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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Trump is lying about the ‘new’ ‘Apple’ factory - The Verge

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-technology-Apple



"In advance of Trump’s factory tour today, I took a look at the strange relationship that’s developed between Tim Cook and Donald Trump over the past three years. One of the things that popped up was one specific story that Trump would tell about Apple, in rally after rally and meeting after meeting. The idea was that Trump had somehow induced the company to build a new factory in the US, through some combination of tax cuts and trade policy, which was both very politically useful and also very much not true.



Today, perhaps not surprisingly, he told the lie again.



“We’re seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant,” Trump said at the factory. “Anybody that followed my campaign, I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States. And that’s what’s happening.”



This is not true for a couple reasons — one of them nitpicky and one of them a lot more serious. The nitpicky problem is that Apple isn’t actually building a manufacturing plant. The company is building a new campus in Austin, but it’s miles away from the factory and the jobs are going to be very similar to the kind of white-collar design and engineering work that Apple does in Cupertino. Apple doesn’t do its own manufacturing, and the plant Trump is standing in belongs to a contractor called Flex Ltd (formerly Flextronics)."



Trump is lying about the ‘new’ ‘Apple’ factory - The Verge

Mavic Mini vs Mavic Air | Which Drone is Better | Download the Original ...

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

7 Astrophotography MISTAKES Beginners Make

The 16" MacBook Pro: It Doesn't Suck!

Wyze Bulb review: Here's an all-around great smart bulb for less than $10 - CNET



"The Good At just $8 each, the Wyze Bulb works with Alexa, Google and IFTTT, and you don't need a hub to use it. The bulb itself is brighter than advertised, and the app includes useful features like scenes, shortcuts and a vacation mode.
The Bad The bulb doesn't dim down quite as low as some of its competitors, and it doesn't support Siri voice controls via Apple HomeKit. Though you can schedule automated lighting changes at specific times, the app won't let you schedule lighting changes at sunrise or sunset, and it won't let you trigger slow fades, either.
The Bottom Line This is the best value smart bulb I've ever tested, and a perfect pick if you use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your smart home."
Wyze Bulb review: Here's an all-around great smart bulb for less than $10 - CNET

YouTube TV review: The best premium live TV streaming service - CNET



YouTube TV review: The best premium live TV streaming service - CNET

Jabra Elite 75t review: Better sound than the AirPods Pro - CNET



Jabra Elite 75t review: Better sound than the AirPods Pro - CNET:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Facebook discloses operations by Russia and Iran to meddle in 2020 election | Technology | The Guardian





"Facebook on Monday disclosed it had taken down four new foreign interference operations originating from Iran and Russia, including one targeting the US 2020 presidential elections that appears to be linked to the Russian troll agency, the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The suspected IRA campaign “had the hallmarks of a well-resourced operation that took consistent operational security steps to conceal their identity and location”, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a blogpost.
The campaign used 50 Instagram accounts and one Facebook account with about 246,000 followers to publish nearly 75,000 posts, according to Graphika, a social network analysis company that reviewed the campaign for Facebook.
The accounts adopted various political identities, such as pro-Donald Trump, anti-police violence, pro-Bernie Sanders, LGBTQ, feminist, pro-police and pro-Confederate, according to Graphika’s analysis. Most posts were not explicitly related to electoral politics, Graphika said, but were focused on general political commentary for “persona development and branding”.
The deployment of false personas advocating for both sides of a political debate – such as nine accounts designed to look like they were run by black activists protesting against police violence and “thin blue line” accounts defending police officers – echoes the tactics used by the IRA during its 2016 election interference campaign.
The accounts primarily re-shared memes or content created by authentic American social media users, according to Graphika, such as screenshots of viral tweets or reposts of memes by the conservative group Turning Point USA. The campaign may have been recycling authentic American content in an attempt to conceal its Russian origins, Graphika suggested, though the firm still detected certain linguistic tics that suggested a foreign origin. An overreliance on pro-Confederate content referencing the 1980s American television show Dukes of Hazzard was another hint at IRA origins, according to Graphika’s report.
Although most of the posts were focused on polarizing political issues, some specifically addressed the 2020 election, according to Graphika. The fake “black activist” accounts primarily posted in support of Sanders and against Senator Kamala Harris, with some also attacking former vice-president Joe Biden. Both the “progressive” and “conservative” fake accounts attacked Biden.
“It looked like there was a systematic focus on attacking Biden from both sides,” Ben Nimmo, Graphika’s director of investigations, told CNN.
The other three foreign influence operations disclosed by Facebook on Monday originated from Iran. One targeted audiences in the US and in francophone north Africa with content related to Israel, Palestine and Yemen. A second focused on Latin American countries with repurposed Iranian state media articles appearing to come from local news outlets. A third small network of accounts from Iran targeted the US with content from a page called BLMNews that appears to have been masquerading as a news outlet connected to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Plans for 2020 elections

Also on Monday, Facebook announced several initiatives designed to prevent foreign election interference in the 2020 presidential contest.
“Elections have changed significantly since 2016, and Facebook has changed too,” Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters. The chief executive said that the company has learned after being caught on its “back foot” in 2016 and was now proactively preparing for elections.
The company is launching a program to help secure the accounts of elected officials and tightening its rules for disclosing who controls a page. It will also begin labelling content from state-controlled media outlets and more prominently label posts that have been rated false by its third-party factchecking program.
Facebook will also ban political ads designed to suppress voter turnout, including ads that suggest voting is “useless” or that recommend people not vote. This policy will apply to all accounts, including those of politicians. Facebook has faced significant criticism in recent weeks over its decision to exempt politicians from its policy banning misinformation from paid advertisements.
On the conference call, Zuckerberg again defended his decision on that point, saying, “I just think that in a democracy people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”
Facebook did not immediately respond to a question from the Guardian about whether it intends to allow politicians to lie in paid advertisements in the non-democratic countries in which it operates."


Facebook discloses operations by Russia and Iran to meddle in 2020 election | Technology | The Guardian

Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL Review

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Here’s why so many apps are asking to use Bluetooth on iOS 13 - The Verge





"Apple’s new iOS 13 update adds a new privacy measure that requires apps to get your consent in order to use your device’s Bluetooth. After installing the latest version of iOS, trust me when I say you’ll be surprised by the number of apps asking for Bluetooth permission the next time you open them. Some might seem very strange (like Dunkin’ Donuts in my case), but others probably won’t make you think twice about giving the thumbs-up.

The reason Apple implemented this is because Bluetooth has enabled companies to sneakily track your location over Bluetooth by using beacons in stores, shopping malls, and even on popular city streets if they’re placed within range of a place you’d walk by.



This is entirely separate from your iPhone’s location privacy settings, which makes it seem all the more underhanded. A beacon is very easily able to detect your device’s Bluetooth chip and log that with a retailer or some other app on your phone. So getting more strict about Bluetooth is a good move by Apple to prevent unwanted tracking of its customers.
Similarly, the company is also getting even more transparent about location, showing you on a map how often and where apps have recorded your position. This prompt is much easier to understand, and will probably startle people into slimming down the list of apps that can monitor where they are. As it should!



But there’s more room for confusion around the Bluetooth prompt.
At the most basic level, I think some iPhone owners are going to wonder and maybe even assume that they must grant Bluetooth permission for music and other media apps to continue working with their Bluetooth earbuds, headphones, or speakers. It’s a reasonable question when you see that an app “would like to use Bluetooth.” (To be clear, you don’t have to. Bluetooth audio is handled through system settings, is separate from apps, and will continue working for apps that you deny permission for.)



You’ll see a Bluetooth request from stores and even fast food chains that might utilize beacons for in-store promotions or to help you find what you’re looking for in the right aisle. Other common cases include companion apps for your fitness tracker, Bluetooth headphones, or apps from camera companies. (Most recent cameras support syncing photos over Bluetooth.)
Apps that support Google’s Chromecast streaming platform often ask for Bluetooth access as well. While Chromecast streams content over Wi-Fi, the platform has a “guest mode” that makes it convenient for visitors to play videos or audio on your TV without having to know your home network password. But to find nearby Chromecasts for guest mode, these apps use Bluetooth. Thus the permission prompt. Google is now letting developers integrate Chromecast without guest mode to avoid the Bluetooth request altogether if they choose.
But the key for all app developers is to be direct about why they’re requesting Bluetooth access. Apple’s generic message is far too vague and leaves plenty of uncertainty around exactly what it is you’re giving consent to. Here’s Sling TV succeeding at being clear:



Fitbit also nails it:



ESPN, meanwhile, just sticks with the default notification, and that was enough to set off alarms for Nilay. (Again, in this case it was because of the app’s Chromecast support.)
— nilay patel (@reckless)
As more and more apps are updated, hopefully their wording around Bluetooth won’t leave any room for confusion. For now, if you see a Bluetooth request that seems unusual, you might want to just pick “don’t allow.” If a feature in that app stops working soon afterward, you’ll know why and can go into settings and enable Bluetooth access."


Here’s why so many apps are asking to use Bluetooth on iOS 13 - The Verge

Friday, September 06, 2019

Can you REALLY SEE the DIFFERENCE 1080 VS 4K?

THE HOLY TRINITY OF LENSES

‘We Have Moved On Without Him’: Robert Mugabe’s Star Had Faded in Zimbabwe





"HARARE, Zimbabwe — For years, the eventual death of Robert Mugabe, the leader who held Zimbabwe in his grip for decades after its independence in 1980, had obsessed his countrymen.

As he pushed into his 90s — growing visibly frailer by the week, stumbling ever more frequently at public events, his once eloquent speech becoming sluggish — people wondered, with a mixture of dread and hope, when “the old man” would be gone.

But on a warm summer morning in Harare on Friday, as Zimbabweans woke up to the news that their former leader had died at a hospital in Singapore, the reaction was muted. Many in the center of the capital saw his death through the prism of their difficult daily lives — not through the lens of history that Mr. Mugabe’s fellow African leaders emphasized.

“I’m sad that Mugabe has died with the economy,” said Agnes Humure, 37, a shopkeeper rushing to work in Harare’s central business district. “I personally don’t know who is going to wake it up.”

[Our obituary of Robert Mugabe, who as leader of independent Zimbabwe traded the mantle of liberator for the armor of a tyrant.]

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was once Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was once Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man.Zinyange Auntony for The New York Times
The reaction was subdued in part because the once supremely powerful Mr. Mugabe had become increasingly irrelevant in the two years since he was expelled from power. Outmaneuvered by his successor and onetime right-hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and growing rapidly weaker, Mr. Mugabe had been reduced to a ghostly presence in the country that his personality had dominated for nearly four decades.

“Mugabe’s death has come at a time we have moved on without him,” said Richmond Dhamara, a 42-year-old street fruit vendor. “I don’t think he will be missed that much, because he is the same guy with the people who succeeded him — cruel.”

Mr. Mugabe’s reputation was sturdier elsewhere in Africa. Even after the worst excesses of his long rule, Mr. Mugabe drew standing ovations at African gatherings, where fellow leaders praised him as the last of the great liberation leaders.

“Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent,” President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said on Friday.

In central Harare, where the presidency and other branches of government are located, Friday felt like a regular morning. People scrambled to work in dilapidated taxi minivans from the suburbs. Street hawkers were setting up their wares on sidewalks as part of the thriving informal economy that has replaced the collapsing formal sector.

No soldiers could be seen in the area, only the usual police officers — a clear sign that the Zimbabwean government did not regard Mr. Mugabe’s death as a political or security risk.

Zimbabweans celebrating outside Parliament in November 2017 after Mr. Mugabe’s resignation.
Zimbabweans celebrating outside Parliament in November 2017 after Mr. Mugabe’s resignation.Ben Curtis/Associated Press
For most Zimbabweans, their emotions had reached a peak with Mr. Mugabe’s political death nearly two years ago. Countless people celebrated in Harare and across the country at the time, in a short-lived euphoria that faded with the ever worsening economy and disappointment over Mr. Mnangagwa’s tightfisted rule.

In many ways, Mr. Mugabe’s actual death was anticlimactic.

“I wish Mugabe should just have died in power, because things as they are now are much worse than before he was removed,” Jeremiah Gumbi, a 26-year-old money changer, said at his usual workplace in central Harare.

Even a supporter of ZANU-PF, Mr. Mugabe’s political party, on his way to party headquarters — where the national flag was flying at half-staff — was far from effusive in his comments.

“Old Bob is our hero,” said the party supporter, Tinago Mhanga, 38. “Although he messed up the economy, he is the father of the nation, even in death.”

Mr. Mugabe had spent the last two years mostly in quiet isolation after being deposed in a coup in November 2017. For a time, he was effectively put under house arrest with his family in his mansion in a leafy Harare neighborhood. He was regularly allowed to fly to Singapore, where he had sought medical treatment for years.

But an uneasy and unspoken tension persisted between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Mnangagwa, the eternal right-hand man who had ultimately turned on his patron. For Mr. Mnangagwa, dealing with his predecessor was a delicate issue because of their long ties and shared political party. Mr. Mnangagwa generally treated the elder politician generously, hoping that Mr. Mugabe would support him, or at least stay quiet.

A portrait of Mr. Mugabe at the ZANU-PF party headquarters in Harare.Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Mugabe — as wily in retirement as he had been during his nearly four decades in power — remained strategically quiet. But whenever he felt that Mr. Mnangagwa was not treating him with the respect that he was due, Mr. Mugabe made it known.

At least once, his allies summoned foreign journalists based in nearby Johannesburg for a meeting inside his Harare home. His wife, Grace, helped the journalists slip into the house, past soldiers under orders to prevent Mr. Mugabe from talking to the news media.

Most significantly, during elections in July last year, Mr. Mugabe publicly expressed his admiration for the opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa, the leader of ZANU-PF’s fiercest and historic rival, the Movement for Democratic Change.

But despite the hopes and prodding of his wife, Grace, and other allies now fallen out of favor, including the former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, Mr. Mugabe had become a political nonentity.

Little was heard from him in the past year as he grew frailer and frailer. Instead, his sons — famous partygoers whose public misbehavior forced their parents to move them from Dubai to Johannesburg in recent years — continued to make headlines.

What will become of his wife, Grace, is unclear. Mr. Mugabe’s second wife, she is reviled inside Zimbabwe and, more important, inside the ruling party. Many of Mr. Mugabe’s longtime allies blamed her for her husband’s political excesses in recent years and for associating a once famously parsimonious man with the kind of luxury shopping and traveling that she enjoys.

In the year or so before her husband fell from power, Ms. Mugabe had sought to position herself as his successor and sideline Mr. Mnangagwa. That ultimately triggered the coup. Now, with her husband gone, Ms. Mugabe has little or no protection left in Zimbabwe.

Jeffrey Moyo reported from Harare, and Norimitsu Onishi from Paris."



‘We Have Moved On Without Him’: Robert Mugabe’s Star Had Faded in Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, Strongman Who Cried, ‘Zimbabwe Is Mine,’ Dies at 95



The most disappointing leader to come out of the African Liberation Struggle became a cruel dictator, who was frozen in ancient tribal loyalties, He dashed the hope of so many people at home and abroad after his defeat of the cruel race-based government led by the brutal.Ian Smith.



Robert Mugabe, Strongman Who Cried, ‘Zimbabwe Is Mine,’ Dies at 95

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Is the Cheapest MacBook Pro the best MacBook Pro? 2019 13" MacBook Pro R...

These Sony earbuds do what AirPods can’t

Confirmed: Apple's new MacBook Pro gets a big speed boost

"These two entry-level Apple laptops get spec upgrades and, in one case, an important price cut.



macbooks-2019
Sarah Tew/CNET


Apple kicked off the back-to-school season with some pretty significant changes to the MacBook lineup on Tuesday. There were price cuts, trickle-down features and a few quiet cancellations, including the old, pre-redesign MacBook Air and the cult favorite 12-inch MacBook
Getting an update are the MacBook Air and the lowest-end version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. For the Air, that's a significant point, as the system received its largest overhaul in a decade just last year. 
Both new MacBooks have arrived in the CNET Labs for review. Our testing is ongoing, but here's an early look at some of the initial results and our first hands-on impressions. 


05-macbook-pro-2019
The entry-level MacBook Pro now includes Apple's Touch Bar. 
Sarah Tew/CNET


The new MacBook Air doesn't look any different, but it adds Apple's True Tone display, which can adjust the screen's color temperature based on the ambient lighting. It's already found on iPad Pro, recent iPhones and some MacBook Pros. 
But more important than that, the starting price has been cut by $100, from $1,199 to $1,099 (£1,099, AU$1,699). That's still not the classic MacBook Air price of $999, but it's getting closer and students can get it for $999. 
Watch this: Back-to-school MacBooks get faster, cheaper
5:15
More consequential are the changes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That $1,299 model was a favorite for some, as it excluded the Touch Bar found in more-expensive MacBook Pros. Now you can no longer avoid the Touch Bar, but it's included for the same $1,299 price, along with the TouchID fingerprint reader and T2 security chip. 
It also jumps from an older dual-core Intel CPU to a newer quad-core version, so the least expensive Pro feels more like, well, a Pro. Case in point, we ran the new quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro against an older dual-core version. Yes, the eighth-gen chips have an advantage over the seventh-gen ones, but the difference between the two base models is huge. 


Geekbench 4 (multicore)

MacBook Pro 13-inch (quad-core, 2019)
16949
MacBook Pro 13-inch (dual-core, 2017)
9032


Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

MacBook Pro 13-inch (quad-core, 2019)
647
MacBook Pro 13-inch (dual-core, 2017)
381


Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations



We're currently testing both the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and will report full benchmark results, including battery life, in upcoming reviews. While the Pro is getting a big speed boost, I wouldn't expect any real change in the MacBook Air performance -- the biggest move there is the price. "


Confirmed: Apple's new MacBook Pro gets a big speed boost

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

FCC: Phone Companies Can Block Robocalls by Default

Red vintage phone on the floor

"Unlucky Atlantans

Which area code was hardest hit last month? The 404 area code in Atlanta had that sorry distinction in May, with an estimated 78.7 million robocalls, according to YouMail.
After Atlanta, the next hardest hit area codes were 214 in Dallas, 72.1 million; 832 in Houston, 70 million; 678 in Atlanta, 61.6 million; 954 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 47.5 million; 817, also in Dallas, 46.3 million; 917 in New York, 45.9 million; 310 in Los Angeles, 45.6 million; 210 in San Antonio, 43.9 million; 702 in Las Vegas, 43.6 million; and 901 in Memphis, Tenn., 42.3 million.
Because you take a cellphone anywhere, YouMail's estimates are based on area codes, regardless of where you actually live, said Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail.
Under the FCC's decision, customers can opt out of call blocking. They may worry about missing legal automated calls about medical appointments, school closures, flight changes or late payments.
And phone companies will be able, though not required, to charge for the call-blocking service.
YouMail's Quilici said he expects the phone companies first will begin blocking robocalls that are obviously illegal: for example, those displaying area codes and prefixes that don't exist, or numbers that are unassigned.
That means “tons” of robocalls still will be able to get through as carriers judge which calls are wanted and which aren't, he said.
"I think the carriers are going to move slowly and not go whole hog,” he said. “They have to be careful with what they block."
FCC: Phone Companies Can Block Robocalls by Default

Why a Sony User Picks Canon EOS R over the Sony A7III

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Opinion | Why Is America So Far Behind Europe on Digital Privacy?





"By The Editorial Board




In the past year, Congress has been happy to drag tech C.E.O.s into hearings and question them about how they vacuum up and exploit personal information about their users. But so far those hearings haven’t amounted to much more than talk. Lawmakers have yet to do their job and rewrite the law to ensure that such abuses don’t continue.

Americans have been far too vulnerable for far too long when they venture online. Companies are free today to monitor Americans’ behavior and collect information about them from across the web and the real world to do everything from sell them cars to influence their votes to set their life insurance rates — all usually without users’ knowledge of the collection and manipulation taking place behind the scenes. It’s taken more than a decade of shocking revelations — of data breaches and other privacy abuses — to get to this moment, when there finally seems to be enough momentum to pass a federal law. Congress is considering several pieces of legislation that would strengthen Americans’ privacy rights, and alongside them, a few bills that would make it easier for tech companies to strip away what few privacy rights we now enjoy. 

[If you use technology, someone is using your information. We’ll tell you how — and what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]

American lawmakers are late to the party. Europe has already set what amounts to a global privacy standard with its General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018. G.D.P.R. establishes several privacy rights that do not exist in the United States — including a requirement for companies to inform users about their data practices and receive explicit permission before collecting any personal information. Although Americans cannot legally avail themselves of specific rights under G.D.P.R., the fact that the biggest global tech companies are complying everywhere with the new European rules means that the technocrats in Brussels are doing more for Americans’ digital privacy rights than their own Congress.

The toughest privacy law in the United States today, is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Just like G.D.P.R., it requires companies to take adequate security measures to protect data and also offers consumers the right to request access to the data that has been collected about them. Under the California law, consumers not only have a right to know whether their data is being sold or handed off to third parties, they also have a right to block that sale. And the opt-out can’t be a false choice — Facebook and Google would not be able to refuse service just because a user didn’t want their data sold.

While the California Legislature is still working out the precise details of the law and its implementation, other states — including New York — are hard at work on their own privacy legislation. The prospect of a patchwork of state-level rules explains why tech companies are suddenly eager for Washington to step in to set a national standard.

If a weak federal privacy law pre-empts state law, it would roll back the protections that Californians are supposed to get — and it would make it impossible for other states to set the bar even higher. That’s exactly what’s going on with privacy bills introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (the American Data Dissemination Act) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act). Both offer weak privacy protections bundled with federal pre-emption. If passed, they would gut the California law. In the House, Representative Suzan DelBene’s Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act also pre-empts state law, while offering a respectable amount of privacy protection, like a requirement for companies to secure opt-in consent before collecting user data. Still, even that bill lacks some rights that the California law provides.

The Senate bills that take privacy seriously do not contain pre-emption clauses. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s DATA Privacy Act, for instance, bears similarities to the California law and to the G.D.P.R., as does Senator Ed Markey’s significantly more ambitious Privacy Bill of Rights Act. Although Ms. Cortez Masto’s bill does not create a private right of action — that is, the ability for consumers to sue tech companies for privacy violations — Mr. Markey’s does, and invalidates arbitration clauses that could otherwise shield companies from individual lawsuits. Consumer lawsuits are a hot-button issue — in the California law, the private right of action exists only in a limited form thanks in part to corporate lobbying. Most interestingly, Mr. Markey’s bill requires the creation of a public list of data brokers in the United States — third party companies who buy and sell your data.

Not all bills on the table take an omnibus approach. Some appear to be highly specific swipes at Facebook. For example, a social media privacy bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Kennedy does not add very much to consumer privacy, but each of its provisions — like one that forbids a change to a product that “overrides the privacy preferences of a user” — seems to be a reference to something Facebook has done in the past. Senators Mark Warner and Deb Fischer have introduced a bill circumscribing experimentation on users without their consent. It might seem shocking that any company would do such a thing, but, in fact, Facebook tinkered with its News Feed in 2014 to test whether it could alter its users’ emotions. (The bill also bars designing sites targeted at children under the age of 13 “with the purpose or substantial effect of cultivating compulsive usage, including video auto-play functions initiated without the consent of a user” — a provision aimed at YouTube and its effect on children.)

Where the Warner/Fischer bill looks to alleviate the harmful effects of data collection on consumers, Senator Josh Hawley’s Do Not Track Act seeks to stop the problem much closer to the source, by creating a Do Not Track system administered by the Federal Trade Commission. Commercial websites would be required by law not to harvest unnecessary data from consumers who have Do Not Track turned on.

A similar idea appeared in a more comprehensive draft bill circulated last year by Senator Ron Wyden, but Mr. Wyden has yet to introduce that bill this session. Instead, like Mr. Warner, he seems to have turned his attention to downstream effects — for the time being, at least. This year, he is sponsoring a bill for algorithmic accountability, requiring the largest tech companies to test their artificial intelligence systems for biases, such as racial discrimination, and to fix those biases that are found. 
A grand bargain privacy bill is said to be in the works, with a handful of lawmakers from both parties haggling privately over the details. Forward-thinking legislation — and the public hearings that would inform its passage — are urgently needed. Americans deserve a robust discussion of what privacy rights they are entitled to and strong privacy laws to protect them. 
Congress’s earliest attempts to regulate computing in the 1980s and 1990s were embarrassing. The Congressional Record shows that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984, for instance, was prompted by a fantastical Hollywood film about a boy hacker. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 — many sections of which were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the following year — had its origins in a moral panic about internet pornography touched off by questionable research. All this lent support to the received wisdom that the tech industry is best left to its own devices without the interference of a clueless legislature. More recent attempts, like the abortive Stop Online Piracy Act, an overbroad piece of copyright enforcement legislation that was killed in 2012 after furious backlash from internet users, have not instilled much confidence in Capitol Hill’s understanding of technology. But encouragingly, many of the privacy bills introduced this session show a sophisticated understanding of the market for personal information, the nation’s woefully inadequate cybersecurity and the many dangers posed by a sector of the economy that has proved itself incapable of self-regulation. Legislators have stepped up their game.

A single bill is of course not the end of government’s responsibilities to its citizens. Any regulation must evolve alongside technology to safeguard fundamental freedoms. But a strong law would be a welcome start. The California privacy law will go into effect in less than seven months. Congress should seize the moment and the public momentum to enshrine digital privacy rights into federal law."


Opinion | Why Is America So Far Behind Europe on Digital Privacy?