.U.S. religious leaders have signed legally binding agreements that do not speak in detail Online worship collaboration with Facebook..And Amazon apparently demanded from body scan technology testers Don’t reveal anything about your experience.

Such a non-disclosure agreement It is a fixture For many influential people and institutions who want to keep secrets, sometimes for comprehensible reasons, and sometimes for horrifying things. With NDA Similar legal agreement Used to hide Sexual abuse and harassment When Discrimination in the workplace..

NDAs are definitely not limited to the technology industry. But the power of large tech companies and the popularity of their products is a compulsory secret because of how NDAs prevent the public from fully understanding how these companies shape the world. Makes retention attempts particularly dangerous.

The use of NDAs is ironic in industries that adore openness and transparency, including trivial and everyday situations such as visits to technical offices. Facebook says it values ​​freedom of expression, but it may prevent you from talking about the grapes you ate in the company cafeteria.

Yes, there are often good reasons for people and businesses to demand confidentiality or prevent competitors from learning the best ideas. Also, many people, including journalists, want to know about potential technology products and projects, which can increase the risk of leaks from those companies.

But many tech companies have made confetti-like NDAs ridiculous. anxiety Method.Former Pinterest public policy executive Ifeoma Ozoma is one of those urging to ban restricting NDAs. People who have experienced discrimination in the workplace from speaking publicly About their experience.Some laws limit the maintenance of NDAs Sexual illegal activity Or dangerous product secrets. (People leading accusations against abusive NDAs or other Restricted workplace legal agreement Often women Or a black technician like Ozoma. )

If the technicians weren’t at risk of breaking the NDA in-house, the general public might not have known that. Scam at blood test company Theranos, NS Mental and physical health risks Faced with people reviewing Facebook posts, including violence and sex, and details of Russia’s online promotion to cause voter turmoil in the United States.

“The vast range of these companies makes the use of exploitative agreements the number one issue,” Ozoma told me by email. “California-based companies export overly restricted silence agreements to every corner of the world, and they all claim to be offended about their rights to speech and freedom of expression. going.”

If Airbnb lets a customer sign an NDA, it can hurt other customers If they encounter bed bugs For rental housing or if there is a non-disclosure clause Limit customers from publicly complaining about their tooth aligner experience..And Amazon and other companies Require elected officials to sign nondisclosure agreements About projects that use taxpayer dollars?

The need to sign an NDA before entering a tech company surprised me when I first encountered it. It feels like an unnecessary and trivial exercise of force. (Another question: are these agreements even enforceable?)

A lot of sensitive information is being discussed in investment banks, law firms, the press, and hospitals, and as far as I know, not everyone who goes through the door has a non-disclosure agreement. Instead, employees tend to be careful not to discuss secrets that outsiders may hear.

Again, NDAs are not technology-specific.Playing cards The White House used them..Some celebrities obviously need an NDA friend also Romantic partner..My colleague report Last year, many companies required employees to sign nondisclosure agreements to receive severance pay.

Businesses and people have good reason to want to keep a lot of secrets, but they can also choose other legal measures, such as a more limited confidentiality clause. When powerful and trend-leading tech companies use NDAs for everything, it often protects them at the expense of the rest of us.

This week’s tips

Are cord-free headphones much more frustrating than magic? Brian X. ChenThe New York Times Consumer Technology Columnist shares {SCREAMS} and advises when to give up.

Wireless earphones are great. They allow you to move around freely, are easier to clean up than wired earphones, and have decent sound quality. But recently I called one type of usage of terminating it with wireless earphones. It’s a video call on your computer.

For over a year of remote work, my Apple AirPods were unreliable for desktop video calls. Occasionally, AirPods disappeared from the list of Bluetooth devices available on your Mac, forcing you to reset your earphones. Also, when I participated in a new video Hangouts, I sometimes couldn’t select wireless earphones as a microphone or speaker.

I’ve tried a few troubleshooting steps and it didn’t help, but I’ve found that many others have similar headaches. Then I read an article on this issue by my colleague Lauren Dragan in Wirecutter, a sister publication that tests the product.It turned out Bluetooth headphones often have problems connecting to your computer — This happens so often that manufacturers emphasize that wireless earphones are “optimized for mobile devices” and do not guarantee that they will work well on your computer.

This makes sense to me. Because we tend to upgrade smartphones more regularly than computers, mobile devices are equipped with new Bluetooth technology and will probably work well with new earphones.

After looking back at all the video calls that didn’t work for me, I bit the bullet and bought a relatively cheap one, Logitech’s old-fashioned wired headset Just for my virtual conference. It costs $ 25 and works perfectly every time. From time to time you have to know when to call it.

  • Beijing Invisible Hand: The company behind the popular WeChat app in China Pause new user registration, My colleague Paul Mozul, said it caused fear of new regulatory pressures. In recent months, Chinese authorities have been working on scrutiny of technologies that have influenced Didi, food delivery services, and online tutoring startups like Uber.

  • Questions about technologies frequently used by law enforcement: Vice’s Motherboard publication is a technology that detects shootings and warns law enforcement agencies, ShotSpotter. Changed data on gunshot location and time At the request of the police.

  • Online video that brought attention and danger: A teenager in Iraq recorded an online video listing his country’s problems and asking President Biden for help.The video got bigger and my colleague Jane Araf reported: The teens were flooded There are thousands of negative social media comments and I’m afraid to leave the house.

Mother and son began making paper cranes to show the passage of time and learn about patience during a pandemic. They took the last photo of all 465 cranes last month..

Obsession with Secrets-The New York Times

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