Silicon Valley
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East|December 01, 2018 The Year Ahead 2019

The U.S. is at the forefront of turning consumer data into revenue. When it comes to privacy laws and punishment for breaches, it’s bringing up the rear

Austin Carr

Opponents of government regulation have a few standard refrains. For years, one of the most common has been that public officials shouldn’t pick winners and losers, meaning they shouldn’t use state power to reward favored companies or industries and punish others. In good faith, the line articulates a reasonable concern about facilitating corruption and choking off competition. It tends, however, to be deployed by complainants who were perfectly comfortable being among the winners until they suddenly drew greater scrutiny. Frequent foes of winner- and loserpicking include oil and gas companies, health insurers, megabanks, and now Silicon Valley’s biggest internet companies, which are starting to face consequences for frequent breaches of their eyebrow-raisingly massive data hoards.

After two years under a much harsher spotlight than they were used to, the internet companies acknowledge that some sort of new oversight is due. But, they say, let’s not get carried away here and change the ways the Valley does business. The government must avoid “picking winners or losers,” says Michael Beckerman, chief executive officer of the Internet Association, a Washington lobbying group representing Facebook, Google, Twitter, and most other major tech platforms. It’s wrong, he says, for lawmakers to punish his clients for mining data for profit, because pretty much every consumer-facing company now makes money from data in one way or another. “If you compare Facebook or Twitter to a car rental agency or your grocery store, or a data broker or a credit-reporting agency, our companies are a lot more transparent,” he says.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, of course, Hertz and Kroger don’t know everything about you, nor have they proven so hackable. Since September alone, hackers broke into 30 million profiles on Facebook, its largest breach ever, harvesting email addresses, phone numbers, and search histories. Twitter Inc. disclosed that a platform bug may have allowed third-party developers access to the private messages of several million users. And Google parent Alphabet Inc., it was discovered, had attempted to cover up a data leak on its Google+ social network that affected about a half-million accounts. For people affected by such incidents, there’s little to no recourse and few answers about what’s to stop similar breaches of personal data in the future.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK MIDDLE EASTView All

The Novo Abides

Mike Novogratz, former Goldman Sachs partner and the loudest crypto bull on Wall Street, has made and lost a fortune on Bitcoin. He’s still all-in.

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Weaponizing Uncertainty

Trump’s tariffs were meant to make the U.S. a safe option for businesses looking to expand. It’s not working out that way.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

The Immigration Hackers

An Obama-era department of techies is working to streamline paperwork from inside the Trump administration. Results are mixed.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Letter From London, March 2029

A message from post-Brexit Britain about what the 2019 split from the EU hasn’t delivered.

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Saudi Weighs More Bank Mergers

Gulf bank consolidation trend gathers pace with Saudi plans.

2 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Money Markets Mixed Over Fed Rate Hikes

There is little agreement among commentators as to whether the Fed will continue to hike rates in 2019.

1 min read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Hey, Paul Ryan, What's Up? Budget Deficits

The professed fiscal hawk leaves behind a legacy of unsustainable shortfalls.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Dell EMC Bullish On 2019 Outlook

Cloud and technology giant plans further expansion in the Middle East.

2 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

Artificial Intelligence Has Some Explaining To Do

Software makers offer more transparent machine-learning tools—but there’s a trade-off.

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
1 January, 2019

What Buffalo Got, And Didn't Get, When Tesla Came To Town

After $750 million in subsidies and years of delays, critics say Elon Musk hasn’t done enough for his solar panel factory

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek Middle East
December 16, 2018
RELATED STORIES

$1,400 STIMULUS CHECKS HELPED MARCH RETAIL SALES SOAR 9.8%

Newly vaccinated and armed with $1,400 stimulus checks, Americans went on a spending spree last month, buying new clothes and going out to eat again.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

BIG-BUSINESS PUSHBACK AGAINST VOTING MEASURES GAINS MOMENTUM

Big business has ratcheted up its objections to proposals that would make it harder to vote, with several hundred companies and executives signing a new statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation.”

4 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

THE DISABLED HOPE THEIR OSCAR MOMENT CAN BECOME A MOVEMENT

Right down to its production design, the Oscars have not always felt like the most welcoming place for the disabled.

5 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

A $1.2 BILLION LOSS FOR DELTA, BUT RECOVERY IS ON THE RADAR

Delta Air Lines lost $1.2 billion in the first quarter, more than expected, but executives said Thursday that the airline could be profitable by late summer if the budding recovery in air travel continues.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

USERS COULD SOON HIDE ‘LIKE' COUNTS ON INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK

The tiny red hearts that appear under Instagram photos of kids, kittens and sandwiches can be a source of stress for many users, an insidious way of measuring self-worth and popularity.

1 min read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

DRIVERS WANTED: RECORD DEMAND AT UBER AS VACCINATIONS RISE

Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

US RECOMMENDS ‘PAUSE' FOR J&J SHOTS IN BLOW TO VACCINE DRIVE

The U.S. recommended a “pause” in use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots, setting off a chain reaction worldwide and dealing a setback to the global vaccination campaign.

5 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

COINBASE SOARS IN MARKET DEBUT, VALUED NEAR $86 BILLION

Coinbase made a rousing debut on Wall Street Wednesday, with shares of the digital currency exchange rising as high as $429, briefly giving it a market value over $100 billion.

3 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

GOOGLE EARTH ADDS TIME LAPSE VIDEO TO DEPICT CLIMATE CHANGE

The Google Earth app is adding a new video feature that draws upon nearly four decades of satellite imagery to vividly illustrate how climate change has affected glaciers, beaches, forests and other places around the world.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #494

The Food Fight in Fake Meat

Beyond Meat was an early leader. But rival Impossible Foods and others want to eat its lunch

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 19, 2021