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Tim Berners-Lee

Good morning! This Tuesday, tech is all over Biden's transition team, Tim Berners-Lee's new company is selling products, and Apple's about to launch some new Macs.

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The Big Story

Silicon Valley is all over Biden's transition team

Anna Kramer writes: In the theater of presidential politics, tech just upgraded from the balcony to box seats. Though much of the Biden transition team has yet to be announced (and rumors abound, like that one about Eric Schmidt becoming tech's guy in the White House), we've already got three big names sliding in from Apple, Facebook and Twitter.

Here's what you need to know about each:

  • Jessica Hertz: The former Facebook attorney will manage the transition team's ethics questions, which has already upset just about everyone who has ever said the words "Facebook" and "ethics" in the same sentence. Hertz joined Facebook's regulatory team a little over two years ago — when all those fights about antitrust and privacy really started to take off — and rose through the ranks, becoming the director and associate general counsel for the company's regulatory team. She first established her ties to Biden during his years as vice president, when she served as his principal deputy counsel.
  • Cynthia Hogan: Apple's former chief lobbyist has been part of Biden's orbit since she served as his chief legal counsel during his time as a senator, and then again when he became vice president. She left his office for a brief stint with the NFL before joining Apple in 2016, where she spent the last four years. Hogan is well-liked in D.C., and she helped select Kamala Harris as Biden's running mate. She's also obviously tapped into all of the antitrust conversations, which could mean she helps plot the Biden administration's position on those questions.
  • Carlos Monje: Twitter's public policy chief left his post to join the transition team, though it's unclear what his role may be. He brings experience from 2016, when he helped craft the Clinton-Kaine plan. He was also involved with Obama's campaigns, and became an assistant secretary at the Department of Transportation under Obama.

Many more tech insiders will probably be announced this week, and I'd hang my hat on there being at least one big name from Harris' orbit. Biden's administration surely has some fights in store for the tech industry, but it looks like it will also try to foster a more productive private-public relationship than in recent years. Let's see.

Security

Flipping data security on its head

In the long run, Inrupt CEO John Bruce told me, he wants to basically change everything about the internet. Or, at least, how user data moves around it.

  • He and Tim Berners-Lee have been working for a couple of years on Solid, a technology that gives users control over their data and lets them parcel it out to sites and platforms that need it. That's where this all goes, if they're right.

In the interim, Inrupt is now offering its first Solid product: an enterprise-grade server that makes that new data relationship possible. "If you're in the business of servicing customers," Bruce said, "unfortunately, the way the world works today, you have to take data to do it." But he thinks most companies don't want to store that data. And he hopes they won't have to for long.

  • The idea is the same in every case, Bruce said: "You don't have to be expert in security and privacy and all the other things you have to do to sell somebody a pair of shoes. You could forgo all that and specialize in what your core competency is."
  • Inrupt is already working with the NHS in the U.K., and companies like BT and NatWest Bank. Bruce said he's working with health care companies, too, and that he'd just gotten off the phone with "I think the world's largest credit card company."

Inrupt's most interesting pilot project is with the government of Flanders in Belgium, which Bruce said is rolling out Solid to more than 6.5 million people. "It'll be the way they interface with all the government services," he said. "It'll be where you keep your deaths, birth/marriage certificates, how you get your health data, how you apply for government services, how you get your pension." That's forcing Inrupt to move faster, and it's also giving it valuable data about how people interact with its new idea.

  • And the idea's bigger still, said Bruce: "Tim's vision is all applications, all data, at all times. We're not there, but it's a good halfway house."

You Tell Us

Are you excited about Apple-powered Macs?

Apple's "One More Thing" event is today, and we're almost certainly going to see Apple's first crack at a Mac lineup powered by the company's own chips.

But the real question is: So what? "It's faster!" isn't going to matter much to most people; neither will "Intel bad, Apple good."

  • To me, the hook for these Macs will be that they run iOS apps. (It'll be interesting to see how Apple explains the roadmap for that, and what it asks developers to do.)

What about you? Are you curious about/interested in/already refreshing pre-order pages for the new Macs? Tell me why! Reply to this email or send a note to david@protocol.com.

A MESSAGE FROM MASTERCARD

Mastercard

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People Are Talking

Zoom lied about its encryption for years, the FTC alleges:

  • "Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers' meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised."

Believe it or not, the PS5 could have been even bigger, Sony's Yujin Morisawa said:

  • "When I started drawing, it was much larger even though I didn't know what engineering was going to do. It's kind of funny that engineering actually told me it's too big."

Jim Bridenstine is stepping down as NASA administrator because he doesn't want to work for Joe Biden:

  • "Whoever the president is, they have to have somebody they know and trust and somebody the administration trusts. That person is not going to be me."

IBM's Arvind Krishna told Biden that he's ready to help cure COVID-19:

  • "As you know, artificial intelligence systems can play a key role in helping doctors to treat cancer and other illnesses. We therefore suggest that your Administration consider creating a National Research Cloud for AI that would provide the American scientific research community with access to AI tools from both the public and private sector."

Making Moves

The Boring Company is hiring in Austin. In case you're up for some tunnel-digging and transportation-inventing.

Eric Schmidt is moving to Cyprus. Well, not really moving, but he's applied for citizenship in the country, which would allow him to move about the EU.

GM is hiring 3,000 new software engineers and designers, in an attempt to make the car company significantly more tech-focused.

Rajeev Misra and Marcelo Claure are off SoftBank's board. Masa Son said the move gives more power to the board's independent directors, rather than those who oversee its portfolio. The company is also thinking about moving the Vision Fund's HQ from London to Abu Dhabi, the Financial Times reports.

In Other News

  • The EU will announce antitrust charges against Amazon today, according to the Financial Times. The case reportedly focuses on concerns that Amazon uses merchants' data to compete against them. In other antitrust news, India's competition commission ordered an investigation into the Play Store's Google Pay requirements, and China published draft anti-monopoly rules that could hit ecommerce sites and payment apps.
  • Huawei is selling its Honor business for $15.2 billion, Reuters reports, to a consortium that includes Digital China and the Shenzhen government. The new owners reportedly plan to float the business within three years.
  • On Protocol: Facebook and Google are blocking ads for the Georgia senate runoffs. Democrats say the policy, a side effect of the platforms' total political ad ban following Election Day, is costing their candidates critical days for both fundraising and getting the word out about the races.
  • Facebook took down a network of Steve Bannon-linked pages, which it said were using inauthentic behavior to push election disinformation. Bannon's page is still up, though.
  • Adobe's marketing push continues: It bought Workfront, a work management platform for marketing teams, for $1.5 billion.
  • Compal was reportedly hit by a ransomware attack. The world's second-biggest contract laptop manufacturer admits it was hacked, but denies it was ransomware. If it was ransomware, that'd be the third major attack on a Taiwanese plant this year.

One More Thing

The internet's hottest new club ...

… is Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Coopertom recreated the Trump campaign's bizarre press conference locale in VRChat and held a furry party outside. Coming next to the virtual party strip, apparently: the crematorium and sex shop that are next door to the real Four Seasons Total Landscaping.

A MESSAGE FROM MASTERCARD

Mastercard

Register and tune in today for the inaugural City Possible Summit, pioneered by Mastercard. Join us for a discussion on the people centric path to inclusive communities. The Summit begins today, November 10th, and will continue until November13th.

Register now

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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