Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
- We handed over The Vergecast to an all-female all-star crew this week! Natt Garun, Megan Farokhmanesh, Adi Robertson, and Ashley Carman go through the week’s news, with an opening assist from Kaitlyn Tiffany to talk about the Day Without A Woman protest. Check it out:
ISPS BEHAVING BADLY... ALSO JUST GENERALLY LIKE ISPS
- Let’s just start with telecom news and ranting, because that’s why we’re all here, right? Jake Kastrenakes dug into the FCC’s walk back of ISP privacy rules, which will basically let broadband providers sell your browsing history and other data. Their big argument is that Google and other internet firms can monetize this data, so why can’t they?
- The answer, of course, is that companies like Google and Facebook collect your data in exchange for providing their entire services free of charge. They also endure an awful lot of criticism and policymaking around the collection of that data, and provide all kinds of screens that let you see what’s going on and what activity is being recorded. (People: use these screens more!)
- Comcast and Verizon collect your money in exchange for internet access, and if they want to build some other wacky data business, they are free to build internet services that can compete with Google and Facebook.
- What Verizon in particular wants to do is compete with Google and Facebook by buying AOL and Yahoo, mashing their audience data together with network data, and building a whole new business around advertising.
- A fun fact to consider is that FCC chairman Ajit Pai was a Verizon lawyer before joining the FCC.
- Verizon also just announced that its FiOS Mobile TV app will now be zero-rated on Verizon Wireless. Which is great, except that FiOS Mobile is a trash fire of an app that hasn’t been updated in years. But why spend the money to build a streaming app that’s more competitive with YouTube TV and Sling and PS Vue when you can just undercut them on price by zero-rating?
- The iPhone 6 Plus was released in September 2014. If Verizon wants to make a big show of being an innovative, consumer-focused company, it might start with updating its app for a screen size that’s been on the market for over two years.
- These ISPs have never, ever done a good job competing with the tech companies that have built the next generation of the economy on top of the open internet. (I mean: Verizon’s big attempt to go after YouTube was Go90. They really thought that was a good idea!) Now they’re playing games to capture some of that money without having to invest in actually being competitive.
- The action around self-driving cars just keeps getting hotter. Today Andy Hawkins reports that California seems to be preparing for fully autonomous vehicles to hit roads, as neighboring states like Texas, Nevada, and Arizona try to attract tech companies by basically positioning themselves as lawless robot playgrounds.
- Meanwhile, Tesla is testing Model 3 prototypes, and you can watch one roll down the street.
- Meanwhile, Alphabet’s Waymo unit filed a motion in its ongoing lawsuit against Uber that would prevent Uber from operating its self-driving cars, as they’re presumably using tech Uber stole from Waymo.
- I get the real sense that the Apple / Android / Samsung patent fights in mobile will look like cuddles and sunshine next to the patent fights around self-driving tech.
- The SEC ruled that an exchange-traded fund backed by Bitcoin was too susceptible to fraud because Bitcoin is too easily manipulated. There’s a lot to unpack here — including the fact that famed Facebook WASPs The Winklevoss Twins are involved, so just read Russell Brandom’s piece.
- Ashley Carman used a “smart garden” in her apartment and... actually liked it? Fun.
- John Carmack is suing ZeniMax right back after the company successfully sued Facebook for... basically hiring John Carmack.
- Finally, here’s Kaitlyn Tiffany and Lizzie Plaugic’s One Video for the week, which is a recurring feature I have come to depend on in this, The Year All Media Consumption Was Entirely Too Much Panicking About News.