Over the last 10 years, America’s five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with lobbying money to the point where they now outspend Wall Street two to one. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon spent $49m on Washington lobbying last year, and there is a well-oiled revolving door of Silicon Valley executives to and from senior government positions.

Apple, Alphabet (parent of Google) and Facebook generated $333 billion of revenue combined last year with 205,000 employees worldwide. In 1993, three of the most successful, technologically oriented companies based in the Northeast — Kodak, IBM and AT&T — needed more than three times as many employees, 675,000, to generate 27 percent less in inflation-adjusted revenue.

Not only did its passage [Prop13] gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

The leaked documents suggested that the CIA can bypass the security measures of encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp—but that doesn’t mean you should stop using them ... The leaked documents don’t in any way indicate that the CIA has identified vulnerabilities in any of these apps. Rather, the CIA has identified vulnerabilities in the smartphone technology that these apps run on, not the apps themselves. This distinction matters.

When manufacturers make batteries impossible to remove, they also make those product impossible to safely and profitably recycle. In other words, they disincentivize recycling. Apple provides no guidance to recyclers dealing with the millions of gadgets consumers discard each year, leaving them to figure out how to open sealed cases, locate batteries, and break everything down without blowing anything up.

Lithium-ion batteries were supposed to be different from the dirty, toxic technologies of the past. Lighter and packing more energy than conventional lead-acid batteries, these cobalt-rich batteries are seen as “green.” ... the mining activity [of cobalt] exposes local communities to levels of toxic metals ... No one knows exactly how many children work in Congo’s mining industry. UNICEF in 2012 estimated that 40,000 boys and girls do so in the country’s south.

producing the constituents of an iPhone in the U.S. would add another $30 or $40 to the cost of the device. Initially...U.S. factories would be uncompetitive for most of these goods and run at low volumes, raising the differential with Asia even higher ... in this scenario a phone would be at most $100 more expensive, assuming that the raw materials that go into the components were bought on global markets.

The most important question raised by this case concerns coercion. The federal government is empowered to compel individuals and corporations to hand over data in their possession upon the presentation of a valid search warrant. Is the FBI also empowered to compel Americans to write and execute malware? Does it have a claim on the brainpower and creativity of citizens and corporations? ... The order could set a sweeping precedent if it stands.

The Obama administration has recently sought to enlist the tech industry's help in fighting terrorism. Several companies have recently heeded the administration's request for voluntary efforts aimed at countering terrorist postings on social media...a government victory could encourage regimes in China and other countries to make similar requests for access to smartphone data. Apple sells millions of iPhones in China, which has become the company's second-largest market.

When Apple discovers security problems with iOS...it can push an update directly to its users. Google...is forced to issue updates to Android in a roundabout way. The company first updates the code, then sends it to device manufacturers, who make their own tweaks to the software. That software is then sent to mobile carriers, who make their own changes to it. Only then is it made available to users. As a result, Android users consistently use out-of-date software riddled with security problems