Good morning. David Meyer here, filling in for Alan from Berlin.
Tim Cook took to the stage this morning in Brussels, at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. And he went in with all guns blazing.
His targets? Not for the first time, the Apple CEO took aim at his Silicon Valley peers and what he calls the “data-industrial complex.” According to Cook, people’s personal data is being “weaponized” with “military efficiency,” and technology is being used to deepen divisions and “undermine our sense of what is true and what is false.”
“Data assembled to create a digital profile lets companies know you better than you know yourself. This is surveillance,” he said. It will be interesting to see what Mark Zuckerberg, due to appear at the conference via video message this afternoon, will add on this front. Apple of course has a less data-centric business model than Google or Facebook, and a CEO who has no reason to be on the defensive.
Here’s Cook neatly expressing what I’ve been yelling about for a long time: “We will never achieve technology’s true potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.” Especially after this year, with its myriad Facebook and Google scandals about people’s data ending up in unexpected places, that faith is now sorely lacking.
Cook’s proposed cure, however, is not as controversial as it may at first seem: A “comprehensive data privacy law in the United States,” along the lines of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
When the GDPR came into effect this past May, tech industry lobbyists claimed it would be a disaster for the Internet. But then California passed a sweeping new privacy law that, like the GDPR, gave people the right to demand companies tell them what personal data of theirs is being stored, why it’s being stored, and with whom it’s being shared. Consumers will be able to demand their data is deleted, too.
Like it or not, these measures are starting to be introduced in the U.S. and, as Veeam’s Danny Allan wrote yesterday in a Fortune piece, there’s a real risk of a regulatory patchwork that makes life difficult for businesses trying to operate across state lines. What people often forget about the GDPR is that it was largely designed to fix a similar problem in the EU, harmonizing data protection rules across member states to make life more predictable for businesses.
This is why Apple, Google, Amazon and Twitter all pressed for a national data protection law last month. The big question now is what such a law might look like—and what it will mean for a Silicon Valley where not everyone is ultimately singing from the same hymn sheet.
More news below.
Dow futures suggest triple-digit losses today, following volatility yesterday that saw a 500-point loss before a recovery. Key data points for today include multiple housing-related figures and earnings from AT&T, Boeing, UPS, Ford, Microsoft, Tesla and Visa. CNBC
The U.S. has finally moved to censure the Saudis over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, revoking visas and adding screening procedures against members of the kingdom’s royal court, foreign ministry and intelligence services. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States. We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable.” Wall Street Journal
Yahoo, these days owned by Verizon, has agreed to pay $50 million to settle a class action lawsuit over its big data breach in 2013, to which it only confessed in 2016. It will also pay up to $35 million in legal fees and provide credit monitoring services for around 200 million customers whose data was compromised. The SEC has already levied a $35 million fine over the incident. Computer Weekly
Somebody in South Carolina bought a winning ticket for yesterday’s Mega Millions, which had a total jackpot of $1.6 billion. It’s too early to say whether this one individual will walk away with the full cash payout of $904 million, or whether there were other winners who will share in the spoils. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
The New York Times has an interesting piece comparing Amazon with Sears in its heyday. A key difference is that Amazon’s success mostly benefits the company’s shareholders, while Sears also used to distribute the spoils among its workers, who owned a quarter of the company back in the 1950s. This isn’t just about Amazon; as the piece notes: “lower-paid employees across corporate America have been locked out of profit-sharing and stock grants.” New York Times
If there’s a “no-deal” Brexit, British exporters won’t be ready for the new border rules that will immediately click into place. That’s according to the U.K.’s National Audit Office, which is warning of huge queues and delays, with criminals exploiting weaknesses in the system. BBC
Deutsche Bank’s shares fell by as much as 4% after the Frankfurt-based bank reported a 65% year-on-year drop in quarterly net income. That said, its $262.7 million net income for the third quarter still beat analyst estimates. CEO Christian Sewing: “We have our costs under control and sufficient capital to grow. We are on track to be profitable in 2018, for the first time since 2014.” Bloomberg
Dunkin’ vs Starbucks
Dunkin’ (nee Donuts) is trying to better take on Starbucks in its core coffee market, by releasing new drinks at lower prices. It will for example charge less than its competitor for a new 16-ounce hot latte. Fortune