More data, more problems – Protocol

Good morning! Peiter Zatko testified before Congress yesterday, adding more details to his initial whistleblower complaint. To sum up: Twitter is struggling to manage its data.

Data, the root of all evil

Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testified before Congress yesterday can be summed up in three words: sloppy data processing.

Twitter simply has too much user data and does a very poor job of managing it, Mudge told lawmakers.

  • Among Zatko’s grievances: Too many engineers had too much access to too much data, which made tracking difficult and opened the door for bad actors to misuse the data.
  • “They just didn’t have the basic capabilities to hunt down foreign intelligence agencies and kick them out on their own,” he said during testimony.
  • However, Twitter is not necessarily the only social media company with this level of data collection. Many mobile apps already collect the data described by Zatko. And Zatko dealt with potential risks, rather than actual instances of harm.

Twitter executives also didn’t see security as a top concern, which is an issue Zatko had described in his initial whistleblower complaint.

  • Rather than tackle security issues head-on, Zatko said executives would get around their issues by either lying to the FTC or hiding the fact that most employees could take over Twitter accounts if they wanted to.
  • Twitter isn’t as scared of the FTC as it is of European regulators, particularly in France, because those agencies tend to dig deeper and impose tougher restrictions, Zatko said.

Elon Musk wasn’t really a highlight of the testimony, in case you were wondering. Lawmakers didn’t ask too many questions about the acquisition, even though Twitter shareholders approved the deal during a (notes check) seven minute meeting which also took place yesterday.

What shall we do now? Zatko made no suggestion of what Washington could actually do outside of greater oversight of social media companies’ data practices. So, as always, we may just have to wait for Washington to decide what it wants to do next. And that might take a while.

-Sarah Roach

The cornerstone of the convenience store

If there’s one reliable mainstay in the retail world, it’s the corner store. And it’s not just useful when you need a late-night snack: convenience stores offer a wealth of fintech opportunities.

Emerging Markets Clients depend on convenience stores more than ever, according to new data from fintech venture capital firm Flourish Ventures.

  • Fintech companies are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of these stores, including helping cash-often businesses transition to digital payments or making it easier to manage short-term credit, reports Protocol Fintech reporter Veronica Irwin.
  • This also benefits traders. Search by United Nations Global Pulse suggests that fintech can accelerate financial inclusion by serving “micro-merchants” who lack sufficient access to traditional banking services. Digitizing things like inventory, store analytics, or accounting could also improve their results.
  • Investors take note: Three companies in Y Combinator’s latest bundled plan to offer services to convenience store merchants.

There is a huge opportunity here: Getting fintech solutions tailored to these merchants isn’t just good for business; it’s important for the wider economy, Arjuna Costa, Flourish’s managing partner, told Veronica. “We can have this significant impact on the convenience store owner and the customer, so shouldn’t we collectively be putting our best minds and capital against getting the experience…right?”

—Nat Rubio-Licht

Can mapping make cycling more appealing?

Google Maps can make driving easier. The bike, not so much. Making the app more bike-friendly could make people less dependent on the car, which is particularly urgent given that the transport sector is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. writes Protocol Climate journalist Lisa Martine Jenkins.

  • Implementing a mapping algorithm for the bike is not as simple as for the car, because finding the best route is much more qualitative. Cyclists may not only care about speed, but also about safety or air quality.
  • A quiet residential road with speed bumps but no bike lane, for example, may be more comfortable for cyclists — especially new riders — than a busy thoroughfare with a painted bike lane.

This represents a tremendous opportunity for tech companies looking to take on the challenge of becoming a single, comprehensive bike routing app. Read the full story here.


Combining the power of cutting-edge technology, effective governance principles, and a civic movement, Project Liberty is transforming how the internet works and for whom it works. Join us at Unfinished Live, September 21-24, to learn more and get involved.

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People are talking

Justin Trudeau criticized his political rival Pierre Poilievre for the promotion of crypto:

  • “Telling people they can get out of inflation by investing in cryptocurrencies is not responsible leadership.”

Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi said inflation was bring in more drivers:

  • “If anything, 72% of drivers in the United States say that one of the considerations of signing up to drive on Uber was actually inflation.”

make moves

George Arison will become Grindr’s new CEO next month as the company prepares to go public. Vanna Krantz of Passport Labs is also joining as chief financial officer.

Bob Iger is join Thrive Capital as a business partner. Instagram, Spotify and Stripe are among the companies supported by Thrive.

Jim Bartolomea is ClickUp’s new SVP and Global Head of People and Places. He previously served as vice president of people at ServiceNow.

Reena Choudhry is Obsidian Security’s first CRO. Choudhry recently held the same position at Very Good Security.

Lindsey Scrase joins Checkr as CRO. Scrase previously led Google Cloud’s SMB and Startups unit.

Patreon laid off 17% of its staff. The company plans to continue investing in its product, engineering, and design teams, but reduce efforts in marketing, recruiting, and other internal support resources.

In other news

EU Google fined over $4 billion for using its Android operating system to hold back competitors. This is a record fine for a violation of antitrust laws.

Google also faces claims until $25.4 billion in damages over its ad technology practices in two lawsuits that will be filed in the coming weeks by the UK and Dutch courts.

And South Korea Google and Meta fined over $70 million for violating privacy laws. The country’s watchdog said the two companies failed to obtain legitimate consent to collect user information.

Apple is expanding its advertising inventory. The company plans to introduce new “ad placements” later this year, CNBC reported.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an invoice requiring social media companies to publish their policies on issues such as hate speech and report data on their enforcement of these rules.

Adam Neumann give in part of the assets of his new startup in exchange for a $350 million investment from Andreessen Horowitz, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The FBI grabbed the phone of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in a case involving a Colorado county clerk accused of tampering with voting materials.

Meta merged its ad integrity and moderation teams, according to Axios. CISO Guy Rosen will lead the new Integrity Unit.

The US Department of Commerce has signed a deal with google to research chips that will be used to develop nanotechnology and semiconductor devices.

SpaceX superfans

Elon Musk attracted quite a few people. But some have taken super-fandom to a whole new level, flocking to what is now known as “rocket ranch,” an isolated piece of land in the small Texas town of Boca Chica, to show their support for Musk. The city is home to Starbase, the main site where SpaceX builds and tests its spacecraft. From Rocket Ranch, fans can see the launches from afar. And some superfans have even moved there to watch rockets fly.


Combining the power of cutting-edge technology, effective governance principles, and a civic movement, Project Liberty is transforming how the internet works and for whom it works. Join us at Unfinished Live, September 21-24, to learn more and get involved.

Learn more

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