Henry T. Greely (@HankGreelyLSJU) is the Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences; and Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics at the Stanford School of Medicine. He is also the Chair of Stanford’s Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Director of Stanford’s Program in Neuroscience and Society.
Hank specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to neuroscience, genetics, or stem cell research. He frequently serves as an advisor on California, national, and international policy issues. He is chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee, a member of the Advisory Council of the NIH’s National Institute for General Medical Sciences, a member of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academies, a member of the Neuroscience Forum of the Institute of Medicine, and served from 2007-2010 as co-director of the Law and Neuroscience Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation. In 2007 Professor Greely was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1985, Greely was a partner at Tuttle & Taylor, served as a staff assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and as special assistant to the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. He served as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
He received Stanford University’s Richard W. Lyman Prize in 2013.
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The New York Times dropped a bombshell story on Sunday and it has sent Washington and the stock market into a tailspin. The Dow dropped more than 1%, or by over 300 points, Facebook lost some $37 billion in value, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw his net worth decline by $5 billion. In addition, Congressional leaders including Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar, John Thune, Adam Schiff, Mark Warner and Chuck Grassley are just HAMMERING Facebook at this moment and I wouldn’t want to be in Zukerberg’s shoes right now.
The New York Times investigation alleges that a London-based company called Cambridge Analytica, with deep ties to Republican donor Robert Mercer, who invested $15 million in Cambridge Analytica, Mercer’s daughter who’s on the board of Cambridge Analytica, and none other than Steve Bannon, who allegedly named the company, exploited Facebook user data to influence the 2016 presidential election to target users based on their psychographic profiles—things like religion, life statisfaction, conscientiousness, and extraversion. Of course, it’s illegal under U.S. election laws to employ foreigners in political campaigns. So, The Times alleges, Cambridge set up a shell corporation and hired a Russian-American front man, Alexander Kogan, who was a researcher with the University of Cambridge. Kogan then created a Facebook personality quiz that paid users to share their private information and download the app. Some 50 million users were affected. This quiz allegedly scraped their information, and Cambridge Analytica gave him $800,000 for it. A former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, was the whistleblower in all this.
Facebook says it would suspend working with Cambridge Analytica and conduct an internal review, including the hiring of a forensics team. Channel 4 News London reported in an internal investigation that Cambridge Analytica uses bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians.
This is just the surface. Summarizing every detail of this is way above my pay grade. But it’s just layers upon layers of deception and bullshittery. You can find summaries and analysis in The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.
Russia has stepped its capability with regard to cyberattacks on nuclear power plans, water, and electric systems, according to U.S. intelligence officials.The country now has moved from having the ability to surveil American power plants to having the ability to disable them anytime tensions escalate, and in a similar manner with which it disabled power in the Ukraine on two separate occasions in 2015 and 2016. The accusations came on the same day the Trump administration imposed new economic sanctions against Russia for its role in hacking the 2016 presidential election. Sanctions include freezing assets and prohibiting business deals from being transacted with two-dozen Russian individuals and entities. Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger report in the New York Times and Jonathan Easley reports in The Hill.
Ali Breland reports in the Hill that a 49-year-old woman was struck and killed by an Uber fully self-driving car while she was walking through a crosswalk in Tempe, Arizona on Monday. The state attracted Uber because of its deregulatory approach to self-driving vehicle technology. The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be investigating. Uber has suspended its testing of self-driving cars in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
A former Walmart executive has sued the world’s largest retailer for firing him after he reported that the company was fudging its e-commerce results to show better numbers against Amazon. The complaint alleges that Walmart mislabeled products and deliberately failed to properly process returns in order to inflate sales numbers. Jonathan Stempel and Nandita Bose report in Reuters.
Ali Breland reports for the Hill that Japanese regulators raided Amazon last week. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission may be concerned about Amazon’s alleged practice of strong-arming suppliers to show cheaper prices on Amazon as compared to their competitors in Japan.
Amazon is recalling 260,000 AmazonBasics portable chargers after it received 53 complaints that they were overheating. One person reported being burned by the charger’s battery acid. Four others reported fire and smoke. Kate Gibson reports for CBS.
Google released Thursday a new wheelchair-friendly maps navigation feature. The feature will include accessible routes and information on accommodations in public transportation. Josh Delk reports in the Hill.
Google has decided to ban ads for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Facebook had previously initiated a similar ban. The company did not state why it decided to make the policy change. However, it comes as many in the policy community have expressed concern that online ads could be used to promote cryptocurrency scams. Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The New York Times.
Ali Breland reported in the Hill that, according to court filings filed by women suing Microsoft for gender pay and promotion discrimination, women working at the company lodged some 238 gender discrimination or harassment complaints between 2010 and 2016. Of the 118 that were gender discrimination complaints, Microsoft found only one to be “founded”. According to Natasha Bach at Fortune, Microsoft has changed the way it addresses harassment complaints by banning forced arbitration agreements. The question, of course, is whether that’s enough.
Finally, Gizmodo reports that James O’Keefe—the undercover conservative activist— created a fake company and sent in employees of his Project Veritas organization to pose as recruiters. These fake recruiters then reached out to employees at major tech companies like Twitter to interview them and record their responses. In one case, an employee stated that Twitter hired few conservatives and secretly hid content posted by conservative users in a practice called “shadow banning”. Project Veritas then allegedly posted the videos as evidence of an anti-conservative bias at Twitter. Twitter has denied in Congressional testimony that it engages in shadow banning activities.
Joseph Jerome (@joejerome) is a Policy Counsel on CDT’s Privacy & Data Project. His work focuses on the legal and ethical questions posed by smart technologies and big data, and he is interested in developing transparency and accountability mechanisms and procedures around novel uses of data.
Prior to joining CDT, Joe was an associate in the cybersecurity and privacy practice of a major law firm. His practice focused on advertising technologies and privacy compliance in the health and financial sectors. Additionally, he worked on a wide range of consumer privacy issues at the Future of Privacy Forum and has written articles about data ethics, trust in the online gig economy, and emerging technologies in video games.
Joe has a J.D. from the New York University School of Law, where he was an International Law and Human Rights Student Fellow, and a B.A. from Boston University.
Top 10 operational impacts of the GDPR (via IAPP)
Top 10 operational responses to the GDPR (via IAPP)
Security, Privacy & Tech Inquiries Blog by Lukasz Olejnik
World without Mind by Franklin Foer
U.S. Cyber Command head Admiral Mike Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee that President Trump has yet to give an order to implement measures that would prevent further Russian cyberattacks. This is despite reports last week of Russia’s deepening efforts to interfere with American politics. For example, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology released a report saying that between 2015 and 2017, accounts on social media that were linked to Russian propagandists, tried to influence policies that would undermine U.S. efforts to sell natural gas in Europe where Russia has considerable market share. Also, Reddit reported that thousands shared Russian propaganda on its site, prompting demands for more answers from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Tumblr. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also said to be pursuing a case against Russians who conducted cyberattacks against Democrats during the 2016 election. These charges would be in addition to the ones Mueller has already brought against Russians accused of spreading propaganda on social media, according to NBC News’ Ken Dilanian.
But despite the absence of specific directives from the White House to U.S. Cyber Command, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats claimed before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the White House is taking a “whole government approach” under which the president has tasked the 17 agencies Mr. Coats oversees with addressing the Russian cyber threat.
John Bowden at the Hill reported that Russians also collected Americans’ personal data from social media platforms during the 2016 campaign.
On Monday top Democrats including Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to President Trump urging him to extradite the 13 Russian nationals FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted last month for allegedly using social media to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the extradition would never happen.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, will hear the multidistrict litigation initiated by 22 state attorneys general to appeal the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation chose the Ninth circuit at random.
President Trump has blocked Singapore tech giant Broadcom’s acquisition of Qualcomm, citing national security concerns. At $117 billion, the merger of the two chipmakers would have been the biggest tech deal in history. The Verge reports that Broadcom is in the process of moving its headquarters to the U.S. by April 3rd.
Twitter purged several accounts for “tweetdecking”, a violation of Twitter’s spam policy in which users mass tweet each other’s tweets using platforms like Tweetdeck. Some of the accounts that were suspended had millions of followers. A new MIT study also released last week found that fake news travels some 6 times faster on Twitter than the truth.
Harper Neidig at the Hill reported on the White House’s meeting with video game industry representatives. The president convened the behind-closed-doors meeting to discuss the role of video games in promoting mass shootings. In attendance were representatives from the Parents Television Council, Entertainment Software Association, as well as executives from game makers Rockstar and ZeniMax. The Verge reported that the meeting was largely unproductive and Activision announced the release of its latest ‘Call of Duty’ installment on the same day the White House meeting took place.
Laurel Wamsley at NPR reported that the FBI paid informants at Best Buy’s computer repair service unit Geek Squad to flag child pornography found on their customers’ computers.The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the FBI last year about these searches and the new documents illustrate more about the nature of the relationship between the FBI and Geek Squad. FBI Agent Tracey Riley testified in a Jefferson County Kentucky Circuit Court last week confirming that that FBI agents paid Geek Squad workers in a Best Buy store in Kentucky when they found child pornography.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed over $1 billion in funding to aid in the recovery of communications networks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sixty-four million would go immediately towards restoring networks. The rest, or $954 million, would go towards longer-term projects to enhance broadband networks in the Caribbean. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
The Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to the Internet Association, CTIA, NCTA and US Telecom urging them to hire and retain more black lobbyists given African-Americans’ widespread use of mobile devices.
The White House is joining in states’ push for the Supreme Court to overturn a 1992 precedent, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, that held that many online retailers don’t have to add sales tax to the prices their customers pay. Thirty-five states support overturning the decision. Online retailers who oppose doing so claim that it would be too onerous to collect taxes from fifty different states. Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Equifax’s interim Chief Executive Paulino do Rego Barros Jr. announced on Thursday that an additional 2.4 million consumers were affected by their massive data breach last year. It brings the total up to 147.9 million. Brian Fung reports in the Washington Post.
The House voted to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission with legislation that seeks to develop 5G networks and invest funds for the spectrum incentive auction. If the bill passes Congress, it will be the first time since 1990 that Congress has reauthorized the Commission. Harper Neidig reports in the Hill.
Amazon announced last week that, for Medicaid recipients only, it would cut the monthly Prime subscription down to $5.99 per month. This is $7.00 less than the standard $12.99 fee. The move is seen as an effort by Amazon to attract Walmart customers.
A new MIT study found that Uber and Lyft drivers earn less on average that minimum wage workers. The report found a median profit of $3.37 per hour before taxes. Ashley May has the report in USA Today.
Sally Culley is a Partner in the law firm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell where she primarily practices in the areas of employment and commercial litigation. Her clients include large corporations as well as smaller, local businesses.
With regard to employment law, Sally represents employers, both in the public and private sector, in defending employment-related claims, including claims of discrimination, wage and hour violations, whistle-blower violations, wrongful termination, harassment, and retaliation. She also provides consulting and training services designed to help prevent such claims and minimize risk. Finally, Sally assists with the creation and enforcement of employee handbooks, severance agreements, and non-compete agreements.
With regard to commercial litigation, Sally handles matters involving contract disputes, fraud, and statutory claims such as Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act/Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). Sally also represents clients in commercial mortgage foreclosures and workouts, construction lien compliance and litigation, quiet title actions, bankruptcy, and collection matters.
Sally also has significant experience reviewing and interpreting insurance policies, and she assists insurers with matters involving coverage and bad faith claims, evaluating such matters, and participating in litigation where necessary. She earned her J.D. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law and her Bachelors from Samford University from which she graduated magna cum laude.
First Gig Economy Trial Decision: Independent Contractor by Sally Rogers Culley and Suzanne A. Singer (2018)
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that the House Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Devin Nunes, leaked confidential texts in which Senator Mark Warner sought from a lawyer associated with British spy Christopher Steele, a meeting with Mr. Steele, as Mr. Warner sought to investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election. The law firm for which the lawyer, Adam Waldman, works has also represented Oleg Deripaska—a Russian oil magnate. So after the text was leaked, President Trump tweeted “Wow! – Senator Mark Warner got caught having extensive contact with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch …” Both Mark Warner and Republican Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, who ostensibly wasn’t in on the leak, sought a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to express their overall concern about the politicization of the House Intelligence Committee. Nicholas Fandos reports in the Washington Post.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on Tuesday by a vote of 388-25. The bill would amend the Communications Decency Act to hold web platforms that knowingly help facilitate sex trafficking accountable. Currently, an exception to the CDA—Section 230—provides that web platforms are shielded from third-party liability for illegal content posted by their users. Opponents say the bill would erode free speech on the Internet and would ultimately not do enough to stop sex trafficking online. There’s a Senate companion bill—the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA)—that the House will vote on next, which is also expected to pass. Harper Neidig reports in The Hill.
Facebook conducted a strange survey in which it asked users how they should handle a “private message in which an adult man asks a 14 year old girl for sexual pictures.” The question turned on the extent to which Facebook should display the photo. Facebook says the question was a “mistake”.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday regarding a dispute between Microsoft and the Department of Justice. The DOJ wants to be able to obtain data on Microsoft users suspected of drug trafficking. The problem is that the suspects’ data are stored on a server in Ireland. Normally, the 1986 Stored Communications Act would apply, which would allow the DOJ to get a warrant. But Microsoft argues that since the data are stored overseas, the SCA doesn’t apply. The court’s liberal justices--namely, Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor-- seemed to side with Microsoft, arguing that Congress should enact new legislation. But Justices Roberts and Alito seemed to favor an interim, judicial measure that would allow law enforcement to conduct investigations while Congress sorts it out. Amy Howe reports on SCOTUS Blog.
On the net neutrality front …
Democrats in both chambers introduced bills to stop the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules. The Senate bill has 50 co-sponsors, with one Republican, Susan Collins. It needs 1 more vote to get through the Senate. There’s also another bill in the House, that Representative Mike Doyle introduced, that’s supported by 150 of representatives. However, Donald Trump is not expected to sign off on these bills, even if they do pass. And the clock is ticking on Congress to do something by January 23rd, which is when the 60-day window closes on the Congressional Review Act process. Public Knowledge has a great primer on how the Congressional Review Act works here., which I’ve linked to in the show notes.
Additionally, the state of Washington became the first state to pass net neutrality legislation of its own.
And six more companies have decided to sue the FCC for repealing the net neutrality rules including Kickstarter, Foursquare, Etsy, Shutterstock, Expa, and Automattic.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is calling for new auctions to free up more spectrum. Pai announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that he wants to free up more spectrum in the 24 and 28 GHz bands. The auction would be designed to accommodate 5G wireless. Pai proposes conducting the auction for the 28Gz band in November, and then proceed with a separate auction for the 24GHz band. Ali Breland has more at the Hill.
I reported last week that the National Rifle Association awarded FCC Chairman Ajit Pai the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award. Politico now reports that Pai has turned it down.
A new lawsuit filed in California’s San Mateo County Superior Court alleges that Google executives actively discriminated against white and Asian men in the hiring process. But currently, whites and Asians comprise some 91% of Google’s workforce. Kirsten Grind and Douglas MacMillan report in the Wall Street Journal.
Ali Winston of the Verge wrote an investigative report on a secretive program carried out by Palantir, a data mining company that was seeded with funding from the CIA’s venture capital firm. Apparently, Palantir has been working with the New Orleans’ police department to secretly track largely minority populations in New Orleans with an algorithm that claims to predict violence and crime. Not even the New Orleans city council admits that they were aware of the program.
A new JAMA Pediatrics report finds that sexting is on the rise among tweens and teens. The study compiled data from 39 studies of 110,380 participants and found that some 27% of kids between 12 and 17 receive sexts. The average age is 15. Fifteen percent reported that they sent sexts. Beth Mole reports in Ars Technica.
In addition to the spectrum auction, Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr last week announced that the Commission will vote on March 23rd on a measure that would relax some environmental review standards for small companies that want to deploy 5G. Carr claimed in his remarks that the proposal would remove regulatory burdens and help the U.S. remain competitive. To support relaxing these environmental standards, Carr also made unsubstantiated claims that 5G deployment would create 3 million new jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in network investment and GDP growth.
The European Union released a set of voluntary guidelines for Facebook and Google to remove terrorist and other illegal content, including content that incites hatred. The guidelines provide that the companies should remove such content within one hour. Binding regulations could be forthcoming depending on how well the voluntary guidelines work. Natalia Drozdiak reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Harper Neidig reports in the Hill that Comcast now wants to buy Sky, the European broadcaster, for $31 billion. This offer is 16% higher than what Fox was offering. Disney is also a factor here, since they’re making a bid for Fox’s non-broadcast assets.