Francella Ochillo (@franochillo) is the Executive Director of Next Century Cities. Previously, Francella was the Vice President of Policy and General Counsel for the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Francella is a digital rights advocate who is committed to expanding access for unserved and underserved communities. Francella has worked on a variety of technology and telecommunications issues with a specific focus on assessing the impact of policy proposals on marginalized communities. Having worked for more than a decade with government and public interest organizations, she understands the challenges associated with getting various stakeholders to agree on connectivity solutions. Francella helps policymakers and lawmakers understand how broadband access can change socioeconomic outcomes and revitalize communities. It motivates her work to ensure that state and local leaders are given every opportunity to resolve their own connectivity issues and have a voice in shaping federal policies.
Francella is based in Washington, DC and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. She earned a B.S. in Marketing from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and a J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
The day after Robert Mueller gave testimony warning about election interference happening right at this very moment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election security bills last week intended to bolster election integrity. One of the bills would have required paper ballots to be used and passed the House 225-184. Another bill—a Senate bill from Senator Richard Blumenthal—would have required candidates, campaign officials and their family members to report to the FBI any assistance they’ve been offered from foreign agents. Leader McConnell blocked consent on both bills saying they were partisan.
A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that Russians interfered in U.S. elections as far back as 2014. It also found Russian activities continued into 2017. The committee released the 67-page report the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony.
French President Emmanuel Macron signed into law a 3% digital services tax last week on U.S. tech companies that make at least $750 million Euros in revenue annually. President Trump said he intends to retaliate, that only the U.S. should tax American-based companies, and that American wine is better than French wine.
Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard sued Google last week claiming that the company censored her presidential campaign advertisements. The complaint alleges that by suspending Gabbard’s presidential campaign’s Google Ads account for several hours last month, that Google effectively censored her. Google says that they have an automated system that flags unusual activity. Gabbard is claiming $50 million in damages.
The Justice Department has approved the proposed, $26 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger. However, a lawsuit brought by several state Attorneys General needs to be resolved before the merger takes effect. In exchange for the merger approval, the Hill reports that the Department of Justice is requiring T-Mobile to turn over subscribers and spectrum to Dish Network, which will become a facilities-based, carrier that will compete with the merged company.
Finally, Facebook has settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $100 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission had claimed that Facebook misled investors for more than 2 years after the company became aware of the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015. Facebook disclosed the breach in February of 2018.
5G Broadband Beyond Faster Speeds with Lauren McCarty (Ep. 194)
Nokia's Lauren McCarty joined Joe Miller to discuss the potential for 5G beyond faster speeds on Ep. 194 of the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast.
FaceApp, a viral app created by Russian firm Wireless Lab sparked privacy concerns and angst among law makers last week. Faceapp allows users to upload selfies and lets users see what they’d look like if they swapped genders or what they’re likely to look like 50 years from now.
The app’s terms of service, though, which few of us actually reads, leaves it within Faceapp’s sole discretion to terminate your access to its services, even if losing access causes you loss or harm. The terms also reserve FaceApp’s right to store your pictures, even after you remove them, to “including and without limitation” comply with certain U.S. and foreign regulations, which could be those of any government in the world, including the Russian government. The terms acknowledge that Faceapp uses an artificial intelligence algorithm that enables its ability to alter your photos.
Senator Chuck Schumer called for the FBI and FTC to investigate, saying in a letter to the agencies that the app could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens”.
Partially in response to the domestic hacking of election systems, and partially in response to Russia’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election that was alleged in the Mueller report, the Senate has passed a bill which would criminalize the hacking of voter machines to gain access to voter data. The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act passed by unanimous consent on Wednesday night. Senators Whitehouse, Blumenthal, and Graham introduced the legislation earlier this year.
The Washington Post reported last week that Trump’s re-election campaign is trying to shore up support via a new app that campaign officials say will be released in the coming weeks. The mobile will allow Trump supports to organize in their local communities and register to vote.
Social media bots are widely seen to have played a decisive role in spreading misinformation in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In fact Symantec released a report in June showing that Russia’s propaganda program in that election cycle was even more extensive than was originally thought. So Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation to prohibit campaigns from using these spam bots to “subvert future elections”. It’s called the Bot Disclosure and Accountability Act.
Powerful lawmakers including Maxine Waters and most of the Senate Banking Committee, as well as administration officials including the president and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are all highly skeptical of Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra. Senator Sherrod Brown on the Senate Banking Committee was especially vocal in his opposition to the currency during a hearing in which Facebook’s lead for the project, David Marcus, testified. Brown was incredulous that after Facebook which “moved fast and broke our political discourse … broke journalism, helped incite a genocide and … undermin[ed] our democracy” now wants to have a global cryptocurrency available to its 2 billion+ users that would be a global, commercial version of the Federal Reserve. Republicans on the panel also expressed opposition including Banking Commission Chairman Mike Crapo, who suggested the creation of a separate regulatory agency to deal with cryptocurrency.
In the House, Maxine Waters announced that she will be calling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in to testify.
Amazon has hired Trump ally Jeff Miller to lobby on behalf of the company to win approval to work on a $10 billion “war cloud” contract for the Pentagon. Earlier in the week, Trump had expressed opposition to the contract. Republicans are also urging the president not to thwart the contract.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar were joined by 10 other members of Congress in a letter to the Department of Labor asking the agency to investigate working conditions at an Amazon warehouse in Minnesota where workers protested about working conditions.
A magistrate judge in the Federal District of Montana, Missoula Division recommended that Chief Judge Dana Christensen enter a default judgement of $14 million in damages against the founder of a neo-Nazi website. Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin had twice failed to appear for his deposition in the case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Ms. Gersh back in 2017. The suit contends that Anglin initiated a “troll storm” against real estate agent Tanya Gersh after Gersh advised the mother of alt-right figure Richard Spencer to denounce her sons views in order to sell her property. Judge Christensen has already ruled in favor Gersh, finding that the First Amendment doesn’t protect harassing speech, so now it’s just a question of whether Judge Christensen will sign off on the magistrate judge’s damages recommendation.
11:45pm – 1pm
Covington & Burling
Hart Senate Office Building, 902
Michael J. Alkire (@AlkirePremier) is the President of Premier, Inc.. As President, Alkire leads the continued integration of Premier’s clinical, financial, supply chain and operational performance improvement offerings helping member hospitals and health systems provide higher quality care at a better cost. He oversees Premier’s quality, safety, labor and supply chain technology apps and data-driven collaboratives allowing alliance members to make decisions based on a combination of healthcare information. These performance improvement offerings access Premier’s comparative database, one of the nation’s largest outcomes databases.
Alkire also led Premier’s efforts to address public health and safety issues from the nationwide drug shortage problem, testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Premier research on shortages and gray market price gouging. This work contributed to the president and Congress taking action to investigate and correct the problem, resulting in two pieces of bipartisan legislation.
Prior to serving as President, Alkire was president of Premier Purchasing Partners, which offers group purchasing, supply chain and resource utilization services to hospitals and health systems. Premier remains among the top group purchasing organizations in the industry as the value of supplies purchased through its contracts has increased to more than $56 billion. Upon joining Premier in late 2003, Alkire worked closely with the Purchasing Partners team to develop and implement a three-year transformation plan designed to dramatically increase returns to the alliance’s shareholders while building stronger relationships with members and suppliers.
Alkire is a past board member of GHX and the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. He recently was named one of the Top 25 COOs in Healthcare for 2018 by Modern Healthcare. In 2015, Alkire won the Gold Stevie Award for Executive of the Year and in 2014 he was recognized as a Gold Award Winner for COO of the Year by the Golden Bridge Awards. He has more than 20 years of experience in running business operations and business development organizations at Deloitte & Touche and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Before joining Premier, he served in a number of leadership roles at Cap Gemini, including North American responsibilities for supply chain and high-tech manufacturing.
Alkire graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from Indiana State University and an MBA from Indiana University.
Premier, Inc. and 10 Hospitals Launch Initiative to Improve Maternal and Infant Health (Press Release, July 11, 2019)
HEADLINES: The FTC fines Facebook $5 billion—many say it’s not enough; Trump goes on a racist tirade on Twitter; and Michael Alkire is my guest.
The Federal Trade Commission has fined Facebook some $5 billion with many saying it’s a slap on the wrist. One commentator on Twitter called it a parking ticket, although it was a record fine. But the New York Times notes that the fine concludes just one of several investigations currently pending around the world. Facebook’s revenue last year was $56 billion.
You already know about Trump’s racist tweets over the weekend in which he told democratic, progressive Congresswomen of color, obviously including Representative Ilhan Omar, who fled to the U.S. from Somalia, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. Of course the other Congresswomen to whom he was clearly referring, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were born in the U.S. But Brian Stelter from CNN pointed out something interesting – media outlets like Fox News are avoiding calling the president’s tweets racist, and instead relying on third-party commentators to do that. Twitter even said that the president’s tweets didn’t violate its policies. Twitter though is in a difficult predicament since it’s currently under fire by Trump, along with several other tech companies, for allegedly having an anti-conservative bias.
The Trump administration held a social media summit with conservative content creators and politicians last week. The president told those in attendance that he would invite tech companies to the White House to explain their alleged anti-conservative bias. But the president didn’t provide any evidence.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Huawei, the China-based company that’s been besieged by the Trump administration for allegedly sharing the confidential and sensitive information of U.S. companies with the Chinese government, will be laying off as many as 850 people in the U.S. The U.S. Commerce Department has blacklisted Huawei, which Huawei estimates will cost it some $30 billion.
Andrew Liptak reported in the Verge that the U.S. government is planning to test armed, robotic vehicles beginning next year. The Army will conduct the live-fire tests in Colorado and Europe. The vehicles will be remote controlled.
Scientists at the University of Glasglow photographed, for the very first time, two photons interacting and sharing physical states for a brief moment. What does it mean? Well the photograph will advance the field of quantum mechanics because it proves that photons physically interact with one another—something that was theoretical before. Also, the process of taking the photograph was very involved, creating a model that scientists can use to capture other scientific phenomena that are difficult to observe.
Christopher Lewis, a seven-year veteran of progressive tech policy think tank and advocacy group Public Knowledge, has succeeded Gene Kimmelman as President & CEO. Previously, Chris was a staffer in the late Ted Kennedy’s office.
House Commerce Committee
New America, 740 15th St., NW
New America, 740 15th St., NW
Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonTGB) is Co-Founder of The Giving Block. The Giving Block is a DC-based start-ups focused on helping non-profits incorporate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their funding model. Previously he was a Director at Block Shop, also DC-based, which is a blockchain incubator focused on building real blockchain solutions beyond the hype. a blockchain incubator focused on building real blockchain solutions beyond thehype and serves as Washington DC's blockchain hub for top startups and events. He’s also a Senior Consultant at Optimity Advisors – a Management Consulting Firm in DC. He’s earned his BA at Wake Forest’s School of Business.
HEADLINES: ProPUblica deiscovers an obscene Border Patrol facebook Group insulting migrants and Latina Congresswomen, Twitter’s right wing attacks Kamala Harris, and Alex Wilson is my guest
ProPublica uncovered a secret Facebook Group containing some 9.5 thousand members in which Border Patrol Agents ridiculed migrants and members of Congress with obscene photos. In one comment, one of the agents suggested they throw a burrito at Representatives Veronica Escobar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when they come to visit an El Paso area border Patrol facility. Another group member posted the photo that went viral last week of a man lying face-down in the water next to his young daughter. The poster referred to them as “floaters” and suggested the photo wasn’t real. There were several other racist and sexist comments that I’ll let you find on your own … Customs and Border Patrol says they’re investigating but skeptics believe there to be a pervasive culture at the agency that encourages this type of bigotry.
Twitter accounts identified as bots by researchers Josh Russell and Caroline Orr retweeted a conspiracy by Trumpworld personality Ali Alexander, in which Alexander wrote that Kamala Harris is “not an American Black” because she is half Indian and half Jamaican. Sound familiar? Anyway, Twitter denies that bots were involved and claimed that all of the users who contributed were actual human beings. The social media company said the tweets did not violate its terms of service.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senators Warren and Jaypal criticized the FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Advisory Committee for having to many corporate members on board. Currently, out of 22 members, 15 are corporate, 6 are government officials, and just one is from the nonprofit sector. Neither the FCC nor Chairman Ajit Pai have commented publicly.
In defiance of the FCC’s overturning of the 2015 net neutrality rules, Maine has become the 12th state to pass its own net neutrality rules. These include Colorado, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Montana, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and California.
President Trump has relaxed the ban he imposed earlier this year preventing American companies from selling products to Chinese device manufacturer Huawei. The policy shift came as part of a deal with China to ease trade restrictions.
Facebook has released the latest findings from the civil rights audit being conducted by prominent civil rights attorney Laura Murphy. It’s been received by many social justice advocates working on tech policy as a restatement of things they’ve been calling Facebook out on for a long time, such the need for board diversity, better treatment of people of color and women. The company announced that a task force will be created to address some of the issues raised in the report. But some some say the task force will just be a networking opportunity for members of the task force.
Fri., 7/5-Sun. 7/28