Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey (@drniiquartelai) is a trusted strategic partner and community advocate. He’s currently Senior Advisor and National LGBT Liaison at AARP, where he serves as a strategic advisor to the Senior Vice President of Multicultural Leadership. He also serves AARP in an enterprise-wide role charged with building national awareness and deepening intersectional community engagement to advance AARP's social impact agenda. Dr. Quartey is dedicated to advancing the affirming influence of corporate and non-profit executives on LGBTQ civil rights.
Previously, he was the National Strategic Partnership Manager at American Heart.
Dr. Quartey earned his B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership from the University of Southern California, and his Masters in Social Entrepreneurship & Change from Pepperdine University, where he also earned his Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday of this week, in a 5-4 decision, that employers can force employees to sign arbitration agreements to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits. Uber announced that it will stop implementing its long-time policy of forcing passengers who allege sexual assault at the hands of drivers into arbitration. All Uber passengers, drivers and employees will now be able to choose the venue in which they wish to bring their claims. CNN reported two weeks ago that passengers have accused 103 Uber drivers of sexual assault over the past 4 years. Sara Ashley O’brien reports in CNN.
The House is now reviewing the Senate’s Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the Trump administration FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted back in 2015. The House needs to vote on the resolution by June 12th. Representative Mike Doyle—a Democrat from Pennsylvania—introduced a companion resolution, but that can’t come to a floor vote until the House votes on the Senate’s resolution, which needs 218 votes to pass a House in which Republicans hold a 52-member majority. John Eggerton reports in Broadcasting and Cable.
The House Appropriations Committee agreed by voice vote last week to disabuse the Trump administration of any notion that it would be watering down sanctions against Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE.
The Trump administration has been at odds with law enforcement over sanctions the administration announced it would be taking against China-based phone manufacturer ZTE, but then backtracked on. A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross imposed a seven-year ban on the sale and purchase of ZTE products. China then requested that the U.S. ease up on the sanctions because they’d likely devastate the company. President Trump and Ross had begun reconsidering the sanctions and the president says they’re working more closely with Chinese President Xi a “way to get back into business, fast”.
But law enforcement officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he was “deeply concerned” about the threat ZTE poses to the U.S. telecommunications network. And Republicans and Democrats alike have for years warned about ZTE’s spying capability. Eli Okun reports for Politico.
The FCC has opened a new comment cycle for the Sinclair-Tribune merger. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is still reviewing how many TV stations Sinclair should own. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says the FCC should wait to reopen the Sinclair docket until after the court makes decision. Reply comments in the new proceeding are due on July 11th.
Amazon announced, after first resisting a shareholder proposal for Amazon to implement best practices to improve diversity, that it will now support it. The company announced on Monday of last week that it would now adopt a policy to include women and people of color in the applicant pool of candidates for its board seats. The company’s initial resistance sparked outrage from its employees.
Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm that filed for bankruptcy last week after a whistleblower revealed the company misused millions of Facebook users’ data to impact the 2016 presidential election, is now under criminal investigation in the U.S. The Justice Department and F.B.I. are apparently in the early stages of the investigation as they have questioned several witnesses. Cambridge Analytica is principally owned by Robert Mercer—a wealthy political donor. Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg report in the New York Times.
President Trump issued an Executive Order last week that strengthens federal agency Chief Information Officers’ ability to set hiring, budget and agenda goals for their departments’ IT enterprises. Aaron Boyd reports in NextGov.
Karina Cabrera Bell (@KarinaCBell) is the President of the Reach Mama Network and Host of the Reach Mama Podcast. Reach Mama’s mission is to increase the number of moms of color in leadership positions by 1) highlighting successful moms of color and having them share their strategies and tips, and 2) creating tools and support systems for moms of color that want to advance professionally.
A mom of two, Karina has 15 years experience in government and political campaigns. Karina has worked at all levels of government and has seen firsthand the benefits of having women in leadership positions. Most recently, she worked in the Obama White House and the U.S. Department of Energy. She honed her policy chops in the U.S. Senate as Policy Advisor for New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Karina has also worked on numerous campaigns including two presidential campaigns (Obama 08' and Kerry 04'). Karina is passionate about women's empowerment.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Mount Saint Mary and her Masters in Urban Policy from the New School.
Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World by Kirsten Gillibrand (Ballantine Books, 2014).
The U.S. and China appear to be backing away from a telecom trade war. The U.S. had issued strict sanctions against China-based telecommunications manufacturers including Huawei and ZTE due in part to fears that China was using the devices for spying purposes, and in part due to the countries’ respective efforts to dominate in the buildout of 5G. But according to Chinese officials, the sanctions would ruin ZTE, so it urged the Trump administration to reconsider. Trump tweeted Monday that he has now asked the Commerce Department to look into easing up on some of those sanctions in order to protect jobs that would be affected by the ZTE sanctions. And China has restarted its review of Qualcomm’s proposal to acquire China-based NXP Semiconductors. The Hill reports that lawmakers like Marco Rubion aren’t happy because of espionage and security concerns. Steven Yang reports in Bloomberg and Brent Griffiths reports in Politico.
Thirty-three Senators, under the leadership of Ed Markey, have submitted what’s known as a discharge petition, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), restore net neutrality over the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal the 2015 rules. The net neutrality rules are set to expire on June 11th. The full Senate will vote on the resolution on Wednesday, and it seems likely to pass, since one Republican—Susan Collins from Maine—has agreed to support the petition, and an ailing Senator McCain is unlikely to cast a vote. But the petition would still need to clear the House, where Republicans are in the majority by a margin of 236-193. And president Trump would also need to sign it. Jon Brodkin reports in Ars Technica.
Brian Fung and Rosalind Helderman reported last week that AT&T retained Michael Cohen’s firm, Essential Consultants, the same entity he allegedly used to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. According the Washington Post, AT&T’s company records show AT&T retained Essential Consultants for some $600,000 to help them with their $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said retaining Cohen was a “big mistake”. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden wrote to AT&T on Monday demanding answers.
Recode reports that Facebook is re-shuffling its leadership. WhatsApp and Messenger now have new leaders. The company will now have three divisions, each with a separate leader. Those divisions include Family of apps, Blockchain, and Central product services. But it looks like no executives are leaving the company, which is surprising to some given the Cambridge Analytica debacle. Kurt Wagner has the report at Recode.
Karoun Demirjian at the Washington Post reports that a new Senate Intelligence Committee report concludes that the Department of Homeland Security did an “inadequate job” at countering Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. A House Intelligence Committee final report released in April made a similar conclusion, saying that U.S. Intelligence Committees failed to follow best practices.
Members of Amazon’s board are advocating against a shareholder proposal to increase board diversity. Shareholders are advocating for a rule called the “Rooney Rule” which would require initial lists of board candidates to fill new board seats to include women and people of color. However, Amazon’s current Board Members are advising against the proposal, and many of Amazon’s employees are outraged, according to Recode.
Amazon is not included in a pilot program called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program being run by the US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. Over the next three years the program will test out drone delivery service, with the goal of eventually rolling out drone delivery service throughout the country. Amazon is notably absent from the list of companies that will be participating, although Google parent Alphabet is included, as well as smaller startups including AirMap and Flirtey. Mike Murphy reports in Quartz.
The FCC has announced a $120 million fine to a Florida man -- Adrian Abramovich—for allegedly making some 100 million robocalls in three months. While the FCC has issued this fine, it still has not introduced new robocall regulations. Ali Breland has the report in the Hill.
Darrell M. West (@darrwest) is the vice president and director of Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution and Editor-in-Chief of TechTank. His current research focuses on technology, mass media, campaigns and elections, and public sector innovation. Prior to coming to Brookings, West was the John Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University.
West is the author or co-author of 23 books including The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation(Brookings Institution Press, 2018), Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century (Brookings Institution Press, 2016), Going Mobile: How Wireless Technology is Reshaping Our Lives (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust(Brookings Institution Press, 2014), Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education (Brookings, 2012), The Next Wave: Using Digital Technology to Further Social and Political Innovation (Brookings, 2011), Brain Gain: Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy (Brookings, 2010), Digital Medicine: Health Care in the Internet Era (Brookings, 2009), Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance, (Princeton University Press, 2005), Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005), Cross Talk: Citizens, Candidates, and the Media in a Presidential Campaign(University of Chicago Press, 1996) The Sound of Money: How Political Interests Get What They Want (W. W. Norton, 1998), Biotechnology Policy Across National Boundaries (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and Patrick Kennedy: The Rise to Power (Prentice-Hall, 2000), among others.
He is the winner of the American Political Science Association’s Don K. Price award for best book on technology (for Digital Government) and the American Political Science Association’s Doris Graber award for best book on political communications (for Cross Talk). He has published more than three dozen scholarly articles in a wide range of academic journals. In 2014, he was honored by Public Administration Review for having written one of the 75 most influential articles since 1940. This was for his article “E-Government and the Transformation of Service Delivery and Citizen Attitudes.”
He has delivered many lectures in more than a dozen different countries around the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, China, Japan, Russia, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Bahrain, and the United States. He has been quoted in leading newspapers, radio stations, and national television networks around the world.
The Center that he directs at Brookings examines a wide range of topics related to technology innovation including governance, democracy, and public sector innovation; health information technology; virtual education, and green technology. Its mission is to identify key developments in technology innovation, undertake cutting-edge research, disseminate best practices broadly, inform policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels about actions needed to improve innovation, and enhance the public’s and media’s understanding of technology innovation.
The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation (Brookings Institution Press, 2018)
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (HarperCollins, 2017)
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal ethics authority, warned Republican FCC Commission Mike O’Rielly that O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act, according to a letter it wrote to the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority to influence or affect an election. At a panel discussion of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, O’Rielly stated ,“I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, the Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected.” OSC did say, however, that merely appearing at the event was not a violation.
Comcast is preparing an all-cash $60 billion bid for 21st Century Fox, according to Reuters. This exceeds Disney’s current $52 billion proposal. But Comcast says it’ll wait for regulators to decide the fate of AT&T’s proposed takeover of Time Warner, before making a formal offer.
Tensions between the U.S. and China are beginning to mount over national security concerns related to Chinese telecommunications equipment, and the two countries’ race to lead the world in 5G. Cecilia Kang and Ana Swanson report in the New York Times that the White House is considering further restricting the sale of telecom equipment manufactured in China. The FCC and Commerce Department have already restricted government contractors from purchasing telecommunications equipment from companies like ZTE, which the Commerce Department says failed to punish employees for violating U.S. sanctions.
China’s Ministry of Commerce told a U.S. trade delegation that visited Beijing last week that the ZTE ban would severely hurt the company. Se Young Lee and Lusha Zhang report in Reuters.
Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times that the National Security Agency collected three times more data than it did in 2016. The NSA collected some 534 million phone call and text message records from telecommunications companies.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has begun moving $9 billion that’s used for the universal service fund from Bank of America to the Treasury Department. Democratic Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn say moving the funds is a shame because it foregoes some $50 million in annual interest income that could have been used to provide further subsidies. Todd Shields reports in Bloomberg.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a proposal recently to rollback the federal Lifeline program, a program that subsidizes communications services for low-income Americans. In a letter she wrote along with 47 Members of Congress, New York Representative Nydia Velázquez says rolling the program back would result in 75 percent of existing customers in Puerto Rico losing their telecommunications carrier.
Cambridge Analytica has declared bankruptcy and is ceasing operations. The company began losing clients following the investigation into its alleged work to use the personal data of millions on Facebook to help get Donald Trump elected. However, the UK’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica is still ongoing, despite the bankruptcy, according to the Associated Press.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released last week its Tech 2020 set of principles. The principles include proposals for STEAM education and job training, making tech available and affordable, addressing the economic stability of communities, recruiting and retaining black talent, and targeting investment in diverse companies and communities.
Melania Trump announced a platform focused on children’s issues. It’s dubbed “Be Best” and it will have three components: well being, social media use (including cyberbullying) and opioid abuse.
Google and Facebook announced that they would ban ads for bail bonds. Google said it would officially start banning the ads in July. Google’s Global Product Policy Director David Graff said the bail bond providers make most of their revenue from low income areas and communities of color. Facebook has plans to ban the ads as well, but it’s still working out the details.
MIT Research Scientist Chelsea Barabas and Joe Miller discuss how to balance AI and criminal justice to affect better defendant outcomes.
Chelsea Barabas (@chels_bar) is a research scientist at MIT, where she examines the spread of algorithmic decision making tools in the US criminal justice system.
Formerly, Chelsea was the Head of Social Innovation with the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. She has worked on a wide range of issues related to the use of emerging technologies to serve the public good around the world.
Chelsea’s graduate research at MIT was on understanding the U.S.’s ongoing struggle to cultivate and hire a diverse technical workforce, and she conducted her graduate thesis in partnership with Code2040. She attended Stanford as an undergraduate, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology.
Chelsea Barabas, Karthik Dinakar, Joichi Ito, Madars Virza, and Jonathan Zittrain. 2018. Interventions over Predictions: Reframing the Ethical Debate for Actuarial Risk Assessment. In Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*) conference (FAT* 2018). ACM, New York, NY, USA.
Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (2018)
T-Mobile and Sprint have announced merger plans again. It’s a $27 billion deal that would include Softbank giving up control of Sprint. The combined company would be called T-Mobile and, with 98 million subscribers, the combined company would become the second largest wireless carrier, behind Verizon’s 116 million. Brian Fung and Tony Romm report in the Washington Post.
Comcast announced that it would seek to acquire European pay TV provider Sky for $31 billion. The Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox already has a bid for Sky on the table, but it’s $15 billion lower than Comcast’s, even though Fox already has a 39% stake in Sky. 21st Century Fox had rejected a separate bid by Comcast to acquire Fox’s entertainment assets, which Disney is now planning to purchase for $52.4 billion, which was also lower than Comcast’s proposal. Shalani Ramachandran, Amol Sharma and David Benoit report in the Wall Street Journal.
EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Apple’s bid for music identification service Shazam is anticompetitive. Apple had announced back in December that it was looking to acquire Shazam for an undisclosed amount. The EU is concerned the acquisition could limit consumer choice. Foo Yun Chee has more at Reuters.
The Senate unanimously confirmed U.S. Army Command Chief Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone to serve as both the head of the National Security Administration and U.S. Cyber Command. He’ll replace Mike Rogers. Nakasone will also get a fourth star.
The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Altaba, the company that now owns Yahoo!’s remaining assets, over $35 million. The fine is for failing to disclose a 2014 data breach that compromised the data of over 500 million Yahoo! users. Jacob Katrenakes reports in the Verge.
The Federal Trade Commission has warned app firms in China and Sweden about collecting the data of U.S. children. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits the collection of such data and applies to foreign companies. The China based- Gator Group and Sweden-based Tinitell, both sell smartwatches to children.
In other news related to Children's privacy, YouTube has announced new parental controls for YouTube kids. Parents will now be able to limit recommendations and suggestions will now be made by humans.
Did Diamond and Silk commit perjury?
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, conservative African American internet personalities Diamond and Silk said under oath that President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign never paid them. But there’s a 2016 Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing showing that the campaign paid them $1,275 for “field consulting”. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
The Congressional Black Caucus is sending the largest delegation of lawmakers it has ever sent to Silicon Valley to discuss diversity. Just 3% of Silicon Valley tech workers are black, according to a Center for Investigative Reporting study. Shirin Ghaffary reports in Recode.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Facebook indicated that additional reports of the misuse of user data are likely forthcoming. The social media giant said it is conducting a third-party audit which it anticipates will reveal additional improprieties.
Finally, Google co-founder Sergey Brin warned in the company’s annual Founders’ Letter about the future of AI and the fact that it is already transforming everything from self-driving cars to planetary discovery. Brin said he is optimistic about Artificial Intelligence and said that Alphabet is giving serious consideration to the ways in which AI will affect employment, how developers can control for bias in their algorithms, and the potential for AI to “manipulate people.” James Vincent notes in the Verge that Brin’s letter does not discuss the dangers of using AI for military intelligence, although the company has said its technology would be used for “non-offensive purposes only”. Still, several employees at the company are urging Alphabet to withdraw from its plans to work with the Pentagon.
Data & Society's Kadija Ferryman joined Joe Miller to discuss data-driven medicine and the policy issues surrounding fairness in precision medicine.
Dr. Kadija Ferryman (@KadijaFerryman) is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Data and Society Research Institute in New York. Dr. Ferryman is a cultural anthropologist whose research examines how cultural and moral values are embedded in digital health information, social and biological influences on health, and the ethics of translational and digital health research. She earned a BA in Anthropology from Yale University and a PhD in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research. Before completing her PhD, she was a policy researcher at the Urban Institute where she studied how housing and neighborhoods impact well-being, specifically the effects of public housing redevelopment on children, families, and older adults. She has published research in journals such as Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, European Journal of Human Genetics, and Genetics in Medicine.
What is Precision Medicine by Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan (Data & Society, 2018)
Fairness in Precision Medicine by Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan (Data & Society, 2018)
Are Workarounds Ethical?: Managing Moral Problems in Health Care Systems by Nancy Berlinger (Oxford University Press, 2016)
The EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to take effect on May 26th and Facebook is scrambling to manage a ceaseless onslaught of negative press regarding how it handles its users’ data. Ryan Browne at CNBC reports on the dangers of Facebook’s “log in with Facebook” feature, which apparently exposes users’ data to third-party trackers.
Morgan Chalfant at the New York Times reported on a painting app that actually installs malware that harvests users’ payment information, among other things.
Additionally, Ali Breland reports in the Hill that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has reopened an investigation it had closed last year into whether and how Facebook helps facilitate housing discrimination.
Democrats are pushing for tighter data protection rules at the Federal Trade Commission, but that’s unlikely to mean much in the near-term since, with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny’s announcement last week that she’ll be stepping down at the end of this month, the FTC will now be operating with just one of five commissioners—Republican Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen. Auditors don’t seem to be offering much in the way of confidence in the manner with which Facebook protects user data. PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an audit of Facebook and told the FTC, after Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica, that Facebook was adequately protecting consumer privacy and in compliance with a 2011 consent decree.
Meanwhile, David Ingram reports for Reuters that Facebook has changed its terms of service for 1.5 billion Facebook users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America. Like Europe, their terms of service were governed by Facebook’s headquarters in Ireland. But since Ireland would come under GDPR, Facebook has changed the terms of service in those areas to fall under the more lenient U.S. privacy standards. Facebook says it will apply the same privacy standards around the world.
Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has announced that she will be stepping down from the dais at the end of the month. The Obama appointee served at the Commission for eight years and was a rare and passionate advocate for marginalized communities. President Trump will need to nominate a replacement Commissioner who would then need to be confirmed by the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is reportedly set to recommend current FCC Assistant Enforcement Bureau Chief Geoffrey Starks, who enjoys broad support from Democrats.
Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times that the DOJ has launched an antitrust investigation into possible coordinated efforts between AT&T and Verizon and the G.S.M.A.— the standards-setting group, to make it more difficult for consumers to switch carriers. The Justice Department is looking into whether the organizations intentionally attempted to stifle the development of eSIM which allows consumers to switch provides without a new SIM card.
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously last week on a public notice that it will commence spectrum auctions for 5G in the 28- and 24- GHz bands. The auctions will commence on November 14th, beginning with the 28 GHz band.
A CNN report found that ads from over 300 companies appeared on YouTube channels promoting extremist groups like Neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and other extremist content. Adidas, Cisco, Hershey, Hilton and Under Armour were among the many companies whose ads appeared on these sites. Paul Murphy reports in CNN.
Finally, Heather Somerville at Reuters reported that Lyft is launching a program to offset emissions from their 1.4 million drivers. The company will invest in things like renewable energy and reforestation to make up for its emissions, and the amount it invests will grow with the company.
Carson Martinez (@CarsonMart) is the Future of Privacy Forum’s Health Policy Fellow. Carson works on issues surrounding health data, particularly where it is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These non-HIPAA health data issues include consumer-facing genetics companies, wearables, medical “big data”, and medical device surveillance. Carson also assists with the operation of the Genetics Working Group. Carson was previously an Intern at Intel with the Government and Policy Group, working on health, technology, and policy. Before joining Intel, she was an intern for the International Neuroethics Society, and a Research Assistant for both the Data-Pop Alliance and New York University.
Carson graduated from Duke University with a Master’s Degree in Bioethics and Science Policy with a concentration in Technology and Data Policy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience with minors in Philosophy and Psychology from New York University. Carson is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US).
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Seung Min Kim reported for the Washington Post that President Trump has ordered officials to look into the possibility of re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership –that’s the trade partnership between eleven nations, including Japan, Vietnam and Singapore. The Obama administration had signed the agreement, and Mexico and Canada are participating. But Trump backed out. Now he wants back in, presumably to gain negotiating leverage against China.
There are fresh allegations today from British and American officials regarding Russia’s spying program. Apparently, Russians may have hacked routers belonging to small businesses and home offices. British intelligence, the National Security Council, DHS and the FBI made the announcement saying they had “high confidence” that Russia led cyberattacks into internet service providers, network routers, government and critical infrastructure. You can find the report in Forbes.
Remember the viral video from a few weeks ago in which news anchors on Sinclair TV stations around the country were reading the exact same script? Well, despite the request from 11 Democratic Senators plus Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent, to investigate Sinclair for distorting new coverage, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has declined. He cites the First Amendment. The FCC’s inspector general is currently investigating Pai for improperly paving the way for Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Media. Brett Samuels reports in The Hill.
Mark Gurman reports in Bloomberg on a leaked memo from inside Apple to employees warning them about leaks. The company threatened legal action and criminal charges and indicated that it caught 29 leakers last year, 12 of which were arrested.
A new paper out of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and Stanford University finds that more women are earning STEM degrees. But they are finding the tech companies in which they find jobs to be stifling environments. Contributing to the chilly environments women technologists often find themselves in are the overt usage of gender stereotypes, an exclusive “geek” culture and other factors that discourage some women from advancing in tech.
Riana Pfefferkorn (@Riana_Crypto) is the Cryptography Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Her work, made possible through funding from the Stanford Cyber Initiative, focuses on investigating and analyzing the U.S. government's policy and practices for forcing decryption and/or influencing crypto-related design of online platforms and services, devices, and products, both via technical means and through the courts and legislatures. Riana also researches the benefits and detriments of strong encryption on free expression, political engagement, economic development, and other public interests.
Prior to joining Stanford, Riana was an associate in the Internet Strategy & Litigation group at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she worked on litigation and counseling matters involving online privacy, Internet intermediary liability, consumer protection, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets and was actively involved in the firm's pro bono program. Before that, Riana clerked for the Honorable Bruce J. McGiverin of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. She also interned during law school for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Riana earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Whitman College.
The Risks of Responsible Encryption by Riana Pfefferkorn
Riana Pfefferkorn, Everything Radiates: Does the Fourth Amendment Regulate Side-Channel Cryptanalysis? 49 Connecticut Law Review 1393 (2017)
Generation Wealth by Laura Greenfield
Facebook is still managing the onslaught following revelations that Cambridge Analytica allegedly used Facebook data to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Faceboook upped the number of users whose data Cambridge Analytica acquired by 37 million to 87 million. Originally, Facebook reported that just 50 million users were affected. In addition, Facebook has had to suspend yet another data analytics firm, CubeYou, for collecting information via quizzes, as Michelle Castillo reports in CNBC. CubeYou misleadingly told users that it was collecting their data for “non-profit academic research”, but it turns out CubeYou was in fact sharing the information with marketers.
Facebook said Friday that it will now require buyers of ads related to controversial political topics like gun control and immigration, to confirm their location and identity. Facebook is due to testify before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday, and the House Energry and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, David Shepardson reports in Reuters.
A federal grand jury in Arizona indicted seven Backpage founders on 93 counts of facilitating prostitution and money laundering on Monday.The indictment states that many of the ads on Backpage were of child sex trafficking victims. Federal agents seized Backpage on Friday, and raided the home of Backpage co-founder, Michael Lacey. Last month, Congress passed changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to provide that websites may be held liable for knowingly facilitating users’ ability to post illegal content.
Best Buy reported a possible data breach last week. The company that handles Best Buy’s messaging system, 7.ia was hacked late last year, which may have exposed Best Buy customers’ data. Charisse Jones reports in USA Today.
Finally, Nick Miroff and Joshua Partlow report in the Washington Post that the U.S. government is expanding its data-gathering efforts within Mexico. According to the report, the Trump administration is “capturing the biometric data of tens of thousands of Central Americans” who were arrested in Mexico. The U.S. is also operating detention facilities in Mexico. But President Trump had accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop the flow of migrants fleeing Central American countries for the Mexico/U.S. border.
Columbia University School of Social Work Professor Courtney Cogburn joined Joe Miller to discuss her work with virtual reality to improve race relations.
Courtney Cogburn (@CourtneyCogburn) is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center. Her research integrates principles and methodologies across psychology, stress physiology and social epidemiology to investigate relationships between racism-related stress and racial health disparities across the life course. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Her current research projects examine:
At the end of 2014, Dr. Cogburn received an award from the Provost’s Grants Program for Junior Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University for a project titled “Black Face to Ferguson: A Mixed Methodological Examination of Media Racism, Media Activism and Health.”
In addition to her academic research, Dr. Cogburn works with the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is a senior advisor at the International Center Advocates Against Discrimination in NYC to educate and build community activism around issues of racism and health.
Before coming to Columbia in July 2014, Dr. Cogburn was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia, MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and PhD in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Experiencing Racism in VR by Courtney Cogburn (Ted Talk)
Facebook has made several moves to contain the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and salvage what remains of its integrity and public image. The company announced that it will now fact-check political photos and videos, allow you to see the personal data they have on you, and limit the sharing of your personal information with data brokers.
Meanwhile, on the legal front, Missouri’s Republican Attorney General has opened an investigation into Facebook’s data collection practices. Attorney General Josh Hawley wants to know about every instance in which Facebook shared user data with political entities, the rates they paid and whether users were notified. In addition, Facebook will not provide evidence or testify before a U.K. parliamentary committee investigating Facebook’s use of user data. However, he will testify before Congress, and Sunny Bonnell reports in Inc. that it could happen as soon as April 10th.
In addition, housing groups are suing Facebook for allowing real estate advertisers to discriminate against mothers, the disabled and minorities, according to Jordan Pearson in Motherboard. And Ali Breland reported on a memo leaked from 2016 written by Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth suggesting the company’s expansion is justified even if it costs lives from bullying or a terrorist attack.
Sinclair Broadcasting, the little-known media company that’s in the process of buying Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, has been accused of being a mouthpiece for conservative viewpoints. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been seen by many to have paved the way for Sinclair by relaxing longstanding media ownership rules. Now, Deadspin has put together a video showing dozens of anchors on tv stations owned by Sinclair reciting the exact same script making the same claims about fake news that the Trump administration has been making. Sinclair now reaches 2 out of every 5 American homes, with 193 stations concentrated in midsize markets. The merger with Tribune Media would bring that number up to 236, including stations in New York City and Chicago, if Sinclair doesn’t divest some of the stations. Emily Stewart reports in Vox. In a Tweet, President Trump defended Sinclair.
Vindu Goel and Rachel Abrams report for the New York Times that a well-known band of cybercriminals hacked the credit and debit card numbers of some 5 million Saks and Lord & Taylor customers. The parent company of the two department stores, Hudson’s Bay Company, said in a statement that the company has identified the issue, is taking steps to contain it, and will keep the public informed.
Trump attacked Amazon on twitter last week, saying the company should be regulated, which led to a dip in the company’s stock prices. But policy experts say that antitrust action against Amazon is a long shot. Laura Stevens reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Eight thousand employees of the City of Atlanta had to shut down their computers last week. The reason? A ransomware attack. The attackers demanded $51,000 to unscramble government processes usually handled online. While the attack did not affect major systems like wastewater treatment and 911 calls, police officers had to write tickets by hand, none of Atlanta’s 6 million residents could apply for city jobs, and the courts could not validate warrants. Nicole Perlroth and Aland Blinder report in the New York Times.
The FCC has given the green light to SpaceX’s satellite broadband internet service. The company aims to deploy thousands of small satellites to reach underserved areas, such as rural communities, at fiber-like speeds. Samanta Masunaga reports in the LA Times.
Morgan Chalfant reports in the Hill that Tumblr took down 84 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm at the center of a federal investigation into the Russian propaganda campaign that swayed the 2016 presidential election. Last month DOJ Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities connected to the Internet Research Agency.
The Trump administration announced that it is planning to review the social media accounts of people applying for visas to enter the U.S. People entering the U.S. from countries with visa-free status, like the UK, Canada, France, and Germany, won’t be subjected to the additional vetting. But individuals seeking entry visas into the U.S. from countries like India, China and Mexico would need to turn over their social media information. The BBC has the story. But Joe Uchill and Stef W. Kight reported for Axios that ICE already uses Facebook data – not to track immigrants, though, but to track child predators.
Finally, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the consolidated appeals of the FCC’s December order to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules. The Ninth Circuit had won the lottery to hear the case, but Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request to move the cases to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the appeals of both the 2011 rules and the 2015 rules, which it had upheld. John Eggerton reports in Broadcasting and Cable.
Henry T. Greely (@HankGreelyLSJU) is the Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences; and Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. He is also the Chair of Stanford’s Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Director of Stanford’s Program in Neuroscience and Society.
Hank specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience, genetics, or stem cell research. He frequently serves as an advisor on California, national, and international policy issues. He is chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, a member of the Advisory Council of the NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences, a member of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academies, a member of the Neuroscience Forum of the Institute of Medicine, and served from 2007-2010 as co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. In 2007 Professor Greely was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1985, Greely was a partner at Tuttle & Taylor, served as a staff assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and as special assistant to the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. He served as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
He received Stanford University’s Richard W. Lyman Prize in 2013.
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The New York Times dropped a bombshell story on Sunday and it has sent Washington and the stock market into a tailspin. The Dow dropped more than 1%, or by over 300 points, Facebook lost some $37 billion in value, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth decline by $5 billion. In addition, Congressional leaders including Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar, John Thune, Adam Schiff, Mark Warner and Chuck Grassley are just HAMMERING Facebook at this moment and I wouldn’t want to be in Zukerberg’s shoes right now.
The New York Times investigation alleges that a London-based company called Cambridge Analytica, with deep ties to Republican donor Robert Mercer, who invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, Mercer’s daughter who’s on the board of Cambridge Analytica, and none other than Steve Bannon, who allegedly named the company, exploited Facebook user data to influence the 2016 presidential election to target users based on their psychographic profiles—things like religion, life statisfaction, conscientiousness, and extraversion. Of course, it’s illegal under U.S. election laws to employ foreigners in political campaigns. So, The Times alleges, Cambridge set up a shell corporation and hired a Russian-American front man, Alexander Kogan, who was a researcher with the University of Cambridge. Kogan then created a Facebook personality quiz that paid users to share their private information and download the app. Some 50 million users were affected. This quiz allegedly scraped their information, and Cambridge Analytica gave him $800,000 for it. A former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, was the whistleblower in all this.
Facebook says it would suspend working with Cambridge Analytica and conduct an internal review, including the hiring of a forensics team. Channel 4 News London reported in an internal investigation that Cambridge Analytica uses bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians.
This is just the surface. Summarizing every detail of this is way above my pay grade. But it’s just layers upon layers of deception and bullshittery. You can find summaries and analysis in The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Russia has stepped its capability with regard to cyberattacks on nuclear power plans, water, and electric systems, according to U.S. intelligence officials.The country now has moved from having the ability to surveil American power plants to having the ability to disable them anytime tensions escalate, and in a similar manner with which it disabled power in the Ukraine on two separate occasions in 2015 and 2016. The accusations came on the same day the Trump administration imposed new economic sanctions against Russia for its role in hacking the 2016 presidential election. Sanctions include freezing assets and prohibiting business deals from being transacted with two-dozen Russian individuals and entities. Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger report in the New York Times and Jonathan Easley reports in The Hill.
Ali Breland reports in the Hill that a 49-year-old woman was struck and killed by an Uber fully self-driving car while she was walking through a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona on Monday. The state attracted Uber because of its deregulatory approach to self-driving vehicle technology. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be investigating. Uber has suspended its testing of self-driving cars in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
A former Walmart executive has sued the world’s largest retailer for firing him after he reported that the company was fudging its e-commerce results to show better numbers against Amazon. The complaint alleges that Walmart mislabeled products and deliberately failed to properly process returns in order to inflate sales numbers. Jonathan Stempel and Nandita Bose report in Reuters.
Ali Breland reports for the Hill that Japanese regulators raided Amazon last week. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission may be concerned about Amazon’s alleged practice of strong-arming suppliers to show cheaper prices on Amazon as compared to their competitors in Japan.
Amazon is recalling 260,000 AmazonBasics portable chargers after it received 53 complaints that they were overheating. One person reported being burned by the charger’s battery acid. Four others reported fire and smoke. Kate Gibson reports for CBS.
Google released Thursday a new wheelchair-friendly maps navigation feature. The feature will include accessible routes and information on accommodations in public transportation. Josh Delk reports in the Hill.
Google has decided to ban ads for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Facebook had previously initiated a similar ban. The company did not state why it decided to make the policy change. However, it comes as many in the policy community have expressed concern that online ads could be used to promote cryptocurrency scams. Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The New York Times.
Ali Breland reported in the Hill that, according to court filings filed by women suing Microsoft for gender pay and promotion discrimination, women working at the company lodged some 238 gender discrimination or harassment complaints between 2010 and 2016. Of the 118 that were gender discrimination complaints, Microsoft found only one to be “founded”. According to Natasha Bach at Fortune, Microsoft has changed the way it addresses harassment complaints by banning forced arbitration agreements. The question, of course, is whether that’s enough.
Finally, Gizmodo reports that James O’Keefe—the undercover conservative activist— created a fake company and sent in employees of his Project Veritas organization to pose as recruiters. These fake recruiters then reached out to employees at major tech companies like Twitter to interview them and record their responses. In one case, an employee stated that Twitter hired few conservatives and secretly hid content posted by conservative users in a practice called “shadow banning”. Project Veritas then allegedly posted the videos as evidence of an anti-conservative bias at Twitter. Twitter has denied in Congressional testimony that it engages in shadow banning activities.
Joseph Jerome (@joejerome) is a Policy Counsel on CDT’s Privacy & Data Project. His work focuses on the legal and ethical questions posed by smart technologies and big data, and he is interested in developing transparency and accountability mechanisms and procedures around novel uses of data.
Prior to joining CDT, Joe was an associate in the cybersecurity and privacy practice of a major law firm. His practice focused on advertising technologies and privacy compliance in the health and financial sectors. Additionally, he worked on a wide range of consumer privacy issues at the Future of Privacy Forum and has written articles about data ethics, trust in the online gig economy, and emerging technologies in video games.
Joe has a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, where he was an International Law and Human Rights Student Fellow, and a B.A. from Boston University.
Top 10 operational impacts of the GDPR (via IAPP)
Top 10 operational responses to the GDPR (via IAPP)
Security, Privacy & Tech Inquiries Blog by Lukasz Olejnik
World without Mind by Franklin Foer
U.S. Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Trump has yet to give an order to implement measures that would prevent further Russian cyberattacks. This is despite reports last week of Russia’s deepening efforts to interfere with American politics. For example, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology released a report saying that between 2015 and 2017, accounts on social media that were linked to Russian propagandists, tried to influence policies that would undermine U.S. efforts to sell natural gas in Europe where Russia has considerable market share. Also, Reddit reported that thousands shared Russian propaganda on its site, prompting demands for more answers from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Tumblr. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also said to be pursuing a case against Russians who conducted cyberattacks against Democrats during the 2016 election. These charges would be in addition to the ones Mueller has already brought against Russians accused of spreading propaganda on social media, according to NBC News’ Ken Dilanian.
But despite the absence of specific directives from the White House to U.S. Cyber Command, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats claimed before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the White House is taking a “whole government approach” under which the president has tasked the 17 agencies Mr. Coats oversees with addressing the Russian cyber threat.
John Bowden at the Hill reported that Russians also collected Americans’ personal data from social media platforms during the 2016 campaign.
On Monday top Democrats including Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to extradite the 13 Russian nationals FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted last month for allegedly using social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the extradition would never happen.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, will hear the multidistrict litigation initiated by 22 state attorneys general to appeal the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation chose the Ninth circuit at random.
President Trump has blocked Singapore tech giant Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm, citing national security concerns. At $117 billion, the merger of the two chipmakers would have been the biggest tech deal in history. The Verge reports that Broadcom is in the process of moving its headquarters to the U.S. by April 3rd.
Twitter purged several accounts for “tweetdecking”, a violation of Twitter’s spam policy in which users mass tweet each other’s tweets using platforms like Tweetdeck. Some of the accounts that were suspended had millions of followers. A new MIT study also released last week found that fake news travels some 6 times faster on Twitter than the truth.
Harper Neidig at the Hill reported on the White House’s meeting with video game industry representatives. The president convened the behind-closed-doors meeting to discuss the role of video games in promoting mass shootings. In attendance were representatives from the Parents Television Council, Entertainment Software Association, as well as executives from game makers Rockstar and ZeniMax. The Verge reported that the meeting was largely unproductive and Activision announced the release of its latest ‘Call of Duty’ installment on the same day the White House meeting took place.
Laurel Wamsley at NPR reported that the FBI paid informants at Best Buy’s computer repair service unit Geek Squad to flag child pornography found on their customers’ computers.The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the FBI last year about these searches and the new documents illustrate more about the nature of the relationship between the FBI and Geek Squad. FBI Agent Tracey Riley testified in a Jefferson County Kentucky Circuit Court last week confirming that that FBI agents paid Geek Squad workers in a Best Buy store in Kentucky when they found child pornography.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed over $1 billion in funding to aid in the recovery of communications networks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sixty-four million would go immediately towards restoring networks. The rest, or $954 million, would go towards longer-term projects to enhance broadband networks in the Caribbean. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
The Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to the Internet Association, CTIA, NCTA and US Telecom urging them to hire and retain more black lobbyists given African-Americans’ widespread use of mobile devices.
The White House is joining in states’ push for the Supreme Court to overturn a 1992 precedent, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, that held that many online retailers don’t have to add sales tax to the prices their customers pay. Thirty-five states support overturning the decision. Online retailers who oppose doing so claim that it would be too onerous to collect taxes from fifty different states. Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Equifax’s interim Chief Executive Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. announced on Thursday that an additional 2.4 million consumers were affected by their massive data breach last year. It brings the total up to 147.9 million. Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post.
The House voted to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission with legislation that seeks to develop 5G networks and invest funds for the spectrum incentive auction. If the bill passes Congress, it will be the first time since 1990 that Congress has reauthorized the Commission. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Amazon announced last week that, for Medicaid recipients only, it would cut the monthly Prime subscription down to $5.99 per month. This is $7.00 less than the standard $12.99 fee. The move is seen as an effort by Amazon to attract Walmart customers.
A new MIT study found that Uber and Lyft drivers earn less on average that minimum wage workers. The report found a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes. Ashley May has the report in USA Today.
Sally Culley is a Partner in the law firm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell where she primarily practices in the areas of employment and commercial litigation. Her clients include large corporations as well as smaller, local businesses.
With regard to employment law, Sally represents employers, both in the public and private sector, in defending employment-related claims, including claims of discrimination, wage and hour violations, whistle-blower violations, wrongful termination, harassment, and retaliation. She also provides consulting and training services designed to help prevent such claims and minimize risk. Finally, Sally assists with the creation and enforcement of employee handbooks, severance agreements, and non-compete agreements.
With regard to commercial litigation, Sally handles matters involving contract disputes, fraud, and statutory claims such as Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act/Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). Sally also represents clients in commercial mortgage foreclosures and workouts, construction lien compliance and litigation, quiet title actions, bankruptcy, and collection matters.
Sally also has significant experience reviewing and interpreting insurance policies, and she assists insurers with matters involving coverage and bad faith claims, evaluating such matters, and participating in litigation where necessary. She earned her J.D. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law and her Bachelors from Samford University from which she graduated magna cum laude.
First Gig Economy Trial Decision: Independent Contractor by Sally Rogers Culley and Suzanne A. Singer (2018)
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Devin Nunes, leaked confidential texts in which Senator Mark Warner sought from a lawyer associated with British spy Christopher Steele, a meeting with Mr. Steele, as Mr. Warner sought to investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. The law firm for which the lawyer, Adam Waldman, works has also represented Oleg Deripaska—a Russian oil magnate. So after the text was leaked, President Trump tweeted “Wow! – Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch …” Both Mark Warner and Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, who ostensibly wasn’t in on the leak, sought a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to express their overall concern about the politicization of the House Intelligence Committee. Nicholas Fandos reports in the Washington Post.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on Tuesday by a vote of 388-25. The bill would amend the Communications Decency Act to hold web platforms that knowingly help facilitate sex trafficking accountable. Currently, an exception to the CDA—Section 230—provides that web platforms are shielded from third-party liability for illegal content posted by their users. Opponents say the bill would erode free speech on the Internet and would ultimately not do enough to stop sex trafficking online. There’s a Senate companion bill—the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA)—that the House will vote on next, which is also expected to pass. Harper Neidig reports in The Hill.
Facebook conducted a strange survey in which it asked users how they should handle a “private message in which an adult man asks a 14 year old girl for sexual pictures.” The question turned on the extent to which Facebook should display the photo. Facebook says the question was a “mistake”.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday regarding a dispute between Microsoft and the Department of Justice. The DOJ wants to be able to obtain data on Microsoft users suspected of drug trafficking. The problem is that the suspects’ data are stored on a server in Ireland. Normally, the 1986 Stored Communications Act would apply, which would allow the DOJ to get a warrant. But Microsoft argues that since the data are stored overseas, the SCA doesn’t apply. The court’s liberal justices--namely, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor-- seemed to side with Microsoft, arguing that Congress should enact new legislation. But Justices Roberts and Alito seemed to favor an interim, judicial measure that would allow law enforcement to conduct investigations while Congress sorts it out. Amy Howe reports on SCOTUS Blog.
On the net neutrality front …
Democrats in both chambers introduced bills to stop the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules. The Senate bill has 50 co-sponsors, with one Republican, Susan Collins. It needs 1 more vote to get through the Senate. There’s also another bill in the House, that Representative Mike Doyle introduced, that’s supported by 150 of representatives. However, Donald Trump is not expected to sign off on these bills, even if they do pass. And the clock is ticking on Congress to do something by January 23rd, which is when the 60-day window closes on the Congressional Review Act process. Public Knowledge has a great primer on how the Congressional Review Act works here., which I’ve linked to in the show notes.
Additionally, the state of Washington became the first state to pass net neutrality legislation of its own.
And six more companies have decided to sue the FCC for repealing the net neutrality rules including Kickstarter, Foursquare, Etsy, Shutterstock, Expa, and Automattic.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is calling for new auctions to free up more spectrum. Pai announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that he wants to free up more spectrum in the 24 and 28 GHz bands. The auction would be designed to accommodate 5G wireless. Pai proposes conducting the auction for the 28Gz band in November, and then proceed with a separate auction for the 24GHz band. Ali Breland has more at the Hill.
I reported last week that the National Rifle Association awarded FCC Chairman Ajit Pai the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award. Politico now reports that Pai has turned it down.
A new lawsuit filed in California’s San Mateo County Superior Court alleges that Google executives actively discriminated against white and Asian men in the hiring process. But currently, whites and Asians comprise some 91% of Google’s workforce. Kirsten Grind and Douglas MacMillan report in the Wall Street Journal.
Ali Winston of the Verge wrote an investigative report on a secretive program carried out by Palantir, a data mining company that was seeded with funding from the CIA’s venture capital firm. Apparently, Palantir has been working with the New Orleans’ police department to secretly track largely minority populations in New Orleans with an algorithm that claims to predict violence and crime. Not even the New Orleans city council admits that they were aware of the program.
A new JAMA Pediatrics report finds that sexting is on the rise among tweens and teens. The study compiled data from 39 studies of 110,380 participants and found that some 27% of kids between 12 and 17 receive sexts. The average age is 15. Fifteen percent reported that they sent sexts. Beth Mole reports in Ars Technica.
In addition to the spectrum auction, Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr last week announced that the Commission will vote on March 23rd on a measure that would relax some environmental review standards for small companies that want to deploy 5G. Carr claimed in his remarks that the proposal would remove regulatory burdens and help the U.S. remain competitive. To support relaxing these environmental standards, Carr also made unsubstantiated claims that 5G deployment would create 3 million new jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in network investment and GDP growth.
The European Union released a set of voluntary guidelines for Facebook and Google to remove terrorist and other illegal content, including content that incites hatred. The guidelines provide that the companies should remove such content within one hour. Binding regulations could be forthcoming depending on how well the voluntary guidelines work. Natalia Drozdiak reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Harper Neidig reports in the Hill that Comcast now wants to buy Sky, the European broadcaster, for $31 billion. This offer is 16% higher than what Fox was offering. Disney is also a factor here, since they’re making a bid for Fox’s non-broadcast assets.
Randy Abreu (@AbreuForNYC) is an author, attorney, tech-policy nerd and former candidate for New York City Council from the Bronx. 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.
The FOSTA bill—the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex trafficking bill—cleared the House Rules Committee on Monday. It now moves to a floor vote and it includes California Republican representative Mimi Walters’ amendment to allow victims to sue and prosecutors to charge website operators who enable sex trafficking. The bill now moves to a floor vote and it now has the support of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The National Rifle Association awarded FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with a “Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire” award. The NRA wanted to recognize Pai for enduring the incredible public outcry over the push to repeal the net neutrality rules.
The FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, giving Congress 60 days to block the repeal under the Congressional Review Act before the first few rules take effect. Senators who support the measure to block the repeal need one more vote. Eric Limer reports in Popular Mechanics. Meanwhile, a coalition of 22 state attorneys general have now refiled their lawsuits to block the repeal as well.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission against AT&T claiming the company throttled customers can move forward. The FTC alleges that AT&T slowed down customers’ data even though the customers had unlimited data plans. As Harper Neidig notes in the Hill, the decision is seen as affirming the FTC’s role as enforcer of net neutrality principles.
Intel concealed the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws from US officials until they were made public some six months after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, told them about them. Intel now faces 32 pending lawsuits related to the flaws, as well as an insider-training investigation concerning the company’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, who sold a chunk of company stock in the fourth quarter of last year, after the security flaws were known. Tom Warren has the story in the Verge.
The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Google was justified in firing former Google computer engineer James Damore. Despite all the recent so-called research about a supposed lack of “viewpoint diversity” in Silicon Valley, and all of the histrionics around high profile individuals leaving Silicon Valley because they don’t feel free to express themselves—the NLRB found that Damore’s derogatory comments in a memo about how women’s biological traits affect their work performance were “unprotected discriminatory comments”. Edward Moyer has a report in CNET.
In another case, an employee who criticized Damore, whom Google also subsequently fired, is also now suing the company for letting him go. The employee, Tim Chevalier, who is queer and transgender, posted that Damore’s memo was misogynistic and also that “’white boys’ expect privilege and feel threatened if they don’t receive it.’”
Forty-seven percent of parents are worried that their kids are addicted to mobile devices. That’s according to a new survey from Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey. But 89% believe that they are in control of their kids’ device use. Brett Molina reports in USA Today.
SpaceX launched two experimental satellites that will test the internet service it wants to provide to everyone on the planet via 10,000 low-orbiting satellites whizzing around the earth at over 200 miles per hour. The project has FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s blessing. Pai urged his fellow commissioners to approve SpaceX’s proposal to provide broadband worldwide. Jackie Wattles reports in CNN.
Facebook announced last week that it would begin sending postcards to ad buyers in order to verify their identities. In the aftermath of revelations that Russian hackers relied extensively on Facebook to push Russian propaganda, the social media giant wants to prove to regulators and the public that they are committed to weeding out bots and fake profiles. Dustin Volz reports for Reuters.
Nancy Scola reported for Politico that Facebook will now study economic inequality in the United States using its own, massive data trove. The Stanford-led team will be led by economist Raj Chetty.
Michael Laris and Jonathan O’Connell reported for the Washington post that the Washington, D.C. government has granted Elon Musk a permit to start digging for the Hyperloop. The Hyperloop would be a vacuum-based transportation system that’s capable of traveling at 670 miles per hour.
It was a tough week last week for right-wing conservatives on social media. Luis Sanchez reports for the Hill that conservatives on Twitter have been bleeding followers since itreportedly suspended thousands of user accounts. One claimed to have lost as many as 2,000 in a single night
Twitter also announced Wednesday that it will be limiting users’ ability to automate and post duplicate posts across platforms and accounts.
Ali Breland of the Hill reports that over at Medium, the blogging platform suspended the accounts of far-right bloggers Mike Cernovich, Jack Posobiec and Laura Loomer
And the YouTube channel of the far right outlet InfoWars posted a conspiracy video claiming that one of the Parkland survivors was an “actor”. YouTube issued an apology and issued a strike against InfoWars. According to YouTube’s community guidelines, users that get 3 strikes within 3 months will have their channels terminated. Abby Ohlheiser has more at the Washington Post.
Dr. Desmond Upton Patton (@SAFELab) is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute. His research utilizes qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine how and why youth and gang violence, trauma, grief and identity are expressed on social media and the real world impact they have on well-being for low-income youth of color.
His current research projects examine:
Dr. Patton’s research on Internet Banging has been discussed on several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NPR, Boston Magazine, ABC News, and Vice; it was most recently cited in an Amici Curae Brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in the Elonis v. United States case which examined the issues of interpreting threats on social media. Before coming to Columbia in July of 2015, Dr. Patton was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Information. He received a BA in Anthropology and Political Science, with honors, from the University of North Carolina- Greensboro, an MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and a PhD in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.
The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
You have undoubtedly heard by now about FBI special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s indictment of 13 Russians who allegedly maintained a vast network of content creators in order to sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. The defendants used social media by amplifying primarily mainstream news content, according to a new Columbia University study. The network stole Americans’ identities, and created fake social media profiles to spread divisive content that favored Donald Trump.
But the hacking began in 2014, prior to president Trump’s announcement that he would be running for president. The defendants even promoted content that favored Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign against Hillary Clinton. So the Trump administration is using this to try to illustrate that the Russians’ primary effort was to subvert our entire political system, rather than support Donald Trump’s election, specifically. Trump’s opponents argue that Russian conspirators saw the seating of Donald Trump as President as a no-brainer, given his susceptibility to blackmail because of his alleged hiring of prostitutes in 2013 in Moscow and his real estate deals with Russians. Sharon Lafraniere and Matt Apuzzo report for the New York Times. Craig Timberg reports for the Washington Post. But you can find coverage everywhere.
Meanwhile, Trump’s Director of National Intelligence warns that there is “no doubt” that Russians are planning to hack this year’s midterm elections. The consensus is that we’re not prepared for that. In fact, the website Hamilton 68, reported that Russian bots flooded Twitter with pro-gun messaging following Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland Florida that left 17 dead.
Cecilia Kang at the New York Times reported last week that the FCC’s Inspector General is investigating FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for illegally paving the way for Sinclair Broadcasting. Pai led the agency in several efforts that, appearing to some, seemed timed to Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media, including the relaxation of the media ownership cap and newspaper broadcast cross-ownership rules.
Spencer Soper, Naomi Nix, Ben Brody and Bill Allison report for Bloomberg that Amazon has significantly increased its lobbying spending in Washington. A number of policy issues have taken center-stage for the company, as Amazon seeks to expand into different areas, including healthcare. The company’s lobbying spending has grown by over 400% since 2012, according to Bloomberg. You can find the full report there.
In a major victory for on-demand takeout company Grubhub, the U.S. Dictrict Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Grubhub drivers are contractors not employees. The plaintiff sued Grubhub for paying subpar wages based on his classification as a contractor. The court ruled that Grubhub does not exercise a requisite amount of color over drivers’ work to justify classifying them as employees. Dara Kerr reports in CNET.
Google tested a new system that would improve the ability of 911 operators to locate emergency callers. Currently, 911 calls made via cell phone are difficult to pinpoint. Ryan Knutson has the story in the Wall Street Journal.
Brian Howard is a Research & Policy Analyst with the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) at Arizona State University. Prior to joining the AIPI team in November 2016, Brian served over five years as a Legislative Associate with the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, DC. Working on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, Brian’s work included developing and advocating tribal policy initiatives in Congress and the Administration on issues such as Telecommunications, Government Contracting, and Cultural Protections (Sacred Places, Eagle Feather/Eagle Protections, NAGPRA, and Mascot issues). Brian’s work experience has included numerous D.C.-based research and policy internships, as well as with the New Mexico House of Representatives and the Gila River Indian Community Council’s Office.
Brian graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2009 with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American Studies focusing on Federal Indian Law and Policy with a minor in Political Science. He is Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, and Pi-Pash, and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community where he grew up in the Komatke District.
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Jr. Vine Deloria
N.Y. Times: U.S. spies paid Russians for cyberweapons/Trump secret
Remember the dossier on Donald Trump that former British spy Christopher Steele built that made headlines about a year ago? The one that alleged encounters with prostitutes, bribes, and evidence of collaboration with Russians to hack Democrats? Well the problem with the dossier until now was that none of the allegations have been corroborated. But, over the weekend, the New York Times reported that U.S. spies paid a “shadowy Russian” some $100,000 in exchange for stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons. The Russian also promised secret information about President Trump. The total payout was to be $1 million. This was just the first installment. And the spies, according to the Times, delivered the cash in a suitcase to a Berlin hotel. The White House and CIA have obviously been trying to contain the report. Matthew Rosenberg reports in the New York Times.
Russian hackers continue to exploit U.S. cyber vulnerabilities
The Associated Press reports that Russian spies have continued to exploit vulnerabilities in U.S. defenses. According to the report, the spies fooled contractors with phishing scams disseminated via email, which allowed them to gain access to data acquired by spy drones.
Waymo and Uber reach a settlement
Uber and Waymo reached a settlement last week. Uber agreed to give Waymo, the self driving car company built by Google, a $245 million stake in Uber’s equity, or about .34 percent. No cash was part of the settlement. Uber continues to deny that they either stole or used any of Waymo’s trade secrets or self-driving car technology. Alex Castro reports for the Verge.
U.S. arrests 36 in cyberfraud crackdown
The Justice Department reported last week that it had arrested and charged 36 people for running a cyberfraud ring that stole some $350 million. Officials allege that Svyatoslav Bondarenko created Infraud in 2010 to make online purchases with counterfeit or stolen credit card information. Tom Schoenberg reports on the details of the scheme in Bloomberg.
Internet giants back net neutrality bill
The Internet Association--the trade association that represents internet giants like Google, Facebook and others--wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week in support of a bipartisan legislative solution that would overturn the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
British officials grill Google, Facebook and Twitter in Washington
Eleven members of the British Parliament came to Washington last week to grill tech executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter about fake news. Hamza Shaban of the Chicago Tribune reported that the meeting was far from cordial, with the lawmakers sharply criticizing the companies’ moral compass and failure to curtail the spread of misinformation online. YouTube maintained that it hadn’t found any evidence of Russian interference in the Brexit vote.
In a separate story last week, CNN brought to Twitter’s attention the fact that hundreds of Russian propaganda videos remained on Vine—the video sharing platform that Twitter owns--until well after Twitter should have been aware that the Kremlin posted the videos
Also, YouTube had to change some of its policies after YouTuber Logan Paul engaged in an ongoing pattern of posting really repulsive videos such as the video of a suicide victim in Japan. Google decided to suspend advertising on Paul’s channel and announced a broader policy change under which it would make YouTube channels that post offensive content less discoverable. Ingrid Ludent reports for Tech Crunch
Winter Olympics were cyberattacked
An organizer of the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang reported that there was a cyberattack during the opening ceremony. However, the organizer won’t disclose who carried out the attack. Peter Rutherford reports in Reuters
New study finds gender pay gap among Uber drivers
A new University of Chicago study found a gender pay gap among Uber drivers. The study found that women driving for Uber earned some 7% less per hour than their male counterparts.
Mark Warner tees up ‘tech addiction’
At a speech last week, Senator Mark Warner teed up tech addiction as a concern for policymakers. The remarks came amidst several studies conducted recently that purport to illustrate Americans’ addition to tech. David McCabe has more in Axios
M.I.T. study shows facial recognition AI skin color bias
A new study from the M.I.T. Media Lab shows a commercial facial recognition technology is correct 99% of the time when it comes to identifying white man. But when it came to identifying black folks, the software was wrong 35% of the time. Steve Lohr reports in The New York Times
Spouses of highly skilled immigrants face job losses under Trump
The spouses of high skilled workers who enter the country under an H1B visa are permitted to work under an H-4 visa. But Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is seeking to end the program, potentially affecting that additional source of income.
Cleaver wants white supremacists out of cryptocurrencies
Several reports say that white supremacists have been raising funding with Bitcoin to circumvent the established tech sector. So Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver wrote a letter to the Bitcoin Foundation and Digital Chamber of Commerce, asking for measures to curtail white supremacists’ cryptocurrency fundraising activities. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.
Senators pressure CFPB on Equifax
Thirty Senators want to know why Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, a Trump appointee has delayed the investigation into the Equifax breach that compromised the data of some 143 million Americans. Thirty Senators, led by Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz, want to know why CFPB hasn’t taken preliminary steps in the investigation. So far the CFPB has declined comment.
Trump administration wants to privatize International Space station
Christian Davenport reports for the Washington Post that the White House is planning to stop funding for the International Space Station after 2024. It is working on a plan to turn the space station into a commercial enterprise.
Dr. Simone Browne (@wewatchwatchers) is Associate Professor in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, Austin. She teaches and researches surveillance studies and black diaspora studies.
Her first book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, examines surveillance with a focus on transatlantic slavery, biometric technologies, branding, airports and creative texts. You can read the Introduction to Dark Matters here.
She is an Executive Board member of HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory). She is also a member of Deep Lab, a feminist collaborative composed of artists, engineers, hackers, writers, and theorists. Along with Katherine McKittrick and Deborah Cowen she is co-editor of Errantries, a new series published by Duke University Press.
Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble
Patrick Rucker at Reuters reported on Sunday that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, has been blocking the investigation into Equifax's massive September data breach. The breach exposed the data of some 143 million Americans to hackers. But Mulvaney has been working behind the scenes by not ordering any subpoenas, seeking sworn testimony, or really anything that would suggest CFPB is doing anything to further the investigation. CFPB has also blocked other agencies such as the FDIC and Federal Reserve from even stepping in to help out with the investigation. The U.S. Court of Appeals also affirmed Mulvaney's poltically-charged appointment.
A new University of Chicago Crime Lab and ideas42 study that was funded, in part, by the MacArthur Foundation, found that texts reminding people about court appearances in New York City, reduced Failure to Appear "FTA" arrest warrants by as much as a third. Changes to the summons form, that put the most relevant information on top, such as the date, time and place of the court appearance, plus the penalty associated with failing to appear, translated to a reduction of FTA arrest warrants by 17,000, when the form changes were implemented system-wide.
The U.S. Census Bureau is bowing to an apparent effort by the Trump administration to ensure that as many people as possible claim their race as "White" for census purposes. The Census Bureau released a statement on January 26th saying that the 2020 Census would ignore the Obama Administration's recommendation to allow census respondents to check specific ethnicities along with racial categories. Instead, the Bureau will continue to emphasize the broader racial categories of White and Black, with Hispanics and Latinos only being able to write-in their heritage, but also having to choose their race as Black or White. The form also indicates "Egyptian" as an example of "White". Additionally, the "White" racial category will continue to be listed first. But that would have been the case on the form that the Obama administration recommended as well. The Census Bureau has until March 31st to make its final determination.
YouTube’s plan to flag government-sponsored content isn’t going over so well with PBS. PBS receives some, but not all, funding from the federal government. So the powerful, non-profit broadcast network is concerned that YouTube will lump all of its content into one bucket. Hamza Shaban reports for The New York Times.
The Federal Trade Commission last week released a new infographic warning about dating site scams. Some of the things to look out for include, well, weirdos, basically – people who profess their love quickly, ask for money, or say they need help with an emergency. You know, standard stuff. The FTC says people lost $220 million from scams like these in 2016. DON’T let it happen to you.
Google’s parent company Alphabet has announced its new Chairman to replace outgoing Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. John Hennessy has taken the helm. Hennessy is the former President of Stanford University and he’s been an Alphabet board member since it was founded in 2015, and prior to that was a Google board member since 1997. Hennessy is a passionate defender of the DREAM Act. Schmidt remains an Alphabet board member and technical advisor to the company. He has also joined MIT as an innovation fellow.
Twitter reports that Trump’s State of the Union Speech last week broke the Twitter record. The 3 million tweets during Trump’s speech surpassed the 2.6 million tweets Barack Obama’s garnered in 2015.
Chris J Snook (@chrisjsnook) is the Bestselling Author of Digital Sense: The Common Sense Approach to Effectively Blending Social Business Strategy, Marketing Technology and Customer Experience (Wiley, 2016). He is a Managing Partner at Launch Haus, a venture capital firm focused on cryptocurrency, blockchain, enterprise software, consumer products, digital marketing, event/media properties, and service businesses. He is also a Chairman and Founder of the WorldTokenomicForum ,the leading international organization for enabling public-private cooperation, interoperability, and innovation in token and blockchain based technology. He is also an INC magazine contributor.
Digital Sense: The Common Sense Approach to Effectively Blending Social Business Strategy, Marketing Technology, and Customer Experience by Travis Wright and Chris Snook (Wiley, 2016).
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
Trump officials are weighing building a new 5G network to compete with China's, according to a Powerpoint Axios obtained. The plan would be for the federal government to build a 5G network within 3 years. The report was met with resistance from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as well Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. Olivia Beavers has the story in the Hill. Which do you think will be built first? The Wall between the US and Mexico or the 5G network?
Twitter announced on Friday that some 677,000 of its users engaged with a Kremlin-linked troll factory called the Internet Research Agency. Twitter has also identified an additional 13,512 Russian bots on Twitter, bringing the total to over 50,000. One hundred and twenty-six million people saw content from Russian bots on Twitter during the 2016 election cycle.
Twitter has big changes in store for the 2018 midterm election to significantly cut back on malicious Russian bots. Twitter also reported that Russian bots retweeted Donald Trump some 500,000 times over just two-and-a-half months between September 1 and November 16, 2016. Facebook reported to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russian bots created some 129 events. Ashley Gold reports for Politico and Jacqueline Thomas for the Hill.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he would be investigating Devumi--a company that sells millions of fake followers to high profile individuals. The New York Times reported over the weekend that some 15% of Twitter's active users are actually fake accounts. Nicholas Confessore, Gabriel J.X. Dance, and Richard Harris and Mark Hansen report in the New York Times.
A fitness tracking app called Strava inadvertently revealed the locations of secret U.S. army basis via military personnel who tracked their exercise by using the app. Alex Hern reports for the Guardian.
President Trump has nominated a new Chief Information Officer. Suzette Kent was previously with Ernst & Young, JP Morgan and the Carreker Corporation over 27 years in financial an payment services. Aaron Boyd reports in Next.gov.
Daiquiri Ryan (@daiquiriryan) is a Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge, where she uses her passion for the intersection of technology policy and social justice to help further innovative consumer advocacy. Prior to joining PK, Daiquiri spent time as a legal intern at Amazon and a Google Policy Fellow at the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
Daiquiri is a current member of Google’s NextGen Policy Leader’s inaugural class and contributes NextGen’s subcommittee on Data and Machine Learning’s impact on marginalized communities. She received her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and B.A. in Political Science and Media Relations at Arizona State University. Daiquiri is a Texas native with a special affinity for college football, Elvis Presley and her dog Bobo.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Montana Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed an Executive Order last week that requires internet service providers to abide by the FCC' 2015 net neutrality principles. The order simply states that ISPs with state contracts must abide by the principles. Bullock says this is a template that other states should use. harper Neidig has more in The Hill.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reneged on previous statements in which he suggested that the FCC would consider mobile broadband to be a full substitute for wired broadband. Back in 2014, the Obama era FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler raised the definition of what is to be considered high speed broadband from 4 Mbps down and 1Mbps up to 25Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. But last August, the FCC proposed 10 Mbps up and 1Mbps down for mobile broadband as an adequate substitute for wired broadband. Thankfully, in a reversal last week, Pai circulated a draft report stating that he would keep the current broadband definition intact. The Open Meeting is scheduled for January 30th.
You've heard by now that a false alert went out to Hawaiians last week warning them about an incoming ballistic missile strike. The alert turned out to be false. So the FCC says it's investigating.
Verizon and Apple announced windfalls last week stemming from Republicans' tax overhaul. Verizon said the new tax bill would reduce their 4th quarter tax liabilities by $16.8 billion, which translates to $4.10 in earnings per share. Apple claims that it would repatriate some $250 billion in overseas cash from the overhaul. The company claimed that it would invest $350 billion in the U.S. economy over the next 5 years.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Kara Swisher and Ari Melber last week that he would have "no issues" with women speaking out about sexual harassment, even if they are bound by an non-disclosure agreement. Pichai said he's not even aware of such agreements that would prevent women from telling their stories.
The merger conditions the feds placed on Comcast back when they acquired NBC Universal in 2011 have expired. This raises concerns for advocates who are concerned about Comcast now becoming emboldened to engage in anti-competitive practices. Kim Hart reports for Axios.
Under President Trump, U.S. Customs searches of mobile devices belonging to people entering the U.S. have more than tripled at the U.S. border with Mexico. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants those warrantless searches to stop. So it filed an amicus brief in U.S. v. Cano, urging the court to apply the same Fourth Amendment standard to those entering the country that it applies to arrestees.
Here to discuss net neutrality and sexual health is Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH (@lesliekantor), Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Vice President of Education. Dr. Kantor is a widely respected leader in the field of sexual and reproductive health, with over two decades of experience in sex education. Since arriving at PPFA, Dr. Kantor has led efforts to develop innovative, technology-based approaches to sex education, partnered with affiliates to strengthen programs and evaluation, served as a national spokesperson, and spearheaded PPFA’s policy efforts related to sex education.
Dr. Kantor has extensive experience training professionals as well as expertise in working directly with children, adolescents, young adults and parents throughout the United States. Ms. Kantor appears frequently in the media speaking about sexual and reproductive health and has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, the Associated Press, The Daily Show with John Stewart, the CBS Evening News, NY1News and the Today Show. In addition, she is a member of the faculty at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where she teaches “Pedagogy of Sexuality Education.”
Dr. Kantor’s scholarly articles have appeared in journals such as Sexuality Research and Social Policy, the Journal of Medical Internet Research, and the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association and she has published book chapters on adolescent sexual development and sexuality in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, Sixth Edition and Epidemiology of Women’s Health. She is a member of the editorial review board for the journal Sex Education.
Dr. Kantor has received two prestigious awards from the American Public Health Association (APHA) —the Early Career Award for Excellence from the Population, Reproduction and Sexual Health section and the APHA Jay S. Drotman Memorial Award which is awarded to a public health professional who has “challenged public health practice in a creative and positive manner.” In 2011, the Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education (APPLE) awarded Ms. Kantor their prestigious “Golden Apple” award for leadership in the field of sexuality education.
Dr. Kantor has served on the boards of directors of several of the major organizations in the field of sexual health including the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Answer. She is a past board member of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and chaired their board committee on community education and leadership development for several years.
Dr. Kantor holds a BA magna cum laude from Barnard College, a master's in public health (MPH) from the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and a PhD from the Columbia University School of Social Work. She is also the mother of a teenage son.
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger (University of California Press, 2017)
The House of Representatives voted last week to renew the statute that grants U.S. spy agencies sweeping powers to surveil foreign nationals. The statute--Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--is set to expire at the end of January. President Trump introduced uncertainty as lawmakers negotiated the renewal by sending conflicting tweets, which first opposed the renewal and then appeared to support it. Now the bill heads to the Senate where Democrat Ron Wyden as well as Republican Rand Paul, have vowed to filibuster the bill out of concern for the fact that American citizens' data are often swept into surveillance requests when they communicate with individuals outside the U.S. The bill would renew the surveillance program until 2023.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is donating $33 million in college scholarships for DREAMERS--undocumented high school graduates in the U.S. The grant will fund $33,000 worth of tuition for 1,000 students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. Bezos indicated in a statement that his father came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 16 years old and unable to speak English.
You'll be seeing a lot fewer ads and news stories on Facebook. The social media company announced last week that it is tweaking its news feed to emphasize content from its users' family and friends. Some are skeptical that this will have any effect on fake and misleading news appearing on the site. Popular articles shared by family and friends would still rise to the top of the news feed if they get enough engagements. Mike Isaac reports in the New York Times.
A new Trend Micro report warns about the ongoing threat of Russian hackers. The report states that the same Russian hackers who broke into the Democratic Party during last year's election are still at work. This time they are attempting to access the private emails of U.S. Senators. The Associated Press has more.
Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich wrote an open letter last week promising that Intel will be much more transparent going forward about the way its processors are performing. Krzanich wrote the letter in the wake of revelations that Intel's processors had two major security flaws affecting countless computers worldwide. In the meantime, Intel is facing at least 3 class-action lawsuits stemming from the security flaws. Tom Warren reports in the Verge and Samuel Gibbs reports for the Guardian.
Reuters reports that the FCC has decided to pause the 180-day transaction clock on Sinclair Broadcast's acquisition of Tribune Media. The agency said that it needs to be able to "fully review" some station divestitures Sinclair will be making. These would include the 10 stations that Fox wants to purchase from Sinclair.
Elissa Shevinsky (@ElissaBeth) is a successful serial entrepreneur, focusing on cybersecurity and cryptocurrency companies. An early employee at Geekcorps (acquired) and Everyday Health (IPO) she was most recently Head of Product at Brave. Shevinsky is also the author of "Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Startup Culture." Little known fact: her first job out of college was as a lobbyist in DC, working to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture by Elissa Shevinsky (OR Books: 2015)
Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open BlockChain by Andreas Antonopoulos (O'Reilly Media: 2017)
Mastering Ethereum by Andreas Antonopoulous (O'Reilly Media: forthcoming, 2018)
The Senate bill to combat online sex trafficking has the 60 votes it needs to prevent a filibuster. The bipartisan bill, which met initial resistance and then acceptance by large tech companies, seeks to limit an exception in the Communications Decency Act that shields web hosts from liability for illegal content, such as prostitution ads, posted by third parties. The Senate bill would eliminate the exception for websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. Ben Brody has more in Bloomberg.
Apple announced last week that all Mac and iOS devices are susceptible to processing system flaws called Spectre and Meltdown. Apple said that, to avoid the possibility of hackers exploiting these vulnerabilities, consumers should avoid downloading anything from anyone other than trusted sources. Selena Larson reports for CNN.
Senator Ed Markey's effort to overturn the FCC's reversal of the 2015 open internet rules gained its first Republican supporter last week: Senator Susan Collins from Maine. Markey's resolution could now pass the Senate with just one more Republican vote. On Monday, Democrat Claire McCaskill joined the list of the bill's sponsors, bringing the total number of sponsors to 30. John Brodkin has the story in Ars Technica.
With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) set to expire on March 5th, more than 100 American CEOs sent a joint letter to Congress urging it to pass a bill to allow Dreamers--the children of undocumented immigrants who brought them to the U.S.--to remain in the country. The CEOs, who represented companies as diverse as Google, Apple, Best Buy, Levi Strauss, Facebook, Target, Verizon, Visa and others wrote that the impending expiration of DACA is a crisis. Harper Neidig has the story in the Hill.
The Internet Association--the trade group that represents major tech companies such as Google, Netflix, Facebook and others--announced last week that it would be suing the Federal Communications Commission over its repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules.
James Damore--the fired Google employee who wrote a controversial memo that played into stereotypes about women, sued Google for treating employees with conservative political views differently from the way it treated liberals working at the company. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Half of women in STEM jobs experience gender-based discrimination at work, according to a new Pew survey. Some 50 percent of women in STEM fields reported that they had been victims of discrimination, compared to 41 percent of women in non-STEM jobs. Cary Funk and Kim Parker wrote the report for Pew.
Children's electronic toy maker VTech settled with the Federal Trade Commission for $650,000 on Monday. The FTC alleged that the company had collected kids' private information without the consent of their parents, and then failed to secure the information against hackers.
The White House has nominated Brendan Carr to a five-year term as a Federal Communications Commission Commissioner. Carr's current term expires in June.
Monica Anderson is a research associate at the Pew Research Center. Her work focuses on internet and technology issues. Much of her recent work focuses on the impact of the digital divide, growing role of automation in everyday life, and the role of online 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 social media.
Americans and Automation in Every Day Life by Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson
The Communications Workers of America, the nation's leading union representing telecommunications industry workers, is suing several companies for placing job ads on Facebook that targeted users under age 40 and, in some cases, under 38. The complaint alleges that T-Mobile, Amazon, and Cox Communications placed job ads on Facebook and placed age caps on their audience target. Sharon Bernstein reports for Reuters.
The likelihood that the Republican-controlled Congress will pass legislation to overturn the FCC's repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules seems like a long-shot. Nevertheless, as many as 26 Senators support Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey's effort to undo the vote using the Congressional Review Act. Colin Lecher reports in the Verge.
Republicans also announced their own version of a net neutrality bill. Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn unveiled the Open Internet Preservation Act, which would restore two of the repealed net neutrality rules including the rule against throttling and the rule against blocking. However, the bill doesn't bring back the rule against paid prioritization. Without that, ISPs would be free to charge website operators exorbitant fees for access to internet fast lanes. Brian Fung reports on this in the Washington Post.
To celebrate Congress' passage of the tax overhaul, AT&T announced that it would pay $1,000 bonuses to its 200,000 employees. Then the company turned around and announced that it would be laying off more than a thousand workers. Carlos Bellesteros reports for Newsweek.
The White House announced that Microsoft and Facebook disabled North Korean cyberattacks earlier this year. White House homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert said that Facebook and Microsoft disabled the WannaCry virus that disabled critical institutions such as hospitals and banks earlier this year, as well as several other ongoing cyberattacks. Dustin Volz reports for Reuters.
The new tax overhaul has major benefits for Silicon Valley independent contractors, executives and investors. Many top tech executives will see more take-home pay, and some contractors will as well. Tech giants will see major tax cuts and will be able to bring back money earned overseas at a lower tax rate than they had been able to previously. Blue collar workers in the Valley, such as security workers, will see some tax benefits but nowhere near as substantial as those of higher paid workers. Paresh Dave, Heather Somerville and Jeffrey Dastin report for Reuters.
In a new report, the Georgetown University Center on Privacy and Technology found that the Department of Homeland Security is scanning the faces of American citizens traveling internationally and comparing it to a national database. The report found that this program affects as many as 1 in 25 international travelers. Homeland is implementing the face scanning program at eight airports in Boston Logan, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare, Las Vegas McCarran, Miami International, Hobby International in Houston, New York's JFK, and Washington Dulles. Although it has approved the use of biometrics for screening foreign nationals who are entering the country, Congress has not yet authorized the practice of face-scanning American citizens who are exiting. Harrison Rudolph, Laura Moy, and Alvaro Bedoya authored the report, which you can find at airportfacescans.com.
Brian Woolfolk (@brianpwoolfolk) is the Founding Executive Director of Full Color Future--a new think tank and advocacy organization committed to changing the narrative about people of color in media, tech and innovation. He has been passionate about inclusive tech, telecom and media policy for more than 20 years, since he got his start on Capitol Hill.
Brian served as Democratic Counsel on the US House Judiciary Committee and advised Committee Members on the Telecommunications Act, media ownership diversity, and free speech issues. He also advised members and staff on constitutional, civil rights, antitrust, criminal justice and investigative issues. Prior to his Committee work, Brian served as legislative counsel to Congressman Robert C. (Bobby) Scott of Virginia, currently the Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
Since leaving the Hill, Brian Woolfolk has worked in private practice, representing a broad array of clients with matters before Congress, federal agencies, and state and local governments. Brian also counsels clients involved in high profile Congressional Investigations.
Mr. Woolfolk has extensive technology and media policy experience. His advocacy on tech policy issues began when he ran a pro bono project that provided government relations services to minority media companies challenging anti-competitive practices in the cable marketplace. Over the years, Brian has worked on surveillance, artificial intelligence, net neutrality, mergers, set top boxes, and a host of other issues related to the fight to ensure diverse tech and media interests are protected.
Brian has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland and a J.D. from the William & Mary Law School. Brian currently serves as a Member of the William and Mary Board of Visitors (Trustees).
Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard On You?: A Memoir by George Clinton (Atria Books, 2014)
Of course you've heard by now that the Republican-led FCC voted to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules which classified ISPs as "common carriers". This classification brought them directly within the scope of the Commission's so-called "Title II" authority, which is the section of the Communications Act that deals with common carriers. The net neutrality rules banned ISPs from blocking, slowing down, or prioritizing speeds for content creators who can afford to pay for higher speeds, while keeping everyone else's in the slow lane. Those rules are gone now. However, the FCC did keep the so-called "transparency rule", which continues to require ISPs to be transparent about their network management practices. Still, the definition of "transparency" is subject to broad interpretation since there is no longer any underlying rules that say what ISPs are supposed to be transparent about. The FCC and FTC have said that they intended to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding which would define how the two agencies would work together to enforce net neutrality principles. But until that's done--there are no net neutrality rules--only unenforceable principles of net neutrality.
So what are the next steps? Well, first off, the FCC is likely to get sued. The most obvious basis for any lawsuit would be the way in which the FCC considered public comments in this proceeding, or, should I say--did NOT consider public comments. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said last week that he would be suing the FCC for illegally rolling back the net neutrality rules. He points to the fact that there were millions of fake or fraudulent comments in the record. He also says that the Commission failed to hold public hearings. Schniederman says that repealing the rules "rewards the very perpetrators who scammed the system to advance their own agenda." Other states that are planning to sue include Washington, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Delaware, Vermont, DC and Massachusetts. Advocacy organizations, like Free Press, have also expressed their intention to sue.
The other route is legislation. Verge reporter Jacob Kastrenakes reports that Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune called on Congress last week to pass a new net neutrality law.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he would force a vote under he Congressional Review Act to preserve the net neutrality rules.
Shannon Liao has excellent coverage of how all of this could play out in The Verge.
The FCC also passed a notice of proposed rulemaking, in which it is exploring how the FCC might reduce the broadcast ownership cap. Currently, it is illegal for a single broadcast owner to reach more than 39% of the national market. This standard was set by Congress, and it was legislation that current Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly worked on when he was a Legislative Assistant for former Republican New Hampshire Senator John Sununu. O'Rielly opposes raising the cap because he says the Commission doesn't have the authority to do so. However, he says that it is appropriate for the FCC to consider raising the cap, since it is unlikely that Congress will do so. John Eggerton explains in Broadcasting & Cable.
We should also note that David Shepardson of Reuters reports that the FCC has voted behind closed doors to fine Sinclair Broadcasting $13.3 million for failing to disclose that it ran paid programming on some of its stations that was sponsored by a cancer institute. Sinclair's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media is still pending.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumental wants the DOJ to revisit the Comcast/NBCU merger that closed back in 2011. The merger conditions Comcast committed to in exchange for the merger being approved are set to expire next fall. So Blumenthal is concerned that the market harms that some have already pointed to will get worse. He wrote a letter last week to U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim asking him to consider breaking up Comcast/NBCU or, at a minimum, to extend the merger conditions. Ted Johnson reports for Variety.
With the help of Google's artificial intelligence neural network, NASA has identified an 8th planet orbiting a distant star called Kepler 90, which is about 2,500 light years away from us. The planet, which is called Kepler 90i, has a 14-day orbit and is rocky and hot, with a surface temperature of 800 degrees Farenheit. It is within the first solar system humans have discovered with as many planets as our own. Maya Wei-Haas has the story in Smithsonian.
Twitter began enforcing a new policy to crack down on white nationalist hate speech on Monday, suspending accounts linked to white nationalists. The new policy prohibits users from advocating violence against civilians. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
As you know, Uber, and Google parent company Alphabet's self driving car unit Waymo, have been embroiled in litigation. Waymo charges that a former employee took secrets back to Uber to help Uber develop its competing self-driving car. Well, a new letter came to light last week, and it says that Uber hacked and surveilled its competitors to gain competitive insights in a way that went far beyond industry norms. For example, the 37-page letter--dubbed Jacob's letter-- written by a former attorney to Uber's head of global intelligence, says that Uber collected the license, name and contact information of 35,000 drivers and used that information to entice them to work for Uber instead. The letter also states that Uber engaged in other less-than-savory practices as it spied on competitors. The letter was made public just days ahead of the trial that's set to commence in days. Jake Nicas reports in the Wall Street Journal.
The House of Representatives released its answer to the Senate's Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act last week. The House version, which is entitled the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, would make it so that companies can no longer claim immunity from *state* laws for third-party content that promotes sex trafficking. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act only prevents such immunity from federal law. The House bill also prohibits ads that solicit prostitution. Jack Corrigan reports in Next.gov.
Democratic lawmakers are calling for hearings on Disney's $52 billion bid for 21st Century Fox. Senator Amy Klobuchar is concerned about the merger's potential competitive harms. Representatives David Cicilline and Emanuel Cleaver want hearings as well. Tony Romm reports for Recode.
Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz--the top ranking internet subcommittee Democrat--scolded the tech sector for its lack of diversity at an artificial intelligence hearing last week. Schatz was particularly concerned about the lack of diversity among artificial intelligence development teams. He said that these teams are predominantly white and male and pointed to the potential for bias in setting up AI algorithms. Ali Breland reports in The Hill.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's video of himself doing the Harlem Shake to ease minds about repealing net neutrality didn't go over so well with DJ Baauer, who created the track. Bauer filed a copyright claim and YouTube took the video down for 7 hours.
In any case the video's back up but the ratio of dislikes to likes is some 24 to 1. with just 9,000 likes and 217, 000 dislikes. Sarah Jeong reports in the Verge.
Carmen Scurato (@carmenscurato) is Vice President, Policy and General Counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, where she leads NHMC's policy and government affairs office in Washington, D.C. She is responsible for developing policy and legal strategies that encourage open and affordable communications, innovation, competition, and diversity. Carmen represents NHMC in meetings with decision makers in Congress and at federal regulatory agencies. She has spoken extensively on the ways that communications policy impacts people of color and regularly appears in outlets such as Fast Company, Fortune, The Root and the Guardian to highlight NHMC’s policy and advocacy efforts.
Carmen coordinates organizational responses to regulatory proposals that threaten to widen the digital divide and has co-authored several notable filings for Voices for Internet Freedom highlighting the importance of Net Neutrality and the Lifeline program for communities of color. In 2017, Carmen was the architect of Freedom of Information Act requests that compelled the FCC to release more than 50,000 consumer complaints, previously undisclosed, that drew renewed attention to the importance of preserving the 2015 Open Internet Order. Carmen also supervises NHMC’s legal fellowship program, which provides an opportunity for select students throughout the country to experience media, technology, and telecommunications law and advocacy.
Before joining NHMC, Carmen worked at the Department of Justice and assisted in Medicare fraud investigations, including a False Claims Act case that resulted in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars. She also worked at the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs on large document requests received from congressional oversight committees.
Carmen, a native of Puerto Rico, earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law and her B.A. cum laude from New York University.
Carmen also serves on the public policy advisory council to the American Library Association and is a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee. She also sits on the Advisory Board for Full Color Future and was named as one of 2017’s Full Color 50. Carmen is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Hispanic National Bar Association, and the Federal Communications Bar Association.
Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil
The FCC is poised to repeal its net neutrality rules this Thursday despite tens of thousands of fake or fraudulent comments in the record. Both Democratic FCC Commissioners, several members of Congress, and protesters have called on the FCC to delay repealing the rules. However, Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues are planning to overturn the rules anyway.
The FCC on Monday announced a so-called framework under which it and the FTC would ostensibly work in partnership to weed out bad actors on the internet. However, this is more likely to be political maneuvering by the two agencies' Republican leadership, since FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeney wrote a widely-read op-ed in Quartz last week stating that the FTC does not have the expertise to regulate internet service providers.
Additionally, Brian Fung noted in the Washington Post that a case that's currently pending in the 9th Circuit could restrict those who wish to file grievances against their internet service providers even further. In FTC v. AT&T Mobility, the court will decide, within days, whether a parent corporate entity can escape being classified as a common carrier even if one or more of its smaller subsidiaries is classified as such. This is important because the FTC does not have jurisdiction over common carriers--only the FCC does. So if the court defines AT&T as a common carrier, the notion that the FTC would have any kind of authority to enforce net neutrality principles against ISPs, is a joke, basically--since AT&T would be able to claim an exemption from FTC enforcement based on the fact that its subsidiary is classified as a common carrier. And, as Brian explains, overturning the net neutrality rules would effectively remove AT&T from the FCC's common carrier definition. Taken together, a decision in the 9th circuit that's favorable to AT&T, combined with the FCC overturning the net neutrality rules, would make it a great week for AT&T, as it would mean that the company isn't subject to regulation by either agency.
House Democrats, including Elijah Cummings, are calling on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the fake comments.
In an amicus brief filed in the DC Circuit in support of Common Cause's lawsuit against the Trump Administration, Former National Security officials are worried that the Trump administration's proposed database that's designed to prevent so-called voter fraud would be susceptible to large-scale hacking. The former officials, including former National Intelligence Director James Clapper say exposing the personal information of millions of Americans online would invite hacking by both nation-states and criminals.
Remember when Cloudflare decided to stop hosting the neo-Nazi website 'Daily Stormer' for mocking the woman who was mowed down during Charlottesville riots in August? Now, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince says that was a mistake because he's almost a "free speech absolutist" and that he let his emotions get the better of him. He says he's going to try not to be so impulsive next time. And, in the future, if the Southern Poverty Law Center reaches out to him to complain about hateful content Cloudflare is hosting, he's just going to delegate it to the Electronic Frontier Foundation--a privacy-focused non-profit that's based on the West Coast--and let those two duke it out. He's too busy to help curtail hate speech, basically. Meanwhile, Google announced that it will be hiring 10,000 people to help stamp out extremist content on YouTube.
The Securities and Exchange Commission's new division that's focused on cryptocurrencies filed its first charges last week. They're against a company called PlexCorps, which was about to hold an initial coin offering (ICO) for which it claimed investors would receive 13 times their investment. The SEC alleged fraud and froze the company's assets. Meanwhile, the price of a single Bitcoin has jumped to over $17,000, from around $1,000 in January. Bitcoin futures also launched on the New York and London exchanges on Monday. Many experts are predicting that Bitcoin will eventually crash.
Facebook released a new app last week called Messenger Kids which lets kids under 12 "connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want." Almost immediately, Democratic Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumentahl raised concerns, saying that the app raises privacy and security concerns. So they're asking Facebook for more clarity on how the app works.
The NSA's warrantless surveillance program will expire on January 1st if Congress doesn't pass an extension. However, the White House says that it has the authority to keep the program going because the FISA court met on April 26th and made changes that would remain in place for a year. Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times.
Google has blocked YouTube on Amazon's streaming devices. Google says Amazon refuses to offer Amazon Prime through Google gadgets and has recently halted the sale of Google's Nest.
The trial between the Department of Justice against the AT&T/Time Warner merger is set to begin on March 19th. This is unlikely to meet that April 22 deadline for the deal to close, on which AT&T would have to pay Time Warner $500 million.
Victor Pickard (@vwpickard) is an Associate Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. His research focuses on the history and political economy of media institutions, media activism, and the politics and normative foundations of media policy. Before coming to Annenberg, he taught at New York University in the media, culture, and communication department. Previously he worked on media policy in Washington, DC as a Senior Research Fellow at the media reform organization Free Press and the public policy think tank the New America Foundation. He also taught media policy at the University of Virginia and served as a Media Policy Fellow for Congresswoman Diane Watson.
Pickard’s work has been published in numerous anthologies and scholarly journals, including Critical Studies in Media Communication, Journal of Communication; Media, Culture & Society; Global Media and Communication; International Journal of Communication; Communication, Culture & Critique; New Media and Society; Journal of Communication Inquiry; Newspaper Research Journal; Journal of Internet Law; International Journal of Communication Law and Policy; CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy; Political Communication; Journal of Information Policy; Digital Journalism; Journalism Studies; Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies; and Communication Theory. He is a frequent commentator on public and community radio and he often speaks to the press about med ia-related issues. His op-eds have appeared in venues like the Guardian, the Seattle Times, the Huffington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Atlantic.
In 2009, Pickard was the lead author of the first comprehensive report on the American journalism crisis, "Saving the News: Toward a National Journalism Strategy" (published by Free Press as part of the book Changing Media: Public Interest Policies for the Digital Age). He is the co-editor of the books Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights (with Robert McChesney, published by The New Press) and The Future of Internet Policy (with Peter Decherney, published by Routledge), and he is the author of the book America's Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform (published by Cambridge University Press).
The FCC's efforts to overturn the net neutrality rules have descended into total and complete chaos. First of all, it's hard to find anyone other than telecom companies, and the beltway insiders that represent them, that support Ajit Pai's plan to overturn the rules at the December 14th meeting. A new Morning Consult poll finds that some 52% of Americans support net neutrality , with 29% who say they don't know. Just eighteen percent outright oppose. Further, the opposition to Ajit Pai's efforts appears to be bipartisan, with 53% of Republicans and Democrats coming in at just 2 points higher--55% who support the existing net neutrality rules.
And then there's the Pew Research study showing that just 6% of comments submitted in the net neutrality docket are genuine, with others being fake and duplicates. Yet the FCC doesn't appear to be accounting for the onslaught of fake comments submitted in this proceeding.
And a man was arrested and charged for threatening to kill Congressman John Katko if he failed to support net neutrality. Twenty-eight year old Patrick D. Angelo left a voicemail for Katko saying "Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you. But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill…you…all. Do you understand?" This is according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
So the net neutrality debate has assumed a very unhealthy tone. Perhaps the FCC should wait on overturning the rules. That would certainly seem to be the most democratic way to go. Incidentally, some 200 businesses, including Airbnb, Tumblr, Pinterest and others sent a letter to Ajit Pai on Cyber Monday urging him to hold on overturning the rules.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in Carpenter v. U.S. --that's the cellphone location data tracking case. The defendant was suspected of serving as a lookout during several armed robberies in Detroit. Authorities used Carpenter's cell phone location data to determine his proximity to the robberies. They found that Carpenter was indeed nearby to where the crimes took place. He was convicted and is now serving a 116-year sentence. But the justices seemed to lean in support of Carpenter's argument that his 4th Amendment rights were violated--despite the third party doctrine which holds that individuals give up their right to privacy in information disclosed to third parties. Robert Barnes covers this in the Washington Post.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing the U.S. government -- specifically the Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security--for its work on developing a tattoo recognition technology. EFF sees the effort as an intrusion into civil liberties. Harper Neidig reports in The Hill.
A new Government Accountability Officer report found that people of color are disproportionately underrepresented within tech firms. Congressman Bobby Scott--Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee--ordered the study. The report found that some 10% of Hispanic and 7% of Black workers had Bachelors or Masters-level technology degrees, yet they represent only 5% or less of tech companies.
Softbank has initiated a formal, $48 billion takeover bid for Uber--the embattled ride-sharing company. Softbank offered to purchase Uber shares despite 3rd Quarter losses of $1.5 billion, which was up from $1.1 billion Uber lost in the second quarter. Eric Newcomer reports for Bloomberg.
Finally, the digital currency Bitcoin had banner week last week. It jumped to over $11,000, from just $1,000 in the spring. Is it a bubble? Should it be regulated? Should the Fed create its own cryptocurrency? And, most importantly, what the hell is it??? Those are the questions being asked this week as Nasdaq prepares to trade Bitcoin. Michael Derby reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Emma Llansó (@ellanso) is the Director of CDT’s Free Expression Project, which works to promote law and policy that support users’ free expression rights in the United States and around the world. Emma leads CDT’s work in advancing speech-protective policies, which include legislative advocacy and amicus activity in the U.S. aimed at ensuring that online expression receives the highest level of protection under the First Amendment. Recognizing the crucial role played by Internet intermediaries in facilitating individuals’ expression, she works to preserve strong intermediary liability protections in the U.S. and to advance these key policies abroad.
Emma also leads the Free Expression Project’s work in developing content policy best practices with Internet content platforms and advocating for user-empowerment tools and other alternatives to government regulation of online speech. The Project’s work spans many subjects, including online child safety and children’s privacy, human trafficking, privacy and online reputation issues, counter-terrorism and “radicalizing” content, and online harassment. Emma is also a member of the Freedom Online Coalition’s Working Group on Privacy and Transparency Online, which is developing best practices for transparency reporting by governments and companies regarding government demands to Internet companies for content removal and access to user data. Emma works with CDT’s Global Internet Policy & Human Rights Project on advancing policies that promote free expression in global fora; she also works with the Global project in advocating for decentralized, multistakeholder approaches to Internet governance.
Emma earned a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Delaware and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Emma joined CDT in 2009 as the Bruce J. Ennis First Amendment Fellow; her fellowship project focused on legal and policy advocacy in support of minors’ First Amendment rights in the US. She is a member of the New York State Bar.
SESTA Would Undermine Free Speech Online by Emma Llansó
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold (Microsoft Press, 2000)
Ajit Pai released a draft order to repeal the net neutrality rules last week, which the Commission will vote on at their December meeting. The order would overturn the 2015 net neutrality order by reclassifying internet service providers as "information service" providers rather than Title II "common carriers". Telecom companies applauded the new order while others, on the right and left, decried the draft order which will give telecom carriers broad discretion to throttle, block or require payment for services it doesn't favor. The order would also preempt the states from enacting their own net neutrality legislation. Cecilia Kang reports in the New York Times.
In an open letter published on his Medium page, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. In it, he called on Pai to respond to repeated requests Schneider's office made to the FCC to release information on the individuals who were responsive for corrupting the FCC's notice and comment system. Schneiderman wrote that thousands of Americans' identities may have been used to submit fraudulent comments. Schneiderman wrote that his office has made 9 requests to the FCC since June, even offering to keep the information confidential, but to no avail.
The Justice Department has sued to block the $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger. Mekan Delrahim--Chief of the DOJ's antitrust devision, says the vertical merger would harm Americans with higher prices and fewer content options. Brent Kendall and Drew FitzGerald report in the Wall Street Journal.
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments this week in Carpenter v. U.S. In Carpenter, the FBI surveilled a defendant whom they suspected of acting as a getaway driver for several armed robberies in Detroit. The FBI tracked Carpenter without a warrant, using his cellphone location data. In the lower court, the FBI argued that it had broad authority to track anyone's location at anytime. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the FBI. Now the Supreme Court will consider the applicability of the so-called "third party doctrine" which holds that once you communicate your private information to a third party--you lose your privacy interest in that information. The third party doctrine already applies to things like your banking records. So the question before the court--for the first time--is whether that doctrine applies when you communicate your location to a cell tower. Matthew Tokson summarizes this case in New York Mag.
Two weeks ago, the FCC relaxed its Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-ownership rule. Soon, the agency may also relax the ownership limit that prevents a single corporation from reaching more than 39% of the national audience.FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a proposal to his colleagues last week. If it is adopted at the December 14th Open meeting, the FCC will then commence to review the rule, which could take several months. The move is seen as being helpful to Sinclair Broadcasting, which is seeking to acquire Tribune Media. The combined company would reach 70% of U.S. households. Keach Hagey reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Microsoft announced that it is attempting to provide internet access to Puerto Rico and other U.S. Virgin Islands that were devastated by Hurricane Maria. The plan is to provide the service via TV "white spaces", which are the unused frequencies between tv stations.
Keith Collins at Quartz reported that Android devices collect location data and send it back to Google even when the location data option is switched off. Privacy advocates are concerned that if Google can access the information, hackers can too.
David Filipov and Hamza Filiban report for the Washington Post that Russia is preparing to retaliate against Google if Google de-ranks the Russia-based propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik. At the Halifax International Security Forum over the weekend, Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google is working to restrict websites, like RT and Sputnik, that have been "weaponized". Russian telecom czar Alexander Zharov responded to the remarks saying that it would be investigating how Google ranks sites like RT and Sputnik and considering retaliatory measures.
A new ProPublica investigation found that Facebook still allows advertisers to target consumers based on race. ProPublica bought dozens of fake real estate ads on Facebook that allowed it to exclude audiences based on race. Julia Angwin reports in ProPublica.
Uber is under fire yet again. This time it's because the company apparently suffered a massive data breach last year and didn't report it to anyone: drivers, customers, regulators--no one. Uber said the breach affected some 57 million customers. In addition to inflaming the Federal Trade Commission investigation which was already in progress, the company has already been sued by one user for deceptive business practices, for not disclosing the breach.
Danielle Keats Citron (@daniellecitron) is the Morton & Sophia Macht Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law where she teaches and writes about information privacy, free expression, and civil rights and was the recipient of the 2005 “Teacher of the Year” award.
Professor Citron is an internationally recognized information privacy expert. Her book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace (Harvard University Press 2014) explored the phenomenon of cyber stalking and how law and companies can and should tackle online abuse consistent with our commitment to free speech. The editors of Cosmopolitan included her book in “20 Best Moments for Women in 2014.” Professor Citron has published more than 20 law review articles appearing in California Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Harvard Law Review Forum, Boston University Law Review, Fordham Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Texas Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Southern California Law Review, Washington & Lee Law Review, Wake Forest Law Review, Washington Law Review, UC Davis Law Review, among other journals. Her opinion pieces have appeared in media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Time, CNN, The Guardian, New Scientist, ars technica, and New York Daily News. In 2015, the United Kingdom’s Prospect Magazine named Professor Citron one of the “Top 50 World Thinkers;” the Daily Record named her one of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marylanders.” Professor Citron is an Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Center on Internet and Society, Affiliate Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project, and Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy, a privacy think tank. She is a technology contributor for Forbes.
Professor Citron has advised federal and state legislators, law enforcement, and international lawmakers on privacy issues. She has testified at congressional briefings on the First Amendment implications of laws regulating cyber stalking, sexual violence, and nonconsensual pornography. From 2014 to December 2016, Professor Citron advised California Attorney General Kamala Harris (elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016) on privacy issues. She served as a member of AG Harris’s Task Force to Combat Cyber Exploitation and Violence Against Women. In 2011, Professor Citron testified about online hate speech before the Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Semitism at the House of Commons.
Professor Citron works closely with tech companies on issues involving online safety and privacy. She serves on Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council and has presented her research at Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. In addition, Professor Citron is an advisor to civil liberties and privacy organizations. She is the Chair the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Board of Directors. Professor Citron is on the Advisory Board of Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Without My Consent, Future of Privacy, Teach Privacy, SurvJustice, and the International Association of Privacy Professionals Privacy Bar. She is a member of the American Law Institute and serves as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Restatement Third Information Privacy Principles Project.
Professor Citron has presented her research at federal agencies, meetings of the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Holocaust Museum, Wikimedia Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, major universities, and think tanks. Professor Citron has been quoted in hundreds of news stories including in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wired,USA Today, HBO’s John Oliver Show, HBO’s Vice News, Time, Newsweek, New Yorker, New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Barron’s, Financial Times, The Guardian, Vice News, and BBC. She is a frequent guest on National Public Radio shows, including All Things Considered, WHYY’s Radio Times, WNYC’s Public Radio International, Minnesota Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, WYPR’s Midday with Dan Rodricks, WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show, and Chicago Public Radio.
Hate Crimes in Cyberspace by Danielle Keas Citron (Harvard University Press, 2014)
Constitutional Coup: Privatization's Threat to the American Republic by Jon D. Michaels (Harvard University Press, 2017)
The Department of Justice has sued to block AT&T's proposed $85 billion acquisition of Times Warner. The complaint states that the merger would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. It refers to AT&T's objection to Comcast's previous acquisition of NBC/Universal, back in 2011, which was also a so-called vertical merger. AT&T argued that a "standard bargaining model" could have been used to show the harmful effect the merger would have had on pricing.
If the case reaches the Supreme Court, it will be the first time a vertical merger case has reached the Court since 1972, in the Ford-Autolite case. The Trump administration has been vocal about opposing the AT&T/Time Warner merger and the president himself has railed repeatedly on Twitter about CNN's coverage of his administration. AT&T says it would not rule out using the judicial process in order to obtain correspondence between the White House and the DOJ which would help illustrate that the DOJ's lawsuit is politically motivated. Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post.
In its monthly meeting last week, the Federal Communications Commission killed long-standing media ownership rules, including the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule which, since 1975, had prevented the owner of a tv station from owning a newspaper in the same market. The Commission also eliminated the so-called eight-voices test, which required at least eight independently owned TV stations to remain in the market before any entity could own two stations in the market. Critics say the rules were cancelled simply to pave the way for Sinclair Broadcasting, which has proposed to acquire Tribune Media for $4 billion. Two high-ranking Democrats--Frank Pallone and Elijah Cummings--are calling for an investigation into Ajit Pai's relationship with Sinclair.
The Commission also restricted Lifeline support--that's the $9.25 per month subsidy for qualified customers who use it to help pay their internet bill. It restricted that support on tribal lands. The Commission is also seeking comment on a proposed plan to cap Lifeline expenditures.
The Commission also voted unanimously to crack down on robocallers by giving phone companies more authority to block annoying phone calls from marketers who play a pre-recorded message when you answer the phone. Also at the November meeting, the Commission voted to expand broadcasters' ability to experiment with the Next Generation Broadcast Standard, which will enable closer targeting of viewers for advertising. The Commission also adopted several other rules and proposed rules ostensibly geared toward stimulating broadband infrastructure investment and deployment.
In December, FCC Chair Ajit Pai is expected to overturn the net neutrality rules passed during the Obama administration.
Comcast has joined a long list of companies, including Verizon, that are seeking to buy 21st Century Fox, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fox is looking to sell off everything except its news and sports assets. Verizon and Disney also also rumored to be potential suitors.
The Federal Elections Commission put out a rulemaking for public comment on revisions to the political ad disclosure rules to apply them to internet companies. The rulemaking follows allegations of Russian efforts to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump by placing ads and sponsored content on on Facebook and Twitter.
The U.S. has dropped to second place, behind China, in its total number of super computers. The U.S. has 144 compared to China's 202. The number of China's supercomputers rose by 43 over just the last 6 months, compared to a drop in the U.S. by 25.