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Data Sheet—Wednesday, September 23, 2015

As the Volkswagen emissions scandal unfolds, the inevitable backlash over the auto industry’s deepening dependence on proprietary software and sensors for both maintenance and security concerns is bubbling into public discourse.

While this technology gives owners better insight than ever before into potential problems with a vehicle, there’s no way for someone to “know” whether the messages conveyed by his or her car are the whole truth. We are utterly reliant on the manufacturer and its chosen partners to interpret them.

This New York Times article does a great job at summarizing the dilemma. It also make a great case for requiring the source code for these technologies to be open.

Notes Columbia University law professor Eben Moglen: “If Volkswagen knew that every customer who buys a vehicle would have a right to read the source code of all the software in the vehicle, they would never even consider the cheat, because the certainty of getting caught would terrify them.” The counter-argument from car makers: opening the code makes vehicles susceptible to hackers, posing a threat to public safety. The truth lies somewhere in-between.

Two other headlines to get you thinking this Wednesday morning: Will retail merchandisers, who rely on intuition for inventory selections, be replaced by analytics technology? Plus, what caused that big Amazon cloud outage over the weekend? Wonder no more.

TOP OF MIND

 

Trans-Atlantic data deal questioned, again. Comments by a legal adviser are raising new doubts over the data-sharing deal between the United States and the European Union. If the arrangement is disrupted, U.S. companies could be prohibited from analyzing personal data for European citizens on U.S.-located servers. (Reuters)

TRENDING

Cisco adds strategic partner in China. The networking giant is investing $10 billion for a better foothold in the country’s booming high-tech sector. It is teaming with server maker Inspur Group to advance its aspirations. (Wall Street Journal)

Citrix seeks buyer. Activist investor Elliott Management wants the desktop virtualization and conferencing software company to break itself into pieces. The board agreed to seek “strategic alternatives” for the GoToMeeting products, but sources close to the matter tell Reuters that management wants someone to take the entire company private. (Reuters)

Commuters rejoice! Uber brings carpooling to China. The move comes after tests of similar services in the United States, under way for more than a year. (Times)

Twitter’s talent drain continues, as a senior engineering director heads for Uber. (Fortune)

Google is becoming more transparent. CFO Ruth Porat, who used to work for Morgan Stanley, is prioritizing meetings with Wall Street investors and analysts. (Journal)

Quirky files for bankruptcy. Contract manufacturer Flextronics plans to buy Wink, the startup’s home automation technology. (Fortune)

THE DOWNLOAD

Backblaze wants to take on Amazon in cloud storage

It was 2009 when cloud computing startup Backblaze first made a splash by open sourcing the designs behind its custom-built, high-density storage arrays. Six years later, the company is making another audacious move by directly challenging companies such as Amazon Web Services and Google in the business of storing companies’ valuable data in the cloud.

BITS AND BYTES

GoPro’s CEO isn’t worried about Apple. Even though the company was recently granted patents for action cameras. (Fortune)

Zuck’s little sister is becoming a VC. Arielle Zuckerberg is joining the venerable Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers next month. (TechCrunch)

Derek Jeter invests in cloud videoconferencing startup. Blue Jeans Network closes another $76.5 million round, as corporate interest in hosted platforms grows. (Fortune)

Don’t write off print books just yet. The demise of e-book subscription service Oyster underscores this plot twist: digital sales are off 10% this year, and more readers are reaching for the “real” thing again. (Times)

Instagram reaches 400 million users. More than 75% come from outside America. (Fortune)

Michigan sues HP. The state wants $49 million to make up for an incomplete mainframe migration project. (eWeek)

This is one of the coolest 3D printers yet. (Fortune)

The NFL now has a drone permit, but the league can’t fly over fan-filled stadiums. (Fortune)

Facebook is tightening up encryption, smart if it wants to become a more credible customer communications conduit. (Fortune)

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

How tech is bending under Pope Francis’ might by Don Reisinger

Self-parking tech vs. drivers: Here’s who wins by Kirsten Korosec

Meet the woman responsible for the year’s biggest video game by Chris Morris

The Washington Post and Facebook: Smart strategy or deal with the devil? by Mathew Ingram

How much of Red Hat’s $2 billion in revenue will come from the cloud by Barb Darrow

 

ONE MORE THING

Feeling emotional about Hillary Clinton? The presidential candidate has inspired her very own emoji keyboard. (Fortune)