Episodes
The FBI says a group called DarkSide was behind the ransomware attack that forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down operations last week. DarkSide is believed to have roots in Eastern Europe, possibly Russia, and is fairly new. But like a lot of these ransomware groups, it’s pretty PR-savvy. It’s got a mailing list, press releases and a hotline for victims. Marketplace’s Amy Scott speaks with Brian Krebs, an investigative journalist for Krebs on Security. He wrote a story this week walking...
Published 05/14/21
Wednesday on the show, we talked about cryptocurrency’s impact on the environment. Thursday, we talk about its impact on the semiconductor shortage. Miners and gamers are competing for high-powered graphics chips, or GPUs. These are incredibly hard to find right now because of increased pandemic demand. Most are made at the same foundry in Taiwan that’s struggling to produce enough chips for every industry. And yes, crypto miners are snapping them up, too. So to protect their GPU supply,...
Published 05/13/21
Lately, there’s been a lot more debate about cryptocurrency and how much energy it uses to be produced. Bitcoin, in particular, uses as much energy per year as the Netherlands, its carbon footprint is estimated to be the size of Singapore’s and it generates as much electronic waste as the country of Luxembourg. All these estimates come from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index at Digiconomist. “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood speaks with Alex de Vries, the founder of Digiconomist, who says...
Published 05/12/21
China is rolling out its own digital currency. It is not a cryptocurrency, it’s an all-electronic version of the yuan, designed to replace cash in circulation, and it’s controlled by China’s central bank. The country has been testing it in a few cities. Unlike Bitcoin, the digital yuan is not anonymous. In fact, it could mean that the central government can track spending better than ever before. It could also potentially compete with the U.S. dollar in global finance. And it actually lets...
Published 05/11/21
As you’ve probably heard, Facebook has an oversight board. Last week, it upheld the company’s ban of former President Donald Trump, with caveats. The board, created by Facebook and paid for by Facebook, has received such attention and been treated so seriously, that it made us wonder: Is this something other tech companies are going to try? “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood speaks with Marietje Schaake, the president of the CyberPeace Institute, and who helped found a group of experts that...
Published 05/10/21
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been focused on how the internet is everything. This week, we’re talking about the policy that affects the internet. One policy issue that has haunted every Federal Communications Commission in the past decade, and then some, is net neutrality. That’s the idea that internet service providers have to treat all content equally and can’t slow down or charge more for certain kinds of content. Rules have ping-ponged between administrations. Obama’s FCC put neutrality...
Published 05/07/21
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been focused on how the internet is everything. And this week, we’re talking to the new head of the Federal Communications Commission, which creates most of the policy that affects the internet. Access and infrastructure are important, but only if people can afford that access. Congress has created a new $3 billion fund for low-income Americans to receive $50 per month for broadband service. The subsidies start next week and the program is, for now, temporary....
Published 05/06/21
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been focused on how the internet is everything. When it comes to federal policy governing the internet, the Federal Communications Commission is everything. Among other roles and responsibilities, the FCC maps out broadband access nationally and its maps are used to determine which areas receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies to help build out more infrastructure. But the data used to create those maps is flawed at best. Last year, Congress passed a...
Published 05/05/21
From politics to COVID-19, we have a big problem with false information on the internet. There’s been a lot of discussion about what platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube can do to stop it from spreading, or if the government should step in to regulate those spaces. But there’s been less focus on the skills users need to sort through it all, skills that aren’t necessarily taught, at least in a formal way, in the U.S. education system. Meghan McCarty Carino speaks with Helen Lee...
Published 05/04/21
The Joe Biden administration is planning to issue an executive order intended to help the country better defend against cyberattacks. One thing the federal government might want to do is just … hire more people to work in cybersecurity. The unemployment rate in the cybersecurity field is close to 0%, according to Erin Weiss Kaya, a strategist focused on cyber-organization with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. She told “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood that the government should be...
Published 05/03/21
What you see on social media isn’t there by accident. It’s there because of an algorithm, the programs that use data to decide what content will keep you online for the longest possible time — so that you’ll see and click more ads. These algorithms are right up there with the secret recipe for Coke, in business terms, but they’re also the secret formula that helps misinformation, conspiracy theories and fake news spread so fast and so far. Congress this week had a hearing to try to understand...
Published 04/30/21
We’ve now been covering potential climate solutions on the show for about two years and yet, we must confess, hadn’t thought much about green hydrogen until President Biden brought it up at the climate summit last week. Biden thinks hydrogen plants could be used in steel and power production and as a zero-emissions alternative fuel. And that it’ll create lots of new jobs. So, how viable is green hydrogen, actually? “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood talks with Rachel Fakhry, a policy analyst...
Published 04/29/21
A recent Senate antitrust hearing focused on smartphone app stores and the fees Apple and Google charge developers: 15% for small developers, 30% for larger ones. Companies that create apps, like Match and Spotify, said the fees were too high for what Apple provides and that the terms can change without warning. Developers also pointed out that sometimes Apple might make apps that compete with external apps, as is the case with Spotify and Tile. “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood discusses...
Published 04/28/21
Carbon capture is the talk of the climate scene right now. That’s technology that removes planet-warming carbon dioxide from the air and sequesters it in the Earth. President Joe Biden on Earth Day laid out a vision of net zero emissions by 2050 that relies partly on carbon removal. Also, Elon Musk last week officially launched a $100 million XPrize to fund carbon capture tech. Australia plans to spend more than $400 million on it, too. But climate scientists say carbon capture risks making...
Published 04/27/21
The federal government is looking into whether a Florida school district violated privacy law by sharing student data with the county sheriff’s department. An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that the Pasco County School District shared grades, disciplinary records and attendance with the Sheriff’s Office, which used the data to create a list of potential future criminals. “Marketplace Tech” host Molly Wood speaks with Amelia Vance, who is with the nonprofit Future of Privacy Forum.
Published 04/26/21
The Federal Trade Commission issued a strongly worded post Monday, warning companies against unfair or deceptive practices in their use of artificial intelligence as well as violations of fair-credit rules. It told companies to hold themselves accountable for their algorithms or “be ready for the FTC to do it for you.” Also, the European Union this week drafted detailed legislation that would regulate AI, including banning some surveillance and social-credit scores. Molly speaks with Ryan...
Published 04/23/21
As you’ve heard this week, a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in the killing of George Floyd. The key to that case was the video taken by teenager Darnella Frazier with her smartphone. Molly speaks with Allissa Richardson, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California. She’s the author of the book “Bearing Witness While Black: African Americans, Smartphones and the New Protest #Journalism.” And she argues that smartphones, in...
Published 04/22/21
The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on Lina Khan’s appointment to the Federal Trade Commission. Khan is an associate law professor at Columbia University. She published a paper at Yale in 2017 that laid out a new approach to antitrust enforcement, focused on how big tech companies use their power as gatekeepers to harm competitors and consumers. The example she used was Amazon. Molly speaks with Dana Mattioli, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal covering Amazon. In a recent...
Published 04/21/21
The shortage of semiconductors that has shut down some car factories isn’t going away anytime soon, even though chipmakers are building new factories and promising to ramp up production. The thing is, computer chips are in everything these days. Look around you right now. If you’re at home, maybe you see your laptop or your internet router. They have chips — that’s obvious. But there could also be a chip in your toaster oven, your light switch or your electric toothbrush. Marielle Segarra...
Published 04/20/21
About half of U.S. states are considering right-to-repair bills. They would require manufacturers to publish manuals so that anyone can make repairs on electronics and appliances — everything from iPhones to tractors to ventilators. Some of the bills focus on just one of those categories; in Arkansas, it’s farm equipment, in Oregon, it’s consumer electronics, and in California, it’s medical equipment. And in France, a new law just went into effect requiring makers of some gadgets to put a...
Published 04/19/21
Facebook and other social media companies get plenty of criticism for allowing too much disinformation on their platforms, especially when it comes to elections, pandemic misinformation and untruths about COVID-19 vaccines. Now, critics say, even as the platforms are taking steps toward cracking down, there’s a huge hole in their already spotty enforcement. Not all of the disinformation is in English. There are more than 40 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., and critics say they’ve been...
Published 04/16/21
Microsoft this week announced it will acquire Nuance, a Boston-based speech recognition and artificial intelligence company, for around $16 billion. It’s the company’s largest acquisition after LinkedIn and a big bet on speech recognition technology. Nuance is used most in health care, and about 10,000 health care facilities worldwide use it to capture conversations between patients and doctors and transcribe them in real time. Molly speaks with Daniel Hong, a research director at Forrester....
Published 04/15/21
The Chinese company Ant Group does a lot of things. It provides loans, mobile payments through Alipay, credit scores, and it acts as an investment platform. Last year, it was headed for what might have been the biggest initial public offering in history, until the Chinese government abruptly canceled it. The government on Monday forced the company under the control of its central bank and demanded that it restructure as a financial holdings company. All this happened after founder and tech...
Published 04/14/21
Cryptocurrency is still kind of niche and a little confusing. The fact that it’s so beloved by eccentric tech billionaires doesn’t make it seem totally normal. But despite being developed as a decentralized alternative to government-created currencies, cryptocurrency is getting increasingly legit. The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is going public Wednesday on the Nasdaq. PayPal is now allowing users to pay merchants with cryptocurrency. Visa will accept one type for payments. You can now...
Published 04/13/21
As you’ve probably heard by now, the effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, was unsuccessful, though the union said it will challenge the vote. It would have affected just a fraction of Amazon’s workforce, but it captured the attention of the country at a time when e-commerce has become a lifeline and the welfare of essential workers has come under threat. Meghan McCarty Carino spoke with Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers...
Published 04/12/21