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Recode Daily: Alexa ... the call is coming from inside the house

Plus, GDPR is here; Code Conference is just around the corner; Andy Rubin’s smartphone startup, Essential, is selling itself; Elon Musk loses his cool on Twitter again; and the millennial museums we really need.

Amazon Echo speaker on a bedside table with a worried-looking woman looking at it Julian Terry / YouTube

An Amazon Echo device secretly recorded a Portland family’s conversation — and then sent it to a random acquaintance in their contacts. Amazon scrambled to explain the incident and insist that its smart speakers are secure. And here’s a short horror film where Alexa plays the monster. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]


This coming week is our annual invitation-only Code conference. Your Recode Daily newsletter is taking the Monday holiday off (like you, we hope!); starting on Tuesday morning, expect it to look a bit different for a few days as we cover all the news and give you behind-the-scenes looks from Code. And since the whole bicoastal Recode crew will be together and working on West Coast time from May 29-31, your newsletter will arrive a bit later than normal. We’ll have interviews with Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and more. And don’t forget Mary Meeker, who will present her annual rapid-fire internet trends report. You’ll be able to find all our coverage from Code on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and, of course, on our website. Here’s how you can watch and listen in.

[Want to get the Recode Daily in your inbox? Subscribe here.]

Europe’s highly anticipated new privacy law — GDPR — is here, and it will impact virtually every technology company worldwide. The new law requires any company that operates in the EU or any company that serves EU citizens to follow strict new privacy guidelines meant to protect consumers from companies abusing their personal data. Companies that fail to comply could face financial penalties as high as 4 percent of their annual revenue. For companies like Facebook, Google and Apple, that could amount to billions of dollars in fines. Here’s what GDPR means for American businesses operating or serving customers in the EU. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Facebook will ask users around the world — not just those in Europe — to review their privacy settings as it prepares to comply with the EU’s new GDPR privacy laws. All Facebook users will see a full-screen prompt in the coming weeks asking them to review their settings — including political and religious affiliations — for some of Facebook’s important features, like targeted advertising and facial recognition technology. Once a user dismisses the prompt twice, they’ll be automatically opted-in to Facebook’s new terms of service. Facebook also announced that it will start labeling political and issue ads — a move intended to keep foreign governments from buying ads that might influence U.S. voters. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

After spending $100 million on product development, Android creator Andy Rubin’s year-old startup, Essential, is considering selling itself, and has canceled development of its flagship smartphone. The startup, part of Rubin’s Playground Global incubator, has raised $300 million from investors including Amazon, Tencent and Redpoint; it was valued at up to $1 billion last year. Here’s Rubin showing off the Essential phone at last year’s Code Conference. [Mark Gurman and Alex Barinka. /Bloomberg]

A federal court jury sided with Apple in its seven-year courtroom fight with Samsung, deciding unanimously that Samsung must pay Apple $539 million for infringing five patents with Android phones it sold in 2010 and 2011. Apple was seeking $1 billion in the prolonged, convoluted patent trial; Samsung wanted to pay $28 million. [Chance Miller /]

Vevo, the music video service owned by Universal and Sony, is shutting down its website and apps. Which means that nine-year-old Vevo — the music industry’s attempt to create its own music hub — is going to stop pretending that it’s anything other than a shell company that delivers videos from the big music labels to YouTube. Meanwhile, Spotify said it will reinstate songs by rapper XXXTentacion, which had been removed — along with tracks by R. Kelly — from playlists on the service as punishment for the artist’s alleged “hateful conduct.” [Peter Kafka / Recode]

Elon Musk lost his cool on Twitter. Again. And the media commentary on his anti-media commentary echoes on and on. And on. [Molly Roberts / The Washington Post]

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Uber’s semi-autonomous car detected the Arizona pedestrian six seconds before the fatal crash, a federal agency says.

The National Traffic Safety Board said Uber’s system depends on the driver to brake in emergencies.

The electric bus company Proterra is worth up to $840 million after raising new money.

The company, which creates city buses that are powered by electric batteries, has filed to accept up to $100 million.

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Professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil talks about the intersection of social media and sports on the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask.

This is cool

Screw ice cream and selfies — these are the millennial museums we really need.

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