D.C. readers: Tomorrow morning, Axios' Mike Allen will be discussing the state of election security leading up to the midterm elections with Rep. Eric Swalwell, Sec. Jay Ashcroft and former Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco. RSVP here.
Tim Cook. Photo: Apple
Today's tech industry is hurting people and strong regulations are needed to protect user privacy, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a speech in Brussels on Wednesday.
"We see vividly — painfully — how technology can harm rather than help. Platforms and algorithms that promised to improve our lives can actually magnify our worst human tendencies."— Tim Cook
Cook also took aim at the companies that are profiting off the collection of user information, calling it a "data industrial complex." He warned of the privacy implications of mass data collection, and criticized tech and government leaders who downplay tech's negative impact on society.
"Our own information, from the everyday to the deeply personal, is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. ... Taken to its extreme, this process creates an enduring digital profile that lets companies know you better than you may know yourself."
"Rogue actors and even governments have taken advantage of user trust to deepen divisions, incite violence, and even undermine our shared sense of what is true and what is false. This crisis is real. It is not imagined, or exaggerated, or 'crazy.'"
"If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound. We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It’s not only a possibility, it is a responsibility. In the pursuit of artificial intelligence, we should not sacrifice the humanity, creativity, and ingenuity that define our human intelligence."
Yes, but: The “data industrial complex” Cook refers to pays for much of the modern internet, helping Google, Facebook, and many other companies target ads and keep their services free.
The bottom line: Supporters of meaningful privacy regulations can count on Apple's backing, as the company continues to try to stand apart from other tech giants, particularly Google and Facebook.
It's almost as if Google's ears were burning. The search giant announced Wednesday that it will make it easier to change privacy settings and delete stored data from within a particular Google service.
Why it matters: The easier settings are to find and change, the more likely users will actually actively engage and make choices, versus sticking with default options.
The effort will begin within Google search, where starting today, users will be able to:
The changes are effective immediately for the mobile and desktop web and will arrive in the coming weeks to Google's iOS and Android apps. Before the changes, Google users had to go to their Google account page to change their privacy settings.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The most popular way for political campaigns to reach voters ahead of this year's midterm elections isn't placing ads on social media or TV — it's flooding cellphones with personalized political text messages, according to Axios' Kim Hart.
Why it matters: The texts may be annoying, but they don't violate the rules. Instead of using automated bulk text messages, many campaigns are manually sending text messages to individual voters, one at a time. Texts sent that way aren't subject to federal limits.
The big picture: TV and email ads are still used, but are less effective in an era of new media consumption habits. Text messages, though, are sent directly to your phone. They're hard for voters to avoid, and have high open rates: 90% of text messages are read within 5 minutes, according to Opn Sesame, a messaging provider.
Read more of Kim's story here.
Washington D.C. Photo: Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images.
A host of challenges lie ahead for the Washington, D.C., area as an Amazon HQ2 finalist, reports Axios' Marisa Fernandez. Housing production has fallen behind and home prices and rents have been climbing in surrounding areas, per an analysis from the nonprofit Urban Institute.
Why it matters: Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos has clear ties to D.C. as the e-commerce giant continues to expand into new and highly regulated business areas. But if D.C. is chosen, Amazon's arrival with tens of thousands of new jobs may exacerbate what is projected to already be an inadequate housing supply.
Details: Washington has offered 4 possible areas.
The bottom line: A housing crunch is likely to happen in many other finalist cities, too, should Amazon pick them.
Read more of Marisa's story here.
It turns out that if you hit the space bar in your web browser, it scrolls down. Pretty neat, huh?
Now that is a tattoo.