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Recode Daily: Presidential candidate Cory Booker has a love/hate relationship with Silicon Valley

Plus: Huawei’s crisis shadows the mobile industry trade conference formerly known as Mobile World Congress; after a WSJ report, health/fitness apps stopped sending users’ personal information to Facebook; a meme is born.

US Senator Cory Booker taking a selfie.
US Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) at a campaign event at the Nevada Partners Event Center on February 24, 2019 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

If any Democratic presidential candidate has tapped into the Silicon Valley zeitgeist over their careers, it is Cory Booker. And in 2019, that could be as much a political liability as it is a financial asset. Although the presidential candidate has collected half a million dollars from the internet industry over his five years in the Senate, he found himself traipsing into a very different fundraising environment when he arrived in Silicon Valley over the weekend. Silicon Valley is itself a minefield that in some ways sums up the broader political challenge for Booker in 2020: He’s running as a liberal on issues including tech regulation, but the progressive left holds him in suspicion — and he could face more as he begins to court tech money more openly. As one political activist put it: “He’s going to run into problems as the public becomes more aware that he’s in bed with our generation’s Big Tobacco.” [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]

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Huawei’s fate will hang over the wireless industry’s largest annual trade conference, MWC Barcelona, previously called Mobile World Congress, which starts today in Barcelona. Typically a celebration of new handsets from Samsung, LG, Sony, and other brands, this year’s conference in Spain is being overshadowed by less-glamorous policy questions about how to safeguard the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that keeps those devices connected to the internet. Add to that the roiling debate about the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, and uncertainty over whether European countries would ban the company from 5G networks because of national security concerns being raised by the Trump administration. 5G networks are considered critical to the future global economy, increasing mobile phone speeds by up to 20 times from the current 4G system, while also creating new applications in medicine, augmented reality, and manufacturing; Huawei makes the antennas, base stations, switches, and other gear that make the technology work. [Adam Satariano / The New York Times]

Here’s a roundup of what to expect from MWC 2019, from the dawn of the foldable phones to the continued rise of Chinese handhelds to the return of Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality headset. In the wake of Samsung’s big announcement of its $2,000 Galaxy Fold phone, the aforementioned Huawei has already unveiled its Mate X, a $2,600 foldable 5G phone with a 6.6-inch front screen and a 6.38-inch back screen that unfolds for a combined eight-inch display. [Jon Porter / The Verge]

Several popular health and fitness apps scrambled to stop sending sensitive personal information to Facebook after a Wall Street Journal report that many apps were transmitting detailed information about topics including their users’ weight and menstrual cycles. Apps that cut off transmission of sensitive data to Facebook include Flo Health’s Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker and Azumio’s Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor. Another popular food- and exercise-logging app, Lose It! from FitNow, also stopped sending Facebook information; the app had been sending Facebook the weight users logged, along with how much they had gained or lost, and the caloric content of every food item they logged. [Sam Schechner / The Wall Street Journal]

Microsoft workers are demanding that the company cancel its $480 million contract with the US military. More than 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter addressed to CEO Satya Nadella and president Brad Smith that takes issue with the Pentagon’s use of Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality technology to increase the lethality of warfare, arguing that it turns combat into a “simulated ‘video game’” and is “further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed.” Microsoft plans to release a new version of its HoloLens headset at MWC this week. The Microsoft employees’ objections are reflective of a larger “Tech Won’t Build It” movement by tech workers who are demanding a stop to what they feel are morally questionable uses of their companies’ products. It’s the latest point of tension with tech employees who are against defense uses of the tools they’re building. [Shirin Ghaffary / Recode]

One of Toronto’s regional public transit services teased a radical, futuristic mode of transportation on Twitter last week. In a dramatic video full of lightning strikes and movie trailer music, GO Transit asked viewers to imagine this scenario: You hop in a vehicle, slide into a comfortable seat, and text or browse cat memes until you arrive at your destination. Best of all, you never even need to input where you’re going. The vehicle just gets you there. And then pow! Another lightning strike! Surprise! It’s a bus! [Sean O’Kane / The Verge]

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Ev Williams is finally moving on from Twitter. Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and longtime board member, announced he’s leaving the board. [Kurt Wagner]

How do you preserve art when it was made for people using Netscape Navigator on Windows 98? On the latest Recode Decode, Rhizome artistic director Michael Connor talks about that and the other questions he and his team have to face as they chronicle “net art.” [Kara Swisher]

This is cool

I grew up watching foreign language films, and learning from them, and being inspired. Films like Citizen Kane, Jaws, Rashomon, The Godfather, and Breathless.” — Alfonso Cuaron, accepting the 2019 Academy Award for foreign language film for Roma.

It was a big night for Netflix, which distributed Roma and earned 15 Oscar nominations. The streaming service chose the occasion to drop the trailer for its upcoming Martin Scorsese movie.

A meme is born.

About the rock that Gaga got.

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