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WashingTECH Policy Podcast with Joe Miller

The WashingTECH Policy Podcast is your resource for media and tech law and policy news and interviews. Each week, the WashingTECH Policy Podcast gives you the latest developments in media and tech law & policy, as well as an interview with an influencer in the media and technology sectors, whether they be policymakers, entrepreneurs, politicians or academics. Listen to the WashingTECH Policy podcast to get a quick update in the car, at the gym, between flights, wherever and whenever you need a quick summary of the media and tech policy news and thought leadership driving the week.
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WashingTECH Policy Podcast with Joe Miller
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Mar 28, 2017

Faiza Patel (@FaizaPatelBCJ) serves as co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. She has testified before Congress opposing the dragnet surveillance of Muslims, organized advocacy efforts against state laws designed to incite fear of Islam, and developed legislation creating an independent Inspector General for the NYPD.

Ms. Patel is the author of five reports: Rethinking Radicalization (2011); A Proposal for an NYPD Inspector General (2012); Foreign Law Bans (2013); What Went Wrong with the FISA Court (2015); and Overseas Surveillance in an Interconnected World (2016). She is a frequent commentator on national security and counterterrorism issues for media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Guardian, MSNBC, Al-Jazeera, NPR, the New York Daily News, and the National Law Journal and has published widely in academic outlets as well.

Before joining the Brennan Center, Ms. Patel worked as a senior policy officer at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, and clerked for Judge Sidhwa at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Born and raised in Pakistan, Ms. Patel is a graduate of Harvard College and the NYU School of Law.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • a comparison of candidate Donald Trump's proposals to surveil Muslims to President Trump's policies.
  • a description of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program and its prospects under the Trump administration.
  • the Fourth Amendment implications of police surveillance issues on the local level that potentially impact innocent civilians within the United States.

Resources:

Brennan Center for Justice

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

NEWS ROUNDUP

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution last week by a vote of 50-48 to overturn the FCC's ISP privacy rules. The rules were designed to prevent ISPs from using sensitive data about their subscribers for the companies' own commercial purposes. Ali Breland and Harper Neidig have the story in The Hill.

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Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law who is also a senior advisor to the president, will lead a new White House Office of American Innovation which, the President says, is indented as a sort of SWAT team that will seek to apply solutions from the world of business to the world of government. The new office will focus in things like Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes a broadband buildout component, as well as modernizing the federal government's technology and improving government operations. Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report in the Washington Post.

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The Trump administration issued a ban of electronic devices on flights coming from 8 countries including Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The UK followed up with a similar ban. Authorities suspect a plot to bring down a plane with explosives hidden in an iPad, according sources cited by Ewen Macaskill in The Guardian.

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Google has been battling over the past week to prevent ads from showing up adjacent to hateful and offensive content. The glitch led major advertisers to withdraw spots from YouTube. AT&T and Verizon were among the companies that pulled their advetising from the platform. Google responded by giving advertisers greater control over where their ads appear. Google's Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler also apologized. But reports of ads placed next to offensive content were still coming in as of Monday. Mark Scott reports in The New York Times.

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Apple has succeeded in persuading a Chinese Court that its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus don't infringe the patents of Shenzhen Baili Marketing Services, a now-defunct Chinese smartphone manufacturer. If the patent infringement decision against Apple had been upheld, it was seen as threatening to Apple which is under intense competition in China. But Baili is expected to appeal. Eva Dou and Yang Jie report in the Wall Street Journal.

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Mark Bergen and Eric Newcomer reported in Bloomberg that an accident in Tempe has prompted Uber to suspend its autonomous vehicle tests in Arizona. According to police, Uber was not at fault and no injuries resulted from the accident.

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A New York attorney named David Thompson has discovered via a Freedom of Information Act request that on over 400 occasions between 2011 and 2013, the New York City Police Department deployed officers to videotape or surveil activities of Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter protesters. Importantly, the NYPD was unable to produce documentation showing the surveillance was authorized by a judge or higher ups within the NYPD. George Joseph has the story in the Verge.

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Aida Chavez of the Hill covered a House Oversight hearing last week in which lawmakers grilled witnesses from the FBI about how they use facial recognition technology. Lawmakers were highly concerned about the impact the FBI's facial recognition database would have on communities of color as well as the public in general

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The FCC voted unanimously Thursday to clamp down on robocalls. The National Do Not Call list has failed to prevent robocalls. Phone companies will now themselves be permitted to identify numbers associated with robocalls and block the calls from ever reaching their customers.

Mar 21, 2017

The man who viciously attacked long-time New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald back in December has finally been arrested, according to Cecilia Kang at The New York Times. The FBI picked up twenty-nine year old John Rivello of Salisbury, Md. on Friday for sending Eichenwald, who suffers from seizures, an electronic file containing strobe lights and bearing the words "you deserve a seizure for your posts". Eichenwald did in fact suffer a seizure. Rivello now faces a possible 10 year sentence if he is convicted of criminal cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm.

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President Trump is sticking to his guns, but no one in Congress has been able to find any evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. The Republican Senator Richard Burr who Chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and Democratic Vice Chair Mark Warner issued the following statement last week: “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016."  House Intelligence Chair David Nunes issued a similar statement, saying that President Trump's tweet shouldn't be taken literally.On Monday, FBI Director James Comey testified before a House panel that the FBI has found no evidence that former President Obama wiretapped Trump tower.

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A county judge in Minnesota has issued a warrant requiring Google to reveal who searched the name of a victim of financial fraud. The victim's image was used to obtain a fake passport to trick a credit union to transfer $28,500 out of an account. Minneapolis police say the victim's image was clicked on in the search. David Kravets has the story in Ars.

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Greg Besinger at the Wall Street Journal reports that Uber is trying to prevent their drivers from unionizing in Seattle. The effort to unionize is supported by the Teamsters and the Seattle City Council. Uber has allegedly been trying to get drivers not to unionize via company podcasts, text messages and phone surveys. It's a complex case that the Communications Workers of America is also involved in. Uber has threatened to leave Seattle if the unionization effort succeeds. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also trying to prevent the drivers from organizing, and the chamber has sued the Seattle City Council for an ordinance it passed in 2015 that gave drivers the right to vote on whether to form a union.

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FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is urging Congress and the White House to include broadband buildout within the infrastructure bill. He says infrastructure spending should prioritize rural areas and be paid for via the Universal Service Fund. Maggie Reardon has the story in CNET.

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The City of New York is suing Verizon because it says the company failed to deliver on a 2008 agreement to provide broadband to every single home in the city. But the company, though its GC Craig Silliman, said the company has already spent $3.7 billion to place fiber throughout the city and that the fiber passes every home in the city. Patrick McGeehan has the story int he New York Times.

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CA Technologies, the technology firm and government contractor, will pay a $45 million settlement in a lawsuit brought by a former whistleblower employee alleging that the company failed to inform the the General Services Administration that certain discounts were available. The former employee, who filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act, will receive $10.92 million of the settlement. Evan Fallor has the story in FedScoop.

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Ride-hailing company Lyft, Inc.  is now on the hook to pay $27 million to drivers who filed a class-action lawsuit on federal court to change their classification from independent contractors to employees. The settlement will be paid to the  drivers, however they will remain classified as independent contractors.

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The European Commission--which is the executive arm of the European Union--has given the greenlight to the $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger. The merger is still working its way through the regulatory approval process in the U.S.

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Finally, President Trump has released  draft budget which includes $61 million to fight cybercrime and encryption plus $1.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security. Joseph Marks has the story in Nextgov. Stay with us.

Mar 14, 2017

Dr. Christopher Hooton (@Hooton_Chris) is the Chief Economist at the Internet Association, which represents the interests of the world's leading Internet companies in the advancement of public policy solutions to strengthen and protect Internet freedom, foster innovation and economic growth, and empower users.  He is an economist and policy expert specializing in economic development, urban economics, spatial analysis, and evaluation. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank as well as other leading international organizations and was formerly a Lecturer at the Social Science Research Methods Centre University of Cambridge. His work has been featured in several international news organizations including the Financial Times, Reuters, the Financial Post, the Huffington Post, and more. 

Chris is a graduate of University of Miami, earned a Masters degree from the London School of Economics, and received a PhD in economic development from the University of Cambridge.

 

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the size of the internet economy in the U.S. and abroad. 
  • how various sub-sectors, industries and activities might be more accurately classified under the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) to more accurately reflect the influence of the internet.

Resources

Refreshing Our Understanding of the Internet Economy by Christopher Hooton (Internet Association, 2017)

Observance by Christopher Hooton (2017)

ChrisHooton.com

News Roundup

Wikileaks last weak released a trove of CIA documents in what the New York Times said appears to be the largest C.I.A. document leak in the agency's history. The hack revealed information regarding the C.I.A.'s ability to hack into things like Smart TVs, and even Apple iPhones, which are widely considered the gold standard of device encryption. The leak also revealed that the agency has the ability to read messages sent via encrypted messaging apps, such as Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp, simply by intercepting them before they are encrypted.

The leaks did not reveal information on what the C.I.A. is doing to conduct surveillance of other nations. Check out full coverage in The New York Times.

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Facebook has announced that it will no longer allow anyone to access its data, including the police, for the purpose of surveillance. However, the company will continue to allow the police to use the platform and assisting law enforcement on a case-by-case basis. But some advocates say the changes don't go far enough.  Elizabeth Dwoskin has the story in the Washington Post.

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Trump revised his ban on immigrants from majority-Muslim countries last week. The revised version exempts permanent U.S. residents, dual nationals and those already living in the U.S. as refugees or who have been granted asylum. The revised measure was met with condemnation from the tech sector, by Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. Nick Statt has the story in The Verge.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has denied an application for what would have been an exchange for the digital currency Bitcoin. The Commission found that the coin is not sufficiently regulated around the world to justify setting up the exchange, which was to be called Bitcoin Trust. Dave Michaels and Paul Vigna have the story in the Wall Street Journal.

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The FCC is also investigating a 911 outage that prevented AT&T customers from dialing 911. AT&T did not indicate how widespread the outage was. Harper Neidig has the story in the Hill.

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A new report written by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and Connect Your Community accuses AT&T of deliberately failing to build out broadband to low-income communities in Cleveland. The report analyzes data AT&T submitted to the FCC which shows robust high speed internet service in suburban areas and sparse build out in low-income areas.

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A Morning Consult/Politico poll found a growing number of Americans now believe Russia did in fact interfere with the 2016 election. Forty-one percent now believe Russia influenced the results, up 9 percentage points from December.

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President Trump has nominated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for another term. It's a five-year term that requires Senate approval. If confirmed, Pai's Chairmanship would be retroactive to July 1st, 2016, which was when Pai's term as Commissioner expired. Pai has remained on board though because FCC rules allow Commissioners to keep their jobs for 18 months past the expiration of their term. Trump appointed Pai Chairman after Pai officially endorsed Trump's nomination of Jeff Session for Attorney General. Prior to announcing the nomination, Trump and Pai had a closed door meeting. The Electronic Privacy and Information Center swiftly responded with a FOIA request to obtain details about that meeting.

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Neither Ajit Pai nor the Republican-controlled Congress are fans of the FCC's internet sevice provider privacy rules passed under previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. But Ajit Pai stated last week at a Senate hearing, in a departure from the Republican line, that the FCC would still be obligated to protect consumers' privacy even if Congress eliminates the privacy rules. A measure to eliminate the privacy rules using the Congressional Review Act has the support of 23 Republican co-sponsors.

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The National Science Foundation has pledged $100 million for tech hubs focused on 5G wireless. The initiative is called the Platform for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) and will be led by NSF and Northeastern University.

 

Mar 7, 2017

Sander van der Linden, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor (University Lecturer) in Social Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, where he is also a Fellow in Psychological and Behavioral Sciences at Churchill College. Other academic affiliations include the Yale Center for Environmental Communication at Yale University. At Cambridge, Dr. van der Linden lectures mainly in statistics and social psychology.

 Dr. van der Linden's research has received awards from institutions such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP). He was nominated by Pacific Standard Magazine as one of the "top thinkers under 30" and his work has been widely publicized in the media, including outlets such as Time Magazine, the Washington Post, NPR, the BBC, and the New York Times.

Prior to Cambridge, van der Linden directed the Social and Environmental Decision-Making (SED) Lab in the Department of Psychology and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton University and was a visiting scholar (2012-2014) at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In this episode, we discussed:

  • How users can be scientifically inoculated to reject fake fews.

Resources:

The Cambridge Social Decision Making Lab

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

NEWS ROUND UP

You've heard by now that Trump claimed, with no evidence, on Twitter over the weekend that Obama wiretapped his office in Trump Tower. Not only did Obama deny it through a spokesperson, former Director of National Security Director James Clapper said he too can deny the wiretaps. Current FBI Director James Comey was also said to have rejected the assertions in Trump's tweets, which President Trump was said to have not accepted, putting the two men at odds. The White House has asked Congress to investigate whether his office was indeed wiretapped. So what gave Trump the idea that his office had been wiretapped? No one knows.

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The Senate confirmed Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. The former Texas governor once vowed to abolish the department he will now lead.

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Google has announced that it will be launching a $35/month broadcast tv streaming service that will carry ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as several cable networks including ESPN, FX, Fox News and MSNBC.

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Several tech companies filed a joint amicus brief before the Supreme Court in support of a transgender student in Virginia who is challenging the Glouchester County School board for for not letting him use the boy's restroom. IBM, Slack, Lyft, Yahoo, Tumblr and Salesforce all signed the brief. Google, Facebook and Uber, though, sat this one out.  But the Supreme Court ended up sending the case back down to the lower court because the Trump White House rescinded an Obama-era progressive interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits discrimination against students on the basis of sex.

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Snapchat surged 44% after its IPO last week. The stock was introduced at $17 a share on Thursday and closed that day at $24.48.

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The Senate confirmed Wilber Ross as Commerce Secretary with a vote of  72-27. The 79-year old billionaire earned his wealth rehabilitating steel companies. Democrat Bill Nelson supported Ross' nomination, but other Democratic Senators including New Jersey's Corey Booker and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren question Ross' ties with Russia.

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The FCC put a halt on data security regulations that would have required ISPs to protect their customers from hackers. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said privacy is more properly handled by the Federal Trade Commission.

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Vice President Mike Pence caught some heat last week for using a private, consumer email account to conduct official state business when he served as Governor of Indiana. Pence had criticized Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign for using a private email server. Pence's email was via AOL. But Indiana law still requires state business communications to be preserved. In fact, Pence's emails were indeed hacked last summer, according sources cited in IndyStar.
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The Trump administration has decided it is going to slow processing of H1B visas for specialized workers. Many companies in the technology sector rely on H1B visas to recruit highly-skilled labor from abroad. Currently, companies can opt for premium processing of H1B visa applications which cuts the processing time down from several months, to as few as 15 days. But beginning on April 3rd, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization services will suspend premium processing for up to 6 months.

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Sprint has won $139.8 million in damages in its patent lawsuit against Time Warner Cable. The jury in the U.S. District Court of the District of Kansas found Time Warner Cable to have violated Sprint's Voice over IP patents. The jury also found Time Warner Cable's infringement of Sprint's patents was willful, which means the judge could triple the damage award.

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The European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has warned the United States that if it doesn't comply with the terms of the Privacy Shield, the European Union may pull out of it, which would be catastrophic for the tech sector. The long-fought over Privacy Shield is designed to ensure data flows seemlessly between the U.S. and Europe, while at the same time protecting European Citizens' privacy. Jourova is expected to come to the U.S. to meet with the Trump administration at the end of March. She indicated that she would not hesitate to suspend the Privacy Shield if Eurpeans' privacy is put too much at risk by the unpredictable Trump administration.

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The FCC issued an emergency order last week to help law enforcement identify individuals calling in bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers around the country.  The emergency order waives rules that ordinarily prevent carriers from disclosing the identity of callers who have requested anonymity. The waiver only applies to calls to Jewish Community Centers.

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Finally, Trump has withdrawn the re-nomination of former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. The previous Senate had let her confirmation lapse, prompting Obama to re-nominate her. Now it looks like Rosenworcel has no chance of returning to the FCC, which is missing 2 commissioners. Rosenworcel had bipartisan support, including  a lukewarm endorsement from Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune who said he supported Rosenworcel, but said the decision should be left to the president.

Feb 28, 2017
Taylor Moore (TayMoore_CDT) is the Center for Democracy & Technology's (CDT) Free Expression Fellow. Her work focuses on preserving the Internet as a global platform for speech and association, democratic accountability, the free exchange of information and ideas, and the freedom of thought.She previously served as the Google Policy Fellow for Public Knowledge, where she was involved in advocacy work related to net neutrality, intellectual property, and internet governance. Taylor also served as the fellow for the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, where she supported new paradigms for the creation, management, and exploitation of knowledge resources, and worked within a wide spectrum of IP stakeholders. Before graduating from Howard University School of Law, she worked as a law clerk for Commissioner Mignon Clyburn at the FCC and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the social justice and civil rights implications of fake news.
  • how algorithms affect the way social media companies moderate content.
  • how citizens can stop the spread of fake news.

Resources:

Center for Democracy & Technology

How Algorithms Can Impact Civil Rights Movements blog post by Taylor Moore (CDT, 2017)

Many Americans Believe Fake News is Sowing Confusion by Michael Barthel, Amy Mitchell, and Jesse Holcomb (Pew, 2016)

The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Ecco, 2016)

A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking, 2016)

NEWS ROUNDUP

Google announced number of public interest research and initiatives last week.

The Google subsidiary Jigsaw has developed, along with the help of The New York Times, a new app that allows site operators to weed out hate speech and other harmful speech in comment sections. The app is called Perspective and is available for free for a limited time.

Google.org also announced last week that the company is investing $11.5 million in 10 organizations focused on racial justice. Five million will go to the Center for Policing Equity in New York, a think tank focused on research around how to improve interactions between the police and their communities.

Also, a Google team in collaboration with a Dutch research team, cracked the cryptographic technology known as SHA-1, which has long been central to internet security.

For full reports on these stories, check out Daisuke Wakabayashi's story in the New York Times, Sara O'Brien at CNNTech, and Robert McMillan at the Wall Street Journal.

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In November of 2015, in Bentonville, Arkansas, Victor Collins was found dead, lying face-up in a hot tub belonging to a man named James Andrew Bates. Bates has an Amazon Echo,  speaker that hooks up to a Alexa, a digital personal assistant that accepts voice commands. Now, Bates is the suspect, and the police want Amazon to release records of Bates' Echo comnunications. Amazon is challenging the warrant, saying that being forced to turn over those communications would violate Bates' First Amendment rights. Ashley Carman has the story in The Verge.

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Kara Swisher reported for Recode that Salesforce has joined Apple and Google in opposing Donald Trump's repeal of federal guidelines regarding transgender bathroom use in public schools.

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On Valentines Day, Free Press delivered 200,000 petitions from its members asking the FCC to defend net neutrality. But last week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai demonstrated that their love is unrequited, begnning what he promised: taking what he termed a "weed whacker" to the net neutrality rules. In a 2-1 vote along party lines, the FCC ruled that it would go ahead and exempt net neutrality reporting requirements regarding fees and data caps for broadband providers with fewer than 250,00 subscribers. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn noted that smaller ISPs owned by larger carriers with billions of dollars in capital would also be exempted. Ali Breland has the story in the Hill, as well as Jon Brodkin in Ars Technica.

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Despite the Trump administration's crack down immigration from majority-Muslim countries as well as Mexico, the FCC's Media Bureau gave two Australian citizens 100% ownership in radio stations licensed in America. Just last month, foreign owners were only allowed to own 49% of Univision, up to 40% of which would be by Mexico-based Televisa. Jon Eggerton has the story in Broadcasting & Cable.

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Cox Communications and the American Library Association announced last week that they will be teaming up to provide enhanced digital literacy training for K-12 students in Cox's 18-state footprint.

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Remember back in December when the FBI figured out how to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernadino shooters, thus bypassing Apple's refusal to do it? Well, the Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett have now submitted a court filing asking the judge to require the FBI and Justice Department to disclose which third party they worked with or how much it cost, which the agencies have thus far refused to do. Eric Tucker has the story in the Associated Press.

Feb 21, 2017

Helen Nissenbaum (@HNissenbaum) is on the faculty if Cornell Tech, on leave from NYU where she Professor of Media, Culture and Communication and Director of the Information Law Institute. Her eight books include Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest, with Finn Brunton (MIT Press, 2015), Values at Play in Digital Games, with Mary Flanagan (MIT Press, 2014), and Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford, 2010). Her research has been published in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. Grants from the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as studies of values embodied in design, search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.

Recipient of the 2014 Barwise Prize of the American Philosophical Association, Prof. Nissenbaum has contributed to privacy-enhancing software, including TrackMeNot (for protecting against profiling based on Web search) and AdNauseam (protecting against profiling based on ad clicks). Both are free and freely available.

Nissenbaum holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Before joining the faculty at NYU, she served as Associate Director of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the commercial and political contexts that animate policy discussion around privacy.
  • the means by which citizens may use technology to obfuscate their lawful online activity and activism.
  • points of alignment between consumer privacy advocates and the tech sector.
  • policy recommendations.

Resources:

Cornell Tech

NYU Steinhardt Department of Media, Culture and Communication

Obfuscation: A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest by Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum (MIT, 2016)

The Crooked Timber of Humanity by Isaiah Berlin (Princeton, 2013)

Ad Nauseum

TrackMeNot

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

Republican California Representative David Nunes, who is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which has been investigating Russia's role in the 2016 election, has said he'd like to know why the FBI recorded former national security advisor Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador in the first place. He said it was an invasion of Flynn's privacy. Trump forced Flynn to resign two weeks ago, after it was revealed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn's contacts with Russian officials days before the election. Trump himself did not inform Pence about Flynn's conversations until at least 2 weeks after Trump knew about them, according to the Washington Post. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chafetz also said his committee had no plans to conduct a further investigation. Mike Debonis has the story in the Washington Post.  Politico reports that conservatives worried about leaks from federal employees have asked federal agencies to look into employees' use of the encrypted data app Signal.

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Amidst intense competition from T-Mobile and Sprint which have long offered unlimited data plans, Verizon will now itself offer unlimited data once again. Verizon had stopped offering unlimited data in 2011.

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The Chief of Samsung Group was arrested last week in South Korea. Forty-eight year old Jay Y. Lee, a member of South Korea's richest family,  is accused bribing individuals connected with South Korean President Park Geun Hye, who was impeached in December on corruption charges. Hyunjoo Jin and Joyce Lee cover this in Reuters.

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Amid increased cyber warfare, Microsoft President Brad Smith is calling for a "digital Geneva Convention". At the RSA security conference last week, Smith noted “Let’s face it, cyberspace is the new battlefield." Smith said the convention should define rules of engagement, such as rules under which nation's would pledge not to disrupt civilian infrastructure. Elizabeth Weise covers this in USA Today.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a 5,800 word missive last week in which he took a stand in support of globalization and Facebook's role in it. The wave of nationalism that has swept the Western world has prompted a debate about the merits of globalization. Mike Isaac has the story in The New York Times.

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Snapchat set its valuation between $19.5 and $22 billion ahead of its long-anticipated IPO. In that range, it would be the largest IPO since Alibaba's in 2014.

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At the RSA conference last week, Assistant FBI Director Scott Smith said the federal law enforcement agency will be ramping up its use of predictive policing technology. Smith said, "It’s where we are moving, and hope to go when you talk about predicting as opposed to proactive and reactive. Reactive is consistently where we have been, proactive means we’re really trying to get ahead of it. But predictive is where we want to be. And that’s where I know FBI Cyber Division is strongly moving towards as we speak ..." Catch Chris Bing's full story is in FedScoop.

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Finally, Senator Orrin Hatch--Utah Republican and head of the Republican High Tech Task Force--offered up his tech agenda last week. The agenda targets H1B visa reform and improving cross-border digital trade. Hatch also supports the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which passed the House earlier this month, which would require law enforcement officials to obtain search warrants for emails. Hatch's plan was praised by tech sector leaders, including Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro. Alexis Kramer has more at Bloomberg BNA.

Feb 14, 2017

Harold Feld (@haroldfeld)  is Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President. Before becoming Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold worked as Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, advocating for the public interest in media, telecommunications, and technology policy for almost 10 years. Prior to joining MAP, Harold was an associate at Covington & Burling, worked on Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and accountability issues at the Department of Energy, and clerked for the D.C. Court of Appeals. He received his B.A. from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Boston University Law School. Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory, a progressive blog on media and telecom policy. In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised him and his blog for "[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground."

In this episode, we discussed:

  • early trends from the Ajit Pai FCC.
  • what to expect on FCC reform from the 115th Congress.
  • where consumer advocates and the Trump administration can find common ground.

Resources

Public Knowledge

Slack

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Federalist Papers

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

The Federal Trade Commission found last week that Vizio--the TV manufacturer--has been spying on its 11 million customers. The company had apparently been collecting and selling customers' locations, demographics and viewing habits. Vizio will now have to pay a $2.2 million settlement to the FTC and New Jersey Attorney General's office.  Hayley Tsukayama covers this in the Washington Post.

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The Department of Homeland Security is considering requiring refugees and other immigrants from the 7 Muslim Ban countries to turn over their social media usernames and passwords before entering the United States. DHS Secretary John Kelly made the announcement last week before the House Committee on Homeland Security. But of course a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling last week which blocked the President's ban on refugees entering the country. Next steps include possible appeals to the full 9th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court. David Kravets has the story in Ars Technica.

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The White House mysteriously let go its Chief Information Security Officer, Cory Louie, last week. Louie, who is Asian, had been appointed to the position by former President Obama and was one of the few minorities on Trump's staff. Check out Zack Whittaker's coverage in ZD Net.

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A federal grand jury has indicted the National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing highly sensitive materials from the United States government, which he then collected at his Maryland home. Harold Thomas Martin faces up to 200 years in prison if convicted of all 20 criminal counts he has been charged with. Dustin Volz covers this for Reuters.

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The House passed last week the Email Privacy Act, which would update existing law to require law enforcement to get a search warrant before asking technology companies for their users' emails. The bill is expected to get some resistance in the Senate. Dustin Volz has this story as well, in Reuters.

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Benjamin Herold reports for Ed Week that the Ajit Pai FCC has rescinded a report the previous administration put out illustrating the success of the E-rate program. The E-rate program is a multi-billion dollar initiative designed to help schools and libraries access high speed internet service. Democratic leaders as well as consumer and tech advocates took Pai to task accusing Pai of paying lip service to the digital divide, while pursuing contradictory policies.

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Finally, Amazon expressed serious concerns Friday about President Trump's "America First" agenda. The company said this more protectionist attitude has the potential to harm its business. Jeffrey Dastin has the story in Reuters.

Feb 7, 2017

John Breyault (@JammingEcono) is Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud at the National Consumers League (NCL). John’s focus at NCL is on advocating for stronger consumer protections before Congress and federal agencies on issues related to telecommunications, fraud, technology, and other consumer concerns. In addition, John manages NCL’s Fraud Center and coordinates the Alliance Against Fraud coalition. John is also Research Director for the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC), a project of NCL. In his role with TRAC, John advocates on behalf of residential consumers of wireline, wireless, VoIP, and other IP-enabled communications services. John was a member of the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee from 2005 to 2007 and served on the Board of the Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless. He is a graduate of George Mason University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in International Relations.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • top issues facing consumer advocates in the new administration.
  • the risk of scaling back the FCC's privacy rules.

Resources:

National Consumers League (NCL)

NEWS ROUNDUP

The tech sector is hitting hard against the Trump administration's ostensibly temporary travel ban against 7 predominantly Muslim countries including Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen . Ninety-seven companies including, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and even Levi Strauss filed an amicus brief on behalf of the State of Washington in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals late Sunday. The State of Washington is appealing to a 3 judge panel of the court to uphold the District Court's decision to halt the travel ban. Oral arguments in this case will take place Tuesday at 6PM.

The brief is a culmination of a number of developments last week in the the growing resistance against the Trump administration's travel ban by the tech sector. Among them was Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's departure from Trump's economic advisory council.  The move follows major protests by tech employees, including Uber's employees, against Trump's Muslim travel ban, which the district court in San Francisco has temporarily suspended. Uber employees were wondering why Kalanick was still on Trump's advisory board. Two hundred thousand Uber users wondered the same thing, and deleted Uber's app from their phones. Kalanick sent a letter to Uber employees on Thursday announcing that he had quit Trump's advisory council.  Mike Isaac reports in The New York Times.

Meanwhile, Tony Romm reports that Silicon Valley leaders are organizing against Trump. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are among those leading the effort. They have set up organizations like Win the Future which will seek out progressive candidates for future elections.  Sam Altman from Y Combinator also set up a new site called Track Trump -- a running dashboard of the Trump administration's policy changes.

--

So on the one hand, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is claiming he's going to be all about closing the so-called digital divide. He's announced small, closed-door meetings with organizations like the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and HTTP, he's created a broadband adoption advisory board ... but on the other, his policies, thus far, can't be much more against closing the digital divide.  In fact, the moves he's been making suggest he's going in the complete opposite direction. Take for example his decision last week telling 9 companies that they can't offer broadband pricing subsidies of $9.95 per month to the poor--a program otherwise known as the Lifeline program.  The decision states that the Wheeler FCC allowed these 9 companies to provide Lifeline subsidies at the last minute and that the new FCC needs more time to consider the waste, fraud and abuse concerns the Republican commissioners have about the program.

--

A U.S. magistrate judge in Philadelphia has held that Google must comply with an FBI search warrant seeking access to emails stored on Google servers abroad. This departs from a decision in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last year holding that Microsoft did not have to comply with such a warrant. A Google spokesperson says the company will appeal. Jonathan Stempel has the story in Reuters. 

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has closed the set-top box proceeding. The proceeding, introduced under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, was intended to promote competition in the set-top box market by allowing consumers to choose to receive the programming they had already subscribed to on a set-top box of their choice, rather than being stuck with the one from their cable provider. Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had asked Pai to close the proceeding on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Pai also explicitly stated at a press conference that he "favors an open Internet but opposes Title II."  The Chairman, however, would not answer as to whether the Commission would be enforcing the FCC's net neutrality rules, which were upheld in the DC Circuit last year.

--

Finally, The commission also closed the zero-rating proceeding. The Wheeler FCC had begun an inquiry into carriers' zero-rating practices towards the end of its term. Zero rating, or so-called "sponsored data", plans are ones in which carriers offer access to their own preferred content without it counting against subscribers' data caps. But net neutrality advocates argue zero-rating is a back-door to violate the FCC's net neutrality rules.  For example, Sprint has announced it will be acquiring a 33% stake in Jay-Z's streaming music service, Tidal. Net neutrality advocates are worried about what this might mean for companies like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music if Sprint turns Tidal into a zero-rated service--offering their customers music streaming without it counting against their data caps. Chris Brantner has the story in Motherboard and David Shepardson reports on this in Reuters.

Jan 31, 2017

Alexandria McBride is Director of Environment and Sustainability at ITI. Alexandria develops and advocates positions on domestic and international policies related to energy efficiency and environmental priorities. She currently serves on the Board for the Center of Diversity and the Environment and is the Chair of the NAACP-DC Climate and Environmental Justice Committee.

Prior to ITI, Alexandria coordinated the re-launch of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, an academic hub based at The New School that utilizes design, policy and social justice approaches to solve pressing environmental issues. She was also a manager at The Engine Room, an international NGO using technology and data to support social and environmental causes.

Alexandria was formerly the Chief Financial Officer at Groundswell, a D.C.-based nonprofit aimed at unlocking communities’ economic power to grow sustainability on the local level. As the CFO and Executive Management Team member, Alexandria oversaw the organization’s financial and operational functions and worked closely with program directors to identify and implement systems that improve the efficiency and quality of Groundswell’s impact.

Prior to joining Groundswell, Alexandria served in multiple project and operational management roles at the ExxonMobil Environmental Services Company, where she helped steward environmental cleanup projects across the Mid-Atlantic. She also managed the transfer of environmental responsibility during ExxonMobil’s multimillion dollar divestment of properties in New York and New Jersey. In addition to this work, Alexandria was nominated to support ExxonMobil’s STEM education and diversity efforts.

Alexandria holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Environment from Howard University and a M.S. in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy.

 

In this episode, we discussed

  • the top 3 environmental tech policy issues policymakers should be focusing on.
  • a review of environmental legislation ITI is advocating for.
  • how advocates can work most effectively with a potential Scott Pruitt Environmental Protection Agency.

Resources

ITI

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

News Roundup

 

Tech sector leaders reacted in strong opposition to Trump’s immigration ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries. The leaders of major tech companies cited not just the effect the ban would have on their bottom lines, but on what they personally felt. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said it is time for the nation to link arms and that the ban is un-American. Lyft CEO Logan Green said the ban runs counter to Lyft’s inclusive culture and said the ban conflicts with both Lyft and the nation’s core values. Google’s Sergey Brin, whose family fled Russia in 1979, participated in the protest at San Fracisco International Airport saying that he too is a refugee. The company also released statement. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg released a statement opposing the measure, as did Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is an India-native. But President Trump has not budged, although Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham  -- both Republicans -- publically opposed the executive order on Monday.

--

Journalists covering violent protests during Trump's inauguration parade were arrested and charged with felony rioting. Journalism advocates have been denouncing the charges. Jonah Engles Bromwich has the story in The New York Times.

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As late as Wednesday, Trump Senior Advisors Kellyanne Conway, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer and Steve Bannon had active private email address on the Republican National Committee domain. While there is nothing illegal about using an RNC domain to keep political and state business separate--the George W. Bush administration was accused of using RNC domains to quote-unquote "lose" 22 million emails. And the Trump campaign of course accused Hillary Clinton of breaking the law when she used her own private email domain for official State Department Business. The RNC was also hacked into last summer, raising questions about the security of the RNC's email server. Nina Burleigh covers this for Newsweek.

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FBI Director James Comey will be staying on under Trump. Comey is 4 years into his 10-year term. Matt Zaptosky and Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post note that it would be extremely unusual for a president to remove an FBI director, even though Comey is see by many in Washington to have interfered with the U.S. election by making public specious claims about Hillary Clinton's emails just 11 days before the election.

--

The White House ordered the Environmental Protection Agency and Departments of the Interior, Agriculture and Health and Human Services to stop making social media posts, blogging, and updating official content until getting approval from White House officials, according to a report by the New York Times' Coral Davenport. So-called black ops websites of the White House and the National Park Service, which claim to be operated by actual federal employees posting to Twitter anonymously, emerged following the order. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denies the White House gave any such directive.  The black ops Twitter handles include @RoguePOTUSStaff and @AltUSNatParkService.

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Russian officials have arrested on suspicion of treason a Russian cyberintelligence official whom Americans said oversaw hacks that interfered with the U.S. presidential election. It's not clear what Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B.,--basically the new KGB--actually did, but Andrew Kramer has the story in the New York Times.

--

Verizon is reportedly making a bid for Charter Communications. Charter is valued at around $80 billion. Charter acquired Time Warner Cable last year. Shalani Ramchandran, Ryan Knutson and Dana Mattioli have the story in the Wall Street Journal.

--

Finally, Brian Fung reports for the Washington Post that Trump has named Maureen Olhausen acting Federal Trade Commission Chair. Olhausen, a free-market Republican, has been with the agency since 201. Her term expires in 2018.

Jan 24, 2017

Carmen Scurato (@CarmenScurato) is Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC). As a native of Puerto Rico, Carmen is a passionate advocate for policies that address the needs of the Latino community. Prior to joining NHMC, Carmen worked as a contractor for the Department of Justice and assisted in investigations alleging financial fraud against federal agencies and federal healthcare programs. Most notably, Carmen helped recoup millions of dollars in a national False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit alleging Medicare fraud. She also worked at the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs on large document requests received from Congressional oversight committees. Carmen earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law where she was an Associate Editor for the Villanova Law Review and a Co-Chair of the Honor Board. She also participated in Lawyering Together, a pro bono program that pairs student with attorneys to assist low income clients with their legal needs. She worked closely with an attorney to foster open communication with the client by acting as a Spanish-to-English translator. Carmen received her B.A. cum laude from New York University where she majored in both History and Political Science. Her History Honor thesis was entitled Preserving the Puerto Rican Culture after 1898: The Realization of a National Culture in the Face of Americanization.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the history and policy objectives of the Lifeline program and its prospects under the Trump administration.

Resources:

National Hispanic Media Coalition

Microsoft OneNote

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

NEWS ROUNDUP

 

President Trump has officially named Ajit Pai as the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai has served as an FCC Commissioner since 2012, following stints as a Partner at Jenner & Block, and various roles at the FCC, Department of Justice, Senate Judiciary Committee and as an Associate General Counsel at Verizon. He clerked for Judge Martin Feldman in the Eastern District of Louisiana and is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School. Pai, a Republican from Kansas, has also endorsed Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

--

 

The Trump administration is planning to cut $741 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment of the Arts, according to a report by Christina Marcos (@cimarcos) in The Hill. The plan would be to abolish the NEH and NEA and privatize CPB. Conservatives have long opposed funding these programs because they have considered them to be too controversial and examples of unnecessary government spending. Donald Trump, however, has expressed support for arts education, and Vice President Pence received a Champion of Public Broadcasting award in 2014.

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Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica and John Eggerton at Multichannel News reported last week that the Trump transition team is considering an overhaul of the FCC which would remove "duplicative" functions within the agency, such as consumer protection, to other agencies, such as the FTC. Eggerton reports that the transition team has signed off on the approach. However, Jon Brodkin notes that any overhaul to the FCC would require Congressional approval.

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The Trump administration will be keeping U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee on board following speculation as to whether Director Lee would step down. The Obama appointee's views align with companies like Google which have been pushing for stronger policies to thwart patent trolls. Lee attended Stanford Law School at the same time as Trump supporter Peter Thiel. Ali Breland has the story in the Hill.

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Andrew Chung in Reuters reports that the Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by women who sued BackPage.com for child sexual abuse trafficking. The lower court had held that BackPage.com, which accepts classified ads from third parties, was shielded from liability under the Communications Decency Act  of 1996 which offers free speech protection for websites when others post unlawful content. The women allege that, starting at age 15, Backpage.com facilitated their engagement in forced, illegal sex transactions with pimps who advertised on Backpage.com. Backpage shut down its adult classifieds section two weeks ago following a Senate report showing evidence that supports the women's allegations.

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Before leaving office, former President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning is a transgendered woman and former Army Soldier named Bradley Manning who has been serving a 35 year sentence in a male security prison for disclosing 750,000 pages in secret government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning also released a video showing a U.S. helicopter attacking civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007. Manning's sentence will expire on May 17th. Unlike Edward Snowden who is living at a secret location in Moscow, the information Manning released was not considered Top Secret. Laura Jarrett has the story for CNN.

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A coalition of 77 social justice groups--including the Center for Media Justice, Color of Change and DailyKos--sent a letter to Facebook Director of Global Policy Joel Kaplan last week asking the company stop discriminating against posts made by Movement for Black Lives activists. The coalition wrote "Activists in the Movement for Black Lives have routinely reported the takedown of images discussing racism and during protests, with the justification that it violates Facebook’s Community Standards. At the same time, harassment and threats directed at activists based on their race, religion, and sexual orientation is thriving on Facebook. Many of these activists have reported such harassment and threats by users and pages on Facebook only to be told that they don’t violate Facebook’s Community Standards."

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The FCC concluded its auction of TV airwaves last week, securing just $18.2 billion in bids from wireless companies--far short of $66 billion the Commission had hoped to raise.

--

Before leaving the FCC Chairmanship to join the Aspen Institute, Tom Wheeler accused AT&T and Verizon of violating the net neutrality rules with their so-called "zero-rating" programs which allow customers to access preferred content without affecting their data caps. But FCC Chair Ajit Pai issued a release calling the FCC's report a "regulatory spasm" and saying the issue will be dropped under Trump. --

Finally, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has announced her resignation. She will leave the agency effective February 10th. Ramirez has served at the agency since 2010 and became Chairwoman in 2013.

 

 

Jan 17, 2017

Having spent significant time working in newsrooms, covering Capitol Hill, managing in-house corporate public affairs, working on campaigns, and navigating communities of color, she brings a unique set of skills that casts a wide net of influence. Understanding the intersection of press, partnerships, politics, and policy, Tiffany has a proven record of excellent relationships in the private and public sectors, media, the entertainment industry, and civic and social justice organizations. 

Most recently, Tiffany served as a Senior Advisor for the National Education Association (NEA)  and its three million members. In this capacity, she liaised with the public sector, traditional and niche media markets, constituency groups, and civic and social justice organizations. She worked with NEA leadership on branding and positioning and was responsible for forging strategic partnerships, internal and external messaging, conducting scans on grassroots and grasstop organizations, and engaging communities in bilateral conversations on education, labor, and civic and social justice issues. 

Before joining the NEA, Tiffany served as the Manager of News & Public Affairs and the Liaison to the Executive Branch for Black Entertainment Television (BET) Networks. Her work at BET included coordinating with the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention in 2008, executing the network’s participation in the 2008 Presidential election, brand enhancement for the network, and advising on BET’s political and social agenda. 

Tiffany’s broad experience includes guest booking for CNN’s Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz, covering Capitol Hill for Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, and working as an Associate Producer for Capital Gang. She was also a former Producer at America’s Most Wanted and Director of Communications for Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies where she worked on the Obama for America Presidential Campaign and secured high-level visibility for company president Cornell Belcher.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how Tiffany's personal journey has informed her approach to creating value for her network.
  • Tiffany's key strategies and mindset hacks for building powerful professional relationships in Washington. 
  • how 'The Beat' is helping policy professionals in Washington stay on top of what's happening and find relevant networking opportunities.

 

 

Resources:

The Beat (send news leads to: info@thebeatdc.com)

The Raben Group

Task Rabbit

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

Donald Trump named former New York City Mayor and early Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani as an informal cybersecurity advisor. He'll head the President-elect's cybersecurity working group. Abby Phillip in the Washington Post writes that, since leaving the New York City Mayorship, Giuliani has started his own cybersecurity consulting firm-Giuliani Partners. Now a bunch of people are saying, "What the hell does Guiliani know about cybsecurity?" Well, Motherboard's Jason Koebler and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai looked into it and found some folks familiar with Giuliani and Partners' work ... It turns out their expertise is more along the lines of telling companies how to legally cover their asses if they're the victim of  cyberbreach, as opposed to advising on actual cybersecurity solutions. So it's looking like this job is more of a thank you for to Giuliani for his help during the campaign. It also turns out, as Rob Price at Business Insider found, that Giuliani's company website--giulianisecurity.com--is replete with vulnerabilities.

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You've heard all about Trump's dossier--people calling him PEEOTUS and things like that on Twitter, so we won't go into all the details on that--especially since the dossier is still largely unsubstantiated. But Scott Shane put together a nice summary just in case you don't want to sit there all day trying to figure out what's going on with this.

Basically, this all started when the Republicans retained a company called Fusion GPS to look into Trump to figure out how to hurt him politically. Then, when it turned out he was going to be the Republican nominee, the Clinton campaign took over and retained Fusion to continue the investigation. The dossier has been floating around Washington for quite sometime, but the President and President-elect were briefed on it, and  that's when it made its way to the public via BuzzFeed and other sites. Mr. Trump says the entire dossier is a total fabrication. But if it's a total fabrication--it's pretty detailed, so someone must have had a lot of time on their hands.

In any case, the FBI is investigating the claims ... although no one knows if Trump will authorize that investigation to continue. Some are also wondering why FBI Director James Comey was so interested in Hillary Clinton's email but not this. So this issue isn't going away anytime soon, basically, is the takeaway here.

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Matt Hamilton at the LA Times reports that BackPage--the classified ad website -- shut down its adult section last week after the U.S. Senate released a scathing report accusing the company of hiding targeted search terms related to prostitution and child abuse. BackPage Founders Michael Lacey and and James Larkin were scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland and Governmental Affairs' subcommittee on investigations. The committee's report alleges that its review of some 1.1 million documents revealed evidence that the company facilitated sex trafficking and child abuse. Testimony from a BackPage site moderator seems to show the company actively removed search terms so they wouldn't lose ad revenue, but still keep the ads posted without actively promoting crimes.

But BackPage says it adheres to the the Communications Decency Act which provides immunity to websites that host content by third parties. The company also claimed the government investigation was an violation of its First Amendment Rights

One children's advocate--Lois Lee--founder of Children of the Night--even said the site has actually helped law enforcement identify predators and locate missing children. But Senators Bob Portman--the Republican from Ohio and as Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill--both of who led the bi-partisan investigation-- say BackPages's decision to shut down the adult section shows how damning the evidence they uncovered was.

 

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Congress has selected its leadership for its communications and tech-related committees. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Tune announced that Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker will lead the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden announced Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, who opposes net neutrality and prevented efforts to build municipal broadband networks, will lead the House Communications and Technology subcommittee. Jon Brodkin reports in Ars Technica.

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Aaron Smith at Pew reports that a record number of Americans have smartphones and access to broadband at home. Seventy-seven percent of Americans have smartphones, with explosive growth among adults over age 50. Americans with access to broadband at home increased 6 points to 73%. Also, Seventy percent of Americans use social media and half own a tablet.

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iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple for not allowing them to purchase apps outside of the Apple store, according to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, overturning the lower court's ruling. The decision doesn't affect the merits of the case brought against Apple, but if the plaintiff's win, it could open the door for more competition in the app market. Stephen Nells and Dan Levine have the story in Reuters.

--

The independent prosecutor in South Korea investigating the corruption scandal that has led to the suspension of the country's first female president -- Park Geun-hye -- has asked a local court to issue an arrest warrant for Lee Jae--yong--the head of Samsung. The prosecutors allege Lee used corporate money to bribe Park for favors. The court is expected to review the request on Wednesday. Anna Fifield has more at the Washington Post. 

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Finally, The Email Privacy Act is alive again, after passing unanimously in the House and dying in the Senate last year. The bill would require authorities to get warrants for emails as well as social media data, including data older than 180 days. It would also allow providers to notify their customers that their information was requested. The bill was introduced by Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). John Eggerton has the story in Multichannel News. 

Jan 10, 2017

Debra Berlyn (@dberlyn) is the Executive Director of The Project to Get Older Adults onLine (GOAL), and President of Consumer Policy Solutions.

Debra is a seasoned veteran of telecommunications and consumer policy issues and an advocate for consumers of technology services. She represented AARP on the digital television transition and has worked closely with national aging organizations on several Internet issues, including online safety and privacy concerns.

Prior to launching Consumer Policy Solutions, Debra was senior legislative representative in the Federal Affairs Department of AARP, responsible for all communications and energy matters. She advocated on behalf of the members of AARP before Congress, the federal agencies (FCC, FERC, FEC, Department of Energy, Department of Commerce), and the Administration.

Ms. Berlyn has served as a faculty instructor with Boston University’s Washington Program. She received a B.A. from American University and a M.A. from Northwestern University.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • key barriers older adults face in getting online.
  • how Lifeline can help improve older adults' access to technology.

Resources:

Project GOAL

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

NEWS ROUNDUP

By now you've probably heard about the Director of National Intelligence report that came out last week which conclusively establishes that Vladimir Putin ordered a quote "influence campaign" to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump. But, as David Sanger notes in the Washington Post, there is no information in the declassified version of the report about how U.S. intelligence officials conducted their investigation. Trump, even after seeing a classified version of the report, still says the Obama Administration is engaging in a witch hunt, as does Vladimir Putin who calls the report amateurish. Here's the report.

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China's National Energy administration last week released its 3 -year, $360 billion plan to invest in renewable energy sources like solar and wind. On the other hand, President-elect Trump, who has expressed skepticism about climate change, appears to be headed in the opposite direction. China expects their effort to create as many as 13 million new jobs in China, as well as reduce the level of greenhouse gases China emits into the atmosphere. Here in the U.S., Trump has said the notion of human-caused climate change is a "hoax", threatened to dismantle the Paris Accord, and nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is himself a human-caused climate change denier, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Michael Forsythe has the story in the New York Times.

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Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson is calling for Uber to release its diversity numbers. In a letter to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Jackson called on Uber to follow the lead of companies including Facebook, Google and Apple and do its part to "change the face of technology" by releasing its hiring data to the public. Melanie Zanona has the story in The Hill.

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Last week, NCTA -- The Internet & Television Association, which is the leading lobbying association representing cable companies like Charter, Comcast and Cox, opened a new front in its war against Obama-era telecom regulations by filing a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to overturn the consumer privacy rules the FCC issued last year. The rules are designed to prevent the industry from exploiting its vast stores of user data to favor its own content at the expense of edge providers like Netflix, Facebook and Google.  The telecom industry's fight against the Commission's 2015 net neutrality rules, which were upheld by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last year, was already underway: the carriers are requesting a review by the full court.

The telecom industry thinks the net neutrality and privacy rules give disproportionate protection to the tech sector. The tech sector argues that cable companies have access to far more user data and, if that market power is left unchecked, would give carriers monopoly power over both content and infrastructure.  Brian Fung has more in the Washington Post.

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The House has passed a bill that would allow Congress to repeal any rule President Obama passed during the last 6o legislative days of his administration. The bill had been approved by the previous Congress in November. The bill is basically the Select All+Delete of lawmaking: as Lydia Wheeler notes in the Hill, the bill would allow Congress to bundle together a whole bunch of rules and overturn them en masse with one vote.

 

The House also adopted rules last week which would prevent members from livestreaming sit-ins and other protests on the House floor. Members had been ignoring existing rules prohibiting members from taking any photos or videos on the House floor, but now there will be a $500 fine for the first offense and $2,500 for each offense thereafter. The new rule was passed in response to a sit in members, including John Lewis, livestreamed last year as a protest against Republicans' failure to consider gun control legislation.

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Gabriel Sherman reported in New York magazine that his sources told him that Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch is advising the Trump transition team on who should Chair the Federal Communications Commission once Tom Wheeler steps down. This alignment could impact how a Trump administration would treat the AT&T/Time Warner Merger --to which President-elect Trump has already expressed opposition -- since Murdoch is the Executive Chairman of News Corp, Executive Co-Chair of 20th Century Fox, and the Acting CEO of Fox News. Sherman notes that Fox News has already begun to double-down on its alignment with the incoming far-right administration by installing Tucker Carlson in the 7pm slot to replace Greta van Susteren.

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A new Pew Research analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data conducted by Monica Anderson shows African-American and Hispanic 12th graders are significantly less interested in math and science than their Asian and White counterparts. Overall, 71% of 12th graders surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "I like science." That's compared to 78% for Asians, 73% for Whites, 70% for Hispanics, and just 62% for Black students. An overwhelming number of Asian students actually want jobs in science, at 59%,  compared to just 39% of Black students, 40% of Hispanic students, and 45% of White students.

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Reuters reports that the U.S. Labor Department has sued Google to obtain its compensation data. The Labor Department claims the company has ignored repeated requests to submit the data as part of a routine Equal Opportunity compliance investigation which has been going on since 2015. A Google spokesperson said Google had repeatedly told Labor that the request was too broad in scope but didn't receive a response back from the Labor Department.

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On Christmas Eve in 2014, five-year-old Moriah Modisette died in a car crash. The other driver was allegedly using FaceTime immediately before impact. Now, Moriah's parents --James and Bethany Modisette -- are suing Apple in Texas for failing to include a mechanism that disables FaceTime during driving. The lawsuit points to one of Apple's patents. You can find this story at BBC.com.

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Finally, the White House has re-submitted the nomination of former FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel after Rosenworcel vacated her seat at the Commission in December because her term expired and Congress failed to re-confirm her for political reasons. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune has said he is open to reconfirming Rosenworcel but not without a Republican Majority. Currently the Commission is comprised of two Republican (Ajit Pai--who endorsed Jeff Sessions' Attorney General nomination, and Michael O'Rielly) and one Democratic Commissioner--Mignon Clyburn.

 

Dec 27, 2016

Alondra Nelson (@alondra) is the Dean of Social Science at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary social scientist, she writes about the intersections of science, technology, medicine, and inequality. She is author of the award-winning book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. Her latest book, The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations and Reconciliation after the Genome, was published in January.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • the meaning and importance of "racial reconciliation" and the potential for genetic research in helping to promote it.
  • the extent to which the concept of race is based on biology as opposed to being socially-constructed.
  • the role of DNA evidence in historical analysis.
  • key national priorities policymakers ought to focus on as they consider ways in which genetic research can help to advance social equality.

Resources

Columbia University Division of Social Science

The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome by Alondra Nelson

Dark Matters on the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

 

NEWS ROUNDUP

FCC Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly sent a letter to associations representing Internet Service Providers saying they plan to roll back the FCC's net neutrality rules. The FCC passed the landmark rules which state that ISPs must treat all internet traffic equally, without prioritizing their own content, in 2015. The rules were subsequently upheld by a 3-judge DC Circuit Panel.

A complete reversal of the rules would take some time, since a public comment period would need to be conducted first. Ajit Pai, who is expected to serve as the interim FCC Chairman once current Chairman Wheeler resigns in January, has said the days of the net neutrality rules are quote-unquote "numbered".

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The FCC has passed new rules enabling consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate. Previously, those who are deaf and hard of hearing had to rely on clunky, so-called teletype (TTY) devices to communicate with others. TTY devices converted tones into text and required the recipients to read on paper. Under the new rules, the FCC will now require wireless carriers and device manufacturers to enable "real time" text messaging, or RTT standard, which allows messaging recipients to see, in real time, what deaf and hard of hearing individuals are communicating. Sam Gustin has the story in Motherboard.

--

Researchers at Google, UT Austin, and the Toyota Technological Institute in Chicago have devised a new way to test algorithms for biases. Examples of biases in machine learning have included computer programs that take data and target black neighborhoods, show advertisements for payday loans to African Americans and Latinos, or display executive-level jobs only to white male applicants.

The approach developed by the researchers, entitled the Equality of Opportunity in Supervised Learning, would enable algorithms to determine that particular demographic groups were more likely to have particular behaviors, but would not target or exclude all individuals based on their race, ethnicity or gender, simply because some individuals within a particular sample had the behaviors. For example, if the algorithm determined that white women were in general more likely to buy wine, and then conclude that someone who bought wine was likely to be a white woman, that would be less biased than excluding non-white women from ad campaigns for white wine. Hannah Devlin has the story in The Guardian.

Separately, the White House released a report warning of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the workforce. The report concludes AI can lead to significant economic opportunities, but have detrimental impact on millions of workers.

--

Nokia has sued Apple for patent infringement in Germany and in a federal court in Texas, accusing Apple of not renewing some patents the mobile industry relies on, and which Nokia now relies on for profit. Apple is stating that Nokia is acting like a patent troll by extorting Apple and not licensing the patents on reasonable terms. Nate Lanxon, Ian King and Joel Rosenblatt have the story at Bloomberg.

--

Two consumer groups have filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Google accusing it of privacy violations after the company updated its privacy policy back in June. Consumer Watchdog and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse claim the company had its users opt-in to a privacy change in which the company allegedly merged data from several Google services without providing adequate notice. Craig Timberg has the story in the Washington Post.

--

Pinterest released its diversity data, and while the company hit some of its internal hiring goals, black employment at the company remains at 2% with Hispanic employment at 4% of the company's total, tech and non-tech workforce.

--

Facebook released its annual Global Government Requests report showing a 27% uptick globally in the number of government requests for user data, to over 59,000 total requests.

--

Finally, HUD Secretary Julian Castro announced a major White House initiative to help students living in HUD-assisted housing to gain access to computers and the internet at home. In the partnership between HUD, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, the New York City Housing Authority and T-Mobile, 5,000 families living in public housing in the Bronx will get internet connected tablets. The ConnectHome program has thus far reached 43 states, with other major partners including Google Fiber, Comcast, AT&T, Sprint, Best Buy, the Boys and Girls Club of America, PBS, and others.

Dec 20, 2016

Dr. Sepehr Hejazi Moghadam (@sepurb), Head of Research and Development, K-12 Pre-University Education at Google. Previously, Sepehr was an Associate at both A.T. Kearney and Booz Allen. He also served as Associate Director of Teacher Effectiveness for the New York City Department of Education. He has broad experience leading key components of strategic human capital plans in the public and government sectors. He has led the design of human capital policies, programs, and practices; and managed the implementation of highly effective, performance-based systems. He is an expert on research methods, data analytics, emerging technologies, business development, program management, high-level negotiation and partnership strategy, data visualizations, performance reporting and education policy. Sepehr received a PhD from Columbia University, where his dissertation was on the Treatment of African Americans in Education Research. He also has a Masters from Stanford and Bachelors from UC Santa Barbara.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • Google's research on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) achievement gaps.
  • The two key factors affecting African-American and Latino participation in STEM careers.
  • How Google is using this research to make the company and the tech sector more inclusive.

Resources

Google for Education - Computer Science Education Research

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

NEWS ROUNDUP

The FBI announced last week that it agrees with the CIA's finding that Russia deliberately hacked into the Democratic National Committee's servers in order to help Donald Trump's candidacy for president.

At first, the President-elect called the allegations "ridiculous", but on Fox News Sunday, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus suggested Trump may consider accepting the accusations if the CIA and FBI issue a joint report. But, of course, the report would be done under the Trump administration, spearheaded by a Director of National Intelligence who would be nominated by Trump. It is not clear whether FBI Director James Comey, although he is a Republican, would stay on board at the FBI, but the head of the Department of Justice, under which the FBI sits, would also be selected by Trump.

For an analysis of how Russia carried out the intrusions into the DNC, check out Eric Lipton, David Sanger, Scott Shane's coverage in the The New York Times, which you can find the link for in the show notes.

--

The Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General has concluded that the DOD is almost totally deficient when it comes to cybersecurity. The report on 21 audits and reports found the DOD isn't up to par on 7 out of 8 cybersecurity metrics. Sean Carberry has more in FCW.

--

President-Elect Trump invited Silicon Valley luminaries to Trump Tower last week to discuss working together after the tech industry snubbed Trump on donations during the campaign season. In attendance were Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Tesla's Elon Musk, Tim Cook from Apple, Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt of Google, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and others.

Although diversity has been a major topic of discussion in tech, no black or Latino tech executives were present at the meeting.

Donald Trump assured those in attendance that he's "here to help" them do well.

As a side note, all the gentleman in attendance wore ties to the meeting except for Paypal founder Peter Theil. Thiel supported Trump with more than a million dollars late in the campaign season, roiling tech sector diversity and inclusion advocates. David Streitfeld has the story for The New York Times.

--

Yahoo revealed yet another hack. This time it affected 1 billion accounts. The hack took place in 2013. Yahoo is currently negotiating an acquisition by Verizon, with Verizon asking for either a reduction in the sale price or exit from the deal given this breach, plus another breach the company revealed in September that affected 500 million users.

--

Twenty-two social justice organizations sent a joint letter to tech companies urging them to refuse participation in helping the Trump Administration build a Muslim Registry.

The groups take aim at the so-called National Security Entrance Exit Registration System or NSEERs, a post-9/11 program that requires Muslims entering the U.S. on non-immigrant visas to register. According to the groups, the NSEERS registry hasn't led to a single arrest. Thus far, Twitter is the only company that has refused to participate in building up the registry. Sam Biddle has the story in The Intercept.

--

Google has announced a new agreement with Cuba to improve internet speeds there. The agreement gives Cuba access to Google's Global Cache Network, which brings YouTube and Gmail closer to end users. It's not clear how Cuba's commercial relationship with the U.S. will evolve under the Trump administration. Mark Frank at Reuters writes the Obama-era Executive Agreements  that have normalized relations with the communist country can be easily reversed.

--

Justin Ling at Motherboard reports that blacklivesmatter.com suffered some 100 DDoS attacks between January and July alone.

--

Senate Republicans failed to confirm Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to another term at the agency. Rosenworcel, who is a highly-regarded public servant who fought on behalf of underserved communities, will end her term at the end of the month.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will leave the Commission on January 20th, giving the Republicans a 2-1 majority at the agency. Sam Gustin has the story in Motherboard.

--

Free Press released a study tying systemic racial discrimination to the digital divide. The report finds lower investments in broadband in both rural and urban areas hit by high rates of unemployment and low incomes. Sam Gustin has the story in Motherboard.

--

Finally, Twitter has reinstated white supremacist Richard Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute who has advocated that the United States was created by and for white people. Twitter reinstated Spencer because he was not found to have violated Twitter's policy against inciting violence.

Dec 13, 2016
Alan S. Inouye heads public policy for the American Library Association (ALA). In this role, Alan leads ALA’s technology policy portfolio ranging from telecommunications to copyright and licensing, to advance the ability of libraries to contribute to the economic, educational, cultural, and social well-being of America’s communities.
 
Alan is a recognized expert in national technology policy, published in various outlets such as The Hill, Roll Call, and the Christian Science Monitor. He serves on advisory boards or committees of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the U.S. State Department, Library For All, and the University of Maryland.
 
From 2004 to 2007, Dr. Inouye served as the Coordinator of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) in the Executive Office of the President. At PITAC (now merged into the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology—PCAST), he oversaw the development of reports on cybersecurity, computational science, and other topics.
 
Prior to PITAC, Alan served as a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. A number of his major studies culminated in book-length reports; three of these are LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress, The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, and Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity.
 
Dr. Inouye began his career in the computer industry in Silicon Valley. He worked as a computer programmer for Atari, a statistician for Verbatim, and a manager of information systems for Amdahl (now Fujitsu). Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley and earned three master’s degrees, in business administration (finance), systems engineering, and computer systems.
 
In this episode, we discussed:
  • the role of libraries in creating opportunities.
  • library resources for entrepreneurs.
  • how libraries and the incoming Tump administration might align on tech policy.
 
Resources:
 
American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy
The Future of the Professions: How Technology will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind
 
 
NEWS ROUNDUP
 
What a mess. The CIA has officially concluded that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election not just to undermine voter confidence, but to get Donald Trump elected.  This is according to a widely reported secret assessment conducted by the agency. The FBI on the her hand, isn't going that far. The FBI acknowledges that Russia did something--it's just saying it's not clear about Russia's motive: it thinks Russia carried out the intrusions for a mix of different reasons. The National Security Agency is due to release its own findings in the coming weeks before the election. The investigation is getting bi-partisan support from Chuck Schumer and Democrats, but it is also getting support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, as well as John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
 
Here's what we know. We know the Director of the FBI, James Comey, sent a letter to Congress 11 days before the election saying more of Hillary Clinton's emails found on Anthony Weiner's computer could lead to a new investigation. Of course, that inquiry was dropped after a few days but, by then, the damage had already been done. Outging Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is calling for a Congressional investigation of Comey.
 
We know Trump said many times that the election was rigged.
 
We know that Trump called on Russia during the campaign season to leak Hillary Clinton's emails.
 
And now, Trump wants to appoint ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, whom the Wall Street Journal reports has close ties to Russia.
 
We also now know that hackers got into the Republican National Committee's servers as well but, for whatever reason, only the DNC's emails were released to the public.
 
Trump and others on his transition team called the CIA's conclusions "ridiculous". Ridiculous or not, whether those advocating to get 37 Electors to change their votes in favor of Hillary Clinton win or not, this isn't going away.
 
The electoral system of the country that prides itself on being the greatest democracy the world has ever seen, has been, according to the CIA, hacked to favor a particular candidate. And that particular candidate, by the name of Donald J. Trump, won. He won! This is is crisis mode.
 
---
Andrea Wong reports in Bloomberg that Apple is taking advantage of a massive tax loophole that allows it to earn free money from American taxpayers without paying any taxes. The loophole lets Apple stash its foreign earnings, untaxed, overseas, and then use the money to buy U.S. bonds. The Washington Post reports that this has yielded Apple some $600 million in payments from the U.S. Treasury over the last 5 years.
 
--
 
The Wall Street Journal reported that the State of Georgia allegedly sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security accusing the agency of attempting to hack the state's voter database. The State of Georgia opposes Federal efforts to declare election systems critical infrastructure, which would enable more robust federal monitoring for cyberattacks.
 
--
 
USA Today reports that the Trump transition team has scheduled a meeting with the tech sector for Wednesday, December 14th in New York City. Should be interesting since most of the tech sector essentially opposed Donald Trump during the campaign, with the exception of Peter Thiel who now sits on President-elect Trump's transition team. Interestingly, Google has posted a job posting for a conservative outreach manager. e
 
--
 
Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are partnering to weed on content posted by terrorists. The companies will be creating a shared database that will included "hashes" or digital encoding or fingerprints, which will enable the companies to alert each other as to the offensive content. Each company will retain the power to make decisions for themselves as to whether to take down the content.
 
-
 
The White House has announced further investments in science, technology, engineering and math education in 2017. The National Science Foundation will spend $20 million in addition to the $25 million it spent in 2016. Ali Breland has the story in The Hill.
 
--
 
John Horrigan at Pew  released survey results last week showing those who lack access to smartphones, broadband and tablets actually report more stress and lack of confidence accessing information than those who have access to the technologies. Conventionally, we tend to think of having all of these devices at our constant disposal as the contributing factor to information overload.
 
 
--
Finally, the FCC set letters to Verizon and AT&T about their so-called zero-rating practices. With zero rating, multichannel video providers select which programming their customers will have access to without it counting against their data caps.  Net neutrality advocates argue this is a Trojan horse against the net neutrality rules, allowing the companies to prioritize the content they choose over competing content. Colin Gibbs has the story at Fierce Wireless.
Dec 6, 2016

Hannah Putman (@nctq) is the Director of Research at the National Council on Teacher Quality. Hannah's recent work includes a study on trends in teacher diversity in collaboration with researchers from the Brookings Institution, an examination of 100 early childhood teacher preparation programs, and a report that quantified the rigor in coursework offered by teacher preparation programs. She has also worked on all editions of NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review. Prior to joining NCTQ, Hannah conducted education research with Westat, a social science research company. Her projects included work on informal science education and teacher incentive programs. Previously, Hannah taught seventh and ninth grade English for three years in the Bronx, New York, as a Teach For America corps member. Hannah holds BA's in English and Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, an MS in Teaching from Pace University, and an MPP from the George Washington University with a focus on education policy and evaluation.

In this episode we discussed:

  • how teacher diversity affects student performance.
  • statistics policymakers should be focusing on as they consider how to address teacher diversity.
  • how teachers and administrators from a different racial and ethnic background than their students can help offset the effects of low teacher diversity.

Resources:

National Council on Teacher Quality

High Hopes and Harsh Realities: The real challenges to building a diverse teacher workforce by Hannah Putman, Michael Hansen, Kate Walsh and Diane Quintero (Brookings, 20016)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

NEWS ROUNDUP

Fake news has gone too far. Here in Washington, D.C. Sunday, a man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, a Colt .38 and a shotgun entered Comet Ping Pong--a popular family restaurant in Chevy Chase. The restaurant has been targeted by conspiracy theorists who have claimed, with no evidence, that Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager were running a child sex ring out of the restaurant. Twenty-eight year old North Carolina resident Edgar Maddison, said he decided he was going to QUOTE "self investigate", and so he got all his guns together then went up to Comet Ping Pong, pointed the assault rifle at an employee, and started shooting. Police said there were no injuries, but they have charged Welch with assault with a deadly weapon. Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis released a statement saying "What happened today demostrates that promoting false and reckless conspiracy theories comes with consequences. I hope thatbthose involved in fanning these flames will take a moment to contemplate what happened here today, and stop promoting these falsehoods right away." Faiz Saddiqui and Susan Svrluga have the story in the Washington Post.

--

The controversial Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal procedure went into effect last week, giving judges the power to issue search warrants for computers located anywhere outside their jurisdiction. The rules got the Supreme Court's stamp of approval earlier this year, and several legislative attempts to scale back the rules all failed.

--

The U.S. Customs and Border Control (CBP) came under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union last week, after the ACLU learned that border patrol agents seized an award-winning Canadian photojournalist's smartphone without a warrant, as he was on his way to cover the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

The photojournalist, Ed Ou, said the agents had asked him to unlock his phone and, when he refused, confiscated the smartphone. The ACLU said the phone's SIM card had been tampered with, suggesting the agents copied the phone's data.

Normally, the police must obtain a warrant before searching smartphones, but CBP claims an exception at the border.

Andrea Peterson has the story in the Washington  Post.

--

Google warned several prominent journalists that their gmail accounts may have been hacked by foreign-based hackers. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, GQ correspondent Keith Olbermann and others received e notification. Dan Goodin has the story in Ars Technica.

--

Trump has a new telecommunications advisor who opposes Title II regulation for Internet service. Rosyln Layton is a Visiting Fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and joins Trump's other two advisors--Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison, who also oppose the net neutrality rules. Jon Brodkin has this story in Ars Technica.

--

Trump also named his nominee for Commerce Secretary last week. The 80-year-old billionaire Wilbur Ross made is fortune in real estate by investing in distressed properties. He is own as the King of Bankruptcy. Jim Puzzanghera has this in the Washington Post.

--

Finally, House Republicans have elected Oregon Representative Greg Walden to Chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden opposes most if not all Obama-era regulations including net neutrality.

 

Nov 29, 2016

Melinda Epler (@changecatalysts) is Founder and CEO of Change Catalyst, a certified B Corp whose mission is to empower diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation through education, mentorship and funding. Change Catalyst won a Certified B Corporation "Best for the World” award for community impact in 2014 and “Best in the World” overall in 2015.

Melinda has more than 20 years of experience elevating brands and developing business innovation strategies for social entrepreneurs, mature social enterprises, Fortune 500 companies and global NGOs.

As Founder & CEO of Change Catalyst, Melinda empowers diverse, inclusive and sustainable tech innovation through events, education, mentorship and funding. Through Tech Inclusion, an initiative of Change Catalyst, she partners with the tech community to solve diversity and inclusion together. Her work spans the full tech ecosystem, from Education to Workplace, Entrepreneurship and Policy.

Melinda speaks, mentors and writes about diversity and inclusion in tech, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs and investing. She is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker – her film and television work includes projects that exposed the AIDS crisis in South Africa, explored women’s rights in Turkey, and prepared communities for the effects of climate change. She has worked on several television shows, including NBC’s The West Wing.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • building bridges toward inclusiveness in tech after a damaging and divisive presidential campaign season
  • key areas the diversity and inclusion and policy communities should focus on in a Trump administration.

Resources

Insight Timer

Headspace

Tara Brach

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

NEWS ROUNDUP

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and members of the intelligence community want President Obama to fire National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers, according to Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post.

Clapper and Rogers cite numerous instances of security breaches under Rogers' watch, including one by Booz Allen Hamilton contractor Harold T. Martin III, who was arrested in August for the largest ever theft of classified government data. There was also another breach in 2015 allegedly carried out by an individual whose name has not been disclosed, but who has since been arrested.

President-elect Trump is considering putting Rogers in charge of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and Congressional Republican leaders have come out in support of Rogers, including California Representative David Nunes who also serves on Trump's transition team, who praised Rogers in the Washington Post.

Rodgers is also the head of U.S. Cyber Command. Ash Carter has not been impressed with Rogers' performance in that role, either, as the cyber command's operations in Syria and Iraq have been largely unsuccessful, according to Carter.

Further annoying Carter and Clapper is the fact that Rogers met with Trump last week unbeknownst to the White House.

Further complicating matters, Clapper and Carter are also looking to split Cyber Command from the National Security Administration, a move opposed by Senate Republicans including John McCain.

Meanwhile, as Mallory Shelbourne at The Hill reports, at a news conference in Peru last week, President Obama called Rogers a "patriot".

In separate comments, Obama told German newspaper Der Spiegel that he had no plans to pardon Edward Snowden. The president said Snowden would first need to appear before a court.

--

Mark Jamison, a member of Trump's tech policy transition team, suggested in a blog post last week that maybe the FCC shouldn't exist. Jamison wrote, "Most of the original motivations for having the FCC have gone away." He also said there are few monopolies in telecom, an assertion with which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has disagreed. Brian Fung has this story in the Washington Post.

--

A new Stanford University report found that most students from Middle School to college are unable to tell the difference between sponsored content and real news.

The study of 7,804 students found 82% could not tell what was sponsored and what was real. Seventy percent of middle schoolers also found no reason to distrust a finance article that was written by the CEO of a bank. Amar Toor has the story on The Verge.

--

Downloads of the encrypted messaging app Signal have soared by 400% since Donald Trump's election, according to Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike. Governments have the ability to tap unencrypted text messages for intelligence gathering. Paresh Dave has the story in the LA Times.

--

Following a successful effort to get the FCC to clear its entire November meeting agenda, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune have now asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez and Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Elliott Kaye not to move forward on any controversial regulations. Upton and Thune wrote that the American people decided to make a change on November 8th and that agencies should this refrain from passing new regulations. Trump, of course, lost the popular vote by over 2 million.

--

Finally, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai issued a statement last week praising Trump's Department of Justice nominee Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Sessions is widely seen as a climate change skeptic and his entire career has been dogged by accusations that Sessions is a virulent racist, which cost him a federal judgeship back in '86. Sessions has been quoted as saying that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was "okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana."

Pai is reportedly on the short list to become Trump's nominee to Chair the FCC.

 

Nov 22, 2016

Andrew Jay Schwartzman (@aschwa02) is the Benton Senior Counselor at the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center. He directed Media Access Project, a public interest media and telecommunications law firm, for 34 years. Mr. Schwartzman serves on the International Advisory Board of Southwestern Law School’s National Entertainment & Media Law Institute and on the Board of Directors of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council and was the Board President of the Safe Energy Communications Council for many years.

Mr. Schwartzman’s work has been published in major legal and general journals, including Variety, The Nation, The Washington Post, COMM/ENT Law Journal, the Federal Communications Law Journal, and The ABA Journal. He has also been a frequent guest on television and radio programs. In recognition of his service as chief counsel in the public interest community’s challenge to the FCC’s June, 2003 media ownership deregulation decision, Scientific American honored Schwartzman as one of the nation’s 50 leaders in technology for 2004. Schwartzman was the 2002 Verizon Distinguished Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, the 2004 McGannon Lecturer on Communications Policy and Ethics at Fordham University in 2004, and the Distinguished Lecturer in Residence at the Southwestern University School of Law Summer Entertainment and Media Law Program at Fitzwilliam College in Cambridge (2004).

In this episode we discussed:

  • possible scenarios regarding the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
  • what an FCC under an Ajit Pai Chairmanship might look like.
  • the possible future of net neutrality under a Donald Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress.

Resources

Andy's Schwartzman's 'The Daily Item' Newsletter (subscribe here)

Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center

The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump by G.B. Trudeau

NEWS ROUNDUP

A BuzzFeed analysis of news stories appearing on Facebook found fake news stories received more engagements during the final three months before the presidential election than news stories from the leading real news outlets. The difference was some 1.4 million combined likes, shares and comments. At a news conference in Germany, President Obama expressed concern about the spread of fake news saying Q“If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not ... if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems".

On the Washington Post's The Intersect Blog, a fake news writer by the name of Paul Horner, who has written numerous fake news stories which have gone viral, expressed regret for the stories he wrote and said he thinks President-elect Trump won the election because of him.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg  was initially dismissive, saying the week before last that the notion of fake news having impacted the election in any significant way is a "pretty crazy idea". Since then, Zuckerberg has announced initiatives to identify fake news, such as through user generated reports.

Meanwhile, a group of students participating in a hackathon at Princeton last week developed a Chrome plug-in that allows users to assess the veracity of news stories.

--

Policymakers are increasingly concerned about the role that mobile apps play in distracted driving incidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that between January and June of this year, highway fatalities were up 10.4% to 17,775, compared to the same period in 2015. Neal Boudette reports in The New York Times on goals set during the Obama administration to eliminate highway fatalities by 2047.

--

SnapChat filed for an initial public offering last week. The IPO is expected to be valued at around $20 billion. It is the largest IPO since Facebook's in 2012.  Reuters has more.

--

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has submitted his resignation after a 50- year U.S. intelligence career. In October, Clapper's office formally concluded that Russia was behind cyberattacks intended to sway the U.S. presidential election, and that Rusian President Vladimir Putin has almost certainly approved them. Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee that submitting his resignation "felt pretty good." Greg Miller has the story at the Washington Post.

--

A new Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure--Rule 41--which would give federal authorities sweeping powers to search devices, is set to go into effect on December 1st. Currently, federal judges can only authorize searches within their own jurisdictions. Once Rule 41 goes into effect, judges will have the authority to issue search warrants for computers located outside their jurisdictional boundaries, potentially allowing a single judge to issue searches of millions of computers.  Civil rights groups are concerned about the rule would intrude on innocents, particularly communities of color. Senator Ron Wyden has proposed legislation to scale back Rule 41, but it hasn't even gotten a committee hearing. On Thursday, Delaware Senator Chris Coons introduced legislation that would delay Rule 41's implementation. David Kravets covers this for Ars Technica.

--

Twitter has suspended several accounts linked to the alt-right--super-conservative ideologues, many of whom promote white nationalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center had asked Twitter to remove about 100 accounts expressing white nationalist views for violation of Twitter's terms of service. Among the suspended accounts -- Richard Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute--an organization whose website says is "dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of  people of European descent in the United States." Spencer said Twitter's deletion of his account was akin to a "digital execution". USA Today notes that Spencer has called for removing blacks, Asians, Hispanics and Jews from the United States. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also apologized last week for allowing an ad promoting a white supremacist group. Jessica Guynn has the story at USA Today.

--

Amar Toor at the Verge reported that China has threatened to cut iPhone sales if President-elect Trump follows through on his threat to declare China a currency manipulator and impose a 45% tariff on Chinese exports. China also threatened to limit automobile and other sales.

--

It appears that the Trans-Pacific Partnership--the trade deal that would have enhanced American ties with 11 countries, counterbalancing China's influence in the region--appears to have been defeated even before President-elect Trump has taken office. The deal simply doesn't have enough votes in Congress, and President-elect Trump has stated he would oppose the deal. Elise Labott and Nicole Gaouette reported this for CNN.

--

The GOP has successfully forced the FCC to cancel nearly its entire November open meeting agenda, which was supposed to take place last Thursday. Up for consideration were bulk data caps, the Mobility Fund, and a proposed rule on roaming obligations of mobile providers. One Freedom of Information Act request remained on the agenda. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Thune had sent a letter to the FCC Tuesday warning against “complex, partisan, or otherwise controversial items.” Massachusetts Senator Markey blasted Thune's heavy-handed approach, with Thune responding that he was only referring to the most controversial items. Brendan Bordelon has the story in Morning Consult.

--

Finally, the hold on Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel's nomination has been lifted. Democrats Ron Wyden and Ed Markey had put a hold on the Commissioner's nomination following her rejection of the set-top box competition proposal. Rosenworcel will need to be confirmed before the end of the Commission in order to stay on. Some analysts are speculating that Rosenworcel might vote in favor of the set-top box rules currently on circulation.  Brendan Bordelon covers the story in Morning Consult.

Nov 15, 2016

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how traditional and social media platforms perpetuate stereotypes.
  • the role of the advertising industry in promoting accurate portrayals of underrepresented groups in the media

Resources:

Reality TV: Entertaining But No Laughing Matter (AAF, 2015)

American Advertising Federation (AAF)

American Advertising Federation's Mosaic Council

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

NEWS ROUNDUP

The tech sector and tech-related progressive thinks tanks are reeling following the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. At Benton.org, Robbie McBeath discusses the totally changed political landscape in which Republicans will now control all three branches of government. South Dakota Senator John Thune is expected to continue to Chair the Senate Commerce Committee. Three Congressmen--Greg Walden, John Shimkus and Joe Barton are expected to pursue the House Energy and Commerce Chairmanship, with Walden being the favorite since House speaker Paul Ryan credits Walden, who served as Republican Congressional Committee Chair, with helping Republicans maintain control of Congress.

Anticipated legislative initiatives include rewriting the Communications Act and an effort to override the FCC’s net neutrality rules, as well as expanding mobile and internet access to rural areas and capping Lifeline expenditures to $1.5 billion.

President-elect Trump will of course nominate a new FCC Chair to replace Tom Wheeler who is expected to leave before the inauguration on January 20th.

Tech sector stocks declined following last week’s election, as investors anticipated a new administration that would be less friendly to tech than Obama. The tech sector opposed Trump vigorously during the campaign, contributing barely anything to his campaign, outside of PayPal founder Peter Thiel who contributed $1.25 million late in the election season.

Companies like Apple are concerned about what a new Trump administration will mean for encryption and the company’s resistance to law enforcement requests for access to iPhone data during criminal investigations. Almost all of the Valley is concerned about what the new administration will mean not just for things like net neutrality and science-based policymaking, but also the sector’s influence in Washington, which had grown exponentially during the Obama era.

----

Facebook announced that it will no longer allow advertisers to exclude audiences based on their race and ethnicity for ads related to housing, credit or employment. The company will also require advertisers to pledge not to place any discriminatory ads on Facebook. The company had come under fire from civil rights activists, the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses, as well as several attorneys general after Pro Publica released a report showing how Facebook allowed advertisers selling real estate to exclude racial and ethnic groups. Two plaintiffs also sued Facebook under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

----

Following the 2016 presidential election, Facebook executives are now evaluating the role the platform plays in the dissemination of fake news, and the extent to which misinformation on the social network led to the election of Donald Trump. One piece of fake news shared over 1 million times falsely claimed that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump.

Facebook has been under fire for bias in its newsfeed over the past year, and earlier this year was accused of suressing conservative news from its trending news results. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denies fake news on Facebook impacted the election in any way.  Mike Isaac has the story in the New York Times.

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John Wagner reported in the Washington Post on Hillary Clinton’s data driven campaign, one that was far more sophisticated than both Romney and Obama’s, but which ultimate failed. It appears that both the Democratic establishment and the complex algorithm they used known as Ada, completely missed opportunities to campaign in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Minnesota, which Clinton lost. Campaign managers will look at this as a case study for many years to come into both how biases are reflected in algorithms and the extent to which campaigns should continue to rely on alogrithms to determine which states they should campaign in.

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A group of hackers known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear, widely believed to be affiliated with Russia, launched an attack on the servers of several NGOs, think tanks, universities, government agencies and other institutions on Wednesday, shortly after Trump claimed victory in Tuesday’s election. The hackers sent phishing emails to the targets containing malicious links and zip files. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at Motherboard has the story.

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Finally, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit blocked the FCC’s prison phone rate cap last week, granting a petition for stay by a company called Securus technologies. The rate caps were set at 13 cents to 31 cents per minute. The Court stated that these caps were significantly below what prison phone providers need to fulfill their contractual obligations to prisons. John Brodkin has the story in Ars Technica.

 

Oct 31, 2016

Nate Yohannes (linkedin.com/in/nateyohannesgovernmentaffairs) is Senior Advisor to the Chief Investment and Innovation Officer at the US Small Business Administration. He was appointed by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel as a Presidential Appointee in the Obama Administration.

As the Senior Advisor, Mr. Yohannes assists with managing the Small Business Investment Company, a $25 billion private equity/venture fund and the SBIR program, a $2.5 billion per year grant program to high growth domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.

Mr. Yohannes sits on President Obama’s Broadband Opportunity Council, a multi-agency team responsible for providing counsel to President Obama on how to advance the United States as the most broadband accessible country in the world. In addition, Yohannes held a leadership position and played a pivotal role with the first ever White House Demo Day.

Mr. Yohannes regularly works with staff at the White House’s Business Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Innovation Cohort and National Economic Council on issues that directly affect high growth small businesses across the country.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Mr. Yohannes was the Vice President – Associate General Counsel at the Money Management Institute (MMI). Earlier in his career he clerked for Chief Justice Paula Feroleto of the New York State Supreme Court. Mr. Yohannes received his JD from the University at Buffalo Law School and a BA from SUNY Geneseo and is a member of the New York State Bar.

 

In this episode, we discussed: 

  • government resources available to entrepreneurs looking to access capital.

Resources:

SBIC

SBIR

SBA Growth Accelerator Competition

U.S. Economic Development Administration

Audacity of Hope, Barack H. Obama

*A special thanks goes to the following contributors to this episode:

Elias Aseged, Accenture

Brittany Déjean, AbleThrive

Jessica Eggert, Medley

Sumayyah Emeh Edu, Sumayyah Emeh Edu Consulting

Chioke Mose-Telesford, Grand Circus

Jon Pincus, A Change is Coming

Courtney Seiter, Buffer

Terrell Sterling, Oracle

Michael Young, BLOC

 

THE NEWS

The FCC passed new privacy rules Thursday requiring internet service providers to obtain their subscribers’ permission before collecting and distributing their private information. Telecom industry giants like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon object to the new rules, saying they will harm the Internet ecosystem. Privacy advocates, though, applaud the rules. Critics of the rules say so-called edge providers like Netflix and other companies should also be restricted from freely sharing their users’ information without permission. But the FCC, of course, doesn’t have jurisdiction over internet companies like Netflix. Cecilia Kang has the story in The New York Times.

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Eric Lipton at The New York Times reported last week on AT&T’s lobbying influence within the beltway. Lipton reports that AT&T is Congress’ biggest donor, contributing a total of over $11 million to most members of Congress since 2015, which is 4 times that of Verizon. The company also has almost 100 registered lobbyists, not including non-profit organizations it contributes to. AT&T announced two weeks ago that it has agreed to purchase Time Warner for $85.4 billion. Time Warner’s properties include HBO and CNN.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading progressive members of Congress who are pushing Hillary Clinton to crack down on large tech companies if Clinton becomes president. Warren says companies like Google, Amazon and Apple have too much market power. But according to the Center for Responsive Politics, tech companies have contributed some $39 million to the Clinton campaign, compared to just $787,000 for Trump. Shane Goldmacher has the story in Politico.

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A new Pew Report finds that a fair number of people loathe the political dialogue that happens among friends, family members and acquaintances on social media. Almost twice as many social media users reported being “worn out” by political discussions on Facebook, compared to those who like seeking lots of political content. The report also found a large percentage of people found political discourse on line to be angrier, less respectful and less civil than political conversations in public. You can find these and other findings at Pew.

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Finally, Alphabet, Inc.--the parent company of Google, is putting the brakes on further build out of its fiber network in places it’s not already committed. Google Access CEO Craig Barrett announced he is stepping down in a surprise blog post last week. Google Fiber will continue to be available in Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Kansas City in MO and KS; Nashville, TN; Provo, UT; Salt Lake City, UT; and North Carolina’s Triangle region. In addition, Comcast is suing the Nashville metro government, including the city’s mayor, in the U.S. District Court in Nashville. Comcast argues that Google, when it comes into Nashville, shouldn’t just be able to come in and reconfigure wires on utility poles without first waiting for incumbent providers to adjust the wires themselves. Sam Gustin at Motherboard and Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica have the story.

Oct 25, 2016

Dr. Tracy Weeks (@tracyweeks)  is the Executive Director for the State Educational Technology Director’s Association (SETDA). Prior to joining the team at SETDA, she served as the Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the first senior state leadership position of its kind in the nation. In that role, Dr. Weeks oversaw the areas of: K-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Career and Technical Education, Exceptional Children, and the North Carolina Virtual Public School. She also served as the state agency lead on the development of the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan.

From 2008-2014, Tracy led the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the second largest state-led virtual school in the nation, as the Chief Academic Officer and subsequently the Executive Director. She holds a bachelors degree in Secondary Math Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology with a Statistics minor and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from NC State University. She is a NC Teaching Fellow, NC Education Policy Fellow, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi.

In this episode we discussed:

  • the importance of high speed internet in schools.
  • challenges school districts are facing when it comes to providing high speed internet in classrooms.
  • how to use school broadband resources to enhance access to broadband outside of the classroom.
  • recommendations for ensuring schools have appropriate infrastructure to accommodate growing demand for broadband bandwidth.

Resources:

SETDA

Slack

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

 

NEWS

A large scale DDOS attack affected a large number of important and widely used sites on Friday, causing users to lose access to sites like Spotify, SoundCloud, Twitter and Shopify. The way these attacks usually work is that a hacker will overwhelm a particular site with junk traffic. However, in between the URL you enter into your browser, and the site’s IP address, are what are known as DNS providers that route you to where you want to go. This time, the attack was made on one of those DNS providers--a company called Dyn--making the hack even worse and more widespread affecting many different sites instead of just a single one. In addition, the hack was executed by aggregating notoriously insecure Internet of Things devices, like home security cameras, into botnets. The White House says the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the breach. To make things even creepier, one security researcher told Techcrunch that the attack looks more like probing-- a deliberate attempt to test the defense capabilities of the sites. Darrell Etherington has the story in TechCrunch.

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AT&T has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable in an $85.4 billion deal. The deal comes amidst a wave of consolidation in the media industry, including Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUNiversal and Verizon’s acquisition of Huffington Post and proposed acquisition of Yahoo. AT&T also recently acquired DirectTV for $48.5 billion.

Time Warner’s media properties include HBO, CNN, TNT and TBS. Michael De La Merced has the story for The New York Times.

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A new study by Girls who Code and Accenture finds that, without significant intervention by educators, parents and policymakers, the proportion of computer scientists in the workforce who are women will decline from 24% to 22% by 2025. The proportion of women computer sciences has fallen from 37% in 1995.

The report is optimistic, however, and concludes that women could account for 39% of computer scientists by 2025 if appropriate measures are taken.

Jessica Guynn has the story in USA Today.

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A Russian hacker suspected of intruding into American targets has been arrested in Prague, but the authorities have not released the suspect’s name. But American officials familiar with the matter, but who asked for anonymity, told Ricky Lyman and Hana de Goeij at the New York Times that the suspect has not been linked to Russian intrusions into the Democratic National Committee. Two weeks ago, the Obama administration officially accused Russia of attempting to sway the U.S. elections by hacking into the DNC.

----

There is a sex scandal at the FCC. Fred Campbell at Forbes reports that a female employee working in the Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO), which works to increase opportunities for minorities and women working in the telecommunications sector, was subjected to her male co-workers watching porn in the office. When she complained to her boss, Thomas Reed, the employee’s complaint alleges that she was given lower quality assignments. An Inspector General’s report into the employee’s complaint conducted in 2012, which we’re just finding out about now, concluded that watching porn, and the agency’s subsequent response to it, violated various ethical and administrative rules. And Still, as Fred Cambpell at Forbes reports, the FCC did nothing outside of forcing the employee watching porn to resign. The FCC’s legal team even attempted to dismiss the employee’s case in federal court--a court that found that the employee had been subjected to discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult”. Fred Campbell has the story in Forbes.

----

Finally, The Center for Responsive Politics reported last week that Silicon Valley-based tech companies are outspending Wall Street on lobbying activities in DC by more than 2 to 1. According to the Center, Silicon Valley spent $49 million on lobbyists last year compared to just $19.7 million for the five largest banks. Seleha Moshin has the story for Bloomberg.

Oct 18, 2016

Courtney R. Snowden (@DMGEOSnowden) is Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity for the District of Columbia. A sixth-generation Washingtonian born at Howard University Hospital, Courtney was raised in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Ward 4, and now lives east of the river (EOTR) in Ward 7 with her young son, Malik.  The Washington Post has recognized Courtney for her keen understanding of the need to connect neighborhoods if the city is to thrive. She understands policy, is adept at building coalitions and is both smart and passionate about education reform.” 

Courtney is a graduate of DC Public Schools and received her B.A. in Political Science in 2000 from Beloit College. After graduating, Courtney returned home to the District to join the legislative staff of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on Capitol Hill.

Courtney has devoted her life to making Washington, DC, a better place for all its residents, corner to corner. She has a record of coalition building and bringing people from different backgrounds together from across the city.

As a principal at The Raben Group, a premiere progressive government relations firm, she advises the firm’s clients on a variety of public policy issues through direct lobbying, strategic planning, and coalition building. Her diverse client portfolio includes Google, the Committee for Education Funding, the National Urban League, and Graham Holdings.

An active leader in the city’s LGBT and African-American communities and a staunch public education advocate, Courtney served as the first female board chair of DC Black Pride in 2008, and was an active member of the DC GLBT Advisory Committee.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how the City of Washington has changed over time and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's economic development vision going forward.
  • how the Mayor's office is working with educators to prepare students who live in the District for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
  • efforts in the District to promote diversity and inclusion in the City's growing start-up sector.

Resources:

DC.gov - Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

NEWS ROUNDUP

The FCC has fined Comcast $2.3 million--the largest ever civil penalty on a cable operator for a practice called “negative option billing” where customers were charged for equipment and services they never requested. Comcast’s response to the fine? Sorry--we didn’t do anything wrong--it’s just that we had some isolated incidents where our customer service representatives were just kind of confusing. Richard Gonzalez has the story for NPR.

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The nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research is crediting  Facebook for registering thousands of new voters nationwide. Just in California, the 17-word reminder led to over 123,000 new voter registrations on the first day alone. While Facebook was unable to provide demographic data about the new registrations, Facebook’s users are generally seen as leaning female, young and Democratic. Niraj Chokshi has the story in The New York Times.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Media Justice and Color of Change reported last week that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provided data access to a company called Geofeedia--a company sells a product that monitors social media activity, and which has been marketed to law enforcement officials looking for intel on protesters. The advocacy groups obtained emails of Geofeedia corresponding with law enforcement about the success the company has had monitoring recent protests in Ferguson and elsewhere. Facebook and Instagram have cut off Geofeedia’s access to its main public feeds. Twitter hasn’t cut off access, but the ACLU’s press release notes the social media network has taken steps to rein in Geofeedia.

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Finally, it looks like billionaire investor Peter Thiel has alienated himself from a major diversity and inclusion partner after he donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump, days after Trump was caught on tape making lewd comments about sexually assaulting women. Project Include co-Founder Ellen Pao, a leader in the tech diversity debate in Silicon Valley, wrote in a Medium post that she was cutting ties with the incubator Peter Thiel Founded--Y Combinator, saying Project Include and Y Combinator’s values are no longer aligned given Thiel’s continued affiliation with Y Combinator.

Oct 11, 2016

Chad Marlow (@ChadAaronMarlow) is Advocacy and Policy Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where his focus is on privacy and technology. Mr. Marlow’s work on issues ranging from police body cameras, to government surveillance, to data privacy has been the subject of media coverage throughout the United States, as well as in Europe and South America. Mr. Marlow holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College. In 2007, City & State (New York) newspaper named Mr. Marlow to its “Rising Stars: 40 Under 40” list.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • surveillance tactics by police that disproportionately affect racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
  • how dispersed police departments coordinate with other jurisdictions in a way that collectively infringes privacy and civil rights.
  • what municipalities should do to ensure their surveillance practices are transparent and informed by local communities.

Resources:

American Civil Liberties Union

 

THE NEWS

Yahoo secretly scanned emails at the behest of the U.S. government, reports Joseph Menn at Reuters. Last year, Yahoo apparently built a secret program designed to scan all emails coming into Yahoo’s servers for keywords determined by the NSA or FBI. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly agreed to develop the software over objections by other Yahoo Senior Executives.

This news comes during a difficult month for Yahoo, and it all comes as Yahoo and Verizon have been negotiating what started out as a $4.8 billion acquistion of Yahoo by Verizon.  But late last month, Yahoo announced hackers accessed personal information in some 500 user accounts, causing Verizon to ask for a $1 billion discount on the purchase.


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David Sanger and Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the Obama administration -- namely, National Intelligence Director James Clapper -- has formally accused Russia of hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Committee and servers belonging to other influentials in order to influence the U.S. presidential elections. Clapper’s statement noted that only Russia’s QUOTE “senior most officials could have authorized these activities. Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta was hacked soon after the statement was released. It is not clear how the Obama administration will respond.

----

A federal contractor by the name of Harold Thomas Martin, III who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton was arrested in August at his home in Glen Burnie, MD for stealing highly classified data and information -- according to information provided by U.S. officials just last week.  Booz Allen is also Edward Snowden’s former employer.

Officials are trying to figure out whether Martin played a role in posting online a cache of top secret NSA hacking tools. Ellen Nakashima has the full story for the Washington Post.

----

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Republican John Thune joined a chorus of cable industry lobbyists and several civil rights groups last week by going after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, asking him to release the latest version of the set top box rules. The FCC delayed a vote on the new set-top box rules which would open up the set-top box market to more competition, giving consumers a choice between the set-top box they lease from their carrier, and a set-top box they can use to access the content they have already paid their provider for as well as content from so-called over-the-top providers such as YouTube and Netflix.

Chairman Wheeler has kept the current rule under wraps and cable industry advocates are challenging him to release a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the set-top box rules -- rules they are expected to oppose anyway. So it’s  basically like like “come on punk! Come on punk! I dare you to release the rules! I dare you!”

Schoolyard bully stuff.

Ali Breland has the story at the Hill.


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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler also announced last week that the Commission will vote on new Internet Service Provider privacy rules at its next open meeting on October 27th. In a blog post, the Chairman wrote QUOTE “Under the proposed rules, an ISP would be required to notify consumers about what types of information they are collecting, specify how and for what purposes that information can be used and shared, and identify the types of entities with which the ISP shares the information.

In addition, ISPs would be required to obtain affirmative ‘opt-in’ consent before using or sharing sensitive information. Information that would be considered ‘sensitive’ includes geo-location information, children’s information, health information, financial information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications such as the text of emails. All other individually identifiable information would be considered non-sensitive, and the use and sharing of that information would be subject to opt-out consent.” END QUOTE

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Today, for the first time in 120 years, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a design patent case -- this one between Samsung and Apple. The lower court awarded Apple some $584 million back in December. Samsung wants to claw back about $400 million of that, saying it's excessive because it's based on Samsung's total profits, rather than the profits attributable to the 3 patents the court found Samsung to have violated (the rounded corners on the face of the smartphone, the metal rim around the phone, and the display grid).

Oct 4, 2016

Christine Haight Farley (@Prof_Farley) is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on Intellectual Property Law, Trademark Law, International and Comparative Trademark Law, International Intellectual Property Law, Design Protection Law and Art Law. Professor Farley served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs from 2007 to 2011 and as Co-Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property from 2005 to 2009. She is the author of numerous articles on intellectual property law and a forthcoming casebook on international trademark law. Professor Farley has taught at law schools in France, India, Italy and Puerto Rico. She has given lectures on intellectual property law in more than twenty countries across every region of the world. Professor Farley frequently appears in the media as an IP expert and is regularly invited to speak at ABA, AIPLA and INTA conferences. She currently serves on an INTA Presidential Task Force on Brands and Innovation, and has recently been selected as a Fulbright Specialist for intellectual property law. Before teaching, Professor Farley was an associate specializing in intellectual property litigation with Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman in New York. She holds a B.A. (State University of New York at Binghamton), J.D. (State University of New York at Buffalo), LL.M. (Columbia University), and a J.S.D. (Columbia University).

In this episode, we discussed:

  • historical examples of offensive marks.
  • the First Amendment implications of The Lanham Act Section 2(a).
  • how U.S. trademark laws compare to international trademark laws in the context of offensive speech.

Resources:

American University Washington College of Law

Christine Haight Farley, Registering Offense: Morality and Public Order in the U.S. Trademark Act, in Protecting and Promoting Diversity With Intellectual Property Law (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan, eds., Cambridge U. Press 2015)

Lee v. Tam via Scotusblog

Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs by Lauren Rivera

THE NEWS

FBI Director James Comey doesn't want anyone to think his agency is comprised of “weasels”--his words not mine. Comey appeared at a hearing before a House Judiciary Committee panel last week to explain why presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was never charged during the investigation into a private server she used as Secretary of State. Comey said the agency hasn’t uncovered any additional evidence that would necessitate re-opening the investigation. Matt Zapotosky has more at the Washington Post.

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John McKinnon at the Wall Street Journal reports The FCC has delayed a vote on proposed rules to overhaul the set-top box marketplace. FCC CommissionerRosenworcel, a Democrat, was the swing vote. The plan would require cable providers to make content available to set-top boxes that compete with the ones issued by cable companies. The proposed rules faced a firestorm of criticism from the cable industry and Hollywood who claimed, among other things, that the rules would exceed the Commission’s authority and violate copyright. The good news, as Harold Feld at Public Knowledge has noted, is that the proceeding is far from dead and still open for comment.

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Several consumer groups are crying foul about WhatsApp’s recent announcement that it would begin sharing user data with its parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp has long held itself out as a secure and encrypted messaging service. Groups including the Center for Digital Democracy and Demand Progress, along with 15 other groups, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last week asking the agency to investigate. Grant Gross has the story at Computer World.

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Four Republican attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma,and Nevada filed lawsuits against the Obama administration for its plan to transfer oversight of the Internet’s domain systems from the U.S. to an international body. They’re alleging violations of the what they believe to be the U.S. property interest in the systems, that the transfer is a First Amendment violation, amd that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act. Ali Breland at The Hill has the full story.

----
Finally, the FCC released an NPRM last week which would prohibit cable companies from bullying independent content producers with clauses in their contracts saying that programmers have to give the cable company the best deal and not allow anyone else to carry their content without permission from the cable company. These are known as most favored nation and alternative distribution method clauses. The cable industry is pushing back, but this is still an NPRM, not an official ruling, and thus it is still open for comment.

Aug 30, 2016

Jose A. Marquez-Leon (@LISTA1) is the National President, CEO, and Founder of Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA). In this role he serves as lead advocate on state and federal issues related to the role of Latinos in the technology sector. He is also charged with coordinating organization-wide strategic planning for LISTA initiatives and is executive director of 15 LISTA TechLatino Councils nationwide.

Since LISTA’s inception the organization has developed programs to take the Latino community from the “schoolroom to the boardroom.” These programs are designed to introduce technology into classrooms, encourage information technology and science professions among young adults, facilitate technology-related professional development through certification training and job-matching programs, leverage online communications for continued collaboration, and recognize Latinos within the IT industry that are making a difference.

Jose has received several achievement awards including Politics 360 GameChangers Award, Hispanic Trends Magazine Technology Trendsetter 2007, National Hispanic Achievers Award, and the Greater NY Chamber of Commerce Advocate of the Year 2003, among others. In 2008, the Federal Communications Commission appointed Jose to serve on its Committee on Digital and Media Inclusion.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • how to cultivate Latino developers.
  • diversity on Capitol Hill.

Resources:

THE NEWS

Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post reports on an FBI alert to states to secure their election systems.  The report didn’t name the states that were targeted, but the Post points to two reported instances of hacks into election systems in June and July in Illinois, which resulted in the state having to shut down voting registrations, and Arizona, where hackers obtained access to voting records. Some experts suspect Russia may be the culprit.

Evan Perez at CNN also reported that the FBI is investigating a series of cyberattacks against news organizations including the New York Times. Several US officials believe the attacks on reporters, as well as attacks on the Democratic National Committee, have been the work of the Russians.

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For the first time in its nearly a quarter century existence, Wired magazine--the tech sector’s leading trade and lifestyle publication -- has endorsed a presidential candidate. Editor-in-Chief Scott Dadich praised Hillary Clinton’s support for net neutrality, student loan forgiveness for entrepreneurs, easing entry for people abroad who are skilled at science, tech and engineering, and strengthening the Affordable Care Act. Dadich painted Donald Trump as someone who is more interested in generating attention for himself than leading the country.

Nick Gass reports in Politico that Hillary Clinton’s tech agenda closely aligns with Silicon Valley.

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Hillary Clinton’s praise from Wired was marred by a new FBI disclosure that revealed Clinton failed to turn over nearly 15,000 emails to the State Department. These emails will plague Clinton’s campaign until Election Day, because a federal judge has ordered the emails to be released to the public beginning in October. Steven Lee Myers has the story in The New York Times.

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The Cybersecurity firm Lookout and the University of Toronto have discovered three previously unknown security flaws in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system. The report states the flaws made it possible for foreign governments to tap into users’ phones and spy on them using spyware that targeted journalists and activists. Andrea Peterson at The Washington Post has the story.

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The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy and Technology and 26 other organizations sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security last week opposing the agency’s proposal to use social media to review visa-waiver applications. The groups say the proposed rules would unfairly target Arab-Americans and Muslims. Ali Breland has the story in the Hill.

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Thirty-two tech and telecom companies including AT&T, Verizon, Google and Apple have formed a Robocall Strike Force to develop a self-regulatory approach to dealing with annoying calls from telemarketers, researchers and others. FCC Chairman Tom.Wheeler says the FCC receives 200,000 robocall complaints each year. The group’s plan for dealing with robocalls is due to the FCC on October 19th.

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Finally, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has set its deadline for the FCC to respond to petitions telecom companies filed asking the full court to review the court’s 3-judge panel decision to uphold the FCC’s net neutrality rules. The FCC’s response is due September 12th.

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