The White House's Fake-News Shenanigans Top This Week's Internet News Roundup

Another week, another seven days so full of events that it’s difficult to remember all that’s happened. That’s especially true on a week that saw another mass shooting, as if everyone needed a reminder of what that felt like. I mean, we were just a week out from the last one, so perhaps some people had forgotten. Elsewhere, California is on fire again, Scotland has made LGBTQ education compulsory and someone’s getting free soup. Of course, this week was dominated by the midterm elections, which took place on Tuesday, but lingers like a cold; results and hot takes are still coming in as I write this, despite everything else that happened this week to steal the attention of the internet. What kinds of everything else? We’re glad you asked!

Don’t Look Back In Anger

What Happened: Normally, it’s only the President of the United States who prematurely ages during his White House tenure—but according to this week’s favorite meme, it’s happened to all of us.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: It was fair to say that a lot of people had a lot of anxiety about this week’s midterm elections. They were, after all, being touted as the most important in a generation and a potential rebuke to President Trump, even though he personally wasn’t on the ballot and refused to take responsibility for any Republican losses, even though many GOP House members fretted that he had hijacked the campaign. No surprise, then, that people took to Twitter prior to Election Day to vent their anxiety.

As the meme got picked up by the media, at least one person took a different approach to the meme, just to emphasize that the election hadn’t actually happened yet.

Let’s be honest: as a motivator, this is far, far better than the ensuing deluge of “I Voted” sticker selfies across social media.

The Takeaway: At least Concerned Voter and celebrity Mark Ruffalo impersonator Mark Ruffalo joined in—because aren’t we all Bruce Banner these days?

The End Of The Tour

What Happened: In his first public appearance after the midterms, President Trump seemed like he wanted to come across as unbothered—but the reality was just the opposite.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: So, yes; the midterm elections happened, and even if people debated the reality of theBlue Wave,” Democrats took control of the House for the first time in eight years, giving them the chance to investigate his dealings (and his taxes) and curb his power. Many people wondered just how he’d react, but the president’s initial response to the midterms was certainly not what people expected:

Pressing ahead with his weird victory lap, he announced a press conference for the next morning:

How did it go? Probably not the way he imagined.

The surreal, combative, disaster was obviously much discussed across the media, because of course it was; it was a chance to watch the President live down to everyone’s worst expectations across an almost unbelievable 87 minutes. All that was missing was someone being fired by proxy from the White House — but, wait, we’ll get there soon enough.

The Takeaway: What should be the takeaway from this meltdown? Let’s go with the one that perfectly summarizes the problem, as President Trump would no doubt be secretly delighted by it.

Me Or Your Lyin’ Eyes

What Happened: The Trump Administration takes its war on the press to the next level after a particularly intense confrontation gets the literal fake-news treatment.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: By Thursday, it had become obvious that an exchange between the President and CNN reporter Jim Acosta during the previous day’s press conference had turned into something far bigger than the traditional Presidential press bullying. The problem—well, a problem—began as the right-wing Twitterverse sought to use the moment to bring down Acosta:

Did it work? Better than anyone could have anticipated. (“Better” in a very specific context, of course.)

Yes, the White House pulled Acosta’s press credentials after the press conference, which is a totally normal thing to do, yes, definitely. Hey, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, what gives?

In other words, Sanders was repeating the right-wing version of events, which is problematic for reasons we’re about to get to. Before that, though, CNN responded quickly:

The network wasn’t the only organization releasing a statement:

Here’s the thing, though; Jim Acosta didn’t actually do what he was accused of by Sanders and the White House, as he pointed out:

It doesn’t have to rely on his word, though; the press conference was broadcast live, including the event (mis-)described by Sanders; but that didn’t stop Sanders from tweeting out a doctored video in support of her argument:

Yes, that’s right; the White House press secretary was sharing a doctored video to argue her case. Funny story — it was actually the same video that had been posted by an InfoWars contributor earlier that evening:

People noticed the connection.

Here’s CNN’s VP of Communications and Digital Partnerships on the release:

Oh, and here’s a comparison between the raw footage and the version posted by—once again—the White House press secretary:

The dude from InfoWars claimed that he hadn’t touched the video:

Well, surely he’s telling the truth, right?

At time of writing, reporters are condemning the White House’s move, and others are making the argument that this isn’t a fight the President should have. You’d think that that someone so stuck in the past as President Trump would remember the saying about never arguing with people who buy ink by the barrel

The Takeaway: This is just the beginning of a bigger fight—and one that’s likely going to happen sooner rather than later.

Wave Hello, Say Goodbye

What Happened: If no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, and no one expected the president to fire his attorney general immediately after the midterm elections, does that mean that Jeff Sessions was a victim of the Spanish Inquisition? Asking for a friend who may or may not be fired A.G. Jeff Sessions.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: As if this week wasn’t seem busy enough with everything happening all at once, a tidbit of news broke just an hour or so after the Wednesday press conference, potentially explaining why the President was acting so testy. (As if the midterms wouldn’t have been explanation enough.)

…Wait. What? But, yes, the Attorney General had resigned, when no one was expecting it.

Please note the opening sentence of that letter, because it’s important:

Yes, the resignation came at the President’s request, which is to say, Jeff Sessions was fired, which is a big deal. As should be expected, the internet was sad to see him go:

But people didn’t get too carried away with the upside of what was unfolding, because once again, the President firing his Attorney General when he’s under investigation by the authorities overseen by that Attorney General is a big deal:

The President announced his replacement via Twitter, because of course he did:

As if we needed any more proof that the government is a well-oiled machine these days, Twitter was also how people at the Department of Justice found out about Sessions’ resignation, it was swiftly announced:

Who is this Matthew Whitaker, anyway?

…Oh. As it turned out, Whitaker was a fascinating choice for a replacement, based on everything that came out about him in a surprisingly brief period:

He is almost definitely not going to recuse himself. But then again, he may not have the position for that long. In the face of widespread disbelief at his hiring, Trump stood behind his choice in traditional fashion on Friday:

The Takeaway: Chalk another White House departure up for the man famous for firing peo — oh, apparently not.

I’ve Fallen, But I Can Totally Get Up and Mete Out Justice

What Happened: The Notorious RBG had a bad week, but the internet was there for her with offers of anything and everything she needed, from emotional support to literal body parts.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media reports

What Really Happened: Bad news for anyone who loves Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrived late this week:

RBG’s fall was obviously big news, with multiple outlets covering the story, and social media was equally excited about it. Maybe “excited” wasn’t the right word to use, though; some were people looking to reassure others that there was no reason to panic, after all.

Others were simply preparing for whatever it takes to keep Ginsburg in good health, if not all-out action:

And then there was the question of what actually happened to consider…

Of course, everyone here at While You Were Offline Towers sends all the best to the Notorious one, as well as good wishes for a speedy recovery. We need you out there, Justice Ginsburg. Have you seen what else is happening?

The Takeaway: But did anyone consider the possibility that RBG’s injuries were self-inflicted and done for a very particular reason?


More Great WIRED Stories

A New Study Ranked All 50 States By How Fat Their People Are, and the Results are Eye-Opening

A new study ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia by how fat their residents are. And there are some real surprises.

Across the United States, a staggering 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese. It’s part of what drives the $66 billion weight loss industry, which is always a good target for entrepreneurs.

But it also adds $200 billion a year to our nation’s health costs. 

So, this state ranking combines 25 different data points on each state’s population to help us figure out which states have the biggest problems. Each state was then assigned a combined score from 1 (best) to 100 (worst). The data included things like:

  • percentage of residents (adults and children) who are overweight or obese;
  • percentage of residents who are physically active (or not);
  • percentage of adults with high cholesterol;
  • percentage of adults with healthy diets (and who eat at least 1 serving of fruits and vegetables each day).

Obviously, the mere fact that someone lives in a supposedly fit or fat state doesn’t mean he or she personally is overweight or not. Heck, I live in the 11th fittest state according to this, and I’m well aware I could lose a few pounds.

But the ranking does challenge some of the stereotypes about where the healthiest people might live in the country. Here’s the list, which was put together by WalletHub. We’ll do this backwards, going from worst to first, and discussing the states briefly in tiers.

Tier V: The fattest states

All of the worst states on this list were in the South, and the absolute worst state in terms of fatness ranking was Mississippi, with a score of 72.97 out of a possible 100.

Mississippi also had the worst ranking in the country in terms of obesity and overweight prevalence. And in another study, Mississippi workers also reportedly got the least exercise of anyone in the country. The full bottom tier looks like this:

51.    Mississippi    72.97 out of 100 (1 is best; 100 is worst)
50.    West Virginia    70.14    
49.    Arkansas    69.69
48.    Kentucky    67.71
47.    Tennessee    67.67
46.    Louisiana    66.89
45.    Alabama        64.56
44.    South Carolina    63.64
43.    Oklahoma    63.09
42.    Texas        62.45

Tier IV

The second to the bottom tier largely consists of states in the so-called Rust Belt.  

41.    Indiana        62.44
40.    Ohio        62.39
39.    Delaware    62.27
38.    Georgia        61.46
37.    Michigan    61.30
36.    Missouri    59.70
35.    North Carolina    59.17
34.    Iowa        58.77
33.    Maine        58.36
32.    Kansas        58.30

Tier III

It’s a little more difficult to say exactly what states like Rhode Island, Florida and Alaska have in common. However, these are largely states with a larger percentage of senior citizen residents, which could be a factor.

31.    Wisconsin    57.87
30.    Rhode Island    57.86
29.    Nebraska    57.24
28.    Maryland    57.12
27.    Pennsylvania    56.83
26     Wyoming        56.72
25.    North Dakota    56.46
24.    Illinois    56.15
23.    Florida        56.12
22.    Alaska        55.90

Tier II

If you were to look at the list of states where people get the most exercise at work, you’d see that the top 20 in each list are almost identical. (The order is different, but the grouping is very close.) Seems like that could be a big clue.
21.    Virginia    55.83
20.    New Mexico    55.49
19.    South Dakota    55.15
18.    Washington    55.10
17.    New Hampshire    55.10
16.    Arizona        54.68
15.    New York    53.75
14.    Minnesota    53.64
13.    Nevada        53.07
12.    Idaho        52.52

Tier I

Here are the top 10 states (plus D.C.), with the most fit residents. Interestingly, they’re also largely (but not exclusively) urban states, where you’d think people have limited outdoor space and are more likely to work long, stressful, sedentary jobs.

But, apparently the people in metro areas around places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are the ones who make time to exercise, eat right, and watch their weight.

And to the folks of Colorado, who topped both this list and the exercise at work list, keep up the good work. 

11.    New Jersey    52.40
10.    Oregon        52.13    
9.    Vermont        52.07
8.    Connecticut    51.80
7.    Montana        50.83
6.    California    49.97
5.    Washington, DC    49.49
4.    Massachusetts    48.09
3.    Hawaii        46.97
2.    Utah        44.41
1.    Colorado    44.35 

There Are 4 Innovation Personalities. Which One Are You?

Here is a personality test for leaders: those who create products, services, and businesses, those who manage teams big and small, and those who have to be agile thinkers to face complex challenges. Read through the four groups below–Revolutionary, Evolutionary, Traditional, and Reactionary–and see where you fit in as a leader. Then think about your team. And then your organization. Where do they fit in too? And how can you collectively achieve the change and innovation needed? 

I have personally a soft spot for Revolutionaries, because dedication to innovation is thrilling, makes you feel like you’re living at the cutting edge and serving a bigger purpose. I have also learned how quickly scales can change and top organizations and their leaders can get burnt out and retreat to the safety of incremental change. Inversely, Evolutionaries can become Revolutionaries; and Naysayers can become the best advocates for disruption once they see the value of being a Revolutionary. 

Being at the service of people, solving problems for others, making someone’s life better, more joyful or easier–which is what innovation is about–is not a talent that only a few can attain. Neither is it a static skill that, once acquired, stays with you. It is an organic set of skills, tools, and processes you decide to have, practice and keep. In other words, it is inclusive and accessible if you know where you are now and where you want to be in the future, which is where this quiz comes in handy. 

What is your current innovation personality? What personality do you aspire to be?

Revolutionary

Different sources call you different things–A Reinventor, Disruptor, Provocateur, Innovator. You revolutionize the way something is done. You are a design thinker. In other words, you think like a designer. Positive, open-minded and curious, you are energized by new ideas. You see change as an opportunity, not as a challenge. You use design tools and an iterative process to solve problems. Getting close to your customer is fundamental to your thinking. Only then can you make sure you ask the right questions. To that end, you use co-design with customers.   Journey mapping helps you to uncover your hidden customer needs, and fast prototyping allows you to experiment with solutions. You are not afraid of constraints and know how to use them to your advantage.

“The Reinventors, making up 27 percent of the total, are the standouts. They report that they outperformed their peers in both revenue growth and profitability over the past three years, and led as well in innovation.” IBM Global CEO study on Digital Reinvention

Synonyms: Reinventor, Disruptor, Provocateur, Innovator.

Evolutionary

You are a change agent of the cautious kind. You are comfortable with incremental change. You might be a recovering Revolutionary who got hit by market forces and lost some of your courage and daring to be the first. Or you have the ambition to become a Revolutionary and are gathering experience. As David Peterson, Director of Leadership Development & Executive Coaching at Google would say, you need to sub-optimize and be less perfect to experiment more and adapt to constant change with more agility. You want to think like a designer, but you may not have the right tools and process. You need to get out of your comfort zone and get up close and intimate with your customers. Experimenting more, and more quickly, breaking internal silos to create cross-functional teams and co-designing with your customers to include them in ideation will push you to the Revolutionary group.

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a healthy dose of prudence is not bad for innovation. “Contrary to what many people think, successful innovators are more organized, cautious, and risk-averse than the general population.”

Synonyms: Practitioner (coined by IBM). Pragmatic.

Traditionalists

Your one dominant characteristic is that you feel like your solution is fine just the way it is. When asked if your users are happy, you will say “yes” but deep down you know you’ve grown farther and farther away from your customer. The good news is there are many ways to build empathy and get closer to them. Once you move away from a product-centric mindset to an experience-centered one, improving people’s lives will give you the courage to develop your own unique vision. Your previous successes may hold you back, but what got you here is not helping you get there (if you haven’t, read Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There). Having the vision, strategy and tools to recognize and capture the right opportunities will move you to the Evolutionary group. 

Synonyms: Conventional. Aspirational (coined by IBM).

Reactionary

You resist change and have a strong tendency to block new ideas. It is the fear of unknown which makes it easier for you to come up with why something will not work. You are the skeptic. Yet you know that agility and experimentation are key to how organizations are evolving. You will become a great convert to thinking like a designer if you can see its value–making you more agile, customer-centered and comfortable with experimenting. 

“Saboteurs. The people and groups who can obstruct or derail the process of searching, evaluating, and purchasing a product or a service.” Alex Osterwalder, Value Proposition Design

Synonyms: Blockers, Resistants, Naysayers, Saboteurs (coined by Alex Osterwalder). 

How did you do? Remember knowing who you are and who you aspire to be on the innovation scale is half the battle. The other half is actually practicing it on a daily basis. 

This Famous Airline Thought It Would Offer Veterans Special Pre-Boarding. The Reaction Was Shocking

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Some things are, though, universal, aren’t they?

That must be what the bosses at Virgin Australia thought when they offered veterans priority boarding.

But Australia isn’t necessarily like, say, America.

Frankly, nowhere is. 

When you’ve lived in different countries on different continents — guilty as charged — you garner a wider perspective on how people think and, just as importantly, the nuances that go into their feeling processes.

So, instead of a gloriously positive reaction, some veterans rather thought Virgin should take its offer and shove it back in the cargo hold it was stored in.

Oh, and “faux American bollocks.”

Instead, she suggested: “Spend more on suicide prevention and health support.”

Neil James, the head of the Australian Defence Association also suggested there were better ways to help. 

“There’s a fine line between embarrassing them and thanking them and, in some cases, where they’re suffering a psychological illness, effusively thanking them in public might not necessarily help them,” he said of veterans.

On Twitter, many piped up with similar feeling.

Sample, from John H. Esq.: “Jeez! Do veterans really want this type of peurile [sic] Americanised faux recognition of their service?”

The airline seemed so stunned by the reaction that its CEO John Borghetti issued this statement: 

Over the coming months, we will be working consultatively with community groups and our own team members who have served in defense to determine the best way forward.

In America, there’s considerable — and, some might say, superficial — support for veterans.

Indeed, our nation has many curious, vaguely militaristic and nationalistic habits that other nations find curious. Flag unfurlings and national anthem renditions before every single sporting event, for example.

In Australia, though, perhaps veterans want tangible benefits, rather than being used for marketing purposes.

Interestingly, one of Virgin’s rival airlines, Qantas says it has no intention of offering veterans priority boarding.

It offered this statement: 

We carry a lot of exceptional people every day, including veterans, police, paramedics, nurses, firefighters and others, and so we find it difficult to single out a particular group as part of the boarding process.

Doesn’t that seem wise?

Facebook boots 115 accounts on eve of U.S. election after tip

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc blocked about 115 user accounts after U.S. authorities tipped it off to suspicious behavior that may be linked to a foreign entity, the company said in a blog post on Monday, hours before U.S. voters head to the polls.

FILE PHOTO: A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with a laptop in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

The social network said it needed to do further analysis to decide if the accounts are linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency or another group. The United States has accused the Russian government body of meddling in U.S. politics with social media posts meant to spread misinformation and sow discord.

Eighty-five of the removed accounts were posting in English on Facebook’s Instagram service, and 30 more were on Facebook and associated with pages in French and Russian, the post said.

Some accounts “were focused on celebrities” and others on “political debate,” it added.

The tip came from U.S. law enforcement on Sunday night, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, wrote in the post.

The company announced its actions earlier in its investigation than typical “given that we are only one day away from important elections in the U.S.,” he added.

This year’s contest has been portrayed as crucial by both Republicans and Democrats because both chambers of Congress, and the accompanying ability to pass or reject President Donald Trump’s agenda, are up for grabs.

“Americans should be aware that foreign actors, and Russia in particular, continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord,” including through social media, federal authorities said in a statement on Monday.

Social media companies say they are now more vigilant against foreign and other potential election interference after finding themselves unprepared to tackle such activity in the U.S. presidential election two years ago.

(This story corrects headline, paragraph 5 to show tip came from U.S. law enforcement, not FBI)

Reporting by Philip George in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Clarence Fernandez

Chinese chipmaker's ambitions hit hurdle with U.S. indictment

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state-backed semiconductor maker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd billed itself as a national leader in the tech industry. It planned to drive a shift towards locally made chips and end a heavy reliance on imports, especially from the United States.

“The era of Chinese chips has arrived,” it said in a recent promotional online pamphlet to attract chip industry talent. Underneath was a picture of a circuit board emblazoned with the Chinese flag.

“China once relied on chip imports, but the tireless work of untold numbers of chip experts has meant that from 90 percent imports we have been able to attain localized production,” it said, highlighting a high-skilled global workforce harking from the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“Jump with us into an chip era that belongs to China.”

That bold ambition now faces major hurdles.

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday indicted Fujian Jinhua and Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) (2303.TW) for industrial espionage.

The indictment said the companies conspired to steal trade secrets from U.S. semiconductor company Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) relating to its research and development of memory storage devices.

Under a technology cooperation agreement signed in 2016, UMC develops memory-related technologies for the Chinese firm.

The charges came after the U.S. Commerce Department banned U.S. companies from selling hardware and software components to the Chinese firm and UMC. The Taiwan firm said shortly afterwards that it will temporarily halt its research and development activities with Fujian.

The Commerce Department action could deal a significant blow to the Chinese semiconductor maker, given its reliance on U.S. supplies, and China’s technology ambitions.

On Saturday, Fujian Jinhua said in a statement posted on its website that it had not stolen any technology and that it “always attaches great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights.”

Chinese government officials have said privately that Fujian is of high strategic importance to China, which is looking to boost home-grown technology under its “Made in China 2025” plan, a bid to catch up technologically in key areas such as semiconductors, where it has long been reliant on imports – notably from America.

“You can’t build a fab (fabrication plant) without U.S. equipment companies. You just cannot do it,” said Risto Puhakka, a semiconductor industry expert at VLSI Research.

The world’s most important suppliers of the tools needed to make memory chips – Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O), KLA-Tencor Corp (KLAC.O), and Lam Research Corp (LRCX.O) – all hail from the United States.

TOP THREE CHIP MAKER

China imported $270 billion in semiconductors in 2017, more than its total imports of crude oil, highlighting the country’s lack of a true rival to U.S. chip making giants like Micron, Intel Corp (INTC.O) or Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O).

To close the gap, analysts said earlier this year money was “raining down” from Beijing and state-backed funds, like the country’s state chip “Big Fund”, to support firms such as Fujian Jinhua.

The Chinese firm has been working to open a giant $5.7 billion chip factory in October to produce 60,000 semiconductor wafers per month in its first stage of production, and 120,000 in its second stage, according to domestic media.

Fujian is just one of a handful of Chinese semiconductor firms that have in recent years looked to crack the global chip industry. They are working on chips that can be used in smartphones to missile guidance systems.

Two officials at a state-linked semiconductor fund said Fujian Jinhua was working with highly specialised semiconductor materials to make circuits, a high priority for Beijing and the country’s chip fund.

“You could consider Fujian Jinhua a top three China chip company in terms of their research and development,” one of the people said. Both asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

STATE TIES

Fujian Jinhua was established in 2016 with funding from state-owned Fujian Electronics & Information Co and Jinjiang Energy Investment Co..

Other backers include municipal governments from the southern cities of Quanzhou and Jinjiang. Fujian Jinhua’s former board chairman served as a provincial-level party secretary.

The firm’s focus was to become a manufacturing leader in DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, a chip commonly used in personal computers, workstations and servers. The sector has been long dominated by U.S. firm Micron and South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc (000660.KS) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS).

“Once completed, the project will fill the gap in the field of DRAM memory in China,” the company said in a news post last year. It added the factory had been included in a list of the country’s top engineering projects supported by the state.

“In the information age, integrated circuits have been a strategic basic industry for China,” it wrote. “Future prospects are bright.”

Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Cate Cadell; additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Neil Fullick

Sen. Wyden Proposed a CEO-Felling Data Privacy Law. Is Big Tech Ready for It?

Consumers who have clamored for data privacy reform since Equifax’s ransacking and, more recently, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle have cause to celebrate.

On Thursday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a prominent privacy hawk, unveiled a draft bill that seeks to slap harsher penalties on companies—and chief executive officers—who run afoul of new rules that expand government oversight of the tech industry. The Consumer Data Privacy Act, as the bill is tentatively named, takes its cue from Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation, or GDPR, which can fine companies up to 4% of their global, annual revenues for infractions. But Wyden’s bill goes even further; in addition to that penalty, the proposed law would jail chief execs up to 20 years with individual fines reaching as high as $5 million for CEOs who knowingly mislead regulators.

If GDPR has teeth, Wyden’s proposal has fangs—set on the jugulars of corporate heads. The proposed law would require big firms—ones with revenues exceeding $1 billion or ones that store data on more than 50 million consumers or their devices—to submit “annual data protection reports” to the government that lay out their data-securing practices. It would force companies to comply with “do not track” policies while offering alternative payment options to consumers, such as subscription fees instead of ad-supported “free” models. And it would boost the power of the Federal Trade Commission, adding a tech-focused division with a broader mandate alongside an arsenal of stronger enforcement actions.

Lindsey Barrett, an attorney and teaching fellow at Georgetown Law’s Communications & Technology Clinic within the school’s Institute for Public Representation, commented on Twitter that the proposed legislation “injects sorely needed accountability into our equif*cked information ecosystem.” Wyden’s own statement was a little more sanitized: “It’s time for some sunshine on this shadowy network of information sharing,” he said.

But the proposed reform isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Jake Williams, an alumnus of the National Security Agency who has since cofounded Rendition InfoSec, a cybersecurity consulting shop, said he doubts the bill will pass. “Even if it does, it won’t mean what you might think. It won’t create a SOX style environment around cyber. Sorry,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to Sarbanes-Oxley, a 2002 financial reform enacted in the wake of the Enron scandal to prevent similar accounting blowups.

The main thrust of Williams’ criticism is that the proposed law will box in cybersecurity practitioners and will subjugate and constrain an industry that is still finding its feet. The bill effectively grants corporate governance, risk, and compliance departments the right to “rule infosec,” Williams warned. If it passes into law, it will likely lead to licensing requirements within the cybersecurity industry, akin to the hoops people must jump through to become certified public accountants, he said. “Professional licensure is not good for a profession this young,” he said.

Data privacy reform is long overdue, but this bill presents questions. Is Big Tech—and its CEOs—ready to face the formalized wrath of guillotine-thirsting regulators? Does the bill unfairly target CEOs, leaving other C-Suite executives and board members off the hook? Could companies end up shoving the blame onto scapegoat CEOs of subsidiary businesses? And finally, as Williams noted, is the cybersecurity industry really ready to grow up and professionalize, accepting all the responsibility and regulatory constrictions that entails?

Be careful what you wish for.

A version of this article first appeared in Cyber Saturday, the weekend edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter Data Sheet. Sign up here.

The Importance of Organization in Innovation

Most companies will agree that innovation is key to their business growth. They rely on teams to develop, execute, and create new ideas and solutions to meet the demands of growing the business in the marketplace.

Executives will start by sharing the vision of innovation–the big ideas worth going after. There will be plans in place for how teams should be driving the ideas and what goals the company is trying to reach.

But the vision and even the plan will all fall flat if there is no intention for how to actually organize things. The organization of innovation is the foundation for which the ideas can grow from and thrive.

In order to create and execute on new, novel ideas, it requires taking a leap to get an organization system in place and the discipline of evaluating and iterating organization strategies as you go along.

Step 1: Just Get Started

When you first set out to get organized, the urge is to find the perfect, clean start. Rather than moving forward, teams get paralyzed in trying to find a perfectly-aligned solution for organizing things. But when it comes to organizing the complexities of innovation, it’s more important to just get started.

I worked with one startup team that was creating products in the biotechnology space, creating breakthrough solutions for Alzheimer and dementia patients. They had a slew of innovative ideas and many experiments they were running forward with, across multiple departments. Work spanned across research and development teams to engineering and marketing teams, running in many different directions. The team members were overworked just trying to keep up with the status of the projects.

They needed a strategy for organizing their work and were testing different off-the-shelf products and applications to solve their issues. Each tool they researched would solve for most of their needs, but not all. They were stuck in the moment where they wanted to wait for the perfect solution that would fit every one of their needs.

Rather than holding on to the hope for a magical new tool, the team moved forward by selecting the tool that filled the more important needs. They identified the top requirements to solve for and fully committed to the adopted project management application, training all teams on how they would use it to stay organized. They addressed up front the short-comings, and came up with their own internal hacks for solving them. All communication about their innovation projects moved from email into the tool and they held monthly meetings across all departments to backfill where the tool fell short.

Getting organized sometimes requires making tradeoffs to allow you to get started. It is far more productive to have a system in place that you can tweak and improve with time, than no system at all.

Step 2:  Evaluate and Iterate

The second thing about trying to organize innovation projects is that what you originally set out doing will inevitably change. Whether that is outgrowing the original organization structure or breaking things along the way to learn that a new system is required.

One mid-sized financial company that I worked with wanted to better streamline communication across stakeholders and innovation projects. They originally invested in a tool that helped them to get things in order and worked well for their first three years of development. But by the time their projects were launching into the marketplace, they had outgrown the tool and needed something more robust and able to fit their nuanced needs of creating solutions in the ever-changing financial regulation space.

Reflecting on the tools that worked, and their short-comings, the team realized they needed to invest in their own internal tool that could keep up with their pace of innovation. This new organization strategy was able to use the previous tools as a framework to allow them to build the new homegrown solution they needed.

The thing about organizing big ideas is that the solution will need to shift at some point. It’s important to stay in tune to when things are no longer useful and how you can bring a new organization strategy to the table.

Getting organized is the often overlooked and less exciting step to innovation. It’s important you take a disciplined approach to getting organized, to allow for ideas to flourish and grow, without getting buried or bogged down by disorganized inefficiencies.

6 Unconventional Ways to Make Your Employees Happier and More Successful

When you’re leading a big change to your company, odds are good that you’ll put stress on your people. But if you take steps to make them happy, they’ll make customers happier and your profits will rise.

How so? A former Harvard researcher found that keeping people happy is good for business. As Shawn Achor wrote in a 2012 Harvard Business Review article, Positive Intelligence — keeping people happy instead of threatening them — produces better business outcomes during stressful situations.

Inspired by Achor, here are six unconventional ways to boost your employees’ success and happiness.

1. Single people out for praise.

If you’re leading your company through a big change — like expanding from selling in the U.S. to 18 other countries, your people are likely to feel stress because you feel it as well.

But in 2008, Burt’s Bees’s then-CEO, John Replogle, was taking the company global. And rather than fill their inboxes with question on their progress, every day he sent out an e-mail praising a team member for work related to the global rollout.

2. Encourage your managers to talk about corporate values.

Another surprising way to make people happy is to encourage your managers to talk with their teams about the company’s values.

Replogle took time away from talking about the global launch to encourage his direct-reports to discuss company values with their people. The reason? The values discussion would help people feel more connected to the company’s mission.

Achor wrote that Replogle’s “emphasis on fostering positive leadership kept his managers engaged and cohesive as they successfully made the transition to a global company.”

3. Exercise your peoples’ sense of well-being.

I’ve read that you can train yourself to be happy by smiling a lot.

But that’s not the only way. Achor ran a session on happiness with some soon-to-be stressed out tax managers at KPMG. He trained them to be happy by writing down things for which they were grateful or exercising for 10 minutes.

Four months later, the tax managers who did these happiness activities scored higher on the life satisfaction scale — a metric widely accepted to be one of the greatest predictors of productivity and happiness at work, according to Achor — than they did before the happiness training.

4. Hire people with high life-satisfaction.

If you can’t train people to a higher life-satisfaction score, hire people who already have one.

Gallup researchers found that retail employees in an individual store who scored high on life satisfaction generated $21 more in earnings per square foot than employees with lower scores in the retailer’s other stores.

That sounds like a compelling business case for hiring happy people.

5. Follow the 10/5 path to social support.

Helping other people makes the social support providers — people who pick up slack for others, invite coworkers to lunch, and organize office activities — more engaged at work and more likely to get promoted.

One company — Ochsner Health System — uses this insight. Ochsner’s so-called “10/5 Way” encourages employees who walk within 10 feet of another person in the hospital, to make eye contact and smile. When they walk within 5 feet, they must say hello.

10/5 has paid off for Ochsner in the form of more unique patient visits, a 5 percent increase in patients’ likelihood to recommend Ochsner, and “a significant improvement in medical-practice provider scores,” according to Achor.

6. View stress as a performance-enhancer.

Since work is almost always stressful, I was surprised to learn that it’s possible to train people to think about stress positively — e.g., as a force that enhances the brain and body — and negatively —  as debilitating to performance.

Researchers showed videos with positive and negative messages on stress to managers at UBS. Six weeks later, the managers who saw the positive video experienced a big health improvement and an increase in their happiness at work, Achor wrote. 

Encourage your people to list their stresses and make small, concrete steps to reduce the stressors they can control. Those small steps can nudge their brains back to a positive–and productive–mind-set.

Microsoft Cloud Outpaces Amazon

Last week, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported its fiscal first-quarter results that surpassed market expectations for the fourth consecutive time. The company continues to deliver tremendous growth within the cloud segment. In fact, its performance helped Microsoft become the second-biggest stock after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), stripping Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) of the title.

Microsoft’s Financials

Microsoft’s Q1 revenues grew 19% over the year to $29.1 billion and were significantly ahead of the market’s forecast of $27.73 billion. EPS of $1.14 also beat the Street’s expectations by $0.18.

By segment, Productivity and Business Processes revenues grew 19% to $9.8 billion, ahead of the Street’s forecast of $9.4 billion. Revenues from the Intelligent Cloud grew 24% to $8.6 billion and from the Personal Computing segment increased 15% to $10.7 billion. The market was looking for revenues of $10.13 billion from the segment.

Within the segments, Microsoft’s commercial cloud revenues grew 47% over the year to $8.5 billion. Azure sales reported an increase of 76% over the year. Growth has slowed down from 89% reported a quarter ago, and 90% reported a year ago. Analysts are not too concerned about the slowing rate because the larger base is making the comparative growth look lower. It also saw strong growth in its internet-based computing segment with sales of Office 365 and Dynamic 365 growing 36% and 51%, respectively.

For the second quarter, Microsoft expects revenues of $31.9-32.7 billion, compared with the market’s forecast of $32.35 billion. Analysts expect Q2 EPS of $1.08.

Microsoft’s Cloud Growth

The market has been pleased with Microsoft’s performance in the Cloud. According to a report by Cloud Security Alliance, Amazon’s market share for its AWS has slipped to 41.5% this year, compared with more than 60% share that it held at the end of 2017. During the same period, Microsoft’s Azure’s share has steadily climbed to 29.4%.

Microsoft continues to add features to Azure to drive this growth. During the last quarter, it added almost 100 new capabilities to the platform with focus on existing workloads like security and new workloads like Internet of Things and Edge AI. It helped it add customers like Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAF), Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD), and Mastercard (NYSE:MA) to its cloud portfolio.

Some new features added during the quarter include the release of Azure Confidential Computing that makes Azure the first cloud to provide a secure platform for protecting the confidentiality and the integrity of data while in use. To help companies leverage the IoT segment, Azure Sphere is its end-to-end solution for securing microcontroller-powered devices. The service is broadly available and seeing strong customer interest. It also released Azure Digital Twins, a new service that models relationships and interactions across people, places, and devices.

It is also investing in making Azure a better offering for enterprise data. Azure ML is building on its existing data services including SQL Database, Cosmos DB, Data Warehouse, and Data Lake and using AI tools to unlock insights. Microsoft is hopeful that these solutions will help data scientists build and train AI models faster and then deploy them through the cloud or to the Edge.

I would like to know from the users how they rank Microsoft’s cloud offerings over Amazon’s?

Microsoft’s stock is currently trading at $103.85 with a market capitalization of $797.2 billion. It had climbed to an all-time high of $116.18 in September this year. The stock was trading at a 52-week low of $80.70 in November last year.