Picking fights and gaining rights, with Justin Brookman: Lock and Code S05E09

This week on the Lock and Code podcast…

Our Lock and Code host, David Ruiz, has a bit of an apology to make:

“Sorry for all the depressing episodes.”

When the Lock and Code podcast explored online harassment and abuse this year, our guest provided several guidelines and tips for individuals to lock down their accounts and remove their sensitive information from the internet, but larger problems remained. Content moderation is failing nearly everywhere, and data protection laws are unequal across the world.

When we told the true tale of a virtual kidnapping scam in Utah, though the teenaged victim at the center of the scam was eventually found, his family still lost nearly $80,000.

And when we asked Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included team about what types of information modern cars can collect about their owners, we were entirely blindsided by the policies from Nissan and Kia, which claimed the companies can collect data about their customers’ “sexual activity” and “sex life.”

(Let’s also not forget about that Roomba that took a photo of someone on a toilet and how that photo ended up on Facebook.)

In looking at these stories collectively, it can feel like the everyday consumer is hopelessly outmatched against modern companies. What good does it do to utilize personal cybersecurity best practices, when the companies we rely on can still leak our most sensitive information and suffer few consequences? What’s the point of using a privacy-forward browser to better obscure my online behavior from advertisers when the machinery that powers the internet finds new ways to surveil our every move?

These are entirely relatable, if fatalistic, feelings. But we are here to tell you that nihilism is not the answer.

Today, on the Lock and Code podcast, we speak with Justin Brookman, director of technology policy at Consumer Reports, about some of the most recent, major consumer wins in the tech world, what it took to achieve those wins, and what levers consumers can pull on today to have their voices heard.

Brookman also speaks candidly about the shifting priorities in today’s legislative landscape.

“One thing we did make the decision about is to focus less on Congress because, man, I’ll meet with those folks so we can work on bills, [and] there’ll be a big hearing, but they’ve just failed to do so much.”

Tune in today to listen to the full conversation.

Show notes and credits:

Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (

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