Jul 19, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 515 words, a 2 minute read.

Situational awareness: Iran reportedly seizes two U.K.-linked tankers in Strait of Hormuz. Go deeper.

1 big thing: The surveillance camera next door

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Get ready for a debate over the role of private security cameras, particularly the doorbell cameras used in services like Ring and Nest, owned by Amazon and Google, respectively.

  • Law enforcement and cities actively subsidize Ring cameras, in exchange for potential access to the footage, the AP reports.
  • And some departments use Ring’s Neighbors app, which encourages residents to share videos of suspicious activity.
  • Law enforcement describe the footage as a digital neighborhood watch.

Why it matters: The reason for cameras is understandable. Packages get stolen off doorsteps and suspicious people might come to your door — or you just want to remotely let in a guest or service worker.

The big picture: The increasing worry is that the cameras will turn neighborhoods into places of constant surveillance — with the heaviest cost imposed on people of color.

  • Law enforcement and Ring stress that sharing the content is voluntary, but its existence means a search warrant is always a possibility.

The bottom line: "Tech that seems like an obvious good can develop darker dimensions as capabilities improve and data shifts into new hands," WashPost's Geoffrey Fowler wrote earlier this year.

  • "A terms-of-service update, a face-recognition upgrade or a hack could turn your doorbell into a privacy invasion you didn’t see coming."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: WPVI-TV via AP

A man scaled several floors down the side of a 19-story building in Philadelphia yesterday in order to avoid a fire, the AP reports.

  • 4 residents and 3 police officers were injured.
  • The man who scaled down didn't appear to be hurt.
2. What you missed
  1. A D.C. federal judge upheld the Trump administration's expansion of insurance plans that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act. The big picture.
  2. Mueller witness George Nader was charged in a Virginia federal court with sex trafficking, child pornography and obscenity, per The Daily Beast.
  3. Tesla is beginning to behave like the Detroit Three carmakers during their most desperate days, says Axios' Joann Muller.
  4. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a bill that would kill much of the leveraged buyout industry, notes Axios' Dan Primack.
  5. New York's heat emergency caused the city to cancel OZY Fest, the celebrity- and pol-studded festival on the Great Lawn of Central Park, as well as a Times Square commemoration of the moon landing. OZY CEO Carlos Watson told me he had expected nearly 100,000 people; full refunds will be made. "We’re so disappointed, but this was out of our control," he said. "We’ll be back next year."
3. 1 King thing

Disney's circle of recycled content continues with a Lion King remake that fails to roar despite — or maybe because of — its incredible photo-realism, writes Flipboard's Mia Quagliarello.

  • "The result plays like a Hollywood blockbuster disguised as a National Geographic documentary, or perhaps the world's most expensive safari-themed karaoke video." [NPR]
  • CGI wizardry and Beyoncé-powered soundtrack aside, the new Lion King is nearly identical to the 1994 classic in terms of its plot and trimmings.

The bottom line: The technical virtuosity doesn't always work in the movie's favor, writes Vox, "since it creates a jarring disconnect in which hyper-realistic lions sing like Beyoncé."

  • But with an 89% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, fans can clearly work with it.

For more pop culture news and reviews, check out Flipboard's The Culturist.

Mike Allen