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big tech, Google, cybersecurity, personal accounts, authentication, new passkey default
Photo credit: Anthony Quintano / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 DEED

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

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Google to Make Passkeys the Default Login for Personal Accounts (Maria)

The author writes, “Google is taking a big step toward making passkeys the default login option for its users. Starting today, users logging in to personal Google accounts will be prompted to create and use passkeys instead of passwords when possible. (Passwords will still be used in some contexts where they are not yet supported.) Built on the WebAuthn standard, passkeys seek to replace passwords by leaning on your local device’s authentication method, like biometrics or a PIN. … Google has been experimenting with passkeys across numerous products, including Chrome, over the past year.”

How Trump’s MAGA Movement Helped a 29-Year-Old Activist Become a Millionaire (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Charlie Kirk’s $4.75 million Spanish-style estate is tucked away in a gated Arizona country club that charges nearly a half-million dollars for a golf membership. It boasts a guest casita, a ‘resort-style’ pool and striking views of the Sonoran Desert. The Make America Great Again political movement has been lucrative for Kirk, the 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of the conservative youth organization Turning Point.”

Politicians Say This Florida News Site Lets Them Buy Coverage. Is Your State Next? (Jonathan)

From NPR and Floodlight: “Political strategist Eunic Epstein-Ortiz arrived in Florida from New York in 2017 to help a major labor union turn out voters for the following year. She recalls being pleasantly surprised by the positive coverage the campaign received from Florida Politics. The website is Florida’s answer to Politico: It illuminates developments on politics and policy for insiders and news buffs, and it influences what other outlets report about the state. And it reflects the drive of its founder, Peter Schorsch. ‘He will determine whether or not something is news in the state of Florida,’ Epstein-Ortiz says.”

China’s Quest for Human Genetic Data Spurs Fears of a DNA Arms Race (Sean)

The authors write, “China’s Fire-Eye labs — scores of which were donated or sold to foreign countries during the pandemic — are attracting the attention of Western intelligence agencies amid growing unease about China’s intentions. Some analysts perceive China’s largesse as part of a global attempt to tap into new sources of highly valuable human DNA data in countries around the world. That collection effort, underway for more than a decade, has included the acquisition of U.S. genetics companies as well as sophisticated hacking operations, U.S. and Western intelligence officials say.”

Justice Today, Peace Tomorrow: Reinventing the Crime of Aggression in the Age of Putin (Al)

From the LMU Law Review: “War. One word can conjure up so much: suffering, instability, chaos, destruction, and death. It is no wonder then that many countries have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Though many governments have given aid to Ukraine and sanctioned Russia, much of the world remains paralyzed, recognizing the danger of Russia’s lawless actions but unable to do anything about it. Now, as talk has turned to war crimes tribunals, it is vital that we remember a critical feature of international criminal law: the crime of aggression.”

At Canada’s Largest Atlantic Puffin Colony, Chicks Are Dying of Starvation (Laura)

From CBC News: “The volunteers who rescue Atlantic puffin chicks — called ‘pufflings’ — knew something was wrong when so few strays from the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula showed up this summer. The fledglings emerge from their burrow at night to avoid predators, but some are attracted to the lights in the rapidly growing communities on shore. Members of a group called the Puffin Patrol capture the stranded pufflings and release them into the ocean. ‘The Puffin Patrol wasn’t finding very many birds,’ said Sabina Wilhelm, a wildlife biologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.”

What Is Taylor Swift Amnesia? Swifties Report They Can’t Remember Her Concerts for This Reason (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Many Swifties are experiencing a post-concert ‘blank space.’ Fans of international pop star Taylor Swift have reported a lack of memory after attending Eras Tour concerts — with some saying they’re even forgetting chunks of her performance. Experts at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey researched why concertgoers are experiencing blackouts after their big night out.”

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