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.