Ancestry firms have DNA on 26 million people, allowing researchers to analyze almost everyone’s data

More than 26 million people — more people than all of Australia — have shared their DNA with one of the four leading ancestry and health databases, and that has some researchers worried, according to the MIT Technology Review.
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Australia Unemployment Data Due On Thursday

Australia will on Thursday release unemployment figures for December, highlighting a modest day for Asia-Pacific economic activity.
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Congo court upholds Felix Tshisekedi’s election win despite leaked data that suggests results were rigged

Opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, immediately declared himself president and said the court’s decision was “nothing more than a constitutional coup” while calling for “peaceful protests.”
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China’s foreign direct investment into the US dropped precipitously in 2018, data show

Trade tensions, along with pressure on companies from Beijing, have caused a decline in Chinese direct investment into the United States. Still, Chinese home purchases and venture capital funding continue to grow.
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Data Sheet—Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, China Edition

This is the web version of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.

Was it only last year that wags at the annual gadget-fest in Las Vegas joked that what CES really stands for is the “Chinese Electronics Show“? This year, Chinese companies at the sprawling event are lying low. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reports that the number of Chinese vendors registered to exhibit this week at CES totaled 1,211, a 20% decline from the 1,551 Chinese vendors who signed up in 2018.

Chinese companies still account for more than a quarter of the conference’s exhibitors, and are outnumbered only by firms from the United States. CES organizers said the smaller number of Chinese firms participating this year reflects a decision to allocate more space to larger vendors, not a Chinese retreat. Many of the big Chinese tech firms–including Alibaba, Baidu, DJI, JD.com, and Lenovo–increased their presence at this year’s show. Even so, in the global tech press, the general consensus is that Chinese exhibits are not only fewer in number but feel far less exuberant this year than last.

China’s subdued presence at CES has been widely ascribed to the U.S.-China trade war. Huawei Technologies, whose CEO delivered a rousing CES keynote last year, has a large booth at this year’s show. But this year, with its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou detained in Vancouver and awaiting extradition to the U.S. on charges of financial fraud, the world’s largest telecoms manufacturer kept senior executives at home. Other notable Vegas no-shows include ZTE, which was almost tipped into bankruptcy last year by U.S. penalties for its lax compliance with export sanctions against Iran, and Xiaomi, whose stock price has plunged far below last year’s IPO.

Concerns about friction between the U.S and China cast a pall over Apple too last week as CEO Tim Cook blamed a sluggish Chinese economy and “rising trade tensions with the United States” for a sharp downward revision in the company’s first quarter profit estimate. But Cook’s assertion drew immediate criticism from analysts and customers in China who argued that Apple’s real problem is that its new phones are overpriced and haven’t kept pace with the innovations offered by domestic competitors. Many have noted that Apple has lagged Chinese rivals like Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo in rolling out high-performance cameras, dual SIM card capability, and other features.

In Shanghai, meanwhile, Elon Musk defied the China gloom by breaking ground on a new, $ 5 billion Gigafactory on the outskirts of that city. Musk says Tesla expects to complete construction of the factory in summer, begin producing Model 3 vehicles for the China market by year-end, and shift to “high volume production” of as many as 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020. The factory is a huge coup for Musk. Producing vehicles in China will spare Tesla the expense of import tariffs and shipping to a crucial market; China is, by far, the world’s largest market for electric vehicles. Tesla is the first U.S. auto manufacturer to take advantage of a new change in Chinese investment rules allowing foreign carmakers to have full ownership of Chinese plants, meaning the company won’t have to share profits and technology with a local partner.

And yet, like Apple, Tesla will face stiff competition from nimble domestic players including BYD, NIO, Xpeng, and Geely. Winning in China will require every ounce of Musk’s entrepreneurial genius.

Clay Chandler
@claychandler
clay.chandler@timeinc.com

NEWSWORTHY

Lagging indicator. It’s been a tough year so far for Apple, but shed no tears for CEO Tim Cook. Thanks to the boffo performance of the company in its prior fiscal year, Cook’s pay rose 22% to almost $ 16 million. Bloomberg points out that he also got $ 121 million from vesting a portion of a 2011 10-year stock grant. Cook was out earning his keep on Tuesday, telling CNBC’s Jim Cramer that everything’s fine. “When I look at the long-term health of the company, it has never been better,” Cook said. “The product pipeline has never been better. The ecosystem has never been stronger. The services are on a tear.”

Isn’t it ironic? On the subject of tech giant CEOs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg revealed his annual personal improvement goal: promoting conversations about how technology is affecting society. “Every few weeks I’ll talk with leaders, experts, and people in our community from different fields and I’ll try different formats to keep it interesting,” Zuck writes. “These will all be public, either on my Facebook or Instagram pages or on other media.”

Feed them on your dreams. The country of Finland wants to make sure it stays relevant as technology advances. So a recent initiative is aiming to teach 1% of the population, or about 55,000 people, the basics of artificial intelligence in a free course. The idea is not create more coders, but to help people in different fields realize how they could apply A.I. in their fields.

But does it have an Infinite Improbability Drive? Most of the new products unveiled at CES are for consumers, but IBM is showing off its new quantum computer dubbed The Q System One. The finicky calculator, which should be able to crunch massive amounts of data, has to be kept in a super-chilled container and encased in half-inch-thick borosilicate glass. It also looks super cool.

Please, sir, may I have some more? It was the previous CEO of Verizon who bought what was left of AOL and Yahoo and combined them into Oath. Current CEO Hans Vestberg has been slowly moving away from the bet on digital advertising. On Tuesday, ahead of a speech at CES, Vestberg told Axios that the units will “need to survive on their merits” and won’t get access to the carrier’s extensive data about its phone customers.

Pretty soon you’re gonna suffer from fistaphobia. Speaking of data the carriers collect, are you worried about marketers tracking your location via smartphone? That’s not the half of it. A reporter for Motherboard paid a “bounty hunter” a few hundred dollars for real-time location tracking of his phone with data that originated from carriers T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. The data is apparently sold through legitimate data partners of the networks, who say the practice violates their terms of service.

Unskippable. As cord-cutting continues apace, Internet video service Hulu says it grew almost 50% last year to 25 million subscribers. Ad revenue hit $ 1.5 billion, though the private company is believed to operate deeply in the red.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

A few years ago, a survey by Princeton Professor Alan Krueger and Harvard Professor Lawrence Katz made headlines with its claim that 5% of workers were in more independent and non-traditional jobs like Uber drivers and Airbnb hosts, representing the future of work. But more detailed surveys of the workforce have since revealed that the so-called gig economy is much smaller, probably less than 2% of workers. The Wall Street Journal‘s Josh Zumbrun explains how the two economists got things so wrong.

“After sifting through the new evidence,” Mr. Krueger said, “Larry Katz and I now conclude that there was a modest rise in the share of the workforce in nontraditional jobs over the last decade–probably on the order of one to 2 percentage points, instead of the five percentage point rise we originally reported.”

BEFORE YOU GO

This is an odd one and it comes courtesy of blogger Jason Kottke. Bird watcher Nicholas Lund has found an entirely new and untrammeled locale to practice his hobby: inside the video game Red Dead Redemption 2. He’s even posted a “field list” on the Audubon Society’s web site listing the almost 60 birds he saw in the game, everything from the Yellow-Billed Loon to a Great Horned Owl. “My mom always used to tell me to stop playing video games and go outside, but this is the first game that made me want to,” Lund writes.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

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Nielsen backs up Netflix’s big ‘Bird Box’ viewer claims with seriously impressive data

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It looks like Bird Box is the massive hit that Netflix says it is.

Nielsen, which measures viewer ratings of television shows and now some streaming services, backed up Netflix’s bold claims about Bird Box‘s popularity, Variety reported Tuesday. Within the first seven days of its release on Netflix, Nielsen reports that it was watched by 26 million viewers in the U.S. alone.

Netflix reported that in that seven day span, Bird Box had been viewed by 45 million accounts around the globe. Unfortunately Nielsen only looks at U.S. data for Netflix, so we can’t fully confirm Netflix’s claim, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable given the U.S. numbers. Read more…

More about Movies, Netflix, Nielsen, Bird Box, and Entertainment


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Strong Jobs Data, Powell Comments Lead To Rally On Wall Street – U.S. Commentary

Stocks showed a substantial move to the upside over the course of the trading day on Friday, more than offsetting the sharp pullback seen in the previous session. The major averages all moved significantly higher, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way.
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German politicians’ data reportedly hacked, except for far-right party

BERLIN — Data and documents belonging to hundreds of German politicians have been hacked and posted online via Twitter, a German broadcaster reported Friday. The leak, which saw the data posted in daily batches before Christmas on a Twitter account that has been active since mid-2017, affects all parties in parliament except the far-right Alternative…
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Shutdown won’t stop key jobs report or CPI, but other data could be impacted

The partial government shutdown will have some impact on the release of market-moving economic data, though the biggest reports likely won't be affected.
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Washington, D.C. sues Facebook over Cambridge Analytica’s data use

The attorney general for Washington, D.C. said on Wednesday the nation’s capital city had sued Facebook over the scandal that broke earlier this year involving Cambridge Analytica’s use of data from the social-media giant.


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New Zealand Food Price Data Due On Thursday

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Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveals

Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun deaths in 38 years, according to a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WONDER database.


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Australia Trade Data Due On Thursday

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New data suggests people eat too much or not enough — and its costing trillions of dollars per year

According to the newly released Global Nutrition Report, malnutrition and obesity are costly problems worldwide. 
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Japan Inflation Data Due On Thursday

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Facebook reports steep rise in data requests from Indian government

NEW DELHI — Facebook says there was a steep rise in data requests from India’s government in the first half of this year as compared to the previous two years. The company said in a report released Friday that it received 16,580 data requests from the government in the January-June period as compared to 22,024…
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Health privacy advocates worry DeepMind will break its promise not to share health data with Google

DeepMind Health says that it will be absorbed into Google Health, but it still won't be sharing patient health information with its parent company. Its critics remain concerned.
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China Inflation Data Due On Friday

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Japan Core Machine Order Data Due On Thursday

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Sen. Wyden Proposed a CEO-Felling Data Privacy Law. Is Big Tech Ready for It?

Consumers who have clamored for data privacy reform since Equifax’s ransacking and, more recently, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle have cause to celebrate.

On Thursday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a prominent privacy hawk, unveiled a draft bill that seeks to slap harsher penalties on companies–and chief executive officers–who run afoul of new rules that expand government oversight of the tech industry. The Consumer Data Privacy Act, as the bill is tentatively named, takes its cue from Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation, or GDPR, which can fine companies up to 4% of their global, annual revenues for infractions. But Wyden’s bill goes even further; in addition to that penalty, the proposed law would jail chief execs up to 20 years with individual fines reaching as high as $ 5 million for CEOs who knowingly mislead regulators.

If GDPR has teeth, Wyden’s proposal has fangs–set on the jugulars of corporate heads. The proposed law would require big firms–ones with revenues exceeding $ 1 billion or ones that store data on more than 50 million consumers or their devices–to submit “annual data protection reports” to the government that lay out their data-securing practices. It would force companies to comply with “do not track” policies while offering alternative payment options to consumers, such as subscription fees instead of ad-supported “free” models. And it would boost the power of the Federal Trade Commission, adding a tech-focused division with a broader mandate alongside an arsenal of stronger enforcement actions.

Lindsey Barrett, an attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Communications & Technology Clinic within the school’s Institute for Public Representation, commented on Twitter that the proposed legislation “injects sorely needed accountability into our equif*cked information ecosystem.” Wyden’s own statement was a little more sanitized: “It’s time for some sunshine on this shadowy network of information sharing,” he said.

But the proposed reform isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Jake Williams, an alumnus of the National Security Agency who has since cofounded Rendition InfoSec, a cybersecurity consulting shop, said he doubts the bill will pass. “Even if it does, it won’t mean what you might think. It won’t create a SOX style environment around cyber. Sorry,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to Sarbanes-Oxley, a 2002 financial reform enacted in the wake of the Enron scandal to prevent similar accounting blowups.

The main thrust of Williams’ criticism is that the proposed law will box in cybersecurity practitioners and will subjugate and constrain an industry that is still finding its feet. The bill effectively grants corporate governance, risk, and compliance departments the right to “rule infosec,” Williams warned. If it passes into law, it will likely lead to licensing requirements within the cybersecurity industry, akin to the hoops people must jump through to become certified public accountants, he said. “Professional licensure is not good for a profession this young,” he said.

Data privacy reform is long overdue, but this bill presents questions. Is Big Tech–and its CEOs–ready to face the formalized wrath of guillotine-thirsting regulators? Does the bill unfairly target CEOs, leaving other C-Suite executives and board members off the hook? Could companies end up shoving the blame onto scapegoat CEOs of subsidiary businesses? And finally, as Williams noted, is the cybersecurity industry really ready to grow up and professionalize, accepting all the responsibility and regulatory constrictions that entails?

Be careful what you wish for.

A version of this article first appeared in Cyber Saturday, the weekend edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter Data Sheet. Sign up here.

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The fuzzy math of October’s ‘new jobs’ data

I think the employment report Friday will be stronger than the “experts” expect. I always put the word “expert” in quotes when it comes to the jobs report because nobody is an expert. Everyone is a guess-pert. Me too. Only I think I know a secret regarding this job report, which is crucial because it…
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Housing stocks get hit hard amid weak data and worries on Wall Street about rising interest rates

Housing stocks fall broadly after analysts at Credit Suisse lowered their ratings and price targets on several companies in the sector.
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Exclusive: U.S. senators urge India to soften data localization stance

Two U.S. senators have called on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to soften India’s stance on data localization, warning that measures requiring it represent “key trade barriers” between the two nations.


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Big Brother or Best Friend? Your Views on Data Could Snag a $5K Scholarship

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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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Google Exposed User Data, Feared Repercussions of Disclosing to Public

Google exposed the private data of hundreds of thousands of users of the Google+ social network, though it didn’t find evidence of misuse. The company opted not to disclose the issue this past spring, in part because of fears doing so would draw regulatory scrutiny.
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New YouTube tools will collect data for advertisers

YouTube is looking for a bigger piece of the advertising pie — and that means collecting more of your data. With hundreds of billions of dollars up for grabs, the Alphabet-owned video site is slated to announce Monday that it’s rolling out new tools to help advertisers better reach customers. One new feature will allow…
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