Info

WashingTECH Policy Podcast with Joe Miller

The WashingTECH Policy Podcast is your resource for media and tech law and policy news and interviews. Each week, the WashingTECH Policy Podcast gives you the latest developments in media and tech law & policy, as well as an interview with an influencer in the media and technology sectors, whether they be policymakers, entrepreneurs, politicians or academics. Listen to the WashingTECH Policy podcast to get a quick update in the car, at the gym, between flights, wherever and whenever you need a quick summary of the media and tech policy news and thought leadership driving the week.
RSS Feed
WashingTECH Policy Podcast with Joe Miller
2017
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September


Categories

All Episodes
Archives
Categories
Now displaying: October, 2016
Oct 31, 2016

Nate Yohannes (linkedin.com/in/nateyohannesgovernmentaffairs) is Senior Advisor to the Chief Investment and Innovation Officer at the US Small Business Administration. He was appointed by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel as a Presidential Appointee in the Obama Administration.

As the Senior Advisor, Mr. Yohannes assists with managing the Small Business Investment Company, a $25 billion private equity/venture fund and the SBIR program, a $2.5 billion per year grant program to high growth domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.

Mr. Yohannes sits on President Obama’s Broadband Opportunity Council, a multi-agency team responsible for providing counsel to President Obama on how to advance the United States as the most broadband accessible country in the world. In addition, Yohannes held a leadership position and played a pivotal role with the first ever White House Demo Day.

Mr. Yohannes regularly works with staff at the White House’s Business Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Innovation Cohort and National Economic Council on issues that directly affect high growth small businesses across the country.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Yohannes was the Vice President – Associate General Counsel at the Money Management Institute (MMI). Earlier in his career he clerked for Chief Justice Paula Feroleto of the New York State Supreme Court. Mr. Yohannes received his JD from the University at Buffalo Law School and a BA from SUNY Geneseo and is a member of the New York State Bar.

 

In this episode, we discussed: 

  • government resources available to entrepreneurs looking to access capital.

Resources:

SBIC

SBIR

SBA Growth Accelerator Competition

U.S. Economic Development Administration

Audacity of Hope, Barack H. Obama

*A special thanks goes to the following contributors to this episode:

Elias Aseged, Accenture

Brittany Déjean, AbleThrive

Jessica Eggert, Medley

Sumayyah Emeh Edu, Sumayyah Emeh Edu Consulting

Chioke Mose-Telesford, Grand Circus

Jon Pincus, A Change is Coming

Courtney Seiter, Buffer

Terrell Sterling, Oracle

Michael Young, BLOC

 

THE NEWS

The FCC passed new privacy rules Thursday requiring internet service providers to obtain their subscribers’ permission before collecting and distributing their private information. Telecom industry giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon object to the new rules, saying they will harm the Internet ecosystem. Privacy advocates, though, applaud the rules. Critics of the rules say so-called edge providers like Netflix and other companies should also be restricted from freely sharing their users’ information without permission. But the FCC, of course, doesn’t have jurisdiction over internet companies like Netflix. Cecilia Kang has the story in The New York Times.

----
Eric Lipton at The New York Times reported last week on AT&T’s lobbying influence within the beltway. Lipton reports that AT&T is Congress’ biggest donor, contributing a total of over $11 million to most members of Congress since 2015, which is 4 times that of Verizon. The company also has almost 100 registered lobbyists, not including non-profit organizations it contributes to. AT&T announced two weeks ago that it has agreed to purchase Time Warner for $85.4 billion. Time Warner’s properties include HBO and CNN.

----

Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading progressive members of Congress who are pushing Hillary Clinton to crack down on large tech companies if Clinton becomes president. Warren says companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have too much market power. But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies have contributed some $39 million to the Clinton campaign, compared to just $787,000 for Trump. Shane Goldmacher has the story in Politico.

----

A new Pew Report finds that a fair number of people loathe the political dialogue that happens among friends, family members and acquaintances on social media. Almost twice as many social media users reported being “worn out” by political discussions on Facebook, compared to those who like seeking lots of political content. The report also found a large percentage of people found political discourse on line to be angrier, less respectful and less civil than political conversations in public. You can find these and other findings at Pew.

----

Finally, Alphabet, Inc.--the parent company of Google, is putting the brakes on further build out of its fiber network in places it’s not already committed. Google Access CEO Craig Barrett announced he is stepping down in a surprise blog post last week. Google Fiber will continue to be available in Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Kansas City in MO and KS; Nashville, TN; Provo, UT; Salt Lake City, UT; and North Carolina’s Triangle region. In addition, Comcast is suing the Nashville metro government, including the city’s mayor, in the U.S. District Court in Nashville. Comcast argues that Google, when it comes into Nashville, shouldn’t just be able to come in and reconfigure wires on utility poles without first waiting for incumbent providers to adjust the wires themselves. Sam Gustin at Motherboard and Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica have the story.

Oct 25, 2016

Dr. Tracy Weeks (@tracyweeks)  is the Executive Director for the State Educational Technology Director’s Association (SETDA). Prior to joining the team at SETDA, she served as the Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the first senior state leadership position of its kind in the nation. In that role, Dr. Weeks oversaw the areas of: K-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Exceptional Children, and the North Carolina Virtual Public School. She also served as the state agency lead on the development of the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan.

From 2008-2014, Tracy led the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the second largest state-led virtual school in the nation, as the Chief Academic Officer and subsequently the Executive Director. She holds a bachelors degree in Secondary Math Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology with a Statistics minor and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from NC State University. She is a NC Teaching Fellow, NC Education Policy Fellow, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi.

In this episode we discussed:

  • the importance of high speed internet in schools.
  • challenges school districts are facing when it comes to providing high speed internet in classrooms.
  • how to use school broadband resources to enhance access to broadband outside of the classroom.
  • recommendations for ensuring schools have appropriate infrastructure to accommodate growing demand for broadband bandwidth.

Resources:

SETDA

Slack

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

 

NEWS

A large scale DDOS attack affected a large number of important and widely used sites on Friday, causing users to lose access to sites like Spotify, SoundCloud, Twitter and Shopify. The way these attacks usually work is that a hacker will overwhelm a particular site with junk traffic. However, in between the URL you enter into your browser, and the site’s IP address, are what are known as DNS providers that route you to where you want to go. This time, the attack was made on one of those DNS providers--a company called Dyn--making the hack even worse and more widespread affecting many different sites instead of just a single one. In addition, the hack was executed by aggregating notoriously insecure Internet of Things devices, like home security cameras, into botnets. The White House says the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the breach. To make things even creepier, one security researcher told Techcrunch that the attack looks more like probing-- a deliberate attempt to test the defense capabilities of the sites. Darrell Etherington has the story in TechCrunch.

----

AT&T has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable in an $85.4 billion deal. The deal comes amidst a wave of consolidation in the media industry, including Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUNiversal and Verizon’s acquisition of Huffington Post and proposed acquisition of Yahoo. AT&T also recently acquired DirectTV for $48.5 billion.

Time Warner’s media properties include HBO, CNN, TNT and TBS. Michael De La Merced has the story for The New York Times.

----

A new study by Girls who Code and Accenture finds that, without significant intervention by educators, parents and policymakers, the proportion of computer scientists in the workforce who are women will decline from 24% to 22% by 2025. The proportion of women computer sciences has fallen from 37% in 1995.

The report is optimistic, however, and concludes that women could account for 39% of computer scientists by 2025 if appropriate measures are taken.

Jessica Guynn has the story in USA Today.

----

A Russian hacker suspected of intruding into American targets has been arrested in Prague, but the authorities have not released the suspect’s name. But American officials familiar with the matter, but who asked for anonymity, told Ricky Lyman and Hana de Goeij at the New York Times that the suspect has not been linked to Russian intrusions into the Democratic National Committee. Two weeks ago, the Obama administration officially accused Russia of attempting to sway the U.S. elections by hacking into the DNC.

----

There is a sex scandal at the FCC. Fred Campbell at Forbes reports that a female employee working in the Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO), which works to increase opportunities for minorities and women working in the telecommunications sector, was subjected to her male co-workers watching porn in the office. When she complained to her boss, Thomas Reed, the employee’s complaint alleges that she was given lower quality assignments. An Inspector General’s report into the employee’s complaint conducted in 2012, which we’re just finding out about now, concluded that watching porn, and the agency’s subsequent response to it, violated various ethical and administrative rules. And Still, as Fred Cambpell at Forbes reports, the FCC did nothing outside of forcing the employee watching porn to resign. The FCC’s legal team even attempted to dismiss the employee’s case in federal court--a court that found that the employee had been subjected to discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult”. Fred Campbell has the story in Forbes.

----

Finally, The Center for Responsive Politics reported last week that Silicon Valley-based tech companies are outspending Wall Street on lobbying activities in DC by more than 2 to 1. According to the Center, Silicon Valley spent $49 million on lobbyists last year compared to just $19.7 million for the five largest banks. Seleha Moshin has the story for Bloomberg.

Oct 18, 2016

Courtney R. Snowden (@DMGEOSnowden) is Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity for the District of Columbia. A sixth-generation Washingtonian born at Howard University Hospital, Courtney was raised in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Ward 4, and now lives east of the river (EOTR) in Ward 7 with her young son, Malik.  The Washington Post has recognized Courtney for her keen understanding of the need to connect neighborhoods if the city is to thrive. She understands policy, is adept at building coalitions and is both smart and passionate about education reform.” 

Courtney is a graduate of DC Public Schools and received her B.A. in Political Science in 2000 from Beloit College. After graduating, Courtney returned home to the District to join the legislative staff of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on Capitol Hill.

Courtney has devoted her life to making Washington, DC, a better place for all its residents, corner to corner. She has a record of coalition building and bringing people from different backgrounds together from across the city.

As a principal at The Raben Group, a premiere progressive government relations firm, she advises the firm’s clients on a variety of public policy issues through direct lobbying, strategic planning, and coalition building. Her diverse client portfolio includes Google, the Committee for Education Funding, the National Urban League, and Graham Holdings.

An active leader in the city’s LGBT and African-American communities and a staunch public education advocate, Courtney served as the first female board chair of DC Black Pride in 2008, and was an active member of the DC GLBT Advisory Committee.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how the City of Washington has changed over time and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's economic development vision going forward.
  • how the Mayor's office is working with educators to prepare students who live in the District for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
  • efforts in the District to promote diversity and inclusion in the City's growing start-up sector.

Resources:

DC.gov - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

NEWS ROUNDUP

The FCC has fined Comcast $2.3 million--the largest ever civil penalty on a cable operator for a practice called “negative option billing” where customers were charged for equipment and services they never requested. Comcast’s response to the fine? Sorry--we didn’t do anything wrong--it’s just that we had some isolated incidents where our customer service representatives were just kind of confusing. Richard Gonzalez has the story for NPR.

----

The nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research is crediting  Facebook for registering thousands of new voters nationwide. Just in California, the 17-word reminder led to over 123,000 new voter registrations on the first day alone. While Facebook was unable to provide demographic data about the new registrations, Facebook’s users are generally seen as leaning female, young and Democratic. Niraj Chokshi has the story in The New York Times.

----

The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Media Justice and Color of Change reported last week that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provided data access to a company called Geofeedia--a company sells a product that monitors social media activity, and which has been marketed to law enforcement officials looking for intel on protesters. The advocacy groups obtained emails of Geofeedia corresponding with law enforcement about the success the company has had monitoring recent protests in Ferguson and elsewhere. Facebook and Instagram have cut off Geofeedia’s access to its main public feeds. Twitter hasn’t cut off access, but the ACLU’s press release notes the social media network has taken steps to rein in Geofeedia.

----
Finally, it looks like billionaire investor Peter Thiel has alienated himself from a major diversity and inclusion partner after he donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump, days after Trump was caught on tape making lewd comments about sexually assaulting women. Project Include co-Founder Ellen Pao, a leader in the tech diversity debate in Silicon Valley, wrote in a Medium post that she was cutting ties with the incubator Peter Thiel Founded--Y Combinator, saying Project Include and Y Combinator’s values are no longer aligned given Thiel’s continued affiliation with Y Combinator.

Oct 11, 2016

Chad Marlow (@ChadAaronMarlow) is Advocacy and Policy Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where his focus is on privacy and technology. Mr. Marlow’s work on issues ranging from police body cameras, to government surveillance, to data privacy has been the subject of media coverage throughout the United States, as well as in Europe and South America. Mr. Marlow holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College. In 2007, City & State (New York) newspaper named Mr. Marlow to its “Rising Stars: 40 Under 40” list.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • surveillance tactics by police that disproportionately affect racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
  • how dispersed police departments coordinate with other jurisdictions in a way that collectively infringes privacy and civil rights.
  • what municipalities should do to ensure their surveillance practices are transparent and informed by local communities.

Resources:

American Civil Liberties Union

 

THE NEWS

Yahoo secretly scanned emails at the behest of the U.S. government, reports Joseph Menn at Reuters. Last year, Yahoo apparently built a secret program designed to scan all emails coming into Yahoo’s servers for keywords determined by the NSA or FBI. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly agreed to develop the software over objections by other Yahoo Senior Executives.

This news comes during a difficult month for Yahoo, and it all comes as Yahoo and Verizon have been negotiating what started out as a $4.8 billion acquistion of Yahoo by Verizon.  But late last month, Yahoo announced hackers accessed personal information in some 500 user accounts, causing Verizon to ask for a $1 billion discount on the purchase.


----

David Sanger and Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the Obama administration -- namely, National Intelligence Director James Clapper -- has formally accused Russia of hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Committee and servers belonging to other influentials in order to influence the U.S. presidential elections. Clapper’s statement noted that only Russia’s QUOTE “senior most officials could have authorized these activities. Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta was hacked soon after the statement was released. It is not clear how the Obama administration will respond.

----

A federal contractor by the name of Harold Thomas Martin, III who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton was arrested in August at his home in Glen Burnie, MD for stealing highly classified data and information -- according to information provided by U.S. officials just last week.  Booz Allen is also Edward Snowden’s former employer.

Officials are trying to figure out whether Martin played a role in posting online a cache of top secret NSA hacking tools. Ellen Nakashima has the full story for the Washington Post.

----

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Republican John Thune joined a chorus of cable industry lobbyists and several civil rights groups last week by going after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, asking him to release the latest version of the set top box rules. The FCC delayed a vote on the new set-top box rules which would open up the set-top box market to more competition, giving consumers a choice between the set-top box they lease from their carrier, and a set-top box they can use to access the content they have already paid their provider for as well as content from so-called over-the-top providers such as YouTube and Netflix.

Chairman Wheeler has kept the current rule under wraps and cable industry advocates are challenging him to release a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the set-top box rules -- rules they are expected to oppose anyway. So it’s  basically like like “come on punk! Come on punk! I dare you to release the rules! I dare you!”

Schoolyard bully stuff.

Ali Breland has the story at the Hill.


----
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also announced last week that the Commission will vote on new Internet Service Provider privacy rules at its next open meeting on October 27th. In a blog post, the Chairman wrote QUOTE “Under the proposed rules, an ISP would be required to notify consumers about what types of information they are collecting, specify how and for what purposes that information can be used and shared, and identify the types of entities with which the ISP shares the information.

In addition, ISPs would be required to obtain affirmative ‘opt-in’ consent before using or sharing sensitive information. Information that would be considered ‘sensitive’ includes geo-location information, children’s information, health information, financial information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications such as the text of emails. All other individually identifiable information would be considered non-sensitive, and the use and sharing of that information would be subject to opt-out consent.” END QUOTE

----

Today, for the first time in 120 years, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a design patent case -- this one between Samsung and Apple. The lower court awarded Apple some $584 million back in December. Samsung wants to claw back about $400 million of that, saying it's excessive because it's based on Samsung's total profits, rather than the profits attributable to the 3 patents the court found Samsung to have violated (the rounded corners on the face of the smartphone, the metal rim around the phone, and the display grid).

Oct 4, 2016

Christine Haight Farley (@Prof_Farley) is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on Intellectual Property Law, Trademark Law, International and Comparative Trademark Law, International Intellectual Property Law, Design Protection Law and Art Law. Professor Farley served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs from 2007 to 2011 and as Co-Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property from 2005 to 2009. She is the author of numerous articles on intellectual property law and a forthcoming casebook on international trademark law. Professor Farley has taught at law schools in France, India, Italy and Puerto Rico. She has given lectures on intellectual property law in more than twenty countries across every region of the world. Professor Farley frequently appears in the media as an IP expert and is regularly invited to speak at ABA, AIPLA and INTA conferences. She currently serves on an INTA Presidential Task Force on Brands and Innovation, and has recently been selected as a Fulbright Specialist for intellectual property law. Before teaching, Professor Farley was an associate specializing in intellectual property litigation with Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman in New York. She holds a B.A. (State University of New York at Binghamton), J.D. (State University of New York at Buffalo), LL.M. (Columbia University), and a J.S.D. (Columbia University).

In this episode, we discussed:

  • historical examples of offensive marks.
  • the First Amendment implications of The Lanham Act Section 2(a).
  • how U.S. trademark laws compare to international trademark laws in the context of offensive speech.

Resources:

American University Washington College of Law

Christine Haight Farley, Registering Offense: Morality and Public Order in the U.S. Trademark Act, in Protecting and Promoting Diversity With Intellectual Property Law (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan, eds., Cambridge U. Press 2015)

Lee v. Tam via Scotusblog

Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs by Lauren Rivera

THE NEWS

FBI Director James Comey doesn't want anyone to think his agency is comprised of “weasels”--his words not mine. Comey appeared at a hearing before a House Judiciary Committee panel last week to explain why presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was never charged during the investigation into a private server she used as Secretary of State. Comey said the agency hasn’t uncovered any additional evidence that would necessitate re-opening the investigation. Matt Zapotosky has more at the Washington Post.

----

John McKinnon at the Wall Street Journal reports The FCC has delayed a vote on proposed rules to overhaul the set-top box marketplace. FCC CommissionerRosenworcel, a Democrat, was the swing vote. The plan would require cable providers to make content available to set-top boxes that compete with the ones issued by cable companies. The proposed rules faced a firestorm of criticism from the cable industry and Hollywood who claimed, among other things, that the rules would exceed the Commission’s authority and violate copyright. The good news, as Harold Feld at Public Knowledge has noted, is that the proceeding is far from dead and still open for comment.

----

Several consumer groups are crying foul about WhatsApp’s recent announcement that it would begin sharing user data with its parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp has long held itself out as a secure and encrypted messaging service. Groups including the Center for Digital Democracy and Demand Progress, along with 15 other groups, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last week asking the agency to investigate. Grant Gross has the story at Computer World.

----

Four Republican attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma,and Nevada filed lawsuits against the Obama administration for its plan to transfer oversight of the Internet’s domain systems from the U.S. to an international body. They’re alleging violations of the what they believe to be the U.S. property interest in the systems, that the transfer is a First Amendment violation, amd that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act. Ali Breland at The Hill has the full story.

----
Finally, the FCC released an NPRM last week which would prohibit cable companies from bullying independent content producers with clauses in their contracts saying that programmers have to give the cable company the best deal and not allow anyone else to carry their content without permission from the cable company. These are known as most favored nation and alternative distribution method clauses. The cable industry is pushing back, but this is still an NPRM, not an official ruling, and thus it is still open for comment.

1