Lina Khan
Photo: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FTC acts fast on health data

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Good morning! Sometimes it takes years for the FTC to take action and file lawsuits. That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to protecting user privacy.

Swift FTC action

The FTC typically takes years to investigate before writing up a complaint. But in a post-Dobbs world, the commission is acting with a lot more urgency.

The FTC seems serious about protecting user data. It’s looking to create new rules on “commercial surveillance,” and it warned that it will crack down on companies and data brokers that misuse health data. Now it’s following through on that promise.

  • The FTC is suing data broker Kochava for allegedly selling location data that could track movements to domestic violence centers, reproductive health clinics and other sensitive places.
  • The FTC found it was possible to identify device owners who visited sensitive locations. And until at least June, when the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs, Kochava users had access to a portion of that data with timestamped location information.

Notable here is the speed with which the FTC filed the complaint, especially compared to some of its recent lawsuits.

  • For example, the FTC sued Meta for its acquisition of Within a full year after the purchase was announced, and it sued Walmart in June for allegedly ignoring fraud on its money transfer service from 2013 to 2018.
  • Of course, the FTC may have already been investigating Kochava for a long time; perhaps Roe v. Wade being overturned just sped up the timetable, Protocol Policy editor Kate Cox told me.

The FTC has already made it clear that companies misusing sensitive health data would face consequences. But it seems those consequences could come sooner than people think.

— Sarah Roach

A patchwork of privacy laws

California is set to pass strict children’s internet privacy legislation this week, and, if adopted, the law could create a domino effect of regulation in other states.

The California Age-Appropriate Design Code is strict. It would require platforms to turn off geolocation services for children, end techniques that could coerce minors into handing over their data and reduce childrens’ exposure to unspecified “harmful or potentially harmful” content.

  • California’s bill closely resembles the U.K.’s children’s privacy code, passed last year, which includes a set of 15 privacy standards and affects a wide range of tech companies.
  • The California bill does have a small reprieve for tech companies: Businesses have a period of 90 days from notice to fix issues before hefty fines kick in.

California has been a leader in internet privacy laws in the U.S. If passed, other states would likely follow suit with similar laws.

  • For example, in 2018, California passed the landmark Consumer Privacy Act, which was considered a blueprint for other states to follow suit. The laws that were subsequently passed in other states, however, were watered-down versions of California’s law.

Critics fear that the less-sweeping laws will set the standard for what could eventually become federal law. But until that happens, companies will be forced to comply with a patchwork of legislation across states, and that could prove to be a nightmare.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

The PayPal Mafia show

Author Jimmy Soni’s “The Founders,” a book about PayPal’s origins, has been optioned and a team is working on pitching it to Hollywood, Protocol has learned.

Some interviews are already being recorded. As company veterans celebrated the 20th anniversary of eBay’s audacious 2002 IPO at Peter Thiel’s mansion in Los Angeles over the weekend, a crew filmed interviews with some attendees, according to multiple people present for the event.

  • Attendees for the weekend bash included co-founders Elon Musk and Max Levchin, sources said, as well as early PayPal employees like Deb Liu, now the CEO of Ancestry.
  • Party entertainment included a band, a magician and photo booths, alongside a spread of lobster.
  • The on-camera interviews recorded at the party were meant to be part of a pitch for the series.

Former PayPal COO David Sacks revealed in a podcast recorded in March that his production company and another one owned by PayPal veteran Jack Selby had acquired the rights to the book. He also disclosed showrunner Mark Goffman’s involvement, saying that he hoped "this turns into a TV show à la 'The Last Dance.'" Daniel Brunt, chief of staff to David Sacks of Craft Ventures, is also involved, according to a message Goffman sent, but his role is not clear.

— Owen Thomas and Biz Carson

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People are talking

Singapore financial regulator Ravi Menon thinks consumers know little about crypto:

  • “[Investors] seem to be irrationally oblivious about the risks of cryptocurrency trading.”

Making moves

Garry Tan is replacing Geoff Ralston as Y Combinator’s CEO. Tan joined YC as a partner in 2010 and left a few years later to focus on Initialized Capital, which he founded.

Mary Ellen Coe is replacing Robert Kyncl as YouTube's chief business officer. Kynci is leaving the company after about 12 years.

Janelle Teng is Bessemer Venture Partners’ new VP. Teng has been with the firm since 2020 and serves as a board observer for companies including Databook, Virtru and Netlify.

Tom Brown is Druva’s new CHRO. Brown was previously at Coupa as VP of global HR.

In other news

Elon Musk subpoenaed Peiter Zatko to appear for a deposition on Sept. 9. Musk wants the Twitter whistleblower to offer documents related to Twitter's spam and security practices.

Tesla is suing Louisiana, alleging a state law that prevents the company from selling electric vehicles directly to consumers violates the constitution.

Cloudflare is facing criticism for offering services to Kiwi Farms. The site organized a campaign against transgender activist and Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who was later forced into hiding.

Tesla was hit with a proposed class-action lawsuit over allegations that its cars suddenly stop for nonexistent obstacles.

Logitech is winding down its remaining operations in Russia. The company had stopped shipments to the country in March.

The Fed’s real-time payments system, FedNow, will launch between May and July 2023.

QAnon found a home on Truth Social. Researchers identified 88 users with more than 10,000 followers posting QAnon conspiracy theories on the platform, and Donald Trump reposted messages from some of these accounts 65 times.

NASA delayed its moon mission test flight due to an issue with one of the rocket’s engines.

Is Ikea tech? It is now.

Have you ever wanted to turn your living room into a field of flowers for a midday walk, or visualize the music coming out of your speaker? Ikea’s working on it. Space10, an R&D lab funded by the Swedish furniture giant, is creating a series of futuristic virtual worlds for AR called Everyday Experiments, and some of the lab’s work could “flip the entire business model of Ikea on its head.”

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