Jun 29, 2018

Axios Login

Login announced today that it now expects wittiness for the second quarter ending June 30 will fall short of previous expectations. "We had hoped to have more clever introductions, but found our sense of humor was offset by difficult market conditions," Axios' Ina Fried said in a statement.

1 big thing: Calif. privacy law sets stage for debate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The privacy bill signed into law in California on Thursday won’t settle the global fight over privacy, but it does usher in a new phase that could lead to a new national model for regulating data online, Axios' David McCabe reports.

What's happening: The bill was drafted and passed quickly, with even the bill's authors saying there may be additional changes and clarifications before it goes into effect. “If possible, we could find some fixes this year,” said Ed Chau, member of the California Assembly. “That’s my hope, but no promises.”

What’s settled:

  • The law passed Thursday goes into effect in 2020. If nothing changes before then, the law will put restrictions on Google, Facebook and other companies in the business of gathering data directly from consumers.
  • Facebook vice president Will Castleberry said that while "not perfect, we support" the law, though some trade groups that represent the company were more critical in statements after it passed.
  • Supporters agreed to pull their privacy ballot measure, which was slightly more aggressive, from the November election, so voters won't weigh in on the debate.

As it stands now, the law lets users:

  • Learn details about the data that companies hold on them.
  • Opt-out of collected data being sold to a third party (Google and Facebook both say they don't do this, because you cannot directly buy an individual's data from them).
  • In some cases, sue if their data isn’t properly protected.
  • Use new protections aimed at children.

What’s not settled:

1. Whether this bill sets a standard, as some privacy advocates hope since California's size can make it a trendsetter when it comes to policy.

  • “Well, between the Europeans and California, we’re starting to move towards having a universal privacy bill of rights, and I just think it’s going to create a precedent that ultimately is going to be a national standard,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) as he left the U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

2. Whether Silicon Valley can change it before 2020. Multiple tech industry sources said that companies will push for alterations to the bill.

3. Whether this spurs any action in Washington. The Trump administration is exploring ways to create a less restrictive counterweight to Europe’s GDPR privacy rules, in consultation with business groups. California is on the White House’s mind.

  • Gail Slater, the White House adviser working on privacy, called the ballot measure in California that inspired the new law, “GDPR light with some California tweaks to do it” when speaking at a conference last month.

The big picture: Policymakers around the globe — in Washington, Brussels and now Sacramento — are all articulating different visions of how consumer data should be handled online. There may only be one internet, but there are many jurisdictions, and tech's colossal companies must deal with all of them.

2. Reaction to California's new law is mixed

Another way of gauging the law is to look at who is lauding it and who is condemning it.

Praising it:

  • Center for Humane Technology, a nonprofit which advocates for "time well spent" with tech devices, said:
"We are thrilled that it passed today. This is an important first step towards creating comprehensive privacy legislation covering all Americans, and we look forward to working with lawmakers, advocates and industry to make that happen."
  • Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on media for families and children, called California a pioneer in both tech revolution and now consumer privacy safeguards. James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense, said they expect other states to follow, and added:
"Today was a huge win and gives consumer privacy advocates a blueprint for success. We look forward to working together with lawmakers across the nation to ensure robust data privacy protections for all Americans."

Mixed bag:

  • TechNet, an industry lobby, said the law offers new layer of protection but will need revision.
"It is critical that the business community, consumer groups, and the legislature work together over the next 18 months to improve this law."
  • Google:
"While today’s law marks some improvements to an overly vague and broad ballot measure, it came together under extreme time pressure, and imposes sweeping novel obligations on thousands of large and small businesses around the world, across every industry. We appreciate that California legislators recognize these issues and we look forward to improvements to address the many unintended consequences of the law."

Blasting it:

  • The ACLU of Northern California:
“Concern for privacy is at an all-time high in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and yet California has enacted a law that utterly fails to provide the privacy protections the public has demanded and deserves. Nobody should be fooled to think AB 375 properly protects Californians’ privacy."
3. Instagram gives Facebook a new life

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, its goal was to ensure that it was the social network of choice for another generation.

Now, as my colleague Sara Fischer reports, that bet is starting to pay off. Instagram is surging as growth at the core network is tapering off. Bloomberg Intelligence recently valued Instagram at $100 billion, making the once-hefty price tag seem like a steal.

  • Instagram announced last week that it hit 1 billion users, adding roughly 200 million users in less than one year. Instagram is expected to reach 2 billion users in the next five years, according to Waral, meaning the photo app is growing its user base at a much faster rate than the original Facebook platform.
  • Even though Snapchat first created the Stories feature in 2014, Instagram Stories usage has now doubled Snapchat's user base. Instagram announced Thursday that it reached 400 million active users of its "Stories" product, while Snapchat has roughly 191 million daily active users.
  • Other app acquisitions have not yet yielded such high returns. For example, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and while its user base and engagement continues to grow, the app is still not profitable.

Go deeper: Read Sara's full story.

4. Niantic opens AR platform and buys startup
Niantic's new AR techology aims to more realistically place objects in the real world. Photo: Niantic

Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, Ingress and a forthcoming Harry Potter title, on Thursday detailed its plans to open its augmented reality game engine to others. It also announced it has bought Matrix Mill, a London-based startup.

Seeing is believing: The best way to appreciate where the company is headed on AR is to check out the three demo videos it released Thursday. Especially cool is the first one, which shows Pokémon characters peeking out from real world objects.

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6. After you Login

As you know, five people were killed yesterday in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.

If you are looking to help the Gazette and the families of those slain, there is a GoFundMe effort started by a Bloomberg Government journalist or you can subscribe to the paper here.

And you can learn more about each of those who died here.