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Data Sheet—Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017, 1:32 PM UTC

Good morning, Aaron in for a vacationing Adam again today.

New technologies often have a way of making old laws seem obsolete. And that can set off a flurry of activity at every level, from cities and towns to states to the federal government, as lawmakers try to catch up and fill any gaps. This week witnessed several of those flurries, worth following if you’re interested in how quickly, safely, cheaply or fairly new technologies and new markets will develop.

Self-driving cars is a great area to watch. So far, regulating autonomous vehicles has largely been the purview of states and the various tech companies large and small have been able to push their agendas in some areas. But on Tuesday, Congress held a hearing to consider more than a dozen bills to nationalize the rules of the road.

Some regulatory efforts are percolating at the state level to combat national legislative moves, though. After Congress and President Trump revoked strong online privacy protection in April, 18 states are considering re-imposing similar restrictions. Illinois lawmakers approved a bill to restrict the use of location information this week and it’s now up to Gov. Bruce Rauner to decide whether to sign proposal into law.

Another clash between national and local legislators may be brewing over drones, with a proposal in Congress to give state and local governments the ability to decide for themselves how to regulate drones flying 200 feet or under over their regions. Higher-flying gadgets would still be regulated at the federal level.

Of course, sometimes new technology just leads to confusion, which seems to be the case with President Trump’s tweet that Amazon doesn’t pay “Internet taxes.” There are no such taxes, although Trump may have been referring to state and local sales taxes. A controversial subject for the e-commerce giant years ago, Amazon now collects applicable sales taxes for customers nationwide.


You may have noticed wall-to-wall coverage of today’s 10th anniversary of the iPhone across the Internet. At Fortune, we’ve added our fair share. Highlights include Don Reisinger’s comparison of the latest iPhone 7 to the original (did you know they both weigh 4.8 ounces?) and the all-time worst iPhone rumors. iPhone Shuffle, anyone? I also gathered up some of the best and worst quotes about the iPhone over the years and took a look at which models were best for investors in Apple’s stock.

The Fortune archives are chock full of even better, much deeper coverage of the history of the iPhone. Peter Lewis had it just about right two years early in a 2005 story about the terrible phone that resulted from Apple’s collaboration with Motorola: “Perhaps Apple is keeping a low profile while it develops its own music phone, the mythical iPhone that, like the white buffalo of Native American lore, will herald Apple’s return to dominance of the computer industry.”

Adam was early on the behind-the-scenes manufacturing maestro of the iPhone, Tim Cook, and dug deep into a review of Jobs’ successful run as Apple CEO, focusing on the “rare pairing of micromanagement with big-picture vision.”

And Betsy Morris interviewed Jobs in 2008, revealing lots of interesting background about the iPhone, including the famous genesis of the idea: “We all had cellphones. They were so awful to use. The software was terrible. The hardware wasn’t very good. We talked to our friends, and they all hated their cellphones too.”

Not many hate their phone anymore. Now we can barely ever put it down.

Aaron Pressman


Not everyone is so nice. Speaking of law and technology, in a ruling that could have wide-and not good-global repercussions for free speech, the Supreme Court of Canada said on Wednesday that Google must remove some results from its search engine worldwide based on Canadian law. Although the ruling only seeks to remove results to protect the trademark of a network hardware maker, the precedent could encourage courts around the world to make similar global demands on Google, including courts in repressive countries that regularly suppress free speech

Especially not these guys. The Petya ransomware program spread further on Wednesday, cutting down Fedex's TNT unit and blocking new orders at Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world's largest container shipper. One piece of advice for infected victims? Don't pay the ransom because (spoiler alert) the crooks don't ever give back access to your files.

Not nice to me. A disgruntled former investor in Palantir Technologies disclosed in court on Wednesday that Larry Ellison's Oracle considered buying the super-secretive startup. Marc Abramowitz said he helped set up a lunch between Ellison and Palantir Chairman Peter Thiel to discuss a possible deal.

And this wasn't nice news. Meal kit maker Blue Apron went public, but it wasn't the most delightful of debuts. Shares were priced at only $10 each, the low end of a range that had already been decreased once. The fast-growing but money-losing company will start trading on Thursday under the symbol "APRN."

But this is very nice news. The airplane cabin laptop ban will not be extended to all flights from Europe, Reuters reported. Instead, European airports will add new enhanced security measures such as increased vetting of airport staff and additional detection dogs.


Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google's YouTube this week created an effort called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. The new group will combine technology, research, and counterterrorism tactics from each company to try to discourage terrorist recruitment and incitement online.

But Philip Seib, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School and author of the new book As Terrorism Evolves, thinks the impact will only be superficial because terrorist groups are rapidly evolving not to depend on the popular social networks:

This has meant moving from the easily accessible 'surface web' to the 'deep web' and then on to its deepest part, the 'dark web.' This is where one can find drugs, pornography, weapons, and other contraband. The dark web is out of reach of the most common search engines, such as Google, and is difficult for hackers to penetrate.


How We Can Win the War on Cancer by David Agus, Elizabeth Jaffee, Greg Simon, Kim Thiboldeaux, and Jeff Zients

This Hot Database Startup Just Snagged $50 Million in Funding by Barb Darrow

What to Know About the Blue Apron IPO by Lucinda Shen

Marissa Mayer Defends Travis Kalanick: ‘He’s a Phenomenal Leader’ by Madeline Farber

Snapchat Is Making It Easier to Create Custom Geofilters by Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Google Is Experimenting With Virtual Reality Advertising by Jonathan Vanian

Has IBM Watson’s AI Technology Fallen Victim to Hype? by Barb Darrow


Google News can be useful for keeping up on the latest headlines, and the customizable news feed is almost irreplaceable. But the site itself had definitely become visually busy, even overcrowded. Fear not, the search giant has redesigned the site in both desktop and mobile versions.

I super-appreciate the way clicking on stories and story cards now maintains your place on the page instead of opening a new page. Joseph Lichterman at the Nieman Lab has a run down of all the details, including another of the best features of the new design: a fact-checking section with a list of the most popular articles that check the facts of current rumors or false information spreading online.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.