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Government-owned smartphone bans are dumb and pointless
Basically all government employees with a work phone also have a personal phone. The bans are empty theater that fixes nothing and fools nobody.
The Chinese government could spy on or influence Americans via Chinese ByteDance-owned TikTok, so the American government banned TikTok on the four million or so US government-owned devices issued to employees.
Other governments boldly stepped in line to copy the US initiative. The UK banned TikTok on government phones. So did the European Union, New Zealand, Denmark, Belgium, Latvia, Norway and a smattering of US states.
Canada banned TikTok on government devices, but still advertises on TikTok. Oh, Canada!
The BBC merely suggested that employees delete TikTok. Take THAT, China!
I suspect government agencies think these bans sound tough, but know they are politically safe. Nobody is really banned from using TikTok. Everybody’s got their own phone, which in most cases they also bring to work, upon which they can obsess over TikTok videos all day.
If Chinese spy agencies want to identify which TikTok users are government employees, they simply need to harvest location data and find out which TikTok accounts spend their nine-to-five inside US government buildings and military installations.
The Biden administration is threatening an actual nationwide ban. But such a ban would be politically risky. First, it would appear like an anti-free speech move akin to China’s bans on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube… and TikTok (ByteDance offers a separate app inside China that’s filled with heavily censored patriotic, wholesome content.)
Second, it would take away something from voters that more than 100 million Americans enjoy with a vital election coming up.
Third, ByteDance would be able to avoid the ban by selling TikTok to an American company. This is also a bad look, as it open the government to accusations that US spy agencies want to use TikTok to do what it’s accusing China of doing.
And finally, ByteDance would sue, and the government could lose.
Trump threatened such a ban, and chickened out. Biden might do the same.
Meanwhile, the Russian government is poised to ban all iPhones, falsely claiming that Apple devices are easier for the US government to hack and spy with than Android devices. (The real reason is likely that Russia wants to force the acceptance of the Russian operating system Avrora — which is easier for the Russian government to hack and spy with.)
Here’s why dumb government bans like this are very, very close to actually banning nothing.
1. Cheaters can cheat with a ChatGPT tool called CheatGPT
While educators are concerned about the use of generative AI tools like ChatGPT for cheating on essays in school, a new tool isn’t even pretending to care. It’s called CheatGPT, and its ethically-challenged maker, Emanuele Pavanello, says on the website: “AI might be taking over the world, but at least we can use it to cheat like champions with CheatGPT.”
2. Keyboards: tactile or on-screen? Now you can have both!
The Flux Keyboard is a clear tactile keyboard on top of a screen. You can customize the look of your keyboard with pictures, videos or key-specific colors, shapes and designs, and the imagery can automatically change (along with custom shortcuts and macros) with the application you’re using. Each switch has 4mm of key travel, and the keyboard has three turning dials, which can control application-specific variables.
3. Site uses ChatGPT to find cancel-worthy tweets on Twitter
A new site called CancelGPT uses ChatGPT to find offensive tweets on any Twitter handle. You can use it on your own Twitter account to delete tweets before you get canceled. Or, you can use it on someone else’s to cancel them. We were promised jet packs, and instead we got AI-enhanced cancel wars.
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