Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google
Anindito Mukherjee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Google said late Friday that it will work to quickly delete location history for people going to abortion sites and other medical sites following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last week.
“Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit,” wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, Google’s senior vice president of core systems and experiences, in a blog post.
Fitzpatrick noted that visits to places like counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics and fertility centers “can be particularly personal.” Google parent Alphabet owns highly popular devices and data services, including Android, Fitbit, Search and Google Maps. That’s become a greater concern since the Supreme Court ruling, because of uncertainty surrounding whether sensitive data could be used to target what is now potentially criminal activity.
Google’s post says, “Fitbit users who have chosen to track their menstrual cycles in the app can currently delete menstruation logs one at a time, and we will be rolling out updates that let users delete multiple logs at once.”
The decision from the nation’s highest court overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent by reversing its original opinion that women have a constitutional right to an abortion. For weeks, Google and other tech companies have avoided answering questions from the media and legislators about their data storage and practices as well as how they will comply with potential law enforcement requests.
Google, which sent an email to employees with resources for its own employees amid the ruling, has also faced questions about its search results in addition to data privacy.
Even before the decision became official, lawmakers called on Google and the Federal Trade Commission to ensure data for online consumers seeking care would be protected in the event that the landmark ruling was overturned.
In May, a group of 42 Democratic lawmakers urged Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a letter to stop collecting and keeping unnecessary or non-aggregated location data that could be used to identify people seeking abortions.
Google’s Friday post didn’t say how it would respond to potential requests from law enforcement. Instead, the company said it would “continue to oppose demands that are overly broad or otherwise legally objectionable.”
Google also said the the responsibility is shared by many institutions.
“Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually,” the post said.
Ford CEO says 65% of U.S. dealers agree to sell EVs
Ford F-150 Lightning trucks manufactured at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn Michigan.
Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.
DETROIT – About 65% of Ford Motor’s dealers have agreed to sell electric vehicles as the company invests billions to expand production and sales of the battery-powered cars and trucks, CEO Jim Farley said Monday.
About 1,920 of Ford’s nearly 3,000 dealers in the U.S. agreed to sell EVs, according to Farley. He said roughly 80% of those dealers opted for the higher level of investment for EVs.
Ford offered its dealers the option to become “EV-certified” under one of two programs — with expected investments of $500,000 or $1.2 million. Dealers in the higher tier, which carries upfront costs of $900,000, receive “elite” certification and be allocated more EVs.
Ford, unlike crosstown rival General Motors, is allowing dealers to opt out of selling EVs and continue to sell the company’s cars. GM has offered buyouts to Buick and Cadillac dealers that don’t want to invest to sell EVs.
Dealers who decided not to invest in EVs may do so when Ford reopens the certification process in 2027.
“We think that the EV adoption in the U.S. will take time, so we wanted to give dealers a chance to come back,” Farley said during an Automotive News conference.
Ford’s plans to sell EVs have been a point of contention since the company split off its all-electric vehicle business earlier this year into a separate division known as Model e. Farley said the automaker and its dealers needed to lower costs, increase profits and deliver better, more consistent customer sales experiences.
Farley on Monday also reiterated that a direct-sales model is estimated to be thousands of dollars cheaper for the automaker than the auto industry’s traditional franchised system.
Wall Street analysts have largely viewed direct-to-consumer sales as a benefit to optimize profit. However, there have been growing pains for Tesla, which uses the sales model, when it comes to servicing its vehicles.
Ford’s current lineup of all-electric vehicles includes the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup, Mustang Mach-E crossover and e-Transit van. The automaker is expected to release a litany of other EVs globally under a plan to invest tens of billion of dollars in the technologies by 2026.
Tim Draper predicts bitcoin will reach $250,000 despite FTX collapse
Tim Draper, founder of Draper Associates, onstage at the Web Summit 2022 tech conference.
Ben McShane | Sportsfile via Getty Images
Venture capitalist Tim Draper thinks bitcoin will hit $250,000 a coin by the middle of 2023, even after a bruising year for the cryptocurrency marked by industry failures and sinking prices.
Draper previously predicted that bitcoin would top $250,000 by the end of 2022, but in early November, at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, he said it would take until June 2023 for this to materialize.
He reaffirmed this position Saturday when asked how he felt about his price call following the collapse of FTX.
“I have extended my prediction by six months. $250k is still my number,” Draper told CNBC via email.
Bitcoin would need to rally nearly 1,400% from its current price of around $17,000 for Draper’s prediction to come true. The cryptocurrency has plunged over 60% since the start of the year.
Digital currencies are in the doldrums as tighter monetary policy from the Fed and a chain reaction of bankruptcies at major industry firms including Terra, Celsius and FTX have put intense pressure on prices.
FTX’s demise has also worsened an already severe liquidity crisis in the industry. Crypto exchange Gemini and lender Genesis are among the firms said to be impacted by the fallout from FTX’s insolvency.
Last week, veteran investor Mark Mobius told CNBC that bitcoin could crash to $10,000 next year, a more than 40% plunge from current prices. The co-founder of Mobius Capital Partners correctly called the drop to $20,000 this year.
Nevertheless, Draper is convinced that bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, is set to rise in the new year.
“I expect a flight to quality and decentralized crypto like bitcoin, and for some of the weaker coins to become relics,” he told CNBC.
In 2014, Draper purchased 29,656 bitcoins confiscated by U.S. Marshals from the Silk Road dark web marketplace for $18.7 million. That year, he predicted the price of bitcoin would go to $10,000 in three years. Bitcoin went on to climb close to $20,000 in 2017.
Some of Draper’s other bets have soured, however. He invested in Theranos, a health startup that falsely claimed it was able to detect diseases with a few drops of blood. Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’ founder, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for fraud.
Draper’s rationale for bitcoin’s breakout next year is that there remains a massive untapped demographic for bitcoin: women.
“My assumption is that, since women control 80% of retail spending and only 1 in 7 bitcoin wallets are currently held by women, the dam is about to break,” Draper said.
Crypto has long had a gender disparity problem. According to a survey conducted for CNBC and Acorns by Momentive, twice as many men as women invest in digital assets (16% of men vs. 7% of women).
“Retailers will save roughly 2% on every purchase made in bitcoin vs dollars,” Draper added. “Once retailers realize that that 2% can double their profits, bitcoin will be ubiquitous.”
Payment middlemen such as Visa and Mastercard currently charge fees as high as 2% each time credit cardholders use their card to pay for something. Bitcoin offers a way for people to bypass the middlemen.
However, using the digital coin for everyday spending is tough, since its price is very volatile and the coin is not widely accepted as currency.
“When people can buy their food, clothing and shelter all in bitcoin, they will have no use for centralized banking fiat dollars,” Draper said.
“Management of fiat is centralized and erratic. When a politician decides to spend $10 trillion, your dollars become worth about 82 cents. Then the Fed needs to raise rates to make up for the spend, and those arbitrary centralized decisions create an inconsistent economy,” he added. Fiat currencies derive their worth from their issuing government, unlike cryptocurrencies.
Meanwhile, the next so-called bitcoin halving — which cuts the bitcoin rewards to bitcoin miners — in 2024 will also boost the cryptocurrency, according to Draper, as it chokes the supply over time. The total number of bitcoins that will ever be mined is capped at 21 million.
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