Originally published by Peter S. Vogel.
The New York Times reported the best and worse technology from “exploding smartphones and hoverboards to the proliferation of fake news on social media, many of our tech hardware, software and web products suffered embarrassing failures.” The December 14, 2016 article entitled “Biggest Tech Failures and Successes of 2016” included these observations of the successes with Encryption:
Tensions between tech companies and the government reached a fever pitch during Apple’s face-off with the F.B.I. early this year over privacy and security. The F.B.I. had demanded that Apple weaken its iPhone encryption so that it could gain access to the contents of a phone belonging to a gunman in the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting. Apple refused, arguing that weakening its software system for a single investigation would create vulnerabilities that might put all customers at risk. The F.B.I. eventually withdrew its demand after figuring out how to break into the iPhone without Apple’s help.
Amid Apple’s feud with the F.B.I., many big tech companies expanded encryption in their products. Facebook, WhatsApp and Google put the encryption protocol from Signal, a widely lauded secure messaging service, in their messaging services. Though none of the encrypted messaging services are perfect, this year marked significant progress toward offering tools that strengthened consumer privacy.
The other successes included: WiFi, Virtual Reality, and Streaming Live Video.
While the failures in 2016 included: Batteries (think Samsung and hoverboards), and Virtual Assistants (“including Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, continued to be subpar this year”).
The history of 2016 should provide insight to 2017, because history always teaches us something.
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