news·4 min read

Daily Skimm Weekend: Post-Roe Privacy, Primaries, and Reading Ruts

A woman looks at her phone while code streams out, and two women protest in the background
Design: Camille Rapay | Photo: Getty Images
Aug 13, 2022

Tech, Post-Roe

Privacy Mode: This week, a Nebraska mom and daughter faced multiple felonies related to an illegal abortion. The charges came after Facebook cooperated with law enforcement and handed over their messages — underscoring a privacy issue many are worried about in a post-Roe world.

The Story

Many people use their phones, computers, and personal tech all the time without necessarily worrying about privacy. After all, most assume they have nothing to hide. But now, abortion is expected to eventually be banned or heavily restricted in almost half the country. And some privacy experts are concerned about Americans searching for and sharing information about things like clinics or medication — which could be used as evidence for a crime. That's because subpoenas or search warrants can be issued on everything from browser history to messaging in order to build a case. And it’s unclear whether tech companies will help protect your data.

Go on.

Companies like Meta, Google, and Amazon have made headlines for promising to protect their employees’ access to reproductive healthcare. But it’s still TBD whether they’ll protect the privacy of users who might seek the same. Especially since, the majority of the time, these companies “turn [data] over without a fight.” (See: In the second half of 2021, Facebook gave the gov the info it wanted about 73% of the time.) But there are several ways you can limit your data. Think:

  • Apps…which can store a bunch of data on you, including messages you send and receive. So end-to-end encryption is key. Some apps, like Signal, will do it automatically. But others (see: Facebook, at least for now) require you to manually opt in. And while you’re at it, you should probably delete any period trackers.

  • Private browsers…which basically won’t keep a record of the things you search for or the sites you visit. Think: DuckDuckGo and Firefox Focus.

  • VPN…which is software that stops your internet provider from seeing what you’re up to. 

Of course, the surest way to protect your digital privacy is to go old school. Think: Using cash. Or leaving your cell phone at home.

theSkimm

Big Tech is watching you — whether you’re thinking about it or not. While Congress recently intro'd bills to help safeguard digital privacy, actual legislative change hasn't happened yet. So for now, you’re your own best bet.

PS: We've got more expert tips on how to keep your personal data, well, personal.

Bookmark'd

Here's a look at the reads we’ve saved, texted, and emailed to our friends…

She’s at Brown. Her Heart’s Still in Kabul...a portrait of women who escaped the Taliban takeover — nearly one year later.

My Mom Has No Friends...how one 80-year-old found a new group of gal pals, with the help of her daughter.

Beach Vacationers Are Doing It Wrong...turns out, lazy days in the sun aren’t always the best thing.

How Hurricanes Get Their Names…spoiler, there’s a bit more to it than you’d think.

Downtime

Downtime doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. Here’s one idea for making the most of your weekend.

Even the biggest book lovers have reading ruts. So whether you’ve started (and stopped) 12 different books or struggled to get past a few pages without picking up your phone, you’re not alone. In fact, a poll recently found that Americans are reading less. 

The good news is that with a little bit of effort you can reignite your love of literature. First things first: Find time. That could be your commute, your lunch break, when you first wake up, or even listening to audiobooks while doing chores. Then, start small. Instead of setting out to finish a book a week, begin with a more realistic goal (think: reading 15 minutes per day or getting through 20 pages per day). And build up from there. If you do best with deadlines, consider joining a book club (hi, peer pressure) or checking books out of the library (hi, due dates). 

Last but not least: Instead of focusing on what everyone else is talking about or what you ‘should’ be reading, lean into whatever calls to you. Because the best book is one you’ll actually read. So here are some classics and buzzy reads to get you started.

Eyes On: The 2022 Midterms

The midterm elections have a big impact on the policies that affect our day-to-day lives. So we’re here to help you Skimm Your Ballot. And Skimm what’s going on next week…

State(s) of Play: On Tuesday, August 16, there are primary elections in Alaska (Senate, House, Governor) and Wyoming (House, Governor). 

The Talkers:

  • In Wyoming, all eyes will be on the country's highest-profile House primary. Will Rep. Liz Cheney (R) — who’s helping lead the Jan 6 House committee — keep her seat against a Trump-endorsed challenger? According to polls, that’s not likely.

  • In Alaska, another female GOP lawmaker is being primaried after facing Trump-backed backlash: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). But thanks to Alaska’s new election rules, both Murkowski and her challenger are expected to advance to the general election on Nov. 8. Meanwhile, 2008 VP nominee and former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is running to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R). And if she wins Tuesday’s special general election, she’ll head to Washington. You betcha.

PS: The results of these elections are up to the voters. Click here to learn more about how to make your vote count.

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