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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.
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May 23, 2017

Yosef Getachew (@getachew2) is a Policy Fellow at Public Knowledge where he works on a variety of technology and communications issues. Prior to joining Public Knowledge, Yosef worked as a law clerk for several technology and communications organizations including the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast, Facebook, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Yosef has also served as a Project Coordinator and Research Assistant for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Yosef received his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. In law school, he was an Articles Editor for the Federal Communications Law Journal. Yosef was born and raised in Washington D.C. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching basketball, and spending time with friends.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • what 5G is and what it will mean for consumers.
  • the potential of 5G for job creation, particularly for communities with disproportionately high unemployment rates.
  • how to ensure underserved communities have access to 5G technology when it is deployed.

Resources

Public Knowledge

Federal Trade Commission Privacy Law & Policy by Chris Jay Hoofnagle

NEWS ROUNDUP

The Republican-controlled FCC -- which is, by the way, still sitting with only 3 of its 5 Commission seats filled -- moved to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality rules last week. The new NPRM released Thursday is ostensibly designed to solicit comments it will actually be considering. But policy experts see this as just an administrative formality FCC Chair Ajit Pai needs to adhere to before doing what he has already made clear he is going to do anyway: eviscerate the net neutrality rules. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, called the NPRM a "political rush job". Mariam Baksh has additional coverage in Morning Consult. 


The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that plaintiffs can no longer "forum shop" -- a practice by which plaintiffs look to pursue their case in a venue that will be most favorable to them -- which, for patent trolls, is a jurisdiction like the Eastern District of Texas which often rules in favor of patent trolls. In TC Heartland v. Kraft, the decision the Supreme Court reversed on Monday, the lower court had ruled that plaintiffs could bring a lawsuit anywhere the companies conduct business. Now, as a result of the Supreme Court's reversal of the lower court's decision, the standard will now limit plaintiffs to bringing suit where the company is incorporated. The outcome of this case has significant implications for so-called patent trolls that bring often frivolous lawsuits against companies for violating patents they hold but don't use to produce anything--they just profit from suing companies that violate them. Ali Breland covers this for the Hill.


Tennessee Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn introduced a bill Friday that would require both broadband providers as well as internet companies to obtain consent from consumers before selling their internet data. In a set of FCC privacy rules President Trump nullified last month, only broadband providers were required to obtain such consent. Ali Breland has this story as well in the Hill.


Last week, Democratic members of the House Science committee wrote a letter to president Trump urging him to appoint a Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The lawmakers weighted in after Politico published an article revealing the fact that Trump's staffers occasionally pass fake science news to the president to sway him on certain issues -- it's all part of these little games they like to play jockeying for position within the White House. "We are concerned about the process by which you receive information," the letter begins. "Disseminating stories from dubious sources has been a recurring issue with your administration ... Until the OSTP is adequately staffed and the director position filled by a qualified, objective scientist who understands the difference between alternative news peddled on alt-right websites and legitimate well-vetted scientific facts, we fear that you will continue to be vulnerable to misinformation and fake news." Next.gov has the full story.


Congress has responded to the recent ransomware attack that affected computers around the world with a new bill that would require the federal government to report security flaws much sooner so that companies like Microsoft will have a chance to fix them before they are exploited.  Jeremy Kirk outlines the the bipartisan PATCH Act at Bankinfosecurity.com.


Finally, The European Union has slapped Facebook with a $122 million fine over the social media company's purchase of WhatsApp. Back in 2014, Facebook indicated  in its filing that it wouldn't be able to reliably link WhatsApp and Facebook accounts--and then last year it did just that. So the European Commission cried foul. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

May 16, 2017

Matt Cagle is a Policy Attorney for Technology and Civil Liberties at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Matt attended law school at Stanford and has a BA in Latin American Studies and Political Science from the University of Arizona. Before joining the ACLU as a Policy Attorney, Matt worked as an associate with BlurryEdge Strategies, a San Francisco-based law practice advising startups on privacy issues.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how the police use social media to track American citizens. 

Resources:

ACLU of Northern California

The Philipp K. Dick Collection by Phillip K. Dick

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

A massive hack infected hundreds of thousands Microsoft Windows-based computers, disabling several large hospitals in the UK, requiring them to turn away some patients, as well as Fedex, Telefonica, and several other institutions. The ransomware, which is a program called "WannaCry", encrypts files so users can't access them and then demands payment, in the form of the digital currency known as Bitcoin, from victims to decrypt their files. WannaCry spread around the world beginning on Friday, although it did so to a lesser degree in other countries than it was felt in the UK. An engineer that goes by the screen name "Malware Tech" found a kill switch in the ransomware. The ransomware relies on infected computers not being able to access a particular domain name. Since the domain name wasn't registered, no computers could access it. Therefore Malware simply registered the domain, stopping it from spreading to additional computers.

The U.S. was barely affected by the cyberattack, but researchers are on the lookout for copycats. Microsoft issued a statement saying the cyberattack should be a wake up call for governments as the hack was executed using stolen government data. U.S. Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rodgers told the Senate Armed Services Committee just last Tuesday that Congress needed to provide clearer guidance as to how his agency should fight cyberattacks. Rogers also told the Senate panel that his agency witnessed Russian intrusions into French systems in the midst of the French election last week.  On Thursday, President Trump had signed an executive order authorizing a sweeping review of all federal agencies to identify the holes that hackers have been exploiting. The ransomware hack happened on Friday.  

The Hill reports the ransomware attack has made the perpetrators over $57,000 worth of bitcoins thus far.


A federal judge on Monday of this week ordered Uber to turn over some 14,000 documents to Waymo--the self-driving company owned by Google--which Waymo says were stolen by a former Google engineer by the name of Anthony Levandowski. The Waymo lawsuit alleges that Levandowski left Google to start a self-driving truck company called Otto, taking the documents with him. Then Uber subsequently acquired Otto, taking the documents with it.  Waymo also announced a new collaboration with Lyft on Monday of this week. Ali Breland has the story in The Hill.


Finally, A number of policymakers are concerned about the ways in which Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) might begin to surveil immigrants or develop a database to track immigrants for deportation. But in an exclusive report for NPR, George Joseph outlined specific ways in which ICE is already using databases maintained by local law enforcement to accomplish the same ends


Remember last week's John Oliver bit criticizing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scale back the net neutrality rules? The one where Oliver urged viewers to go to a site the show created called gofccyourself.com, which redirected to the FCC's comments section, and then the comments section crashed? Well the incident left FCC Chairman Pai scrambling to contain his agency's embarrassment, and there was some confusion as to whether the site crashed because of the influx of comments provoked by the show, or by some kind of contemporaneous hack designed to prevent comments from being submitted. Well, the FCC maintains that it was indeed a hack and that the crash wasn't caused by John Oliver's segment. Democrats are saying, "yeah right"-- Senators Ron Wyden and Brian Schatz wrote Chairman Pai saying cyberattacks are a very serious matter and urging the agency to turn over any evidence of a cyberattack happening a few minutes after Oliver's segment. No word yet. But Oliver again this past Sunday rallied his viewers to submit comments.  Harper Neidig has more in The Hill.

May 9, 2017

Shayna Cook (cook_shayna) is a policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America. She is a member of the Learning Technologies project.

Shayna researches and reports on innovation, new technologies, and digital equity issues concerning children from birth through third grade. She is a former teacher who graduated from American University with a master’s degree in education, focusing on policy and leadership. She holds a bachelor’s degree in classics from Howard University.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how states can use federal funding to promote family engagement.
  • how schools can more effectively incorporate technology to promote family engagement.
  • how to evaluate engagement programs to determine how they improve learning outcomes.

Resources:

New America's Education Policy Program

New Guidance on Using the Every Student Succeeds Act to Support Early Learning by Shayna Cook (New America, 2016)

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom

NEWS ROUNDUP

Sinclair is acquiring Tribune broadcasting, the companies announced on Monday, for a cool $3.9 billion. Tribune owns 42 tv stations in 33 markets, WGN, digital multicast network Antenna TV, minority stakes in the TV Food Network and CareerBuilder, and a variety of real estate assets, according to the companies' press release. Even after the Republican controlled FCC threw it a bone at its last open meeting by reinstating the UHF discount, which lets broadcasters half the size of the audience their UHF stations reach, thereby enabling broadcast companies to own more stations, Sinclair may still need to divest some its stations to fall under the 39 percent cap on the national audience. Sinclair is Chaired by David Smith--a key supporter of Donald Trump.

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President Trump signed an executive order establishing a new American Technology Council which will be tasked with coming up with ways to transform and modernize the federal government. It's not clear yet which companies will participate, but Tony Romm at Recode notes that Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft have huddled with the administration in the past.  Mike Allen at Axios reported the creation of the Council was spearheaded by Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and that the council will hold a summit in June to map out a plan for the duration of the Trump administration.


Two lawmakers also created a bi-partisan Digital Trade Caucus last week which is aimed at protecting cross-border digital trade from protectionism. Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen and Washington Democrat Suzan DelBene made the announcement last week.


The Department of Justice has announced a criminal investigation into Uber.  The New York Times reported in March that the company was using a software called Greyball to circumvent local authorities in areas where Uber hasn't been approved yet. Now a grand jury in Northern California has subpoenaed documents from Uber related to the matter. Dan Levine has the story in Reuters.


The State Department wants to intensify its scrutiny of visa applicants. The agency published a document last week, in line with the Trump administration's efforts to subject visa applicants to "extreme vetting", which outlines plans to require visa applicants to provide five years worth of their social media handles, phone numbers and email addresses. The public will have a chance to comment on the new proposed rules until May 18th. Yaganeh Torbati and Mica Rosenberg report in Reuters.


The reined-in National Security Agency still collected 151 million phone records in 2016. Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times that the NSA previously collected billions of phone records per day, according to a transparency report released last week.


The Department of Homeland Security warned of an emerging espionage campaign led by Chinese hackers. The hacker group APT10 or MenuPass group has targeted construction, aerospace, engineering and telecom companies in the past, but security analysts are now saying they found evidence that the group could now be working in tandem with the Chinese government to collect military secrets from the United States.  Chris Bing has the story in CyberScoop.


Elon Musk's SpaceX boosted a classified U.S. Spy Satellite into orbit on Monday May 1st at 7:14AM. The payload is a National Reconnaissance Office satellite. SpaceX is trying to ramp up its commercial space flight program following an explosion last September that halted it. However, last week's launch was SpaceX's 4th successful launch since January, and it was flawless. Andy Pasztor reports in the Wall Street Journal.


Finally, a report by an engineer at Facebook found the company rejects code submitted by female engineers at a rate that is 35% higher than their male counterparts. Facebook's most recent diversity report shows women comprise just 17% of Facebook's technical workforce. Deepa Seetharaman reports in the Wall Street Journal.

May 2, 2017

Jeff Binder (@JeffBinder) is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Layer3 TV, a next generation cable company, founded in 2013.

Most recently Jeff was a general partner at Genovation Capital, a stage-agnostic private equity and venture group focused on Technology, Media and Telecom. In addition, Jeff served as an advisor to TPG and Silver Lake, two of the most respected names in private equity.  Prior to Genovation, Jeff led Broadbus Technologies as its founding CEO, pioneering the concept of television on-demand to become the leading supplier of cable industry on-demand video streams. In 2006, within four years of its first institutional round of financing, Motorola purchased Broadbus for $200 million and Jeff joined the company as a senior executive of M&A/Strategy and GM On-Demand Solutions. In addition to day-to-day operations, Jeff spearheaded several key initiatives within the office of the CEO including the first smart phone eco-system, code named Photon.

As Chairman and CEO, Jeff led the Leading Golf Companies from 1996-2000, then the largest marketing and technology network of high-end golf courses in North America including Pebble Beach, the TPC Courses, Blackwolf Run and Pinehurst. LGC operated the largest US golf affinity travel program in partnership with American Airlines, US Airways, Northwest and a joint venture with Jack Nicklaus. Prior to LGC, Jeff was founding CEO of Nanosoft, a leading digital design and development firm with offices in Chicago, Seattle and Beijing. Jeff’s first entrepreneurial venture was Magic Music, which pioneered memory based technology and supplied digital duplication systems accounting for more than 30% of the world’s digital audio cassette production with systems in 15 countries on five continents.  
Jeff has been named a Next Generation Leader by MultiChannel News, a Top 100 Heavy Hitters by CableFax and 40 under 40 by the Boston Business Journal.  A graduate of Harvard University, Jeff studied Government and Environmental Science.

Jeff Binder is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Layer3 TV, a next generation cable company, founded in 2013.

Most recently Jeff was a general partner at Genovation Capital, a stage-agnostic private equity and venture group focused on Technology, Media and Telecom. In addition, Jeff served as an advisor to TPG and Silver Lake, two of the most respected names in private equity.  Prior to Genovation, Jeff led Broadbus Technologies as its founding CEO, pioneering the concept of television on-demand to become the leading supplier of cable industry on-demand video streams. In 2006, within four years of its first institutional round of financing, Motorola purchased Broadbus for $200 million and Jeff joined the company as a senior executive of M&A/Strategy and GM On-Demand Solutions. In addition to day-to-day operations, Jeff spearheaded several key initiatives within the office of the CEO including the first smart phone eco-system, code named Photon.

As Chairman and CEO, Jeff led the Leading Golf Companies from 1996-2000, then the largest marketing and technology network of high-end golf courses in North America including Pebble Beach, the TPC Courses, Blackwolf Run and Pinehurst. LGC operated the largest US golf affinity travel program in partnership with American Airlines, US Airways, Northwest and a joint venture with Jack Nicklaus. Prior to LGC, Jeff was founding CEO of Nanosoft, a leading digital design and development firm with offices in Chicago, Seattle and Beijing. Jeff’s first entrepreneurial venture was Magic Music, which pioneered memory based technology and supplied digital duplication systems accounting for more than 30% of the world’s digital audio cassette production with systems in 15 countries on five continents.
Jeff has been named a Next Generation Leader by MultiChannel News, a Top 100 Heavy Hitters by CableFax and 40 under 40 by the Boston Business Journal.  A graduate of Harvard University, Jeff studied Government and Environmental Science.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the businesses case for a new cable TV provider.
  • how Layer3 TV distinguishes itself from traditional cable providers.
  • the current regulatory environment from the perspective of new entrants to the cable marketplace.

Resources:

Layer3 TV--The New Cable

Wisdom from the Robbert Barrons: Enduring Business Lessons from Rockefeller, Morgan, and the First Industrialists by George David Smith and Frederick Dalzell

NEWS ROUNDUP

The FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules are now in the hands of the Republican majority at the FCC. The DC Circuit upheld the rules on Monday by declining to review the 3-judge panel that found that the FCC's net neutrality rules are legally sound. This opens the door for a possible Supreme Court appeal. However, as policy expert Gigi Sohn noted in a tweet, the Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case since the FCC has its own plans. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced last week  that the FCC would vote on a proposal at the May Open Meeting to reverse the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The announcement has been met with resistance from Democrats as well as public interest advocates who say undoing the net neutrality rules would favor a handful of large internet service providers at the expense of everyone else. Conservatives see the net neutrality rules--which classified broadband internet service providers as so-called common carriers, thus bringing them under the FCC's jurisdiction--as a power grab over the internet orchestrated by Democrats who were more aligned with internet-based content producers such as Netflix.  Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.


In a victory for Hollywood and other holders of large copyrights, the House passed a bill that would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointment, rather than someone who is appointed by the Librarian of Congress. The bill comes after current Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, who was appointed by Obama, demoted the Register of Copyrights--Maria Pallante--who was seen as someone who sided with large content companies. The bill passed the House on a vote of 378-48.


In an attempt to bury fake news, Google has rewritten its search algorithm. The 10,000+ Google staffers who rate content will now begin to flag, inappropriate, misleading, false and low quality content.


A new Verizon report has found an uptick in cyber breaches that appear to be related to espionage. Of the 2,000 breaches Verizon found, 300 were tied to espionage. Morgan Chalfant has more in the Hill.


Facebook reported a 9 percent increase in government data requests in the second half of 2016 compared to the first half of that year. About half of the data requests by U.S. government officials included a non-disclosure agreement requiring Facebook to refrain from telling its users that the government requested information about them. Sarah Perez has the story in TechCrunch.


Finally, a federal judge in New York has cleared the way for the NYPD to use police body cameras. Public interest lawyers had attempted to prevent the roll-out of the body cams. Ashley Southall at The New York Times reports that one group -- the Center for Constitutional Rights -- had argued that the draft policy was too unclear as to how the NYPD planned to use, retrieve and store the footage obtained from the body cams.

Apr 25, 2017

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore (@MayaRockeymoore) leads Global Policy Solutions, a Washington, DC-based policy firm that makes policy work for people and their environments.

A former adjunct professor in the Women in Politics Institute at American University, Maya has also served as the vice president of research and programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), senior resident scholar at the National Urban League, chief of staff to Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), professional staff on the House Ways and Means Committee, and as a CBCF legislative fellow in the office of Congressman Melvin Watt (D-NC) among other positions.

Maya’s areas of expertise include health, social insurance, income security, education, women’s issues and youth civic participation. She is the author of The Political Action Handbook: A How to Guide for the Hip-Hop Generation and co-editor of Strengthening Community: Social Insurance in a Diverse America among many other articles and chapters. Rockeymoore serves on the board of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the National Association of Counties and is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. The recipient of many honors, she was named an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow in 2004 and is the recipient of Running Start’s 2007 Young Women to Watch Award.

A regular guest on radio and television shows, Maya has appeared on NPR, CNN, Black Entertainment Television, ABC World News Tonight, Fox News, Al Jazeera and C-SPAN. Her opinions have also been quoted by the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, LA Times, Boston Globe, Black America Web, and Houston Chronicle among other prominent national news sources.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on driver jobs.
  • how the impact of autonomous vehicles will affect people of color, particularly men, in the driver job market.
  • policy recommendations for ensuring the downside economics of autonomous vehicles will not disproportionately impact drivers along racial and gender lines.

Resources

Center for Global Policy Solutions

PAPER: Stick Shift: Autonomous Vehicles, Driving Jobs, and the Future of Work by Dr. Algernon Austin, Cherrie Bucknor, Kevin Cashman, and Dr. Maya Rockeymoore (Center for Global Policy Solutions, 2017)

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

The Department of Justice is now officially considering charges against individual members of WikiLeaks. The Obama administration did not press charges against WikiLeaks on First Amendment grounds, saying that WikiLeaks should be considered a news organization. The Trump DOJ is looking to reverse that course. Matt Zapotsky and Ellen Nakashima report in the Washington Post.


The FCC deregulated broadcasters and companies offering business data services in orders released during the Commission's open meeting last week. The FCC voted to allow market forces to solely govern the prices for business data services that small businesses, schools, police departments, schools and other organizations pay for data. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a strong dissent saying it is "one of the worst she has seen in her years at the Commission". The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy opposed the changes, as did the EU ambassador to the U.S., who said the changes would favor U.S. companies in violation of World Trade Organization norms. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and supporters of the rule changes argued the FCC had accumulated plenty of data over the last 12 years to make an informed decision about the BDS rules.

And as far as the broadcast rules -- the Commission reinstated the UHF discount allows broadcasters to count only half of viewers who receive tv broadcasts via UHF towards the 39 percent market ownership cap. Amir Nasr has this story in Morning Consult.


FCC Chair Ajit Pai has publicly stated that he wants his agency to stay out of the federal government's review of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner. The way to do that is to ensure that no broadcast licenses are at stake, since broadcast licenses are firmly within the FCC's jurisdiction. Well, the FCC last week approved Time Warner's sale of WPCH-TV in Atlanta to Meredith broadcasting, thus removing a broadcast license, but as Jon Brodkin notes in Ars, Time Warner still holds several additional licenses that enable Time Warner to transmit its cable network programming on HBO, CNN and its other properties. At over $2 million, AT&T contributed more than any other company to Trump's transition team.

 


The FCC is still working on overturning net neutrality, but Ajit Pai reportedly held meetings with several tech companies to get their insights on what revised rules might look like. Last week, Pai spoke with representatives from Facebook, Oracle, Cisco and Intel--Cecilia Kang has more in The New York Times.

Apr 18, 2017

Roberta Rincon is the Society of Women Engineers' (SWE) Manager of Research. Before joining SWE, Roberta Rincon was a Senior Research and Policy Analyst at The University of Texas System. She has over 15 years of experience in higher education policy research, coordinating various award and faculty recruitment programs, analyzing the impact of state legislative actions, and preparing white papers on topics ranging from classroom utilization to student success. Roberta received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, an MBA and an M.S. in Information Management from Arizona State University, and recently completed her Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Planning from UT Austin.

In this episode we discussed how to:

  • reduce gender bias in STEM.
  • prevent the attrition of women away from STEM fields.
  • improve the representation of women in tenured, full-time STEM professorships.
  • improve school compliance with Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 (prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding).

Resources

Title IX at 45 Chapter on Women and STEM (National Coalition for Women and Girls in STEM, 2017)

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

NEWS ROUNDUP

The FCC announced the winners of its wireless spectrum auction last week. The auction involved creating incentives for broadcasters to sell their spectrum back to the FCC, with the FCC, in turn, auctioning that spectrum to wireless carriers hungry for spectrum to expand their networks. T-Mobile won the most licenses after spending $8 billion for the spectrum, followed Dish at $6.2 billion, Comcast at $1.7 billion, and 59 other bidders. Maggie Reardon has the story in CNET.


Remember the Wheeler FCC's plan to allow travelers to make mobile phone calls in-flight? Well, it looks like you're going to have to keep that phone in airplane mode when you fly. Current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai put an order on circulation that would kill the plan, and since the FCC still only has 3 commissioners instead of the usual five, and 2 are Republican, the order is likely to pass. Laura Hautala reports in CNET.


CIA Director Mike Pompeo pledged to crack down on sites like Wikileaks and activists like Edward Snowden. Pompeo said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event last week that these so-called transparency activists "champion nothing but their own celebrity." Pompeo did not state specifically what specific measures the CIA would take, but said the agency's approaches will be constantly evolving. Catch the story in next.gov.


The man who continued to robocall consumers on the Do-Not-Call registry will have to pay at least $65,000 to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC announced the settlement on Thursday. Justin Ramsey will have to pay up to $2.2 million if the agency finds that he and his company lied about their finances. Brian Fung has the story in the Washington Post.


Microsoft reported that the number of foreign intelligence surveillance requests it received from the federal government for the first 6 months of 2016 was nearly double what it was the previous year. The number of requests last year stood between 1,000 to 1,499. Dustin Volz reports in Reuters.


The Federal Aviation Administration issued an order banning commercial and hobby drones from flying over 133 U.S. military bases. The drones can come within 400 feet but no more. Penalties will include fines and prosecutions. David Krevets reports in Ars.


In Google's lawsuit against Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets pertaining to Google's autonomous vehicle technology, Uber attempted to claim Fifth Amendment protection for the due diligence report it put together when it was developing its self-driving car initiative. But the Court isn't buying it and the due diligence report will be admitted. Google claims the report will prove Uber stole 14,000 files from Google. Johana Bhuiyan and Tess Townsend have the story in Recode.

Apr 11, 2017

My guest today is Dr. Melissa A. Rasberry (@MelRasberry).  Melissa is senior technical assistance consultant at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she serves as the principal investigator for the CS10K Community, an online community of practice for computer science teachers sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She has created and facilitated over 35 virtual communities throughout her career, providing effective online professional learning experiences for educators. Dr. Rasberry began as a third grade teacher and a principal intern at two diverse elementary schools in Durham NC. Her professional interests span the teaching continuum—from recruitment and preparation to professional development and retention.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how to train computer science teachers with non-CS degrees.
  • how to inspire students who do not initially see the relevance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
  • how parents can prevent the “summer melt” and encourage their children to build on their STEM skills throughout the summer.

Resources:

CS10K Community

Code.org

Scratch

Evernote

You’re a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (2013)

Apr 4, 2017

Jane Taylor is the Founder and President of Bot Shop LLC. Bot Shop is an innovative one-stop shop specializing in integrating Robotics and Energy Education into K-12 public schools, informal education, non-profits and outreach programs. As a full-service consulting firm, Bot Shop provides turnkey solutions for effectively engaging youth in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through making. BotShop supports robots in education from the classroom to competition.

Jane Taylor began teaching middle school science in HISD in 2000 after graduating from Lamar University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and joining Teach for America-Houston. She used robotics as an instructional tool in her science class in 2001 after securing a community grant which purchased LEGO Mindstorms RCX robots and registration fees for First LEGO League. In response to the amazing reaction from students to this new technology, Jane created a course called Project Based: STEM in 2004 and established one of the first robotics elective courses in the Houston Independent School Districts. She went on to successfully design, develop, and implement grassroots robotics competitions, after school programs, and course curricula throughout Greater Houston.

Jane currently chairs the SHEbot Initiative for Girls in STEM, is an advisor to the 4H SET AgriBotics Robotics Challenge, and has been recognized by Teach for America for her “Energy in Education” and numerous "National Teacher of the Year" awards. She earned her Bachelor’s in Biology from Lamar University and studied educational robotics at the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy.

In this episodes we discussed:

  • how to talk to kids about STEM subjects to help them see their relevance.
  • which toys and activities teach STEM skills and which are a waste of money.
  • how parents can help foster a home environment that is conducive to STEM achievement.

Resources

Botshoprocks.com

Arduino

Leg WeDo 2.0

Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy

Code.org

Boss Women Pray by Kachelle Kelly

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

Republicans are bracing for a backlash from Democrats over Congress' repeal of the FCC Privacy Rules, which the President signed on Monday night. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already been running attack ads against members who are up for re-electiom next year and who supported the repeal of the privacy rules. These members include Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada. Daniel Strauss, Zack Kopplin, John Farrell, Jeff Greenfield, David Sliders, Alex Byers, Austin Wright, and Martin Matishak cover this in Politico.

 

At least one state, however, is developing its own set of privacy rules. The state of Minnesota passed its own privacy bill last week.

The FCC's net neutrality rules are expected to be on the chopping block next.

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Wikileaks has struck again, this time releasing details about the CIA's Marble Framework, which shows how the CIA obfuscates itself when it is surveilling targets. This leak is considered to be especially damaging because it demonstrates how the CIA is able to mask its identity and cover its tracks when it conducts online surveillance. Ellen Nakishima reports in The Washington Post.

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Federal Law enforcement officials now say terrorists have figured out how to hide bombs in laptops and other devices in a way that evades airport screeners. So authorities are now considering expanding the device ban the White House began implementing a couple of weeks ago. Evan Perez reports for CNN.

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The once-thriving White House Office of Science and Technology Policy--OSTP--which was active under the Obama administration and staffed with elite Silicon Valley insiders and technologists, is now a ghost town. Michael Shear and Cecilia Kang report for The New York Times that the office is down from 24 to just 1 staffer.

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In another blow to the affordable internet access program known as Lifeline, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last week that he would allow states to decide which companies can participate to dole out discounts to help low-income people afford broadband. The decision came a few months after Pai announced he'd cut 9 companies from the program. Now, in a shift, he doesn't think the federal government should be involved in providing broadband to the poor at all via the Lifeline program. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

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Finally, Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House has stopped keeping visitor logs. Under the Obama administration, the log was freely shared with the public online.

Mar 28, 2017

Faiza Patel (@FaizaPatelBCJ) serves as co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. She has testified before Congress opposing the dragnet surveillance of Muslims, organized advocacy efforts against state laws designed to incite fear of Islam, and developed legislation creating an independent Inspector General for the NYPD.

Ms. Patel is the author of five reports: Rethinking Radicalization (2011); A Proposal for an NYPD Inspector General (2012); Foreign Law Bans (2013); What Went Wrong with the FISA Court (2015); and Overseas Surveillance in an Interconnected World (2016). She is a frequent commentator on national security and counterterrorism issues for media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Guardian, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR, the New York Daily News, and the National Law Journal and has published widely in academic outlets as well.

Before joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Patel worked as a senior policy officer at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, and clerked for Judge Sidhwa at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Born and raised in Pakistan, Ms. Patel is a graduate of Harvard College and the NYU School of Law.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • a comparison of candidate Donald Trump's proposals to surveil Muslims to President Trump's policies.
  • a description of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program and its prospects under the Trump administration.
  • the Fourth Amendment implications of police surveillance issues on the local level that potentially impact innocent civilians within the United States.

Resources:

Brennan Center for Justice

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

NEWS ROUNDUP

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution last week by a vote of 50-48 to overturn the FCC's ISP privacy rules. The rules were designed to prevent ISPs from using sensitive data about their subscribers for the companies' own commercial purposes. Ali Breland and Harper Neidig have the story in The Hill.

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Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law who is also a senior advisor to the president, will lead a new White House Office of American Innovation which, the President says, is indented as a sort of SWAT team that will seek to apply solutions from the world of business to the world of government. The new office will focus in things like Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes a broadband buildout component, as well as modernizing the federal government's technology and improving government operations. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report in the Washington Post.

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The Trump administration issued a ban of electronic devices on flights coming from 8 countries including Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The UK followed up with a similar ban. Authorities suspect a plot to bring down a plane with explosives hidden in an iPad, according sources cited by Ewen Macaskill in The Guardian.

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Google has been battling over the past week to prevent ads from showing up adjacent to hateful and offensive content. The glitch led major advertisers to withdraw spots from YouTube. AT&T and Verizon were among the companies that pulled their advetising from the platform. Google responded by giving advertisers greater control over where their ads appear. Google's Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler also apologized. But reports of ads placed next to offensive content were still coming in as of Monday. Mark Scott reports in The New York Times.

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Apple has succeeded in persuading a Chinese Court that its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus don't infringe the patents of Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services, a now-defunct Chinese smartphone manufacturer. If the patent infringement decision against Apple had been upheld, it was seen as threatening to Apple which is under intense competition in China. But Baili is expected to appeal. Eva Dou and Yang Jie report in the Wall Street Journal.

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Mark Bergen and Eric Newcomer reported in Bloomberg that an accident in Tempe has prompted Uber to suspend its autonomous vehicle tests in Arizona. According to police, Uber was not at fault and no injuries resulted from the accident.

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A New York attorney named David Thompson has discovered via a Freedom of Information Act request that on over 400 occasions between 2011 and 2013, the New York City Police Department deployed officers to videotape or surveil activities of Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter protesters. Importantly, the NYPD was unable to produce documentation showing the surveillance was authorized by a judge or higher ups within the NYPD. George Joseph has the story in the Verge.

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Aida Chavez of the Hill covered a House Oversight hearing last week in which lawmakers grilled witnesses from the FBI about how they use facial recognition technology. Lawmakers were highly concerned about the impact the FBI's facial recognition database would have on communities of color as well as the public in general

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The FCC voted unanimously Thursday to clamp down on robocalls. The National Do Not Call list has failed to prevent robocalls. Phone companies will now themselves be permitted to identify numbers associated with robocalls and block the calls from ever reaching their customers.

Mar 21, 2017

The man who viciously attacked long-time New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald back in December has finally been arrested, according to Cecilia Kang at The New York Times. The FBI picked up twenty-nine year old John Rivello of Salisbury, Md. on Friday for sending Eichenwald, who suffers from seizures, an electronic file containing strobe lights and bearing the words "you deserve a seizure for your posts". Eichenwald did in fact suffer a seizure. Rivello now faces a possible 10 year sentence if he is convicted of criminal cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm.

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President Trump is sticking to his guns, but no one in Congress has been able to find any evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. The Republican Senator Richard Burr who Chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and Democratic Vice Chair Mark Warner issued the following statement last week: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016."  House Intelligence Chair David Nunes issued a similar statement, saying that President Trump's tweet shouldn't be taken literally.On Monday, FBI Director James Comey testified before a House panel that the FBI has found no evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump tower.

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A county judge in Minnesota has issued a warrant requiring Google to reveal who searched the name of a victim of financial fraud. The victim's image was used to obtain a fake passport to trick a credit union to transfer $28,500 out of an account. Minneapolis police say the victim's image was clicked on in the search. David Kravets has the story in Ars.

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Greg Besinger at the Wall Street Journal reports that Uber is trying to prevent their drivers from unionizing in Seattle. The effort to unionize is supported by the Teamsters and the Seattle City Council. Uber has allegedly been trying to get drivers not to unionize via company podcasts, text messages and phone surveys. It's a complex case that the Communications Workers of America is also involved in. Uber has threatened to leave Seattle if the unionization effort succeeds. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also trying to prevent the drivers from organizing, and the chamber has sued the Seattle City Council for an ordinance it passed in 2015 that gave drivers the right to vote on whether to form a union.

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FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is urging Congress and the White House to include broadband buildout within the infrastructure bill. He says infrastructure spending should prioritize rural areas and be paid for via the Universal Service Fund. Maggie Reardon has the story in CNET.

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The City of New York is suing Verizon because it says the company failed to deliver on a 2008 agreement to provide broadband to every single home in the city. But the company, though its GC Craig Silliman, said the company has already spent $3.7 billion to place fiber throughout the city and that the fiber passes every home in the city. Patrick McGeehan has the story int he New York Times.

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CA Technologies, the technology firm and government contractor, will pay a $45 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by a former whistleblower employee alleging that the company failed to inform the the General Services Administration that certain discounts were available. The former employee, who filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act, will receive $10.92 million of the settlement. Evan Fallor has the story in FedScoop.

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Ride-hailing company Lyft, Inc.  is now on the hook to pay $27 million to drivers who filed a class-action lawsuit on federal court to change their classification from independent contractors to employees. The settlement will be paid to the  drivers, however they will remain classified as independent contractors.

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The European Commission--which is the executive arm of the European Union--has given the greenlight to the $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger. The merger is still working its way through the regulatory approval process in the U.S.

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Finally, President Trump has released  draft budget which includes $61 million to fight cybercrime and encryption plus $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. Joseph Marks has the story in Nextgov. Stay with us.

Mar 14, 2017

Dr. Christopher Hooton (@Hooton_Chris) is the Chief Economist at the Internet Association, which represents the interests of the world's leading Internet companies in the advancement of public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth, and empower users.  He is an economist and policy expert specializing in economic development, urban economics, spatial analysis, and evaluation. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank as well as other leading international organizations and was formerly a Lecturer at the Social Science Research Methods Centre University of Cambridge. His work has been featured in several international news organizations including the Financial Times, Reuters, the Financial Post, the Huffington Post, and more. 

Chris is a graduate of University of Miami, earned a Masters degree from the London School of Economics, and received a PhD in economic development from the University of Cambridge.

 

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the size of the internet economy in the U.S. and abroad. 
  • how various sub-sectors, industries and activities might be more accurately classified under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) to more accurately reflect the influence of the internet.

Resources

Refreshing Our Understanding of the Internet Economy by Christopher Hooton (Internet Association, 2017)

Observance by Christopher Hooton (2017)

ChrisHooton.com

News Roundup

Wikileaks last weak released a trove of CIA documents in what the New York Times said appears to be the largest C.I.A. document leak in the agency's history. The hack revealed information regarding the C.I.A.'s ability to hack into things like Smart TVs, and even Apple iPhones, which are widely considered the gold standard of device encryption. The leak also revealed that the agency has the ability to read messages sent via encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, simply by intercepting them before they are encrypted.

The leaks did not reveal information on what the C.I.A. is doing to conduct surveillance of other nations. Check out full coverage in The New York Times.

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Facebook has announced that it will no longer allow anyone to access its data, including the police, for the purpose of surveillance. However, the company will continue to allow the police to use the platform and assisting law enforcement on a case-by-case basis. But some advocates say the changes don't go far enough.  Elizabeth Dwoskin has the story in the Washington Post.

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Trump revised his ban on immigrants from majority-Muslim countries last week. The revised version exempts permanent U.S. residents, dual nationals and those already living in the U.S. as refugees or who have been granted asylum. The revised measure was met with condemnation from the tech sector, by Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. Nick Statt has the story in The Verge.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has denied an application for what would have been an exchange for the digital currency Bitcoin. The Commission found that the coin is not sufficiently regulated around the world to justify setting up the exchange, which was to be called Bitcoin Trust. Dave Michaels and Paul Vigna have the story in the Wall Street Journal.

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The FCC is also investigating a 911 outage that prevented AT&T customers from dialing 911. AT&T did not indicate how widespread the outage was. Harper Neidig has the story in the Hill.

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A new report written by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Connect Your Community accuses AT&T of deliberately failing to build out broadband to low-income communities in Cleveland. The report analyzes data AT&T submitted to the FCC which shows robust high speed internet service in suburban areas and sparse build out in low-income areas.

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A Morning Consult/Politico poll found a growing number of Americans now believe Russia did in fact interfere with the 2016 election. Forty-one percent now believe Russia influenced the results, up 9 percentage points from December.

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President Trump has nominated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for another term. It's a five-year term that requires Senate approval. If confirmed, Pai's Chairmanship would be retroactive to July 1st, 2016, which was when Pai's term as Commissioner expired. Pai has remained on board though because FCC rules allow Commissioners to keep their jobs for 18 months past the expiration of their term. Trump appointed Pai Chairman after Pai officially endorsed Trump's nomination of Jeff Session for Attorney General. Prior to announcing the nomination, Trump and Pai had a closed door meeting. The Electronic Privacy and Information Center swiftly responded with a FOIA request to obtain details about that meeting.

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Neither Ajit Pai nor the Republican-controlled Congress are fans of the FCC's internet sevice provider privacy rules passed under previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. But Ajit Pai stated last week at a Senate hearing, in a departure from the Republican line, that the FCC would still be obligated to protect consumers' privacy even if Congress eliminates the privacy rules. A measure to eliminate the privacy rules using the Congressional Review Act has the support of 23 Republican co-sponsors.

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The National Science Foundation has pledged $100 million for tech hubs focused on 5G wireless. The initiative is called the Platform for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) and will be led by NSF and Northeastern University.

 

Mar 7, 2017

Sander van der Linden, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor (University Lecturer) in Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, where he is also a Fellow in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences at Churchill College. Other academic affiliations include the Yale Center for Environmental Communication at Yale University. At Cambridge, Dr. van der Linden lectures mainly in statistics and social psychology.

 Dr. van der Linden's research has received awards from institutions such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). He was nominated by Pacific Standard Magazine as one of the "top thinkers under 30" and his work has been widely publicized in the media, including outlets such as Time Magazine, the Washington Post, NPR, the BBC, and the New York Times.

Prior to Cambridge, van der Linden directed the Social and Environmental Decision-Making (SED) Lab in the Department of Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University and was a visiting scholar (2012-2014) at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In this episode, we discussed:

  • How users can be scientifically inoculated to reject fake fews.

Resources:

The Cambridge Social Decision Making Lab

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

NEWS ROUND UP

You've heard by now that Trump claimed, with no evidence, on Twitter over the weekend that Obama wiretapped his office in Trump Tower. Not only did Obama deny it through a spokesperson, former Director of National Security Director James Clapper said he too can deny the wiretaps. Current FBI Director James Comey was also said to have rejected the assertions in Trump's tweets, which President Trump was said to have not accepted, putting the two men at odds. The White House has asked Congress to investigate whether his office was indeed wiretapped. So what gave Trump the idea that his office had been wiretapped? No one knows.

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The Senate confirmed Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. The former Texas governor once vowed to abolish the department he will now lead.

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Google has announced that it will be launching a $35/month broadcast tv streaming service that will carry ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as several cable networks including ESPN, FX, Fox News and MSNBC.

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Several tech companies filed a joint amicus brief before the Supreme Court in support of a transgender student in Virginia who is challenging the Glouchester County School board for for not letting him use the boy's restroom. IBM, Slack, Lyft, Yahoo, Tumblr and Salesforce all signed the brief. Google, Facebook and Uber, though, sat this one out.  But the Supreme Court ended up sending the case back down to the lower court because the Trump White House rescinded an Obama-era progressive interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of sex.

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Snapchat surged 44% after its IPO last week. The stock was introduced at $17 a share on Thursday and closed that day at $24.48.

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The Senate confirmed Wilber Ross as Commerce Secretary with a vote of  72-27. The 79-year old billionaire earned his wealth rehabilitating steel companies. Democrat Bill Nelson supported Ross' nomination, but other Democratic Senators including New Jersey's Corey Booker and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren question Ross' ties with Russia.

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The FCC put a halt on data security regulations that would have required ISPs to protect their customers from hackers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said privacy is more properly handled by the Federal Trade Commission.

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Vice President Mike Pence caught some heat last week for using a private, consumer email account to conduct official state business when he served as Governor of Indiana. Pence had criticized Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign for using a private email server. Pence's email was via AOL. But Indiana law still requires state business communications to be preserved. In fact, Pence's emails were indeed hacked last summer, according sources cited in IndyStar.
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The Trump administration has decided it is going to slow processing of H1B visas for specialized workers. Many companies in the technology sector rely on H1B visas to recruit highly-skilled labor from abroad. Currently, companies can opt for premium processing of H1B visa applications which cuts the processing time down from several months, to as few as 15 days. But beginning on April 3rd, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization services will suspend premium processing for up to 6 months.

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Sprint has won $139.8 million in damages in its patent lawsuit against Time Warner Cable. The jury in the U.S. District Court of the District of Kansas found Time Warner Cable to have violated Sprint's Voice over IP patents. The jury also found Time Warner Cable's infringement of Sprint's patents was willful, which means the judge could triple the damage award.

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The European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has warned the United States that if it doesn't comply with the terms of the Privacy Shield, the European Union may pull out of it, which would be catastrophic for the tech sector. The long-fought over Privacy Shield is designed to ensure data flows seemlessly between the U.S. and Europe, while at the same time protecting European Citizens' privacy. Jourova is expected to come to the U.S. to meet with the Trump administration at the end of March. She indicated that she would not hesitate to suspend the Privacy Shield if Eurpeans' privacy is put too much at risk by the unpredictable Trump administration.

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The FCC issued an emergency order last week to help law enforcement identify individuals calling in bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country.  The emergency order waives rules that ordinarily prevent carriers from disclosing the identity of callers who have requested anonymity. The waiver only applies to calls to Jewish Community Centers.

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Finally, Trump has withdrawn the re-nomination of former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The previous Senate had let her confirmation lapse, prompting Obama to re-nominate her. Now it looks like Rosenworcel has no chance of returning to the FCC, which is missing 2 commissioners. Rosenworcel had bipartisan support, including  a lukewarm endorsement from Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune who said he supported Rosenworcel, but said the decision should be left to the president.

Feb 28, 2017
Taylor Moore (TayMoore_CDT) is the Center for Democracy & Technology's (CDT) Free Expression Fellow. Her work focuses on preserving the Internet as a global platform for speech and association, democratic accountability, the free exchange of information and ideas, and the freedom of thought.She previously served as the Google Policy Fellow for Public Knowledge, where she was involved in advocacy work related to net neutrality, intellectual property, and internet governance. Taylor also served as the fellow for the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, where she supported new paradigms for the creation, management, and exploitation of knowledge resources, and worked within a wide spectrum of IP stakeholders. Before graduating from Howard University School of Law, she worked as a law clerk for Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the FCC and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the social justice and civil rights implications of fake news.
  • how algorithms affect the way social media companies moderate content.
  • how citizens can stop the spread of fake news.

Resources:

Center for Democracy & Technology

How Algorithms Can Impact Civil Rights Movements blog post by Taylor Moore (CDT, 2017)

Many Americans Believe Fake News is Sowing Confusion by Michael Barthel, Amy Mitchell, and Jesse Holcomb (Pew, 2016)

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Ecco, 2016)

A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking, 2016)

NEWS ROUNDUP

Google announced number of public interest research and initiatives last week.

The Google subsidiary Jigsaw has developed, along with the help of The New York Times, a new app that allows site operators to weed out hate speech and other harmful speech in comment sections. The app is called Perspective and is available for free for a limited time.

Google.org also announced last week that the company is investing $11.5 million in 10 organizations focused on racial justice. Five million will go to the Center for Policing Equity in New York, a think tank focused on research around how to improve interactions between the police and their communities.

Also, a Google team in collaboration with a Dutch research team, cracked the cryptographic technology known as SHA-1, which has long been central to internet security.

For full reports on these stories, check out Daisuke Wakabayashi's story in the New York Times, Sara O'Brien at CNNTech, and Robert McMillan at the Wall Street Journal.

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In November of 2015, in Bentonville, Arkansas, Victor Collins was found dead, lying face-up in a hot tub belonging to a man named James Andrew Bates. Bates has an Amazon Echo,  speaker that hooks up to a Alexa, a digital personal assistant that accepts voice commands. Now, Bates is the suspect, and the police want Amazon to release records of Bates' Echo comnunications. Amazon is challenging the warrant, saying that being forced to turn over those communications would violate Bates' First Amendment rights. Ashley Carman has the story in The Verge.

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Kara Swisher reported for Recode that Salesforce has joined Apple and Google in opposing Donald Trump's repeal of federal guidelines regarding transgender bathroom use in public schools.

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On Valentines Day, Free Press delivered 200,000 petitions from its members asking the FCC to defend net neutrality. But last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai demonstrated that their love is unrequited, begnning what he promised: taking what he termed a "weed whacker" to the net neutrality rules. In a 2-1 vote along party lines, the FCC ruled that it would go ahead and exempt net neutrality reporting requirements regarding fees and data caps for broadband providers with fewer than 250,00 subscribers. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn noted that smaller ISPs owned by larger carriers with billions of dollars in capital would also be exempted. Ali Breland has the story in the Hill, as well as Jon Brodkin in Ars Technica.

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Despite the Trump administration's crack down immigration from majority-Muslim countries as well as Mexico, the FCC's Media Bureau gave two Australian citizens 100% ownership in radio stations licensed in America. Just last month, foreign owners were only allowed to own 49% of Univision, up to 40% of which would be by Mexico-based Televisa. Jon Eggerton has the story in Broadcasting & Cable.

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Cox Communications and the American Library Association announced last week that they will be teaming up to provide enhanced digital literacy training for K-12 students in Cox's 18-state footprint.

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Remember back in December when the FBI figured out how to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernadino shooters, thus bypassing Apple's refusal to do it? Well, the Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett have now submitted a court filing asking the judge to require the FBI and Justice Department to disclose which third party they worked with or how much it cost, which the agencies have thus far refused to do. Eric Tucker has the story in the Associated Press.

Feb 21, 2017

Helen Nissenbaum (@HNissenbaum) is on the faculty if Cornell Tech, on leave from NYU where she Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and Director of the Information Law Institute. Her eight books include Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest, with Finn Brunton (MIT Press, 2015), Values at Play in Digital Games, with Mary Flanagan (MIT Press, 2014), and Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford, 2010). Her research has been published in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. Grants from the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as studies of values embodied in design, search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.

Recipient of the 2014 Barwise Prize of the American Philosophical Association, Prof. Nissenbaum has contributed to privacy-enhancing software, including TrackMeNot (for protecting against profiling based on Web search) and AdNauseam (protecting against profiling based on ad clicks). Both are free and freely available.

Nissenbaum holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Before joining the faculty at NYU, she served as Associate Director of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the commercial and political contexts that animate policy discussion around privacy.
  • the means by which citizens may use technology to obfuscate their lawful online activity and activism.
  • points of alignment between consumer privacy advocates and the tech sector.
  • policy recommendations.

Resources:

Cornell Tech

NYU Steinhardt Department of Media, Culture and Communication

Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest by Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum (MIT, 2016)

The Crooked Timber of Humanity by Isaiah Berlin (Princeton, 2013)

Ad Nauseum

TrackMeNot

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

Republican California Representative David Nunes, who is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election, has said he'd like to know why the FBI recorded former national security advisor Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador in the first place. He said it was an invasion of Flynn's privacy. Trump forced Flynn to resign two weeks ago, after it was revealed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn's contacts with Russian officials days before the election. Trump himself did not inform Pence about Flynn's conversations until at least 2 weeks after Trump knew about them, according to the Washington Post. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chafetz also said his committee had no plans to conduct a further investigation. Mike Debonis has the story in the Washington Post.  Politico reports that conservatives worried about leaks from federal employees have asked federal agencies to look into employees' use of the encrypted data app Signal.

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Amidst intense competition from T-Mobile and Sprint which have long offered unlimited data plans, Verizon will now itself offer unlimited data once again. Verizon had stopped offering unlimited data in 2011.

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The Chief of Samsung Group was arrested last week in South Korea. Forty-eight year old Jay Y. Lee, a member of South Korea's richest family,  is accused bribing individuals connected with South Korean President Park Geun Hye, who was impeached in December on corruption charges. Hyunjoo Jin and Joyce Lee cover this in Reuters.

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Amid increased cyber warfare, Microsoft President Brad Smith is calling for a "digital Geneva Convention". At the RSA security conference last week, Smith noted “Let’s face it, cyberspace is the new battlefield." Smith said the convention should define rules of engagement, such as rules under which nation's would pledge not to disrupt civilian infrastructure. Elizabeth Weise covers this in USA Today.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a 5,800 word missive last week in which he took a stand in support of globalization and Facebook's role in it. The wave of nationalism that has swept the Western world has prompted a debate about the merits of globalization. Mike Isaac has the story in The New York Times.

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Snapchat set its valuation between $19.5 and $22 billion ahead of its long-anticipated IPO. In that range, it would be the largest IPO since Alibaba's in 2014.

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At the RSA conference last week, Assistant FBI Director Scott Smith said the federal law enforcement agency will be ramping up its use of predictive policing technology. Smith said, "It’s where we are moving, and hope to go when you talk about predicting as opposed to proactive and reactive. Reactive is consistently where we have been, proactive means we’re really trying to get ahead of it. But predictive is where we want to be. And that’s where I know FBI Cyber Division is strongly moving towards as we speak ..." Catch Chris Bing's full story is in FedScoop.

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Finally, Senator Orrin Hatch--Utah Republican and head of the Republican High Tech Task Force--offered up his tech agenda last week. The agenda targets H1B visa reform and improving cross-border digital trade. Hatch also supports the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which passed the House earlier this month, which would require law enforcement officials to obtain search warrants for emails. Hatch's plan was praised by tech sector leaders, including Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro. Alexis Kramer has more at Bloomberg BNA.

Feb 14, 2017

Harold Feld (@haroldfeld)  is Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President. Before becoming Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold worked as Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, advocating for the public interest in media, telecommunications, and technology policy for almost 10 years. Prior to joining MAP, Harold was an associate at Covington & Burling, worked on Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and accountability issues at the Department of Energy, and clerked for the D.C. Court of Appeals. He received his B.A. from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Boston University Law School. Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory, a progressive blog on media and telecom policy. In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised him and his blog for "[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground."

In this episode, we discussed:

  • early trends from the Ajit Pai FCC.
  • what to expect on FCC reform from the 115th Congress.
  • where consumer advocates and the Trump administration can find common ground.

Resources

Public Knowledge

Slack

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Federalist Papers

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

The Federal Trade Commission found last week that Vizio--the TV manufacturer--has been spying on its 11 million customers. The company had apparently been collecting and selling customers' locations, demographics and viewing habits. Vizio will now have to pay a $2.2 million settlement to the FTC and New Jersey Attorney General's office.  Hayley Tsukayama covers this in the Washington Post.

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The Department of Homeland Security is considering requiring refugees and other immigrants from the 7 Muslim Ban countries to turn over their social media usernames and passwords before entering the United States. DHS Secretary John Kelly made the announcement last week before the House Committee on Homeland Security. But of course a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling last week which blocked the President's ban on refugees entering the country. Next steps include possible appeals to the full 9th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court. David Kravets has the story in Ars Technica.

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The White House mysteriously let go its Chief Information Security Officer, Cory Louie, last week. Louie, who is Asian, had been appointed to the position by former President Obama and was one of the few minorities on Trump's staff. Check out Zack Whittaker's coverage in ZD Net.

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A federal grand jury has indicted the National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing highly sensitive materials from the United States government, which he then collected at his Maryland home. Harold Thomas Martin faces up to 200 years in prison if convicted of all 20 criminal counts he has been charged with. Dustin Volz covers this for Reuters.

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The House passed last week the Email Privacy Act, which would update existing law to require law enforcement to get a search warrant before asking technology companies for their users' emails. The bill is expected to get some resistance in the Senate. Dustin Volz has this story as well, in Reuters.

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Benjamin Herold reports for Ed Week that the Ajit Pai FCC has rescinded a report the previous administration put out illustrating the success of the E-rate program. The E-rate program is a multi-billion dollar initiative designed to help schools and libraries access high speed internet service. Democratic leaders as well as consumer and tech advocates took Pai to task accusing Pai of paying lip service to the digital divide, while pursuing contradictory policies.

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Finally, Amazon expressed serious concerns Friday about President Trump's "America First" agenda. The company said this more protectionist attitude has the potential to harm its business. Jeffrey Dastin has the story in Reuters.

Feb 7, 2017

John Breyault (@JammingEcono) is Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud at the National Consumers League (NCL). John’s focus at NCL is on advocating for stronger consumer protections before Congress and federal agencies on issues related to telecommunications, fraud, technology, and other consumer concerns. In addition, John manages NCL’s Fraud Center and coordinates the Alliance Against Fraud coalition. John is also Research Director for the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), a project of NCL. In his role with TRAC, John advocates on behalf of residential consumers of wireline, wireless, VoIP, and other IP-enabled communications services. John was a member of the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee from 2005 to 2007 and served on the Board of the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. He is a graduate of George Mason University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • top issues facing consumer advocates in the new administration.
  • the risk of scaling back the FCC's privacy rules.

Resources:

National Consumers League (NCL)

NEWS ROUNDUP

The tech sector is hitting hard against the Trump administration's ostensibly temporary travel ban against 7 predominantly Muslim countries including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen . Ninety-seven companies including, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and even Levi Strauss filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Washington in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals late Sunday. The State of Washington is appealing to a 3 judge panel of the court to uphold the District Court's decision to halt the travel ban. Oral arguments in this case will take place Tuesday at 6PM.

The brief is a culmination of a number of developments last week in the the growing resistance against the Trump administration's travel ban by the tech sector. Among them was Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's departure from Trump's economic advisory council.  The move follows major protests by tech employees, including Uber's employees, against Trump's Muslim travel ban, which the district court in San Francisco has temporarily suspended. Uber employees were wondering why Kalanick was still on Trump's advisory board. Two hundred thousand Uber users wondered the same thing, and deleted Uber's app from their phones. Kalanick sent a letter to Uber employees on Thursday announcing that he had quit Trump's advisory council.  Mike Isaac reports in The New York Times.

Meanwhile, Tony Romm reports that Silicon Valley leaders are organizing against Trump. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are among those leading the effort. They have set up organizations like Win the Future which will seek out progressive candidates for future elections.  Sam Altman from Y Combinator also set up a new site called Track Trump -- a running dashboard of the Trump administration's policy changes.

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So on the one hand, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is claiming he's going to be all about closing the so-called digital divide. He's announced small, closed-door meetings with organizations like the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and HTTP, he's created a broadband adoption advisory board ... but on the other, his policies, thus far, can't be much more against closing the digital divide.  In fact, the moves he's been making suggest he's going in the complete opposite direction. Take for example his decision last week telling 9 companies that they can't offer broadband pricing subsidies of $9.95 per month to the poor--a program otherwise known as the Lifeline program.  The decision states that the Wheeler FCC allowed these 9 companies to provide Lifeline subsidies at the last minute and that the new FCC needs more time to consider the waste, fraud and abuse concerns the Republican commissioners have about the program.

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A U.S. magistrate judge in Philadelphia has held that Google must comply with an FBI search warrant seeking access to emails stored on Google servers abroad. This departs from a decision in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last year holding that Microsoft did not have to comply with such a warrant. A Google spokesperson says the company will appeal. Jonathan Stempel has the story in Reuters. 

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has closed the set-top box proceeding. The proceeding, introduced under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, was intended to promote competition in the set-top box market by allowing consumers to choose to receive the programming they had already subscribed to on a set-top box of their choice, rather than being stuck with the one from their cable provider. Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had asked Pai to close the proceeding on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Pai also explicitly stated at a press conference that he "favors an open Internet but opposes Title II."  The Chairman, however, would not answer as to whether the Commission would be enforcing the FCC's net neutrality rules, which were upheld in the DC Circuit last year.

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Finally, The commission also closed the zero-rating proceeding. The Wheeler FCC had begun an inquiry into carriers' zero-rating practices towards the end of its term. Zero rating, or so-called "sponsored data", plans are ones in which carriers offer access to their own preferred content without it counting against subscribers' data caps. But net neutrality advocates argue zero-rating is a back-door to violate the FCC's net neutrality rules.  For example, Sprint has announced it will be acquiring a 33% stake in Jay-Z's streaming music service, Tidal. Net neutrality advocates are worried about what this might mean for companies like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music if Sprint turns Tidal into a zero-rated service--offering their customers music streaming without it counting against their data caps. Chris Brantner has the story in Motherboard and David Shepardson reports on this in Reuters.

Jan 31, 2017

Alexandria McBride is Director of Environment and Sustainability at ITI. Alexandria develops and advocates positions on domestic and international policies related to energy efficiency and environmental priorities. She currently serves on the Board for the Center of Diversity and the Environment and is the Chair of the NAACP-DC Climate and Environmental Justice Committee.

Prior to ITI, Alexandria coordinated the re-launch of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, an academic hub based at The New School that utilizes design, policy and social justice approaches to solve pressing environmental issues. She was also a manager at The Engine Room, an international NGO using technology and data to support social and environmental causes.

Alexandria was formerly the Chief Financial Officer at Groundswell, a D.C.-based nonprofit aimed at unlocking communities’ economic power to grow sustainability on the local level. As the CFO and Executive Management Team member, Alexandria oversaw the organization’s financial and operational functions and worked closely with program directors to identify and implement systems that improve the efficiency and quality of Groundswell’s impact.

Prior to joining Groundswell, Alexandria served in multiple project and operational management roles at the ExxonMobil Environmental Services Company, where she helped steward environmental cleanup projects across the Mid-Atlantic. She also managed the transfer of environmental responsibility during ExxonMobil’s multimillion dollar divestment of properties in New York and New Jersey. In addition to this work, Alexandria was nominated to support ExxonMobil’s STEM education and diversity efforts.

Alexandria holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Environment from Howard University and a M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.

 

In this episode, we discussed

  • the top 3 environmental tech policy issues policymakers should be focusing on.
  • a review of environmental legislation ITI is advocating for.
  • how advocates can work most effectively with a potential Scott Pruitt Environmental Protection Agency.

Resources

ITI

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

News Roundup

 

Tech sector leaders reacted in strong opposition to Trump’s immigration ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries. The leaders of major tech companies cited not just the effect the ban would have on their bottom lines, but on what they personally felt. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it is time for the nation to link arms and that the ban is un-American. Lyft CEO Logan Green said the ban runs counter to Lyft’s inclusive culture and said the ban conflicts with both Lyft and the nation’s core values. Google’s Sergey Brin, whose family fled Russia in 1979, participated in the protest at San Fracisco International Airport saying that he too is a refugee. The company also released statement. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg released a statement opposing the measure, as did Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is an India-native. But President Trump has not budged, although Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham  -- both Republicans -- publically opposed the executive order on Monday.

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Journalists covering violent protests during Trump's inauguration parade were arrested and charged with felony rioting. Journalism advocates have been denouncing the charges. Jonah Engles Bromwich has the story in The New York Times.

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As late as Wednesday, Trump Senior Advisors Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon had active private email address on the Republican National Committee domain. While there is nothing illegal about using an RNC domain to keep political and state business separate--the George W. Bush administration was accused of using RNC domains to quote-unquote "lose" 22 million emails. And the Trump campaign of course accused Hillary Clinton of breaking the law when she used her own private email domain for official State Department Business. The RNC was also hacked into last summer, raising questions about the security of the RNC's email server. Nina Burleigh covers this for Newsweek.

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FBI Director James Comey will be staying on under Trump. Comey is 4 years into his 10-year term. Matt Zaptosky and Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post note that it would be extremely unusual for a president to remove an FBI director, even though Comey is see by many in Washington to have interfered with the U.S. election by making public specious claims about Hillary Clinton's emails just 11 days before the election.

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The White House ordered the Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Health and Human Services to stop making social media posts, blogging, and updating official content until getting approval from White House officials, according to a report by the New York Times' Coral Davenport. So-called black ops websites of the White House and the National Park Service, which claim to be operated by actual federal employees posting to Twitter anonymously, emerged following the order. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denies the White House gave any such directive.  The black ops Twitter handles include @RoguePOTUSStaff and @AltUSNatParkService.

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Russian officials have arrested on suspicion of treason a Russian cyberintelligence official whom Americans said oversaw hacks that interfered with the U.S. presidential election. It's not clear what Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B.,--basically the new KGB--actually did, but Andrew Kramer has the story in the New York Times.

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Verizon is reportedly making a bid for Charter Communications. Charter is valued at around $80 billion. Charter acquired Time Warner Cable last year. Shalani Ramchandran, Ryan Knutson and Dana Mattioli have the story in the Wall Street Journal.

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Finally, Brian Fung reports for the Washington Post that Trump has named Maureen Olhausen acting Federal Trade Commission Chair. Olhausen, a free-market Republican, has been with the agency since 201. Her term expires in 2018.

Jan 24, 2017

Carmen Scurato (@CarmenScurato) is Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC). As a native of Puerto Rico, Carmen is a passionate advocate for policies that address the needs of the Latino community. Prior to joining NHMC, Carmen worked as a contractor for the Department of Justice and assisted in investigations alleging financial fraud against federal agencies and federal healthcare programs. Most notably, Carmen helped recoup millions of dollars in a national False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit alleging Medicare fraud. She also worked at the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs on large document requests received from Congressional oversight committees. Carmen earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law where she was an Associate Editor for the Villanova Law Review and a Co-Chair of the Honor Board. She also participated in Lawyering Together, a pro bono program that pairs student with attorneys to assist low income clients with their legal needs. She worked closely with an attorney to foster open communication with the client by acting as a Spanish-to-English translator. Carmen received her B.A. cum laude from New York University where she majored in both History and Political Science. Her History Honor thesis was entitled Preserving the Puerto Rican Culture after 1898: The Realization of a National Culture in the Face of Americanization.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the history and policy objectives of the Lifeline program and its prospects under the Trump administration.

Resources:

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Microsoft OneNote

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

NEWS ROUNDUP

 

President Trump has officially named Ajit Pai as the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai has served as an FCC Commissioner since 2012, following stints as a Partner at Jenner & Block, and various roles at the FCC, Department of Justice, Senate Judiciary Committee and as an Associate General Counsel at Verizon. He clerked for Judge Martin Feldman in the Eastern District of Louisiana and is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School. Pai, a Republican from Kansas, has also endorsed Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

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The Trump administration is planning to cut $741 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment of the Arts, according to a report by Christina Marcos (@cimarcos) in The Hill. The plan would be to abolish the NEH and NEA and privatize CPB. Conservatives have long opposed funding these programs because they have considered them to be too controversial and examples of unnecessary government spending. Donald Trump, however, has expressed support for arts education, and Vice President Pence received a Champion of Public Broadcasting award in 2014.

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Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica and John Eggerton at Multichannel News reported last week that the Trump transition team is considering an overhaul of the FCC which would remove "duplicative" functions within the agency, such as consumer protection, to other agencies, such as the FTC. Eggerton reports that the transition team has signed off on the approach. However, Jon Brodkin notes that any overhaul to the FCC would require Congressional approval.

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The Trump administration will be keeping U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee on board following speculation as to whether Director Lee would step down. The Obama appointee's views align with companies like Google which have been pushing for stronger policies to thwart patent trolls. Lee attended Stanford Law School at the same time as Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Ali Breland has the story in the Hill.

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Andrew Chung in Reuters reports that the Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by women who sued BackPage.com for child sexual abuse trafficking. The lower court had held that BackPage.com, which accepts classified ads from third parties, was shielded from liability under the Communications Decency Act  of 1996 which offers free speech protection for websites when others post unlawful content. The women allege that, starting at age 15, Backpage.com facilitated their engagement in forced, illegal sex transactions with pimps who advertised on Backpage.com. Backpage shut down its adult classifieds section two weeks ago following a Senate report showing evidence that supports the women's allegations.

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Before leaving office, former President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning is a transgendered woman and former Army Soldier named Bradley Manning who has been serving a 35 year sentence in a male security prison for disclosing 750,000 pages in secret government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning also released a video showing a U.S. helicopter attacking civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007. Manning's sentence will expire on May 17th. Unlike Edward Snowden who is living at a secret location in Moscow, the information Manning released was not considered Top Secret. Laura Jarrett has the story for CNN.

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A coalition of 77 social justice groups--including the Center for Media Justice, Color of Change and DailyKos--sent a letter to Facebook Director of Global Policy Joel Kaplan last week asking the company stop discriminating against posts made by Movement for Black Lives activists. The coalition wrote "Activists in the Movement for Black Lives have routinely reported the takedown of images discussing racism and during protests, with the justification that it violates Facebook’s Community Standards. At the same time, harassment and threats directed at activists based on their race, religion, and sexual orientation is thriving on Facebook. Many of these activists have reported such harassment and threats by users and pages on Facebook only to be told that they don’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards."

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The FCC concluded its auction of TV airwaves last week, securing just $18.2 billion in bids from wireless companies--far short of $66 billion the Commission had hoped to raise.

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Before leaving the FCC Chairmanship to join the Aspen Institute, Tom Wheeler accused AT&T and Verizon of violating the net neutrality rules with their so-called "zero-rating" programs which allow customers to access preferred content without affecting their data caps. But FCC Chair Ajit Pai issued a release calling the FCC's report a "regulatory spasm" and saying the issue will be dropped under Trump. --

Finally, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has announced her resignation. She will leave the agency effective February 10th. Ramirez has served at the agency since 2010 and became Chairwoman in 2013.

 

 

Jan 17, 2017

Having spent significant time working in newsrooms, covering Capitol Hill, managing in-house corporate public affairs, working on campaigns, and navigating communities of color, she brings a unique set of skills that casts a wide net of influence. Understanding the intersection of press, partnerships, politics, and policy, Tiffany has a proven record of excellent relationships in the private and public sectors, media, the entertainment industry, and civic and social justice organizations. 

Most recently, Tiffany served as a Senior Advisor for the National Education Association (NEA)  and its three million members. In this capacity, she liaised with the public sector, traditional and niche media markets, constituency groups, and civic and social justice organizations. She worked with NEA leadership on branding and positioning and was responsible for forging strategic partnerships, internal and external messaging, conducting scans on grassroots and grasstop organizations, and engaging communities in bilateral conversations on education, labor, and civic and social justice issues. 

Before joining the NEA, Tiffany served as the Manager of News & Public Affairs and the Liaison to the Executive Branch for Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks. Her work at BET included coordinating with the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention in 2008, executing the network’s participation in the 2008 Presidential election, brand enhancement for the network, and advising on BET’s political and social agenda. 

Tiffany’s broad experience includes guest booking for CNN’s Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz, covering Capitol Hill for Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and working as an Associate Producer for Capital Gang. She was also a former Producer at America’s Most Wanted and Director of Communications for Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies where she worked on the Obama for America Presidential Campaign and secured high-level visibility for company president Cornell Belcher.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how Tiffany's personal journey has informed her approach to creating value for her network.
  • Tiffany's key strategies and mindset hacks for building powerful professional relationships in Washington. 
  • how 'The Beat' is helping policy professionals in Washington stay on top of what's happening and find relevant networking opportunities.

 

 

Resources:

The Beat (send news leads to: info@thebeatdc.com)

The Raben Group

Task Rabbit

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

Donald Trump named former New York City Mayor and early Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani as an informal cybersecurity advisor. He'll head the President-elect's cybersecurity working group. Abby Phillip in the Washington Post writes that, since leaving the New York City Mayorship, Giuliani has started his own cybersecurity consulting firm-Giuliani Partners. Now a bunch of people are saying, "What the hell does Guiliani know about cybsecurity?" Well, Motherboard's Jason Koebler and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai looked into it and found some folks familiar with Giuliani and Partners' work ... It turns out their expertise is more along the lines of telling companies how to legally cover their asses if they're the victim of  cyberbreach, as opposed to advising on actual cybersecurity solutions. So it's looking like this job is more of a thank you for to Giuliani for his help during the campaign. It also turns out, as Rob Price at Business Insider found, that Giuliani's company website--giulianisecurity.com--is replete with vulnerabilities.

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You've heard all about Trump's dossier--people calling him PEEOTUS and things like that on Twitter, so we won't go into all the details on that--especially since the dossier is still largely unsubstantiated. But Scott Shane put together a nice summary just in case you don't want to sit there all day trying to figure out what's going on with this.

Basically, this all started when the Republicans retained a company called Fusion GPS to look into Trump to figure out how to hurt him politically. Then, when it turned out he was going to be the Republican nominee, the Clinton campaign took over and retained Fusion to continue the investigation. The dossier has been floating around Washington for quite sometime, but the President and President-elect were briefed on it, and  that's when it made its way to the public via BuzzFeed and other sites. Mr. Trump says the entire dossier is a total fabrication. But if it's a total fabrication--it's pretty detailed, so someone must have had a lot of time on their hands.

In any case, the FBI is investigating the claims ... although no one knows if Trump will authorize that investigation to continue. Some are also wondering why FBI Director James Comey was so interested in Hillary Clinton's email but not this. So this issue isn't going away anytime soon, basically, is the takeaway here.

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Matt Hamilton at the LA Times reports that BackPage--the classified ad website -- shut down its adult section last week after the U.S. Senate released a scathing report accusing the company of hiding targeted search terms related to prostitution and child abuse. BackPage Founders Michael Lacey and and James Larkin were scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland and Governmental Affairs' subcommittee on investigations. The committee's report alleges that its review of some 1.1 million documents revealed evidence that the company facilitated sex trafficking and child abuse. Testimony from a BackPage site moderator seems to show the company actively removed search terms so they wouldn't lose ad revenue, but still keep the ads posted without actively promoting crimes.

But BackPage says it adheres to the the Communications Decency Act which provides immunity to websites that host content by third parties. The company also claimed the government investigation was an violation of its First Amendment Rights

One children's advocate--Lois Lee--founder of Children of the Night--even said the site has actually helped law enforcement identify predators and locate missing children. But Senators Bob Portman--the Republican from Ohio and as Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill--both of who led the bi-partisan investigation-- say BackPages's decision to shut down the adult section shows how damning the evidence they uncovered was.

 

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Congress has selected its leadership for its communications and tech-related committees. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Tune announced that Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker will lead the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden announced Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, who opposes net neutrality and prevented efforts to build municipal broadband networks, will lead the House Communications and Technology subcommittee. Jon Brodkin reports in Ars Technica.

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Aaron Smith at Pew reports that a record number of Americans have smartphones and access to broadband at home. Seventy-seven percent of Americans have smartphones, with explosive growth among adults over age 50. Americans with access to broadband at home increased 6 points to 73%. Also, Seventy percent of Americans use social media and half own a tablet.

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iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple for not allowing them to purchase apps outside of the Apple store, according to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, overturning the lower court's ruling. The decision doesn't affect the merits of the case brought against Apple, but if the plaintiff's win, it could open the door for more competition in the app market. Stephen Nells and Dan Levine have the story in Reuters.

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The independent prosecutor in South Korea investigating the corruption scandal that has led to the suspension of the country's first female president -- Park Geun-hye -- has asked a local court to issue an arrest warrant for Lee Jae--yong--the head of Samsung. The prosecutors allege Lee used corporate money to bribe Park for favors. The court is expected to review the request on Wednesday. Anna Fifield has more at the Washington Post. 

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Finally, The Email Privacy Act is alive again, after passing unanimously in the House and dying in the Senate last year. The bill would require authorities to get warrants for emails as well as social media data, including data older than 180 days. It would also allow providers to notify their customers that their information was requested. The bill was introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). John Eggerton has the story in Multichannel News. 

Jan 10, 2017

Debra Berlyn (@dberlyn) is the Executive Director of The Project to Get Older Adults onLine (GOAL), and President of Consumer Policy Solutions.

Debra is a seasoned veteran of telecommunications and consumer policy issues and an advocate for consumers of technology services. She represented AARP on the digital television transition and has worked closely with national aging organizations on several Internet issues, including online safety and privacy concerns.

Prior to launching Consumer Policy Solutions, Debra was senior legislative representative in the Federal Affairs Department of AARP, responsible for all communications and energy matters. She advocated on behalf of the members of AARP before Congress, the federal agencies (FCC, FERC, FEC, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce), and the Administration.

Ms. Berlyn has served as a faculty instructor with Boston University’s Washington Program. She received a B.A. from American University and a M.A. from Northwestern University.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • key barriers older adults face in getting online.
  • how Lifeline can help improve older adults' access to technology.

Resources:

Project GOAL

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

NEWS ROUNDUP

By now you've probably heard about the Director of National Intelligence report that came out last week which conclusively establishes that Vladimir Putin ordered a quote "influence campaign" to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump. But, as David Sanger notes in the Washington Post, there is no information in the declassified version of the report about how U.S. intelligence officials conducted their investigation. Trump, even after seeing a classified version of the report, still says the Obama Administration is engaging in a witch hunt, as does Vladimir Putin who calls the report amateurish. Here's the report.

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China's National Energy administration last week released its 3 -year, $360 billion plan to invest in renewable energy sources like solar and wind. On the other hand, President-elect Trump, who has expressed skepticism about climate change, appears to be headed in the opposite direction. China expects their effort to create as many as 13 million new jobs in China, as well as reduce the level of greenhouse gases China emits into the atmosphere. Here in the U.S., Trump has said the notion of human-caused climate change is a "hoax", threatened to dismantle the Paris Accord, and nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is himself a human-caused climate change denier, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Michael Forsythe has the story in the New York Times.

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Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson is calling for Uber to release its diversity numbers. In a letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Jackson called on Uber to follow the lead of companies including Facebook, Google and Apple and do its part to "change the face of technology" by releasing its hiring data to the public. Melanie Zanona has the story in The Hill.

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Last week, NCTA -- The Internet & Television Association, which is the leading lobbying association representing cable companies like Charter, Comcast and Cox, opened a new front in its war against Obama-era telecom regulations by filing a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to overturn the consumer privacy rules the FCC issued last year. The rules are designed to prevent the industry from exploiting its vast stores of user data to favor its own content at the expense of edge providers like Netflix, Facebook and Google.  The telecom industry's fight against the Commission's 2015 net neutrality rules, which were upheld by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year, was already underway: the carriers are requesting a review by the full court.

The telecom industry thinks the net neutrality and privacy rules give disproportionate protection to the tech sector. The tech sector argues that cable companies have access to far more user data and, if that market power is left unchecked, would give carriers monopoly power over both content and infrastructure.  Brian Fung has more in the Washington Post.

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The House has passed a bill that would allow Congress to repeal any rule President Obama passed during the last 6o legislative days of his administration. The bill had been approved by the previous Congress in November. The bill is basically the Select All+Delete of lawmaking: as Lydia Wheeler notes in the Hill, the bill would allow Congress to bundle together a whole bunch of rules and overturn them en masse with one vote.

 

The House also adopted rules last week which would prevent members from livestreaming sit-ins and other protests on the House floor. Members had been ignoring existing rules prohibiting members from taking any photos or videos on the House floor, but now there will be a $500 fine for the first offense and $2,500 for each offense thereafter. The new rule was passed in response to a sit in members, including John Lewis, livestreamed last year as a protest against Republicans' failure to consider gun control legislation.

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Gabriel Sherman reported in New York magazine that his sources told him that Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch is advising the Trump transition team on who should Chair the Federal Communications Commission once Tom Wheeler steps down. This alignment could impact how a Trump administration would treat the AT&T/Time Warner Merger --to which President-elect Trump has already expressed opposition -- since Murdoch is the Executive Chairman of News Corp, Executive Co-Chair of 20th Century Fox, and the Acting CEO of Fox News. Sherman notes that Fox News has already begun to double-down on its alignment with the incoming far-right administration by installing Tucker Carlson in the 7pm slot to replace Greta van Susteren.

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A new Pew Research analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data conducted by Monica Anderson shows African-American and Hispanic 12th graders are significantly less interested in math and science than their Asian and White counterparts. Overall, 71% of 12th graders surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "I like science." That's compared to 78% for Asians, 73% for Whites, 70% for Hispanics, and just 62% for Black students. An overwhelming number of Asian students actually want jobs in science, at 59%,  compared to just 39% of Black students, 40% of Hispanic students, and 45% of White students.

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Reuters reports that the U.S. Labor Department has sued Google to obtain its compensation data. The Labor Department claims the company has ignored repeated requests to submit the data as part of a routine Equal Opportunity compliance investigation which has been going on since 2015. A Google spokesperson said Google had repeatedly told Labor that the request was too broad in scope but didn't receive a response back from the Labor Department.

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On Christmas Eve in 2014, five-year-old Moriah Modisette died in a car crash. The other driver was allegedly using FaceTime immediately before impact. Now, Moriah's parents --James and Bethany Modisette -- are suing Apple in Texas for failing to include a mechanism that disables FaceTime during driving. The lawsuit points to one of Apple's patents. You can find this story at BBC.com.

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Finally, the White House has re-submitted the nomination of former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel after Rosenworcel vacated her seat at the Commission in December because her term expired and Congress failed to re-confirm her for political reasons. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune has said he is open to reconfirming Rosenworcel but not without a Republican Majority. Currently the Commission is comprised of two Republican (Ajit Pai--who endorsed Jeff Sessions' Attorney General nomination, and Michael O'Rielly) and one Democratic Commissioner--Mignon Clyburn.

 

Jan 3, 2017

Tom Kamber (@thomaskamber) is the founder and executive director of OATS, where he has helped over 20,000 senior citizens get online, built more than 30 free technology centers, created the seniorplanet.org digital community, and launched the Senior Planet Exploration Center—the country’s first technology-themed community center for older adults. His work has been covered in major national media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Univision, MSNBC, and the TODAY Show. Tom is active in shaping technology policy and serves on the City of New York’s Broadband Task Force, and on the State of New York’s Broadband Adoption Task Force.

Tom teaches courses on social entrepreneurship and philanthropy at Columbia University and has published widely in academic journals on topics including housing policy, crime and geography, advertising strategy, broadband technology, and technology adoption by senior citizens.

Prior to founding OATS, Tom worked as a tenant organizer working with low-income residents in Harlem and the South Bronx. He has a B.A. in Latin from Columbia College and a PhD in Political Science from the City University of New York.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • key challenges older adults face getting online.
  • how OATS helps older adults use technology to stay engaged and enhance their overall quality of life.
  • specific policy recommendations for ensuring older adults are both connected and actively using technology.

Senior Planet

This Chair Rocks by Ashton Applewhite

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

NEWS ROUNDUP

Missy Ryan, Ellen Nakashima and Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post report that the Obama administration has announced sanctions against Russia for executing cyberattacks on American institutions, including the Democratic National Committee, and releasing sensitive material to the public, in an effort to sway the November presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The sanctions include the shutting down of two Russian facilities in Maryland and on Long Island which U.S. officials believe were used to collect intelligence. President Obama also expelled 35 Russian agents believed to be involved in the hacks. The President also said the U.S. may undertake covert activity to undermine Russia.

But the Kremlin has vigorously denied the hacks, with Russsian President Vladimir Putin calling President Obama's response "irresponsible diplomacy". Yet, Putin has said Russia will hold off on a tit-for-tat response and not expel U.S. agents working in Russia or close American facilities there, until they see how Trump will respond following the inauguration on January 20th. Camila Domonoske has the story for NPR.

Here's the link to the DHS and FBI report on the Russian intrusion, which has been dubbed Grizzly Steppe.

Andrew Kramer has a nice piece in the New York Times describing how Russians recruited hackers for its cyberwar against the United States. 

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Ellen Nakashima also reported in the Washington Post that President Obama has signed a bill that would work to split U.S. Cybercommand from the National Security Administration in order to promote administrative efficiency. But the split can't happen unless it is approved by the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of staff, which may or may not happen under the Trump administration. 

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House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to stop sit-ins by members of Congress on the House floor. Speaker Ryan introduced a rules package last week which would attempt to curtail live streaming on the house floor by imposing sanctions of $500 for the first livestreaming offense and $2,500 for each subsequent offense, with ethical citations also a possibility. Back in June, Democrats had live-streamed a sit-in on the House floor to protest Republicans' failure to introduce gun control legislation. The livestream was organized in response to the fact that Republican leaders had turned off tv cameras in the chamber, preventing the public from viewing the sit-in on C-Span.   

 

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