After today there is only one more Login newsletter this year. Rest assured we will be back in your inbox after the New Year, just in time for CES.
Situational awareness: A New York Times report on "Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy" analyzes the location-tracking industry.
As for today's Login, it's 1,382 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
An adviser to Europe's highest court told its judges Thursday to uphold the contractual terms that Facebook and other companies rely on to transfer billions of dollars worth of data on Europeans to other countries.
Why it matters: The case's outcome will not only determine whether companies need to rethink how they protect users' privacy and data, but could also shape a deeper transatlantic divide for the internet, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.
Details: The European Commission-backed model agreements that companies use to protect users' privacy in data transfers are "valid," wrote European Court of Justice advocate general Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe in an advisory opinion, a non-binding recommendation that the court follows the vast majority of the time.
Yes, but: The opinion said regulators should still force companies to halt transfers under certain circumstances and raised questions about a key U.S.-EU agreement on data flows.
Where it stands: A final ruling in line with the opinion that the contracts are valid could reassure U.S. companies.
The big picture: Europe has sought to set the global standards on online privacy, with strict data safeguards that contrast with the U.S.' historically laissez-faire approach. The pending court ruling represents a judgment before the world of how people's data gets handled in the U.S.
Details: The European Court of Justice, the EU's supreme court, is weighing whether model agreements with U.S. companies meant to protect Europeans' privacy abroad are up to snuff.
Flashback: You might remember Schrems from launching the case that upended the previous agreement that governed data flows between the U.S. and Europe, the Safe Harbor, in 2015.
Now, the Privacy Shield faces a major test, and court watchers have been worried it will not pass.
What's next: The advisory opinion is just that — advisory. The final ruling is expected sometime in the first half of 2020.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
House Energy and Commerce Committee staff have negotiated the outlines of what could be a set of bipartisan federal privacy regulations, as Margaret reports.
Why it matters: The draft, which staffers started circulating Wednesday, is a rare and potentially significant bipartisan step toward a national privacy law, a goal that's proven elusive despite strong, sustained interest from both parties. An effort in the Senate led to dueling Democratic and Republican takes on privacy.
Driving the news: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who chairs the Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittee, said the draft is meant to shift the burden of protecting privacy off consumers and onto companies and regulators.
What it's missing: The draft doesn't address the issues of federal preemption of state laws or a so-called private right of action letting consumers sue companies over privacy screw-ups. Those issues have divided Republicans and Democrats, contributing to the splintering of the Senate effort.
What's next: The deadline for feedback on the draft is Jan. 24. Schakowsky said she is committed to doing a bill next year.
Yes, but: Staff cautioned the draft "does not necessarily represent the policy positions of Members" in the request for feedback from outside parties.
Feisty texts between Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen and T-Mobile CEO John Legere were made public Wednesday as part of the T-Mobile-Sprint trial.
Why it matters: The texts probably won't change the outcome of the case, in which several states are trying to block the deal on antitrust grounds. But they are entertaining.
The text messages, shared on Twitter by Reuters reporter David Shepardson, show that two of the most dynamic figures in wireless are just as edgy in private as they are in public.
The bigger picture: The trial, now in its second week, will likely determine the fate of the telecom megadeal, which has already received approval from the DOJ and FCC.
We wrote a while back about Amionx, a startup trying to make batteries safer. It landed an initial customer earlier this year: a large consumer electronics firm that wished to remain anonymous. Now it has its first named customer in tool maker Stanley Black & Decker, which has licensed Amionx's SafeCore technology.
Why it matters: Batteries are increasingly central to all sorts of digital devices, from phones to electric cars — but because by their nature they compress volatile components into tight spaces, they create risks of fire and explosion.
The bigger picture: Amionx has long-term ambitions of adding its technology to all manner of gear, from electric vehicles to tools to consumer electronics.
How it works: Amionx's technology adds a material to the battery that acts something like an internal fuse that can be triggered whenever a current, voltage or temperature threshold is exceeded.
Amionx is a spin-off of American Lithium Energy Corp. which has used the technology in more than 20,000 batteries for the military. Former Qualcomm president Steve Altman is an investor and president of Amionx's board of directors.
I don't snowboard (I barely ski) but this prototype LED snowboard looks pretty rad. (Do the kids still say rad?)