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WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller

Subscribe to the WashingTech Tech Policy podcast for an inclusive look at tech policy. Join Joe Miller for the week's tech policy news plus the most diverse array of policy-related interviews with tech policy influencers from around the globe.
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Dec 11, 2018

 

Alexandra Channer: Automation, Displacement and Slavery in Southeast Asia (Ep. 166)

Alexandra Channer joined Joe Miller to discuss how automation is leading to labor abuses and slavery in Southeast Asia.

Bio

Dr. Alexandra Channer (@channer_alex) is a human rights advisor for business, helping to identify and mitigate impacts resulting from their commercial activities and relationships. She has a technical background in risk analysis and due diligence for labour standards, civil and political rights and community impacts.

In her previous role, Alex was principal analyst and head of human rights strategy at Verisk Maplecroft. In this role, Alex supported multinationals with global supply chains in the technology, extractives, food and beverage, and apparel sectors. Areas of focus included modern slavery, human rights defenders and automation.

Alex’s approach is enriched by her doctorate in politics - involving eight years of fieldwork on grievance-based mobilisation in Kosovo - as well as experience working in political communications. Alex learnt Albanian in Kosovo and translates plays and books in her spare time.

Key services:

  • Modern slavery training workshops and e-learning programmes
  • Gap assessments of human rights management systems
  • Stakeholder consultation   
  • Disclosure statement support
  • Risk and impact assessments
  • Issue briefing, horizon scanning

Resources

Slavery and labour abuses in SE Asia supply chains set to spiral over the next two decades as automation consumes job market by Alexandra Channer (Verisk Maplecroft, 2018)

Confidential documents obtained by UK’s Parliament suggest Facebook sold data

Two-hundred fifty pages of confidential documents obtained by a UK Parliamentary committee from a company embroiled in litigation with Facebook in the U.S. seem to reveal that Facebook sold data to certain buyers as it sought to grow. Zuckerberg denies that allegations. But the trove of emails between Facebook and a company called Six4Three contain several communications with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that seem to discredit his assertion that Facebook never sold users’ data.

In other Facebook news, The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook’s board of directors backs Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg’s handling of the anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros. And Facebook plans to a buyback of $9 billion more of its shares to boost investor confidence after a stock slump of more than 40% since July.

Verizon’s Oath to pay a $5 million settlement in child data protection lawsuit

Verizon’s Oath has agreed to pay $5 million to the New York State attorney general to settle charges that its AOL unit violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, also known as COPPA. It’s the largest settlement paid by a company in COPPA history. New York’s Attorney General had accused AOL of displaying ads on children’s sites even though AOL’s policies prohibited it.  Sapna Maheshwari has more in The New York Times.

FCC watchdog clears Pai of collusion with the White House

The FCC’s own, internal Inspector General has completed an investigation of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. It found that Pai didn’t violate ethics rules when he failed to disclose conversations he’d had with former White House counsel Don McGahn regarding the Sinclair merger because the FCC’s rules didn’t prohibit the conversation even though the FCC is not a cabinet-level agency and is supposed to be independent of the White House. Margaret Harding McGill has the story in Politico.

Google contract employees push for better working conditions

Google’s contract employees are pushing for better working conditions. In a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Googler’s are calling for inclusion in corporate-wide communications as well as equal pay and better treatment. The contract workers, known internally as TVCs, are also referred to as Google’s “shadow workforce”. And they were excluded from Google’s new policies regarding sexual harassment which the company began implementing following the walkout of thousands of employees world-wide protesting the company’s handling of Andy Rubin’s departure, after he’d been accused of sexual misconduct—an accusation Mr. Rubin has denied. The contract employees say that Google’s $30 billion in profit this year alone is more than enough for the company to compensate them fairly.

Google accelerates closure of Google+

Google has found a new bug exposing user data to some 52 million users. The company had already planned to shut down Google+ by the end of next year, but it has accelerated the closure to August. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on today, Tuesday, December 11th and the new data breach is sure to be an issue.

 

Dec 4, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_joekane

Joseph Kane: The Impact of Automated Vehicles on Your White Collar Job (Ep. 165)

Brookings' Joseph Kane joined Joe Miller to talk about how automated vehicles could impact your white collar job--not just those of drivers.

Bio

Joseph Kane (@jwkane) is a senior research associate and associate fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.

Kane’s work focuses on a wide array of built environment issues, including transportation and water infrastructure. Within these areas of research, he has explored infrastructure’s central economic role across different regions as well as its relationship to opportunity and resilience. Across several projects, he has concentrated on the use of innovative datasets, combining them with other qualitative measures to better assess current and future infrastructure needs. From the exploration of metropolitan freight trends to the first-ever analysis of infrastructure jobs at a metropolitan level, he has coordinated the production of new metrics and developed other interactive content to better inform decisions by policymakers and practitioners across the country.

Prior to Brookings, Kane was an Economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in economics and history from the College of William and Mary.

Resources

Metropolitan Policy Program @ Brookings

How big could the AV industry be? 9.5 million workers and counting by Joseph Kane and Adie Tomer

Why the Garden Club Couldn't Save Youngstown by Sean Stafford

News Roundup

Consequences Facebook’s poor engagement with people of color taking root

The consequences of Facebook’s poor engagement over the years with people of color began to take hold last week. On Tuesday, USA Today’s Jessica Guynn reported on a former black Facebook employee – Mark Luckie – who says the company has a deep seated race problem both internally and on the platform. Luckie wrote an internal blog post on Facebook earlier this month—to management and employees—that later went public—saying the platform itself actively works against black people. He says that Facebook works against attempts by black users to create safe spaces on Facebook, amplifies some users over others using class-based criteria, which effectively dilutes black voices, and fails to hire a workforce that reflects the demographics of its user base.

Color of Change CEO Rashad Robinson met with Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday. Politico reported that it was a victory, but then went on to talk about all of the ways in which it really wasn’t. For example, Facebook hasn’t committed to release records on its work with Definers Public Affairs to engage in promoting far right, anti-Semitic attacks against George Soros. It was a campaign that also targeted Color of Change. Robinson also told Politico that Sandberg defended Joel Kaplan. Apparently Sandberg, according to Politico’s account of the meeting, offered a sincere apology and Mark Zuckerberg popped his head in. But really, who cares. Sandberg did agree to a civil rights audit that Color of Change would conduct and agreed to have a public debate on the results of the audit. But that’s really non-negotiable since they have to do something to prevent a boycott.

Also, a New York Times report out the same day Robinson met with Sandberg suggested that Sandberg directed the communications team in their research of George Soros’s financial interests and actually sent an email asking if Soros had  shorted Facebook’s stock.

A lot of people are just sort of wondering why Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg and Joel Kaplan should keep their jobs. But would that solve Facebook’s race issues?

Mattis says Russia interfered in midterms

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said over the weekend during an interview at the Ronald Reagan Public library that Russian operatives attempted to interfere with the U.S. election. He said the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia has deteriorated. Mattis’ remarks came a couple of days after Trump canceled his scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit amidst Michael Cohen’s guilty plea for making misstatements to Congress in the investigation into the Trump administration’s business dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Marriott hack affects 500 million guests

Marriott reported a hack that apparently affected some 500 million of its Starwood guests, exposing personal information including home addresses, passport numbers, drivers’ license numbers, names, and other personal details. New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood is investigating the breach. The company has known about the breach since early September.

Nexstar to acquire Tribune

Nextstar has announced plans to acquire Tribune Media for $4.1 billion, making it the largest tv station owner in the U.S. The merger would add 42 stations to Nexstar’s portfolio bringing its total number of stations to 216 in 118 markets, just under the FCC’s 39% ownership threshold. The deal comes after Sinclair failed in its bid for Tribune earlier this year.

Delrahim for AG?

CNN reports that President Trump may be considering Makan Delrahim to replace Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General.  Currently, Delrahim is the Assistant Attorney General who sued AT&T to stop its acquisition of Time Warner—he lost. That deal went through. Some are still debating whether the president directed Delrahim to stop the merger. Delrahim denies this. But if he did act at Trump’s behest, the Attorney General job would be a big reward—ya think?

FBI Charges 8 in Ad-fraud scheme

The FBI charged eight individuals last week in an ad fraud scheme. The men face 13 charges for allegedly scheming to infect 1.7 million computers and drive traffic to counterfeit websites serving up ads. Craig Silverman has a detailed report in BuzzFeed News.

DOJ Indicts 2 Iranians for Ransomware Attacks

The Department of justice indicted 2 men in connection with an alleged Iranian ransomware plot since 2015 that has caused some $30 million in financial damage to city universities, governments and hospitals, including the City of Atlanta. Officials say the scheme, known as SamSam, affected more than 200 victims and led to some $6 million in ransom payments. Brian Fung has the story in the Washington Post.

Google employees pledge $200k to help striking employees

Some Google employees have banded together to create a $200k fund to help striking engineers who are opposing Google’s work on a censored search engine in China. The project is known as Project Dragonfly and hundreds of engineers oppose the effort and signed a letter to that effect last week.

 

Nov 27, 2018

 

techpolicypodcast_washinctech_chiqui cartagena

Chiqui Cartagena: The Public Policy Implications of Hispanic Marketing (Ep. 164)

Chiqui Cartagena joined Joe Miller to discuss the public policy implications of Hispanic marketing amidst an increased demand for Latino data.

Bio

Chiqui Cartagena (@ChiquiCartagena) is the author of Latino Boom II and most recently served as senior vice president of the Political & Advocacy Group at Univision Communications Inc., the leading media company serving Hispanic America. At Univision, she was responsible for increasing the understanding of the importance of Hispanic voter and the key political issues that affect them among key political constituents across the country.

In 2014, Ms. Cartagena was named one of Campaigns & Elections "50 Influencers". In 2013, she was recognized with a Multiethnic TV Leadership Award from Broadcasting & Cable magazine and in 2012, Cartagena received the ADCOLOR® Legend Award in recognition of her tireless efforts in leading the conversation about the Hispanic market. In 2007, she was named the Hispanic Direct Marketing Professional of the Year by the Direct Marketing Association. And finally, she is the author of Latino Boom II, Catch the Biggest Wave Since the Baby Boom, her second book on the Hispanic market which was published in 2013.

Ms. Cartagena is a Hispanic media and marketing pioneer with 25 years of experience developing, launching, and leading some of America’s most successful Spanish-language consumer magazines, including People en Español and TV Guide en Español. She has also developed many integrated marketing programs for leading consumer brands to successfully reach the Latino community. Her career also includes senior roles as a broadcast journalist, having previously worked in the news divisions of Univision and Telemundo.

Ms. Cartagena, a graduate of the University of Miami, is a member of the Awards Committee for National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and lives in New York City.

Resources

Latino Boom

Nielsen LatinX

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman

News Roundup

Can Facebook overcome its woes with Zuckerberg and Sandberg still leading the company?

Facebook, which has lost about $100 billion in market value since March, can’t seem to right itself after a year of the Cambridge Analytica and election interference debacle. The UK Parliament got hold of senior level communications from a company in the U.S. called Six4Thirty which is suing Facebook. Six4Thirty, whose core business model was scanning Facebook data for bikini photos, obtained the communications in the discovery process in an attempt to establish that Facebook knew about the loophole it used to obtain Facebook’s users data, which was allegedly the same loophole that Cambridge Analytica used. Some of the communications are said to be from Mark Zuckerberg himself.

So normally, the communications would be shielded from disclosure as the matter is being litigated. But it just so happens that Damian Collins, the Chair of the Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sports select committee, caught wind of the fact that one of Six4Thirty’s founders was in London—bringing the company within the UK’s jurisdiction. So that enabled Collins to seize the documents by sending a Serjeant at Arms to the founder’s hotel room and requiring him to turn over the documents within 2 hours or face a fine or potential jail time.

So there’s that.

And as far as Facebook’s hiring of a lobbying firm that allegedly worked to play into anti-Semitism against George Soros, Facebook’s head of public policy Elliot Schrage announced in an internal memo that he was responsible for hiring the firm. However, he said that it was never his intention to play into anti-semitism. Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg weighed in in a comment, saying that she was ultimately responsible. Schrage has been planning to leave the company for some time, and he will be replaced by former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Calls by some shareholders and others for Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg to step down from at least some of their responsibilities has fallen on deaf ears. As Zuckerberg said in a CBS Business Interview that, while he apologized for the company’s woes, said that stepping down or replacing Sandberg is “not the plan”.

Can Amazon be humbled by pushback from its workforce?

Amazon has huge, global aspirations. But will the company go as far as it needs to in order to resolve internal labor disputes? In the U.S., Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour but eliminated other perks, including employee benefits. But on Black Friday, thousands of European workers went on strike, demanding better pay and working conditions. All of this is happening amidst Amazon’s aggressive expansion efforts beyond ecommerce. For example, the company is bidding for 21st Century Fox’s 22 Regional Sports assets—including YES TV which broadcasts the New York Yankees. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Amazon is now the Number 3 digital advertising platform, behind just Google and Facebook, with ad sales growth projected to be at over 400% between 2017 and 2020, way ahead of second-place Tencent in China whose ad sales growth is projected to be at just under 200%.

Roger Stone crony Jerome Corsi says he won’t take FBI plea deal

Conspiracy theorist and Roger Stone ally Jermone Corsi told CNN that Robert Mueller offered him a plea deal on one count of perjury connected with statements Corsi made saying that he had no communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Trump confidante Stone himself said that he’d never had direct communication with Assange either, saying that he got all of his info through a backchannel alleged to be New York radio personality Randy Credico, which Credico has denied.

Russian hacking is resurgence

American officials and security firms are reporting that Russian hacking efforts are on an uptick following the U.S. midterm elections. The hackers are apparently trying to test the waters with the new Congress coming in. But experts are concerned that we won’t know the full scale of the hackers’ capabilities until the 2020 presidential election.

Is China’s TikTok the next big video karaoke app?

Axios has a report on the growth of TikTok, which has seen impressive user growth over the last year. The platform is now up to 7.2 million monthly users. It’s now ranked in the Top 5 U.S. apps in both Google Play and  the iOS app store and its global monthly usage comes in around 130 million. So some are asking how big TikTok can become in the U.S.

NASA lands on Mars again

For the 8th time, NASA has landed on Mars. This time, the rover Insight will explore Mars’ interior, digging beneath the red planet’s surface to determine its origins. It’s expected to be a 2-year mission.

Trump ponders state-run TV network

Is President Trump considering establishing a state-run TV network? Some think he is and it follows the same playbook as most dictators.

Nov 20, 2018

 

Sahra V. Nguyen: Public Policy as a Creative Spark (Ep. 163)

Sahra Nguyen joined Joe Miller to chat about her new Brooklyn-based coffee venture—Nguyen Coffee Supply.

Bi0

Sahra Nguyen is an award-winning filmmaker, entrepreneur, and founder/CEO of Nguyen Coffee Supply. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Nguyen is also the co-founder of podcast agency Listening Party and a member of the 2018 Google Next Gen Tech Policy Leaders.

In 2018, Nguyen launched Nguyen Coffee Supply—the first-ever Vietnamese-American owned importer, supplier, and roaster of green coffee beans from Vietnam—as a way to showcase the diversity of single-origin arabica and robusta. She works directly with a fourth-generation Vietnamese coffee farmer from Da Lat in the Central Highlands, whose beans are certified clean and organic in Vietnam. As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees in Boston, MA, the company’s name is a nod to Nguyen’s Vietnamese heritage.

Nguyen graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a double major in Asian American Studies and World Arts & Cultures, served as the Director of the Writing Success Program at UCLA, and published an e-book of poetry exploring themes of identity, race in America, and the Vietnamese-American experience.

Building on her love of storytelling, in 2015 Nguyen started her own production company, One Ounce Gold. Her first self-produced documentary web series, “Maker's Lane," evolved into a brand new series for NBC News entitled "Self-Starters,” a show about Asian American entrepreneurs around the country. Helping launch the video channel for NBC Asian America, "Self-Starters" was nominated for the EPPY Awards and LA Press Club Awards.

In mid-2016, Nguyen sold her second documentary series to NBC News, "Deported," which follows the grassroots fight to end deportation of Cambodian-Americans from the U.S. to Cambodia. "Deported" was nominated alongside CNN's Lisa Ling's "This is Life" and won the 2018 NAMIC Vision Award for Best Digital Media, Long Form.

With a passion to constantly take on new challenges, Nguyen, along with three friends (all under the age of 30), opened up their first storefront business Lucy's Vietnamese Kitchen, in Bushwick, NY, in March of 2015. Within the first 9 months, Lucy's Vietnamese Kitchen won "Best Vietnamese Restaurant" by popular vote and has been featured in The New York Times, Time Out New York, Zagat, VICE, and more.

Follow Sahra Nguyen on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

Resources

Sahra V. Nguyen

Nguyen Coffee Supply

‘Deported’ on NBC

News Roundup

Bombshell New York Times report reveals Facebook’s political machinations

A bombshell New York Times report last week cast new light on the extent to which Facebook sought to contain accusations that it was enabling Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Apparently, the company sought to promote the image that the company knew nothing about Russia’s interference while, at the same time, Mark Zuckerberg was kept in the dark. But internally, while Joel Kaplan and Cheryl Sandberg were doing their magic on the Hill working their Harvard connections, Facebook kept uncovering new evidence that Russians continued to use the platform to protect president Trump and spread propaganda in advance of the election and beyond.

The New York Times also reports that the company apparently also hired lobbyists, such as Definers Public Affairs, to help the company oppose its critics.

In a video-conferenced all-hands meeting on Friday, Zuckerberg defended the company saying the New York Times report was unfair and untrue, even as Cheryl Sandberg accepted responsibility for hiring Definers Public Affairs.

And another report by the Wall Street Journal found that Zuckerberg himself pointed fingers at Sandberg, blaming her for the Cambridge Analytica fallout.

Reuters: Russians impersonating State Department officials

Reuters reports that Russian hackers have been impersonating at least one State Department official, Heather Nauert, over email trying to get other officials to download malicious code. Security firms CrowdStrike and FireEye uncovered the effort. But Russia denies involvement.

Julian Assange back in spotlight

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who played a key role releasing hacked emails during the 2016 presidential election, is back in the spotlight. George Washington University Program on Extremism researcher Seamus Hughes uncovered a court filing which found that the Department of Justice appears to be pressing sealed charges against Assange. The Hill also reports that Ecuadorian officials have grown weary of granting Assange asylum at their embassy in London since 2012. If they evict Assange, Assange could be extradited back to the U.S. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes prosecuting Assange, claiming that doing so would be a First Amendment violation.

Nation’s only African American network chief to step down

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who is African American, is stepping down from the company as Disney seeks to restructure the company in advance of closing on its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets next year. Dungey is the only African American network head in the country, and she’s been with the company for 14 years. She’s been responsible for launching ‘Scandal’, “black-ish” and the “The Good Doctor”. But ABC has seen overall ratings decline 10%, with an 18% decline among adults 18-49 according to The Wall Street Journal.

JD.com’s chief shifting focus

China-based ecommerce giant JD.com’s chief has announced that he will delegate more responsibilities. It’s seen as a long-term move to groom his replacement. Richard Liu was arrested in Minnesota in September for alleged “criminal sexual misconduct” with a Chinese student at the University of Minnesota. The company’s share price has also dropped 55% since January amidst the U.S.-China trade war.

Snap subpoenaed on IPO disclosures

Reuters reports that the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission have subpoenaed Snap to uncover whether the company downplayed competition from Instagram during its initial public offering (IPO) in March of 2017. Snap’s share price has tumbled down to $6.71 per share from its offering price of $17 per share.

TV station groups settle with DOJ over ad sales collusion allegations

Six tv station groups the Department of Justice alleges colluded to fix ad sales prices have settled. Sinclair, Raycom, Tribune, Meredith, Griffin, and Dreamcatcher all settled. The settlement simply requires the station groups not to share nonpublic pricing data with each other for 7 years. There are no penalties, according to Meredith. A private class action by advertisers against the station groups is still in progress.

 

 

Nov 13, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_jonathanfriebert

 

Jonathan Friebert: Public Policy and the Future of Retail: A Starter's Guide (Ep. 162)

Jonathan Friebert, U.S. Head of Public Policy of China's largest retailer, JD.com, joined us to discuss the public policies that are most crucial to the future of retail.

Bio

Jonathan Friebert (@friebs) is the head of U.S. Government Relations for JD.com--China's largest retailer. He has more than 20 years of Fortune 50, political, non-profit and governmental experience.

Previously, he was at Microsoft where he helped partners, entrepreneurs, customers and consumers advocate for positive technology public policies through overseeing Microsoft's Voices for Innovation (VFI) initiative: a community of more than 100,000 technology leaders in the U.S. who engage with government leaders. Through VFI, he spearheaded traditional and digital grassroots on issues such as competition policy, STEM funding, high-skilled immigration reform, online privacy, software piracy, cloud computing regulations, security, IP protection and government procurement mandates.

Before Microsoft, he was with the PepsiCo government affairs team where he managed several Midwest states as well as federal issues impacting the Gatorade and Quaker Oats brands. This includes bottle deposit bills, food labeling, school breakfast and lunch funding, R&D tax credits and soft drink taxes. Jonathan led an effort on a significant legislative threat to Gatorade business around banning soft drinks in schools. He implemented a successful campaign to protect Gatorade in multiple states.

Jonathan also served in the Clinton Administration as a political appointee in the Immediate Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Resources

JD.com

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman

News Roundup

Tech leads Dow drop of 600 points

Market uncertainty in the tech sector led to a 600 point drop across the Dow in Monday’s trading. Apple’s 5% decline led to a selloff across oil, manufacturing, entertainment and beyond, as investors moved some of their assets to the more stable real estate market—the only sector that rose MMnday at .2%.

Amazon will spilt their second headquarters between New York City and Crystal City in Arlington, VA

Amazon is expected to announce that it will spit its second headquarters between Northern Virginia and Long Island City in Queens, according to several media outlets, including NPR and the New York Times. The cities beat out 238 proposals across the country.

Boeing failed to train pilots on dangerous flight control feature that led to crash in Indonesia

Safety experts and midlevel Federal Aviation Administration investigators have  found that Boeing never trained pilots on a dangerous flight control feature that can unexpectedly push down the nose of a Boeing 737. That’s the model that crashed in in Indonesia last month, killing all 189 people on board. The New York Times notes that the plane crashed into the ocean at 400 miles per hour within seconds—a force so strong that it reduced some of the plane’s metal fittings to powder.  The safety feature was apparently intended to prevent the plane from stalling if the nose goes up too high. But it can force the plane down unexpectedly, which can cause pilots to lose control, according to report.

FBI and Homeland: No significant foreign influence on midterms

Both the FBI and Department of Homeland security concluded that there were no significant efforts by foreign agents to breach the U.S. midterm elections. At a press briefing, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen said that the main concern was disinformation on social media, but that there was no evidence of breaches into election machines.

Google, Facebook, eBay, and Airbnb end forced arbitration in employment agreements

Following Google’s lead, Facebook, eBay and Airbnb have all removed forced arbitration provisions from their employment policies. The companies moved to end forced arbitration after thousands of Google employees worldwide staged a protest a couple of weeks ago, in protest of the $90 million Google paid Android creator Andy Rubin when he left the company amidst sexual harassment allegations that a Google investigation had found credible.

DEA and ICE are hiding surveillance equipment in streetlights

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have begun to hide surveillance equipment within streetlights, according to a Quartz analysis of federal contracting documents. The DEA apparently paid a company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments out of Houston some $22,000 since June for “video recording and reproducing equipment”. ICE paid about $28,000 to the same company since then as well.

Motel 6 corporate to pay $7.6 million settlement after a franchise owner faxed guests’ names to ICE

Finally, The Motel 6 hotel chain will pay a $7.6 million settlement to class action litigants after a Motel 6 franchise owner in Warwick, Rhode Island routinely faxed the names of Hispanic guests to the local police department. Another location in Arizona sent guest names directly to ICE. Motel 6 the corporation has denied wrongdoing.

Nov 6, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_amy cappellanti wolf

 

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf: How to Instill a Culture of Mutual Respect (Ep. 161)

Symantec’s Chief Human Resources Officer Amy Cappellanti-Wolf joined Joe Miller to discuss Symantec's efforts to instill a culture of mutual respect on diverse teams. 

Bio

Amy Cappellanti-Wolf (@amycappellanti) is CHRO at Symantec in Mountain View, CA. As CHRO, Amy leads the Global HR, Workforce Planning and Real Estate organizations. With more than three decades of experience leading companies across high tech, entertainment and consumer products industries through complex transformations, Amy is a proven organizational design and development leader and executive coach focusing on talent as the key driver of business growth. Amy specializes in helping businesses survive and thrive while undergoing deep transformation. Her focus areas include Business Transformation and Change Management, Organizational Design and Process Management, Business Partnership, Communication Strategy Facilitation, and Diversity in Tech.

As CHRO at Symantec, Amy has successfully led the global organizational operating model, structure, change management and integration strategies for large scale acquisitions and divestitures. She has led effectiveness strategies related to organization and people optimization, and delivered systemic program and metrics related to structure, workforce planning, talent, and real estate consolidation. Amy has deep experience in architecting HR Operating Models in support of the business with her most recent emphasis on building Talent Development and HR Solutions capability. She has delivered high-impact automation and predictive data analytics and reporting, reducing operating expense, while improving operational effectiveness. In the real estate space, she has integrated workforce planning with real estate optimization, significantly reducing operating costs while also delivering award-winning workspaces for better collaboration and productivity, among other successes.

Prior to joining Symantec, Amy was CHRO at Silver Spring Networks, where she led Global HR, Real Estate, and Technical Education organizations. Amy helped to deliver a successful IPO in March 2013. She established HR infrastructure, programs, and technology to drive global scale for the fast growing hardware, software, and services business, and she led several organizational companywide restructures. Amy built and ramped a professional talent acquisition team, doubled the employee population in less than eighteen months, implemented various automation and information systems, and opened up the European, South American, and Asian offices.

From 2001 to 2009, Amy held key human resources roles at Cisco Systems, where she developed innovative leadership development programs and processes. She directly contributed to Cisco’s globalization efforts by developing workforce planning and global mobility practices to resource new and emerging capabilities outside of the US. Specifically, Amy led HR for the U.S. Enterprise Sales team; Worldwide Marketing; Business Functions; and the Decision Support, Services and Operations Businesses. Prior to Cisco, Amy also led HR teams at Sun Microsystems, The Walt Disney Company, and Frito-Lay.

Amy provides ongoing support of children and foster children as a Board member of the non-profit Silicon Valley Children’s Fund. She was recently named one of the top 50 most influential women tech leaders by the National Diversity Council.

Amy holds an M.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations and a B.S. in Journalism and Public Relations, both from West Virginia University. She is a frequent speaker and lecturer at industry-related conferences.

Resources

Symantec

News Roundup

Supreme Court declines to overturn ruling to uphold the 2015 net neutrality rules

The Supreme Court has declined to overturn the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling to uphold the 2015 net neutrality rules. Although the F.C.C. overturned the rules itself, and another lawsuit is working its way through the court’s, the Supreme Court’s denial to hear the original case preserves the FCC’s ability to regulate the internet like a public utility. Harper Niedig reports in the Hill.

Google employees stage worldwide walkouts for company’s handling of sexual harassment; Sundar Pichai supports

Thousands of Google employees staged walkouts around the world in protest of Google’s handling of Android creator Andy Rubin’s exit from the company, which was mired in sexual harassment allegations which he denies. In a bombshell report, The New York Times had reported that Google paid Rubin some $90 million after he left, even though an internal investigation at Google found the allegations against him to be credible. Protesting staffers are demanding an end to forced arbitration for discrimination and harassment claims, a commitment to pay and opportunity equity, a publicly-disclosed sexual harassment transparency report, a clear and uniform way to report sexual harassment, and a promotion of the Chief of Diversity Officer to direct-report status to the CEO. CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in support of the protests.

Amazon commences paying workers $15/hour minimum wage

Amazon has commenced paying workers a $15/hour minimum wage. It began on November first, and Amazon called on its competitors to follow suit. None of the big box retailers have set a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Google’s Susan Molinari to step down

Susan Molinari—who has served at the head of Google’s Washington office for nearly seven years—will be stepping down from her post. The former Republican representative will remain on board as a Senior Advisor. Molinari sites family changes as the reason for stepping down.

Facebook, Twitter fail to respond to aftermath of Pittsburgh massacre

Facebook and Twitter both failed to adequately respond to the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre that left 11 Jewish congregants dead. The Intercept reports that Facebook allowed advertisers to use “white genocide” as a target keyword, and Twitter found itself apologizing for allowing “Kill all Jews” to be a trending topic.

An uptick in hate speech on Instagram

Columbia University media researcher Jonathan Albright found an uptick in hate speech appearing on Instagram. He found numerous instances of hashtags like #soros49 #maga #libtards and others associated with hate speech. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

Sens. Klobuchar/Warner: Facebook’s political ad transparency tools are ‘unacceptable’

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mark Warner – both Democrats -- sent a letter to Facebook last week urging them to improve their political ad transparency tools saying they’re ‘unacceptable’ since they’re still capable display the wrong sources of funding for ad campaigns. The letter followed Vice News’ successful, experimental attempts to purchase Facebook ads posting as Mike Pence, the Islamic State in Iraq and all 100 Senators.

U.S. charges 10 Chinese intelligence agents with commercial hacking

The Trump administration has unsealed charges against 10 Chinese intelligence agents the U.S. accuses of engaging in a persistent campaign to hack into American aviation companies in Arizona, Massachusetts, Oregon, and elsewhere. The Chinese embassy in Washington denies the allegations. Back in 2015, former U.S. President  Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an accord to refrain from conducting cyber operations against the other. But now some experts are saying that the Trump administration’s aggressive stance towards China has led the world’s second largest economy to stop enforcing the accord. Aruna Viswanatha and Dustin Volz have the report for the Wall Street Journal.

56 major companies oppose Trump administration’s efforts to erase legal protections for transgender people

Fifty-six companies, including Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Lyft, Twitter and others issued a business statement opposing the Trump administration’s plans to remove legal protections for transgender people. The statement calls for “respect and transparency in policy-making, and for equality under the law for transgender people.”

HBO and Cinemax go dark for first time in 40 years

AT&T’s HBO and Cinemax went dark last week after they couldn’t reach a carriage deal with Dish Networks. HBO said it’s the first time in 40 years they’ve gone dark. Dish accuses AT&T of preventing other carriers from accessing HBO. The dispute involves subscriber guarantees Dish would have to meet in order to carry HBO.

Hackers continue to target U.S. elections

Hackers have ramped up efforts to target the United States’ election infrastructure, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Attempts have largely been thwarted. But the agency is seeing as many as 10 hacking attempts per day.

Atlantic: Democrats significantly outspent Republicans on Facebook

Democrats have significantly outspent Republicans on Facebook with 63.5% of political spending on the platform, compared to just 17.8% for Republicans, according to the Atlantic. Democrats spent $9.4 million while Republicans have spent just $2.7 million. Alexis Madrigal reports in the Atlantic.

California gives Waymo green light to test on public roads

Finally, the state of California has given Waymo the green light to conduct tests of robot cars without human drivers on public roads. Waymo is the first company to which California has granted the privilege. The permit allows Waymo to test 40 cars on roads with speed limits up to 65 miles per hour.

 

Oct 30, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_brook bello

Brook Bello: Tech and Tech Policy Solutions to End Sex Trafficking (Ep. 160)

Brook Bello joined Joe Miller to discuss how tech policies can help end sex trafficking.

Bio

Dr. Brook Bello (@BrookBello) is Founder and CEO/ED of More Too Life, Inc., -- an anti-sexual violence, human trafficking and youth crime prevention organization that was named by United Way Worldwide as one of the best in the nation. A sought-after international speaker and champion against human trafficking, Dr. Bello has been recognized with countless achievement awards, fellowships and appointment, she was recently named a Google Next Gen Policy Leader, with the ability to learn from leading Google executives and other leaders in profound aspects that deal with world issues in relation to tech and tech policy. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the 44thPresident of the United States and the White House in December 2016. She also received the advocate of the year in the state of Florida from Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney Pam Bondi’s Human Trafficking Council.

Dr. Bello is also the author of innovative root cause focused successful curricula such as, RJEDE™ (Restorative Justice End Demand Education) -- a court appointed and volunteer course for violators of sexual violence, prostitution and human trafficking prevention in Miami/Dade, Sarasota and Manatee counties. In addition, LATN™ and LATN D2 (Living Above the Noise) educational mentoring curriculum for victims to prevent sexual violence and human trafficking.

She holds a Masters and PH.D in pastoral clinical counseling and accreditation in pastoral clinical and temperance based counseling. Her bachelor’s is in biblical studies. She also holds two honorary doctorates -- one in humane letters, theology and biblical studies from the Covenant Theological Seminary and Richmond Virginia Seminary.

Her dissertation defends the urgency in spirituality in mental health and the profound pain caused by shame. Bello is also a licensed chaplain and ambassador with the Canadian Institute of Chaplains and Ambassadors (CICA)—the only university accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-ECOSOC). She is also an alum of the Skinner Leadership Institute’s Masters Series of Distinguished Leaders.  Dr. Bello was chosen 1 of 10 national heroes in a series by Dolphin Digital Media and United Way Worldwide called, The Hero Effect.”

Resources

More Too Life

Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Life is Not Complicated, You Are by Carlos Wallace

News Roundup

Tech stocks tank following earnings reports

Tech stocks led a slide on major indexes as Amazon posted a two-day decline Monday, eliminating some $127 billion from its market value, according to the Wall Street Journal. Amazon actually posted a $2.88 billion profit in the 3rd quarter—11 times last year’s figure—but its sales increased by only 29%, falling about half a billion dollars shy of the average analyst estimate of $57.1 billion.

Alphabet too missed analyst estimates by about $310 million, coming in with $33.74 billion in revenue in the third quarter, which was up by 21% over last year.

At Twitter, active monthly users declined, but revenue was up 29% to 650 million for the third quarter. Twitter attributed the user decline to its purging of suspicious accounts.

Tesla also reported strong earnings, with $312 million in profits on $6.8 billion in revenue.

As for Snap – it looks like Facebook’s Instagram stories is eroding the platform, although Snap beat estimates, however slightly. Snap lost about 2 million users since the second quarter, but its net loss was two cents per share less than expected, and it also had more revenue than analysts expected -- $297.6 million – which was about $14 million more than analysts’ expectations.

N.Y. Times reports that Trump uses iPhones spied on by Russia/China

The New York Times reported that President Trump uses unsecured iPhones to gossip with colleagues that Chinese and Russian spies routinely eavesdrop on to gather intelligence. President Trump denies the report saying that he only uses a government phone and, in a Tweet, said the New York Times report is “sooo wrong”.

Facebook identifies Iranian misinformation campaign

Facebook identified an Iranian misinformation campaign which led it to delete 82 pages the company says were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior”. Facebook’s head of cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher said the pages had over 1 million followers.

Google paid ‘Father of Android’ $90 million to leave the company following a sexual misconduct allegation

The New York Times reported last week in an investigative report that Google paid Android creator Andy Rubin some $90 million dollars in 2014 when he left the company following sexual misconduct allegations. Google released Rubin with praises from Larry Page even though an internal investigation found the allegations credible, according the New York Times. The newspaper reports that Google similarly protected 2 other executives. Rubin has denied the allegations and, in a letter to Google’s employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that Google has fired some 48 employees for sexual harassment since 2016.

U.S. launches election protection cyber operation against Russia

U.S. cybercommand has launched a first-of-its-kind mission against Russia to prevent election interference. The initiative followed a Justice Department report released Friday outlining Russia’s campaign of “information warfare”.

Alleged Pittsburgh shooter repeatedly posted violent content on social media prior to mass murder

Before he allegedly murdered 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, including a 97-year-old holocaust survivor, Robert Bowers allegedly posted hateful and violent content on social media numerous times on Facebook, Twitter, and the alt-right website Gab -- but he still wasn’t on the radar of law enforcement. Joyent, the web hosting platform that hosted Gab, has since banned Gab from using its platform, knocking it offline. Kevin Roose has more in the New York Times.

U.S. restricts exports to Chinese semiconductor firm Fujian Jinhua

The U.S. has decided to restrict exports to Chinese semiconductor firm Fujian Jinhua. The Trump administration says the company stole intellectual property from U.S.-based Micron Technology. The rationale is that if Fujian Jinhua supplies chips to Micron, there’s a risk that the Chinese-manufactured chips would edge out those manufactured by American competitors.

President Trump signs U.S. spectrum strategy

President Trump has signed a memo directing the Commerce Department to develop a spectrum strategy to prepare for 5G wireless. Mr. Trump has also created a Spectrum Task Force to evaluate federal spectrum needs and how spectrum can be shared with private companies.

UK fines Facebook £500,000 for data violations

Finally, the UK has fined Facebook just £500,000 for Cambridge Analytica-related data violations. That’s a little over $640,000— The Guardian notes that Facebook brought in some $40.7 billion last year. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office found that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of some 1 million Facebook users in the UK via loopholes on Facebook’s platform that allowed developers to access the data of Facebook’s users without their consent.

Oct 23, 2018

 

Tiffany Moore: Trade, 5G, and Beyond: The Policy Landscape for Consumer Tech (Ep. 159)

How will the current trade war with China affect small, American-owned technology manufacturers? What's the potential of 5G for consumer tech? How is the consumer technology industry tackling diversity and inclusion? The Consumer Technology Association's Senior Vice President of Political and Industry Affairs, Tiffany Moore, joined Joe Miller to discuss these and other issues affecting the policy landscape for consumer tech.

Bio

Tiffany Moore (@TiffanyMMoore) currently serves as Senior Vice President of Political and Industry Affairs for the Consumer Technology Association.  Promoted to the newly created position in April 2018, Tiffany’s expanded role includes overseeing CTA’s U.S. Jobs, and Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.  In addition, Tiffany leads the association’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill on issues including communications and technology policy, patent litigation reform, strategic immigration reform and international trade, and overseeing CTA’s political action committee CTAPAC.

Tiffany joined CTA as Vice President of Government and Political Affairs for the Consumer Technology Association in December 2015.

Previously, Tiffany served as a government relations consultant to CTA as principal at Moore Consulting and strategic consultant with TwinLogic Strategies. In addition to CTA, Moore advised numerous corporate and association clients on how to influence technology and innovation policy before Congress and the Administration.  Before launching Moore Consulting, Tiffany served as senior legislative advisor in the Legislative and Government Affairs Practice Group at Venable LLP.

In 2006, Tiffany was appointed Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) by Ambassador Rob Portman.  In this role, Moore led domestic outreach efforts to American business, agriculture and consumer communities on the U.S. trade policy agenda and served as primary intermediary with governors, mayors and local elected officials on U.S. trade policy.

Prior to joining USTR, Tiffany served as director of government relations for Kellogg Company and led legislative policy efforts around a broad array of issues including trade, food security, safety, tax and advertising as director, government relations.

Tiffany began her legislative career working in a variety of roles in the office of U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), where she served as legislative director from 2000-2002.

In January 2018, Tiffany was named to the Board of Trustees of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation.  Tiffany also serves on the Women’s Health Board of The GW Medical Faculty Associates dedicated to supporting the Mobile Mammography Program (Mammovan). In addition, Tiffany serves on the boards of the Faith and Politics Institute and the Washington Government Relations Group.

A proud native of Detroit, Michigan, Tiffany earned her M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, and her B.A. from Western Michigan University.

 

Resources

Consumer Technology Association

Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation by Gary Shapiro (pre-order)

 

News Roundup

Twitter purges pro-Saudi bots

Twitter has purged bots that NBC News discovered were simultaneously tweeting pro-Saudi talking points regarding the alleged murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Washington Post also reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered a network of Twitter trolls to attack Kahshoggi’s viewpoints in the days, weeks and months leading up to his disappearance.

Why is Softbank’s CEO still warm on the Saudis?

Several companies have decided to distance themselves from Saudis, following the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But not Masayoshi Son—head of Japanese conglomerate Softbank, which has made extensive investments in U.S.-based companies, including WeWork, Uber and Slack, and which also owns Sprint. The New York Times has the report.

Russian-linked Twitter bots

Some bots connected to Russia’s Internet Research Agency have also been attempting to interfere with U.S. elections, according to Twitter. Apparently the bots use platforms of automation companies like IFTTT  to quickly disseminate tweets. IFTTT says it’s investigating.

The Justice Department also charged a Russian woman-- Elena Khusyaynova—with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Kusyaynova allegedly helped spearhead a campaign to divide Americans via social media.

Ebay sues Amazon

Ebay has sued Amazon in California Superior Court for allegedly poaching sellers by using Ebay’s internal email system. The complaint includes allegations of violations of both civil and criminal statutes.

Richard Parsons resigns from CBS board

Media veteran Richard Parsons has stepped down from the board of CBS, including as Interim Chairman, citing health issues related to a rare blood cancer he was diagnosed with several years ago. Strauss Zelnick will take up the reigns as interim chair. Zelnick is seasoned in all areas of the entertainment industry, including as CEO of Take Two Interactive—the creators of the Grand Theft Auto game franchise.

Netflix to take on more debt

Netflix—already under a mountain of debt—is seeking to take on another $2 billion worth, the company announced Monday during an earnings call. It’s the second time this year the company will take on more debt. Netflix was down .94% points at Monday’s close.

Uber considers IPO proposals

Finally, Uber is considering IPO proposals from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, some of which value the ride-sharing company at as much as 120 billion. The valuation exceeds that of the top three U.S. car makers – GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler – combined. Lyft is also said to be considering an IPO next year—its valuation is $15 billion.

Oct 16, 2018

Petra Molnar joined us to discuss her new paper which looks at the human rights impact of automated decision-making and immigration.

Bio

Petra Molnar (@PMolnar) is a refugee lawyer and researcher based in Toronto, Canada. She is a former refugee settlement worker who has researched forced migration issues in Canada and internationally including immigration detention, health and human rights, and gender-based violence. She is currently working on a book on resilience in the face of the Syrian conflict. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Master of Arts, Social Antropology, at York University.

Resources

Thinking Forward Network

Bots at the Gate: A Human Rights Analysis of Automated Decision-Making in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee System by Petra Molnar (University of Toronto, 2018)

News Roundup

GAO: “Nearly all” U.S. weapons systems are susceptible to cyber attack

The Government Accountability Office issued a report last week saying that “nearly all” weapons systems reviewed for weaknesses between 2012-2017 were vulnerable to cyberattacks. Testers were able to exploit the security holes using relatively simple tools and techniques, with one team taking only about an hour to hack into the weapons system. A key risk factor among these technologies is that many of them are interconnected, allowing them to transfer information more easily. Ryan Browne has more over at CNN.

Lawmakers demand answers from Google

Top Senate Republicans on the Commerce Committee delivered a letter to Google on Thursday demanding answers about why Google failed to disclose a privacy vulnerability in Google Plus immediately when it discovered it last March. Senators Thune, Moran, and Wicker are especially concerned that Google Chief Privacy Officer didn’t disclose the breach during his Senate testimony several weeks ago. Democrats too are jumping into the fray. Senators Blumenthal, Markey and Udall wrote a separate letter to the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation into the Google Plus privacy breach. An independent audit conducted by Ernst and Young had approved Google’s security practices earlier this year.

Google drops out of Pentagon bid

Google has decided to drop out of the competition to handle the Pentagon’s cloud computing infrastructure. The contract was worth up to $10 billion. Google said it couldn’t be sure that the contract would align with its AI principles. Thousands of Google employees had signed a letter starting back in April asking Google to withdraw.

Republicans warn of Chinese efforts to sway the midterms

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray both stated at a Senate committee hearing last week that China is attempting to sway the U.S. midterm election. However, they did not say that there is any evidence that China is interfering with the U.S.’s election infrastructure. Nielsen said that China’s efforts to sway public opinion are unprecedented. Wray says that China is the most significant long-term threat to U.S. counterintelligence the U.S. faces.

Warner/Rubio ask Canada to ban Huawei from 5G

Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week urging him to ban China-based company Huawei from participating in Canada’s 5G deployment program. The Senators accuse Huawei of being an agent of the Chinese government.

Lyft taps Anthony Foxx to head up its policy team

Lyft has tapped former Obama Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to head up its policy team. Foxx will report directly to Lyft President John Zimmer.

Group warns of malicious emailed ballots

Apparently there are a few jurisdictions that permit voters to submit their ballots via email as an attachment. But election security groups including Common Cause and R St. are warning election officials that these ballots could come laden with malicious software that could grant a hacker backdoor access to election systems. So elections officials need to be wary of malicious ballots submitted by unknown persons. According to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, some 100,000 voters submitted ballots via email during the 2016 presidential election.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has died

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has died. He was 65. The cause was non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and amassed a $26 billion fortune which he used to build Seattle into a cultural destination and engage in philanthropy. He also owned the Seattle Seahawks. Steve Lohr at The New York Times has a full obituary.

Oct 9, 2018

 

Sean Perryman: How to Promote Diversity & Inclusion in Tech (Ep. 157)

How do the internet sector's efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in tech align with its broader policy agenda? Sean Perryman joined us to discuss.

 

Bio

 

Sean Perryman (https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanperryman/) is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion Policy and Counsel at the Internet Association. He is responsible for leading IA’s advocacy efforts around diversity, inclusion, and workforce-related policies at the local, state, and federal level.

Prior to joining IA, Sean served as Counsel on the House Oversight Committee, Democratic staff where he advised on technology policy including AI, cybersecurity, and privacy issues. Before working on the Oversight Committee, Sean practiced civil litigation both in Texas and D.C.

Sean is passionate about issues of equity and inclusion. In his spare time he serves as Education Chair for the Fairfax County NAACP. He also regularly writes about issues related to race and advocates for a more equitable society.

Sean earned his B.A. from City University of New York- Baruch College. He received his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. A Brooklyn, New York native, he now resides in Fairfax, Virginia with his wife and daughter.

Resources

Internet Association

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

News Roundup

DOJ indicts 7 Russian intelligence officers for conspiracy

The Department of Justice indicted 7 Russian intelligence officers on Thursday on  charges that they conspired to conduct malicious cyberattacks against the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Morgan Chalfant reports in the Hill that on that same day, the UK and the Netherlands announced that they had thwarted a Russian-led cyberattack against The Hague’s global chemical weapons watchdog. The indicted officials allegedly work for Russian military intelligence GRU. FBI special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 GRU officials earlier this year for their alleged role in hacking the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Google+ bug exposes 500,000 users to potential data breach

Google announced that as many as 500,000 of its users may have had their personal data exposed from a breach in its unpopular social media platform, Google Plus. The company announced that it discovered the bug back in March but that there is no evidence that anyone exploited the bug. The company also announced that it will be shuttering Google Plus by August of next year.

Facebook executive stokes internal conflict at Facebook for supporting Kavanaugh

Joel Kaplan – Facebook’s vice president for global public policy is under internal fire at Facebook for supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Kaplan sat directly behind Kavanaugh at the hearing, then threw a party for him to celebrate his confirmation, which reports say Kavanaugh and his wife attended. Kaplan and his wife hosted the party despite apologizing, in a note to Facebook’s staff, in which Kaplan said he recognizes that this moment is a painful one. Kaplan, however, as a private supporter and personal friend of Kavanaugh’s, did not break any company rules, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Victim’s Fitbit data leads to arrest of 90-year-old murder suspect

A Fitbit has led to the arrest of a 90-year-old San Jose man for allegedly murdering his 67-year-old stepdaughter after dropping off a homemade pizza and biscotti, according to police. The police tied the suspect to the victim’s heart rate which, according to her Fitbit device, surged and then rapidly declined while the suspect was still in the house. This was corroborated by surveillance footage, also synced up to internet time, that allegedly shows that his car was still parked outside, thus placing him in the house, when the victim expired.

Amazon announces $15/hour minimum wage but cuts bonuses

Amazon has announced a $15 minimum wage for all of its 250,000 employees, engendering the support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Amazon also announced that it will begin lobbying Congress to raise the national minimum wage. Target’s minimum hourly wage stands at $12 while Walmart’s stands at $11.

Ranking Member Pallone questions tech CEOS about Russian influence on Kavanaugh hearing

House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone sent several questions to the CEOs of Alphabet, Facebook, and Twitter to determine the extent to which Russian trolls impacted debate on the Kavanaugh hearing in ways that resembled Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. U.S. officials believe that Russians have continued their hacking operations against the U.S. Pallone noted that one Facebook Group that was vocal about supporting Kavanaugh, also advocated for boycotting Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Ali Breland reports in the Hill.

Trump administration relaxes restrictions on driverless trucks

Finally, the Trump administration has decided to relax restrictions on driverless trucks—shifting the onus for safety away from the federal government to companies who develop driverless technologies. But transportation Secretary Elain Chao says that the administration continues to be concerned about the effect that driverless vehicles will have on the workforce.

 

Oct 2, 2018

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Alex J. Wood -- Liberator or 'Boss from Hell'?: The Gig Economy's Double Edge

Oxford Internet Institute Researcher Alex J. Wood discusses the gig economy's double edge from the perspective of workers themselves.

Bio

Alex J. Wood (@tom_swing) is a Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is a sociologist of work and employment, focusing on the changing nature of employment relations and labour market transformation.

Alex is currently researching new forms of worker voice and collective action in the online gig economy as part of the iLabour project.

Alex previously researched online labour markets and virtual employment relations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia as part of the “Microwork and Virtual Production Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia” project. This project investigates the economic and social implications of new forms of economic activities in the context of ICTs for development.

Alex completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge Department of Sociology where he also worked as Research Associate on an ESRC impact acceleration project to evaluate potential ways of reducing workplace stress resulting from insecure scheduling.

Alex’s PhD (2015) is titled the “The insecure worker: workplace control in the 21st Century”. His PhD focuses on the changing nature of flexible and insecure forms of work such as zero hour contracts. New patterns of working-time flexibility and how this relates to insecurity, well-being, and issues of workplace control and resistance being central to account developed.

He also has a long standing interest in the relationships between industrial relations, union renewal and emerging forms of workplace representation and new patterns of class and inequality.

Previously he received his MPhil in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (2011) with distinction. He received a first class BSc (hons) degree in Politics and Sociology, from Aston University (2009).

Resources

Oxford Internet Institute

Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Gig Economy by Alex J. Wood, Mark Graham and Vili Lehdonvirta

 

News Roundup

New Facebook breach affects 50 million users

Facebook reported a data breach that began to take effect in July of 2017 when Facebook updated its View As feature which allows users to see how their profile looks to specific friends. The company said it didn’t discover the breach until September. While the company didn’t dislose exactly which user data was stolen or who stole it, it did reveal that the hackers obtained access tokens that enabled them to manipulate user accounts. Facebook says it has notified affected users and required them to log back into their accounts.

Elon Musk steps down as Tesla over tweets/SEC fraud investigation

Elon Musk has stepped down as the Chairman of Tesla and will need to pay a $20 million fine for his tweet last month saying he had “funding secured” for a $420 per share buyout of the company. The SEC had sued Musk for the tweet saying it misled investors. The SEC said that the $420 stock price was a weed reference—intended to impress his girlfriend\, rapper Grimes. He was also smoking up on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Obviously he was confused and bewildered—talking in tongues and rapping freestyle.

Federal prosecutors are now probing the ad industry

Federal prosecutors have launched an investigation into ad agencies who buy advertising time on behalf of large corporate brands. A recent Association of National Retailers report found that media outlets have been offering ad agencies rebates—cash back after they meet spending threshholds -- but that the money hasn’t been making its way back advertisers. Suzanne Vranica and Nicole Hong report in the Wall Street Journal.

Environmental Protection Agency to dissolve science advisory office

The EPA will be dissolving its science office and ostensibly rolling it into the agency’s Office of Research and Development. This is the same agency that has basically censored the terms “climate change” from its website, speeches and all of pr collateral. It has also stopped giving climate change awards and is working to roll back full efficiency standards.

Federal preemption is trending

The doctrine of Federal pre-emption took center-stage this week in three different areas: net neutrality, privacy, and 5G buildout. Remember the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution makes federal law the supreme law of the land. On the net neutrality front, the state of California passed its own set of net neutrality rules that mirror the ones the FCC passed in 2015 but that Ajit Pai’s FCC repealed earlier this year. The Department of Justice is now suing the state of California, claiming the federal preemption doctrine.

On privacy, Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, AT&T, Charter, and Twitter told the Senate Commerce Committee last week that they would support federal privacy regulation that would preempt California’s privacy law, set to go into effect in 2020, which would give California consumers more control over their data. But a national privacy framework that would preempt state privacy rules has support from both sides of the aisle.

And on 5G … the FCC passed new rules last week that would minimize the role of local and state authorities in the review process to build out 5G wireless infrastructure, by limiting fees that local and state authorities charge carriers in order to deploy 5G and capping the shot clock to require local authorities to approve 5G applications within 60 to 90 days.

Verizon begins 5G rollout in 4 cities

Five days following the FCC’s order to limit local and state oversight of 5G deployment, Verizon announced that it would be deploying 5G in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento. This makes Verizon the first company in the world to offer 5G on a commercial basis to individual consumers. Brian Fung has more in the Washington Post.

Federal court rules against Uber drivers suing as a class

Finally, the federal District Court of the Northern District of California has ruled to de-certify a class of nearly 240,000 Uber drivers who are suing Uber, saying that they should be considered employees rather than independent contractors. This would entitle them to better benefits and things like reimbursement for gas. The decision was long expected since the US Supreme Court ruled back in May – in Epic Systems v. Louis – that courts are required to honor arbitration agreements that gig workers sign up for.  All 240, 000 drivers would now have to pursue their claims individually.

Sep 25, 2018

Naeemah Clark: How to Define 'Viewpoint Diversity' in a Polarized America (Ep. 155)

Are 'viewpoint diversity' and 'ethnic diversity' mutually exclusive? Elon University professor Naeemah Clark helps put 'viewpoint diversity' in perspective.

Bio

Naeemah Clark (@NaeemahC)  is an Associate Professor of Communications at Elon University. Noticing a lack of diversity and unfair portrayal of marginalized groups in the media, Naeemah Clark pursues an interest in race and gender, economic status, disabilities, LGBTQIA and ethnicity in the media. She also studies and teaches about economic, programming and diversity issues related in the media and entertainment industries. She has edited the book, "African Americans in the History of U.S. Media," co-authored a textbook, "Diversity in U.S. Mass Media," published work in Journalism History, American Behavioral Scientist and has presented numerous papers at various conferences. She earned a B.A. in education from Florida State University, and her Masters and Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Florida.

Resources

Elon University School of Communications

Diversity in the U.S. Mass Media by Catherine Luther, Carolyn Ringer Lepre, and Naeemah Clark (Wiley Press, 2012)

News Roundup

Comcast beat out 21st Century Fox in bid for SkyTV

Comcast beat out Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in its bid for UK cable provider Sky with a $40 billion offer. At 17.28 pounds per share, it tracks Sky’s share price which was trading at about 17.16 pounds per share Monday morning on the London Stock Exchange. This also takes Disney out of the running for Sky. Disney hoped to acquire Sky when it closes on its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, which it won back in July for $71 billion and which includes 21st Century Fox’s 39% stake in Sky.

Feds weigh regulation of social media platforms

Bloomberg News reported that the White House is considering a draft order that would direct the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook and Google’s social media practices. The administration has repeatedly claimed the platforms are biased against conservative viewpoints. However, no similar measures to curtail broadcasters’ bias have surfaced, leaving one sector of a broader media ecosystem under attack, while traditional media are free to discriminate against differing viewpoints without restriction. For example, Sinclair Broadcasting’s commentators and talk radio hosts hold almost exclusively conservative viewpoints.

The Department of Justice is weighing a discussion with state attorneys general regarding the so-called “shadow banning” of conservative viewpoints at the National Association of Attorneys General meeting from November 27-29th in Charleston, South Carolina. And the Wall Street Journal also reported that, following the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, Google employees discussed tweaking search results to inform users about how they might contribute to pro-immigration causes and counteract the effects of the ban. Google says it never implemented the changes.

Paypal stops doing business with Infowars

Paypal has stopped doing business with Alex Jones’ conspiracy website Infowars

PayPal ended the relationship in an email saying InfoWars violated PayPal’s acceptable use policy by “promoting hate and discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions.”

Trump administration releases new cyber strategy

The Trump administration announced a new cyber strategy last week that’ll prioritize attacks against foreign adversaries. National Security Advisor Josh Bolton made it clear last week that the U.S. will focus on both offense and defense on a cyber front that has grown to be infinitely more complex since the 2016 presidential election.  

Google says it allows third parties to share data from Gmail

As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, Google wrote a letter to Senators saying that it allows app developers to scan Gmail accounts for data, even though Google itself says that it no longer uses Gmail data for ad-targeting. App developers have ready access to valuable data about Gmail users’ buying preferences, whom they interact with, and other valuable psychometric data. But Google’s Vice President of public policy and government affairs wrote that the company only shares data with third parties who agree to be fully transparent.

Sen. Wyden’s office discovers targeted Gmail attacks against members of Congress

Foreign hackers are targeting senators’ Gmail accounts. That’s according to a letter Senate Democrat Ron Wyden wrote to senate leaders last week, which was subsequently confirmed by Google spokesman Aaron Stein who said that his company informed Senator Wyden of the breach attempts. Neither Wyden nor Google confirmed details of which members the hackers are targeting or how. But Wyden is calling for rule changes that would empower the Sergeant-at-Arms to protect members’ personal email accounts.

New York Times sues FCC over Russian influence in net neutrality proceeding

The New York Times has sued the Federal Communications Commission in the Southern District of New York to determine the extent of Russian meddling in the net neutrality proceeding. Of the record 22 million commenters in the proceeding to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules, some 450,000 had Russian email addresses. But the New York Times also wants IP addresses, timestamps, and user-agent headers to gain a fuller understanding of how Russians interfered with the proceeding.

Federal Judge keeps electronic touch screen machines in place in Georgia

A federal judge in Georgia denied a motion that would have required Georgia to switch from electronic touch screens to paper ballots. Judge Amy Totenberg found that switching to paper ballots on such short notice would have a worse effect on the November election than the touch screens would.

Facebook to team with anti-fake news nonprofits

Facebook has announced that it will be teaming up with the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute -- two anti-propaganda nonprofits on the left and right -– as the company continues to battle fake news ahead of Brazilian elections in October and the U.S. November midterms. Facebook announced the partnership as new research found that 3 out of 4 articles being shared about the Brazil election are false. Joseph Menn has the story at Reuters.

Sirius XM to acquire Pandora

Finally, in a $3.5 billion deal, satellite broadcaster Sirius XM will be acquiring internet streaming service Pandora in an all-stock transaction, according to a company announcement on Monday. The deal will combine Sirius XM’s 36 million subscribers with Pandora’s 70 million, with projected revenue for this year of $7 billion.

Sep 18, 2018

 

 

Rebekah Tromble: How to Combat Misinformation (Ep. 154)

Leiden University's Rebekah Tromble joined Joe Miller to chat about ways to combat misinformation on social media.

 

Bio

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.

 

Resources

Rebekah Tromble

Leiden University, Institute of Political Science

Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason

 

News Roundup

U.S. sanctions Russian and Chinese firms over North Korea

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 is investigating Google’s location data practices

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.

FCC stops review clock on T-Mobile/Sprint merger review

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.

Trump has signed off on election interference sanctions

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.

Google under scrutiny for China plans

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.

European Union adopts draft copyright bill

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.

CBS sets aside $120 million in severance for Les Moonves

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.

Sep 11, 2018

 

Francella Ochillo: Latinos and Tech Policy -- The Policy Year Ahead (Ep. 153)

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.

Bio

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.

Resources

National Hispanic Media Coalition

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

News Roundup

Google under heat

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 permanently bans Alex Jones

Twitter has decided to permanently ban conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The company said that Jones violated its abusive behavior policy.

Justice Department investigates whether tech companies stifle conservative viewpoints

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.

Politics sends NASDAQ down 161 points

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 bans Myanmar military accounts

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”.

President Trump asks Apple to shift production back to U.S.

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.

 

 

Aug 14, 2018

 

Bio


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.

 

Resources

 

Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley

 

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

 

News Roundup

 

Elon Musk raises flags over privatization tweet

 

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.

 

New York City caps ride sharing licenses

 

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 kills $3.9 billion Sinclair deal

 

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.

 

Instagram added more users than Snap’s total usership

 

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.

 

Pentagon limits fitness devices in sensitive areas

 

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.

Facebook to require more information from page managers

 

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.

Aug 7, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_kjbagchi

K.J. Bagchi: The Obstacle is the Myth (Ep. 149)

K.J. Bagchi joined Joe Miller to discuss how the Model Minority Myth negatively impacts Asian Americans and impedes an inclusive policy dialogue.

Bio

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.

Resources

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

14: Stories that Inspired Satyajit Ray by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

News Roundup

Facebook reveals new disinformation campaign

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.

Facebook teams up with banks to share customer data

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.

States sue to stop 3D printing of guns

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.

Advertisers sue Sinclair

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 hits a $1 trillion market valuation

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 remove all Alex Jones’ Content

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

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.

Jul 24, 2018

Bio

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.

Resources

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Briné Brown.

News Roundup

EU fines Google $5 billion

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.

FCC Punts on Sinclair

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.

Justice Department releases cybercrime/election meddling plan

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 58 million accounts in the fourth quarter

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 drops bid for 21st Century Fox

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 misses on subscriber growth

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 will allow Trump’s plan to save ZTE

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.

Jul 3, 2018

Bio 

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.

Resources 

Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Eleventh Circuit LabMD Decision Significantly Restrains FTC’s Remedial Powers in Data Security and Privacy Actions by Lydia Parnes (WSGR Blog, June 18, 2018)

 

News Roundup

California passes its own set of privacy rules

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.

Facebook says it released even more data 

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.

Man charged with threatening Ajit Pai’s family       

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. 

NSA deletes 685 million call records

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.

Former Equifax manager charged with insider trading

 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 is probing the T-Mobile/Sprint Deal

 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 moves to encrypt photos

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.

Netflix fires executive for racist comment

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.

Jun 26, 2018

 

Bio

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.

Resources

CJ Johnson

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

News Roundup

U.S. Supreme Court Rules that police need warrants for cell location data

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.

U.S. Supreme Court rules for state sales tax of out-of-state retailers

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 file for merger

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 will now enable 911 location pinpointing

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.

 

 

 

 

Jun 19, 2018

Bio 

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.

 

Resources

Marca Studio

Collective Action for Puerto Rico

 

News Roundup

Court greenlights AT&T/Time Warner merger setting the stage for more consolidation 

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. 

Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes Indicted

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.

 

Trump calls for creation of a Space Force

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 diversity report

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.

 

Apple will remove backdoor for law enforcement

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.

 

 

 

Jun 12, 2018

 

Hassan Tetteh: The Power of AI in Medicine (Ep. 141)

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.

Bio

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.

Resources

Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth

News Roundup

Net neutrality is officially gone

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.

Ex-Senate intelligence aide charged for FBI leaks

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.

Amidst  uncertainty regarding Chinese device makers, Senator Warner pressures Google and Twitter

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 news CEO

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.

U.S . sanctions firms linked to Russia

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/Facebook for political ads

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.

Jun 5, 2018

 

 

Clayton Banks: 5G Comes to Harlem (Ep. 140)

Bio

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.

Resources

Silicon Harlem

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

News Roundup

Trump nominates Geoffrey Starks to fill Democratic FCC Seat

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 under fire again

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.

Keith Ellison calls for FTC investigation of Google

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 address political ad transparency

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.

Homeland detected surveillance activity near “sensitive facilities”

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.

Apple reports sharp increase in national security requests

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.

Google nixes plans to work with Pentagon

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.

May 22, 2018

 

Nii-Quartelai Quartey

Bio

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.

Resources

AARP’s LGBT Pride Portal

Maintaining Dignity: A Survey of LGBT Adults Age 45 and Older

 

Uber stops requiring arbitration from sexual assault victims, employees and drivers just days before the Supreme Court ruled that such agreements are enforceable

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.

House takes up Net Neutrality CRA

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.

House Committee rejects Trump’s efforts to water down ZTE sanctions

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.

FCC puts Sinclair-Tribune merger back on the table

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 will adopt board diversity rule

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.

Justice Department and F.B.I. Investigate Cambridge Analytica

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.

Trump issues Executive Order on CIO Authority

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.

May 15, 2018

 

Bio

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.

Resources

Reach Mama

Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act

Support the FAMILY Ac

Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless, and Change Your World by Kirsten Gillibrand (Ballantine Books, 2014).

News Roundup

U.S./China appear to be backing away from trade war

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.

Senate forces a vote on net neutrality

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.

AT&T retained Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

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.

Facebook shuffles is leadership

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.

Senate Intelligence Committee releases interim election security report

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.

Black, Hispanic lawmakers blast Amazon directors for opposing diversity

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.

FAA ignores Amazon in drone pilot program

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.

FCC issues a $120 million robocall fine

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.

May 8, 2018

techpolicypodcast_washingtech_darrell_west

Darell West: AI, the Future of Work, and the Future of America (Ep. 137)

Bio

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.

Resources

Inside Politics

The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation (Brookings Institution Press, 2018)

Brookings Center for Technology Innovation

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (HarperCollins, 2017)

News Roundup

Federal watchdog: FCC’s ORielly violated Hatch Act

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 aims for 21st Century Fox

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 mount between U.S. and China over Telecom/5G

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.

N.S.A.’s collection of data from U.S. phone companies is up threefold since 2016

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 begins shift of $9 Billion in Universal Service funds from BofA to Treasury

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.

Velázquez and 46 members of Congress urge the FCC to preserve Lifeline

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 declares bankruptcy

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.

CBC Releases vision for shared prosperity in tech

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 announces platform

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 announce ban on bail bond ads

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.

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