This is Katherine Dunn in London, filling in for Alan. On Day 1 of Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen yesterday, the same word—somewhat unsurprisingly—cropped up again and again: “privacy.”
As consumers have invited technology deeper into their homes and handed over samples of their DNA, companies are rushing to reassure clients that privacy comes first.
Speaking on stage, Margo Georgiadis, CEO of Ancestry, said that consumers need to be aware that different companies have different privacy policies, and highlighted the new Coalition For Genetic Data Protection, which Ancestry formed with Helix and 23andMe. Othman Laraki, CEO of genetic testing company Color, echoed her comments, saying that the whole industry sees privacy at the top of the agenda.
Meanwhile, when it comes to smart homes, Jamie Siminoff, the founder of smart doorbell company Ring, said privacy underpinned the trust clients have in Ring’s products.
But even in the tech world, there are those who think keeping your distance is a good idea.
“I actually don’t have any smart devices in my house because I’m pretty paranoid about security,” John Hanke, CEO of video gaming company Niantic, told the audience. “The surface area there seems really porous and vulnerable.”
If consumers are aware of the risks, does that mean they’re actually worried?
Not as much as you might think, according to Mark Mahaney, managing director and lead Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets. In a survey of 3,000 people, the company found 49% have made no adjustments to how they use tech despite backlash over privacy breaches at major tech companies. They understand the trade-off—and it’s worth it, he said.
“As we keep going through this cycle, we’ll see fewer and fewer people concerned about privacy,” he said.
The livestream of Day 2 of the summit—featuring Land O’Lakes’s Beth Ford, Intel’s Robert Swan, and Quibi’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman—begins at 11:15 a.m. ET. You can watch it here.
More news below.
The Libra Backlash
Facebook’s efforts to create a cryptocurrency are facing growing resistance, as the Trump administration said Libra would raise national security concerns. This time, the administration has backing from some quarters it is often at odds with: Democrats, and European officials, who will meet in France this week to discuss cryptocurrencies. Facebook executive David Marcus is expected to appear before the Senate Banking Committee today. WSJ
StanChart CEO Calls Investors “Immature”
Faced with the largest investor revolt since 2014 over executive pay—with 40% of the company’s investors not backing a new renumeration policy that affects pension size—StanChart CEO Bill Winters called investors’ complaints “immature and unhelpful.” One large shareholder shot back, saying Winters’ was “in the minority of one” for thinking there was no issue with the size of his pension cash allowance, which is the largest of any chief executive for a bank listed in the U.K. FT
The Cost of the Trade War
Will the revenue from tariffs compensate for losses in industries hurt by the trade war? Not even close, according to an analysis by the New York Times. Revenue on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods so far will not cover the cost of a bailout just for U.S. farmers: that revenue has brought in $20.8 billion so far while farmers have been promised a $28 billion package to help blunt the impact. Other industries, including plane manufacturers and tech companies, are also feeling the impact. New York Times
Stewart Butterfield Isn’t Worried
Speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, the Slack CEO praised Microsoft as an “incredible company” but brushed off concerns about tough competition over the two companies’ non-email work chat platforms. Slack has 600,000 users across 150 countries, but the incumbent is still Microsoft—its Team app reportedly has 10 million users. Fortune
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Chinese Diplomats Start to Tweet
Twitter has become part of the landscape for politicians, and perhaps nowhere more so than under the Trump administration. But now Chinese diplomats are increasingly tweeting, too. Just last week, China’s ambassador to the U.S. opened an account—and tweeted about Taiwan. Reuters
The 1MDB Haul Just Keeps Getting Bigger
Vintage movie posters—including one for the French release of the original King Kong—luxury watches, and a Jean-Michel Basquiat drawing have been added to the list of items purchased with money stolen from Malaysia’s development fund. Those items were given as gifts to a Wolf of Wall Street producer from Riza Aziz, stepson of the former Malaysian prime minister. Bloomberg
The Seltzer Bubble
Demand for sparkling water is on the up and up—buoyed by concerns about health, it’s seeing double-digit growth. That’s bringing big brands into the market, along with a range of buzzy upstarts. But is this all a bit fizzy for an industry that’s selling, well, fancy water? New York Times
Anatomy of an A.I. Disaster
A former Youtube engineer, who worked on the company’s A.I. recommendation algorithm, runs through how the Youtube pedophilia scandal happened—in which disturbing videos were recommended and pushed through the platform—and how, as more data is fed into the algorithm and A.I. get stronger, the risks of a similar scandal only rises, and becomes harder to catch. Wired