Johanna Blakley, PhD, is the managing director at the Norman Lear Center. Based at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Blakley performs research on a wide variety of topics, including global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, entertainment education, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law. She has two talks on TED.com: Social Media & the End of Gender and Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture. She speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad about her research and her work has been cited by Reuters, the New York Times, The Economist, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Huffington Post, RAND, Forbes, Business Week, PR Week and GOOD. She has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and Current TV, and on several radio programs, including On the Media, Planet Money, Marketplace and the TED Radio Hour.
Blakley is co-Principal Investigator, with Marty Kaplan, on the Media Impact Project (MIP), a hub for collecting, developing and sharing approaches for measuring the impact of media, primarily funded by the Gates Foundation. MIP seeks to better understand the role that media plays in changing knowledge, attitudes and behavior among individuals and communities, large and small, around the world. MIP currently works with the US State Department on three cultural exchange programs: American Film Showcase, Global Media Makers and the Middle East Media Initiative.
Much of her work addresses the intersection between entertainment and politics, including two nationwide polls on the relationship between political ideology and entertainment preferences, and she co-authored a report on the Primetime War on Drugs & Terror. With funding from the Pop Culture Collaborative, Blakley is currently analyzing the impact of narrative ingredients of scripted TV shows on viewers.
Blakley is a regular contributor to the Lear Center Blog, and she has guided more than forty manuscripts through the publication process at the Lear Center, including Warners’ War: Propaganda, Politics & Pop Culture in Wartime Hollywood. She has also overseen two major research initiatives about the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation and creativity – Ready to Share: Fashion & the Ownership of Creativity and Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content. At USC, she co-directed a university-wide research initiative on Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy; she developed course materials on cultural diplomacy for the new Masters in Public Diplomacy program at Annenberg, and she taught masters courses on transmedia storytelling.
She received a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught courses on popular culture and twentieth-century literature. Blakley has held a variety of positions within the high-tech industry, including Web producer and digital archivist at Vivendi-Universal Games. She is on the advisory board of Women@Paley at the Paley Center for Media and FEM inc., a technology venture. She has served as an advisor to the Aspen Institute, Active Voice, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and TEDxUSC, the first TEDx event in the world. She’s on the editorial board of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology and she’s a founding member of the board of directors for Les Figues Press, a venue for literary experimentation.
CBS & Viacom strike merger deal
CBS and Viacom have struck a merger deal worth about $50 billion, according to CNBC. The companies have been negotiating a merger deal for three years, which often put CBS and Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone at odds with former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who has since left the company mired by sexual harassment and abuse claims. The Redstone family-controlled National Amusements owns both companies. The combined entity will include CBS, as well as Viacom brands MTV, BET, Showtime, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount.
Whole Foods workers protest Amazon’s work with ICE
Whole Worker, the anonymous group of Whole Foods workers seeking to unionize the Amazon subsidiary’s workforce, released a protest letter yesterday opposing Amazon’s work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The letter specifically calls out Amazon’s cloud support for Palantir—the mysterious company partially-owned by Trump supporter Peter Thiel that helps ICE use artificial intelligence to carry out deportations.
Federal Appeals Court rules Facebook users can sue over facial recognition
You know how Facebook figures out if it’s your face in the images you post? Well, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that a class of Facebook users can sue Facebook under California law for using the facial recognition technology behind that feature. California’s Biometric Information Act requires companies to obtain consent before using the biometric data of their users. The 2015 lawsuit could put Facebook on the hook for billions of dollars.
Senator Marsha Blackburn calls out Huawei
U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, who’s a member of the Senate’s Technology, Innovation, and the Internet subcommittee called out Huawei for allegedly implanting spyware on devices. Blackburn said the China-based company is part of China’s military industrial complex designed to spy on the United States and other countries. Huawei is still on the Commerce department’s blacklist. But last month President Trump said that he would allow U.S. companies to sell equipment to Huawei.
Democrats blast McConnell at DEFCON hacker conference
Senator Ron Wyden and California Representative Ted Lieu blasted Mitch McConnell at the main worldwide hacker conference, DEFCON, last week, for McConnell’s opposition to election security. McConnell has blocked legislation to strengthen election security—stating that federal legislation to defend election systems interferes with states rights.
Francella Ochillo (@franochillo) is the Executive Director of Next Century Cities. Previously, Francella was the Vice President of Policy and General Counsel for the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Francella is a digital rights advocate who is committed to expanding access for unserved and underserved communities. Francella has worked on a variety of technology and telecommunications issues with a specific focus on assessing the impact of policy proposals on marginalized communities. Having worked for more than a decade with government and public interest organizations, she understands the challenges associated with getting various stakeholders to agree on connectivity solutions. Francella helps policymakers and lawmakers understand how broadband access can change socioeconomic outcomes and revitalize communities. It motivates her work to ensure that state and local leaders are given every opportunity to resolve their own connectivity issues and have a voice in shaping federal policies.
Francella is based in Washington, DC and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. She earned a B.S. in Marketing from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and a J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
The day after Robert Mueller gave testimony warning about election interference happening right at this very moment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election security bills last week intended to bolster election integrity. One of the bills would have required paper ballots to be used and passed the House 225-184. Another bill—a Senate bill from Senator Richard Blumenthal—would have required candidates, campaign officials and their family members to report to the FBI any assistance they’ve been offered from foreign agents. Leader McConnell blocked consent on both bills saying they were partisan.
A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Russians interfered in U.S. elections as far back as 2014. It also found Russian activities continued into 2017. The committee released the 67-page report the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony.
French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law a 3% digital services tax last week on U.S. tech companies that make at least $750 million Euros in revenue annually. President Trump said he intends to retaliate, that only the U.S. should tax American-based companies, and that American wine is better than French wine.
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard sued Google last week claiming that the company censored her presidential campaign advertisements. The complaint alleges that by suspending Gabbard’s presidential campaign’s Google Ads account for several hours last month, that Google effectively censored her. Google says that they have an automated system that flags unusual activity. Gabbard is claiming $50 million in damages.
The Justice Department has approved the proposed, $26 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger. However, a lawsuit brought by several state Attorneys General needs to be resolved before the merger takes effect. In exchange for the merger approval, the Hill reports that the Department of Justice is requiring T-Mobile to turn over subscribers and spectrum to Dish Network, which will become a facilities-based, carrier that will compete with the merged company.
Finally, Facebook has settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $100 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission had claimed that Facebook misled investors for more than 2 years after the company became aware of the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015. Facebook disclosed the breach in February of 2018.
5G Broadband Beyond Faster Speeds with Lauren McCarty (Ep. 194)
Nokia's Lauren McCarty joined Joe Miller to discuss the potential for 5G beyond faster speeds on Ep. 194 of the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast.
FaceApp, a viral app created by Russian firm Wireless Lab sparked privacy concerns and angst among law makers last week. Faceapp allows users to upload selfies and lets users see what they’d look like if they swapped genders or what they’re likely to look like 50 years from now.
The app’s terms of service, though, which few of us actually reads, leaves it within Faceapp’s sole discretion to terminate your access to its services, even if losing access causes you loss or harm. The terms also reserve FaceApp’s right to store your pictures, even after you remove them, to “including and without limitation” comply with certain U.S. and foreign regulations, which could be those of any government in the world, including the Russian government. The terms acknowledge that Faceapp uses an artificial intelligence algorithm that enables its ability to alter your photos.
Senator Chuck Schumer called for the FBI and FTC to investigate, saying in a letter to the agencies that the app could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens”.
Partially in response to the domestic hacking of election systems, and partially in response to Russia’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election that was alleged in the Mueller report, the Senate has passed a bill which would criminalize the hacking of voter machines to gain access to voter data. The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act passed by unanimous consent on Wednesday night. Senators Whitehouse, Blumenthal, and Graham introduced the legislation earlier this year.
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump’s re-election campaign is trying to shore up support via a new app that campaign officials say will be released in the coming weeks. The mobile will allow Trump supports to organize in their local communities and register to vote.
Social media bots are widely seen to have played a decisive role in spreading misinformation in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In fact Symantec released a report in June showing that Russia’s propaganda program in that election cycle was even more extensive than was originally thought. So Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation to prohibit campaigns from using these spam bots to “subvert future elections”. It’s called the Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act.
Powerful lawmakers including Maxine Waters and most of the Senate Banking Committee, as well as administration officials including the president and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are all highly skeptical of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra. Senator Sherrod Brown on the Senate Banking Committee was especially vocal in his opposition to the currency during a hearing in which Facebook’s lead for the project, David Marcus, testified. Brown was incredulous that after Facebook which “moved fast and broke our political discourse … broke journalism, helped incite a genocide and … undermin[ed] our democracy” now wants to have a global cryptocurrency available to its 2 billion+ users that would be a global, commercial version of the Federal Reserve. Republicans on the panel also expressed opposition including Banking Commission Chairman Mike Crapo, who suggested the creation of a separate regulatory agency to deal with cryptocurrency.
In the House, Maxine Waters announced that she will be calling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in to testify.
Amazon has hired Trump ally Jeff Miller to lobby on behalf of the company to win approval to work on a $10 billion “war cloud” contract for the Pentagon. Earlier in the week, Trump had expressed opposition to the contract. Republicans are also urging the president not to thwart the contract.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar were joined by 10 other members of Congress in a letter to the Department of Labor asking the agency to investigate working conditions at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota where workers protested about working conditions.
A magistrate judge in the Federal District of Montana, Missoula Division recommended that Chief Judge Dana Christensen enter a default judgement of $14 million in damages against the founder of a neo-Nazi website. Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin had twice failed to appear for his deposition in the case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Ms. Gersh back in 2017. The suit contends that Anglin initiated a “troll storm” against real estate agent Tanya Gersh after Gersh advised the mother of alt-right figure Richard Spencer to denounce her sons views in order to sell her property. Judge Christensen has already ruled in favor Gersh, finding that the First Amendment doesn’t protect harassing speech, so now it’s just a question of whether Judge Christensen will sign off on the magistrate judge’s damages recommendation.
11:45pm – 1pm
Covington & Burling
Hart Senate Office Building, 902
Michael J. Alkire (@AlkirePremier) is the President of Premier, Inc.. As President, Alkire leads the continued integration of Premier’s clinical, financial, supply chain and operational performance improvement offerings helping member hospitals and health systems provide higher quality care at a better cost. He oversees Premier’s quality, safety, labor and supply chain technology apps and data-driven collaboratives allowing alliance members to make decisions based on a combination of healthcare information. These performance improvement offerings access Premier’s comparative database, one of the nation’s largest outcomes databases.
Alkire also led Premier’s efforts to address public health and safety issues from the nationwide drug shortage problem, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Premier research on shortages and gray market price gouging. This work contributed to the president and Congress taking action to investigate and correct the problem, resulting in two pieces of bipartisan legislation.
Prior to serving as President, Alkire was president of Premier Purchasing Partners, which offers group purchasing, supply chain and resource utilization services to hospitals and health systems. Premier remains among the top group purchasing organizations in the industry as the value of supplies purchased through its contracts has increased to more than $56 billion. Upon joining Premier in late 2003, Alkire worked closely with the Purchasing Partners team to develop and implement a three-year transformation plan designed to dramatically increase returns to the alliance’s shareholders while building stronger relationships with members and suppliers.
Alkire is a past board member of GHX and the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. He recently was named one of the Top 25 COOs in Healthcare for 2018 by Modern Healthcare. In 2015, Alkire won the Gold Stevie Award for Executive of the Year and in 2014 he was recognized as a Gold Award Winner for COO of the Year by the Golden Bridge Awards. He has more than 20 years of experience in running business operations and business development organizations at Deloitte & Touche and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Before joining Premier, he served in a number of leadership roles at Cap Gemini, including North American responsibilities for supply chain and high-tech manufacturing.
Alkire graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University and an MBA from Indiana University.
Premier, Inc. and 10 Hospitals Launch Initiative to Improve Maternal and Infant Health (Press Release, July 11, 2019)
HEADLINES: The FTC fines Facebook $5 billion—many say it’s not enough; Trump goes on a racist tirade on Twitter; and Michael Alkire is my guest.
The Federal Trade Commission has fined Facebook some $5 billion with many saying it’s a slap on the wrist. One commentator on Twitter called it a parking ticket, although it was a record fine. But the New York Times notes that the fine concludes just one of several investigations currently pending around the world. Facebook’s revenue last year was $56 billion.
You already know about Trump’s racist tweets over the weekend in which he told democratic, progressive Congresswomen of color, obviously including Representative Ilhan Omar, who fled to the U.S. from Somalia, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. Of course the other Congresswomen to whom he was clearly referring, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were born in the U.S. But Brian Stelter from CNN pointed out something interesting – media outlets like Fox News are avoiding calling the president’s tweets racist, and instead relying on third-party commentators to do that. Twitter even said that the president’s tweets didn’t violate its policies. Twitter though is in a difficult predicament since it’s currently under fire by Trump, along with several other tech companies, for allegedly having an anti-conservative bias.
The Trump administration held a social media summit with conservative content creators and politicians last week. The president told those in attendance that he would invite tech companies to the White House to explain their alleged anti-conservative bias. But the president didn’t provide any evidence.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Huawei, the China-based company that’s been besieged by the Trump administration for allegedly sharing the confidential and sensitive information of U.S. companies with the Chinese government, will be laying off as many as 850 people in the U.S. The U.S. Commerce Department has blacklisted Huawei, which Huawei estimates will cost it some $30 billion.
Andrew Liptak reported in the Verge that the U.S. government is planning to test armed, robotic vehicles beginning next year. The Army will conduct the live-fire tests in Colorado and Europe. The vehicles will be remote controlled.
Scientists at the University of Glasglow photographed, for the very first time, two photons interacting and sharing physical states for a brief moment. What does it mean? Well the photograph will advance the field of quantum mechanics because it proves that photons physically interact with one another—something that was theoretical before. Also, the process of taking the photograph was very involved, creating a model that scientists can use to capture other scientific phenomena that are difficult to observe.
Christopher Lewis, a seven-year veteran of progressive tech policy think tank and advocacy group Public Knowledge, has succeeded Gene Kimmelman as President & CEO. Previously, Chris was a staffer in the late Ted Kennedy’s office.
House Commerce Committee
New America, 740 15th St., NW
New America, 740 15th St., NW
Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonTGB) is Co-Founder of The Giving Block. The Giving Block is a DC-based start-ups focused on helping non-profits incorporate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their funding model. Previously he was a Director at Block Shop, also DC-based, which is a blockchain incubator focused on building real blockchain solutions beyond the hype. a blockchain incubator focused on building real blockchain solutions beyond thehype and serves as Washington DC's blockchain hub for top startups and events. He’s also a Senior Consultant at Optimity Advisors – a Management Consulting Firm in DC. He’s earned his BA at Wake Forest’s School of Business.
HEADLINES: ProPUblica deiscovers an obscene Border Patrol facebook Group insulting migrants and Latina Congresswomen, Twitter’s right wing attacks Kamala Harris, and Alex Wilson is my guest
ProPublica uncovered a secret Facebook Group containing some 9.5 thousand members in which Border Patrol Agents ridiculed migrants and members of Congress with obscene photos. In one comment, one of the agents suggested they throw a burrito at Representatives Veronica Escobar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when they come to visit an El Paso area border Patrol facility. Another group member posted the photo that went viral last week of a man lying face-down in the water next to his young daughter. The poster referred to them as “floaters” and suggested the photo wasn’t real. There were several other racist and sexist comments that I’ll let you find on your own … Customs and Border Patrol says they’re investigating but skeptics believe there to be a pervasive culture at the agency that encourages this type of bigotry.
Twitter accounts identified as bots by researchers Josh Russell and Caroline Orr retweeted a conspiracy by Trumpworld personality Ali Alexander, in which Alexander wrote that Kamala Harris is “not an American Black” because she is half Indian and half Jamaican. Sound familiar? Anyway, Twitter denies that bots were involved and claimed that all of the users who contributed were actual human beings. The social media company said the tweets did not violate its terms of service.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senators Warren and Jaypal criticized the FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Advisory Committee for having to many corporate members on board. Currently, out of 22 members, 15 are corporate, 6 are government officials, and just one is from the nonprofit sector. Neither the FCC nor Chairman Ajit Pai have commented publicly.
In defiance of the FCC’s overturning of the 2015 net neutrality rules, Maine has become the 12th state to pass its own net neutrality rules. These include Colorado, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Montana, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and California.
President Trump has relaxed the ban he imposed earlier this year preventing American companies from selling products to Chinese device manufacturer Huawei. The policy shift came as part of a deal with China to ease trade restrictions.
Facebook has released the latest findings from the civil rights audit being conducted by prominent civil rights attorney Laura Murphy. It’s been received by many social justice advocates working on tech policy as a restatement of things they’ve been calling Facebook out on for a long time, such the need for board diversity, better treatment of people of color and women. The company announced that a task force will be created to address some of the issues raised in the report. But some some say the task force will just be a networking opportunity for members of the task force.
Fri., 7/5-Sun. 7/28
Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble (@safiyanoble) is an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Departments of Information Studies and African American Studies, and a visiting faculty member to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in Department of Media and Cinema Studies and the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in journals and periodicals including the Los Angeles Review of Books, featured in the New York Public Library 2018 Best Books for Adults (non-fiction), and recognized by Bustle magazine as one of 10 Books about Race to Read Instead of Asking a Person of Color to Explain Things to You.
Safiya is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award. Her academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology. She is regularly quoted for her expertise on issues of algorithmic discrimination and technology bias by national and international press including The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, USA Today, Wired, Time, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The New York Times, and Virginia Public Radio, and a host of local news and podcasts, including Science Friction, and Science Friday to name a few. Recently, she was named in the “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2019” by Government Technology magazine.
Dr. Noble is the co-editor of two edited volumes: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions, Technology & Design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of the Journal of Feminist Media Studies. She is a member of several academic journal and advisory boards, including Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno where she was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018.
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya U. Noble (NYU Press: 2019)
Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media by Sarah T. Roberts (Yale University Press: 2019)
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating YouTube over children’s privacy concerns, according to the Washington Post. The Alphabet subsidiary faces steep fines if it’s found to have violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits tracking and targeting children under 13. The FTC and YouTube both declined to comment.
The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers are divided over election security, with some, including Mitch McConnell, who think additional legislation is unnecessary to deal with the challenges posed by technology. Other Republicans, like Lindsay Graham think there’s more we can do.
We reported last week that Facebook announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency called Libra. But House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters is pushing back. Waters asked Facebook to place a moratorium on the release of its cryptocurrency until after Congress has had a chance to review it. Virginia Senator Mark Warner agreed. Both lawmakers said the company’s troubled past is a warning sign. Waters has scheduled a hearing for July 17.
The Department of Homeland Security stated in request for information it released last week that it would be moving the data of hundreds of millions of people around the globe to Amazon Web Services. The DHS is moving the data to a Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) System, hosted by AWS, which will upgrade the agency’s ability to link biometric and biographical data to DNA. The system is designed to quickly identify anyone who’s in the database such as suspected criminals, immigration violators, terrorists and, frankly, you, if you’re in the database.
The Guardian reports that Google parent Alphabet’s board of directors voted down thirteen shareholder proposals that would have ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims by contract workers, addressed ethical concerns stemming from AI and China, and several other social concerns. The board voted against the proposals despite a protest happening outside the company’s headquarters during the vote.
Apple CEO Tim Cook called out big tech at a Stanford Commencement speech last week. He said tech companies need to accept responsibility for the chaos they create and that “Lately it seems this industry is becoming better known for a less noble innovation – the belief you can claim credit without accepting responsibility … We see it every day now with every data breach, every privacy violation, every blind eye turned to hate speech, fake news poisoning out national conversation, the false miracles in exchange for a single drop of your blood.”
In a letter penned by Missouri Representative Emanuel Cleaver, members of the House of Representatives are calling on tech companies to diversify the ranks of outside counsel the companies use. Currently, tech companies retain large law firms notorious for their dismal diversity records and segregating lawyers of color into contractor roles. Congressman Cleaver, along with Representatives Robin Kelly, G.K. Butterfield, and Barbara Lee sent the letter to Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Intel, HP, Cisco and Facebook.
Fairfax County Virginia and Dominion Energy landed a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation for an autonomous electric shuttle in Merrifield. The pilot will be part of a larger potential effort to build a largescale autonomous transportation system in Virginia. This first pilot will connect the Dunn Loring MetroRail Station with the Mosaic district. Under the deal, Dominion will purchase or lease the vehicle and Fairfax County will handle operations.
Senate Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism
Artificial Intelligence and Counterterrorism: Possibilities and Limitations
House Committee on Small Business: Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure
Broadband Mapping: Small Carrier Perspectives on a Path Forward
House Energy & Commerce Committee: Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Stopping Bad Robocalls Act
House Committee on Financial Services
Task Force on Financial Technology: Overseeing the Fintech Revolution: Domestic and International Perspectives on Fintech Regulation
House Committee on Homeland Security: Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Innovation Cybersecurity Challenges for State and Local Governments: Assessing How the Federal Government Can Help
House Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
Continuing Challenges to the Voting Rights Act Since Shelby County v. Holder
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight
Election Security: Voting Technology Vulnerabilities
Transformative Technology of DC
How the Future of Work and STEM are impacting social wellbeing, digital transformation and mindset growth through tech
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
10 G Street Northeast
GEICO Data Science
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT
5260 Western Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20815
House Committee on Homeland Security
Examining Social Media Companies' Efforts to Counter Online Terror Content and Misinformation
Artificial Intelligence: Societal and Ethical Implications
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
NASA’s Aeronautics Mission: Enabling the Transformation of Aviation
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Founding Farmers, Reston
1904 Reston Metro Plaza
Federal Trade Commission
FTC Constitution Center
400 7th ST., SW
Ford Motor Company Fund
Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business
3700 O St NW
General Assembly, 509 7th Street NW, 3rd Floor
Federal Communications Commission
Universal Service Administrative Company
Universal Service Administrative Company
700 12th St., NW
Monica Anderson (@MonicaRAnders) is a senior researcher at Pew Research Center primarily studying internet and technology issues. Much of her recent work has focused on the impact of the digital divide, the role of technology in the lives of teenagers, and activism in the age of social media. She has a master’s degree in media studies from Georgetown University, where her work focused on the intersection of race, politics and media.
Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences by Monica R. Anderson (Pew Research Center, 2018)
U.S. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is demanding that Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim recuse himself from the DOJ’s antitrust investigation of Google and Apple. In the past, Delrahim lobbied on behalf of both companies. Senator Warren wrote directly to the Assistant Attorney General saying that not recusing himself would create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a data breach last week. The agency says thieves obtained traveler photos and license plate numbers via a malicious cyberattack to a subcontractor’s network. The hackers did not directly access CBP’s database.
The Wall Street Journal reports that internal documents may show that Facebook knew about shady data practices happening at the company. Sources say internal emails in which executives are seen grappling with how to comply with the requirements of an FTC consent decree included silence by Zuckerberg as to the implications of an app that had the ability to reveal Facebook user data on its own site, irrespective of the users’ privacy settings on Facebook.
New America’s Open Technology Institute, Free Press and Georgetown Law Center’s Center on Privacy and Technology lodged a complaint at the FCC Friday, claiming that AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint & Verizon have threatened public safety by enabling stalkers, people posing as police officers, debt collectors, and others by disclosing subscribers’ location data to bounty hunters.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Visa, Mastercard, Uber and Paypal will each be investing around $10 million in Facebook’s new cryptocurrency called Libra, which Facebook’s planning to announce this week. Facebook’s been largely quiet about the currency but the Wall Street Journal reports that it would be a currency that’s pegged to government-backed cryptocurrencies and allow users to use the digital coin to make purchases across the internet. Some experts are worried about money laundering.
DC-founded Sweetgreen—the salad giant—is stepping up its delivery game. Even though Sweetgreen is now headquarted in LA, it announced its acquisition of Galley Foods last week, also a DC-based company, to handle delivery logistics. This is Sweetgreen’s first acquisition.
Senate Finance Committee
House Ways & Means Committee
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Department of Commerce
509 7th St., NW
House Small Business Committee
House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress
Kora Research Center
Broccoli City Bar
1817 7th St., NW
Black Girls Code DC Chapter
Howard University School of Business
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Federal Communications Commission
Alfred Mathewson (@hubisoninthe505) is the former Emeritus Professor of Law and Henry Weihofen Chair of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law. He joined the UNM law faculty in 1983 after working as a corporate, securities and banking lawyer in Denver. He was named the Director of the Africana Studies Program in 2013 after having served as Acting or Interim Director since 2009. From 1997 through 2002, he was Associate Dean of Academics. In that position, he oversaw the curriculum, clinical law program, faculty appointments, the faculty promotion and tenure process, library, faculty development and related issues. Professor Mathewson served as a Co-Dean of the law school from 2015 to 2018.
Mathewson's teaching and research focuses on antitrust law, business planning, sports law, minority business enterprises and corporate governance. He frequently supervises in the Business and Tax law Clinic and has served occasionally as Acting Director of the Clinical Law Program during the summer. He recently added Transactional Negotiations to his teaching portfolio. He has published numerous articles and given speeches in these areas and he brings this expertise to his teaching.
He is a member of the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute. He has served on several ABA accreditation inspection teams. He is a member of the AALS Section on Law and Sports Law, of which he has previously served as chair. He currently is serving another stint as chair of the UNM Athletic Council. He serves as the faculty adviser of the UNM Chapter of the Black Law Students Association.
He is active in various community organizations, including the Albuquerque Council on International Visitors. He has served as the president of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association and the Sam Cary Bar Association (Denver).
His recent publications include The Bowl Championship Series, Conference Realignment and the Major College Football Oligopoly: Revolution Not Reform, 1 Miss. Sports L. Rev. (2012) and Remediating Discrimination Against African American Females at the Intersection of Title IX and Title VI, 2 Wake Forest J. L. & Policy (2012). He presented “Times Have Changed: A New Bargain for Sharing the Revenue Stream in Intercollegiate Athletics with Student Athletes,” a paper prepared for panel at AALS 2014 Annual Meeting Section on Law and Sports program entitled, “O'Bannon v. NCAA: Is There An Unprecedented Change To Intercollegiate Sports Just Over The Horizon?”
Race in Ordinary Course: Utilizing the Racial Background in Antitrust and Corporate Law Courses by Alfred Mathewson, 23 St. John’s J. Legal Comment 667 (2008).
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
Civil Rights and the Anti-trust Laws by Philip Marcus
Race, Markets and Hollywood’s Perpetual Dilemma by Hosea R. Harvey
Amazon Antitrust Paradox by Lina M. Khan
Claire Stapleton, one of the organizers of last year’s global walkout at Google following revelations that the company allegedly hid sexual harassment allegations against Android developer Andy Rubin, has left the company, saying she was retaliated against. She wrote in an internal document, later posted on Medium by Google Walkout for Real Change, “These past few months have been unbearably stressful and confusing. But they’ve been eye-opening, too: the more I spoke up about what I was experiencing, the more I heard, and the more I understood how universal these issues are.” Stapleton said she’s leaving the company because she’s having a baby. Google has refuted the allegations.
The State of Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, signed a new privacy bill into law last week requiringcarriers to get consumers’ permission before selling their data to third parties. It specifically prohibits ISPs from retaliating against consumers for refusing to allow their data to be sold.
YouTube shifted gears and revoked the ads of far-right commentator Steven Crowder over Crowder’s use of homophobic language. The company backtracked following outcry over the company’s initial defense of Crowder. But the ban isn’t permanent. Crowder simply must remove the offensive content, including the homophobic t-shirts he was selling in his online store.
The FCC allowed carriers last week to ban even more robocalls by allowing them to stop calls on behalf of subscribers. The order had bipartisan support, but Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel said it opens the door for carriers to charge for the service since the order doesn’t contain any language to prevent that from happening.
Pew reports that rural communities lag the rest of the country when it comes to tech adoption. At 63%, rural households are 10 points lower than the rest of the country. Smartphone penetration, at 67%, is also 10 points lower. Tablet penetration and the number of households with desktop computers also lags.
Finally, it looks like you’re going to have an alternative to Turbo Tax. The tax preparation service is facing some competition from the IRS itself. Congress has killed a provision of the Taxpayer First Act that would have prevented the IRS from creating its own, free online tax filing service.
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Chris Jones (@cjones2002) is the Chief Marketing Officer of Dragonchain and Co-founder of the Blockchain Seattle Conference. He’s a long-time entrepreneur and an expert in strategy, product marketing and user acquisition. He is adept at translating complex, technical features and functionalities into easy to understand concepts. Previously Chris held executive roles with Adidas America, Mattel and Boost Mobile. Chris is an evangelist for blockchain technology and the people and projects. In addition, he consults to other blockchain & technology companies including Storm, a gamified microtasks platform and Sirqul, a leader in the IoT space. He attended Georgetown University as an undergraduate and earned an MBA from Northwestern University.
Blockchain Use Cases
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Reuters reports that Amazon is considering purchasing Boost from T-Mobile. The report comes as the Department of Justice has called for Sprint and T-Mobile to spin off some property to ensure their proposed merger maintains at least 4 mobile competitors.
The New York Times reports that visa applicants planning to enter the U.S. will need provide their social media profiles from the last 5 years. They implemented the policy on Friday. The crackdown comes amidst a staggering anti-immigration posture that largely targets Muslims and people of color, China, and Mexico.
Tech shares tumbled Monday following reports that the DOJ, FTC and Congress will begin investigations against Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. The New York Times reported that the DOJ has an investigation of Alphabet and Apple teed up. And the Federal Trade Commission will investigate Amazon and Facebook, according to sources. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler also announced his committee will conduct its own investigation. The Nasdaq was down 1.6% and tech stocks in indexes around the world rode the rollercoaster in Monday’s trading.
The FCC released its broadband report last week, concluding that carriers are building high speed internet service in a reasonable and timely fashion. This is even though some 23 million Americans lack access to broadband. FCC Commissioner Starks said the report’s findings are “fundamentally at odds with reality”. For example, in DC, some 9,000 people lack access to high speed internet service defined as 25mbps download speed. DC concentrates most of those lacking broadband internet in Wards 5, 7, and 8.
An New York City Airbnb host—an Asian woman—called her black guests monkeys and criminals and then called the police. The guests ended up leaving and staying in a hotel. You can find the link to the Instagram video in the show notes.
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Kriti Sharma (@sharma_kriti) is an Artificial Intelligence expert and a leading global voice on ethical technology and its impact on society.
She built her first robot at the age of 15 in India and has been building innovative AI technologies to solve global issues, from productivity to inequality to domestic abuse, ever since. Kriti was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was included in the Recode 100 List of Key Influencers in Technology in 2017. She was invited as a Civic Leader to the Obama Foundation Summit. She is a Google Anita Borg Scholar and recently gave expert testimony on AI Policy to the UK Parliament in the House of Lords.
While much of Silicon Valley worry about doomsday scenarios where AI will take over human civilization, Kriti Sharma has a different kind of concern: What happens if disadvantaged groups don’t have a say in the technology we’re creating? In 2017, she spearheaded the launch of the Sage Future Makers Lab, a forum that will equip young people around the world with hands-on learning for entering a career in Artificial Intelligence.
Earlier this year, she founded AI for Good, an organization creating the next generation technology for a better, fairer world. Kriti also leads AI and Ethics at Sage.
Kriti's Ted Talk: How to Keep Human Bias out of AI
Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
Two Amazon shareholder resolutions to curb Rekognition—with a K—the company’s facial recognition platform—failed to garner shareholder approval last week. One proposal would have required the company to determine whether the technology violates civil liberties before rolling it out to law enforcement. The other resolution would have required Amazon to conduct a study of human rights violations posed by Rekognition. While Amazon is reluctant to address these issues, Google and Microsoft have pledged not to sell their facial recognition to law enforcement.
The Financial Times reports that U.S. National Security Advisor Dan Coates has been warning U.S.-based companies about doing business with China. Coates has even gone as far as sharing classified information with executives. The classified briefings come amidst a U.S. trade war with China which includes a ban of China-based tech company Huawei from doing business in the U.S. because of a cozy relationship it allegedly had with Iran and the fact that China is alleged to be using the company’s components to spy on the U.S. The Financial Times says the briefings have largely focused on the espionage and intellectual property threats China poses.
A bi-partisan bill introduced by Senators Ed Markey and John Thune, that would slap robocall offenders with a fine of $10,000 per call, passed the Senate with a vote of 97 to 1 on Thursday. The legislation also increases penalties for scammers and works to combat number blocking. The bill is called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACE) Act and now heads to the House where Democrat Frank Pallone’s got a similar bill in the works.
Google has tweaked it policy for abortion ads after several misleading abortion ads showed up on the platform. Now, the company’s saying that it will certify advertisers who want to place abortion-related ads as either abortion providers or non-providers. Any advertiser that doesn’t fall into one of those categories won’t be able to run abortion ads on Google.
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Luis Avila (@phoenikera) is the President and Founder of Iconico Campaigns, a company that works to build advocacy capacity in organizations around the country. Migrating in 2000 from Mexico, Luis stayed in the U.S. to attend college, where he developed projects with people involved in arts, politics and social justice. In 2004, Luis learned about civic participation in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of the American Freedom Summer program. He collaborated with organizers and leaders to advocate for the DREAM Act, fight against SB1070 and challenge Sheriff Joe Arpaio's discriminatory practices in Arizona. In 2008, Luis joined the Obama campaign where he got insight on cornerstone aspects of electoral organizing. This knowledge, paired with technologies developed to boost volunteer engagement, is applied now in all his advocacy and community engagement work. Luis spearheaded Somos América in 2011, the largest immigrant-rights coalition in Arizona, and currently sits on the Boards of Advisors of the National Council for La Raza and The New Teacher Project, an organization working to end education inequality. A long-time family and community engagement expert, Luis has designed engagement models for domestic and international organizations and school systems. In 2016, he served as Nevada's Democratic Coordinated Campaign Field Director, contributing to major victories in the state legislature, electing the first Latina Senator and delivering the state to Hillary Clinton, and he’s currently launching Instituto, an organization to build political infrastructure in communities of color in Arizona.
The FCC signals that it will approve the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, China’s Huawei has a tough week as President Trump limits its U.S.-based business, and Luis Avila is my guest
The Trump administration appears divided over whether to approve the Sprint/TMobile merger. The companies say if the merger’s approved they’ll have 5G built out to the entire country in 6 years. Sprint says they’ll also sell prepaid wireless company Boost mobile. FCC Chair Ajit Pai says the merger conditions the companies are proposing are adequate and said he’d approve the deal. The two other Republicans on the Commission signaled their support as well giving the deal the majority it needs at the FCC. Policy expert Gigi Sohn says though that over at the DOJ’s antitrust division, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim is saying the conditions aren’t enough.
Chinese device manufacturer Huawei had a tough week last week as President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that bans American telecom companies from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a national security threat. American officials have accused the company of violating an American trade embargo against Iran and with assisting China with spying on U.S. companies. Since Trump issued the order, Google parent Alphabet has suspended doing business with Huawei, outside of what’s available via open source, by revoking the Android licensing deal the tech giant had with Huawei.
Looks like the White House wants to set up its own social network to compete with Twitter and Facebook. The White House has created a creepy new database that lets conservatives report instances in which they’ve been censored on social media platforms. The President is attempting to get users to opt-in to a separate White House newsletter that purports to allow anyone, irrespective of their political views, to receive updates without relying on Facebook and Twitter.
The White House also decided not to sign on to a multinational campaign created by Christchurch, New Zealand to stamp out online hate speech. The White House says the effort would dilute the freedom of speech. 18 other countries, including many of America’s allies, disagreed.
Johns Hopkins has released a free online course where users can learn how to prevent and protect against gun violence. The course contains six modules taught by experts, including mental health professionals. It’s entitled Reducing Gun Violence in America: Evidence for Change and its intended to equip students to use research to combat gun violence in America.
Major wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon have claimed that they have stopped sharing geolocation data with third party bounty hunters. But the the facts suggest otherwise. Congressman Mike Doyle notes that the number of complaints about police departments and others unauthorized (and unconstitutional, for that matter) surveillance of individuals has been on the rise. AT&T has acknowledged that it took advantage of a loophole in a Communications Act privacy provision that doesn’t cover a type of geolocation data known as A-GPS which AT&T’s Joan Marsh says is less precise than location data covered by the National Emergency Address Database.
Amazon released its plan for 2 LEED-certified 22 story office buildings in Arlington. There will be 50,000 square feet of street level space for retail and restaurants.
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Harold Feld is Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President. Before becoming Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold worked as Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, advocating for the public interest in media, telecommunications, and technology policy for almost 10 years. Prior to joining MAP, Harold was an associate at Covington & Burling, worked on Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and accountability issues at the Department of Energy, and clerked for the D.C. Court of Appeals. He received his B.A. from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Boston University Law School. Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory, a progressive blog on media and telecom policy. In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised him and his blog for "[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground."
The Case for the Digital Platform Act by Harold Feld
In a 5-4 the decision, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to Apple in a class action lawsuit claiming that company’s app store is a monopoly. The case will now proceed in the district court. The issue was whether regular consumers have standing to sue Apple for antitrust violations, or whether it was just competitors who have standing to sue. Justice Kavanaugh sided with the court’s liberal justices, saying that if consumers didn’t have standing, that retailers would be able to evade antitrust enforcement, by structuring deals with suppliers and manufactures in a way that complies with the black letter of the law, but still effectively have a monopoly.
Police in Pittsburgh arrested an Uber driver, Richard Lomotey, who is also an assistant professor at Penn State’s Beaver campus, for allegedly locking two female passengers in his car and telling them, “you’re not going anywhere”. Lomotey is charged with two counts of kidnapping.
Protestors converged on Palantir’s headquarters around the country over the company’s $38 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the Intercept, Palantir, which was founded by Trump adviser Peter Thiel, has been working with ICE to help them target and deport unaccompanied children and their families. Palantir says that it only helps ICE with investigations. But the Intercept found written documents, obtained via a FOIA request, that show Palantir pursued an “Unaccompanied Alien Children Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative” with both of ICE’s two major divisions: Homeland Security and Investigations and its other division, which is called Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The New York Times reports that Symantec has discovered that Chinese spies hacked into the National Security Agency and stole its hacking tools. Then it took those tools and used them against the United States. Experts are now questioning what role the U.S. should now play in defining cybersecurity practices around the world. The New York Times describes what China did as being similar to a “
gunslinger who takes an enemy’s rifle and starts blasting away”, making cybersecurity, in a lot of ways, like the Wild West.
The Justice Department has charged two Chinese nationals for hacking Anthem back in 2015 that affected some 78.8 million Americans. The DOJ says the hackers used “extremely sophisticated techniques” to hack into Anthem and three other companies. DOJ officials call it one of the worst attacks in U.S. history.
Amazon reported that over 6 months last year, it was hit by what it termed an “extensive fraud” with hackers siphoning funds from merchant accounts.
Pew reports that despite all of the breaches, and hacks and problems in the tech sector and Facebook, in particular, Americans’ interest in tech remains unchanged compared to last year. Black and Hispanic adults’ use of YouTube exceeds that of Whites by 6 and 7 points respectively, with 78 and 77 percent saying they’ve ever used YouTube. Notably, Hispanic adults far outpace Whites on Instagram—by some 18 points, with 51 percent of Hispanics saying they’ve ever used the platform compared to just 33% of Whites. Blacks and Hispanics also far outpace Whites on WhatsApp, by 11 points and 29 points, respectively. You can find a link to the report in the show notes.
Uber drivers around the world protested Uber and Lyft on the day of Uber’s IPO last week. The largest number of protestors, hundreds, appeared outside Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco. But the turnout in other cities around the world, were more modest. This underscores the difficulty of organizing in a company without a central company-wide email system that drivers can use to organize.
Oracle is suing the Pentagon for eliminating it from a bidding process after Amazon allegedly offered a job to a Department of Defense employee for crafting the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure in a way that benefitted Amazon.
DC City Council member Phil Mendleson threatened DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Twitter, saying that he would withhold building permits for government projects if the Mayor fails to implement a law designed to regulate short -term rentals like Airbnb. The Mayor’s office is saying the law may be unconstitutional because it limits owners of units that don’t actually reside at their property from sharing with renters for more than 90 days per year. The law is scheduled to take effect on October 1st.
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This event has a high demand and the location isn’t public. But you can find the link to the interest list in the show notes.
Randy Abreu (@AbreuAndTheCity) is the Senior Legislative Advisor to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Abreu served in the Obama Administration where he was appointed to the Department of Energy's Office of Technology Transitions and Clean Energy Investment Center. He is an alum of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Google Policy fellowships and is currently a Google NextGen Leader, Internet Law and Policy Foundry fellow, and member of the Bronx Progressives.
Abreu has a personal history of advocating for social justice, and federal experience producing regulations and initiatives on intellectual property, drones, self-driving cars, cybersecurity, broadband access, spectrum allocation, e-privacy, and tech-transfer.
Read more at https://washingtechpodcast.libsyn.com/randy-abreu-tech-policy-in-the-bronx-and-beyond-ep-128#ySt87YOYc4MbviFm.99
Mark Zuckerberg comes under direct assault ahead of a shareholder vote to keep him on the Board, Microsoft defends election security, and Randy Abreu is my guest
Two civil rights groups—Color of Change and Majority Action—are circulating a proposal and meeting with Facebook’s shareholders pushing to oust Mark Zuckerberg from the board. Color of Change President Rashad Robinson wrote “ "Lasting change to address the misinformation, discrimination, violent movements and data breaches that put users, especially Black users, at risk cannot subject to the whims of a single person." Currently, Zuckerberg controls 57.7% of voting shares. The Hill notes that 35% of Facebook’s shareholders withheld votes last year.
Here in DC Senators Blumenthal and Hawley wrote to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to wrap up its investigation into Facebook, calling for significant damages that exceed the $5 billion that some reports have anticipated.
Several sources have reported that Facebook has told federal regulators at the Federal Trade Commission that, in addition to paying what’s expected to be a multibillion dollar fine, it will also bend to additional oversight. Any major changes that Facebook plans to make to the platform would now need to go through a more rigorous approval process. And Facebook would need to hire a new privacy executive that the FTC pre-approves. Facebook has also redesigned its website to emphasize group messages over the news feed in order to address privacy concerns.
The Trump administration has expanded its collection of biometric data from migrant families at the U.S. border with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security will now conduct DNA tests and a pilot to collect fingerprints from children under 14.
Russia took a huge step last week to close itself off from the internet. Vladimir Putin signed a new bill that would allow his country to develop a “sustainable, fully-functioning, and secure sovereign internet” to defend itself against potential cyberattacks. The bill envisions doing this by creating a Russia-specific Domain Name Server.
Senators Steve Daines And Gary Peters introduced a bipartisan bill that would prevent the Customs and Border Protection’s ability to sell personally identifiable information, like addresses and social security numbers, to third parties. The senators say the new measure could help prevent identity theft and credit card fraud.
Uber and Lyft have stopped adding new drivers in New York City approximately 3 months after a new law went into effect that requires drivers to earn at least $17.22 per hour after expenses. The new law is intended to address low pay but also reduce the number of unused ride-sharing vehicles on the street. Politico noted that Uber and Lyft drivers have earned some $56 million more than they would have prior to February first.
Several hundred employees at Google offices around the world, including in London, staged a sit in last week to protest alleged retaliation against Google employee Meredith Whittaker for organizing a 20,000-employee walkout to protest forced arbitration f. During the sit-in other employees spoke about instances of retaliation that they too have allegedly experienced. Google released a statement saying it takes retaliation seriously and that it offers multiple channels by which employees have the ability to complain about retaliation, including anonymous complaints.
Microsoft is taking the initiative to beef up election security by offering a free software that secures and validates votes and elections with new encryption methods. The company says it is ready to release “early prototypes” by 2020. Keep in mind though that it won’t be prepared for “significant deployments” until after the 2020 elections.
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Jelani Anglin is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Good Call. Good Call’s mission is to ensure that anyone who is arrested will have immediate access to a lawyer via its hotline 833-3-Goodcall. Jelani is a community organizer and serial entrepreneur. During High School, Jelani started his first online business, for which he was awarded the NYS FBLA Business Plan of the Year award, and was featured on national TV. Prior to founding Good Call, Jelani worked on a variety of issue-based and electoral campaigns, in addition to being a community organizer at AirBnb. Growing up in Far Rockaway, NY, and organizing in low-income communities across the east coast, Jelani experienced firsthand the pitfalls that exist for those oppressed by the criminal justice system. He works every day to better communities similar to where he grew up, and hopes his work will be a stepping stone for other young black males. In addition to being Co-executive Director at Good Call, Jelani is an Echoing Green fellow and a Civil Justice Fellow at Blue Ridge Labs.
Mastery by Robert Greene
The 50th Law by Robert Greene
Twitter, Facebook, and Google dominate the headlines in another week of near chaos as tech and public policy still fail to see eye-to-eye on privacy, hate speech, and workplace issues, and Jelani Anglin is my gust
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called Representative Ihan Omar the same day he met with President Trump, after she started receiving death threats following Trump’s tweet of her giving a speech alongside images from the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Washington Post says he called her to tell her he stood by his company’s position to keep the tweet up because he concluded it didn’t violate Twitter’s rules. He also said that taking it down wouldn’t have done much since the tweet had already been widely shared. Dorey also said the company needed to do a better job monitoring for and removing hate speech and harassment. At the meeting with Trump, Trump complained to Dorsey that too many of his followers had been removed. But Dorsey reportedly said that it removes followers based on how much spam they tweet and that he also lost a lot of his own followers.
So Twitter won’t ban certain hate speech, apparently because certain GOP politicians would also be affected by it. During an all hands meeting someone asked why the company could ban Islamic State propaganda but not white supremacist content. An executive and engineer responded saying societal norms allow some Arabic language to be banned in order to sweep up ISIS tweets, but that societal norms wouldn’t allow sweeping up politicians’ tweets flagged as hate speech.
So yeah … Just total armchair policymaking at Twitter. Although, to be fair, Twitter did release a statement saying that this approach did not reflect the real approach at all.
But why won’t Twitter take down David Duke, for example? Not even Jack Dorsey knows since, when he was asked at a Ted event to explain, he just punted.
In any case, reading all of the news reports it’s clear that Twitter has absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on or how to design algorithms that prevent it from being used as a political propaganda machine. But the company is reportedly working on a way to make the context for political tweets more transparent—whatever the hell that means.
And meanwhile, we’re just supposed to sit here and deal with the mass shootings, and deal with the death threats and there’s absolutely not a single mechanism in this democracy that can handle it?
Recall that last week we reported that Facebook swept up some 1.5 million user emails to help it build new products and services. Well, users didn’t authorize the use of their emails for that purpose. So New York Attorney General Letitia James is now investigating.
The Washington Post reports that up in Canada, regulators are planning to sue Facebook for breaking privacy laws. Canada began an investigation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and found that the company’s privacy protections are merely “superficial”.
The Hill reports that Ireland is now also investigating Facebook for exposing the passwords of “hundreds of millions” of users . Ireland’s looking into whether the company violated the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Facebook has hired Jennifer Newstead as its new General Counsel. Newstead previously helped draft the Patriot Act under George W. Bush when she was an attorney in the Bush administration. She’d previously worked for OMB, Justice, and the White House. Before she was appointed as Facebook’s GC, she was Trump’s appointed legal adviser at the State Department according to Politico.
Facebook is scheduled to report its first quarter earnings tomorrow, Wednesday May 1, so keep an eye out for that.
A report in USA Today discusses how Facebook censors black users from talking about race. So you’re going to want to check that out.
Google has changed its reporting and harassment protocol for harassment and discrimination. The change comes after two employees who helped organize the walkout of some 20, 000 other employees in protest of Google’s forced arbitration for such complaints claimed the company retaliated against them. Google will now have a dedicated site where employees can report harassment and discrimination, and the company will also now make arbitration an option for employees. The company has also expanded its annual internal misconduct report to include information about sexual harassment investigations,
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Daiquiri Ryan (@DaiquiriRyan) serves as the policy counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition where she leverages her policy expertise to advocate on behalf of the Latino community on Capitol Hill and beyond. She monitors, reviews and analyzes policies, programs, regulations and proposals to identify ways to close the Latino digital divide and expand access to communications for all Americans, regardless of their income or home zip code. Daiquiri’s advocacy work includes preserving net neutrality, strengthening privacy protections, and increasing diversity in media ownership.
Previously Daiquiri served as policy fellow at Public Knowledge, where she created and led the Broadband Connects America rural broadband coalition, engaged online creators in the fight to restore net neutrality, led litigation against the FCC’s repeal of the 2016 Tech Transitions order, and advocated for policies to close the digital divide. Her other fellowships have included time at Amazon, the DC Office of Attorney General, and the Arizona Department of Education. She is a member of the inaugural class of Google Next Gen Policy Leaders, where she co-leads a working group focused on creative policy solutions for intellectual property and social justice.
Daiquiri also serves as Vice President and co-founder of the Joey Ryan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) created in honor of her late brother that focuses on empowering young people with disabilities. She received her Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School, Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Media Relations from Arizona State University, and is admitted to the state Bar of Texas.
The Muellerreport finds Russians tried to hack Hillary emails within 5 hours after Trump called for it, the CIA warns the world about Huawei, and Daiquiri Ryan is my guest
The Mueller report on Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election found that Russians attempted to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails just 5 hours after Trump called for Moscow to do so while he was on the campaign trail. It’s just one of the many, many lies and deceptive tactics both Russia and the Trump administration employed during the 2016 campaign season.
The CIA told spy agencies abroad last week that China’s People’s Liberation Army, National Security Commission and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, have funded Chinese telecom giant Huawei to supply 5G technology to Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. We reported back in December that Canada arrested Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou for allegedly defrauding multiple financial institutions in order to evade sanctions against Iran. The DOJ has since charged Meng with fraud. And Huawei is currently banned from doing business in the U.S. Huawei is suing the U.S. for the ban saying in part that the ban is politically motivated.
Business Insider reported last week that in 2016, Facebook “unintentionally uploaded” some 1.5 million of Facebook users’ emails in order to develop new products and services. Facebook says it’s deleting the data.
BuzzFeed News reported that Twitter left up death threats made against Rep. Ilhan Omar. The threats came after President Trump tweeted spliced footage of the Congresswoman alongside footage of the September 11th attacks. Twitter said it left the threats up so that Capitol Police could investigate.
Meanwhile, the EU parliament voted in a measure that would fine social media companies for leaving up extremist content for too long.
The DOJ’s Antitrust Division told Sprint and TMobile last week that the proposed $26 billion merger of the two companies, in its current form, is unlikely to be approved. That’s according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
In an investigative report, the New York Times has found that law enforcement agencies are increasingly relying on Google’s SensorVault technology as an evidence repository to identify devices that were present at crime scenes. Some of the data dates back several years. Law enforcement officials interviewed in the report claim the search data it obtains from Google is only used to supplement additional evidence it collects from suspects.
Reuters reports that Microsoft turned down an unnamed California law enforcement agency after the agency asked the company to install facial recognition technology in squad cars and body cams. Microsoft President Brad Smith said the agency’s use of the technology would lead to a negative impact on women and people of color because thus far it has only tested the technology on white males.
Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) is a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. She is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable and democratic communications networks. For 30 years, Gigi has worked to defend and preserve the fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband Internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open and protective of user privacy. From 2013-2016, Gigi was Counselor to the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler. From 2001-2013, Gigi served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a leading telecommunications, media and technology policy advocacy organization. She was previously a Project Specialist in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture unit and Executive Director of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm. Gigi holds a BS in Broadcasting and Film, Summa Cum Laude from the Boston University College of Communication and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution by Susan Crawford (Yale University Press, forthcoming, 2019)
The success of the net neutrality bill designed to reinstate the 2015 net neutrality rules that passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee last week by a vote of 30-22, looks increasingly unlikely to succeed, as its still gotta get past the Senate, and the Trump administration has threatened to veto even if it does. A floor vote in the House is expected today.
Congress is continuing its ramp up of scrutiny of big tech, looking specifically at how social media and tech companies enable harmful speech. They’re also looking at competition issues like Amazon’s promotion of its own private label products over competing products offered by smaller businesses.
The House Judiciary Committee is holding a bipartisan hearing today on the rise of hate crime and white nationalism 10AM in 2141 Rayburn.
On the competition front…several members are taking a fresh look at antitrust issues following Elizabeth Warren’s SXSW announcement of her proposal to rein in big tech with better antitrust enforcement. And so Amazon quietly removed promotional ads that gave preferential treatment to its own private label products. And Senators Amy Klobuchar and Marsha Blackburn sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to investigate Google for antitrust and data privacy violations.
Elizabeth Warren also introduced a new bill last week that could hold tech executives criminally liable for tech breaches. And Ed Markey introduced a bill that would require Google and Facebook to comply with online privacy rules. Markey’s bill is designed to stem harmful marketing on channels like YouTube that are largely unregulated in terms of the marketing and advertising that kids are exposed to.
Google has killed the AI ethics board it set up. That’s after thousands of employees and public advocates pushed the company to remove Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James--over comments she made about trans people and for the Heritage Foundation’s skepticism regarding climate change. The board also lacked civil rights leaders, as NAACP President Derrick Johnson noted on Twitter.
Leading AI scientists, including Yoshua Bengio, who won the Turing Award, which is basically the Nobel Prize of technology, have signed a letter urging Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software, known as Rekognition. A couple of peer-reviewed papers have found the software, which police departments have been using, disproportionately misidentifies women and people of color. The New York Times has more.
Microsoft promises to give its employees space to discuss discrimination issues at monthly employee meetings. CEO Satya Nadella and HR Chief Kathleen Hogan announced during an all-hands call last week. The move comes after employees erupted in an email thread, complaining about gender discrimination issues at the company.
House Judiciary Committee
Today, Tues., 4/9 at 10AM
Rayburn 2141, Streaming
Federal Trade Commission
Tues., 4/9 and Wed., 4/10
400 7th St SW, Washington, DC 20024
Senate Judiciary Committee
Wed., 4/10 at 2:30PM
Dirksen 226, Streaming
Senate Commerce Committee
Thurs, 4/11 at 10AM
216 Hart, Streaming
Fri., 4/12 at 10AM
1775 Massachusetts Ave.. NW
FCC Open Meeting
Fri., 4/12 at 10:30AM
445 12th St. SW
Commission Meeting Room, Streaming
Ben Green joined Joe Miller to discuss how stakeholders can develop a more inclusive approach to smart cities by engaging local residents.
Ben Green (@benzevgreen) is a PhD Candidate in Applied Math at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and an Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. He studies the implementation and impacts of data science in local governments, with a focus on “smart cities” and the criminal justice system. Analyzing the intersections of data science with law, policy, and social science, Ben focuses on the social justice and policy implications of data-driven algorithms deployed by governments. His forthcoming book, The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future, will be published in April 2019 with MIT Press (Amazon link).
Ben’s research draws on his extensive experience working with data and technology in municipal government. He most recently spent a year working for the Citywide Analytics Team in the City of Boston, where he developed analytics to improve public safety operations and civic engagement strategies for the City’s new open data program. Ben previously worked as a Fellow at the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship, and partnered with the City of Memphis, TN using machine learning to identify blighted homes. He also worked for a year at the New Haven Department of Transportation, Traffic, and Parking, where he managed the deployment of new parking meter payment technology.
Ben completed his undergraduate degree in Mathematics & Physics at Yale College. His graduate work has been funded by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the Herbert Winokur SEAS Graduate Fellowship.
The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future by Ben Green (forthcoming MIT Press, April 9, 2019).
It was a rough week for Google in the LGBTQ community.
First, the Human Rights Coalition suspended Google from its rankings, for which Google had a perfect rating, because Google allowed an app promoting conversion therapy to remain in its app store. Google has since pulled the app.
Also, several Googlers took aim at Google’s new Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) last week for naming Heritage Foundation President Kay Cole James as a member. Cole has repeatedly spoken out frequently against LGBTQ interests and trans folks in particular. So over a thousand Googlers signed on to a letter published on Medium opposing Cole’s appointment.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson also criticized Google for failing to include civil rights leaders on the council.
Facebook announced that it will now ban content promoting white nationalism and white separatism. The company will ban content with phrases that explicitly refer to white nationalism and white separatism. But Facebook said that finding implicit instances of white nationalism and white separatism will take some time for Facebook to learn how to identify. Mark Zuckerberg also wrote a Washington Post Op-Ed seeking a third-party tribunal that would reinforce Facebook’s efforts. Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr weighed in opposing such a framework.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has already sued Facebook for allowing real estate advertisers to exclude certain ethnicities and zip codes, is now investigating Twitter and Google as well, according to the Washington Post.
A group of IBM ex-employees sued the company in federal court in New York City for failing to disclose how many people it laid off who were over the age of 40. It’s the second lawsuit following a ProPublica report last year that documented rampant alleged age discrimination at the company. At issue is a provision in IBM’s separation agreement that requires employees to agree not to sue the company in exchange for severance pay.
Google and Cuba’s state-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA have agreed to begin negotiations on bringing better connectivity to the island. The agreement entails Google’s and ETECSA’s engineers working together to bring better connectivity to the island via Google’s points of presence in Florida, Mexico, and Colombia without having to pay the hefty interconnection fees it’s been paying to a third party carrier to connect to Venezuela.
Finally, Nipsey Hussle, the rapper and community champion who was murdered in front of his clothing shop in L.A. on Sunday, was an avid supporter of science, technology, engineering, and math education for underrepresented youth and diversity in tech. John Ketchum writes in AfroTech that in an LA Times interview last year, Hussle was quoted as saying that kids are often nudged to emulate athletes and entertainers but that there should be more messaging around emulating tech leaders like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
Rayburn Rm. 2043
Privacy + Security Academy
The Marvin Center
800 21st St. NW
1440 G St. NW
Maureen K. Ohlhausen joined Joe Miller to discuss whether U.S. antitrust law is the appropriate mechanism by which to rein in big tech.
Maureen K. Ohlhausen (@M_Ohlhausen) is the Antitrust and Competition Law Practice Chair and Partner at the law firm of Baker Botts. Previously, she served as Acting Chairman at the Federal Trade Commission for 2 years and prior to that as a Commissioner for 6. She directed all aspects of the FTC's antitrust work, including merger review and conduct enforcement, and steered all FTC consumer protection enforcement, with a particular emphasis on privacy and technology issues. A thought leader, Maureen has published dozens of articles on antitrust, privacy, IP, regulation, FTC litigation, telecommunications, and international law issues in prestigious publications and has testified over a dozen times before the U.S. Congress. Maureen has relationships with officials in the U.S. and abroad, with a particular emphasis on Europe and China, and has led the U.S. delegation at the international antitrust and data privacy meeting on many occasions. She has received numerous awards, including the FTC's Robert Pitofsky Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to her role as a Commissioner, Maureen led the FTC's Internet Access Task Force, which produced an influential report analyzing competition and consumer protection legal issues in the area of broadband and internet. In private practice, he headed the FTC practice group at a leading telecommunications firm, representing and counseling telecommunications and technology clients on antitrust compliance, privacy, and consumer protection matters before the FTC and the FCC. She also clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Here’s how we can break up big tech by Elizabeth Warren (Ms. Ohlhausen argues against.)
Facebook is no longer permitting housing, employment and credit advertisers to target users based on their age, race, gender or zip code. This brings Facebook in line with federal rules preventing broadcasters from discriminating in ad sales contracts on the basis of race or gender. The new prohibitions are part of a settlement with several advocacy organizations that filed discrimination lawsuits against Facebook after ProPublica published an investigative report showing its ability to exclude certain ethnicities from seeing housing ads.
House democrats plan to vote, on Monday, April 8th, on the bill that would reinstate the 2015 net neutrality rules—the Save the Internet Act. Opponents are trying to tack on a bunch of Amendments even though the bill is pretty straight forward in terms of its intended scope. Even if the bill passes the House though, it faces an uphill climb in Mitch McConnel’s lair high up on the mountain -- I mean the Senate. And the president would also have to sign it – we’ll see what happens.
This time, the security firm KrebsonSecurity found that, for years, Facebook stored hundreds of millions of user names and passwords in a text file. What’s the problem with this you ask? Well the text file was searchable by any of Facebook’s 20,000 employees. So let’s say a date didn’t go so well with some brah who happens to work at Facebook? Well guess what he could just go ahead and search for your password. Facebook has allegedly used this method dating back as far as 2012.
House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings has demanded documents from the attorney representing Jared Kushner regarding Kushner’s use of a private email address and What’s App to conduct official business. This of course is the same thing Republicans went after Hillary Clinton for during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The FCC will pay $43,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to a New York journalist named Jason Prechtel for failing to turn over information, under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, related to fake comments filed in the net neutrality proceeding. The case was settled without prejudice which means the FCC won’t admit to any wrongdoing—even though it didn’t respond to the journalist within the statutory timeframe.
California Republican Representative Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and 3 users for $250 million saying he was “defamed” and claiming that Twitter bans conservative viewpoints.
After two years, President Trump has finally named a Chief Technology Officer. Michael Kratsios is just 32 but well-connected and worked for Thiel Capital. Peter Thiel as you’ll recall is a Donald Trump Supporter
Tuesday March 26th
1201 Pennsylvania Ave.
It will be livestreamed
Senate Commerce Committee
2:30pm – Dirksen 562
Wednesday March 27th
House Judiciary Committee
Falk Auditorium @ Brookings
1776 Massachussetts, NW
There will be a webcast for this as well.
Alisa Valentin of Public Knowledge joined Joe Miller to discuss her approach to building a constructive dialogue at the intersection of tech and social justice.
Alisa Valentin (@alisavalentin) is the Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge, where she focuses on digital inclusion policies for communities of color and policies that diversify media ownership.
Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Alisa served as an intern in the Office of Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the Federal Communications Commission and as a legislative fellow for Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. Alisa was also an adjunct professor at several D.C. area colleges and universities where she taught communications and women’s studies courses.
Alisa received her Ph.D. in Communications from Howard University. She also earned her B.S. from the University of Florida and an M.S. from Northwestern University.
#TechPolicySoWhite by Alyssa Valentin (Public Knowledge, 2019)
Facebook failed to block some 20% of videos showing the shooting in New Zealand, including videos that praised the shooting. That’s some 300,000 videos. The company reports though that it did manage to take down some 1.2 million videos related to a white supremacist’s massacre of 50 worshippers at 2 mosques in Christchurch.
Arlington County, Virginia has approved $23 million in incentives for Amazon to put its second headquarters in Crystal City. Protestors attended an Arlington County board meeting to oppose the vote saying the county should focus on affordable housing before Amazon. Opponents are also concerned about traffic congestion and school overcrowding.
The Arlington chapter of the NAACP also opposed certain aspects of the incentive package. But the County board unanimously approved the incentives with a 5-0 vote. So again—just like in Queens—very superficial engagement by Amazon to reach out to the local community or even include them in negotiations. It’s just extremely poor stakeholder engagement – and they do it because they can.
Facebook has reinstated Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ads calling for a breakup of the social media giant along with Google and Amazon. A company spokesman says it removed the ads because they violated a policy regarding the use of Facebook’s logo … even though the whole point of that type of policy is obviously to prevent ads going up that criticize the company.
Finally, Apple is defending its app store policies against Spotify after Spotify filed a complaint against Apple in Europe for allegedly engaging in anticompetitive behavior by setting its cost to carry the Spotify app in the app store too high. Apple currently charges 30% for anything sold in the app store. Apple says Spotify is simply seeking to avoid paying the same fee everyone else pays.
Federal Trade Commission
Hearing on Competition and Consumer Protection in U.S. broadband markets
400 7th St. NW
Public Knowledge/Georgetown/Goodfriend Group
Algorithmic Exclusion and Data Deserts
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Ave., NW
Tom Wheeler joined Joe Miller to discuss Mr. Wheeler's new book 'From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future'.
Chairman Tom Wheeler is a visiting fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. Wheeler is a businessman, author, and was Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from 2013 to 2017.
For over four decades, Wheeler has been involved with new telecommunications networks and services. At the FCC he led the efforts that resulted in the adoption of Net Neutrality, privacy protections for consumers, and increased cybersecurity, among other policies. His chairmanship has been described as, “The most productive Commission in the history of the agency.” During the Obama-Biden Transition of 2008/09 Mr. Wheeler led activities overseeing the agencies of government dealing with science, technology, space and the arts.
As an entrepreneur, he started or helped start multiple companies offering innovative cable, wireless and video communications services. He is the only person to be selected to both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Wireless Hall of Fame, a fact President Obama joked made him “the Bo Jackson of telecom.”
Prior to being appointed Chairman of the FCC by President Obama, Wheeler was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He is CEO of the Shiloh Group, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services. He co-founded SmartBrief, the Internet’s largest curated information service for vertical markets.
From 1976 to 1984 Wheeler was associated with the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) where he was President and CEO from 1979 to 1984. Following NCTA Wheeler was CEO of several high-tech companies, including the first company to offer high-speed delivery to home computers and the first digital video satellite service. From 1992 to 2004 Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).
Mr. Wheeler wrote Take Command: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000), and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006). His commentaries on current events have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other leading publications.
Mr. Wheeler served on President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board prior to being named to the FCC. Presidents Clinton and Bush each appointed him a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is the former Chairman and President of the National Archives Foundation, and a former board member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University and the recipient of its Alumni Medal. He resides in Washington, D.C.
From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future by Tom Wheeler (Brookings, 2019)
Time to Fix It: Developing Rules for Internet Capitalism (Harvard: Kennedy, 2018)
Who Makes the Rules in the new gilded age? (Brookings, 2018)
Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her proposal last week to reign in tech firms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The plan calls for potentially breaking up some mergers as well as new legislation. Senator Warren wants to break up Doubleclick and Google, Facebook and its subsidiaries Instagram and Whats App, and the Amazon/Whole Foods merger.
Politico reported Monday that Facebook removed ads that Elizabeth Warren placed on the social network which criticized Facebook and called for its breakup. Facebook backtracked after its attempt to silence Warren backfired.
Nancy Pelosi, on behalf of Democrats, introduced a new net neutrality bill last week. The bill is two pages long and would simply reinstate the 2015 Open Internet rules. The bill’s likely to pass the House where Ds hold the majority, but it faces a more uncertain future in the Senate and getting it over the presidents desk.
Trump’s reelection campaign is proposing a plan that would give the government control of the nation’s 5G airwaves, allowing it to lease them out to carriers on a wholesale basis. Most carriers think the plan’s unworkable. But the plan is seen as an attempt to attract rural voters with spotty internet service.
Chinese device manufacturer Huawei, which the U.S. government has accused of spying and violating sanctions against Iran, has now sued the U.S. government for banning the company from doing business in the U.S. The company filed in a U.S. District Court in Plano, Texas, where the company has its U.S. headquarters.
TMobile’s expenditures at Trump’s DC hotel rose sharply after the company reported that it would be seeking to acquire Sprint. Since April of last year, when the merger was announced, TMobile has spent $195,000 at the hotel. But before the merger announcement, the company said that only two employees had stayed there. The FCC paused its review of the merger last week. This is the third time the FCC has paused the 180-day shot clock, which is now on day 122. The merger review has been going on for 8 months. It’s not clear why it was paused this time. But the hotel expenditures may have had something to do with it—especially since the White House actually approved the deal.
Finally, The Hill reported on Monday on a new app that launched which gives users a listing of MAGA-friendly establishments—places where they’re least likely to be made fun of or harassed for wearing their red MAGA hats, or that let them carry legally-concealed weapons … check it out it’s called 63Red—great way to figure out where not to go other than Cracker Barrel.
House E&C Committee, Comms & Tech SubComm
Tues., 3/12, 11:00AM
House E&C Committee, Comms & Tech SubComm
Tues., 3/12, 2:30PM
Hart, Rm. 216
Thurs., 3/14, 9:30AM
Dirksen, Rm. 562
Friday, 3/15, 12:30-2:30
445 12th St., NW
Jevan Hutson joined Joe Miller to talk about how racism in online dating affects economic opportunities.
Jevan Hutson (@jevanhutson) is a Gregoire Fellow at the University of Washington School of Law, where he researches technology policy, social computing, surveillance and privacy, and data ethics, and is an editor for the Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts.
Jevan currently works for the Technology & Liberty Project of the ACLU of Washington, where he advocates for algorithmic accountability in government and restrictions on government use facial recognition technologies. He previously worked for Nintendo of America, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, and Boeing. Jevan holds an MPS in Information Science and a BA in History of Art & Visual Studies from Cornell University, where he was a Research Assistant in the Social Computing Lab and Social Media Lab.
What Dating Apps are doing to Fight Bias by Jevan Hutson (Axios, 2019)
Debiasing Desire: Addressing Bias and Discrimination on Intimate Platforms by Jevan Hutson, Jessie G. Taft, et al. (University of Washington School of Law, 2018)
Several U.S. officials said last week that they blocked the Internet Research Agency’s internet access as the Russian troll factory attempted to interfere with last year’s midterms. The Washington Post reports the operation was the first of its kind after the president and Congress bolstered cybercommand last year. Donald Trump approved the operation.
YouTube has disabled comments on videos that include minors under age 18. The move comes after pedophiles were lurking in comment sections directing users on where to access suggestive images of children.
The Federal Trade Commission has won a case against Cure Encapsulations for paying a third party to write Amazon reviews of a supplement called garcinia cambogia. The drug is known to cause acute liver failure. It’s the first-evern case of its kind. Among other reviews, fake reviewers wrote that the supplement “literally stops fat from forming” rated it an average 4.3 out of 5 stars. Cure Encapulastions is now liable to pay a $12.8 million fine.
The Federal Trade Commission has fined China-based social media company TikTok $5.7 million because before it merged with Musical.ly, Musical.ly illegally collected the names, emails, pictures and location data of kids under 13. The U.S. hasn’t fined TikTok for anything that happened after the merger. TikTok has over 1 billion downloads – 100 million here in the U.S. – and is seen by many experts as legit Facebook rival.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is looking to improve his state’s privacy law that’s set to take effect next year by allowing private individuals to sue companies for damages. The current bill as written allows individuals to take legal action only after giving companies 30 days to correct violations.
Catherine Cortez Masto -- the Democratic Senator from Nevada -- is taking on racial ad targeting in a new bill that prohibits companies like Facebook from targeting on the basis of race. Propublica found back in 2016 that Facebook allows advertisers to exclude racial groups from certain campaigns—a practice which continued at least until the end of 2017.
Twitter suspended far-right activist Jacob Wohl for allegedly attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election by creating fake accounts purporting to support divisive candidates like Howard Schultz. Previously, USA Today had quoted Wohl as saying that he was planning to create “enormous left-wing online properties”. Wohl says it was just an “intellectual exercise”.
The Federal Trade Commission has established a new task force designed to look specifically at tech sector monopolies. The task force will boast 17 staff attorneys and be based in the competition bureau.
Some passengers on a Singapore Airlines flight shared a viral video showing the seatback video monitors in front of them had cameras in side them. Another passenger shared a picture of a similar camera he found on an American airlines flight. United and Delta followed up saying their screens also contain cameras. All four airlines say the manufacturer ships that screens that way for potential future uses, but that currently the cameras are disabled. Currently. One of the manufacturers—Panasonic—told BuzzFeed that it would never activate the cameras without consent from the airline.
So as you know, Amazon backed out of plans to build out one of its new headquarters locations in Long Island City. And now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is like [new edition clip] [PAUSE] Love is HARD! [PAUSE] Representatives from some 70 powerful New York organizations took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to publish an open letter to Amazon Founder & CEO Jeff Bezos. Signatories included National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial and the NAACP’s New York State Conference and Astoria Chapter and the Presidents of the Queensbridge Houses and Astoria Houses Tenants Associations—corporate signatories included Ken Chenault and others. The State University of New York’s Chancellor also signed the letter, as did the Chancellor Designee of the City University of New York and the President of LaGuardia Community College. Several unions also signed. In the letter, the signatories characterized the public debate that followed the announcement as “strident”. It’s pretty hard to pass up an opportunity to add your name to a full-page letter in the New York Times. Whether anyone has carefully evaluated the upsides of the deal for every day New Yorkers isn’t clear. No word yet from Amazon.
House Energy & Commerce Hearing
“Inclusion in Tech: How Diversity Benefits all Americans”
Wed., 3/6 2019 @ 10:30am
Federal Communications Commission
“Symposium on Media Diversity”
Thurs., 3/7 2019 @ 9AM-5:30PM
445 12th St., SW
Renée DiResta joined Joe Miller to discuss the ongoing threat of state-sponsored misinformation campaigns on social media designed to destabilize the U.S. government.
Renée DiResta (@noUpside) is the Director of Research at New Knowledge and a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust. She investigates the spread of malign narratives across social networks, and assists policymakers in understanding and responding to the problem. She has advised Congress, the State Department, and other academic, civic, and business organizations, and has studied disinformation and computational propaganda in the context of pseudoscience conspiracies, terrorism, and state-sponsored information warfare.
Renée regularly writes and speaks about the role that tech platforms and curatorial algorithms play in the proliferation of disinformation and conspiracy theories. She is an Ideas contributor at Wired. Her tech industry writing, analysis, talks, and data visualizations have been featured or covered by numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Fast Company, Politico, TechCrunch, Wired, Slate, Forbes, Buzzfeed, The Economist, Journal of Commerce, and more. She is a 2019 Truman National Security Project security fellow and a Council on Foreign Relations term member.
Renée is the author of The Hardware Startup: Building your Product, Business, and Brand, published by O’Reilly Media.
Previously, Renée was part of the founding team and ran marketing and business development at Haven, the transportation management technology platform that’s transforming trade logistics for commodity, CPG, and food shippers. Before that, Renée was a Principal at seed-stage venture capital fund O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV), where she invested in early technology startups with a focus on hardware, manufacturing, and logistics companies. She spent seven years on Wall Street as an equity derivatives trader and market maker at Jane Street, a top quantitative proprietary trading firm in New York City.
Renée has degrees in Computer Science and Political Science from the Honors College at SUNY Stony Brook. She is a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a Staff Associate at the Columbia University Data Science Institute, a Harvard Berkman-Klein Center affiliate, and is a Founding Advisor to the Center for Humane Technology. She is passionate about STEM education and childhood immunization advocacy, and is one of the co-founders of parent advocacy organization Vaccinate California. For fun, she explores data sets and loves cooking and crafting. Renée and her husband, Justin Hileman, are the parents of two feisty little people.
What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation by Renée DiResta (N.Y. Times, 12/17/18)
The Digital Maginot Line by Renée DiResta (RibbonFarm, 11/28/18)
She Warned of ‘Peer-to-Peer Misinformation.’ Congress Listened. By Sheera Frenkel (N.Y. Times, 11/12/2017)
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended a $479 million military contract with the US Army to supply the company’s augmented reality systems called HoloLens. More than 100 Microsoft employees signed a letter protesting the contract and asking Microsoft to back out. But Nadella said the company won’t withhold technology from what he deems to be “democratic governments” such as the United States.
A Bipartisan group of Senators wrote a letter to the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security yesterday urging them to block Huawei technology from accessing U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure. Several weeks ago, Congress blocked Huawei from accessing the nation’s telecommunication’s infrastructure as security officials believe the China-based company is working on behalf of the Chinese government to spy on the U.S.
Mignon Clyburn joined Joe Miller to discuss how the complex social justice dynamics of tech policy affect alliances in Washington.
Mignon Clyburn (@mignonclyburn) is a former FCC Commissioner and President and CEO of MLC Strategies. Mignon served at the FCC from 2009-2018, with a stint as Acting FCC Chairwoman—the first FCC Chairwoman—in 2013.
While at the FCC, Commissioner Clyburn was committed to closing the digital divide. Specifically, she was an advocate for Lifeline Modernization, which assists low income consumers defray the cost of broadband service, championed diversity in media ownership, initiated Inmate Calling Services reforms, emphasized diversity and inclusion in STEM opportunities, and fought to preserve a free and open internet.
Prior to the FCC, she spent 11 years as a member of the sixth district on the Public Service Commission (PSC) of South Carolina. Prior to the PSC, Clyburn was the publisher and general manager of her family-founded newspaper for 14 years, the Coastal Times, a Charleston-based weekly newspaper that focused primarily on issues affecting the African American community.
In an open letter, 43 groups including the NAACP, National Urban League, OTI, Human Rights Campaign, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Hispanic Media Coalition and others, urged members of Congress last week to consider civil rights as they develop new privacy legislation. The letter points to set of principles the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released back in 2014 focusing on the era of big data which Congress still hasn’t acted on.
The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are reportedly negotiating a multibillion fine the company would have to pay for violating a 2011 privacy consent decree. It would be the largest FTC fine against a technology company, exceeding the $22.5 million fine against Google back in 2012.
Leaders from Apple, Amazon and Google joined a letter under the auspices of the Coalition for the American Dream, a cohort of more than 100 tech leaders from across the ideological spectrum organized to shed light on the economic effects of not enacting legislation to protect DREAMERS. The letter urges leaders in the House and Senate to pass legislation saying that without it, the U.S. economy stands to lose some $350 billion in GDP, with the Treasury standing to lose some $90 billion in tax revenue.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai warned telecom companies that if they don’t adopt a self-regulatory framework to address robocalls this year, the FCC would have to step in. The warning is a follow-up to Pai’s call back in November telling carriers to develop an agreed-upon way to combat “spoofing”, which allows robocallers to appear to be calling from a more trusted number.
As you’ve no doubt already heard, Amazon has canceled plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City in Queens. The move has ignited a debate about the future of the Democratic party as more traditional, neoliberal Democrats appeared to be more in favor of the development plan, while local communities within Democratic strongholds in New York who would’ve been impacted by the deal wrote their members, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urging them to push back against the expansion.
Betsy Cooper (@BetsOnTech) is the founding Director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub. A cybersecurity expert, Ms. Cooper joined Aspen’s Cybersecurity & Technology Program after serving as the Executive Director of the Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at the University of California, Berkeley.
Previously, she served at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as an attorney advisor to the Deputy General Counsel and as a policy counselor in the Office of Policy. She has worked for over a decade in homeland security consulting, managing projects for Atlantic Philanthropies in Dublin, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit in London, and the World Bank, and other organizations.
In addition, Ms. Cooper has clerked for Berkeley Law professor and Judge William Fletcher on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (where she currently is a nonresident affiliate), as well as a Yale Public Interest Fellowship. Ms. Cooper has written more than twenty manuscripts and articles on U.S. and European homeland security policy. She is also a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group.
Ms. Cooper earned a J.D. from Yale University, a D.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University, an M.Sc. in Forced Migration from Oxford University, and a B.A. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She speaks advanced French. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In his annual threat assessment report, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates told the Senate intelligence committee that Russia and China will try and interfere with the 2020 presidential election. The report lists social media threats as second on a list of several threats to U.S. national security.
A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from the government and consumer advocates last week as consumer advocates’ lawsuit against the FCC for repealing the 2015 open internet rules presses on. Two of the judges—Particia Millett and Robert Wilkins—both Obama appointees—seemed to side with the consumer advocates as the FCC struggled to persuade the court that the agency had the authority to reclassify broadband as an information service.
BuzzFeed reported that popular home DNA testing company Family Tree DNA is working with the FBI, allowing agents to access its database to investigate violent crimes. Privacy advocates object to the partnership. But others say that as more people sign up for genetic tests, the data has become increasingly valuable to solve cold cases, with the arrest last year of the suspected Golden State Killer being a prime example.
The feds have charged a second Apple engineer with stealing company trade secrets with a plan to bring them back to China. Another Apple employee spotted Jizhong Chen taking snapshots of his workspace with a wide angle lens even though he was working under an NDA. Apparently Chen had some 2,000 files on his hard drive, including manuals and schematics. He says he was going to China to see family. But the feds allege he was actually planning to bring the files back to a Chinese car manufacturer he’d applied for a job with. It’s the second Apple employee charged with stealing trade secrets from the company’s self-driving car unit.
Apple reported a bug with Group FaceTime that allowed callers to hear the people they were calling before they answered. The company took down Group Facetime when it learned of the bug, apologized, and announced that it would release a fix for the problem this week.
The Information reports that Facebook has hired three leading privacy critics from Access Now, EFF, and OTI as the company tries to deal with the onslaught of backlash around its privacy woes. Robyn Greene, Nathan White, and Nate Cardozo have been critical of Facebook and all joined the company within the last month.
TMobile and Sprint have tapped former FCC Chair and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to help advise them on their $26 billion merger. Clyburn said in a statement that she will be advising the two companies as a continuation of her work to ensure vulnerable populations have affordable access to 5G.
Landlords across the U.S. are refusing to rent to prospective tenants with housing vouchers. As a result, demand for voucher-eligible housing units in low-income areas greatly exceeds supply. But in high income areas, the opposite is true.
Alicia Mazzara is a Research Analyst in the Housing Division at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She works on issues related to federal low-income housing policy.
Prior to joining the Center in 2015, Mazzara was a Policy Advisor in Third Way’s Economic Program where her research centered on income inequality, labor market dynamics, and workforce development. She has also spent time working in the federal government and as a Research Associate at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Mazzara has a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and international relations from Carleton College and a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University.
Interactive Map: Where Voucher Households Live in the 50 Largest Metropolitan Areas by Alicia Mazzara, Brian Knudsen, and Nick Kasprak (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019).
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chellie Pingree called out Google, Facebook, and Microsoft last week for sponsoring an event put on by the CO2 Coalition, an organization that opposes policies that are designed to address climate change. Through company spokespeople, all three companies sought to distance themselves from the views expressed at the event by saying they support organizations across the political spectrum and highlighting their substantial investments to address climate change. After those companies released statements, Ocasio-Cortez and Pingree pushed back even further saying the climate-change crisis is too great for the companies to permit themselves to undermine their leadership by associating with propagandistic organizations like the CO2 Coalition.
The Department of Justice has indicted several affiliates, subsidiaries and executives of Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. The company is accused of stealing intellectual property from T-Mobile and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. U.S. officials say Huawei’s alleged theft of intellectual property from T-Mobile gave the Chinese government backdoor access to technology from a U.S.-based telecommunications company thereby endangering U.S. national security interests. The U.S. is also in the process of extraditing Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wengzhou from Vancouver in order to face charges that she worked to circumvent U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
Google, Facebook and Amazon increased their lobbying spending in 2018 over the previous year during increased scrutiny from Congress regarding how the companies use personal data. Google’s lobbying expenditures jumped from $18 to 21 million. Amazon spent $14.2 million, up from $12.8 million in 2017. Facebook spent $13 million—a million-and—half more than the previous year. All three companies concentrated a fair share of that spending in the fourth quarter.
Netflix has joined the Motion Picture Association of America which, since 1922, has been the trade association for the six major film studios. The announcement came the same day Netflix received its first-ever Best Picture nomination for ‘Roma’.
Several advocacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Color of Change, are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to break up Facebook, according to a Wall Street Journal report on a draft letter it obtained. In addition to Facebook, Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Many advocates and civil rights groups, including the NAACP, have taken aim at Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica debacle for how the company traffics in its users’ data. It’s not clear what authority the FTC would have to break up Facebook. However, the agency is assessing whether Facebook violated the terms of a consent decree the company signed back in 2011 when it allowed Cambridge Analytica to access the data of some 87 million Facebook users when Cambridge Analytica allegedly handled most of the analytics that went into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.
The U.S. Labor Department filed a federal complaint against Oracle last week claiming the company owes some $400 million in lost wages to women and people of color. The Labor Department says only 11 of 500 people hired into technical jobs over a four-year period were African American or Hispanic and that 5,000 women and 11,000 Asian employees were also underpaid by as much as 20% compared to their white male counterparts.
A new MIT study says that Amazon’s facial recognition technology is biased against women and people of color. The study found that Amazon’s Rekognition classified a disproportionate number of women as men.
The Secretaries of Defense and Commerce and top Republicans and Democrats in Congress appointed former FCC Chairman and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve on the newly-created National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which will advise the U.S. government on national security and competition issues related to artificial intelligence. Former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt will Chair the Commission and Clyburn will serve with Oracle CEO Safra Catz and executives from Google and Microsoft among others. The Commission was created by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act and has a $10 million budget through 2020.