Situational awareness: A trove of documents show how China tried to funnel funds from the World Bank into funding facial recognition surveillance of its Uighur minority in Xinjiang, Axios' new China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian scooped this morning.
Today's Login is 1,392 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Depending on who you talk with, augmented and virtual reality are either the next big thing or a giant disappointment. Several moves over the past week show it's probably both.
Between the lines: Both the products and the market are developing more slowly than initially anticipated, forcing startups to rejigger their plans to survive longer with less revenue and big companies to be cautious about investing too much, too soon.
Driving the news:
The big picture: The road that VR and AR are on is well-paved in tech. Initial buzz leads to overheated enthusiasm, then a "trough of disillusionment." After that, there's a steady march in which the technology ends up meeting or surpassing expectations even while taking far longer than anyone anticipated.
What's next: At last week's Snapdragon Summit, I had a chance to try out technology from startup Spatial, which aims to create virtual collaboration for business users across different kinds of devices and platforms. (See video here.)
Google said in a statement Wednesday that it is updating harassment policy for YouTube to curb explicit threats, as well as veiled or implied threats and personal attacks, against viewers and content creators, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Why it matters: Google said it's strengthening its policies in part because it saw a growing trend of creators harassing other creators on the platform. In particular, it saw an uptick in creators starting YouTube channels dedicated to harassment.
The big picture: Updates to policies around harassment or bullying are always difficult to negotiate, and sometimes enforce, because they can be subjectively interpreted.
Glassdoor is out with its annual "best companies to work for" list, and a number of tech names have seen their rankings fall.
Why it matters: One area where the techlash could most harm Big Tech is recruiting and employee retention.
By the numbers:
The long-running fight over encryption heated up Tuesday as representatives of Apple and Facebook were grilled by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Facebook sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr saying it won't accede to government pressure to add "back doors" to its products.
Why it matters: Encryption is increasingly baked into tech devices and communications platforms, Axios' Scott Rosenberg reports. That enhances personal privacy — but law enforcement authorities have long maintained that it also harms their ability to apprehend criminals, terrorists and child abusers.
The big picture: The message to tech firms from senators of both parties was blunt: Expect Congress to pass new encryption legislation mandating law enforcement access to devices and messages unless the industry provides its own methods.
What they're saying:
Meanwhile, Facebook responded to a November letter from Barr and other officials urging the company to design its systems to allow law enforcement authorities access to user data when investigating crimes.
Merriam-Webster made "they" its word of the year recognizing its increasing use as a singular pronoun for those who identify outside the gender binary.