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Show Notes: Congress just sold your internet privacy out from under you

Show Notes: Congress just sold your internet privacy out from under you


March 28th, 2017

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Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every chance I can, I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.

Hey — sorry for missing a few days there. I’m still working out how to best deliver these. And when. Do you have ideas? Let me know. (Yes, email is a good idea. But what makes this the most valuable in an email? Curious for input there.)


  • Earlier this month, JetSmarter offered us a review ride on their private jet service... and sent us a contract requiring us to write a positive story within five days or pay them $2,000. We... did not do that.
  • But we wrote about that, and Ben Popper and Colin Lecher were inundated with customer and supplier stories about how JetSmarter was gradually increasing costs and reducing perks.
  • After reporting it out, Ben and Colin discovered that JetSmarter is really quite shady — the company has customers sign an NDA that allows them to kick people out if they post negative reviews. Even on private WhatsApp chat groups for members. It’s well worth a read.
  • But seriously, has any cold-call PR pitch ever gone so awry? Be, you know, smarter.


congress voting on internet privacy
  • The argument (as always) is that free market competition will make these companies behave, because if consumers actually value privacy, they’ll switch to providers that offer it.
  • Which, what are you smoking, first of all. The history of the internet is not the history of people knowing how to value online privacy. Come on.
  • Second, the fundamental problem with that is that most people don’t have any choices for broadband providers. In New York City, tons of people can only get internet service from Spectrum. When I lived in Chicago, my only option was Comcast. Where is the competition to keep these companies honest coming from?
  • You have to willfully ignore the competition issues here. How much does that willful ignorance cost?
  • Ugh. I hope everyone is ready for years of stories about bad ISP behavior, because that is the only reasonable check we have left.


  • Tomorrow is the big Galaxy S8 launch. I’m really quite excited by it; it sounds like Samsung is trying to push a bunch of take-’em-for-granted ideas about phones forward.
  • Vlad Savov wrote the essential pre-brief before the event: basically, Samsung has so much to prove with this phone, starting with that whole “doesn’t explode” thing.
  • But lots of other questions about the actual thing and how it works, even if we know the basics from leaks: is that no-home-button face-unlock actually any good? How does the DeX dock work? And on and on. Tomorrow will be a big day, even if we already know how the phone looks and most of the specs. How the product actually works is all too often taken for granted.
  • We’ll have wall-to-wall coverage of the event and the device, so don’t look anywhere else. Ever. Just keep reading our desktop home page, forever.
  • (Also, there’s a lot of snarky jokes about Samsung’s plan to sell refurbished Note 7s under a different name in countries outside the US, but the company says it’s doing it for environmental reasons, and that’s pretty valid. There are millions of these things, and now that the root cause of the battery issue has been discovered, it’s probably better to have them be useful than throwing them in a landfill. I doubt they’re going to make a big deal about this.)


  • Andy Rubin teased his new Essential smartphone yesterday. Another new phone I’m actually excited about — Rubin is one of the few people who’s done this successfully more than once.
  • iOS 10.3 hit overnight, with a huge upgrade to the iOS filesystem. But... can you think of a quieter set of Apple announcements in a while? A new iPhone, a new iPad, and a huge update to iOS (sure, to a system-level thing, but still) and basically no hype around it. Wonder if the company is saving the buzz for something else, or if there just wasn’t enough of a narrative around the new stuff for it to create buzz.
  • Netgear expanded the Orbi line of mesh WiFi routers with a new wall plug module, which is fascinating. The Plume system is based entirely on little plugs, but there’s something really powerful about a range of access points in all shapes and sizes creating a mesh.
  • SpaceX is about to relaunch of of the Falcon 9 rockets it recovered on Thursday, which will make history. Loren Grush and Miriam Nielsen are on the scene for us, and we’ll have blowout coverage of the launch. See, some things are still incredibly inspiring and wonderful.
  • Finally, you can harvest your pet’s fur and wear it as a watch band, which proves that innovation isn’t dead. It is alive, in the form of literal hair products. (This is probably an April Fools joke, but I couldn’t resist.)