Ina is still fighting the CES flu, so you've got me, Scott Rosenberg, at the helm of today's newsletter again.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Our phones' GPS and location capabilities are a key part of what make them magical — enabling them to speed our commutes, hail rides, and find the devices when we lose them.
These capabilities are also ground zero for the looming fight over defining the boundaries of privacy and acceptable business uses of our personal information.
The big picture: 3 recent stories show just how common problems with location data can be — and how thorny they've become...
1. Cell providers resell location info
2. Tweet locations reveal where you live
3. Slack monitors your itinerary
What's next: Members of the new Congress plan to float a wide range of new privacy legislation this year, with location data at the heart of the new rule-making. New laws will need to thread the needle between protecting personal information and enabling useful innovation.
The bottom line: Your phone is also a surveillance device. Use it with care unless you want your life to be an open book — or map.
The Trump administration is considering a drastic expansion of the U.S. export control regime by looking to add controls to “emerging technologies” such as AI, robotics and quantum computing, Axios' Kim Hart reports.
The tech industry’s response — Tread carefully.
Why it matters: At the heart of the rulemaking is concern about national security. But the tech industry is worried the administration’s definition of “emerging technologies” will end up being too broad, undercutting U.S. competitiveness in these areas.
Between the lines: This rulemaking process forces the Trump administration to balance 2 big priorities — enabling emerging technologies and protecting national security.
What they’re saying: Tech industry trade groups (ITI, BSA, IA, CTA) filed comments with the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security last week. Among the recommendations...
Why it matters: The move, Axios' Felix Salmon writes, would allow Slack stock to be traded on the stock exchange. However, he adds, it's not an IPO — no new shares would be issued and the company would not raise any money.
The bottom line, per Felix: A lot of people would love the opportunity to invest in Slack, while many others, including employees, would love the opportunity to be able to sell their stock at will and diversify their investments.
Our thought bubble: Butterfield is a veteran tech nonconformist (his tongue-in-cheek 2008 resignation letter from Yahoo is a classic), so an unorthodox direct-listing move would be totally in character.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
For two decades, Amazon has grown like wildfire, eschewing profit, pouring all its revenue back into itself and leaving a wake of destruction in retail. Now, it's going in for the kill, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
Amazon has launched more than 100 private-label products, according to market research firm Gartner L2.
Physical stores: At the beginning of 2018, Amazon made waves with its announcement of "Go" — a cashierless convenience store. By the end of the year, it had opened 6 of them across the country, with plans for as many as 3,000 more by 2021.
Read more from the Axios Future team's Deep Dive into the future of retail.
Watch this epic snowball melee at the base of the Washington Monument.