Other parts are still relevant. The tech executives were grilled on whether “free” services are still viable as a business model and whether advertising is still the model for the future. Mitchell Kertzman, then chief executive of Liberate Technologies, said the current moment was seeing “an overreaction” against advertising. Mr. Schmidt — as prescient as ever — observed: “There is an enormous demand for all-you-can-eat subscription services for proprietary intellectual property. People are tired of having 500 accounts which charge them $5 a month for this source and that source.” (Netflix was founded in 1997 and introduced its streaming service in 2007.)
Mr. Schmidt also predicted that in the coming years:
… there’s clearly going to be pressure around privacy legislation of some kind. A lot of people are worried that the privacy legislation will end up being written by a large number of lobbyists from all the different sides, and it will not end up looking like whatever outcome people really think it should.
This was President George W. Bush’s first year in office, and in an alternate universe, we may very well have seen pro-privacy regulation in America enacted then. The round table took place in July 2001. After Sept. 11, the government passed the Patriot Act, an enormous erosion of American privacy that we are still contending with.
Tip of the Week: Picking a Virtual Private Network
Last week, Charlie gave some great tips to stay safe on public Wi-Fi. (His explanation of virtual private network services can be found here.) Shortly after the newsletter landed in your inbox, Wirecutter, a New York Times-owned site, put out its 2019 recommendations for the best V.P.N.s. It’s well worth a read just to start thinking about what kind of standards you want to set for your V.P.N., and really, any consumer technology.
“All of your internet activity will flow through the servers of the company whose V.P.N. you use, so you’ll need to trust it more than you trust the network you’re hoping to secure, whether that’s airport Wi-Fi, a hotel internet connection, your corporate IT network, or your home I.S.P.,” says Yael Grauer, the technology journalist who wrote the recommendation. She then rattles off a series of stories where V.P.N.s made promises they did not live up to. (For example, earlier this year, “more than half of the top 20 free V.P.N.s in the App Store and the Google Play store were owned by or based in China, a country where V.P.N. services are banned.”)
Ms. Grauer assessed trustworthiness based on news reports, on information about who owns and operates the service, on the opinion of security experts and on court cases where specific V.P.N. services have proved to authorities that they don’t log customer data. She also looked for security audits by third parties.
All in all, it’s a great primer on how to think about the tech you put your trust in.
[If you’re online — and, well, you are — chances are someone is using your information. We’ll tell you what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]
What I’m Reading
The administration has asked Congress to reauthorize a law that authorized the National Security Agency to sift through records of Americans’ calls and text messages. If Congress doesn’t act, the law will expire in December.