We wanted to let you know that Login is going to work on its tan. We'll be taking next week off, but will be back rested and refreshed on Aug. 14. It's a great time to check out one of our other tech-related newsletters, including Dan Primack's Pro Rata, Sara Fischer's Media Trends, or Steve LeVine's Future of Work newsletter. You can sign up for any of them here.
Humans to blame for most accidents involving self-driving cars
Since 2014, there have only been 34 reported accidents involving self-driving cars on California roads, according to state incident reports — and most happened when a human-driven car rear-ended or bumped into a self-driving car stopped at a red light or stop sign, or driving at low speed.
Why it matters: A major benefit to self-driving cars is the potential to reduce traffic accidents caused by human error. While it's a small set of data, the low rate of accidents, and the fact that humans were to blame for most of those, suggests that self-driving cars can indeed make the streets safer.
Kia Kokalitcheva has more here.
Trump's big trade battle with China starts Friday
President Trump is set to take on China over trade issues, including intellectual property protection, starting with a White House address on Friday. But while the move addresses an issue close to Silicon Valley's heart, it's also a move fraught with risk as China is an important market for a number of tech giants, including Apple, and is also the global tech industry's major manufacturing hub.
Plus: China may have the upper hand given global trade rules, as the New York Times notes.
Jonathan Swan and I have more here.
Tech pans Trump's latest immigration plan
The tech industry came out swinging against Trump's latest push to restrict immigration, denouncing a White House-backed Senate bill that would cut legal immigration — i.e., green cards — in half and move to a merit-based system.
- Tech vs Trump, again: Favoring skilled workers while leaving H-1B visas alone might seem like a decent deal for the tech industry. But instead, tech sees it as exacerbating the skills shortage while injecting more bureaucratic dysfunction.
- According to a Republican tech adviser: "While it's not the end of the world for tech, there's really nothing in the bill for the industry to be enthusiastic about. Even though it raises the bar in terms of skills, it doesn't do anything to help temporary visa workers get green cards — and that just perpetuates the current problem for tech firms."
For more on the proposal and why tech isn't onboard, check out Kim Hart's report.
Starz lays out antitrust case against AT&T-Time Warner
HBO rival Starz has commissioned a paper making a case for how AT&T's proposed Time Warner deal could hurt competition in the premium movie business.
Among the concerns:
- AT&T could stop carrying Starz to its many video customers, the paper argues, or increase "the subscription rate for packages that include Starz or [decrease] AT&T's marketing of Starz, including efforts by its customer service representatives."
- "Consumers would pay higher prices and have less choice for high quality movies and other premium channel content," the authors, Jeffrey Eisenach and Timothy Watts, write.
- They also argue that there are cases in which the government imposed conditions on similar deals or shut them down entirely. The government is said to be mulling potential conditions for the deal.
Worth noting: Eisenach has ties to the Trump administration — which is reportedly wary of the proposed merger — because he worked on the president's transition team.
AT&T's response: "This conclusion doesn't square with the facts," said a spokesperson in an email. "We fully expect the DoJ to base its analysis on the facts and the law, as it always does, and not the work of HBO's competitors."
Here's what got hacked at Def Con and Black Hat this year
Every year Def Con and Black Hat bring the world's best hackers together in Las Vegas and remind the rest of us just how vulnerable our world is. This year was no exception. Here are just a few of the things that were shown to be hackable this year:
- Voting machines (within two hours, CBS says).
- A "smart" gun (using $15 worth of magnets, according to CNET).
- A car wash (allowing them to physically attack the car, MotherBoard reports).
- A Tesla (giving an "unauthorized Christmas show," USA Today writes).
Wired has more on this year's best hacks.
HBO hacked too, though not at Def Con
It wasn't at Def Con, but HBO was also the victim of a major hack. And it came out Wednesday that it wasn't just the cable channel's content that was taken. Variety reported an exclusive that thousands of internal documents were also taken, though HBO's president told employees that the company doesn't believe its broader email system was compromised.
On tap: The Federal Communications Commission has its monthly open meeting this morning.
Trading places: Mark Zuckerberg, who is totally not running for office, was first reported by Politico to have hired a top Democratic pollster to work at his family's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative...Greylock Partners' chief operating officer, Tom Frangione, has been ousted for having an inappropriate relationship...Glenn Lurie is stepping down as head of AT&T Mobility after 27 years with the company.
Earnings: It was a day of positive earnings reports from tech companies: Tesla reported earnings ahead of estimates, sending shares higher; the company also said it has 518,000 pre-orders for its Model 3, but 455,000 net orders when you count roughly 63,000 cancellations...Rebounding from several quarters of sluggish sales, Fitbit turned in quarterly results ahead of Wall Street estimates and said its new smartwatch will debut later this year...Square also narrowly beat expectations.
ICYMI: A German consortium says it will build a Tesla gigafactory rival, according to Bloomberg...Amazon's job fair at multiple sites drew 20,000 people, AP says...Sara Fischer reports that Facebook is expanding its fact-checking program.
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The Maine farm where E.B. White wrote Charlotte's Web — including the barn that inspired it — is up for sale for $3.7 million.