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California Governor Gavin Newsom inside the Capitol

Today, California passed the most sweeping and most damaging legislation to the gig economy that the United States has produced, and potentially the biggest challenge to Silicon Valley that any legislature anywhere has ever approved.

The legislature in Sacramento could have let stand a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling establishing many of the same provisions that the legislation created. Instead, it decided to make a strong statement against the market power of hometown heroes like Uber and Lyft, and give state houses around the country both the air cover and the blueprint to enact legislation of their own. …


Libra was supposed to change — deftly, elegantly — the way the world paid for things. Overnight, well-meaning engineers and slick marketing would usher in a “more inclusive financial system” and uproot thousands of years of human behavior and a fundamental source of trust in our society.

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Will Libra through Facebook out of balance?

Facebook would cease to be the company that merely brought people together online and begin to be the connective tissue that would unite the world’s consumers with the world’s companies, and eliminate those pesky barriers put up by old, stodgy institutions. Fascinatingly enough, Facebook seemingly sweet-talked those same institutions into being fundamental partners…


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It’s all about the euros

Emmanuel Macron has fashioned himself as many things: reformer, savior of the Fifth Republic, Marine Le Pen blocker, Trump whisperer. But the one image that might stick with him long after he is out of the Elysée is Silicon Valley Saboteur, and the events of the last week show us just how hard Macron is willing to hit.

Seemingly out of nowhere, and in stark relief to the prevailing feelings in the American corporate world when the French elected a youthful, tech-savvy president, big tech companies are spooked by France.

What’s more, their fear comes not from the country’s massive…


Last week, I joined delegates from around the world in Ottawa at the Open Government Partnership, a conference built by 76 member states that believe that transparent government is effective government. And boy, were they mad at tech companies.

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Wonder where the conference was?

In the five editions of the conference that came before, its proceedings focused on a number of more traditional global issues, ranging from extractive industry regulation to fighting corruption, this year the meeting was decidedly about tech. …


Another day, another devastating public relations disaster for Facebook. Chris Hughes, Facebook’s shaggy-haired co-founder, previously known as a husband-funder-of-failed-campaigns, and ruiner-of-good-magazines, burst in the New York Times and reinvented himself yet again as Mark-can’t-handle-the-truth teller. His piece, It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, advocated for just that.

Not to be outdone by irony, Facebook’s VP and head of global policy, Nick Clegg (that’s right, the former “I’m Prime Minister too, I promise” Nick Clegg) issued a firm rebuttal in the Times. …


Sometimes it seems like the European Union is just being mean to Silicon Valley. Between GDPR, which nobody still really understands, and vague laws against the delightfully German-sounding Volksverhetzung (incitement to violence), it seems like old, stodgy Europe is ganging up on scrappy, innovative America. The New York Times posed this question in a recent article, suggesting that the regulatory advances coming out of Brussels and other European states are causing some consternation among free speech and human rights activists.

In otherwise straightforward reporting, a statement that Twitter issued to the Times caught my eye, and should catch yours, too.

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Europe calling


Your Uber app is telling you to take the bus?

It’s not an alternate transit planner paradise reality. It’s London, and the feature is coming soon to users across the British capital.

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Uber’s app, of course, is not the only way to get this information, but in a city as congested as London, it’s a tantalizing way to easily compare the cost and duration of the city’s many transportation options. The company is also planning to roll out its e-bike share service in London in the coming months that will add yet another last-mile option to public transportation itineraries.

The…


Every time I arrive in California, my facial muscles relax. It’s like magic. Without having to leave the country, I feel far from the problems in the rest of the U.S., and even farther from the world’s problems. Dare I say I’m jealous that this special land concentrates so many good things in one place. Even the traffic can’t get me down.

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But California’s detachment is also its Achilles heel, and is a major factor in why the state’s most important companies are under global scrutiny for their role in distorting elections, crowding locals out of their own neighborhoods, and…


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Politico Europe reported recently on Ireland’s ability to make or break the privacy agendas of some of the world’s leading tech companies. In its essence, the article exposes how a country of 4.5 million people possesses a privacy regulator with the effective ability to determine policy for the more than 500 million people in the European Union (and billions beyond Europe). Through detailed investigation, Nick Vinocur’s piece argues that Ireland’s legal loopholes and economic reliance on companies like Facebook and Google give American big tech the upper hand over Europe. …


Sri Lanka was hit by a well-coordinated and highly lethal terrorist attack on Easter Sunday. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the country made an unusual and unprecedented decision to shut down access to all social networks nationwide, a ban that was lifted only today.

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It’s harder to protect virtual targets

In the name of national security, and to prevent the spread of false information while the government was investigating the attacks and trying to track down perpetrators, platforms like Facebook, Viber, and WhatsApp were off limits to nearly everyone for more than a week in the island country of 20 million. …

J.J. Stranko

Tech and international affairs writer and researcher

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