Andrew Yang backs California’s data privacy campaign

"Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use," Yang said.

Andrew Yang

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang speaks during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019.

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
  • In November, Californians will vote to pass Proposition 24, which aims to expand data privacy laws in the state.
  • Proposition 24 aims to strengthen the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect this year.
  • However, some privacy advocates say Proposition 24 doesn't go far enough, and in some cases actually erodes the CCPA.

To get an idea of where the U.S. data privacy movement is heading, look to California.

In January, California established the nation's most comprehensive set of state data privacy laws when its Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. The law enabled Californians to discover what types of personal information businesses were collecting, to request that companies delete personal data, and to opt-out of its sale.

But some privacy advocates say the CCPA doesn't offer enough protection. On Monday, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang publicly supported Proposition 24, a measure on the November ballot that aims to strengthen the CCPA.

"The California Consumer Privacy Act was a major win for the state of California and the country, but we have to do more," Yang said in a statement. "Technology is changing more rapidly than ever before, and tech corporations are already lining up to undermine the CCPA. It's up to us to protect consumers and strengthen our privacy rights to global standards. Our data should be ours no matter what platforms and apps we use."

Proposition 24 would broaden the CCPA by allowing Californians to opt-out of data collection from businesses; making it harder for businesses to use "sensitive data" about things like race, sexual orientation, and finances for advertising; and creating a new agency that would enforce the state's privacy laws, among other amendments.

Critiques of Prop. 24

Still, some advocates say even these additions to the CCPA don't go far enough, including organizations like the ACLU of California, the Consumer Federation of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Calling it a "mixed bag of partial steps backwards and forwards," the EFF said it wouldn't support Proposition 24 because (to name a few reasons) it:

  • Would expand "pay for privacy" schemes by allowing a company to withhold discounts unless consumers in loyalty clubs allow it to harvest certain data. This could lead to a society of privacy "haves" and "have-nots," wrote the EFF.
  • Fails to establish an "opt-in" model of data collection. Under the CCPA, consumers have to opt-out of collection, which places the burden on consumers to protect privacy. "Privacy should be the default," the EFF wrote.
  • Would expand the power of companies to refuse a consumer's request to delete their data.
Andrew YangPresidential Candidate Andrew Yang Campaigns In New Hampshire Ahead Of Primary

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

As for Yang? It's unclear what the former presidential hopeful, whose campaign was based in part on data privacy, thinks of these critiques. But in a recent interview with KSRO, Yang said the U.S. lags far behind European nations in terms of data privacy laws, and that Proposition 24 would be a huge step towards our data dignity. He added that other states beyond California would likely follow suit if the proposal passes.

The Data Dividend Project

Yang is also spearheading the Data Dividend Project, a "movement dedicated to establishing and enforcing data property rights and to getting you compensated when companies monetize your data." The project, which operates under the laws established by the CCPA, aims to tax tech companies when they use consumer data, and to support new data privacy legislation across the country. (Some critics have questioned the efficacy of the project.)

In an op-ed about his data dividend proposal published in the Los Angeles Times, Yang wrote:

"If Congress and other states adopt legislation like the CCPA, millions more would be able to band together with even greater bargaining power to hold tech companies accountable and, ultimately, demand that they share some of the revenue generated from consumers' personal data."

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

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  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
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