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Government in (Times of) Crisis

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates (allegedly)

The ongoing pandemic challenges our moral thinking. Every action, more so than ever, can have severe consequences. Even mundane tasks such as grocery shopping come at a risk, though little.

So far, our main protection against covid-19 is vigilance. But, even that relies on trust towards the ones around us, since complete isolation is not an option for many.

What role should government take in this equation, of protection one individual against another?

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General

Europe, My Love

Dear Europe,

It hasn’t always been easy for you in recent times. I know that you’re trying hard, but there’s only so much you can do. Even the most ambitious political institutions have their limits.

I often wonder what life would be like, if you weren’t around. Norway and Switzerland seem to be doing fine, even without a close relationship between you. The Union affords great freedom, but wouldn’t we have this without you, too?

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‘German? I’m European!’

Even before the current movement, I’ve often asked myself what my country of origin, Germany, has learned from the Third Reich. Has the past given us some level of immunity for the future? I’ve got my doubts, but also think there’s hope.

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Do-Not-Track is dead. Long live Do-Not-Track!

Tracking, the collection of data about user behaviour, is widespread on the web. For this reason, the idea of a “Do-Not-Track” (DNT) setting emerged a little more than a decade ago, in 2009.

This system gives users a simple choice to reject and accept online tracking. Unfortunately, DNT failed, and tracking continues.

I explore the reasons for this failure, but also how DNT has managed to change user privacy for the better, on the blog of the HCC group at the University of Oxford.

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General

Perceptions of YouTube’s political influence

YouTube plays an increasingly important role as a political medium. Yet, the implications are to-date not well understood and difficult to analyse, since access to YouTube’s statistics is limited.

To address this gap, my friend Yury Kolotaev and I surveyed 124 people about their views and experiences around YouTube’s political influence.

Our results reveal diverse, sometimes conflicting views on YouTube’s growing political role, and highlight the need for more research, discussion and possibly regulation.

Read our full account on Medium.