Oct 22, 2018

Axios Login

Hello from ... (checks room, vaguely recognizes own bedroom). Oh ... Hello from San Francisco.

1 big thing: ITI lobbies on privacy regulation

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

A leading tech lobbying group in Washington is introducing their vision of what user privacy regulation might look like. ITI, whose members include Google and Facebook, is the latest player to try to shape new legislation that the industry sees as increasingly likely, Axios’ David McCabe reports.

Details: “We go deeper than any of the other [privacy proposals] that have been developed to date," ITI President Dean Garfield says.

  • It suggests that consumers should have to opt in to the use of their sensitive data, which it defines as “personal data consisting of ethnic origin, political affiliation, religious or philosophical belief, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, health data, sexual orientation, certain data of known minors, and precise geolocation data," except in cases where "such use is necessary based on the context or otherwise permitted under applicable law."
  • The restriction wouldn’t apply to data that used an artificial identifier and was protected or that was fully anonymous. Garfield says he hopes that would push the industry to make such anonymization a standard practice.
  • "Individuals should have the right to exercise control over the use of their personal data where reasonable to the context surrounding the use of personal data," the document says.
  • Per the document, these "individual control rights, consistent with the rights and legal obligations of other stakeholders, include the right to access, correct, port, delete, consent, and object to the use of personal data about themselves."

The document also offers guidance in other areas, including how companies should manage risks to privacy and allow customers to move their data to other platforms.

The big picture: Lawmakers in Washington — spurred on by new rules enacted in Europe and California — are trying to craft their own privacy legislation. Industry groups are laying out their own guidelines for policymakers as they look to shape the debate, including:

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Internet Association
  • Software trade group BSA

Individual companies have also spoken out on what they would like to see enshrined in law, including Google and Apple, the latter of which says it backs "comprehensive" privacy legislation.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are crafting their own plans:

What’s next? Nothing will happen before the midterm elections in a few weeks — and the results could shift the leadership of some key committees. But lawmakers are on the clock given that an already passed California bill goes into effect in 2020, unless it is pre-empted by new federal legislation.

2. Scooter companies face suit over safety

Riding electric scooters in Santa Monica, Calif. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

A class action lawsuit filed on Friday in Los Angeles accuses the 2 largest scooter rental companies — Bird and Lime — of "gross negligence" that's resulted in a number of injuries to pedestrians and riders, according to the Washington Post. It also names scooter manufacturers Segway and Xiaomi.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva, the suit puts a spotlight on the ongoing question of how much these scooter rental companies can and should do to ensure safety, as well as the fact that most existing roads don't have a place for the motorized devices.

The lawsuit raises some important questions about the companies' operations, including how safe the scooters are by design and whether they are being maintained properly. There's been a rise of scooter rider injuries, and 2 reported fatalities. The details of the lawsuit, per WashPost:

  • It was filed on behalf of 8 plaintiffs, but seeks class action status.
  • It alleges that Bird and Lime's scooters from Xiaomi and Segway are defective, and that the companies aren't providing adequate safety instructions for riders.
  • One plaintiff, a Los Angeles street performer, says he was struck from behind and injured by a scooter rider who then left the scene.
3. Report: How Saudis used Twitter vs. dissidents

With Silicon Valley still grappling with just how much of Saudi Arabia's money has flowed into its coffers, a new report says the kingdom's ties to Twitter run even deeper.

Driving the news: The New York Times reported over the weekend the role that Twitter played in helping Saudi Arabia identify and neutralize opponents. According to NYT, the "Saudis were grooming an employee" to help spy on dissidents, but the Twitter employee in question was fired in late 2015.

  • The article also details how the company released an army of trolls targeted at dissidents, including Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist recently killed at the kingdom's embassy in Turkey.

The big picture: Saudi Arabia has been a major source of cash for tech companies, but many are now questioning what it means to have such investment.

Meanwhile: Venture capitalist Fred Wilson posted a powerful essay on how it might be a good time for tech entrepreneurs to think more deeply on who they are taking money from.

4. Elon Musk says LA tunnel nearly ready

Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Elon Musk announced that his Boring Company's first tunnel in Los Angeles is "almost done" and will open on Dec. 10 with free rides for the public the next day in a series of Sunday tweets.

Flashback: Musk first showed off the tunnel in May in a now-deleted Instagram post, promising that it would open "in a few months." The tunnel would be the first concrete success for Boring, which Musk has promised will revolutionize commuting around the world, notably inking a proposal this year to build a tunnel between Chicago O'Hare International Airport and the city's downtown.

5. Take Note

On Tap

  • Money 20/20 is taking place in Las Vegas.
  • Oracle OpenWorld is in San Francisco this week, starting with a Larry Ellison keynote this afternoon.
  • It's a big week for corporate earnings. Among those set to report results this week are Google parent Alphabet and Amazon — plus Microsoft, Twitter and Snap. Oh, and Intel and AMD ... and Verizon and AT&T.

Trading Places

  • CBS interim chairman Richard Parsons is stepping down from the board, citing health issues as he battles multiple myeloma. Board member Strauss Zelnick has been named as the new interim chairman. (CNN Business)


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