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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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WashingTECH Policy Podcast with Joe Miller
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Now displaying: May, 2017
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.

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