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Data Sheet—Friday, February 26, 2016

I was in Washington D.C. Thursday, and though I was far from Capitol Hill, where FBI Director James Comey testified about his agency’s battle with Apple, everywhere I went the subject was topic No. 1.

It’s a strange case, really. The public is against Apple’s decision to oppose a court order that the company help the nation’s top cops unlock the phone of a deceased murderer and presumed terrorist. Bill Gates, the great philanthropist, is against Apple too. On Apple’s side is most of Silicon Valley, privacy rights advocates, and anyone else who fears that Edward Snowden proved U.S. citizens can’t trust their government.

What I see when I think about and discuss this topic, however, is frustrating nuance. Apple has a point when it argues that unlocking this one outdated phone is a slippery slope. Tellingly, the FBI’s Comey sees gray as well, calling the great encryption debate the “toughest question” he has faced in government. He argues that negotiation and compromise will be necessary for Apple and the FBI to reach an agreement.

The argument is nuanced, but that doesn’t mean the conclusion is in doubt—or even who is right. It is great that Apple and Tim Cook are standing on important principle here. But a more important principle is the need to comply when ordered to by law enforcement. The FBI believes it is making a narrow request; Apple sees the long, broad arm of the state acting nefariously.

Apple is entitled to its opinion. But at the end of the day it isn’t above the law. As BloombergView has argued, banks, gun sellers, and telecommunications companies all must assist law enforcement when ordered to do so by courts that are following due process.

It’s only somewhat amusing that Apple is on the side of Silicon Valley in this debate. For years Apple stood apart, aloof even. Google decided it was okay to scan books it doesn’t own. The whole industry believes it is entitled to access to an Internet infrastructure it didn’t build. Now Apple thinks it can comply with the laws it chooses to. That’s a slippery slope indeed.

Adam Lashinsky

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Facebook, Google and Microsoft will formally support Apple’s case. The three tech giants are teaming up on a joint amicus brief that defends their peer’s resistance to a federal court order demanding it unlock the San Bernardino shooting suspect’s iPhone, reports The Wall Street Journal. In a formal motion filed Thursday, Apple says it would take a team of developers at least two weeks to pull off the government’s request. (Wall Street JournalRe/code)

Sharp and Foxconn meet to save takeover deal. Under the proposed transaction, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer best known for making iPhones would own about two-thirds of the struggling Japanese company. Foxconn balked at the 11th hour, after receiving new “material information” about Sharp’s contingent liabilities. What’s at stake? Sharp’s emerging, potentially valuable organic light-emitting diode display business. (Reuters, Wall Street Journal)

Amazon makes it easier to nominate directors. The e-commerce and cloud services giant is the latest company to offer proxy access. Its new bylaws, revealed by a securities filing, allow shareholders (or shareholder groups) holding at least 3% of its stock for at least three years to include nominees in Amazon’s annual proxy statement. Shareholders will be able to propose up to two directors (20% of the total board). (Wall Street Journal)

Yes, Airbnb did cut listings before its New York City data disclosure. The home-rental startup acknowledges that it eliminated 1,500 properties from a database that it shared last November, confirming the findings of independent researchers. Regulators are worried that Airbnb is becoming a platform for illegal rentals, by allowing organizations to skirt local hotel laws. The deleted listings were from “commercial operators,” according to the company. (Fortune)

Why Mark Zuckerberg is bopping around Berlin. The social network faces criticism from German politicians over privacy practices and for being slow to remove illegal content from Facebook pages. It wasn’t just a public relations visit: Zuckerberg met with German chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff. (Reuters)

LinkedIn readies for Oscars closeup. The social network is preparing its first television commercial, reports The Wall Street Journal. It’s a 30-second spot highlighting how to find your dream job using the professional networking site. LinkedIn’s stock has plummeted this year to about $117, compared with the $226 price it commanded at the end of 2015. CEO Jeff Weiner has characterized 2016 as a year during which the company will narrow its focus to “high-impact” initiatives. (Wall Street Journal)

Instacart hires Amazon operations specialist. Mike Swartz was with the e-commerce giant for nine years before he left in 2007 to consult with companies such as Flipkart and Warby Parker. As Instacart’s new senior vice president of operations, Swartz will be responsible for optimizing logistics at a company that doesn’t own its own warehouses. (Re/code)


Snapchat signs deal with Nielsen. Snapchat, the messaging platform that was dismissed by many as a toy designed for “sexting” teens, has been making a number of moves recently to establish itself as a bona fide media entity, one advertisers might be willing to use for campaigns. In its latest bid for industry legitimacy, the company has signed a dealwith Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings to provide third-party measurement of the effectiveness of its ads. What this means for Snapchat is that it will now be able to show advertisers how ads are performing based on measurements they recognize from other campaigns. (Fortune)


Here’s why Google wants to protect the world’s news sites from attack
by David Meyer

Pssst, Amazon cloud is not really new to banks by Barb Darrow

Apple working on making iCloud data more secure by Jason Cipriani

These two school districts are using virtual reality to teach
by John Gaudiosi

Fertility app glow expands into baby tracking by Leena Rao



People love Mark Zuckerberg, even though they don’t trust Facebook. The social network’s CEO is tech’s most popular exec, according to a new poll by Morning Consult. (The Verge)


Enterprise Connect: Communications and collaboration trends. (March 7 – 10; Orlando, Florida)

Structure Data: Big data in the real world. Data Sheet readers receive a 35% discount. (March 9-10; San Francisco)

Pure//Accelerate: The future of the modern data center. (March 14 – 15; San Francisco)

Adobe Summit 2016: Digital strategies. (March 20 – 14; Las Vegas)

Next 2016: Google’s cloud platform strategy. (March 23 – 24; San Francisco)

Microsoft Build: Microsoft’s premier developer conference. (March 30 – April 1; San Francisco)

Microsoft Envision: Where business meets possibility. (April 4 – 7; New Orleans)

Zuora Subscribed: Turn customers into subscribers. (April 12 – 13; San Francisco)

Qlik Qonnections: Business intelligence trends. (May 1 – 4; Orlando, Florida)

EMC World: What’s next for digital business. (May 2 – 5; Las Vegas)

The Marketing Nation Summit: Marketo’s annual conference. (May 9 – 12; Las Vegas)

Salesforce Connections: Cloud marketing trends. (May 10 – 12; Atlanta)

Coupa Inspire: Rethink the possible. (May 10 – 12; San Francisco)

Knowledge 16: ServiceNow’s annual service management conference. (May 15 – 20; Las Vegas)

Fortune Brainstorm E: The intersection of technology, energy, and sustainable business. (May 16 – 17; Carlsbad, California)

SAPPHIRE Now: SAP’s annual conference. (May 17 – 19; Orlando, Florida)

Gartner Digital Marketing: How to move from vision to execution. (May 17 – 19; San Diego)

Gartner Supply Chain Executive: Creating a value chain. (May 17 – 19; Phoenix)

Google I/O (registration link coming soon): For creative software coders. (May 18 – 20; Mountain View, Calif.)

MuleSoft Connect: Enable your digital transformation. (May 21 – 25; San Francisco)

MongoDB World: For giant ideas. (June 28 – 29; New York)

Inforum: Infor’s annual user conference. (July 10 – 13; New York)

Fortune Brainstorm Tech: The world’s top tech and media thinkers, operators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and influencers. (July 11 – 13; Aspen, Colorado)

Sage Summit. For fast-growth businesses. (July 25 – 28; Chicago)

Workday Rising: Talent management in the cloud. (Sept. 26 – 29; Chicago)

Microsoft Ignite: Product roadmaps and innovation. (Sept. 26 – 30; Atlanta)

OracleWorld. The future of the cloud is now. (Sept. 18 – 22, San Francisco)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce ecosystem gathers. (Oct. 4 – 7; San Francisco)


This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.