Could Californians get paid for data they share with Facebook, Google and others?

California’s governor believes its residents should be compensated for their personal data, which has enriched Facebook, Google and other companies that call the state home.

“California’s consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data,” Gavin Newsom said in his first state of the state address this week.

The governor said he has directed his staff to draft a proposal for a “data dividend,” which has been championed by academics, advocacy groups and people such as Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook. In an op-ed in the Guardian last year, Hughes compared the value of data to the value of labor. He also cited Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, which distributes an equal portion of a tax on oil companies among all the state’s residents, as a possible model for a data dividend.

Details for a data dividend for Californians are scarce, including which companies would be taxed and what data would be included. The governor’s team is working with legislators and national experts on the issue, said Jesse Melgar, a spokesman for Newsom’s office, Friday.

One group that’s working with Newsom’s office is Common Sense, which advocates for children and families on media and technology issues and helped pass California’s first-in-the-nation digital privacy law last year.

Common Sense CEO James Steyer said Friday that the San Francisco-based nonprofit is talking with Newsom’s office, legislators, tech experts and economists as it prepares to back the introduction of legislation for a data dividend.

“It’s not a minor concept,” Steyer said, adding that it could have national and global implications and that he was “heartened” that the governor is taking it on.

While he couldn’t yet share specifics of the legislation that he said will be introduced in the next week or two — or the lawmakers involved — Steyer said …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Trump targets money from projects that ‘didn’t sound too important’

By Paul Sonne | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency so he can draw on Pentagon funds for the border wall presents a challenge for the Defense Department, which faces difficult choices about what projects and activities to scrap or delay to free up the more than $6 billion Trump wants to take from the military budget.

Trump intends to draw $3.6 billion from military construction funds and $2.5 billion from a military drug interdiction program to help build 234 miles of new barriers along the border. That military money would be used in addition to the $1.375 billion that Congress included for fencing in a recent bill and some $600 million he wants to pull from a Treasury drug forfeiture fund, for a total of more than $8 billion. A recent study found that the border wall would cost at least $15 billion and as much as $25 billion in total.

The efforts to tap the Pentagon’s budget under emergency powers essentially amount to an end-run around Congress, which traditionally holds the power of the purse in Washington and so far has refused to appropriate the amount of money Trump wants for the wall.

Officials at the Pentagon for weeks have been going through the books to figure out which projects should be discarded or frozen to pay for the wall, should the president tap military funds. In a statement, Navy Capt. Bill Speaks said the department was reviewing options to enable border barrier construction. He said it “would be inappropriate to comment further on those efforts at this time.”

In a news conference at the White House on Friday, Trump brushed off the possibility that the funds he plans to take from the Pentagon budget would prevent members of the armed forces from receiving the technology …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


No trade deal yet, but Mnuchin calls talks ‘productive’

By David J. Lynch and Anna Fifield | Washington Post

BEIJING – Trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing this week were “productive,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted on Friday, but there was no indication that the two sides had managed to broker an end to their protracted trade war.

A White House statement said the talks had seen “progress between the two parties,” but “much work remains.”

The two governments have agreed to continue negotiating next week in Washington, aiming for what the White House described as “a memoranda of understanding” that will formalize their commitments.

Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the chief U.S. negotiator, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the end of the talks, before heading to the airport.

“I have said many times that China and the United States are inseparable from each other. Cooperation serves the interests of the two sides and conflict can only hurt both,” he said, according to an account of the meeting from state broadcaster CCTV. “The consultations between the two teams have made important progress.”

In Washington, analysts say the talks are likely to continue past the March 1 deadline that Trump set for a resolution of U.S. complaints about Chinese trade practices. If no deal is reached, the current 10 percent tariff will rise to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The president earlier this week said that he might let the deadline “slide for a little while” if progress were being made. Trump also has said that a final settlement won’t be possible until he meets with Xi, which some analysts made it less likely that Chinese negotiators would make concessions before then.

“You have to wonder is all of the positive talk just a way to manage expectations and the stock market when everyone knows this won’t …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Silicon Valley economy offers mix of great, bad, and ugly: report

SAN JOSE — Silicon Valley’s economic boom has created a huge number of jobs and propelled regional wages to double the national level — but has also set in motion a housing crisis, brutal commutes and income disparity — according to an economic report formally presented at a conference on Friday.

The 2019 Silicon Valley Index unveiled by Joint Venture Silicon Valley was described as a mix of tremendous upsides and troublesome downsides, prompting Joint Venture president Russell Hancock to quip that the report could be viewed as a the classic ink-blot psychological exam whose interpretations vary dramatically.

“This year’s index is like a Rorschach test,” Hancock said during a speech to present the annual economic survey. “It’s possible to be upbeat or to be downcast because of it. We can look at it both ways. Silicon Valley is a very complex place.”

Yet the region also remains a beehive of cutting-edge breakthroughs poised to dramatically alter the way people live, work and play, according to speakers at the annual event, held Friday in downtown San Jose at the city’s convention center.

“Silicon Valley is a unique place where extraordinary things happen,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in comments to kick off the presentation of the Joint Venture report. “The economy here is based on technology and fueled by innovation.”

The jobless rate in Silicon Valley has improved to an 18-year low, the report determined. The report defined Silicon Valley as Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco, the Fremont-Newark area of southern Alameda County and the northern Santa Cruz section of Scotts Valley.

The jobless rate recorded in May 2018 for the region was 2.15 percent. The only time the unemployment rate was lower was December 1999, when the rate was 1.97 percent, according to the report.

In 2018, Silicon Valley added 35,600 jobs, …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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