Jun 20, 2018

Axios Login

We've been spending a lot of time looking at the tech industry's response to the Trump administration's family separation policy. Know something we should know? Drop me a line — (ina@axios.com or just hit reply).

1 big thing: White House looks to coordinate online privacy plan

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Scoop: The White House is in the early stages of determining what a federal approach to online data privacy should look like, according to Axios' Shannon Vavra, Kim Hart and David McCabe.

Why it matters: The preliminary conversations show that the White House wants a voice in the contentious domestic and global debate about how to protect consumer privacy online. So far, Europe’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has set the terms of the debate, alarming companies and some regulators in the U.S.

What's happening: Gail Slater, special assistant to President Trump for tech, telecom and cyber policy at the White House National Economic Council, has met with industry groups to discuss possible ways to put in place guardrails for the use of personal data, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

  • Last Thursday, Slater met with members of the technology committee of the Business Roundtable to discuss possible options, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting.
  • Separately, Slater talked about GDPR implementation and Privacy Shield issues with Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, which is the trade association representing tech companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft.

What we’re hearing: Sources pointed to several possible outcomes from the conversations the White House is having.

  • One option is an executive order directing one or more agencies to develop a privacy framework. That could direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Commerce Department, to work with industry and other experts to come up with guidelines, according to two sources. (NIST declined to comment.)
  • The process would likely be similar to the the one the Obama administration launched on cybersecurity in 2013. Congress later supported the continued work on the standards, and Trump required the use of the framework to help manage government agencies' cyber risk.
  • An executive order could also kick off a public-private partnership to lay out voluntary privacy best practices, which could become de-facto standards, according to sources.
  • However, it's unclear how an executive order would affect the Federal Trade Commission, which is an independent agency charged with keeping an eye on private sector privacy issues.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Go deeper: Shannon, Kim and David have more here.

2. The tech firms silent on family separation

Protestors in New York on June 1. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While most of the Big Tech companies or their CEOs have spoken out against the Trump administration's family separation policy, there are some notable exceptions.

  • IBM and Oracle, both of which have been close to the administration and do a tremendous amount of government business, haven't condemned the practice.
  • Also yet to comment are any of the big four telecom firms — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
  • Others who have thus far declined my requests for comment: Amazon, Qualcomm and Nvidia.

Meanwhile: A Facebook fundraiser started by Dave and Charlotte Willner has now raised more than $8.8 million to fund legal help for those being detained.

And: Github and Medium took down posts that offered details on individual ICE employees scraped from LinkedIn, saying they violated policies designed to prevent targeting or harassment of individuals. Twitter also pulled down an account that had been tweeting from the same list.

3. Reports: AT&T eyeing AppNexus and Otter Media acquisitions

Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Fresh off completing its Time Warner deal, AT&T continues on its acquisition spree — reportedly now with Otter Media and AppNexus, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

What's happening now:

  • Per Recode this morning, AT&T plans to buy out The Chernin Group's stake in Otter Media, the digital video company that's also currently owned by AT&T.
  • And yesterday, Cheddar reported that AT&T is looking to acquire AppNexus, one of the largest privately-owned ad exchanges, to bolster its digital advertising efforts.

Why it matters: AT&T needs content to build out its new digital advertising and streaming businesses — ventures that will be created in light of its successful acquisition last week of Time Warner Inc.

Plus: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson teased several upcoming acquisitions in a CNBC interview last week.

  • He said AT&T is willing to invest in ad tech to expand its data-based advertising offering, which will include digitally-targeted TV ads, digital ads and mobile ads.

The details:

  • Otter Media is reportedly valued around $1 billion. Its assets include a streaming video company called Fullscreen and a subscription video product. According to Recode, the deal is expected to close this summer.
  • The AppNexus deal would likely not go for less than $2 billion, per Cheddar. It was valued at roughly $2 billion when it was looking to go public in 2017.
4. Mobile carriers to stop selling location data

Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

All the major U.S. mobile providers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — now say they will stop selling users’ location data to third-party brokers.

Why it matters: Users' location data is available to wireless carriers almost instantaneously. Carriers sold the data to brokers who then resold it without cellphone owners' knowledge or consent, per the Associated Press.

My thought bubble: Several of the carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, want to use location and other data on their subscribers to serve up more targeted (and therefore more valuable) advertising. If halting sales of that data to third parties will turn down the heat, they probably see that as a small price to pay.

Go deeper: Axios' intern Marisa Fernandez has more here.

5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Lumi Labs, a "technology studio" for early stage tech companies co-founded by former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, has hired Foursquare's Natalie Weyerhaeuser as its first developer.


6. After you Login

OK, I knew I needed to end on a positive note, something to restore a bit of faith in humanity. So here it goes: Check out Senegal fans at the World Cup stopping to clean up their section of the stands after a historic victory against Poland.