Once again, I'm writing you from an airport. This time from Vancouver, where my flight back to San Francisco is delayed. Oh, and did I mention I have an overtired toddler in tow? Luckily, Kia and Kim have picked up the slack.
FTC's Terrell McSweeny on net neutrality, privacy and IoT
These days, FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny is thinking a lot about data — How it can be delivered to consumers without gatekeepers, how it is safeguarded from hacks in the explosion of connected devices, and how tech companies collect and sell it. Kim sat down with her to talk about net neutrality, IoT and more. (Read more of the interview here.)
What's your reaction to the FCC's proposal to dismantle key parts of the 2015 net neutrality rules?
I'm concerned that, on balance, it favors incumbent, enormous business interests that already have a huge amount of power and are the gatekeepers, at the expense of the little guy and the entrepreneur and the consumer. It's not clear to me what rights entrepreneurs would have if they're concerned about discriminatory practices. That's a big gap.
Regarding broadband privacy, what's next?
The ball is in Congress's court. They took the step, wrongly in my view, to use the CRA to take the FCC out of the privacy business, without giving the FTC the jurisdiction to pick up the slack. Right now, we can't even hold the ISPs to the same standards that we're holding the Googles and Facebooks and Amazons and other platforms of the world. And consumers are the ones who are standing in the yawning chasm of no privacy.
What worries you the most about the fast-expanding Internet of Things market?
Consumer trust is essential for adoption, which is essential for demand, and demand drives innovation....Companies selling devices are under a lot of pressure to deliver cool gadgets inexpensively, and there isn't a lot of information about their security practices. That's why you see these very insecure IoT devices being exploited in ways that are increasingly dramatic.
I worry consumers are going to see nuisance ransomware attacks on their IoT, where they're going to get [a message demanding that they] pay $50 in bitcoin in order to turn on "Game of Thrones." Those kinds of attacks are going to feel very intimate to people in a way that will shake consumers' trust. I keep hoping for comprehensive data security legislation. In the absence of it, we are bound to have some pretty nerve-wracking incidents affecting peoples' daily lives.
Silicon Valley's Sci-fi fixation
Back in 2011, investor Peter Thiel's VC firm, Founders Fund, published on its website: "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters." We may have gotten 140 characters first thanks to Twitter, but flying cars are certainly still in Silicon Valley's plans. Kia has a fun run-down of the most ambitious projects tech firms are working on, from "curing" death to settling on Mars.
Why it matters: Silicon Valley is often criticized for pouring capital into startups building luxury products for the 1% or yet another photo-sharing app, but it's also going after much more ambitious goals and putting real money behind their pursuit.
Facebook Messenger shows how to own an outage
Facebook Messenger had an outage over the weekend, but boss David Marcus showed how to own a mistake. In a post on Facebook he offered both an unqualified apology and a detailed explanation of what went wrong.
"Please hold us accountable to the highest levels of availability and performance, as well as this level of transparency when such issues happen because you always deserve to know. Trust that we will learn from this, and get better at avoiding these types of incidents in the future."
Watch Elon Musk's TED Talk
There was a lot in Elon Musk's Friday talk at the TED conference. He talked about his plans for tunnels beneath LA, building 2-4 more gigafactories this year ("probably four"), a Tesla semi that handles like a sports car and why he's still hanging out with Donald Trump.
For tech, Trump’s first 100 days could have been worse
For all its suspicion of Trump, the tech industry itself hasn't suffered as bad in the first three months as some had worried, Kim reports,
A number of Silicon Valley's post-election fears didn't materialize in the first 100 days. Trump is making changes to the H1-B visa program, but hasn't gutted it. Nor has he tried to unilaterally increase law enforcement access to encrypted data. Trump's poorly executed travel ban marked the high point of tensions between tech companies and Trump, though the courts have stopped that, for now.
Keep in mind: The fact that Trump didn't take aim at the industry doesn't exactly equal a "win," insiders emphasized. And many of Trump's early actions are mere starting points. So while tech companies dodged several bullets, guards are still up. Kim has more details here.
Trump's tech summit
Speaking of Trump and tech, Axios' Mike Allen reports that the administration is forming an American Technology Council, which will be managed by a pair of Jared Kushner lieutenants and bring about 20 leading tech CEOs to D.C.
On Tap: It's another busy earnings week. Monday's reports include Dish Network.
Trading Places: Microsoft hired former FTC Commissioner Julie Brill to lead its privacy efforts.
ICYMI: Hackers leaked episodes from the all-new season of Orange is the New Black after Netflix failed to deliver on a ransom demand. ... Twitter is partnering with Bloomberg on a 24-hour video effort to debut this fall. ... Bridj, which hoped to be the first on-demand mass transit system, is shutting down after a hoped-for deal with a car company didn't come through.