DealBook Briefing: Silicon Valley Has Bigger Problems Than Facebook

July 3, 2018

Good Tuesday morning.

Breaking: Shares in the trading giant Glencore were down 11 percent after it disclosed that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed its records under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.Mark Zuckerberg  Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Facebook faces greater scrutiny.Maybe the rest of Big Tech should, too.

America’s law enforcers are doubling down on investigations of Facebook. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. have broadened inquiries into Cambridge Analytica to add a focus on Facebook, and the S.E.C. has started looking at the social network’s public statements about the data scandal.No big surprise there. But this WSJ article on Google’s data privacy practices may surprise even those who are already jaded by tech scandals:The internet giant continues to let hundreds of outside software developers scan the inboxes of millions of Gmail users who signed up for email-based services offering shopping price comparisons, automated travel-itinerary planners or other tools. Google does little to police those developers, who train their computers — and, in some cases, employees — to read their users’ emails.In an NYT op-ed, Dipayan Ghosh, a former privacy and public policy adviser at Facebook, argues that all tech companies should face greater scrutiny:Facebook’s internal review, even if it was undertaken in response to external criticism, is vital to ensure that personal data is not used inappropriately. And that is precisely why we should also take the magnifying glass to Google, Apple and others that similarly partner with vast developer communities that receive special access to inordinate amounts of sensitive user data.

More tech privacy news: Facebook has admitted that a bug that unblocked people affected 800,000 users. And Google’s policies may mean that some companies are targeting users in ways that could violate Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.

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A $1 trillion trade war? Don’t bet against itThe FT has done some math and come to a worrying conclusion: A trillion-dollar trade war scenario “is not wholly implausible.” Here’s how that could come to pass:

• Tit-for-tat tariffs are escalating quickly. The FT points out that $635.4 billion worth of goods are threatened by tariffs so far. At least some of those levies will come to pass.

• The auto industry could be a huge battleground. President Trump promoted auto tariffs as a weapon. They may not happen, but, if they do, they could lead to a further $600 billion worth of goods facing charges.

• Then there’s Nafta. U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico, which totals $1.1 trillion, is still up in the air as Mr. Trump seeks to renegotiate trade arrangements under the treaty.

Elsewhere in trade: 401(k)’s could be hit by the trade war. Cross-border megadeals are in decline. China is censoring comments from the U.S. to play down trade tensions. Mr. Trump said he would block China Mobile from operating in the U.S. Even electric scooters and vaping equipment could be affected by tariffs.Lyft is buying the parent company of CitiBike and other bike-sharing programs.  Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Lyft and Uber want to be one-stop city transport apps

Lyft agreed on Monday to buy the core business of Motivate, the operator of bike-sharing programs like CitiBike. It may seem like a diversion — bikes aren’t nearly as big a market as cars — but there’s a reason the ride-hailing company is reportedly spending $250 million on the business.Different forms of transportation are becoming more popular, particularly for covering short distances. In buying Motivate, Lyft is responding to Uber’s acquisition of the electric bike start-up Jump. And both companies are said to be quietly exploring the market for electric scooters, as existing players like Bird and Lime explode in popularity.Both Lyft and Uber are betting that gaining footholds in those markets will eventually give them a way to offer users more options to get around. That could even extend to paying for subway and bus rides — Uber is already experimenting with allowing users to pay for public transit from inside its app. So expect the two, both flush with cash from investors, to keep spending money trying to gain pole position in that race.

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