Forget About Your Social Security Number, You Should Worry About Your Phone Number
When the CEO of a company whose entire business revolves around something and calls on that something to be regulated, you know it has become an issue. Jeff Glueck, the CEO of Foursquare, which is described as "the most trusted, independent location data platform for understanding how people move through the real world," wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying "It’s time for Congress to regulate the industry."
Foursquare, which Glueck calls "one of the largest independent companies in the location technology industry," invented the popular check-in feature which is now widely used across everyday applications. Citing use cases such as city planning, ride-sharing, discovering popular places and relieving traffic congestion, Glueck said "In the right hands, location data can be a force for good."
Glueck then warned "But location data can also be abused." He was apparently inspired by two recent articles about abuses taking place using location-based data.
Like something out of a fiction movie, the first article describes how a bounty hunter was paid $300 to track down someone by simply using their cell phone number. The bounty hunter located the phone without any hacking tools or previous knowledge of the phone’s location. The investigation found the real-time location data sold to the bounty hunter had originated from none other than the telecom companies. The story illustrates how companies are selling this data with little oversight to everyone from car salesmen to bail bondsmen.
The other article Glueck cited describes how police and private companies are capturing images of license plates with the automobile's location. This data is also ending up in the hands of the highest bidder, for example debt collectors. The problem is individuals can't opt-out of this and it's illegal in all 50 states to cover your license plate.
Glueck is calling on Congress to "draft federal regulation that enforces three core principles." First, apps shouldn't be able to use location data if they do not disclose explicitly why the user experience is enhanced with said data. Second, companies should disclose to users how their data is being used and provide them an easy way to opt-out at all times. Lastly, any law should establish an obligation for those companies collecting data to "do no harm."
While Glueck may be encouraged to push for regulation to benefit Foursquare, it's tough to disagree with what he's asking Congress to do. The fact that someone can be paid $300 to track you down with just a phone number will most likely not end well. J.D. Mumford, who runs Anonyome Labs Inc., sums all of this up perfectly by saying "A phone number is worth more on the dark web than a Social Security number. Your phone is so much more rich with data."
What percentage of it is paper wealth in company stock? According to a report by Coldwell Banker, there are currently 618,000 millennial millionaires in the U.S. 93% of them have a net worth between $1 million and $2.5 million. Not surprisingly, 60% of the millennial millionaires live in New York or California, where $1 million may not buy the nicest home. Not all are self-made millionaires though, as the report says "The difference between the millionaires of the early 1980s and the ones being created today is that many of them stand to inherit even more wealth from their baby boomer parents, who are considered the wealthiest generation in history."
When it rains, it pours. Following in the footsteps of The State of Michigan Retirement Fund, The City of Boston is pulling $248 million from Fisher Investments following Ken Fisher's sexist remarks last week. Mayor Martin Walsh said "The statements made by Ken Fisher implicate not only his own judgment, but potentially that of the company as a whole." Just like the State of Michigan Retirement Fund, the decision was unanimous with the board voting 5-0 in favor of pulling the funds. Philadelphia’s board of pensions also pulled its $54 million in funds from Fisher Investments, bringing the total withdrawals since Fisher made his comments to nearly $1 billion. This number will certainly grow as Fidelity and the Florida State Board of Administration, who have $500 million and $175 million, respectively, at Fisher Investments, said they are reviewing their relationships with the firm.
Is the American consumer tapped out? U.S. retail sales fell in September for the first time in seven months. Retail sales fell 0.3% last month, with motor vehicles, building materials, hobbies and online purchases weakening. Concerns over the trade war and a slowdown in hiring are believed to be causing angst among consumers. Given the increasingly worrisome economic data and recession talk, consumers have slowed their spending, and rightfully so. Richmond Federal Reserve president Tom Barkin even said earlier this year "We could talk ourselves into a recession."
He's wealthy on paper. According to a legal filing in the defamation case against him, Elon Musk, whose net worth is an estimated $23.6 billion, says he's "financially illiquid." Most of Musk's wealth is tied up in shares of the two companies he's CEO of - Tesla, which he co-founded, and SpaceX, which he founded. The defamation trial, which is a result of Musk calling a British cave diver "pedo guy," will begin December 3 in Los Angeles.
What is the total addressable market? Under Armour unveiled its line of spacewear designed specifically for Virgin Galactic. The collection, which is the first to be "created specifically for private astronauts," includes a spacesuit, training suit, footwear and limited edition jacket. Virgin Galactic says the spacesuit is made from materials that have been tested in spaceflight-like conditions. With a ticket for the Virgin Galactic flight to outer space costing $250,000 per person, this collection better be included as part of the cost.