Silicon Valley’s congressman introduced a bold—if still unimaginable—internet bill of rights

It’s easy to tear down bold declarations of principles. It’s also worth stepping back to admire the chutzpah of what Ro Khanna, the Democratic representative from the heart of Silicon Valley, proposed for the US on Oct. 4.

Khanna’s Internet Bill of Rights, drafted at the behest of Congressional minority leader Nancy Pelosi and endorsed by the creator of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee, would enshrine sweeping new rights and reshape America’s relationship with technology. More than a dozen groups, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and non-profits such as Free Press, weighed in, as well as Obama Administration officials who crafted an early proposal in 2015.

The proposal is below. If enacted, it would entrust people with ownership of their own data, force companies to relinquish it when warranted, and ensure personal data is neither abused nor mishandled. Companies would need to secure permission to collect and share data about you.

The implications are enormous. Data portability, for example, would allow anyone to transfer their social graph to new competitors, one of the central proposals by activists studying how to break Facebook’s hold over social media. The prohibition on exploiting personal data, and requiring consent for its collection, meant the Equifax fiasco might have played out quite differently, and could transform how Google operates.

Don’t expect this to happen anytime soon, of course. “This is a 15-year fight, but I do not think tech is immediately primed against it and Congress is more willing to be strong on regulation,” Khanna told The New York Times (paywall). “Tech is amoral—it is great in many ways but not as great in others, and they need to now spend the next 10 years thinking about how they shape that tech for public good.”

Under the proposed principles, you should have the right:

(1)       to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies;

(2)       to opt-in consent to the collection of personal data by any party and to the sharing of personal data with a third party;

(3)       where context appropriate and with a fair process, to obtain, correct, or delete personal data controlled by any company and to have those requests honored by third parties;

(4)       to have personal data secured and to be notified in a timely manner when a security breach or unauthorized access of personal data is discovered;

(5)       to move all personal data from one network to the next;

(6)       to access and use the internet without internet service providers blocking, throttling, engaging in paid prioritization, or otherwise unfairly favoring content, applications, services, or devices;

(7)       to internet service without the collection of data that is unnecessary for providing the requested service absent opt-in consent;

(8)       to have access to multiple viable, affordable internet platforms, services, and providers with clear and transparent pricing;

(9)       not to be unfairly discriminated against or exploited based on your personal data; and

(10)   to have an entity that collects your personal data have reasonable business practices and accountability to protect your privacy.

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Gecko inundates people with phone calls at Kailua-Kona animal hospital

KAILUA-KONA (KHON2) – Something mysterious happened at a monk seal hospital in Kailua-Kona this week, leaving many people confused.

Dr. Claire Simeone of Ke Kai Ola Marine Mammal Center was on her lunch break when she started getting inundated with calls from work. 

“I picked [my phone] up and it was silence, but it was coming from our hospital Ke Kai Ola,” Dr. Simeone said. 

Worried it was a monk seal emergency, she rushed back to work. 

“When I got there, everyone was relaxed and I said, ‘Why have you been calling me so much?’ and they said ‘We haven’t been calling you,” she said. 

She says people began calling the hospital asking why the hospital kept calling them. 

“I called Hawaiian Telcom and talked to them, they said maybe it’s a problem from one of the phones, something shorting out and they’re all coming from this line but they didn’t know which one,” she said. 

Dr. Simeone said it wasn’t coming from the office or the main hospital room, so she went to check the laboratory.

“And I saw there was a gecko on the touch screen making calls,” she said laughing. 

She tells us the gecko was in the middle of a phone call when she walked in.

“He called everyone on our recent calls list,” she added. 

As for catching the culprit?

“He was super fast, but he was able to be located and he’s on a plant outside,” she said. 

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Ford, an Automaker at a Crossroads, Seeks Cuts and Partners

DEARBORN, Mich. — When Ford Motor was celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Rouge industrial complex last week, its chairman, William C. Ford Jr., offered an optimistic outlook for the years ahead.

The company is still solidly profitable, he said, and while it is losing money overseas, it is working on a solution. Furthermore, he praised the ability and leadership of Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, who he said was doing “a really good job.”

“I don’t think it’s even close to a crisis,” he said.

Not everyone shares his confidence.

The automaker’s bottom line is weakening despite record sales of its pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles. In August, its credit rating was cut to one level above junk status. And Ford’s stock price has fallen to its lowest point since 2009, when the United States economy was in a deep recession.

“The foundation of Ford — the trucks — is still healthy, but there are concerns about whether Ford has prepared for tomorrow and the future,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of the auto information providers Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. “Ford hasn’t been effective enough in convincing investors that they are.”

In the latest move to cut costs, Ford is reorganizing its worldwide salaried work force of 70,000 with the goal of having a leaner staff by the second quarter of 2019. The move, outlined to employees on Thursday, is likely to eliminate several thousand jobs, said Karen Hampton, a company spokeswoman.

“We believe there will be reductions as part of it, but we don’t have specific targets,” Ms. Hampton said. She said the reorganization was meant to speed decision-making and cut the time it takes to develop new vehicles, two points that Mr. Hackett has emphasized.

The effort was first reported by The Detroit Free Press.

Part of the frustration among those sizing up the company stems from Mr. Hackett’s slow rollout of a recovery plan. Since taking the helm in May 2017, Mr. Hackett has outlined broad cost-reduction goals, but has stopped short of explaining how they will be achieved. Ford once planned a daylong meeting with Wall Street analysts on Sept. 25, but canceled it in July, saying it needed more time.

Elements of the plan are emerging bit by bit. Beyond the reduction in the salaried work force, another initiative involves partnerships.

Ford is in talks with Volkswagen about a broad alliance that could help turn around its ailing operations in Europe and South America. It is also discussing ways to expand cooperation with Mahindra, the Indian automaker. India is another market where Ford is struggling.

Mr. Ford, a great-grandson of the company’s founder, Henry Ford, acknowledged the discussions at the Rouge complex, now the site of a plant that produces the F-150 pickup.

“We don’t ever rely on a partner to fix things for us,” he said. “We have to get our own house in order first. Partnerships can help with capital intensity and things like that.”

Analysts said a partnership with Volkswagen could help both companies. Ford makes money on delivery vans and other small trucks, an area where Volkswagen struggles. The cooperation could involve helping Volkswagen produce small pickups like the Ford Ranger and sharing the cost of developing electric vehicles and other technologies to meet more stringent emissions regulations in Europe.

“Volkswagen is definitely intriguing,” said Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital. “You can definitely see the business logic behind it.”

A century ago, Ford revolutionized auto manufacturing when it opened the Rouge complex. A marvel in its time, it produced cars and all their parts, including glass, tires and engines. It generated its own electricity, had a hospital and police station and employed as many as 100,000 workers. This vertical integration helped Ford lower costs enough to produce cars that ordinary people could afford.

Today, Ford must again find ways to cut costs. In July, Mr. Hackett said his restructuring plan could involve charges of $11 billion over the next three to five years. That news arrived as Ford reported net income declined by nearly half to $1.1 billion in the second quarter.

The urgency was highlighted last week when Mr. Hackett said on Bloomberg television that the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported aluminum and steel would raise Ford’s costs by $1 billion. The company said the costs would be incurred in 2018 and 2019.

The tariffs could erode the profit margins of the F-150, which has aluminum body panels. But Mr. Ford said the automaker had taken the tariffs into account and did not need to modify its turnaround plan.

“We just want to work with the administration on trade issues, tariff issues, and they’ve been quite good about it,” he said. But Ford “runs a lot better when we have certainty and we don’t have big gyrations,” he added. “Our business is at its best when we have certainty with tax regimes, trade regimes.”

Another trade move by the administration was welcomed by Ford — the agreement that keeps Canada in a three-nation trade zone in North America. Ford makes trucks and sport utility vehicles in Ontario.

Just two years ago, Ford seemed like the healthiest of the three Detroit automakers. But while it makes a solid profit on trucks and S.U.V.s like the Explorer, recent earnings reports have shown it losing money on its cars. At the same time, profit has plunged in Europe and Asia, efforts to turn around its South American business have shown little progress, and returns in North America, by far Ford’s largest region, have slumped.

“The problem is they didn’t update and redesign their products enough,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader. “It comes back to being slow on product decisions and product development.”

Now Ford’s lineup faces a radical revamping. In April, the company said it would stop making sedans for the United States market to shore up profits. Within a year or two, familiar models like the Fusion, Focus, Fiesta and Taurus will disappear from showrooms. In their place, Ford is planning new S.U.V.s, truck variants and electric vehicles.

Mr. Hackett has talked about how Ford will make decisions and develop vehicles faster — or increase the company’s “clock speed,” as he terms it. Ford announced in June that it had purchased Detroit’s crumbling train station and intended to make it the base of some 2,000 employees working on businesses related to self-driving cars — an effort Mr. Hackett was running when he was called on to replace Mark Fields as chief executive.

But his reluctance to spell out the elements of his restructuring plan has rankled analysts who follow the company and try to predict how much money it will make.

Mr. Hackett was hailed for his previous tenure as chief executive — at the office-furniture company Steelcase — but he is facing a tougher challenge in running Ford, a much larger company with 200,000 employees and dozens of plants around the world.

“We’d like him to be crisper in going from high-level statements into the actionable plans they are going to carry out,” Mr. Johnson of Barclays Capital said.

The tension was evident in a July conference call when Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley expressed frustration at the lack of detail on what the $11 billion in charges will cover. He asked Mr. Hackett if he would still be around when it came time to assess the results.

“I think there should be zero question about that,” Mr. Hackett replied.

In the meantime, plenty of questions remain.

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‘Despondent’ Musk’s Tesla resembles Lehman, Greenlight’s Einhorn says

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hedge fund manager David Einhorn lambasted Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and its “despondent” Chief Executive Elon Musk on Friday, comparing the electric car company to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, where he had flagged accounting problems several months before its 2008 collapse.

FILE PHOTO: David Einhorn, President of Greenlight Capital, Inc., presents during the 2018 Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“Like Lehman, we think the deception is about to catch up to TSLA,” Einhorn’s firm Greenlight Capital, which has sold Tesla shares short, said in a quarterly investor letter obtained by Reuters. “Elon Musk’s erratic behavior suggests that he sees it the same way.”

Greenlight’s letter came one day after Musk, a longtime critic of short-sellers, appeared to taunt the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by calling it the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” on Twitter.

That came just five days after Musk settled SEC fraud charges, in an accord that lets him remain Tesla’s chief executive but requires he step aside as chairman. A judge has yet to approve the settlement.

Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Its shares were down 7 percent at $262.05 in late afternoon trading.

Greenlight is having a difficult year, with its main fund down 25.7 percent through September, but said its Tesla short position was its second biggest winner in the third quarter.

In an investor presentation in May 2008, four months before Lehman went bankrupt, Einhorn had questioned the investment bank’s accounting, including for real estate, and said it needed to raise large amounts of capital.

Einhorn said Tesla has “many parallels” to Lehman, which he said “threatened short sellers, refused to raise capital (it even bought back stock), and management publicly suggested it would go private.”

“Months later, shareholders, creditors, employees and the global economy paid a big price when management’s reckless behavior led to bankruptcy,” Einhorn said.

He said a big problem for Musk is that Tesla would lose too much money targeting a mass audience by selling its Model 3 at a $35,000 starting price, and yet “can’t bring himself” to cancel the program and refund customer deposits.

“His conduct suggests that he is doing his best to be relieved of his position as CEO to avoid accountability,” Einhorn said.

Musk, for his part, has used Twitter to mock Einhorn, saying on Aug. 1 he would “send Einhorn a box of short shorts to comfort him through this difficult time.”

Greenlight said it also sold its last Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares in August at $228 per share, eight years after buying the iPhone maker at less than one-sixth that price, on growing fear of “Chinese retaliation against America’s trade policies.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Its shares were down 1.4 percent at $224.71 late Friday.

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tom Brown and Marguerita Choy

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JBS sued by Kentucky woman over ground beef in salmonella recall

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A Kentucky woman is suing the U.S. arm of Brazil’s JBS SA, alleging she was hospitalized after consuming ground beef produced by the company that was tainted with Salmonella, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday in Arizona state court.

The lawsuit comes one day after the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that JBS Tolleson Inc was voluntarily pulling 6.5 million pounds of ground beef and other raw beef products that had been shipped to stores across the country. JBS Tolleson is part of JBS USA, the U.S. arm of the world’s largest meatpacking company.

The meat had been processed through JBS’ Arizona plant, the USDA said. The agency later updated the volume of beef products being recalled, to 6.9 million pounds.

JBS USA could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

The complaint, filed in Superior Court of the state of Arizona in Maricopa County, said Dana Raab bought the JBS-produced ground beef from Sam’s Club in September and made meat loaf with some of it before freezing the rest.

Raab later fell ill, tested positive for Salmonella Newport, and was hospitalized for five days due to severe dehydration and a blocked bile duct, the complaint said.

Salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain, and can be fatal to young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

U.S. investigators have identified at least 57 people in 16 states who have become ill due to consuming contaminated ground beef products made from meat traced back to JBS, USDA said.

“I expect that number is going to go up, because one of our clients is from Nevada – and the health department there has told him he is one of more than 200 people they’ve identified as being part of this outbreak,” said attorney William Marler, who is representing Raab.

Officials from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately return calls for comment on Friday.

The USDA had alerted JBS Tolleson Inc’s president Andre Noqueira in 2017 that there were problems at the Arizona plant, according to a USDA document and the Raab lawsuit. Federal inspectors in 2017 accused Noqueira of enabling “egregious” and “inhumane” livestock practices, according to the lawsuit.

“Officials found two ‘mentally incoherent’ cows laying on their side and ‘moaning as if in pain’,” the complaint said. “The inspector asked for the cows to be euthanized but one died in its pen before it could be put down.”

Federal inspectors deferred taking action against the company, according to the USDA document.

(Reporting By P.J. Huffstutter; editing by Caroline Stauffer)

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Bubble trouble? Seltzer maker LaCroix sued over ‘all-natural’ label

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A lawsuit popped open this week in Chicago accuses the popular sparkling water brand LaCroix of lying about its “all-natural” ingredients.

The filing in Cook County, Illinois, circuit court, on Monday against the National Beverage Corporation, LaCroix’s parent company, by the law firm Beaumont Costales LLC on behalf of plaintiff Lenora Rice.

“Much of LaCroix’s popularity stems from the American consumer’s perception that LaCroix water is ‘all natural,’ or otherwise comprised entirely of natural substances,” reads a copy of the complaint obtained by NBC News. “Unfortunately for all parties involved, Defendant’s representations regarding the naturalness of LaCroix water are false.”

Image: LaCroix Sparking Water
LaCroix Sparking Water on display during Hilarity for Charity’s 5th Annual Los Angeles Variety Show: Seth Rogen’s Halloween at Hollywood Palladium on Oct. 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.Randy Shropshire / Getty Images

The lawsuit claims LaCroix uses a number of synthetic ingredients, including ethyl butanoate, limonene, and linalool propionate.

The lawsuit then goes on to claim that the company has not only mislabeled its products, but contains ingredients that are used for other purposes like linalool, which the suit claims is used in insecticides.

All three ingredients are in fact naturally occurring in fruit. Ethyl butanoate is found in natural fruits, including apples and tangerines, according to the chemistry database PubChem maintained by the National Institutes of Health. Linalool and limonene also occur naturally in fruit. They help give citrus peels their distinctive aroma.

In a statement published online, the law firm says it wants LaCroix to relabel its packaging and award damages to customers who bought the beverages thinking it was “all-natural.”

The National Beverage Corporation strongly refuted these allegations in a statement saying they were made “without basis in fact or law.”

“Natural flavors in LaCroix are derived from the natural essence oils from the named fruit used in each of the flavors,” the company wrote, citing the United States Food and Drug Administration’s definition of “natural.”

“There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, those extracted flavors,” seltzer the company said.

The company said it will be seeking damages resulting from the publication of the lawsuit’s allegations.

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