Leiden University's Rebekah Tromble joined Joe Miller to chat about ways to combat misinformation on social media.
Rebekah Tromble (@RebekahKTromble) is an assistant professor in the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University in the Netherlands, where she teaches and conducts research on media and politics, digital research methods and ethics, and computational social science.
Dr. Tromble is deeply committed to understanding and promoting responsible and ethical uses of data and technology and has founded the Data in Democracy Initiative at Leiden University to pursue that commitment through teaching, research, and public outreach.
Previously, she conducted extensive fieldwork in former Soviet Central Asia, where she focused on political discourses about Muslims and Islam.
She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Bloomington, and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Knox College.
Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason
The U.S. has sanctioned tech firms in Russia and China for funneling money to North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions, by using fake social media profiles to solicit work from North Koreans. The sanctions target Yanbian Silverstar Network Technology Company, whose CEO is North Korean, and a Russian subsidiary called Volasys Silverstar.
Arizona’s Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has initiated an investigation into Google’s location data practices, according to The Washington Post. Google was accused recently of recording the location data of Android users even when the location setting was turned off. The company denies the allegation saying that it is transparent with users by giving them the option to toggle what gets collected and delete their location history.
The FCC has stopped the clock on its review of the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Traditionally the FCC sets the clock at 180 days. But, citing the transaction’s complexity, the FCC paused the T-Mobile/Sprint review 60 days in.
President Trump has signed off on a set of sanctions against foreign actors who engage in election interference. The executive order gives federal law enforcement officials 90 days to review instances of potential interference and act on them if they determine that doing so would be necessary.
Reuters reports that Google and its parent company Alphabet are under scrutiny by 16 lawmakers regarding its plans to expand into China. China has banned the company since 2010. In a letter, both liberal and conservative members of Congress asked Google how they would protect its users in light of China’s censorship laws. Google said that its ambitions in China are merely exploratory and not close to launching. Some 1,000 Google employees wrote a letter questioning Google about its ambitions in China. At least one research scientist has resigned in protest.
The European Union has adopted a draft copyright bill that would require tech companies to pay higher royalties to media companies for the right to host their content. Under the new law, publishers would have the right to negotiate payment for content posted on sites like YouTube. Tech giants would also have to pay “proportionate remuneration” to large media companies for hosting their content. Big tech is pushing back saying that keeping track of every piece of content would be unwieldy.
Finally, CBS wrote in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it is setting aside $120 million in severance for their departing CEO Les Moonves—but the company has a year to decide whether to let him go for cause. If they do, he’ll get nothing.
This $120 million is down from an original severance amount of $238 million. Twelve women have accused Moonves of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or sexual harassment. CBS will also be contributing $20 million to causes that support the #MeToo movement.
Francella Ochillo joined Joe Miller to talk about the tech policy issues the National Hispanic Media Coalition is most focused on during the policy year ahead.
Francella Ochillo (@Francella202) is the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s (NHMC) Vice President, Policy and General Counsel. Francella brings a unique combination of litigation and community activism experience to NHMC. At the Department of Justice, she worked on securities fraud investigation teams, prosecuting banks for corporate misconduct under the False Claims Act and Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act. Meanwhile, she maintains her commitment community engagement in various roles at the YMCA, a non-profit devoted to strengthening communities.
Even though Francella has called the District of Columbia home for the past ten years, she is originally from New Orleans and still loves jambalaya. She has a B.S. degree in Marketing from Morgan State University where she graduated with honors from the School of Business. She earned her J.D. from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois where she excelled as a moot court competitor and went on to represent the City of Chicago in Administrative Hearings. Francella is currently a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Noble
Human and Machine: Rethinking Work in the Age of AI by Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson
Google is under heat after the company left its seat vacant at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian election interference. Donald Trump has led the charge against the tech company, accusing it, Facebook and Twitter of having an anti-conservative bias. Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, wasn’t happy when Google offered to send its General Counsel, Kent Walker to testify. He wanted company founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page to appear. Although Google’s seat was empty at the hearing, it sent written testimony from Mr. Walker.
Outcry against Google’s lack of a physical presence at the hearing was bipartisan. The Committee’s top Democrat -- Senator Mark Warner – said that he was deeply disappointed that Google didn’t appear.
Washington is now abuzz wondering how this will affect how Congress will consider potential regulations that would affect the company. Back in July, Google was the subject of the largest antitrust fine in European Union history -- $5 billion -- for illegally tying Chrome to its Android operating system, among other things—a decision the company is appealing.
Twitter has decided to permanently ban conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The company said that Jones violated its abusive behavior policy.
The Justice Department has announced that it will be investigating whether platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter stifle free speech. DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley made the announcement as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrapped up their Senate Intelligence Committee testimony on Wednesday.
These political issues sent the NASDAQ composite on a 4 day losing streak, which it recovered from slightly on Monday. Overall, though, the NASDAQ is down about 161 points since the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have banned dozens of accounts belonging to Myanmar military officials. The company banned the officials for spreading hate speech and misinformation against Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar. Reuters reports that the decision came hours after the United Nation’s reported that the Myanmar military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”.
Finally, President Trump urged Apple on Twitter last week to shift production back to the United States from China. The president threatened tariffs and offered tax incentives, including a zero percent tax rate, if the company moves its production operations to the U.S.
Otessa Marie Ghadar (Instagram: @otessa_, @dcwebfest, @2020newmedia, @hardDCcore) is an award-winning digital storyteller who uses writing, filmmaking, photography, and technology to share her narratives and build communities. As one of the web series medium’s earliest adopters, Otessa is a true forerunner of digital media. Starting in 2006, Otessa’s web series "Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden" is now the longest continually running show online, with an international audience in over 145 countries.
Otessa founded the DC Web Fest (one of the first of its kind & now in its 7th year) out of the need for digital content creators to showcase their works, inspiring creativity and innovation.
As an Adjunct Professor at American University, and through additional guest lecturing, Otessa uses her passions to guide the next generation of digital storytellers. Stemming from her knowledge and expertise, she published the world’s first new media textbook called "The Wild West of Film."
In addition to speaking, she also enjoys exhibiting her work, having shown work as part of FotoWeek DC, Transformer Gallery, The National Museum for Women in the Arts, amongst others.
A newly initiated Google Next Generation Policy leader, Otessa works diligently to increase technology awareness and innovation among minority and marginalized communities
She resides in Washington DC, and is currently working on her next trans-media project -- the Young Adult Science Fiction series, "Lemma."
She Completed her Graduate Film Studies at Columbia University's film school in NYC.
The Wild West of Film by Otessa Ghadar
The Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Justice last week backed a lawsuit that housing justice advocates brought back in March alleging that Facebook allows advertisers to discriminate against certain groups. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook facilitates unlawful discrimination by allowing advertisers to exclude keywords that are closely associated with those groups and zip codes in which certain demographics reside. HUD filed a formal administrative complaint, which was then followed up by a statement of interest by the DOJ.
Tesla’s problems escalated a bit last week-the week following Founder and CEO Elon Musk’s August 7th tweet saying that investors were interested in taking the company private. A former Tesla security employee named Martin Trip has now filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming that he was fired for raising allegations internally that Tesla had failed to report to investors the theft of some $37 million in raw materials from the Gigafactory -- Tesla’s lithium-ion battery production plant in Nevada. The complaint also alleges that Tesla spies on employees and that some Tesla employees engage in drug trafficking.
The SEC is already investigating Tesla and Elon Musk to determine whether Musk’s tweet was designed to inflate share prices.
According to a companywide meeting transcript obtained by Reuters, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced last week that, contrary to rumors, the company is not close to launching a search engine in China. To launch such a search engine, Google would need to comply with China’s censorship regulations, a move that has raised internal resistance from many Google employees.
In other Google-related news, a new class action lawsuit alleges that Google continues to track users after they turned off their location settings. The case is Patacsil v Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.
The Department of Justice is suing the alleged operators of a pirate radio station in Austin, Texas who were allegedly using a makeshift facility in an apartment complex to illegally broadcast Alex Jones’ conspiracy theories to 90.1FM without a license, via an extension cord. The FCC levied a $15,000 fine against the station operators back in 2014, but the station owners refuse to pay it, claiming that the FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to levy the fine.
Meanwhile, Vimeo joined the long list of internet companies that have booted Alex Jones for violating their terms of service. Twitter has also suspended Jones. President Trump tweeted that internet companies are discriminating against conservative content and that he may “get involved”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee during an oversight hearing last week that White House counsel Don McGahn contacted him to make a “status inquiry” immediately after Pai announced back in July that he and the FCC had serious concerns about the ill-fated merger of Sinclair and Tribune Media. But Pai insists that the White House did not interfere in the proceeding.
First Lady Melania Trump spoke out against cyberbullying at a Rockville summit on Monday as part of her Be Best initiative. The remarks come days after President Trump called Omarosa Manigault a “dog” on Twitter, underscoring a disconnect between the East and West wings of the White House on their approaches to cyberbullying.
Finally, Netflix has signed showrunner Kenya Barris to a multi-year deal to produce a new tv series. Barris created ABC’s successful “black-ish” about an upper-middle class black family, as well as last summer’s movie hit “Girl’s Trip”. The Wall Street Journal reports that Barris negotiated an early exit from the Disney-owned TV network after it refused to air a black-ish episode that featured a plot about athletes kneeling during the national anthem. Barris will be joining Shonda Rhimes at Netflix.
Ron Gonzales (@rongon2000) is President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. Gonzales has over 35 years of technology and public policy experience. Prior to leading the Hispanic Foundation, Gonzales was Founder, Chairman and CEO of Presencia, LLC. Presencia, LLC provides marketing and sales consulting services in the government, education, enterprise and SMB markets. Previously, Ron served as Mayor of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10thth largest city from 1999-2006. His achievements included nationally recognized initiatives that strengthened neighborhoods, improved public education, and ensured the economic vitality of the city with high quality public services and effective solutions to affordable housing and regional transportation projects.
Before his election as Mayor, Gonzales worked as an executive with the Hewlett-Packard Company, in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy. Gonzales served for eight years (1989-1996) on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. As a two-time mayor and member of the Sunnyvale City Council (1979-87), Gonzales helped initiate governmental efficiency measures that were recognized in the best-selling book Reinventing Government. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Notre Dame de Namur University, KIPP Bay Area Schools, and Save The Bay. He is married to Guisselle Nuñez and they live in downtown San Jose.
Latino Leaders Speak: Personal Stories of Struggle and Triumph by Mickey Ibarra
Elon Musk raises red flags with the securities and exchange commission, the City of New York caps ride sharing licenses, and Ron Gonzalez ios my guest
Elon Musk raised red flags with the Securities and Exchange Commission when he tweeted last Tuesday “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” That share price was about 20% above the stock’s trading price earlier that day. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC is probing whether there was any factual basis to Musk’s tweet. If not, Musk may have violated securities regulations by giving false or misleading information to the public. It’s also looking into whether Musk’s tweet was designed to pump Tesla’s share price in advance of some $920 million in convertible bonds the company has coming due in March that the company may have to tap into its cash flow to pay down if it can’t raise the funds from investors.
The City of New York became the first U.S. city to cap the number of licenses it issues to ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The New York City Council voted 39-6 to approve the measure, which livery and yellow cab drivers hailed, as they’ve seen their hourly wages decline, as Uber and Lyft have increased their number of drivers from 25,000 to 80,000 over the last three years in the city. Uber and Lyft issued statements against the cap, saying that it would lead to an increase in fares. Lyft spokesman Joseph Okpaku said the move would specifically harm communities of color and passengers in the outer boroughs.
Tribune Media has killed its $3.9 billion deal with Sinclair citing breach of contract. Tribune us arguing the 15-month deal has taken too long and that Sinclair has been too aggressive with regulators. The announcement came following the FCC’s 4-0 decision to refer the merger to an administrative law judge. It also came amidst a new class-action lawsuit brought by national advertisers and a DOJ investigation into whether Tribune and Sinclair colluded to fix advertising sales rates.
Snapchat parent Snap Inc. reported a 2% drop in its monthly usership in the second quarter—its first reported decline since its founding in 2011--to about 188 million monthly users. Competitor Instagram’s monthly usership, on the other hand, now stands at 1 billion. This translated to a $353 million revenue loss for Snap, which was up by 2 percentage points in after-hours trading Monday to 12.57 per share.
Finding that fitness devices posed a “significant risk” to military personnel, the Pentagon issued an order last week restricting military personnel from wearing fitness tracking devices in sensitive locations. The new order allows commanders to decide whether to ban the devices in their specific area, based on the nature of the military activities happening there. For example, using tracking devices in training areas, such as Fort Hood, would be less of a concern than using the devices in less secure areas during military operations abroad. The new rule is a response to the fact that fitness app Strava publishes a Heatmap that shows where in the world its subscribers, including military personnel, have been exercising, which can shed light on classified troop movements.
Finally, Facebook announced a new authorization process for page managers that will make it more difficult for fake accounts to maintain Facebook pages. The new process will require page managers to secure their account with two-factor authentication. Facebook says it will also be more transparent about who manages each page by adding a “People Who Manage This Page” section. It will also show when pages have been merged. Facebook says it will begin enforcing the new standards later this month and eventually roll out the changes to Instagram as well.
K.J. Bagchi joined Joe Miller to discuss how the Model Minority Myth negatively impacts Asian Americans and impedes an inclusive policy dialogue.
K.J. Bagchi (@kjbagchi) is the Senior Staff Attorney for Telecommunications, Technology, and Media at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
K.J. has broad experience providing counsel and policy advice for elected members at the local, state and federal levels. He worked as Legislative Counsel at the D.C. City Council and for former Congressman Mike Honda. He has drafted legislation in a variety of areas including juvenile justice, immigration, and consumer protection. Through various roles, K.J. has developed programs, trainings, and conversations to embolden and empower the AAPI community in civic participation.
K.J. holds a bachelor’s degree from University of California Davis and a law degree from Seattle University School of Law. He is admitted to practice in the State of Maryland.
14: Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
Facebook revealed a new disinformation campaign last week which led to its removal of 32 pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook wrote that the accounts were engaged in “inauthentic behavior”. The company said that it was unable to attribute the campaign to Russia. But Virginia Senator Mark Warner said this provides what he termed as “further evidence” that the Kremlin is attempting to impact the midterm elections. Facebook is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on September 5th.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Facebook has sought detailed banking information from the likes of JP MorganChase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and US Bancorp. Facebook wants users to be able to communicate with their banks within Messenger. In a press release, Facebook pushed back writing that the Wall Street Journal report is overblown as it is seeking no more information than other technology firms such as Google and Amazon. But this new revelation is sure to come up during the September 5th hearing on the Hill.
AP reports that several states are suing the Trump Administration for settling with a purveyor of plans to make homemade 3D printed guns. A federal judge had blocked Defense Distributed from releasing plans that would allow anyone with a 3D printer to print the plastic firearms. But the Trump Administration stepped in and negotiated a settlement. Nineteen states including the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit. And there’s newly introduced legislation in the House that would either prevent the 3-D printing of guns, or make 3D-printed guns detectable at security checkpoints.
Sinclair Broadcasting’s troubles got worse last week after advertisers brought a class action lawsuit against it, Tribune Media, and several co-defendants for coordinating to inflate ad prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Department of Justice is currently probing the possibility that Sinclair worked with competitors to manipulate prices, after it discovered suspicious behavior during the course of its review of Sinclair’s $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune. The FCC has since sent the merger to an Administrative Law Judge to decide, an act that experts largely see as the death knell for the merger. Lobbying disclosure statements show that the FCC’s decision has led Sinclair to retain more lobbyists than it has since the year 2000. They’re working with the S-3 Group—a Republican lobbying firm -- according to the Hill.
Apple closed with a $1 trillion market cap on Thursday, making it the first firm to do so. Notably, the company has hung on to that valuation, with a market cap of over $1 trillion for the August 6th close.
Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify have removed all of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ channels for failing to meet community guidelines against hate speech and glorifying violence. The conservative commentator founded InfoWars in 1999 and is largely seen as having been instrumental to the election of President Donald Trump.
The net neutrality fight is the gift that keeps on giving. First, the FCC’s own Inspector General has found that the FCC lied back in May of 2017 when it said a wave of comments following John Oliver’s net neutrality segment on Last Week Tonight led to a large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. I repeat: the attack . never. happened. As Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel noted—they were actual comments. The inspector general’s findings haven’t been released, but FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to get out in front of it by making the announcement on Monday and blaming the former CIO for saying it was a DDoS attack—which he never did.
Also, the FCC and DOJ have filed a petition with the Supreme Court to vacate the DC Court of Appeals ruling to uphold the 2015 net neutrality rules. The FCC’s repeal of those rules wasn’t enough I suppose.
Legal Momentum's Jennifer Becker joined Joe Miller for Part 2 of our series on how perpetrators use technology to engage in domestic violence.
Jennifer Becker is Deputy Legal Director and National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) Senior Attorney. At Legal Momentum, Jennifer is engaged in a range of litigation, education, and policy on issues of gender-based discrimination and violence, including efforts to strengthen state gender-based violence statutes and reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act. Jennifer has presented nationally and internationally on issues related to gender equality and gender-based violence. Jennifer is engaged in NJEP’s judicial training and technical assistance efforts and has developed and presented information about sexual assault and the intersection of sexual assault and domestic violence at national and state judicial conferences and multidisciplinary conferences.
Jennifer is a former sex crimes and child abuse prosecutor, having served for seven years in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office in Bronx, NY. During that time she handled hundreds of such cases throughout all stages of the criminal justice process. Prior to joining Legal Momentum, Jennifer was the Title IX Coordinator for the New York City public school system, a district of more than 1 million students and 135,000 employees. In that role she was responsible for overseeing gender equity compliance, including responding to and investigating sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in schools. Jennifer has developed and conducted trainings for attorneys and non-legal staff on substantive issues related to gender equity laws, discrimination, criminal law, and litigation techniques and strategies.
Jennifer is an active member of the New York City Bar Association Sex and Law Committee and co-chair of the New York County Lawyers Association Women in Law Committee. She is a graduate of CUNY Law School and Quinnipiac University.
Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse (N.Y. Times, June 23, 2018)
Facebook’s market value dropped $119 billion Thursday after the company released a poor quarterly report. The single-day drop was the biggest in stock market history and represented 19% of Facebook’s market cap , taking it down to $510 billion. In its quarterly report, Facebook reported usership that fell short of expectations by 20 million active daily users, and its revenue fell short of analyst estimates by some $130 million for the second quarter. And at $1.72 Facebook’s earnings per share was also two cents lower than Thompson Reuters had estimated.
Facebook and Amazon set new lobbying records for themselves in the second quarter, spending over $7 million combined on its lobbying efforts. This is according to lobbying disclosure records. Facebook spent $3.6 million to deal with the Cambridge Analytica and Russian hacking debacles. Amazon spent some $3.47 million. Google spent its fair amount on lobbying as well, coming in at $5.9 million for the second quarter alone. Ali Breland reports in Politico.
President Donald Trump met with members of the National Security Council on Friday to discuss cyber threats to the rapidly approaching midterm election. The White House released a statement that said in part, “The president has made it clear that his Administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors.” The statement made no specific mention of Russia.
But the president tweeted that he is concerned that Russia might help Democrats—even though Russian President Vladimir Putin stated during the infamous Helsinki Summit that he wanted Trump to be re-elected in 2020. In addition, the Daily Beast reported that Russian hackers recently attempted to access Senator Claire McCaskill’s emails as she launched her 2018 re-election bid. Senator McCaskill acknowledged the attempt, saying it was “not successful”.
House Democrats said that the White House’s effort to prevent election interference is insubstantial. They want a more robust action plan from the White House. And Politico reported that most states are unprepared for cyberattacks. Even though Congress appropriated $380 million back in March to help states replace their voting machines, Politico reports that only 14 states and DC plan to do so before he 2020 presidential election.
Over in the UK, British lawmakers are proposing that tech companies be held liable for publishing fake news on their sites.
Facebook signed a binding agreement with Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson last week in which the company promised not to allow advertisers to target users on the basis of race. This would include ads for housing, employment, credit, insurance and “public accommodations”. However, advertisers may not need to target race directly. They could target and exclude on the basis of race using non-racial proxies for race. Facebook could potentially still have the ability to cross-reference facial recognition data and users’ likes and dislikes to build psychometric profiles that show trends that correlate with race, which advertisers could then use without creating a paper trail.
Finally, the Justice Department is now investigating whether Sinclair, Tribune and others engaged in anticompetitive behavior that affected advertising sales rates. The Wall Street Journal reports that the DOJ is looking into whether Sinclair and Tribune coordinated in such a way as to generate higher rates for tv ad spots. The DOJ had stumbled upon potential evidence of coordination practices as it was reviewing Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune, which is now in the hands of administrative law judge after the FCC voted unanimously not to approve the acquisition.
Katie Ray-Jones (@KtRayJones) is President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Hotline. Previously, she served as NDCH’s Director of Operations.
As a member of the National Task Force to Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and in her role as Hotline Director, Katie has made several visits to key congressional offices and is well known on Capitol Hill as a representative of the Hotline and Helpline. Katie has distinguished herself as a leader with prominent individuals in the national domestic violence movement and with national domestic violent groups and has represented the Hotline at several key national domestic/dating violence and gender-based violence meetings.
Katie also has extensive experience working with survivors of domestic violence. She has managed an emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing programs, nonresidential services for survivors and their children, 24-hour hotlines, services for individuals with HIV/AIDS, housing for families who are homeless, case management programs for children who have been abused and neglected, and a therapeutic preschool for children who have witnessed violence. She has also worked at a legal clinic that provided assistance to victims of domestic violence who were seeking restraining orders and other types of legal advocacy, provided individual therapy and facilitated groups for survivors and abusers and worked for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission administering funding to family violence providers throughout the state of Texas.
Katie has a bachelor’s degree in child and family development from San Diego State University and a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the University of San Diego. Katie is married and has two wonderful children, George and Maximillian.
The European Union fined Google parent Alphabet some $5 billion for allegedly using its Android operating system to direct users to Google search. Android runs on some 80% of the world’s smartphones according to the Wall Street Journal. Still, Alphabet’s second quarter earnings beat analysts’ expectations by more than $2 per share. And in after-hours trading, Google shares rose 3.9% to $1,267.
The FCC unanimously voted to send Sinclair’s proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribine Media to an Administrative Law judge. The FCC found that Sinclair failed to disclose that it planned to divest Chicago’s WGN to Baltimore businessman Steven Fader, who has no broadcast experience, and who is a friend of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith. The FCC found the divestiture, priced at $60 million, would have been far below market value, and Sinclair would have maintained control of the station. Sinclair has since revised its plan. It now proposes to keep control of WGN, but divest stations in Houston and Dallas. Still, experts don’t expect the ALJ to approve the merger.
The Justice Department released a response plan for how it will handle election hacking and cybercrime. The report also discusses how the agency will address denial of service attacks, use existing law, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, to prosecute, and the surveillance tactics it will implement. It also discusses how the DOJ will train agents and lists the challenges the government faces.
Twitter suspended some 58 million of its user accounts in the Fourth Quarter of 2017, according to the Associated Press. Last week, the company had reported that it had suspended somewhere between 50 and 70 million users in response to Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.
Comcast dropped its bid for 21st Century Fox, which Disney is likely to acquire for $71 billion in cash and stock. Disney and Comcast had been in a bidding war over Fox’s assets. CNBC reporter David Faber reported that Comcast’s withdrawal of its bid was, at least to some extent, provoked by the fact that the U.S. government will be appealing to the DC Circuit to reverse the court-approved merger of AT&T and Time Warner.
Netflix reported a huge miss on subscriber additions in the second quarter—they added 1 million fewer than forecast for 5.15 million subscribers. Additions of domestic subscribers fared worse than the rate of additions internationally, meeting just over half of the projected amount, or 674,000 versus the 1.23 million that analysts forecast. Earnings, though, were barely shy of expectations with $3.91 billion in revenue versus the $3.94 billion that was projected.
Congress declined to block last week the Trump administration’s plan to save Chinese device manufacturer ZTE from tough sanctions that prevented ZTE and Huawei from taking on government contracts. The sanctions were expected to all but put ZTE out of business. But the Trump administration decided to pull back on the sanctions it had initially planned. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the failure of Congress to keep the sanctions in place was a win for Chinese President Xi Jinping and a loss for American workers and national security.
Natalie Salmanowitz (@nsalmanowitz) is a rising 3L at Harvard Law School and is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. After studying neuroscience at Dartmouth College, she went to Duke University for a master’s degree in Bioethics and Science Policy before spending a year at Stanford Law School as a fellow in the Neuroscience and Society Program.
The Impact of Virtual Reality on Implicit Racial Bias and Mock Legal Decisions by Natalie Salmanowitz (Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 2018)
What Money Can’t Buy by Michael J. Sandel
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced a DC Grand Jury indictment of 12 Russians charged with hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016. They’re all GRU members, which is Russia’s intelligence agency. And one of the defendants is accused of hacking into state election systems themselves. Intelligence officials say Russia intended for the hacks to help Donald Trump. But during a presser following his closed-door meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, the President sided with Russia. This was met with strong rebukes from U.S. intelligence officials and Republicans.
Meanwhile, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates warns of an imminent “crippling cyber attack on our critical infrastructure”. He names Russia as “the most aggressive foreign actor, no question.” And CNN reports that a Kremlin-linked internet company, Mail.Ru, had access to a Facebook app that collected user data without their consent.
The Republican-led Federal Communications Commission passed a new rule last week that will require consumers to pay a $225 fee to file formal complaints with the agency. Democrats were livid, with Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel calling the rule change “bonkers”, and FCC Chairman Pai passed the rules over the objections of Democratic representatives Frank Pallone and Mike Doyle. They’re concerned the rule change will dilute the impact of informal complaints.
A new study of Purdue University, that looks at Bureau of Labor Statistics and Yelp data, has found that Airbnb’s economic benefits local economies—with one wrinkle: it’s mainly neighborhoods that are predominantly white. The study specifically looked at the spillover effect to local economies when Airbnb guests stay there by evaluating how many new jobs were created in area restaurants. Apparently, Airbnb guests are less likely to eat at restaurants surrounding Airbnbs in neighborhoods where the black or Latino population exceeds 50%, than they are in predominantly white neighborhoods.
The Trump administration lifted its ban against ZTE on Friday. The ban required U.S. companies to refrain from contracting with Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE because U.S. intelligence officials accused ZTE of lying about how it was handling sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
Finally, The Justice Department announced that it would be appealing the DC Court of Appeals decision approving AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. This re-opens litigation that could have major implications for how courts and the federal government will consider vertical mergers.
Palantir and the police have joined forces in Los Angeles to crunch the city's suspect database. George Joseph joined Joe Miller to discuss what this means for local communities and individuals who are disproportionately targeted by surveillance.
George Joseph (@GeorgeJoseph94) is criminal justice reporgter at The Appeal. Formerly, he was a reporting fellow at Demos focusing on surveillance, immigration, law enforcement, and the entry of big data in criminal justice systems. His work has appeared in outlets such as The Guardian, NPR, The Atlantic, The Nation, The Verge, Slate, and CityLab.
The LAPD Has a New Surveillance Formula, Powered by Palantir by George Joseph
President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Washington Post’s Ann Marimow reports that even though Kavanaugh clerked for the justice he would replace—Justice Anthony Kennedy—Kavanaugh’s ideology is far to the right of Kennedy’s, and he has a broad view when it comes to presidential authority. For example, in his 12 years as a judge on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh has supported military tribunals for terrorism suspects and restructuring the consumer financial protection bureau. As far as tech is concerned, Kavanaugh issued a dissent in the case that upheld the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules, arguing that Congress did not provide the FCC with clear statutory authority to issue the rules. Kavanaugh needs just 50 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.
China’s Commerce Ministry on Friday accused Trump of using bullying tactics to launch “the biggest trade war in economic history”, after the White House began implementing a 25% tariff against Chinese goods, which will cost China an estimated $34 billion, according to CNN. China retaliated with another $34 billion worth of tariffs against American produce. The tech sector decries Trump’s tariffs, with ITI’s Josh Kallmer saying they would harm American consumers and businesses. Trump may have another $16 billion worth of tariffs coming against China later this month.
As if the scrutiny of Facebook couldn’t get any worse, the FBI, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Federal Trade Commission will now join the wide-ranging investigation into how it and Cambridge Analytica shared the data of 71 million Americans in 2015. The investigation is trying, among other things, to understand more about why Facebook failed to disclose its data-sharing practices.
It was also reported last week that Facebook suffered another mishap in late May and early June in which a bug caused it to temporarily unblock accounts that some 800,000 users had previously blocked. The company also came under fire for deleting a post containing references to “Indian savages”—it turns out the post was an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence—so Facebook apologized for that as well. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg has surpassed Warren Buffet for the third spot on the list of the world’s richest people. Zuck is work $81.6 billion—behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
The DC Metro is susceptible to cyberattack, according to a leaked Inspector General’s report that was presented to Metro’s board of directors last month. The report cites vulnerabilities that threaten Metro’s rail traffic control systems, gas and fire sensors, the power grid, station ventilation, an voice and data communications. Martine Powers reports in the Washington Post.
Amazon is still selling Nazi paraphernalia, according to a new report by the Partnership for Working Families and the Action Center on Race & the Economy. The report listed a swastika pendant, cross burning baby onesie for girls, stickers and decals, and even music among the products. Amazon had promised last year to stop selling items featuring the Confederate flag but the company was found to have kept a lot of those products active.
Finally, Twitter deleted 70 million fake accounts and bots in May and June this year, according to the Washington Post. This would significantly reduce Twitter’s user base, but lately the social media company has been increasing its usership, which has led to more investment in the company. The Washington Post reports that Twitter has been deleting accounts at the same rate in July.
Lydia Parnes is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she is chair of the firm's privacy and cybersecurity practice. She regularly represents companies in complex regulatory investigations and provides advice on complying with federal, state, and global privacy and data protection laws.
The former director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Lydia is a highly regarded privacy expert. As director of the BCP, Lydia oversaw privacy and data security enforcement efforts and the development of the FTC's approach to online advertising. She testified on numerous occasions on the benefits of a uniform nationwide data breach law and the risks of legislating in the technology area.
Lydia advises companies on how to navigate global privacy and data security requirements while pursuing their business goals. She helps them develop and implement comprehensive privacy compliance programs and understand the nuances of regulation and self-regulation in the privacy arena. Lydia regularly represents clients before the FTC and other federal and state agencies.
Lydia was named a top lawyer in the cybersecurity category by Washingtonian Magazine in 2017 and 2015 and is regularly recognized in Chambers USA, Chambers Global, and The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers as among the country's top privacy and data security attorneys. In 2012, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was recognized by Law360 as a "top privacy and consumer protection" law firm.
Lydia speaks throughout the country on developments in data security and privacy.
Eleventh Circuit LabMD Decision Significantly Restrains FTC’s Remedial Powers in Data Security and Privacy Actions by Lydia Parnes (WSGR Blog, June 18, 2018)
The state of California has passed its own, sweeping data privacy law that’s set to go into effect in 2020. The hastily passed law signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday grants Californians the right to know the what, why and how of how companies are collecting and sharing their data. The new law, while it also grants consumers the right to tell companies to delete their data, isn’t as extensive as the EU’s new Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which everyone’s still trying to figure out.
DOJ approves Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox
The Department of Justice has granted Disney antitrust approval to acquire 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for $71 billion. But Disney is going to need to divest Fox’s 22 regional sports networks within 90 days after it closes. Rival Comcast is still in the running, though. Its $65 billion bid is still on the table.
In a 700-page set of replies to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Facebook acknowledged that it shared user data with 52 companies after it stopped doing so in 2015 with most others. The company says it has ended 38 of the 52 partnerships. Companies with which Facebook continues to share data are Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and Alibaba. But lawmakers are obviously concerned given the ongoing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica debacle in which the company shared the data of some 87 million Facebook users which were used to help Republican candidates.
The FBI arrested a Norwalk, California man for allegedly threatening to kill Ajit Pai’s children because of the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules. Thirty-three year old Markara Man, 33, allegedly sent three emails to Pai listing preschools around Arlington, Virginia, where Chairman Pai lives and threatening to kill his children back in December of 2017—months before the vote.
Remember when the National Security Agency came under fire a few years back when former contractor Ed Snowden revealed that the agency was collecting the phone records of millions of Americans? Well the NSA is deleting some 685 million of those call records for “technical irregularities”.
NSA Contractor Reality Winner takes pea bargain
Reality Winner, the former NSA contractor who leaked NSA documents last summer, has taken a plea bargain. The 26-year-old was charged with violating the Espionage Act for sharing NSA documents allegedly showing what NSA knew about how Russia penetrated the 2016 presidential election. She’ll serve 5 years and 3 months, with 3 years’ supervised release.
The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Sudhakar Reddy Bonthy with insider trading. The agency alleges that Bonthu made $75,000 from illegal trades based on confidential information about Equifax’s data breach last year which exposed the data of more than 100 million people.
The New York Attorney General’s office is investigating the effect the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint deal would have on pre-paid mobile services. Combined, the companies have 30 million paid subscribers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Prepaid plans are disproportionately the plan of choice for low-income households, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said.
Tinder’s parent company Match Group has moved to encrypt its users’ photos. The changes actually went into effect back in February after Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to Tinder asking the company to encrypt photos given the risk that hackers would have been able to capture photos and swipe data via the Tinder app.
Finally, Netflix has fired its Chief Communications officer for using the n-word during a meeting and then using it again. The company says that Jonathan Friedland used the word at least twice. In a letter, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the 7-year Netflix veteran used the word in a meeting about offensive speech in an inappropriate and offensive way. Friedland then used the word again with two black employees in the HR department who were tasked with dealing with the incident. Hastings wrote that he should have addressed the first incident head on, instead, he wrote “I realize that my privilege has made me intellectualize or otherwise minimize race issues like this. I need to set a better example by learning and listening more so I can be the leader we need.” According to Netflix’s 2Q18 workforce demographics report, Blacks comprise just 4% of Netflix’s workforce despite the fact that nonhispanic blacks comprise 12.1% of the U.S. population, according to the latest U.S. Census.
CJ Johnson (https://twitter.com/cjjohnsonjr) is an award-winning photographer and content creator. He co-founded J+J (listed as one of the Top 50 Digital Agencies in Los Angeles), is a GQ Insider, and well-known “Branding Guru". He’s recognized for his contributions and authority in leadership, creativity, and social media marketing. He’s helped over 100+ startups to Fortune 500 companies all around the world find success and reach new heights.
CJ is based out of Los Angeles, but he is truly global and spends a lot of time traveling around the world. He was introduced to his current career as the startup movement and YouTube generation reshaped the industries of the world.
Since creating J+J, CJ has overseen creative campaigns and consultations for successful businesses (from all industries) and continues his personal goal of inspiring people to chase after their dreams.
He’s currently a Google Next Gen Policy Leader and he contributes to initiatives to help bring technology and education to content creators and low income areas in the United States.
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last week requiring law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for suspects’ cell tower records. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority which also included the Court’s liberal justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. Roberts wrote ““Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience … They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.”
The case stems from the conviction of Timothy Carpenter who is serving a 116-year sentence for being the ringleader of armed robberies of Radio Shack stores in and around Detroit. Prosecutors obtained 127 days’-worth of Carpenter’s location data from his carrier to prove his whereabouts when the robberies took place.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued another ruling last week—also a 5-4 decision—this time, the Court’s conservatives were joined by liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Interestingly, Chief Justice John Roberts dissented in the opinion—joining the remaining 3 liberal justices. In this case, the Court found that states can require out-of-state retailers like Amazon and Overstock to collect state sales tax.
T-Mobile and Sprint filed a 678-page merger application with the Federal Communications Commission last week. The companies argue that the $26 billion merger would accelerate the deployment of 5G and increase competition. The application comes amidst a wave of mergers in the telecommunications and media industries. Disney upped its bid for 21st Century Fox to a whopping $71.3 billion in cash and stock. Disney and Comcast have been locked in a bidding war for Fox’s assets, with Comcast having made a $65 billion all-cash bid for Fox the week before.
Apple last week announced that some 6,300 emergency response centers in the U.S. will now be able to pinpoint where 911 calls are coming from. Some 80% of 911 calls now come from mobile phones but, until now, where the calls were coming from has been difficult for first responders to pinpoint. Experts estimate that some 240 million 911 calls will be made this year.
Amazon and Microsoft employees stand up to surveillance deals
Finally Employees at Amazon and Microsoft are standing up to their companies’ government contracting deals that they say violate human rights. A group of Amazon workers sent a letter on the company’s internal Wiki urging to Jeff Bezos to stop selling facial recognition technology to local law enforcement. They also want Amazon to stop working, both directly and indirectly, with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. One hundred Microsoft employees sent an open letter to Satya Nadella protesting the $19.4 million contract the company has ICE’s data and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Jorge Fontanez (@CuriousJLuis) is the founder of Marca Studio and operates as senior strategist, innovator and problem-solver passionate about creating and launching digital engagement and storytelling programs. He has been working at the intersection of technology, sustainability and marketing for over 15 years and experiments with models of stakeholder engagement in his role as Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Bard MBA in Sustainability Program. Jorge is a First Movers Fellow since 2014 at the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and collaborates with the Google Next Generation Policy Leaders influencing how tech policy affects communities of color. Jorge is an Afro-Latinx, queer affirming voice hailing from Philadelphia, representing the Puerto Rican diaspora and lives in New York City.
Jorge maintains a strong record delivering consistent execution of national, integrated marketing campaigns and was honored as a “40 under 40” Brand Innovator in 2012 for expertise in digital marketing. In 2011 and 2012, Jorge was also honored as an Official Honoree of The Webby Awards in the category of Corporate Social Responsibility for his leadership of Chase Community Giving, an employee and customer engagement program of JPMorgan Chase & Co. delivering over $25MM in grants to thousands of nonprofits nationwide. Jorge now pursues his passion and interests in corporate citizenship, improving the world of philanthropy and stakeholder engagement through purpose-driven and impact marketing programs that scale.
Federal DC Circuit Judge Richard Leon ruled that the Department of Justice failed to prove that AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner violates federal antitrust laws, giving the greenlight for the $52 billion merger, which the companies closed on the same day. Comcast then made a $65 billion move to outbid Disney for 21st Century Fox, and Sprint and T-Mobile have now proposed a merger. The FCC opened a docket to review the Sprint/TMobile merger on Friday.
Federal prosecutors have indicted Elizabeth Holmes, the once-promising founder of Theranos—a faulty blood testing technology company once valued at $10 billion. The company’s former president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was also indicted. They’re charged with 9 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They’re accused of defrauding investors of $100 million. They’ve plead not guilty. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also accused Theranos’s founders of fraud.
President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to create a new branch of the military—a “Space Force”—that will seek to achieve U.S. dominance in space. At a meeting of the National Space Council at the White House Trump said, “We are going to have the Air Force, and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal”. Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, is against the proposal and tweeted that it is something that military leadership has told him they do not want.
Google released its annual diversity report last week and it shows black employees make up just 2.5% of the company even though the U.S. Census Bureau says they comprise 13.3% of the population. Latinx employees make up 17.8% of the population, but just 3.6% of Google’s workforce. The company also released for the first time data on attrition rates which show that, at 27 points above the index, black employees are leaving the company at a higher rate than other groups. Latinx employees are leaving the company at 15 points above the index.
Finally, Apple announced last week that it would be removing the iPhone port that lets law enforcement break into iPhones. There’s only one problem with this -- an official reportedly told Politico that this may create an opportunity for officers to exploit the exigent need exception—allowing them to access the phone without a warrant.
How can doctors use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve health outcomes for service members? What can we learn from the use of AI in the context of military medicine that we can apply to civilian healthcare? Dr. Hassan Tetteh joined Joe Miller to discuss the power of AI in Medicine.
Hassan A. Tetteh (@doctortetteh) author is an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, adjunct faculty at Howard University College of Medicine, and served as Division Lead for Futures and Innovation at Navy Medicine’s Headquarters, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow from 2012-13, assigned to the U.S. Congress, Congressional Budget Office, (CBO), and served as Assistant Deputy Commander for Healthcare Operations and Strategic Planning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) during its integration. Currently, Tetteh is a Thoracic staff Surgeon for MedStar Health and WRNMMC and most recently served as Command Surgeon for the National Defense University.
Tetteh served as Ship’s Surgeon and Director of Surgical Services for the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) battle group in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in 2005. In 2011, he deployed as a trauma surgeon to Afghanistan’s Helmand and Nimroz provinces in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM with II Marine Expeditionary Forces and most recently supported special joint forces missions to South America, the Middle East, the South Pacific, Australia, and Africa. He earned both the Surface Warfare Medical Department Officer and Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer designations, and his military honors include two Meritorious Service Medals and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Tetteh is the author of the novel Gifts of the Heart and has published articles on surgical innovation, health information technology, ethics, wounded warriors, and process improvement. He also serves on the board of directors for the Brooklyn, New York-based Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, Fayetteville, Arkansas based Champions for Kids, and Miriam’s Kitchen a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit that works to end chronic homelessness.
At the CBO, as a Visiting Scholar with the Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division, Tetteh provided a clinical perspective, working with different teams of analysts on a variety of health policy projects. Individually, he contributed to studies related to the changing cost of chronic conditions, the costs of obesity and their effects on the federal budget, supply-side modeling of health workforce issues, and the impact of health information technology on the federal budget. He also analyzed policy proposals aimed at achieving savings in Medicare.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tetteh received his B.S. from State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, his M.D. from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, his M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, and M.S. from the National War College. He completed his thoracic surgery fellowship at the University of Minnesota and advanced cardiac surgery fellowship at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Tetteh is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management, board certified in thoracic surgery, general surgery, clinical informatics, and healthcare management, and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
The FCC’s repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules went into effect yesterday, Monday June 11th. The Hill predicts that you won’t see any immediate changes to internet speeds or new paid prioritization schemes, but concludes that that’s only because carriers are going to be on their best behavior as the repeal winds its ways through the courts and Congress continues to push for legislation. The status of Congressional Review Act proposals are still very uncertain as proponents have been unable to secure enough Republican votes.
The DOJ has charged James Wolfe, who for nearly 30 years served as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Director of Security, for leaking FBI intelligence to four reporters, including a New York Times reporter, Ali Watkins, with whom he had a 3 year relationship. Wolf is alleged to have used encrypted messaging apps to leak the info to reporters.
Senator Mark Warner is seeking information from Google and Twitter about their relationships with Chinese phone makers like Huawei and ZTE. Just to give you some background here, the Commerce Department has already fined ZTE $1.19 billion for dealing with Iran and North Korea in violation of trade agreements that China had with the U.S. But on Squawkbox last Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced a fresh batch of $1 billion in sanctions against ZTE for misleading regulators and failing to discipline employees. ZTE has also had to put $400 million in escrow in case they violate the trade agreement again. Ouch.
But Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer says the sanctions don’t go far enough. So he and Senator Tom Cotton introduced a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authoprization Act (NDAA) to restore additional sanctions including the original ban against government agencies buying or leasing from ZTE or Huawei, which is also caught in the cross-hair of all this.
And Democratic Senator Mark Warner is also pressuring Twitter and Google to provide information on how they work with Chinese phone makers.
Facebook announced last week that it had granted Huawei and other Chinese phone makers access to user data, opening up a brand new can of worms against the social media giant amidst the ongoing Cambridge Analytica fiasco.
Verizon has a new CEO. Hans Vestberg will replace Lowell McAdam on August 1st. Vestberg joined the company about a year ago as Chief Tehnology Officer.
The U.S. Treasury Department has prohibited 5 Russian firms and 3 Russian nationals from doing business in the U.S. because they allegedly helped the Kremlin conduct cyber attacks. Just a few days ago, President Trump called for Russia’s readmittance to the G-7.
In addition, security experts at Cisco are warning that Russian hacks of home routers is more widespread than we initially thought.
Washington State is suing Google and Facebook for allegedly failing to disclose who bought political election ads. Their Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, wants access to names, addresses, and the cost of political ads sold. Google, Facebook and Twitter have each announced new policies for political ad disclosures.
Clayton Banks (@embertime) is the Co-Founder and CEO of Silicon Harlem. The mission of Silicon Harlem is to transform Harlem and other urban markets into Innovation and Technology Hubs. Under his leadership, Silicon Harlem has partnered with the Department of Education for New York City to establish an after school STEM based startup accelerator, collaborate with the NYC Mayor’s office to assess wireless broadband in upper Manhattan, and coordinate a virtual startup incubator for tech based entrepreneurs. Banks has established and produces the only comprehensive technology conference in Harlem, the Silicon Harlem tech conference is focused on next generation internet and its impact on urban markets economic development.
Prior to Silicon Harlem, Banks has been a pioneer in the cable and communications industry for over two decades. He set the vision for Ember Media, a development group that builds digital solutions and interactive applications for top brands and non-profit organizations, across multiple platforms. Known as a pragmatic visionary, Banks has developed and deployed leading edge technology and applications for network cloud, gaming consoles, social media, augmented reality, interactive TV, tablets, mobile apps and over 400 interactive properties. Banks has implemented multi-platform strategies for MTV, ESPN, Budweiser, Essence Music Festival, Urban Latino, Prudential, New York Institute of Technology, United Technologies, National Urban League, Denny’s, Scholastic, and other top brands. He has produced multimedia and broadband content for Discovery Networks, HBO, Pepsi, Bloomberg TV, Showtime Networks, Bermuda Tourism, British Tourist Authority, Monaco Tourism, and countless other companies and organizations around the world. Banks has worked with former President of the United States Bill Clinton to publish a first-of-its-kind interactive college guide series called “The Key”, that targets underserved communities and features Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. The Key was featured on CNN, NY1, Univision, and several other media outlets around the country.
Banks served as Vice President of Affiliate Relations for Comedy Central. While at Comedy Central, he was part of the launch of South Park, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and the Upright Citizens Brigade. Banks established the New York and Chicago Affiliate Relations offices, recruited, hired, and managed a senior affiliate relations team.
Prior to Comedy Central, Banks served as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing to launch Sega Channel. Sega Channel was the first interactive cable service available to US subscribers. In his capacity at Sega Channel, Banks collaborated with all aspects of the product including technical infrastructure, product content, and distribution. Banks negotiated affiliation agreements for distribution of the service with the top cable companies in the US. Including Comcast, Cablevision Systems, Time Warner, and Charter Communications. Sega Channel has been credited by many media experts for moving the cable industry toward interactivity.
Prior to Sega Channel, Banks served as Regional Director at Showtime Networks, where he was responsible for launching The Movie Channel in New York City and overseeing overall growth of Showtime Networks among assigned multiple system operators.
Banks currently serves on the Commission on Public Information and Communication for the city of New York, appointed by and representing the 5 Borough Presidents. He serves as a Board of Director for the Armory Track and Field Foundation, a Board member for the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and is an active participant in the Principal for a Day program in New York City. He has published several white papers on the interactive experience and participates as a moderator and speaker at several industry events. Banks served as the President of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) from 1996-1998 and was instrumental in working with the FCC to include Minority owned business incentives in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. As NAMIC’s President he championed programs to increase the number of minorities in senior management in the Cable and network television business.
Banks has received many awards for outstanding creative and corporate awards including an I.D. Magazine Award, a Davey Award, Promax, @dtech award, Creativity Award, Astrid Award, Ten Awards, the Communicator Award, a Boli Award, the Harlem Business Alliance Business Person of the Year, inducted as a History Maker in the United States Library of Congress, the recipient of the Trailblazer award from Rainbow Push and most recently received a proclamation from New York City as a Technology Leader.
Banks attended California State University at Fullerton, where he received degrees in Business Administration and Communications. Banks also completed a Cable Industry sponsored Executive Management program at Harvard Business School.
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
President Trump has nominated Geoffrey Starks to fill the Democratic seat at the FCC seat that Mignon Clyburn left vacant when she stepped down from the Commission at the end of her term last month. The distinguished Harvard and Yale Law School grad is currently an Assistant Chief in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. Previously, he worked at the Department of Justice where he helped successfully secure a hate crimes conviction for a former D.C. neighborhood advisory commissioner for DuPont Circle—Robert Dwyer. Dwyer was convicted for, in the wee-hours of the night back in 2014, going over to 17th and Corcoran NW where homeless people sleep and proceeding to toss their belongings into the street, yell racial slurs, and spray one of the homeless men with cleaning solution. Previously, Starks worked at the law firm of Williams & Connolly and as an aide to state senators in Illinois including Barack Obama.
Facebook is under fire again by both Republicans and Democrats after the New York Times ran a story Sunday night saying the company shared user data with device makers. The article alleges that Facebook entered into data-sharing agreements with companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Samsung without users’ consent, reinforcing accusations that began to arise last month, during the ongoing Cambridge Analytica debacle, that Facebook violated a 2011 Federal Trade Commission consent decree to protect user data.
In a letter on Friday, Keith Ellison, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, followed up on a call he made back in October for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google parent company Alphabet’s market dominance. He says the FTC should undertake a similar investigation to the one recently conducted by the European Union which resulted in a record $2.7 billion fine against the tech giant for unfairly highlighting its own search results.
Facebook and Twitter have announced measures to address ad transparency. Facebook will now include a “paid for” label atop political ads, and also keep an archive of political ad data for seven years—the length of a congressional election cycle. Twitter will ban foreign-based advertisers from placing political ads on its platform -- it will also clearly identify and include disclaimers on political ads, as well as require political advertisers to use photos in the advertiser profiles as well as provide contact information. The two companies follow efforts by Google to improve its political ad transparency. The Internet Association is urging the Federal Election Commission to keep political ad regulations flexible.
The Department of Homeland security reported suspicious surveillance activity near what it termed as “sensitive facilities”. In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, Senior Homeland Security Official Chris Krebs wrote that the Department detected an “anomalous” use of Stingray devices—a device that law enforcement officers use to mimic cell towers in order to obtain device data. The problem is that Homeland doesn’t know or isn’t disclosing where the suspicious activity is coming from.
Reporting on national security requests it received in the second half of 2017, Apple reported that it received 20% more such requests than it did in the first half of that year. The company reports that it received 16,249 requests regarding 8,249 accounts between July 1 and December 31 of 2017.
Finally ,After receiving pressure from thousands of employees, some of which resigned, Google has announced that it will no longer seek government contracting funding to support the Pentagon in its quest to use Artificial Intelligence for drone warfare. The current contract is set to expire in 2019 and Google won’t seek to renew it, according to Gizmodo.
Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey (@drniiquartelai) is a trusted strategic partner and community advocate. He’s currently Senior Advisor and National LGBT Liaison at AARP, where he serves as a strategic advisor to the Senior Vice President of Multicultural Leadership. He also serves AARP in an enterprise-wide role charged with building national awareness and deepening intersectional community engagement to advance AARP's social impact agenda. Dr. Quartey is dedicated to advancing the affirming influence of corporate and non-profit executives on LGBTQ civil rights.
Previously, he was the National Strategic Partnership Manager at American Heart.
Dr. Quartey earned his B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Critical Approaches to Leadership from the University of Southern California, and his Masters in Social Entrepreneurship & Change from Pepperdine University, where he also earned his Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday of this week, in a 5-4 decision, that employers can force employees to sign arbitration agreements to prevent them from joining class-action lawsuits. Uber announced that it will stop implementing its long-time policy of forcing passengers who allege sexual assault at the hands of drivers into arbitration. All Uber passengers, drivers and employees will now be able to choose the venue in which they wish to bring their claims. CNN reported two weeks ago that passengers have accused 103 Uber drivers of sexual assault over the past 4 years. Sara Ashley O’brien reports in CNN.
The House is now reviewing the Senate’s Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the Trump administration FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted back in 2015. The House needs to vote on the resolution by June 12th. Representative Mike Doyle—a Democrat from Pennsylvania—introduced a companion resolution, but that can’t come to a floor vote until the House votes on the Senate’s resolution, which needs 218 votes to pass a House in which Republicans hold a 52-member majority. John Eggerton reports in Broadcasting and Cable.
The House Appropriations Committee agreed by voice vote last week to disabuse the Trump administration of any notion that it would be watering down sanctions against Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE.
The Trump administration has been at odds with law enforcement over sanctions the administration announced it would be taking against China-based phone manufacturer ZTE, but then backtracked on. A couple of weeks ago, U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross imposed a seven-year ban on the sale and purchase of ZTE products. China then requested that the U.S. ease up on the sanctions because they’d likely devastate the company. President Trump and Ross had begun reconsidering the sanctions and the president says they’re working more closely with Chinese President Xi a “way to get back into business, fast”.
But law enforcement officials, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he was “deeply concerned” about the threat ZTE poses to the U.S. telecommunications network. And Republicans and Democrats alike have for years warned about ZTE’s spying capability. Eli Okun reports for Politico.
The FCC has opened a new comment cycle for the Sinclair-Tribune merger. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is still reviewing how many TV stations Sinclair should own. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says the FCC should wait to reopen the Sinclair docket until after the court makes decision. Reply comments in the new proceeding are due on July 11th.
Amazon announced, after first resisting a shareholder proposal for Amazon to implement best practices to improve diversity, that it will now support it. The company announced on Monday of last week that it would now adopt a policy to include women and people of color in the applicant pool of candidates for its board seats. The company’s initial resistance sparked outrage from its employees.
Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm that filed for bankruptcy last week after a whistleblower revealed the company misused millions of Facebook users’ data to impact the 2016 presidential election, is now under criminal investigation in the U.S. The Justice Department and F.B.I. are apparently in the early stages of the investigation as they have questioned several witnesses. Cambridge Analytica is principally owned by Robert Mercer—a wealthy political donor. Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg report in the New York Times.
President Trump issued an Executive Order last week that strengthens federal agency Chief Information Officers’ ability to set hiring, budget and agenda goals for their departments’ IT enterprises. Aaron Boyd reports in NextGov.
Karina Cabrera Bell (@KarinaCBell) is the President of the Reach Mama Network and Host of the Reach Mama Podcast. Reach Mama’s mission is to increase the number of moms of color in leadership positions by 1) highlighting successful moms of color and having them share their strategies and tips, and 2) creating tools and support systems for moms of color that want to advance professionally.
A mom of two, Karina has 15 years experience in government and political campaigns. Karina has worked at all levels of government and has seen firsthand the benefits of having women in leadership positions. Most recently, she worked in the Obama White House and the U.S. Department of Energy. She honed her policy chops in the U.S. Senate as Policy Advisor for New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Karina has also worked on numerous campaigns including two presidential campaigns (Obama 08' and Kerry 04'). Karina is passionate about women's empowerment.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Mount Saint Mary and her Masters in Urban Policy from the New School.
Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World by Kirsten Gillibrand (Ballantine Books, 2014).
The U.S. and China appear to be backing away from a telecom trade war. The U.S. had issued strict sanctions against China-based telecommunications manufacturers including Huawei and ZTE due in part to fears that China was using the devices for spying purposes, and in part due to the countries’ respective efforts to dominate in the buildout of 5G. But according to Chinese officials, the sanctions would ruin ZTE, so it urged the Trump administration to reconsider. Trump tweeted Monday that he has now asked the Commerce Department to look into easing up on some of those sanctions in order to protect jobs that would be affected by the ZTE sanctions. And China has restarted its review of Qualcomm’s proposal to acquire China-based NXP Semiconductors. The Hill reports that lawmakers like Marco Rubion aren’t happy because of espionage and security concerns. Steven Yang reports in Bloomberg and Brent Griffiths reports in Politico.
Thirty-three Senators, under the leadership of Ed Markey, have submitted what’s known as a discharge petition, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), restore net neutrality over the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal the 2015 rules. The net neutrality rules are set to expire on June 11th. The full Senate will vote on the resolution on Wednesday, and it seems likely to pass, since one Republican—Susan Collins from Maine—has agreed to support the petition, and an ailing Senator McCain is unlikely to cast a vote. But the petition would still need to clear the House, where Republicans are in the majority by a margin of 236-193. And president Trump would also need to sign it. Jon Brodkin reports in Ars Technica.
Brian Fung and Rosalind Helderman reported last week that AT&T retained Michael Cohen’s firm, Essential Consultants, the same entity he allegedly used to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. According the Washington Post, AT&T’s company records show AT&T retained Essential Consultants for some $600,000 to help them with their $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said retaining Cohen was a “big mistake”. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden wrote to AT&T on Monday demanding answers.
Recode reports that Facebook is re-shuffling its leadership. WhatsApp and Messenger now have new leaders. The company will now have three divisions, each with a separate leader. Those divisions include Family of apps, Blockchain, and Central product services. But it looks like no executives are leaving the company, which is surprising to some given the Cambridge Analytica debacle. Kurt Wagner has the report at Recode.
Karoun Demirjian at the Washington Post reports that a new Senate Intelligence Committee report concludes that the Department of Homeland Security did an “inadequate job” at countering Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. A House Intelligence Committee final report released in April made a similar conclusion, saying that U.S. Intelligence Committees failed to follow best practices.
Members of Amazon’s board are advocating against a shareholder proposal to increase board diversity. Shareholders are advocating for a rule called the “Rooney Rule” which would require initial lists of board candidates to fill new board seats to include women and people of color. However, Amazon’s current Board Members are advising against the proposal, and many of Amazon’s employees are outraged, according to Recode.
Amazon is not included in a pilot program called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program being run by the US Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. Over the next three years the program will test out drone delivery service, with the goal of eventually rolling out drone delivery service throughout the country. Amazon is notably absent from the list of companies that will be participating, although Google parent Alphabet is included, as well as smaller startups including AirMap and Flirtey. Mike Murphy reports in Quartz.
The FCC has announced a $120 million fine to a Florida man -- Adrian Abramovich—for allegedly making some 100 million robocalls in three months. While the FCC has issued this fine, it still has not introduced new robocall regulations. Ali Breland has the report in the Hill.
Darrell M. West (@darrwest) is the vice president and director of Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution and Editor-in-Chief of TechTank. His current research focuses on technology, mass media, campaigns and elections, and public sector innovation. Prior to coming to Brookings, West was the John Hazen White Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University.
West is the author or co-author of 23 books including The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation(Brookings Institution Press, 2018), Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century (Brookings Institution Press, 2016), Going Mobile: How Wireless Technology is Reshaping Our Lives (Brookings Institution Press, 2015), Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust(Brookings Institution Press, 2014), Digital Schools: How Technology Can Transform Education (Brookings, 2012), The Next Wave: Using Digital Technology to Further Social and Political Innovation (Brookings, 2011), Brain Gain: Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy (Brookings, 2010), Digital Medicine: Health Care in the Internet Era (Brookings, 2009), Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance, (Princeton University Press, 2005), Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2005), Cross Talk: Citizens, Candidates, and the Media in a Presidential Campaign(University of Chicago Press, 1996) The Sound of Money: How Political Interests Get What They Want (W. W. Norton, 1998), Biotechnology Policy Across National Boundaries (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and Patrick Kennedy: The Rise to Power (Prentice-Hall, 2000), among others.
He is the winner of the American Political Science Association’s Don K. Price award for best book on technology (for Digital Government) and the American Political Science Association’s Doris Graber award for best book on political communications (for Cross Talk). He has published more than three dozen scholarly articles in a wide range of academic journals. In 2014, he was honored by Public Administration Review for having written one of the 75 most influential articles since 1940. This was for his article “E-Government and the Transformation of Service Delivery and Citizen Attitudes.”
He has delivered many lectures in more than a dozen different countries around the world, including Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, China, Japan, Russia, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Bahrain, and the United States. He has been quoted in leading newspapers, radio stations, and national television networks around the world.
The Center that he directs at Brookings examines a wide range of topics related to technology innovation including governance, democracy, and public sector innovation; health information technology; virtual education, and green technology. Its mission is to identify key developments in technology innovation, undertake cutting-edge research, disseminate best practices broadly, inform policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels about actions needed to improve innovation, and enhance the public’s and media’s understanding of technology innovation.
The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation (Brookings Institution Press, 2018)
Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (HarperCollins, 2017)
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal ethics authority, warned Republican FCC Commission Mike O’Rielly that O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act, according to a letter it wrote to the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority to influence or affect an election. At a panel discussion of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February, O’Rielly stated ,“I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, the Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected.” OSC did say, however, that merely appearing at the event was not a violation.
Comcast is preparing an all-cash $60 billion bid for 21st Century Fox, according to Reuters. This exceeds Disney’s current $52 billion proposal. But Comcast says it’ll wait for regulators to decide the fate of AT&T’s proposed takeover of Time Warner, before making a formal offer.
Tensions between the U.S. and China are beginning to mount over national security concerns related to Chinese telecommunications equipment, and the two countries’ race to lead the world in 5G. Cecilia Kang and Ana Swanson report in the New York Times that the White House is considering further restricting the sale of telecom equipment manufactured in China. The FCC and Commerce Department have already restricted government contractors from purchasing telecommunications equipment from companies like ZTE, which the Commerce Department says failed to punish employees for violating U.S. sanctions.
China’s Ministry of Commerce told a U.S. trade delegation that visited Beijing last week that the ZTE ban would severely hurt the company. Se Young Lee and Lusha Zhang report in Reuters.
Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times that the National Security Agency collected three times more data than it did in 2016. The NSA collected some 534 million phone call and text message records from telecommunications companies.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has begun moving $9 billion that’s used for the universal service fund from Bank of America to the Treasury Department. Democratic Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn say moving the funds is a shame because it foregoes some $50 million in annual interest income that could have been used to provide further subsidies. Todd Shields reports in Bloomberg.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made a proposal recently to rollback the federal Lifeline program, a program that subsidizes communications services for low-income Americans. In a letter she wrote along with 47 Members of Congress, New York Representative Nydia Velázquez says rolling the program back would result in 75 percent of existing customers in Puerto Rico losing their telecommunications carrier.
Cambridge Analytica has declared bankruptcy and is ceasing operations. The company began losing clients following the investigation into its alleged work to use the personal data of millions on Facebook to help get Donald Trump elected. However, the UK’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica is still ongoing, despite the bankruptcy, according to the Associated Press.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) released last week its Tech 2020 set of principles. The principles include proposals for STEAM education and job training, making tech available and affordable, addressing the economic stability of communities, recruiting and retaining black talent, and targeting investment in diverse companies and communities.
Melania Trump announced a platform focused on children’s issues. It’s dubbed “Be Best” and it will have three components: well being, social media use (including cyberbullying) and opioid abuse.
Google and Facebook announced that they would ban ads for bail bonds. Google said it would officially start banning the ads in July. Google’s Global Product Policy Director David Graff said the bail bond providers make most of their revenue from low income areas and communities of color. Facebook has plans to ban the ads as well, but it’s still working out the details.
MIT Research Scientist Chelsea Barabas and Joe Miller discuss how to balance AI and criminal justice to affect better defendant outcomes.
Chelsea Barabas (@chels_bar) is a research scientist at MIT, where she examines the spread of algorithmic decision making tools in the US criminal justice system.
Formerly, Chelsea was the Head of Social Innovation with the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. She has worked on a wide range of issues related to the use of emerging technologies to serve the public good around the world.
Chelsea’s graduate research at MIT was on understanding the U.S.’s ongoing struggle to cultivate and hire a diverse technical workforce, and she conducted her graduate thesis in partnership with Code2040. She attended Stanford as an undergraduate, where she earned a B.A. in Sociology.
Chelsea Barabas, Karthik Dinakar, Joichi Ito, Madars Virza, and Jonathan Zittrain. 2018. Interventions over Predictions: Reframing the Ethical Debate for Actuarial Risk Assessment. In Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*) conference (FAT* 2018). ACM, New York, NY, USA.
Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (2018)
T-Mobile and Sprint have announced merger plans again. It’s a $27 billion deal that would include Softbank giving up control of Sprint. The combined company would be called T-Mobile and, with 98 million subscribers, the combined company would become the second largest wireless carrier, behind Verizon’s 116 million. Brian Fung and Tony Romm report in the Washington Post.
Comcast announced that it would seek to acquire European pay TV provider Sky for $31 billion. The Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox already has a bid for Sky on the table, but it’s $15 billion lower than Comcast’s, even though Fox already has a 39% stake in Sky. 21st Century Fox had rejected a separate bid by Comcast to acquire Fox’s entertainment assets, which Disney is now planning to purchase for $52.4 billion, which was also lower than Comcast’s proposal. Shalani Ramachandran, Amol Sharma and David Benoit report in the Wall Street Journal.
EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Apple’s bid for music identification service Shazam is anticompetitive. Apple had announced back in December that it was looking to acquire Shazam for an undisclosed amount. The EU is concerned the acquisition could limit consumer choice. Foo Yun Chee has more at Reuters.
The Senate unanimously confirmed U.S. Army Command Chief Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone to serve as both the head of the National Security Administration and U.S. Cyber Command. He’ll replace Mike Rogers. Nakasone will also get a fourth star.
The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Altaba, the company that now owns Yahoo!’s remaining assets, over $35 million. The fine is for failing to disclose a 2014 data breach that compromised the data of over 500 million Yahoo! users. Jacob Katrenakes reports in the Verge.
The Federal Trade Commission has warned app firms in China and Sweden about collecting the data of U.S. children. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prohibits the collection of such data and applies to foreign companies. The China based- Gator Group and Sweden-based Tinitell, both sell smartwatches to children.
In other news related to Children's privacy, YouTube has announced new parental controls for YouTube kids. Parents will now be able to limit recommendations and suggestions will now be made by humans.
Did Diamond and Silk commit perjury?
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, conservative African American internet personalities Diamond and Silk said under oath that President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign never paid them. But there’s a 2016 Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing showing that the campaign paid them $1,275 for “field consulting”. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
The Congressional Black Caucus is sending the largest delegation of lawmakers it has ever sent to Silicon Valley to discuss diversity. Just 3% of Silicon Valley tech workers are black, according to a Center for Investigative Reporting study. Shirin Ghaffary reports in Recode.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Facebook indicated that additional reports of the misuse of user data are likely forthcoming. The social media giant said it is conducting a third-party audit which it anticipates will reveal additional improprieties.
Finally, Google co-founder Sergey Brin warned in the company’s annual Founders’ Letter about the future of AI and the fact that it is already transforming everything from self-driving cars to planetary discovery. Brin said he is optimistic about Artificial Intelligence and said that Alphabet is giving serious consideration to the ways in which AI will affect employment, how developers can control for bias in their algorithms, and the potential for AI to “manipulate people.” James Vincent notes in the Verge that Brin’s letter does not discuss the dangers of using AI for military intelligence, although the company has said its technology would be used for “non-offensive purposes only”. Still, several employees at the company are urging Alphabet to withdraw from its plans to work with the Pentagon.
Data & Society's Kadija Ferryman joined Joe Miller to discuss data-driven medicine and the policy issues surrounding fairness in precision medicine.
Dr. Kadija Ferryman (@KadijaFerryman) is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Data and Society Research Institute in New York. Dr. Ferryman is a cultural anthropologist whose research examines how cultural and moral values are embedded in digital health information, social and biological influences on health, and the ethics of translational and digital health research. She earned a BA in Anthropology from Yale University and a PhD in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research. Before completing her PhD, she was a policy researcher at the Urban Institute where she studied how housing and neighborhoods impact well-being, specifically the effects of public housing redevelopment on children, families, and older adults. She has published research in journals such as Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, European Journal of Human Genetics, and Genetics in Medicine.
What is Precision Medicine by Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan (Data & Society, 2018)
Fairness in Precision Medicine by Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan (Data & Society, 2018)
Are Workarounds Ethical?: Managing Moral Problems in Health Care Systems by Nancy Berlinger (Oxford University Press, 2016)
The EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to take effect on May 26th and Facebook is scrambling to manage a ceaseless onslaught of negative press regarding how it handles its users’ data. Ryan Browne at CNBC reports on the dangers of Facebook’s “log in with Facebook” feature, which apparently exposes users’ data to third-party trackers.
Morgan Chalfant at the New York Times reported on a painting app that actually installs malware that harvests users’ payment information, among other things.
Additionally, Ali Breland reports in the Hill that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has reopened an investigation it had closed last year into whether and how Facebook helps facilitate housing discrimination.
Democrats are pushing for tighter data protection rules at the Federal Trade Commission, but that’s unlikely to mean much in the near-term since, with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny’s announcement last week that she’ll be stepping down at the end of this month, the FTC will now be operating with just one of five commissioners—Republican Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen. Auditors don’t seem to be offering much in the way of confidence in the manner with which Facebook protects user data. PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an audit of Facebook and told the FTC, after Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica, that Facebook was adequately protecting consumer privacy and in compliance with a 2011 consent decree.
Meanwhile, David Ingram reports for Reuters that Facebook has changed its terms of service for 1.5 billion Facebook users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America. Like Europe, their terms of service were governed by Facebook’s headquarters in Ireland. But since Ireland would come under GDPR, Facebook has changed the terms of service in those areas to fall under the more lenient U.S. privacy standards. Facebook says it will apply the same privacy standards around the world.
Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has announced that she will be stepping down from the dais at the end of the month. The Obama appointee served at the Commission for eight years and was a rare and passionate advocate for marginalized communities. President Trump will need to nominate a replacement Commissioner who would then need to be confirmed by the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is reportedly set to recommend current FCC Assistant Enforcement Bureau Chief Geoffrey Starks, who enjoys broad support from Democrats.
Cecilia Kang reports for the New York Times that the DOJ has launched an antitrust investigation into possible coordinated efforts between AT&T and Verizon and the G.S.M.A.— the standards-setting group, to make it more difficult for consumers to switch carriers. The Justice Department is looking into whether the organizations intentionally attempted to stifle the development of eSIM which allows consumers to switch provides without a new SIM card.
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously last week on a public notice that it will commence spectrum auctions for 5G in the 28- and 24- GHz bands. The auctions will commence on November 14th, beginning with the 28 GHz band.
A CNN report found that ads from over 300 companies appeared on YouTube channels promoting extremist groups like Neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and other extremist content. Adidas, Cisco, Hershey, Hilton and Under Armour were among the many companies whose ads appeared on these sites. Paul Murphy reports in CNN.
Finally, Heather Somerville at Reuters reported that Lyft is launching a program to offset emissions from their 1.4 million drivers. The company will invest in things like renewable energy and reforestation to make up for its emissions, and the amount it invests will grow with the company.
Carson Martinez (@CarsonMart) is the Future of Privacy Forum’s Health Policy Fellow. Carson works on issues surrounding health data, particularly where it is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These non-HIPAA health data issues include consumer-facing genetics companies, wearables, medical “big data”, and medical device surveillance. Carson also assists with the operation of the Genetics Working Group. Carson was previously an Intern at Intel with the Government and Policy Group, working on health, technology, and policy. Before joining Intel, she was an intern for the International Neuroethics Society, and a Research Assistant for both the Data-Pop Alliance and New York University.
Carson graduated from Duke University with a Master’s Degree in Bioethics and Science Policy with a concentration in Technology and Data Policy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience with minors in Philosophy and Psychology from New York University. Carson is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPP/US).
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Erica Werner, Damian Paletta and Seung Min Kim reported for the Washington Post that President Trump has ordered officials to look into the possibility of re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership –that’s the trade partnership between eleven nations, including Japan, Vietnam and Singapore. The Obama administration had signed the agreement, and Mexico and Canada are participating. But Trump backed out. Now he wants back in, presumably to gain negotiating leverage against China.
There are fresh allegations today from British and American officials regarding Russia’s spying program. Apparently, Russians may have hacked routers belonging to small businesses and home offices. British intelligence, the National Security Council, DHS and the FBI made the announcement saying they had “high confidence” that Russia led cyberattacks into internet service providers, network routers, government and critical infrastructure. You can find the report in Forbes.
Remember the viral video from a few weeks ago in which news anchors on Sinclair TV stations around the country were reading the exact same script? Well, despite the request from 11 Democratic Senators plus Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent, to investigate Sinclair for distorting new coverage, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has declined. He cites the First Amendment. The FCC’s inspector general is currently investigating Pai for improperly paving the way for Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Media. Brett Samuels reports in The Hill.
Mark Gurman reports in Bloomberg on a leaked memo from inside Apple to employees warning them about leaks. The company threatened legal action and criminal charges and indicated that it caught 29 leakers last year, 12 of which were arrested.
A new paper out of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and Stanford University finds that more women are earning STEM degrees. But they are finding the tech companies in which they find jobs to be stifling environments. Contributing to the chilly environments women technologists often find themselves in are the overt usage of gender stereotypes, an exclusive “geek” culture and other factors that discourage some women from advancing in tech.
Riana Pfefferkorn (@Riana_Crypto) is the Cryptography Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Her work, made possible through funding from the Stanford Cyber Initiative, focuses on investigating and analyzing the U.S. government's policy and practices for forcing decryption and/or influencing crypto-related design of online platforms and services, devices, and products, both via technical means and through the courts and legislatures. Riana also researches the benefits and detriments of strong encryption on free expression, political engagement, economic development, and other public interests.
Prior to joining Stanford, Riana was an associate in the Internet Strategy & Litigation group at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she worked on litigation and counseling matters involving online privacy, Internet intermediary liability, consumer protection, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets and was actively involved in the firm's pro bono program. Before that, Riana clerked for the Honorable Bruce J. McGiverin of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. She also interned during law school for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Riana earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Whitman College.
The Risks of Responsible Encryption by Riana Pfefferkorn
Riana Pfefferkorn, Everything Radiates: Does the Fourth Amendment Regulate Side-Channel Cryptanalysis? 49 Connecticut Law Review 1393 (2017)
Generation Wealth by Laura Greenfield
Facebook is still managing the onslaught following revelations that Cambridge Analytica allegedly used Facebook data to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Faceboook upped the number of users whose data Cambridge Analytica acquired by 37 million to 87 million. Originally, Facebook reported that just 50 million users were affected. In addition, Facebook has had to suspend yet another data analytics firm, CubeYou, for collecting information via quizzes, as Michelle Castillo reports in CNBC. CubeYou misleadingly told users that it was collecting their data for “non-profit academic research”, but it turns out CubeYou was in fact sharing the information with marketers.
Facebook said Friday that it will now require buyers of ads related to controversial political topics like gun control and immigration, to confirm their location and identity. Facebook is due to testify before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday, and the House Energry and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, David Shepardson reports in Reuters.
A federal grand jury in Arizona indicted seven Backpage founders on 93 counts of facilitating prostitution and money laundering on Monday.The indictment states that many of the ads on Backpage were of child sex trafficking victims. Federal agents seized Backpage on Friday, and raided the home of Backpage co-founder, Michael Lacey. Last month, Congress passed changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to provide that websites may be held liable for knowingly facilitating users’ ability to post illegal content.
Best Buy reported a possible data breach last week. The company that handles Best Buy’s messaging system, 7.ia was hacked late last year, which may have exposed Best Buy customers’ data. Charisse Jones reports in USA Today.
Finally, Nick Miroff and Joshua Partlow report in the Washington Post that the U.S. government is expanding its data-gathering efforts within Mexico. According to the report, the Trump administration is “capturing the biometric data of tens of thousands of Central Americans” who were arrested in Mexico. The U.S. is also operating detention facilities in Mexico. But President Trump had accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop the flow of migrants fleeing Central American countries for the Mexico/U.S. border.
Columbia University School of Social Work Professor Courtney Cogburn joined Joe Miller to discuss her work with virtual reality to improve race relations.
Courtney Cogburn (@CourtneyCogburn) is an assistant professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Columbia Population Research Center. Her research integrates principles and methodologies across psychology, stress physiology and social epidemiology to investigate relationships between racism-related stress and racial health disparities across the life course. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Her current research projects examine:
At the end of 2014, Dr. Cogburn received an award from the Provost’s Grants Program for Junior Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University for a project titled “Black Face to Ferguson: A Mixed Methodological Examination of Media Racism, Media Activism and Health.”
In addition to her academic research, Dr. Cogburn works with the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is a senior advisor at the International Center Advocates Against Discrimination in NYC to educate and build community activism around issues of racism and health.
Before coming to Columbia in July 2014, Dr. Cogburn was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia, MSW from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and PhD in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Experiencing Racism in VR by Courtney Cogburn (Ted Talk)
Facebook has made several moves to contain the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and salvage what remains of its integrity and public image. The company announced that it will now fact-check political photos and videos, allow you to see the personal data they have on you, and limit the sharing of your personal information with data brokers.
Meanwhile, on the legal front, Missouri’s Republican Attorney General has opened an investigation into Facebook’s data collection practices. Attorney General Josh Hawley wants to know about every instance in which Facebook shared user data with political entities, the rates they paid and whether users were notified. In addition, Facebook will not provide evidence or testify before a U.K. parliamentary committee investigating Facebook’s use of user data. However, he will testify before Congress, and Sunny Bonnell reports in Inc. that it could happen as soon as April 10th.
In addition, housing groups are suing Facebook for allowing real estate advertisers to discriminate against mothers, the disabled and minorities, according to Jordan Pearson in Motherboard. And Ali Breland reported on a memo leaked from 2016 written by Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth suggesting the company’s expansion is justified even if it costs lives from bullying or a terrorist attack.
Sinclair Broadcasting, the little-known media company that’s in the process of buying Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, has been accused of being a mouthpiece for conservative viewpoints. Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been seen by many to have paved the way for Sinclair by relaxing longstanding media ownership rules. Now, Deadspin has put together a video showing dozens of anchors on tv stations owned by Sinclair reciting the exact same script making the same claims about fake news that the Trump administration has been making. Sinclair now reaches 2 out of every 5 American homes, with 193 stations concentrated in midsize markets. The merger with Tribune Media would bring that number up to 236, including stations in New York City and Chicago, if Sinclair doesn’t divest some of the stations. Emily Stewart reports in Vox. In a Tweet, President Trump defended Sinclair.
Vindu Goel and Rachel Abrams report for the New York Times that a well-known band of cybercriminals hacked the credit and debit card numbers of some 5 million Saks and Lord & Taylor customers. The parent company of the two department stores, Hudson’s Bay Company, said in a statement that the company has identified the issue, is taking steps to contain it, and will keep the public informed.
Trump attacked Amazon on twitter last week, saying the company should be regulated, which led to a dip in the company’s stock prices. But policy experts say that antitrust action against Amazon is a long shot. Laura Stevens reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Eight thousand employees of the City of Atlanta had to shut down their computers last week. The reason? A ransomware attack. The attackers demanded $51,000 to unscramble government processes usually handled online. While the attack did not affect major systems like wastewater treatment and 911 calls, police officers had to write tickets by hand, none of Atlanta’s 6 million residents could apply for city jobs, and the courts could not validate warrants. Nicole Perlroth and Aland Blinder report in the New York Times.
The FCC has given the green light to SpaceX’s satellite broadband internet service. The company aims to deploy thousands of small satellites to reach underserved areas, such as rural communities, at fiber-like speeds. Samanta Masunaga reports in the LA Times.
Morgan Chalfant reports in the Hill that Tumblr took down 84 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm at the center of a federal investigation into the Russian propaganda campaign that swayed the 2016 presidential election. Last month DOJ Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian entities connected to the Internet Research Agency.
The Trump administration announced that it is planning to review the social media accounts of people applying for visas to enter the U.S. People entering the U.S. from countries with visa-free status, like the UK, Canada, France, and Germany, won’t be subjected to the additional vetting. But individuals seeking entry visas into the U.S. from countries like India, China and Mexico would need to turn over their social media information. The BBC has the story. But Joe Uchill and Stef W. Kight reported for Axios that ICE already uses Facebook data – not to track immigrants, though, but to track child predators.
Finally, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the consolidated appeals of the FCC’s December order to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules. The Ninth Circuit had won the lottery to hear the case, but Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request to move the cases to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the appeals of both the 2011 rules and the 2015 rules, which it had upheld. John Eggerton reports in Broadcasting and Cable.
Henry T. Greely (@HankGreelyLSJU) is the Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences; and Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. He is also the Chair of Stanford’s Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Director of Stanford’s Program in Neuroscience and Society.
Hank specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience, genetics, or stem cell research. He frequently serves as an advisor on California, national, and international policy issues. He is chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, a member of the Advisory Council of the NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences, a member of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academies, a member of the Neuroscience Forum of the Institute of Medicine, and served from 2007-2010 as co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. In 2007 Professor Greely was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1985, Greely was a partner at Tuttle & Taylor, served as a staff assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and as special assistant to the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. He served as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
He received Stanford University’s Richard W. Lyman Prize in 2013.
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The New York Times dropped a bombshell story on Sunday and it has sent Washington and the stock market into a tailspin. The Dow dropped more than 1%, or by over 300 points, Facebook lost some $37 billion in value, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth decline by $5 billion. In addition, Congressional leaders including Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar, John Thune, Adam Schiff, Mark Warner and Chuck Grassley are just HAMMERING Facebook at this moment and I wouldn’t want to be in Zukerberg’s shoes right now.
The New York Times investigation alleges that a London-based company called Cambridge Analytica, with deep ties to Republican donor Robert Mercer, who invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, Mercer’s daughter who’s on the board of Cambridge Analytica, and none other than Steve Bannon, who allegedly named the company, exploited Facebook user data to influence the 2016 presidential election to target users based on their psychographic profiles—things like religion, life statisfaction, conscientiousness, and extraversion. Of course, it’s illegal under U.S. election laws to employ foreigners in political campaigns. So, The Times alleges, Cambridge set up a shell corporation and hired a Russian-American front man, Alexander Kogan, who was a researcher with the University of Cambridge. Kogan then created a Facebook personality quiz that paid users to share their private information and download the app. Some 50 million users were affected. This quiz allegedly scraped their information, and Cambridge Analytica gave him $800,000 for it. A former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, was the whistleblower in all this.
Facebook says it would suspend working with Cambridge Analytica and conduct an internal review, including the hiring of a forensics team. Channel 4 News London reported in an internal investigation that Cambridge Analytica uses bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians.
This is just the surface. Summarizing every detail of this is way above my pay grade. But it’s just layers upon layers of deception and bullshittery. You can find summaries and analysis in The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Russia has stepped its capability with regard to cyberattacks on nuclear power plans, water, and electric systems, according to U.S. intelligence officials.The country now has moved from having the ability to surveil American power plants to having the ability to disable them anytime tensions escalate, and in a similar manner with which it disabled power in the Ukraine on two separate occasions in 2015 and 2016. The accusations came on the same day the Trump administration imposed new economic sanctions against Russia for its role in hacking the 2016 presidential election. Sanctions include freezing assets and prohibiting business deals from being transacted with two-dozen Russian individuals and entities. Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger report in the New York Times and Jonathan Easley reports in The Hill.
Ali Breland reports in the Hill that a 49-year-old woman was struck and killed by an Uber fully self-driving car while she was walking through a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona on Monday. The state attracted Uber because of its deregulatory approach to self-driving vehicle technology. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be investigating. Uber has suspended its testing of self-driving cars in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
A former Walmart executive has sued the world’s largest retailer for firing him after he reported that the company was fudging its e-commerce results to show better numbers against Amazon. The complaint alleges that Walmart mislabeled products and deliberately failed to properly process returns in order to inflate sales numbers. Jonathan Stempel and Nandita Bose report in Reuters.
Ali Breland reports for the Hill that Japanese regulators raided Amazon last week. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission may be concerned about Amazon’s alleged practice of strong-arming suppliers to show cheaper prices on Amazon as compared to their competitors in Japan.
Amazon is recalling 260,000 AmazonBasics portable chargers after it received 53 complaints that they were overheating. One person reported being burned by the charger’s battery acid. Four others reported fire and smoke. Kate Gibson reports for CBS.
Google released Thursday a new wheelchair-friendly maps navigation feature. The feature will include accessible routes and information on accommodations in public transportation. Josh Delk reports in the Hill.
Google has decided to ban ads for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Facebook had previously initiated a similar ban. The company did not state why it decided to make the policy change. However, it comes as many in the policy community have expressed concern that online ads could be used to promote cryptocurrency scams. Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The New York Times.
Ali Breland reported in the Hill that, according to court filings filed by women suing Microsoft for gender pay and promotion discrimination, women working at the company lodged some 238 gender discrimination or harassment complaints between 2010 and 2016. Of the 118 that were gender discrimination complaints, Microsoft found only one to be “founded”. According to Natasha Bach at Fortune, Microsoft has changed the way it addresses harassment complaints by banning forced arbitration agreements. The question, of course, is whether that’s enough.
Finally, Gizmodo reports that James O’Keefe—the undercover conservative activist— created a fake company and sent in employees of his Project Veritas organization to pose as recruiters. These fake recruiters then reached out to employees at major tech companies like Twitter to interview them and record their responses. In one case, an employee stated that Twitter hired few conservatives and secretly hid content posted by conservative users in a practice called “shadow banning”. Project Veritas then allegedly posted the videos as evidence of an anti-conservative bias at Twitter. Twitter has denied in Congressional testimony that it engages in shadow banning activities.
Joseph Jerome (@joejerome) is a Policy Counsel on CDT’s Privacy & Data Project. His work focuses on the legal and ethical questions posed by smart technologies and big data, and he is interested in developing transparency and accountability mechanisms and procedures around novel uses of data.
Prior to joining CDT, Joe was an associate in the cybersecurity and privacy practice of a major law firm. His practice focused on advertising technologies and privacy compliance in the health and financial sectors. Additionally, he worked on a wide range of consumer privacy issues at the Future of Privacy Forum and has written articles about data ethics, trust in the online gig economy, and emerging technologies in video games.
Joe has a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, where he was an International Law and Human Rights Student Fellow, and a B.A. from Boston University.
Top 10 operational impacts of the GDPR (via IAPP)
Top 10 operational responses to the GDPR (via IAPP)
Security, Privacy & Tech Inquiries Blog by Lukasz Olejnik
World without Mind by Franklin Foer
U.S. Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Trump has yet to give an order to implement measures that would prevent further Russian cyberattacks. This is despite reports last week of Russia’s deepening efforts to interfere with American politics. For example, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology released a report saying that between 2015 and 2017, accounts on social media that were linked to Russian propagandists, tried to influence policies that would undermine U.S. efforts to sell natural gas in Europe where Russia has considerable market share. Also, Reddit reported that thousands shared Russian propaganda on its site, prompting demands for more answers from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Tumblr. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also said to be pursuing a case against Russians who conducted cyberattacks against Democrats during the 2016 election. These charges would be in addition to the ones Mueller has already brought against Russians accused of spreading propaganda on social media, according to NBC News’ Ken Dilanian.
But despite the absence of specific directives from the White House to U.S. Cyber Command, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats claimed before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the White House is taking a “whole government approach” under which the president has tasked the 17 agencies Mr. Coats oversees with addressing the Russian cyber threat.
John Bowden at the Hill reported that Russians also collected Americans’ personal data from social media platforms during the 2016 campaign.
On Monday top Democrats including Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to extradite the 13 Russian nationals FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted last month for allegedly using social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the extradition would never happen.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, will hear the multidistrict litigation initiated by 22 state attorneys general to appeal the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation chose the Ninth circuit at random.
President Trump has blocked Singapore tech giant Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm, citing national security concerns. At $117 billion, the merger of the two chipmakers would have been the biggest tech deal in history. The Verge reports that Broadcom is in the process of moving its headquarters to the U.S. by April 3rd.
Twitter purged several accounts for “tweetdecking”, a violation of Twitter’s spam policy in which users mass tweet each other’s tweets using platforms like Tweetdeck. Some of the accounts that were suspended had millions of followers. A new MIT study also released last week found that fake news travels some 6 times faster on Twitter than the truth.
Harper Neidig at the Hill reported on the White House’s meeting with video game industry representatives. The president convened the behind-closed-doors meeting to discuss the role of video games in promoting mass shootings. In attendance were representatives from the Parents Television Council, Entertainment Software Association, as well as executives from game makers Rockstar and ZeniMax. The Verge reported that the meeting was largely unproductive and Activision announced the release of its latest ‘Call of Duty’ installment on the same day the White House meeting took place.
Laurel Wamsley at NPR reported that the FBI paid informants at Best Buy’s computer repair service unit Geek Squad to flag child pornography found on their customers’ computers.The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the FBI last year about these searches and the new documents illustrate more about the nature of the relationship between the FBI and Geek Squad. FBI Agent Tracey Riley testified in a Jefferson County Kentucky Circuit Court last week confirming that that FBI agents paid Geek Squad workers in a Best Buy store in Kentucky when they found child pornography.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed over $1 billion in funding to aid in the recovery of communications networks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sixty-four million would go immediately towards restoring networks. The rest, or $954 million, would go towards longer-term projects to enhance broadband networks in the Caribbean. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
The Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to the Internet Association, CTIA, NCTA and US Telecom urging them to hire and retain more black lobbyists given African-Americans’ widespread use of mobile devices.
The White House is joining in states’ push for the Supreme Court to overturn a 1992 precedent, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, that held that many online retailers don’t have to add sales tax to the prices their customers pay. Thirty-five states support overturning the decision. Online retailers who oppose doing so claim that it would be too onerous to collect taxes from fifty different states. Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Equifax’s interim Chief Executive Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. announced on Thursday that an additional 2.4 million consumers were affected by their massive data breach last year. It brings the total up to 147.9 million. Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post.
The House voted to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission with legislation that seeks to develop 5G networks and invest funds for the spectrum incentive auction. If the bill passes Congress, it will be the first time since 1990 that Congress has reauthorized the Commission. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Amazon announced last week that, for Medicaid recipients only, it would cut the monthly Prime subscription down to $5.99 per month. This is $7.00 less than the standard $12.99 fee. The move is seen as an effort by Amazon to attract Walmart customers.
A new MIT study found that Uber and Lyft drivers earn less on average that minimum wage workers. The report found a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes. Ashley May has the report in USA Today.